Your travel wish list may be long or short, but witnessing the Northern Lights is an experience every traveler should see.
The natural phenomenon occurs in the winter night sky with curtains or waves of green, purple, red and blue. Alternately described as “ethereal” and “surreal,” these lights have been around for thousands of years.
Known scientifically as the aurora borealis, this vibrant display of light can be seen with the naked eye.
The sky lights up when charged electrons and protons collide with gases in Earth’s upper atmosphere, creating tiny flashes. When billions of these flashes occur, the auroras appear to move.
The lights are one of the many reasons Australians travel to Scandinavia.
The European region, which includes Denmark, Norway and Sweden, is an ever-popular travel hub thanks to its beautiful wilderness and historic, yet contemporary towns.
Travel company Viking specializes 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 across the North Sea to the Norwegian mountain towns of Narvik and Tromsø, where the Northern Lights can be seen, before continuing to Alta and Bergen.
In the summer, Viking runs the Into the Midnight Sun cruise – a 15-day cruise of Norwegian cities where the sun never really sets below the horizon. Some of these cities above the Arctic Circle can experience 24 hours of sunlight, meaning travelers have more time to explore the sights, including beautiful fjords and fishing villages.
The wonders of Scandinavia shouldn’t be missed, says Michelle Black, Managing Director of Viking Australia and New Zealand.
“I love this part of the world so much I’ve done our Into the Midnight Sun route twice and would love to do it again in the winter months,” she said.
“It’s spectacularly beautiful, yet offers such a diverse travel experience. You have incredible natural wonders such as the Norwegian fjords, vibrant cosmopolitan cities such as Bergen, Oslo and Copenhagen and small 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 which can still be seen today. And the locals are so friendly and willing to give a glimpse into their daily lives.”
There is also the Greenland, Iceland, Norway and beyond cruise, which follows the path of early explorers through Norway and Spitsbergen, a Norwegian archipelago in the Arctic Ocean.
The cruise circumnavigates Iceland, stopping at quaint fishing villages with snow-capped peaks.
Cruising the waters around Scandinavia is the ideal way to learn about the region’s mystical past. Many shipping lanes were once Viking trade routes between 793 and 1066. During this time, Scandinavian Norsemen explored Europe for trade, as well as to conduct raids and conquests.
The Vikings were not only warriors, traders and craftsmen, they were also the ultimate explorers with the Old Norse verb “Viking” meaning to go on a journey across the water.
Viking travelers are treated to the expertise of guides who know the area inside out, Black said.
“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 offer our guests unique opportunities to experience the Scandinavian way of life.”
Discover the beauty of Scandinavia on a cruise with Viking.