Our clients come from all over the world

It is always frustrating when you are not able to fly direct from your regional airport to your point of destination, and instead have to travel down at the start of your holiday. For those in search of the Northern Lights and some adventure in stunning volcanic scenery then Reykjavik is the place to fly to. Reykjavik probably has more direct flights that most with daily direct departures in the winter from London Heathrow, London Gatwick, Manchester, and Glasgow. For those looking to go on a Northern Lights Holiday from some of the more regional airports there are also regular departures from London Luton, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast, Dublin and London City, (though not every day).

However that still leaves a gap in the more Central and North part of England.

Jet 2 have just issued their winter flight schedule for Reykjavik and for those who are flexible with their departure dates this will help you!

They do only have a few limited flights to Reykjavik on specific dates, so they tend to fill quickly and to be more expensive but they are quite useful as they focus on key Northern Lights travelling times and they also include some of the smaller regional airports which other airlines don’t offer. So if you would like to fly from Leeds, Newcastle, Birmingham or East Midlands direct to Reykjavik on a Northern Lights trip then these dates with Jet 2 could be your solution!

Leeds   

                31st Oct -4th Nov 2019                    4 nights
                4th-7th Nov 2019                              3 nights
                24th-27th Feb 2020                         3 nights
                20th-24th Feb 2020                        4 nights
                23rd-26th March   2020                 3 nights
               2nd-6th April 2020                          4 nights

 

Newcastle         

               24th-28th Oct 2019                              4 nights
               28th-31st Oct 2019                               3 nights
               25th-28th Nov 2019                             3 nights
               13th-17th Feb 2020                              4 nights
               17th-20th Feb 2020                              3 nights
               19th-23rd March   2020                       4 nights
               6th-9th April 2020                                3 nights

 

Birmingham       

               7th-11th Nov 2019                                   4 nights
               11th-14th Nov 2019                                 3 nights
               28th Nov-2nd Dec 2019                        4 nights
               5th-9th March 2020                               4 nights
               9th-12th March 2020                             3 nights
              30th March-2nd April 2020                  3 nights

 

East Midlands  

               14-18 Nov 2019                                       4 nights
               18th-21st Nov 2019                                 3 nights
               21st-25th Nov 2019                                 4 nights
              12th-16th March 2020                             4 nights
              16th-19th March 2020                             3 nights

 

Jet2 also fly from Glasgow and Manchester on some select dates. However as IcelandAir also flies from Glasgow, and both EasyJet and IcelandAir fly from Manchester we are able to offer all departure days during the winter from these two departure airports.

To be inspired check out our amazing range of Iceland Northern Lights short breaks 

 

When you have chosen to self drive some of the activities we still want to add some extra experiences for you to enhance your day. These are our Local Top Tips!

 

Self driving the Golden Circle in Iceland

We would recommend you avoid the restaurants near the Geyser and Gullfoss which are extremely busy tourist traps with no character. Instead we would recommend you visit one of the restaurants below which are both in Reykholt which is a small town 15 mins from the Geyser.

Friðheimar Tomato Farm

Enjoy a unique food experience at the restaurant in the greenhouse, with 3 different varieties of tomatoes growing all around! Tomato soup and fresh-baked bread, as well as other goodies are served, in a charming environment among the plants.

Mika Restaurant

Mika is a family business run where everyone from grandma Józefik to the children contribute. They deeply care about the freshness of the food and buying from local farmers, and everything is made on site. They specialise in handmade chocolates and langoustine dishes.

Extra Waterfall and View: Faxi waterfall near the restaurants 

The waterfall Faxi in the river Tungufljót in South region in Iceland is only twelve kms from the famous Geysir hot spring area and twenty kms from the famous waterfall Gullfoss.

Faxi has been described as a small version of Gullfoss but of course not as powerful. The waterfall is 80 meters wide and seven meters high. It is a beautiful waterfall placed in a wonderful and peaceful landscape.  It is also possible to walk quite near the waterfall on the lower level and feel the drizzle from the water.

Self driving the South Coast to Vik in Iceland 

Dyrhóley

For those looking for an extra view divert to Dyrhóley which is the west of Vik

Dyrhólaey is a 120-metre high promontory, not far from Vík. The place got its name from the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. (The name literally means “door-hole”). There are also amazing rock formations all along here. The Birdlife here is abundant, with puffins and eider ducks being the most common species.

