The Norwegian Arctic region is considered to be one of the world's best places to see the northern lights. This is a natural phenomenon that is usually caused by so-called solar storms when the sun is the most active, Kp index is used to measure the intensity of the solar particles. You have a good chance to see the phenomenon if it's more than 2 on a scale from 0 to 9. In the summer, sunlight blocks aurora and you can barely see it. The greatest occurrence is observed during winter polar nights along the coasts of Tromsø and Finnmark counties.
When to look for northern lights
The northern lights season begins in late September and continues through late March. However, the best time to see this magical spectacle in Norway is during the darkest period between December and January. Though winter darkness often allows one to see the lights 24 hours long, the famous aurora borealis appears mostly at night.
Tromsø, the center of municipality of Troms og Finnmark, is the largest urban area in Northern Norway and the third-largest in the world, located north of the Arctic Circle. There is a good chance to observe northern lights at 60° north, and Tromso is located at 70°, in the middle of the so-called auroral oval, the area with the highest probability of seeing the phenomenon. It also boasts beautiful scenery: islands, fjords, and mountain peaks.
You can go on a northern lights chase with a group of aurora enthusiasts who meet in the center of Tromsø in the evening and then drive to find the lights. Popular spots for aurora-watching include beautiful Skulsfjord, which is less than a 30 min drive north of Tromsø. Get ready to see lots of spectacular reflections in the water. Alternatively, you can head to Ersfjord, in 9 mi (15 km) west of Tromsø, or hike to Brosmetinden peak to capture the lights against beautiful mountains.
If you are ready to travel a bit further go to North Cape, located on the northern coast of the island of Magerøya. It features a large mountain plateau and spectacular cliffs. You will see northern lights reflected in the Barents Sea and will get to ride in the subsea tunnel connecting Magerøya to the rest of the country.
October, February, and March are considered to be the best month to observe northern lights on Lofoten Islands due to clear skies, dark nights, and suitable weather. The island of Flakstadøya is one of the best locations due to its striking landscapes. Visit Myrland and Skagsanden beaches or other spots along its western coast. Alternatively, there are many suitable spots at nearby Vestvågøya island with its beautiful Uttakleiv, Unstad and Haukland beaches.
Svalbard, situated far north in the Arctic Ocean, is one of the best places on earth to chase northern lights. Darkness, clear skies, cold crisp air, and intense solar activity - the favorable conditions to see the beautiful phenomenon - are present on the archipelago. These factors are especially intense in Spitzbergen, where aurora appears from mid-September until late March. From November to February there is no daylight in the capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen. So you can enjoy aurora all day long, combined with picturesque fjords and glaciers, and maybe even polar bears.
It's also possible to see northern lights in the vicinity of Oslo. However, the chances are rather small since the capital lies too far south to be a good aurora borealis viewing spot. Oslo residents get lucky to see the amazing sight just a few times per year, and usually, it's announced in the news, so that as many people as possible can witness the phenomenon. If you are lucky to be in Oslo at the right moment, head to Sognsvann lake to make the most beautiful pictures.
If you are in Oslo and really want to see northern lights, the best option is to hop on a plane to Tromsø or Arctic Circle locations. Try to get at least to Bodø for the proper aurora borealis experience. For higher chances, check the weather forecast to make sure the skies are not clouded.