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We all know Norway as the land of the Vikings and as home to wild and stunning natural landscapes. Yet, unbeknownst to some, there is so much more than fjord cruises, folk festivals and glacial lakes. It may be sister nation Iceland that gets all the publicity on this front, but this Scandinavian gem is, in fact, one of the best places to catch the Northern Lights in winter.
Seeing the Northern Lights is a must-do activity for many. Sparkles of light dancing across the sky in varying shades of green, found exclusively in the northernmost regions of the planet. Straddling the northern coast of the Scandinavian Peninsula, the closest point between mainland Europe and the Arctic Circle, Norway is a prime location for witnessing the phenomenon.
On the other hand, it has a vast territorial expansion, which makes it more difficult to get from point A to point B while chasing auroras – unless, of course, you know exactly where to go and who to call:
About Norway and why it’s so amazing in winter
After being locked down in the United States for more than two years, travelers want to explore the great outdoors again, and it’s to places like Norway that they’re heading in droves. This should come as no surprise, given that the country is popular for its fjords, multitude of ski resorts, hiking trails, and scenic train rides through snow-capped valleys.
Nowhere else evokes the same sense of freedom and natural escape as Norway, and this is especially true in winter. Now more than ever, Americans are prioritizing more meaningful cultural travel, a trend we’ve seen before previously. More pressing, more than half of travelers want to escape reality and “totally unplug”.
Whether you’re into snowmobiling, ice fishing or dog sledding, on the adventurous side, or just want to reconnect with nature by spending a long weekend in a traditional wooden cabin, the Scandinavian nation is the place for be, although its criss-crossed geography certainly makes it more difficult to plan a vacation across the country (looking at the map of Norway, you will understand why).
But there is a more comfortable – and much smarter way – to travel to Norway in the upcoming season.
The easiest way to explore Norway is to connect with the locals
In case our company name isn’t enough of an indication, we’re big fans of under-visited places: nothing excites us more than venturing into the unknown, where a select few have already trod, and discover different unexpected facets of overly touristy destinations. With a winter retreat as popular as Norway, this would be no exception.
Local luxury travel organizer To Norway offers tailor-made trips according to the preferences of each traveler, individual needs and expectations. In total, this goes up to six holiday categories, which are listed below:
- Luxurious treat
- Cultural exploration
- Relaxation Break
- active adventure
- Family holidays
- ‘Something else’*
*The sixth alternative allows customers to make special requests or simply be “surprised” by Up Norway’s choice
In keeping with tradition, our pick today is Up Norway’s “off-trail” product, the brand new Magical Northern Lights at 70 degrees north Round. Lasting five days, this pre-arranged tour takes tourists on a comprehensive excursion into the frigid wilderness, where they can come into contact with untouched forests and arctic wildlife.
More importantly, guests are invited to explore a province in Norway that the majority of tourists tend to overlook: the far north of Scandinavia, where the borders with neighboring Finland are only loosely defined. More precisely, this tour uses Alta as a basea die northernmost Major settlements in the world, with a population of only 21,144.
Alta is the unofficial capital of Norway for Northern Lights sightings
Alta is best known for being the regional capital of Northern Lights sightings. In the center of the city, tourists will find the landmark Northern Lights Cathedrall, a modernist, metal-like structure shimmering in a greenish hue against the dazzling colors of the night sky. It may be geographically remote, but getting to Alta is fairly straightforward, with direct flights available from other major Norwegian cities, including Oslo.
Once in Alta, you will come into contact with the culturally distinct Sami peoples: they are native to the territory, and their arctic way of life has been an object of fascination for decades. In order to provide visitors with the most authentic experience possible, Up Norway teamed up with a local Sami guide for the Northern Lights hunting portion of the trip.
After being introduced to your very own reindeer, you’ll join others in your group for a sleigh tour of the polar landscape while “hopefully” catching a glimpse of the lights shining above the party. To top it off, the night ends with a visit to a traditional Sami campwhere you will dine to the rhythm of local legends and folk tales.
And it does not stop there.
Up Norway allows guests to dive in and out of adventure
Have you ever dreamed of staying in an ice hotel, for example? By booking this tour, you will be invited to spend the night at the famous Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, northernmost of its kind in the worldand one that is revamped every twelve months with brand new ice sculptures sculpted by local artists according to an annual theme.
Again, the company specializes in luxurious retreats, so if you’re worried about being dropped off in the middle of some distant desolation with a pop-up tent to fend for yourself, you really don’t have to worry: your ‘base camps’ for the week are three unique accommodations that will help enhance your Arctic experience.
Up Norway wants to make sure you are comfortable at all times, which means having the freedom to ‘escape’ to a river lodge suite whenever the igloo vibe and sleeping on the surprisingly comfy and cozy reindeer furs is getting a little too much. In other words, you can always dive in and out of the adventure throughout your stay.
Rates for one 5 days 4 nights tour from 2,700 USDand as can be seen above, the list of inclusions is really quite extensive.
Getting to Norway has never been easier
As for flights, Alta is served by direct flights from Oslo, the country’s capital, the best transit hub for Americans traveling to Norway, both due to the myriad flight options available , especially from the East Coast, and the high price. Fares for a one-way flight from New York-JFK to Oslo with Norse Atlantic from US$146.00 this winter.
The low-cost airline also operates a year-round route between Fort Lauderdale and Oslo, as well as seasonal routes from Los Angeles and Orlando to Norway. Basically, flying to Norway has has never been so easy – or cheaper.
From this year, Norway reinstated normal entry guidelines before the pandemicwhich means that Americans – and other foreigners – are welcome again without being subjected to strict health checks at the border:
For more information on Up Norway experiences, please visit this page.
Traveler alert: Don’t forget travel insurance for your next trip!
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com