Watch The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
in The Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Northern Lights need no introduction! And nor does the fact that millions of people have them on the top of their travel bucket list. That’s why thousands of tourists flock to Norway every year to catch a glimpse of arguably nature’s best-kept wonder. But not all of them know where to head for the purpose, and that’s what we are here to tell you.
If you plan to visit Norway to see the Aurora Borealis, then the Lofoten Islands are your best bet. It’s located right in the middle of the Northern Lights Oval, which is where the Northern Lights appear the brightest at their zenith. And if the sky is clear, you can watch them even if they are faint.
Furthermore, tourists have the option to travel among nature, get acquainted with the wildlife, and observe the local culture. How cool is that?
What are the Northern Lights?
The northern lights (also known as the polar lights or the aurora borealis) are shafts and curtains of bright and colorful lights mostly seen in the northern and southern hemispheres.
The origin of the aurora begins on the surface of the sun when solar activity ejects a cloud of gas. Scientists call this a coronal mass ejection (CME). Once a CME collides with the earth’s magnetic field if becomes visible as a set of bright and beautiful lights high in the sky.
When can you see the Northern Lights in Lofoten Islands?
The strategic location of the Lofoten Islands allows tourists to see the lights from practically all directions and for a very long span from late August to mid-April. Moreover, the small islands are located close to each other, meaning you can quickly move from one to another, following the trail of the lights.
Is there a guarantee to see the Northern Lights?
Although it is not possible to make a 100% accurate predication on when, where and for how long the Aurora Borealis will show herself, there are ways to increase your chances. Look for clear skies on the weather forecast and avoid snowy and rainy nights.
How far in advance can you predict Northern Lights?
About 2-4 hours in advance, but it is notoriously difficult to predict. Make sure to check out a Aurora Borealis Forecast App.
Are Northern Light Tours in Lofoten Islands Worth It?
In my opinion – Yes! The local tour operators have been hunting the Northern Lights for decades and know all the sweet spots of in Lofoten Islands. So one moment you might be near a mountaintop and a few hours later you are standing nearby the shorelines of one beautiful beaches. Thankfully, most tour operators offer you a free tour the next day if they can’t find the Northern Lights for you.
Let me show the best northern lights tour in Lofoten Islands.
Best Northern Light Tours in Lofoten
T tour reviews will make your trip to the Northern Lights the best of them all. With spacious and safe boats, expert guides, and access to the best viewing spots, your dream trip will turn into a beautiful reality.
Northern Light Photography Tour
What’s better than watching the Northern Lights? It’s capturing those spectacular scenes in images- and this tour will help you do exactly that. What I liked about this Northern Lights Photography Tour is that you will be accompanied by an expert guide, while following the Northern Lights from across the archipelago, as well as a photographer to help click photos like a pro! And trust me when I say that night photography can be very tricky.
I started this 5-hour long trip from Vesfjordgata 2/4 and the tour is conducted in groups, with each group comprising not more than 8 adults. The perfect group size if you ask me for exploring one of the best scenic mysteries on Earth to your heart’s content.
At the same time, the expert guide helps you decipher the mystery and explain how the lights have impacted the local population, philosophers, and scientists for centuries now.
Moreover, the photographer will teach you all the basics of taking the best pictures of the aurora borealis, right from setting up the tripod to operating the camera. The best part? The guides will be provide you with the tripods alongside with some warm drinks to keep you energized. However, I should mention that all participants should bring their own cameras.
I also recommended to wear/carry warm clothes and comfortable shoes to avoid any unnecessary hindrance during the trip. A few small remarks, pets, alcohol, and smoking are strictly prohibited. For more information about this tour, customer reviews en photography – Click here!
Hunting For The Northern Lights!
If you think Northern Lights is only about lights, then this Hunting for the Northern Lights trip is here to change your mind for good. Starting from Svolvaer in Norway, this trip allows you to enjoy the magnificent aurora borealis amidst the natural setting of the island.
On your journey to the lights, stop at the picturesque village of Kabelvag for an insight into the lives of the locals. Here, I enjoyed some hot drinks and delicious cake at the typical Norwegian pubs.
Apart from that, participants can walk through the serene forests and along the frozen lakes, which will ultimately lead you to the best spots to observe the Northern Lights. The tour guide will choose the ideal spot for you, depending on the solar activity at that time.
Not only that, but the knowledgeable guides will narrate about the various myths and legends surrounding the phenomena and how it impacts the local population in current times. Be it adults or teenagers- there’s hardly anyone who wouldn’t enjoy this journey.
Since it’s a group tour (with 8 participants), tourists will be provided with spacious minivans for comfortable traveling. Plus, there are warm drinks and biscuits for refreshment purposes. For more information about this tour, customer reviews en photography tips – Click here!
What Other Nature & Wildlife Tours do The Lofoten Island Have to Offer?
Watch Sea Eagles in Their Natural Habitat
Let the wildlife lover in you rejoice with this sea eagle safari, which commences from Svolvaer’s quayside. From here, a boat journey on the mesmerizing, 16 miles long Raftsundet strait will take you to your destination- Trollfjord.
Without a doubt, it will be among the best scenic experiences you can come across in Norway, which is best experienced on an open-top boat journey. And if you don’t know this already, then let us tell you that the Raftsundet strait is home to many sea eagles.
These birds have a wingspan of about 2.65m long. And if you’re lucky, you may see them up close as they often circle the tourist boats. So, don’t forget to take the perfect snap when the opportunity arrives!
