Best time for Northern Lights in Norway
Norway is well known as a 'Northern Lights' hotspot and there is good reason. Above the Arctic Circle, many cities in Norway offer terrific chances to see the lights between mid-September to early April.
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15 days - Escorted Small Group tour to Norway and Finland with northbound Norwegian Coastal Voyage
'Experience the Northern Lights' in some of the most magical destinations in Scandinavia and the Nordics. For 15 days experience untouched wilderness, the home of Santa Claus and tour Oslo and Bergen. There will be unforgettable experiences, from nights in a glass roofed cabin where you may be able to marvel at the northern lights from the comfort of your bed to exhilarating husky experiences.
• Northbound voyage on the Norwegian Coastal Voyage (Kystruten)
• 3 nights in a glass roofed cabin (similar to an igloo)
• 1 night in a gamme (log) cabin in Kirkenes
• In-depth city tours of Oslo and Bergen
• Full morning Husky Safari
• Full afternoon Snowmobile riding
• Full morning Reindeer experience with local Sámi-reindeer herders
• Small group meeting with Santa
• Opportunity for spotting the Northern Lights
• Small group sizes from just 8 to 18
Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia independent extension can be added to this itinerary staying at the GLO Hotel, Helsinki.
Coastal ferry, bus, train and transfers.
International flight tickets, Norwegian coastal voyage optional excursions, any airport taxes, travel insurance, visas, gratitudes and any items of personal nature.
Portage is not included - you will be responsible for carrying all your luggage.
Booking your flight from Ivalo to Helsinki with Finnair in combination with your international flight is a more affordable option.
__We can add a Helsinki and Tallinn, Estonia independent extension after this tour finishes. Flights from Ivalo to Helsinki, 2 nights at the GLO Hotel in Helsinki and a day trip to Tallinn, Estonia.
Other travellers will join at various points along the way as this tour can be done in shorter sections. The group size will never extend beyond it's maximum numbers.
Arrive Oslo and make your own way to your central hotel in the heart of Oslo. The Norwegian capital has a great deal to offer the discerning traveller. If you arrive early, we can recommend a walk around the centre of town to view the Parliament, the Castle & the Harbour area. Check in will be between 10am - 3pm. Close to the hotel, climb the new Opera House for a chance to orient yourself to this small capital. If you have a few hours, we suggest heading to close by beautiful peninsula of Bygdøy by ferry to visit the Fram Museum this afternoon.
Your escort will meet you this evening in the hotel lobby and have a welcome dinner at Engebret (or similar), a traditional Norwegian restaurant with an elegant, white table-clothed dining room in an 18th-century building.
The Norwegian capital has a great deal to offer the discerning traveller, and you have a full day to discover the city. After breakfast, you will meet a specialist Oslo guide for a four hour city tour by minibus. Depending on your guide and time, you will visit some of the Oslo highlights, including the Kontiki & Fram museums, the Vigeland Sculpture Park, Ekerbergeparken and the Holmenkollen Ski Jump and Museum.
Afterwards, you can walk around the centre of town to view the Parliament, the Castle, the Harbour area and the new Opera House.
Catch an early morning train from Oslo to Myrdal. The train journey over Northern Europe’s largest mountain plateau is spectacular. In the comfort of your train, watch fjord scenery with beautiful waterfalls, flowing rivers, deep valleys and mountains.
Arrive in Flåm and have the afternoon to explore this small fjord side village. Optional walks and activities available.
The day starts with a spectacular 2-hour fjord cruise from Flåm to the tiny fjord village of Gudvangen. Enjoy the magnificent views of the Aurlandsfjord & the Næroyfjord-a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The boat docks in Gudvangen, and from there the journey continues by bus through Nærøydalen, with its charming villages and scenic winter landscape. The bus will arrive in Voss, where you continue the tour by train on the Bergen Railway.
On arrival into Bergen, settle into your hotel and perhaps head down to the fish market or fish restaurants by the wharf for dinner. Looking for something special? Consider a boat ride out to the Cornelius Fish Restaurant, on a private island outside of Bergen.
After breakfast enjoy a 3-hour walking tour of Bergen, including a visit to the popular Fish Market, the famous Bryggen Harbour with its gabled pack-houses, and the old Hanseatic Quarter.
The afternoon is free in Bergen - be sure to enjoy the indoor & outdoor fish markets with their platters, sushi & paella options. Ride on the funicular to Mt. Fløien for the best views of the city and fjords way below. Keep an eye out for your coastal voyage vessel that arrives into Bergen during the afternoon.
