A Hurtigruten ship sailing in Norway with the Northern Lights above

Aurora at sea: the best way to see the Northern Lights

Six reasons why a voyage sailing the Norwegian coast with us is the best way to see the amazing aurora borealis.

During our 130 years of sailing Norway’s coast, we’ve spotted every type of aurora you can imagine. We’ve watched ribbons weave across the Arctic sky in shades of pink and red. We’ve seen rare coronas form directly over fjords lined with frozen waterfalls. We’ve even observed an aurora take the form of a dragon.

And we’ve learned beyond a doubt that the best way to increase your chances of seeing a spectacular display of the aurora borealis is to take a sea voyage beneath the Auroral Oval. So, over the decades, we’ve adapted our ships into floating observatories that are perfect for aurora chasers.

Here are six reasons why a voyage with us is your best chance of seeing an unforgettable Northern Lights display.

1. Pole position

Of the 34 ports that we visit on our famous Coastal Express route, 22 sit within the Arctic Circle. On our 12-day Roundtrip Voyage, you spend no fewer than six nights in the Auroral Zone. This increases your chances both of seeing the Northern Lights multiple times, and of seeing a spectacular display.

The Auroral Oval marks the range of auroral activity around the magnetic North Pole. Its footprint varies depending on solar activity, but Northern Norway is reliably within it. When you see the Northern Lights from within the Auroral Oval, they can fill the sky, from horizon to horizon.

MS Richard With sailing in Norway in winter under the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights above deck on a Hurtigruten cruise in Norway

2. Routine sightings

We have more than 130 years of experience seeing the aurora along the Norwegian coast, every year. Their spectacular displays are our normal. We sail every week of the year, including during the Northern Lights seasons.

Your best chance of seeing this spectacular light show in Europe is in Northern Norway between October and March, when the nights are long and dark – forming the ideal backdrop for the colourful Northern Lights. The longer you spend with us in this region at this time of year, the greater your chances of seeing a sensational display.

3. Clear skies ahead

While we can't control the weather, we sail quickly past any cloud cover for a clearer view of the skies.

One of the best things about aurora chasing from a ship is that you’re always on the move. If the sky is overcast, there’s a good chance the clouds will clear as you sail further along the coast. This constant shift from cloudy to clear skies increases your likelihood of seeing the Northern Lights, again and again. Plus, the backdrop to the Lights is always changing: it's never boring.

Guests watch a remarkable Northern Lights display from deck on a Hurtigruten ship
Northern Lights above a hot tub on deck on a Hurtigruten cruise in Norway

4. A floating observatory

Our ships are set up to give you the very best chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Our crew are often the first to see signs of the aurora, and when they do they make sure everyone knows about them. You can even request alerts in your cabin, 24 hours a day.

When an alert sounds, it’s easy to step out onto the observation decks or take up a position by the ship’s large windows. And it’s just as easy to step back inside and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate afterwards!

5. Front-row seats

A sea voyage takes you far away from the ambient artificial light on land, increasing your chances of seeing the aurora in all its glory. At sea, far away from air and light pollution, the visibility and vibrancy of the lights improves, along with your odds of a sighting.

And Northern Norway’s pristine fjords and snow-dusted mountains aglow in the Polar Night are the ultimate backdrop to the light show above.

It’s the stuff of aurora chasers’ dreams.

A couple watching the Northern Lights on deck of a Hurtigruten ship in Norway

6. Our Northern Lights Promise

And if the aurora doesn’t appear during your voyage, then don't be too disappointed. 

Thanks to our Northern Lights Promise, if the Northern Lights don’t occur within sight of your ship during your voyage of 11 days or more, we’ll give you another 6- or 7-day voyage for free.