The lighthouse on the top of the cliff stands impressive and stoic in this very windy area.

Suður Vík Restaurant

Whilst there is a very convenient café restaurant on the Reynisfjara beach with the basalt columns, the best restaurant in the area is the Suður Vík in Vík. Fresh meals are made with love and local ingredients. The restaurant is located in an old and charming house on the top of a hill with a lovely view of the ocean, town and surrounding mountains.

Self Driving to/from the Blue Lagoon to the South Coast in Iceland 

Reykjanes peninsula –Take the Coastal Road rather than the more direct road

On this coastal route you will have great views of the sea which has even been known to freeze at the edges! We would recommend you visit Krysuvik (Road 42). These are bubbling mud pots.   It’s not a long stop but definitely worth seeing.

There is also another waterfall to see on the way on the route 302 which is just before Selfoss (Road 427).  It is a sort of mini Gulfoss so much quieter and it is claimed it is the most powerful in Iceland…therefore more powerful than Gulfoss.

Gunnuhver (Road 427 and 425)- close to Reykjanes lighthouse. The mud pools and steam from the boiling geothermal reservoir water condense and mix with surface water. The resulting gases such as carbon dioxide and hydrogen sulphide make the water acid, causing the fresh lava rock to change into clay

For those of our clients looking to travel over from America to Iceland for a Northern Lights Holiday this coming winter we thought you might find it useful to know quite how many different airports in the States you can fly from direct to Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland .

Chicago, New York, Denver, Washington, Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, Orlando, Minneapolis, Tampa all offer direct over-night flights with IcelandAir to Reykjavik.

Iceland is renown for its breath-taking dramatic volcanic scenery with Geysers, Volcanoes, Lava Flows , Glaciers around every corner- and don’t of course forget the Aurora Borealis too!! You will even have the chance to see some whales are sightings are surprisingly high in the winter.

Weekend a La Carte Aurora Nights has a super range of Iceland Aurora short breaks that will enthral, with a choice of staying in your own private cabin or atmospheric luxury hotels with hot tubs. Prepare to take exciting super-jeep adventures up volcanoes and visiting ice caves. For the more adventurous there is ice climbing and glacial hiking and the chance to snowmobile on the volcano that erupted in 2010 which shut all of Europe down! Don’t worry we keep a very close monitor on the situation to ensure you are not in any danger- but what a great story to tell to say you have snowmobiled on it!

Even better is that the airline IcelandAir also have this great offer where you can stop for up to 7 days in Iceland before continuing your journey to a new destination to explore before flying back to America. When you have flown so far you may as well continue and experience more after all!

This is a super solution for our multi destination Aurora breaks where you visit both Iceland and Sweden. This way you can really get to experience a huge array of varied arctic activities combining the stunning volcanic scenery in Iceland with incredible Husky Sledding and snowmobiling safaris, Ice Fishing and Sami Reindeer experiences in Sweden. You can visit, or even stay, in the atmospheric Ice Hotel and you will have an excellent chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

We have been offering these breaks for 15 years now and are very confident you will have the most memorable time that you will talk about for years, and IcelandAir have just made the logistics so much easier for you. Do contact us and let us know what appeals so we can craft the perfect Northern Lights break for you.

It is a little over 10 years since Joanna Lumley, on a trip to the Lofoten islands in Norway, set of an explosion of interest in seeing the northern lights.

I remember coming into the office the day after the programme was aired on TV and saw a 400% increase in traffic to our web site and knew that the interest in seeing one of nature’s great phenomena was real.

A lot has transpired since then and the whole of the Arctic Region has benefitted from a wave of travellers from all over the world who have flocked to search for the Aurora Borealis.

Media hype has played its part and various interpretations of the science behind the aurora have been adapted to try and drive the market but the simple reality remains and that is one most nights in the arctic during the aurora season ( Sept-March) you stand a good chance of seeing some activity – clear skies being the overriding requirement.

Over time we have seen a shift in holiday makers looking for destinations where the weather is more stable and predictable and that are why destinations like Abisko in Swedish Lapland have exploded in popularity. With an 83% chance of seeing the northern lights in a 4 night visit in Abisko through the season these are the odds that most travellers are happy to take.