In the mid afternoon you will transfer to the cruise terminal for check-in. Settle into your cabin & then meet your escort for your first meal on-board the ship.
Please note, you carry your own luggage onboard from the pier to check in/cabin.
An information meeting is usually held on the evening of departure from Bergen and included details of safety onboard. There is an information folder in each cabin and safety procedures are illustrated on the back of your cabin door and in public areas. The cruise tour leader on board will assist with general information and optional excursions available.
A winter expedition along the coast of Norway is a beautiful experience. The landscape is covered in pure white snow; the air is fresh, pure and crisp. Clusters of cosy houses glow on the shores like embers, and the stunning backdrop of snow-clad mountains reflects the polar twilight.
Your ship continues north past skerries and islands before reaching Ålesund. Enjoy examples of Art Nouveau style in the Apotekergate and Kongensgate pedestrian precinct. Make sure you see Ålesund from above, taking 418 steps to the top of Mount Aksla. The Atlantic Sea Park (Atlanterhavsparken)-one of the largest saltwater aquariums in Europe is also worth a visit.
Molde - known as the 'Town of Roses' is another exceptional place to catch beautiful views of 222 mountain peaks at the Molde Panorama.
Leaving Ålesund we head north towards Trondheim. Overnight on board the ship.
When visiting the old royal city of Trondheim, be sure to get a good view from the Old Town Bridge. (Gamle Bybrua) Dating from 1861, this neo-gothic wooden bridge used to be the only way into the town centre. Nidaros Cathedral, built between 1070 and 1300 is Norway's largest Gothic religious edifice. In the neighbouring Archbishop's Palace, the Norwegian Crown Jewels are kept. In the city of Trondheim, the Hanseatic, waterside storehouses built on wooden stilts are just as charming as Stiftsgården- the largest wooden building in Norway and residence for the Royal Family when visiting Trondheim.
When leaving Trondheim, you set course for the beautiful Kjerungskjær lighthouse and thousands of little islands and picturesque rocky outcrops. After passing through the narrow Stokksund, the ship will arrive at the charismatic Rørvik.
This morning, between Nesna and Ørnes you will pass a globe on a small islet, which heralds your crossing of the Arctic Circle. The Arctic Circle marks the border to the Arctic region. In summer this means 24-hour daylight- often referred to as the Midnight Sun. During autumn and winter, being above this degree of latitude give you the best chance of experiencing the Northern Lights. Passengers sailing in Arctic waters for the first time are given an Arctic Circle Babtism by Njord, the ruler of the Seven Seas. This comes in the form of an ice cube down you front or back but is entirely optional and great fun to watch if you don't want to participate.
Heading towards Bodø the ship sails along the Helgeland coast where you will pass the unique Torghatten mountain with its 30-metre-high, 25-metre-wide and 160-metre-deep hole through the middle.
In the afternoon, your ship gradually closes in on the Lofoten wall mountains towering above the tiny and colourful fishing villages of the Lofoten Islands. This is an extraordinary place to disembark and take a stroll.
These islands are renowned for their small, picturesque fishing villages with their bohemian atmosphere surrounded by majestic granite cliffs and white sandy beaches. Complete your visit with a stroll between the stockfish racks and 'rorbuer', the traditional red fisherman's residences.
During the night the ship navigates the narrow Raftsund strait. After a stop in Harstad situated on the largest island of Norway- Hinnøya, you continue via Finnsnes to Tromsø for a extended stay.
Many of the epic Arctic expeditions used Tromsø as a starting point- the famous explorer Roald Amundsen sourced both crew and suppliers here. With the presence of the Norwegian Polar Institute, the city has cemented its position as the Polar Capital of Norway.
Ishavskatedralen, the Arctic Cathedral is a unique landmark well worth visiting. Experience Tromsø's best views by taking the Fjellheisen cable car to the top of the mountain ledge Storsteinen and maybe enjoy a beer from the worlds northernmost brewery.
After Tromsø we continue our northbound journey into the area along the coast where you have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Gather on deck or under the glass roof to search for this breathtaking phenomenon.
Today you sail through Magerøysund and after an early stop in Hammerfest, you arrive in Honningsvåg. This small port is the gateway to the wonders of the spectacular North Cape, which rises 300m from the ocean, and at 71° 10' 21" north ocean puts you a mere 2,000 km from the Geographical North Pole. Standing atop the North Cape Plateau you will feel like you are at the end of the world.
This area is also known for its birdlife, and Gjesværstappen, a bird sanctuary with up to 250,000 seabirds is home to some High Arctic species that can only be observed here on the Norwegian mainland, including the gorgeous puffins.
