Lofoten Northern Lights – Your guide to the Aurora Borealis

Experience the northern lights in Lofoten

Few, if any places on earth, offer a better arena for viewing the magical Northern Lights. If you are looking for a beautiful setting for a spectacular experience, treat yourself to a Northern Lights safari in Lofoten.

Hunting Epic Northern Lights in Lofoten with local resident Cody Duncan / #peopleoflofoten

It’s no wonder that people previously had a spiritual relationship with the Northern Lights. Even today, when the scientific explanation is only a Google search away, the silent dance of the Northern Lights across the night sky is enough to make the biggest doubters believe – even if it’s only for a fleeting while.

Naturally, the reason why Lofoten should be your next Northern Lights destination has a lot to do with the majestic nature on the islands. It also deals with Lofoten’s geographical location.

Lofoten is situated in the middle of what is referred to as the Northern Lights Oval (or auroral oval), which offers a unique view of the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights lie like a blanket, filling the entire sky over the Lofoten Islands. Being under the Northern Lights Oval enhances your chances of seeing this natural phenomenon, which is about as close as you can get to a Northern Lights guarantee.

Northern Lights ABove Olstind
photo by Cody Duncan

What exactly is the Northern Lights?

There is actually a scientific explanation of the Northern Lights, without removing any of the magic. In brief, charged particles from the sun – electrons and protons – react with the gases in the atmosphere. These particles are directed towards an oval around the poles and the energy that is released results in the play of colours that appears in the sky. To put it into the words of photographer Cody Duncan:

“The Northern Lights are in many ways a giant neon light in the sky”

Cody duncan, photographer

Just like neon lights, the Northern Lights also come in several beautiful colours. The Northern Lights mainly appear in tones of green, red or blue. If you are lucky, it’s also possible to observe the colours encircled by each other in a crown formation. To use the scientific term, this is called an aurora borealis corona.

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights in Lofoten?

Three variables must be present to see the Northern Lights: The sky must be cloudless; it must be dark enough and you must be far enough north. If the solar activity also plays its part, everything is ready for a light show unlike anything else.

As Lofoten is located north of the Arctic Circle, it’s dark in the winter and bright in the summer thanks to the golden rays of the Midnight Sun. This means that during the summer, from mid-April to late August, you cannot see the Northern Lights in Lofoten.

By the way, the Midnight Sun is pretty awesome too!

Autumn, winter and spring all offer excellent conditions for Northern Lights observation. However, as we have not yet found a way to control the sun, unfortunately it’s impossible to guarantee that the Northern Lights will appear. If you are looking for a place where the chances of seeing this natural phenomenon are high and there are plenty of activities to do even if it’s cloudy, few places on earth can match Lofoten.

Do you need more reasons to choose Lofoten?

Check Cody Duncan’s 10 best reasons here.

Where are the best places to see the Northern Lights?

As mentioned, all the Lofoten islands are north of the Arctic Circle. Consequently, it does not really matter where you go. Rather than asking where you should go, you should think about what you want to experience.

In theory, it’s possible to see the most incredible Northern Lights simply by sticking your head out your hotel window. However, if you want a more spectacular and richer experience, there are plenty of options.

How about chasing the Northern Lights from a catamaran in the fjords around Lofoten, or experiencing the magical colours of the Northern Lights on horseback? If you head away from town, the Northern Lights will shine stronger as the light pollution decreases. Going on an organised tour is an ideal way to experience the Northern Lights.

If you are the type who prefers to see the Northern Lights while relaxing in an outdoor hot tub, naturally that is possible too. On this page, you can check out all the different Northern Lights excursions in Lofoten.

Do you still want to know our secret places? If so, check this list of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Lofoten.

Nordlys bilder

Tips: How to photograph the Northern Lights

Since you have read all the way down here, you have earned a reward. What’s worse than taking photos of the spectacular Northern Lights that don’t do it justice?

Regardless of whether you are using a camera or a mobile phone, take note of the following advice. Turn off the flash and autofocus. As the Northern Lights are often so changeable and distant, these features will confuse your camera more than they help. If you also remember a tripod and an emergency charger or extra batteries, you will be all set to shoot the best the Northern Lights photos.

Do you want more good advice about Northern Lights photography? Photographer Cody Duncan knows what he’s talking about. Click here to read his best tips.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Northern Lights?