The Best Northern Lights Holidays of the Future

However 10 years on the basic break of aurora hunting, snowmobile and sled dog trip as the core of a break are making way to clients seeking more multi destination breaks with more luxury included. As the market has evolved so has the quality of accommodation and food in particular. There are some wonderful small lodges and cabins with private services now available.

Additionally the countries of Norway, Sweden and Finland have joined forces on a project entitled Visit Arctic Europe with the goal of developing transport links between the 3 countries in the Lapland region north of the Arctic Circle. This is beginning to bear fruit and in the foreseeable future it will be easier to do exciting multi destination northern lights holidays across the 3 countries.

Weekend a la Carte’s Aurora Nights has been at the forefront of developing northern lights holiday for 15 years and is already offering some incredible longer journeys through Iceland & Sweden, Greenland & Iceland and Sweden & Norway.

For some inspiration take a look at our Multi Destination northern lights holidays.

 

Of all the destinations we offer we get more requests from clients celebrating a wedding anniversary or big Birthday for a break to Lapland than any of our other destinations.

It’s really not difficult to see why as a trip to the Arctic for most people is once in a lifetime experience and so completely different to almost any other holiday they have been on before. After all if you are celebrating a silver wedding anniversary or a 40th or 50th Birthday then you want an experience that stands out from what you have done previously.

Who could not be captivated by the idea of being pulled through a pristine snowy wilderness by a team of eager to please Huskies or by the thought of staying in the world famous ICEHOTEL in an individually designed Art Suite? To crown it all of why not go Northern Lights hunting in Abisko in Swedish Lapland probably the best place on earth for consistent sightings of the Northern Lights.

In addition you have unique wildlife, the indigenous Sami culture centred on reindeer herding and all manner of unique settings from fjords to mountains and icebergs to volcanoes.

In terms of places to stay there are small lodges, wilderness cabins with private chef and the unique Tree Hotel with its quirky rooms such as the Mirror Cube, Birds Nest ad UFO! Whether you are travelling as a couple or bigger group to celebrate we can suggest itineraries that fit best for your group size.

Click on this link to see our suggested breaks for celebrating a special occasion

If you truly want to make your special moment an amazing adventure, why not combine more than one country on your Arctic Northern Lights holiday adventure. We offer great combinations of Sweden and Norway, Iceland and Sweden and Iceland and Greenland for spectacular journeys that will be forever etched on the memory.

Click on this link to see some of our longer journeys

We have, over 14 years, built up the expertise to knit together arguably the best journeys possible in the region and have reams of feedback from satisfied clients over the years. If you have a special occasion on the horizon, then give us a call to see what we can do for you.

Northern Lights – The Age of the Aurora
Solar activities, also known as sunspots, are what regulate the intensity of the solar wind which in turn creates the aurora borealis. The sun has an 11 year cycle – or “pulse” – which regulate the intensity of the sunspots/Northern Lights and thereby also their consistency. Scientists have been monitoring this for hundreds of years and also know when to expect increases in activity.

As we now head into a period with very high sunspot activity – one could say we are in The Age of Aurora – which should therefore bring about some fantastic displays of aurora.

The next time this high sunspot occurs again will be around 2022 – so if you want to view this nature’s splendour in the foreseeable future – now is the time to book a trip to the northern latitudes where this is viewable.

To see the Northern Lights Holidays we offer.

The amazing spectacle known as the Northern Lights is an experience you will never forget and if you use your camera correctly you will be able to share your experience with others.

The Aurora Borealis occurs in the North and the Aurora Australis occurs in the south.  We are talking extreme north and extreme south close to the Arctic and Antarctic circles.  The majority of activity forms a kind of halo at both ends of the earth.

Required Gear
Camera – almost any DSLR is suitable. The deciding factor is the ability to open the shutter for long periods.  Check to see if your camera has a bulb mode and maybe invest in a cable. A tripod or any other means of keeping the camera still for long exposures is essential. Lens – if you are dedicated, choose a lens with a super wide aperture. I use a f1.4 lens although I rarely go past f2.8.  Wide angle is best … quite simply, wide angle improves your chances of getting a shot and also the stars start to trail much later on a wide angle.