In summer you might see herds of reindeer and campsites belonging to the indigenous Sámi people. In winter and spring, sometimes local fishermen from the village of Kjøllefjord visit us to share their catch of the day- Cod and King Crab. And make sure as you approach Kjøllefjord you take note of the prominent and sacred to indigenous Sámi people, Finnkirka rock formation.
You will arrive in Vadsø early in the morning. Located in the Varanger region this is one of the most attractive and popular bird-watching areas in the Arctic due to it being directly in the path of the birds migrating from east to west.
The last port on the Voyage North is Kirkenes. The well policed Russian border and the Koala peninsula are close by which explains why the road signs are written in both Norwegian and Russian.
Disembark the ship and get ready for a totally unforgettable experience on the frozen fjords of Kirkenes. This is your chance to catch, learn how to cook, and most importantly eat the Arctic King Crab. If you enjoy eating crab, be sure to arrive HUNGRY!
The Arctic King Crab is one of the most sought-after meals in top restaurants, and yet here, you get to eat the best and the freshest, pulled from the fjord in front of your eyes. You all take part in helping to saw the hole in the ice and bring up the catch. You will see how the crab is prepared by your master guide, and you will be taken by snowmobile sled (an experience in itself) to a beautiful farmhouse by the lake.
It is here by a cosy log fire that your King Crab meal awaits. Although presentation is simple, the superb, white leg meat and claws with their particularly juicy and naturally sweet taste puts this meal in a league of its own.
Warm clothing and a helmet is provided. Please note: This tour is done by snowmobile (the fisherman drives the snowmobile with you in a sled behind the snowmobile), and not by divers or in a boat.
Today you will visit and see the snow rooms at the Snowhotel. Explore this hand-built snow hotel and perhaps enjoy a drink at the icebar before heading to your Gamme pine cabin, a short walk away in the same resort.
Your evening will then progress to a delicious 3 course dinner. The food served is charmingly traditional and locally sourced. Your guide will be available to help you prepare for the evening ahead, making sure you are as comfortable as possible. After dinner you will have the opportunity to walk around the snowhotel and say hello to our resident reindeers, and with any luck, catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
After breakfast, take a drive through wild forests and around pristine lakes to Inari, the Sami capital (traditional nomads of Scandinavia, reindeer herders).
In Inari we will have lunch and a guided tour at Sami Siida Museum - the national museum of the Sámi and a national special museum in Finland. The guide will help you to have an in-depth view of Siida’s permanent exhibitions. Siida’s exhibition tours cover the permanent exhibitions of the house.
From Inari we will continue to the Aurora Village, our home for the next 3 nights.
The Aurora Village is located high above the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland. Surrounded by stunning scenery, we will enjoy this rustic wilderness experience in the remote forests of northern Finland, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Check in to your glass roofed Aurora Cabin where you will be spending three nights. You will also get your Winter clothing set (winter boots, balaclavas, woolen socks, mittens, overalls, tube scarf).
These glass cabins provide a one-of-a-kind opportunity to admire the Northern Lights and millions of stars in the crystal clear sky with a comfortable room temperature. The glass thermal roof ensures that the window will stay clear even in the lowest temperatures, and the warmth and amenities of the cabin will ensure you the most comfortable aurora observing experience we can offer you. Each cabin offers a private bathroom. You will get a free Aurora Alert on arrival as well - which will buzz you if the chance of seeing the Northern Lights is high during your stay!
Dinner is included at the restaurant.
After breakfast, meet the reindeers. In the old days people used reindeer for transportation. Today you will meet the local reindeers at work, Manu, Pelokas and Papu. Papu will take you for a short reindeer sleigh ride. In a traditional Kota-tent you will have tea, coffee and a small snack by the open fire while our Sámi-reindeer herder tells you stories about reindeer. You can also try your skills at throwing lasso!
In the afternoon, join an exciting snowmobile safari. You will be kitted out in warm clothing before leaving. Two persons share one snowmobile and there will be an opportunity to change drivers during the safari.
Afterwards, if the skies are clear, head out for a walk to look for the northern lights! Dinner at the restaurant.
After breakfast, get ready for today's husky safari - an unforgettable journey through breathtaking winter scenery.
On arrival at the husky farm, dressed in your warm outer thermal suit, gloves and hat, you will be presented with your very own husky team. You will be given a lesson on how to drive the sledge and how to observe important hand signals given by your leader.
Each team consists of about six dogs, you, the driver, and your passenger who is comfortably seated in the wooden sledge. The driver and the passenger can change places during the safari.
