See the aurora borealis: you can count on the Finns
For the record, the aurora borealis - or “northern lights”, so called because they illuminate the sky from the north - looks somewhat different in real life compared to what you might have seen in photos. The strong green, violet, blue or even red tones are heavily enhanced by the long exposure of a camera. It is definitely worth going on a guided “Aurora Hunting Tour”. The experienced local guides are quick to spot the aurora borealis. It is a breathtaking sight, not least because the light seems at times to dance like curtains in the wind.
When and where to see the aurora borealis
The aurora borealis appears as a dancing veil in the Earth’s polar circles, at both the North and South Poles. In the north it is called aurora borealis, in the south aurora australis. The best chance of catching a glimpse of these lights is in the Arctic Circle, or to be precise, in Lapland. Finnish Lapland has proved to be the ideal destination. This is where the veils sweep across the sky on over 200 days a year. The optimum conditions for observing occur from mid-January to the beginning of April and from the end of September to the beginning of December. During these periods the nights become really dark again - but the day is still bright enough to experience other adventures.
How does the aurora borealis actually occur?
In simple terms, the aurora borealis forms when storms rage on the sun and charged particles hit the magnetic field of the earth’s atmosphere. The particles react with nitrogen and oxygen to produce colourful lights that are visible in the night sky. The light usually shines green, more rarely blue. Violet and red are the rarest colours and only appear when the solar storms are particularly intense. The lights are most visible when the sky is as dark as possible. You should therefore plan your trip in such a way as to incorporate plenty of moonless nights. Moonlight is very bright and can significantly diminish the colourfulness of the aurora borealis. An unobstructed full moon can even outshine them completely.
So let’s head off to Lapland!
Enjoy a comfortable Edelweiss flight from Zurich to the tranquil airport of Ivalo, right at the heart of the aurora borealis region. Rent a car or book a shuttle service through your accommodation to take you to your desired destination. There are no train connections this far into the Arctic Circle. Note that there are no scheduled buses in winter. If you want to travel around, you definitely need to rent a car. The roads are always cleared and you can drive to Utsjoki, Finland’s northernmost village, without any problems.
- Header - Photo by Antti Pietikäinen on Visit Finland
- Paragraph 1 - Photo by Dimitri on Adobe Stock
- Paragraph 2 - Photo by Jani Kärppä on Visit Finland
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by Aurora Village Ivalo on Visit Finland
- Paragraph 3 - Photo by Outi Maijanen on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 4 - Photo by Ong Boon Long on Shutterstock
- Paragraph 4 - Photo by Kimmo Syvari on Visit Finland
- Paragraph 5 - Photo by Jasim Sarker on Getty
- Paragraph 6 - Photo by Jarmo Piironen on Getty