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2 Week-ish November Itinerary Help (Southern Fjords and Northern Lights?)

Hello! Just found out I'll be going to Copenhagen in November for work so we will be turning it into a trip to hopefully cross the Northern Lights off of my husband's bucket list. It seems like there is plenty to keep us busy in the North, but curious if trying to fit in a bit of Southern fjord exploration is biting off too much. I also have no idea where to begin since all of these places are new to me and I don't recognize any of the city/city names outside of Bergen and Oslo.

-Fly from Copenhagen into Bergen, stay for 3 nights or 4 if we can use that as a base for exploring.
-Fly from Bergen to Tromso and look for a Northern Lights excursion
-Somehow get to Lofoton Islands, not sure where to stay here
-Fly out of Oslo or Bergen back to the US?

A little bit about our travel style (which we've devoted exclusively to Southern Europe so this is entering new territory for us!)
-We usually rent a car and we're comfortable driving in other countries
-We try to avoid cities since we live in one and prefer to see smaller towns, etc.
-We don't like to move around a ton/avoid traveling at a fast pace just to check sites off a to-do list. In other words, I would prefer not to spend just 1-2 nights in a place and opt for 3 nights at a minimum. That being said, I understand for the Northern Lights, maybe we only want to spend 2 nights in a place if we're able to catch them.

I appreciate any advice of guidance!!

Posted by
41 posts

Check out Fjordtours to see what they offer. They offer a combination of train and ferry trips that might suit you.

Here’s what we are doing in October:

Bergen to Flåm to Oslo by train and boat over 5 days, then the overnight ferry to Copenhagen. It’s too early for us to see the Lights, but you might be able to see them if you take a fjord tour in November.

Posted by
1378 posts

Not very likely to see NL in Bergen region - can happen but very seldomly.

Likelihood increases above Arctic Circle. NL is a question of luck: they need to appear and you need clear sky (forecast www.yr.no).

Novenber means short daylights, likely some cold and wet weather and maybe early snow or at least conditions with closings of streets. Weather is king in Norway.

Norway has no real big cities - even capital Oslo is only a big village imo.

Posted by
9 posts

Thank you for the advice! That is good to know regarding city size. In terms of November, I am a little nervous about the weather, but I don't have control over timing due to work. I guess we'll have to make sure we're very strategic about what we do during the daylight hours.

Posted by
1091 posts

While Tromsø is a nice town, the coastal location makes it cloudy, so a pretty bad place for Northern lights. Abisko is a better choice in my opinion, it also has the advantage of being close to Lofoten.

The weather in November can be unpredictable and pretty bad, so if you plan to rent a car, how are your winter driving skills? Also, don't expect big motorways in Norway.

As for flying back to the US from Oslo or Bergen, it sounds like a good plan. I don't know where you live, but SAS has daily flights from Oslo to Newark, no transatlantic flights from Bergen though.

Posted by
1378 posts

I have not seen proven weather statistics for Abisko versus Tromso which shows a clear advantage of more clear sky in November in Abisko. But it is additional travel time.

Fact is that visitors just simply can check 24 hrs before how the forecast is - and people can have luck there and there.

Posted by
326 posts

Planning to see the northern lights (aurora borealis) may be more about science than luck (although some luck maybe involved with cloudy skies vs. clear dark skies - away from city lights and bright moonlight).

If your travel plans are primarily to view aurora, then you need to understand that reduced solar activity is likely to show itself in less intense and less frequent northern lights. After last peaking in 2014, the 22-year solar cycle is entering its low phase this year (solar minimum). The last minimum in 2009 was especially quiet.

There are many excellent website articles - some of them affiliated with universities and NASA - that explain the when, why, and where you are mostly likely to see the northern lights. We see the northern lights frequently where I live in Canada - about the same latitude as Dublin, Manchester, and Hamburg.

Posted by
1091 posts

I have not seen proven weather statistics for Abisko versus Tromso
which shows a clear advantage of more clear sky in November in Abisko.

It is a pretty simple reason. Moist air from the Atlantic reaches Tromsø, is forced up by the mountains. The moisture then condensates and form clouds. Once the air has passed the peak, it sinks and thus heats up and the clouds disappear. A quite common effect in mountainous areas. Due to this effect, Abisko is not very cloudy (and recieves very little precipitation).