In the afternoon, in small groups, you will have a special meeting with Santa! Take photos and chat to Santa before enjoying a hot berry juice in the yurt style (kota) building close to the hotel.
In the evening we will enjoy a special farewell dinner. Toast your trip with your fellow group members!
After breakfast, transfer to Ivalo Airport. You can add an extra few days in Helsinki and a day tour to Tallinn as an extented package.
PLEASE NOTE: Winter 2023/2024 departures have unspecified superior outside cabins with windows on the Norwegian coastal voyage, we are able to upgrade cabins on request.
Activities differ when travelling in Autumn (before the snow arrives). Autumn Activites in Ivalo will be a husky wagon ride, Finnish Smoke sauna experience and Aurora hunting by car.
We recommend arriving into Oslo a day or so before the tour starts and enjoying this city. The first few days on tour is very busy and not being affected by jetlag will help you enjoy the activities. We also offer an extention tour to Helsinki and Tallinn after your tour.
You can pre-book your optional Norwegian Coastal Voyage excursions with us. However, you can also wait until you are on board and do it then - however, there is a maximum number and they can book out (unlimited numbers on the North Cape tour). It is not possible to pre-book within 2 weeks prior to departure. Excursions and their contents are subject to maximum/minimum numbers and weather/local conditions. Our 50 Degrees North escort will also be available to take you on a casual walk through the main cities that you visit during your Norwegian Coastal voyage.
MEDICAL AND HEALTH INFORMATION:
All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy group travel. During winter, roads and footpaths can be icey so please consider carefully how much luggage you bring as you will be responsible for carrying all the luggage on these outside paths. There is limited portage service in Scandinavia and your tour escorts cannot help you, beyond reason.
Scandinavia is a fairly accessible destination for people with restricted mobility and other disabilities and is actively working to be more accessible every day. However, please note that our group tours are often not suitable for persons with limited accessibility due to inclusions and pace. 50 Degrees North is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability and we can tailor-make independent itineraries for travellers when needed. Please contact us for further details.
Several of your accommodations on this itinerary are Nordic Choice hotels, who we support due to their outstanding sustainability policies. This group of hotels are ISO 14001 certified (which is given to enterprises that have a high-quality environmental managing system), has launched plastic free initiatives in partnership with WWF, where possible is powered by renewable energy and are taking great strides to reduce water consumption and reduce the use of chemicals. Even though access to water is not an issue in Nordic countries compared to other parts of the world, this hotel is conscious of the energy consumed for heating, and chemicals required for purification, so reduction makes up part of their overall environmental policy. In addition to this they provide sustainable, organic, fair-trade food, and only use sustainably produced palm oil. Your hosts also encourage guests to eat less meat and substitute this for plant-based alternatives.
Your glass igloo hosts in Ivalo were the first accommodation in Northern Lapland to receive the Green Key award, the leading standard for excellence in the field of environmental responsibility and sustainable operation within the tourism industry. This prestigious eco-label represents a commitment by businesses that their premises adhere to the strict criteria set by the Foundation for Environmental Education. Some examples of how they carry this out include offering recycling facilities in all cabins and no longer offering plastic bottles in accommodations, along with protecting the diversity of the surrounding nature, i.e., bird house and insect hotels. Hiking, biking, and skiing tracks are direct from the hotel and as such they encourage low carbon activities such as snowshoeing and toboggans.
Your journey along the iconic Norwegian coastline comprises a large element of this tour. Traditionally the company Hurtigruten had exclusive access to this route, but in 2017 the Norwegian government ended their 130-year monopoly by granting Havila access and allowing them to also take travellers along the coastline. With this change comes innovation; traditionally the ships on this route are powered by fossil fuels however the Havila ships are fitted with batteries and can partly run on renewable hydroelectric power. Not only will the lack of noise and emissions improve the tourist experience and disruption to the environment, but the approach is essential to meet the strict zero emissions regulations for the fjord region to be introduced by the Norwegian government later this decade. We are proud to partner with Havila for this journey, and welcome their newer, greener ships.
Please note this tour is not suitable for children under the age of 14.
Norway is well known as a 'Northern Lights' hotspot and there is good reason. Above the Arctic Circle, many cities in Norway offer terrific chances to see the lights between mid-September to early April.
Our 'helpful hints' guide to your Norwegian Coastal Voyage with Havila. Many of our Scandinavian staff have travelled on a coastal voyage and offer detailed explanations to how it works on-board.
Finland is well known as a 'Northern Lights' travel destination. Above the Arctic Circle, small villages and resorts in the wilderness over unique chances to see the lights between mid-September to early April.
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