Technique
To increase your chance of a successful aurora hunt, you need to be aware of the weather.  If it is cloudy on earth, your chances of seeing the aurora grow weaker. You can increase your chances again by eliminating light pollution.  A really strong Aurora can be seen in the city, but you really need to get far away from the city lights to improve your chances.  The moon can also work against you. If you can see stars you have a chance, if you can see the Milky Way, you have a good chance.

Get your camera set up so that it is easy to handle.  I would suggest chest height.  Using a flashlight make sure your cable is connected, your lens is set just short of infinity and the camera is level. Then turn off the flashlight and let your eyes adjust to the darkness. Then wait. You can use the waiting time constructively.  You can practice with your bulb and find a good composition.  Set your camera to f2.8 (or as wide as possible) iso 800 and take some test shots for 30 seconds.  Do this in all directions but mainly due north (Aurora Borealis).  You may start to see a green hue on your pictures near the horizon. This is a good sign and this is the part of the sky you need to watch.

As the aurora starts to get brighter you need to start adjusting your settings accordingly.  Start by bringing down your iso.  Always check the brightness of your image on the histogram and never rely on the camera preview screen.  Your eyes have adjusted to the dark so an underexposed image will look fine – until you get it home!

If the whole sky explodes and the Aurora casts a shadow, you need to be quick to adjust your exposure times.  The best Aurora shots occur during these brief moments.  A faster shutter of 8 – 20 seconds will preserve some of the details of the display.

Sometimes you cannot avoid star trails if you don’t trust iso 800 and your lens stops at f4, you might be exposing for 2 minutes with a weak aurora.  Generally it is preferred to expose for less than 30 seconds to prevent noticeable star trails.

Click here to see our Abisko breaks

We get asked this question more than any other question.

Firstly you can never guarantee seeing the Northern Lights. If there was a magic switch somebody would have found it by now!  However there are certain places in Europe which record much higher overall levels of sightings. The three most celebrated and visited are Abisko in Swedish Lapland, Ranga in Iceland and Tromso in Norway.

The seasons vary and Iceland, due to the non-reliance of snow for the destination to work, has the longest viewing season. This runs from October – March. Abisko and Tromso have a shorter but more intense season running from December – April.

If I was to choose between the 3 destinations I would pick Abisko as the best. Not only does the percentage of nights during the season when the lights are viewed register the highest but the drama of seeing them up at the sky station is unbeatable. You feel you can reach out at times and touch them!

So having established the best location we focus on the best time. There is certainly an argument to say that the lights are seen at their best when there is low lunar light but from experience it should not be the overriding reason of the timing of your visit. We have found that what is more important is finding a spot where there is a high chance of a clear night (Abisko being the best) and then it’s down to the intensity of the solar wind bouncing off the earth’s magnetic field.

However having done this break for many years what is equally as important during a Northern Lights Holiday is to ensure you have a full programme of exciting activities to do during the day. This is where the best tour operators earn their stripes ensuring your break to the Arctic is a once in a lifetime experience with a mix of Husky Dog Sledding and Snowmobile Safaris to name but a few.

To see our Northern Lights Holidays click here.

This was written by Chad Blakley, a professional photographer whom we work with offering Northern Lights photographic evenings in Abisko. See the Northern Lights Photographer course we offer with Chad.

It is officially aurora season in Abisko National Park! After a summer of round the clock sunshine, the midnight sun has taken a bow and offered the stage to the magical Northern Lights. As the winter season kicks into overdrive I find myself overjoyed with the fact that I get to spend my nights under the stars with excited guests from all over the world!

Due to the current solar maximum the 2012-13 aurora watching season is poised to be one of the best in recent memory. Scientists and aurora forecasters predict that solar activity will be unusually high during the next few years, causing the auroras to increase in intensity and to appear in the night sky above Abisko Nation Park with more frequency. When I look back at the last several aurora seasons I am filled with excitement to know that things will be getting better and better. I hope to see you under the crystal clear skies of Abisko National Park this winter and I look forward to helping you photograph the Lights Over Lapland!

Here are a few tips to help hopeful photographers prepare their camera for the lights before they have an opportunity to join one of our tours:

Your camera will need to be set to full manual program mode including manual focus.

