I think I've fallen in love with Nordic countries... After a short yet astounding trip to Iceland, I went to Norway around the end of January to chase the Northern Lights again and I've just come back fulfilled not only with lights still dancing in my memories but also with the beautiful landscapes of Lofoten or the many fjords in the Northern part of the country.
The choice of Norway as a destination for holidays in Winter is not that obvious, considering the short days, the cold weather and the high cost of living (plus the fact that most restaurants are closed if you're not in a large city!) However, for the Northern Light fans, it is an absolute delight! I went successively to Tromsø, Lofoten, Bergen and Oslo (just to catch the plane back to HK). Tromsø is definitely the best location to see the lights and when they're strong, you can even spot them within the city.
Lofoten is beautiful too but more for its landscapes and for the charm of its fishing villages than for seeing the Northern Lights in my opinion: I find it hard to include a town in the picture, as its artificial lights will be too strong to really make the auroras stand out or maybe it's because I was there during moonless nights. Speaking of which, I would like to digress with the common misconception that it's best to see the Northern Lights in an absolutely dark night: in my opinion, the darkness may help spot the lights and you may indeed be able to see them if they are faint. However if you are going for a good picture, I think it is better to have a nicely lit foreground (preferably by the moonlight and not by artificial light). A full moon in the picture can be beautiful too, if the lights are strong enough. I'm keeping that in mind for my next trip!
That being said, I must have been especially lucky, not only with the intensity of the lights but also with a clear weather that allowed me to see the lights five times during my trip. I was able to see the Milky Way crossing the auroras and there were beautiful magnetic storms almost every night, in different colours and shapes, so it made it look so easy to spot the Northern Lights but the guide confirmed it is definitely not the case and some people may stay out all night and still not see anything.
Besides the aurora hunting, activities were limited because of the short days (2 weeks before, the sun wasn't even rising in Tromsø!), which makes holidays a bit strange as you end up staying up late at night to chase the lights (going back to the hotel at two or three in the morning isn't unusual), waking up early to make the most of the daylight, while resting in the afternoon when it's dark! Still, you can visit the fjords (best to have your own car - especially in Lofoten - if you're not afraid to drive in the dark or in the snow) or try some dogsledding which is a very fun experience (the dogs are adorable too). Strangely speaking, what impressed me the most was how those dogs are able to poop while running (quite some skill, I must say).
Bergen is also a very nice city, full of energy while keeping a lot of charm with its nice residential area, interesting museums and a fish market serving amazing (but pricey) lunches. It's definitely a city to discover again in summer for all it has to offer but also as a base to visit the main fjords in the region.
With this trip, I feel I've fulfilled my dream of seeing the Northern Lights but I still long for more as auroras are different every time! I think Canada or Alaska would be nice next time!
As usual, the rest of the pictures is in the gallery.