Christmas tends to be that time of year when everyone has that conversation about what their ideal present would be. Such talk as often as not segues’ into bucket lists and what would populate people’s lists of the top 10 things to do in their lives. If you’ve ever had that conversation then chances are that one of the ‘experiences’ that you’ve included in your list (assuming of course that you haven’t already done it) is seeing the ‘Northern Lights’.
I had the great pleasure to visit the far north of Norway some years back when I flew into Tromso (which is located well inside the Arctic Circle) and where I experienced reindeer stew and dog sled rides by moonlight amongst other things. Of course, seeing the Aurora Borealis or ‘Northern Lights’ was to have been the highlight of the trip and it was the one thing that I was particularly looking forward to but sadly it was not to be. That’s the trouble with nature — sometimes it just doesn’t want to come out to play or perform. Having said that, statistically speaking, Northern Norway is probably one of the best places in the world to travel to (and the most most accessible/least expensive to get to) if you want to experience nature at its best. The only other locations on earth are northern Siberia or Canada or perhaps even Iceland but even then, Iceland is not considered far enough up, latitude-wise.
There are no direct flights to Tromso from Ireland but connections via Oslo with SAS are good and you can find yourself in ‘Aurora’ country within six hours of leaving Dublin. The period that stretches from September to April is generally considered the best time to capture the display and the farther north, the better. Norway is a particularly good destination because aside from its relative proximity to Ireland, you will rarely have language problems as practically all Norwegians speak flawless English. The frequency of flights between Dublin and Oslo is also quite good and onward domestic connections to places like Tromso are not a problem.
Norway is not noted as being a particularly cheap destination so do factor that into your deliberations. Many travelers usually combine the ‘Northern Lights’ with a few days spent aboard Hurtigruten (or Norwegian Coastal Voyages, as they used to be called) as the ships provide a bus-like service up and down the heavily indented Norwegian coast.
If you love this time of year; are a fan of the great outdoors and want to tick that experience off your bucket list, then this is the perfect time of the year to treat yourself!