  • Start with an ISO and exposure time of 1600 and 15 seconds. Exposure time will vary but this is a good place to start.
  • Use a wide angle lens with a fast maximum aperture. F3.5 or faster is preferred.
  • Use a headlamp with a red bulb to preserve your night vision.
  • Bring extra batteries! The cold Arctic temperatures present in Abisko will cause your batteries to drain much quicker than normal.
  • Before bringing your camera into a warm room after your night in the park be sure to put it in a plastic bag. Let the camera slowly warm itself to room temperature to avoid condensation on your lens.

People are often quite nervous about what they are going to eat whilst visiting Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle when on a Northern Lights break, expecting the food to be bland. In fact the food is delicious; Simple fresh fare served beautifully.

Arctic Char (part of the salmon family) is a popular dish and local delicacy. A fleshy fish which makes an excellent soup, filleted and even roasted when in Abisko. In Lulea Swedish Meatballs make a feast and everywhere in Swedish Lapland Moose and Reindeer are also part of the normal menu often served as a stew or fried with Lingonberries – the native Berry which makes a good tart contrast to the juicy meat. You will come across Lingonberries a few times due to its versatility; served hot, cold, as a sauce and as a soft drink like a cordial.

For those vegetarians who don’t eat fish, or those not keen to eat the local game, there are vegetarian meals consisting mainly of Vegetable stew. At the Arctic Eden Hotel in Kiruna there is even an excellent Thai restaurant; popular with the locals and run by the wife’s owner who is Thai and therefore ensures the authenticity and quality are spot on.

At Weekend a La Carte we always ask for any food intolerances before your visit so that we can plan accordingly for you. As the guides take the food with them on the adventure activities, such as snowmobiling and Husky dog sledging it’s important we know beforehand so that we can make sure you have a suitable warming and sustaining meal to give you energy for the next part of your unique arctic adventure on your trip to see the Northern Lights.

Below is an extract from an article that Luiz Hara “The London Foodie” wrote after visiting the region of Lulea in Swedish Lapland which gives you a flavour for the food available at two of the hotels in Lulea.

Where to Eat in Lulea
Kallkällan Restaurant at Sörbyn Hotel in Lulea
Following our hunting expedition at Sörbyn, we headed back to the hotel to meet Head Chef Richard Karlsson who would be cooking the fruits of our labours – our precious capercaillie. He kindly allowed me into the kitchen to watch the preparation, and explained in detail the local ingredients he would be using, their origins, and the dishes we were about to eat.

Our starter was a Nigiri Sushi made with Arctic Char, a local fish. He cleverly used a mix of oat porridge and crème fraiche in place of sushi rice, and served the sushi with sliced blowtorched cucumber, lobster oil, cabbage and ginger mousse. I loved the flavours and presentation of this dish, especially his Nordic take on a Japanese classic using local ingredients.

For main course, naturally, we had Roasted Capercaillie, which was surprisingly dense yet tender, flavourful, and not nearly as gamey as I had expected. Chef Karlsson served it with a black liquorice glaze (a heavenly combination – game and liquorice), carrot and roasted garlic puree cooked in a crayfish broth, sliced cabbage cooked in port wine and balsamic vinegar, vasterbotten cheese fries (a local cheese similar in flavour to Parmesan).

This was a delicious main course, and I particularly enjoyed the carrot and roasted garlic puree. Chef Karlsson transformed the humble carrot into something else. He added the sweetness of roasted garlic, and by poaching the vegetable in a broth made from crayfish shells, the resulting puree had many different layers of flavour.

The dessert was an ultra-light layered sponge cake covered in meringue, and filled with satsuma and crème Chantilly. This was a refreshing, delightful dessert.

The main course was brown bear fillet with morchella mushroom (morels) sauce, mashed potatoes, blackcurrant jam.  Although eating brown bear might raise some eyebrows, it has been the custom in this northern part of Sweden for centuries. The bear was exquisite like the finest beef fillet, very tender with a delicious savour, and to my surprise had no discernible gamey characteristics. The Pensionat has a limited but impressive wine list. Graeme and I shared a bottle of Amarone which, needless to say, went down a treat with the bear fillet.

