The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a spectacular natural light show visible during the winter in and near the Arctic Circle. The southern hemisphere also boasts the same, known there as the Aurora Australis. This bizarre astronomical phenomenon presents colourful lights during many winter nights in the form of striking green and red bands in the sky. A winter holiday in one of the regions where you can see the Northern Lights is sure to make for an unforgettable experience. Following are three destinations where you can see them in all their splendour.
Norway's ninth largest city with a population of around seventy-thousand, Tromsø is considered to be the country's gateway to the Arctic. The city is also famously home to the world's most northerly university, being almost 190 miles into the Arctic Circle. During the depths of winter, the sun never rises above the horizon and temperatures are almost always several degrees below zero. The city is surrounded by dramatic scenery in the form of beautiful fjords and snowy mountains. The best time for seeing the Northern Lights is any time after 10 PM between the middle of October and the middle of March. To enjoy the very best views, it is advisable to take a short trip out of the city where light pollution is minimal.
Tromsø itself boasts a picturesque historical centre and there are many activities to partake in such as dog sledding, skiing, sleighing and snowboarding. A winter break in Tromsø won't be cheap, however. The best deals will often be found at a travel agency which specializes in Nordic winter holidays. The airline "Norwegian Air," offers some of the cheapest flights from the UK and some other countries.
Iceland's capital, Reykjavik, is a great winter break destination all round for those who want to enjoy the Northern Lights and much more. To see the lights themselves, it is best to get out of the city for an evening or even stay in a nearby village for a night or two. Reykjavik is a few hundred miles south of the Arctic Circle, so there is always still a few hours of sunlight every day even in the middle of winter. Temperatures are considerably mild for the latitude, although they rarely rise above freezing in December and January. For those who love snow and clear skies, Iceland is the perfect winter wonderland.
Reykjavik itself is a small and charming city with a population not far over a hundred-thousand. The city has a unique and active nightlife, even during the winter. Prices are steep compared to most European countries, but a trip to Iceland is sure to make for an unforgettable holiday. Other activities to partake in include a visit to one of the many geothermal hot springs and tours of Iceland's dramatic and highly volcanic scenery. Iceland is usually quite cheap to get to thanks to the budget airlines such as EasyJet which connect Reykjavik to various cities in the UK.
Nuuk, also known by its Danish name, Godthåb, is the Greenlandic capital and one of the smallest capital cities in the world. Lying on the south-eastern coast of Greenland, Nuuk is some way south of the Arctic Circle, so the sun still rises above the horizon for a few hours every day even in the middle of winter. During January, the coldest month, temperatures average between minus five and minus ten although temperatures approaching minus thirty have been recorded. The Northern Lights are also highly visible during the autumn.
Greenland might not be a place often talked about as a holiday destination but, for those wanting something truly unique and memorable, it presents plenty of interesting things to do and see. The country also boasts a unique culture and history. Most of its inhabitants are Inuit, speaking their own language known as Greenlandic. Everyone speaks Danish as well, however, and English is also widely spoken. Greenland is home to some extremely dramatic landscape including enormous lonely fjords surrounded by snowy wilderness. The interior of the country is largely uninhabited.
A holiday to Greenland will not be cheap, unfortunately. Almost everything is imported, so prices for eating and drinking out are typically very high. Greenland is only connected by air to Iceland and Denmark with the Air Greenland airline. The total price of a return flight is rarely lower than around £500 or $800 plus you will have to get to Denmark or Iceland first.