Your travel wish list may be long or short, but witnessing the northern lights is one experience every traveller should see.
The natural phenomenon occurs in the winter night sky with curtains or waves of green, purple, red and blue. Alternatively described as “ethereal” and “surreal”, these lights have been around for thousands of years.
Scientifically known as the aurora borealis, this vivid light display can be seen with the naked eye.
The sky lights up when charged electrons and protons collide with gases in the earth’s upper atmosphere, producing tiny flashes. When billions of these flashes occur, the auroras appear to move.
The lights are among the many reasons Australians are travelling to Scandinavia.
The European region, which encompasses Denmark, Norway, and Sweden, is an ever-popular travel hub thanks to its stunning wilderness settings and historic, yet contemporary, cities.
Travel company Viking specialises in Scandinavian cruises, including the 13-day guided In Search of the Northern Lights voyage.
Departing from London, the journey takes passengers along the canals of Amsterdam before sailing the North Sea to the Norwegian alpine cities of Narvik and Tromsø, where the northern lights can be seen, before continuing onto Alta and Bergen.
In summer, Viking hosts the Into the Midnight Sun cruise – a 15-day cruise that takes in Norwegian cities where the sun never really sets below the horizon. Some of these towns located above the Arctic Circle, can experience 24 hours of sunlight, which means more time for travellers to explore the attractions including stunning fjords and fishing villages.
The wonders of Scandinavia are not to be missed, said Michelle Black, Viking’s managing director Australia and New Zealand.
“I love this part of the world so much so, I’ve done our Into the Midnight Sun itinerary twice, and I’d love to do it again in the winter months,” she said.
“It’s spectacularly beautiful, but offers such a diverse travelling experience. You’ve got incredible natural wonders such as the Norwegian fjords, vibrant cosmopolitan cities like Bergen, Oslo and Copenhagen and tiny fishing villages and hamlets.
There is such a rich cultural heritage in this part of the world dating back to The Viking Age, much of what can still be seen today. And the locals are so friendly and willing to provide a window into their daily lives.”
There’s also the Greenland, Iceland, Norway and Beyond cruise, which follows the path of early explorers through Norway and Svalbard, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
The cruise circumnavigates Iceland, stopping in at quaint fishing villages with snow-capped mountaintops.
Cruising the waters around Scandinavia is the ideal way to learn about the region’s mystical past. Many shipping routes were once Viking trade routes between 793 until 1066. During this time Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe for trade, but also to make raids and conquests.
The Vikings were not just warriors, traders and craftsmen, they were also the ultimate explorers with the old Norse verb “Viking” meaning to go on a waterborne journey.
Travellers with Viking will be treated to the expertise of guides who know the area thoroughly, said Black.
“Viking are known as the Scandinavian experts,” said Michelle.
“Our Chairman Torstein Hagen grew up in Norway and spent many years of his life here, so we have an inherent understanding of the people, landscapes and local culture and provide our guests with unique opportunities to experience the Scandinavian way of life.”
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