As far as safety is concerned, rest assured that the boats come equipped with life jackets, while you will be provided with goggles, gloves, and caps to protect yourself from the chilly winds. Additionally, an experienced guide will be on the trip to help you learn more about the birds and the strait.
However, I do not recommend this tour for children below 8 years of age, pregnant women, and people with back problems, on wheelchairs, and those below 4 ft 6 inches. For more information about this tour, customer reviews en photography tips – Click here!
Explore Trollfjord By Silent Electric and Eco-Friendly Ship
Nature lovers can’t afford to miss this fulfilling trip to the Trollfjord aboard a silent electric ship, which is the best way to explore its majestic mountains and intriguing ocean depths. Tourists are picked onboard from the Svolvaer harbor to depart for Trollfjord, which can be reached in about 60 minutes.
The spacious ship with multiple decks and panoramic lounges makes for the perfect environment for tourists to enjoy the enchanting beauty of the surrounding scenery. And once you reach Trollfjord, avail the services of a superior underwater drone system to explore the marine depths to the fullest.
Additionally, you may spot white-tailed sea eagles circling the mountain peaks, which stand against the clear sky to protect the blue waters. An expert crew on board will constantly educate you all about the local environment and stories of survival of the inhabitants.
Other than that, there’s a cafeteria on the ship, which is ever-ready to satiate your cravings with local food and beverages. For more information about this tour, customer reviews en photography tips – Click here!
Where to stay in Lofoten?
One of our top recommendations is the Scandic Svolvaer, which is located about 150 meters away from the Svolvaer town center. This hotel has air-conditioned rooms with private bathrooms, cable TV, WiFi, and separate work desks. Plus, some rooms have private balconies so that guests can have a clear view of the sea.
The restaurant and bar are located inside a boat-shipped building, and you can enjoy your meal with a view of the harbor and mountains. And if you feel like burning some calories while on vacation, feel free to walk into the nearby gym.
Apart from that, the hotel staff may arrange for leisurely activities, like fishing and boat safaris, on request.
If you want to experience what living in the traditional cottages of Norwegian fishermen feels like, then make Anker Brygge your abode for some days. But this doesn’t mean that you have to miss out on modern amenities, as all the rooms are equipped with a patio, kitchenette, cooking hob, and dishwasher.
And if you aren’t in the mood for cooking, then the Kjokkenet restaurant will be at your service with its variety of traditional, lip-smacking dishes.
In fact, you may even enjoy your meals on the large terrace, especially during the warmer months. Finally, retire for the day with a relaxing sauna or indulge in activities like golf and fishing, all of which can be arranged by the hotel.
Thon Hotel Lofoten
Popular among tourists for its stylish interiors and ease of access, Thon Hotel Lofoten is located in the Svolvaer harbor town. All rooms in this hotel provide free WiFi access to guests, along with flat TV screens, fully stocked minibars, and clear views of the scenic surroundings.
You will also be happy to know that it’s a pet-friendly hotel, so you don’t have to miss your furry friends during your stay.
Aside from that, the integrated Restaurant Paleo Arctic offers local delicacies like dried cod and the classic Lofoten lamb. You can choose to hang out in the hotel bar or relax by the fireplace in the evenings.
Northern Lights Photography Tips
Although participants will have the guidance of an expert photographer on the northern light photography trip, knowing some tips and tricks will always come in handy. And with that thought in mind, I have listed some basic guidelines that will be beneficial for beginners.
Use The Manual Mode
Photographing the Northern Lights involves taking into consideration multiple variables, which is why it’s always recommended to use a camera that supports manual settings. So before you start, make sure to turn off the flash and turn on the manual focus.
Since the Northern Lights constantly move across the sky, a tripod will allow you to take steady shots with long exposure times, especially when you’re on a moving ship or cruise.
Being ready to click pictures doesn’t only mean pressing the shutter button at the right time. If you don’t have the required accessories to power the camera, then the entire process will be rendered futile.
Hence, it’s important to ensure that the camera batteries are fully charged, and you have spare charged batteries as backup. Also, make sure that the memory card has enough space and you have a backup memory card, as getting that perfect shot doesn’t come easy.
Finally, we’d strongly recommend using a wide-angle lens that has a minimum aperture setting between f/2.8 and f/4.
Capturing the Northern Lights means focusing your lens on the sky, but their constant movement will require you to adjust the focus almost for every shot. If you have a lens that allows focusing on infinity (by clicking on the infinity symbol), use it as a starting point and keep adjusting the focus until the shot appears clear.
Beginners can practice adjusting the focus during the day, as there’s much more light and landscape, which will act as virtual guidelines. Another trick is to try picking a distant star or planet in the night sky, which can become the “marker” to help set the focus while shooting Northern Lights images.
Set The Right ISO
Honestly, there isn’t one fixed ISO setting for clicking the images of the Northern Lights, as it will depend on how much extra light you need. However, increasing the ISO can make the pictures appear grainy.
Hence, you should first try adjusting the aperture (lens opening) to allow more light into the camera before increasing the ISO.
Set The Right Aperture
Owing to the dark backdrop of the Northern Lights, you’d want a wide lens opening to facilitate optimum light input. In this regard, it’s best to set the aperture (or f stop) to at least f/4. If possible, set the aperture at f/2.8 for the best results, but don’t go less than that, as it may result in grainy images.
Set The Shutter Speed
The exact shutter speed setting will totally depend on the brightness of the Northern Lights. For example, if you see that the aurora is very bright and moving actively, set the speed between 5 and 10 seconds.
On the other hand, a shutter speed between 12 and 20 seconds should be suitable if the lights are moving slowly, and between 20 and 25 seconds will come in handy if the lights are faint.