Tree Hotel in Lulea
At the main guesthouse (Brittas Pensionat) I had another lovely meal while staying at the Tree Hotel. Like the decor, the food is homely and delicious. Britta and Kent are very warm hosts, and come to sit and talk to their guests during dinner.  I was invited into the kitchen to see Britta prepare some of the food we were about to eat, including brown bear fillet.

We started with a lightly curried soup with salmon, tomatoes and crème fraiche which was creamy, light and well flavoured. This was followed by moose meatball served with lingonberry jam, Madeira wine sauce and mashed potatoes. I had never eaten moose before, and found it had a gamey quality to it. Although I suspect moose meat is something of an acquired taste, I enjoyed it, and particularly with its accompanying fine lingonberry jam.

Meals at Brittas Pensionat were one of the best parts of my stay at the Tree Hotel, not only for her delicious home cooking, but also for her and Kent’s warm hospitality.

Click here to see our Aurora Nights Grand Slam break which showcases the delicious food on offer

We are delighted to announce the launch of our new refreshed website for Weekend a la Carte Aurora Nights.

We think it will really help you imagine yourself there watching the Northern Lights, and experiencing the activities with many more photos, bigger photos, and lots of videos to inspire and tempt you.

Over the years we have developed many new breaks and as a result it has become quite hard for you to find your way around the website with so many breaks to choose from. The new website has been restructured so the different types of breaks and destinations are much clearer.

We have also for the first time added Norway to our portfolio. With the call for more autumn Aurora Holidays Norway was an obvious destination as an alternative to Iceland which also has strong Northern Lights in the autumn.

Whilst Iceland offers dramatic volcanic landscape and truly exciting adventure superjeep tours, Norway offers spectacular fjords and mountains that drop right into the sea.

Greenland is developing as a winter northern lights destination with more and more people combining Iceland and Greenland in one break so as to experience the full range of Volcanic wonders of Geysers, Rift valleys, Glaciers, Volcanoes, Icebergs, Snowmobiling and Husky Dog Sledding with the Inuits to remote settlements.

Swedish Lapland continues to be a Northern Lights Trip favourite with superb activities during the day to entertain you, and a high chance of seeing the Northern Lights at Abisko, called the Northern Lights Capital of Europe. The Husky Sledding and Snowmobiling really is the very best.

So with four aurora destinations we want to make sure we have made it as easy as possible for you to chose where you want to go to so as to help focus your search.

We have written a destination guide which covers everything from activities that you would undertake, expected weather, departure airports, food you should expect to eat, and accommodation by destination. It’s totally free for you to download, with no obligation, so you can peruse at your leisure to help you plan your Northern Lights Adventure.

We are here to help guide you and craft that perfect Northern Lights experience for you. Do give us a call on 01722 744695.

 

Some people like the idea of a cruise, visiting different places on the way and being able to see the lights from the deck of the ship. There are then those who would prefer to stay on land in a hotel and take a trip out to appreciate the lights instead.

However, the question for the uninitiated is: where are the best places to visit to really appreciate the aurora borealis and get some truly breathtaking views?

Iceland

The very name of this country is in fact misleading, and indeed there is the well-known joke that Greenland and Iceland should swap names as Iceland can be very green, with the snow and ice focusing on the Glaciers. Having said that Iceland is full of volcanoes and lava fields. This gives it a rugged, harsh look and makes it a very dramatic back drop for seeing the Northern Lights.

Out in the countryside in the South of Iceland, you’ll have an unreserved view of the sky, giving you some fantastic chances to take pictures of the very reason you came to visit; the Northern Lights. The area around Hella is particularly good as it has little artificial light to interfere with the Northern Lights, and has a great incidence of sightings of the Aurora Borealis. There is a great 4 star Hotel option in this area with a superb restaurant, as well as a wilderness cabin for those looking to enjoy the peace and serenity on their own. In the North of Iceland you get away from the crowds and have the opportunity to enjoy the Aurora in isolation over waterfalls and a quiet estuary.

It’s not all about looking up at the sky in Iceland though. The snowy, mountainous areas are perfect for enjoying various adventurous activities like ice climbing with crampons, snowmobiling on the Glaciers and amazing off road Super Jeep tours with an experienced local guide right in the heart of the wilderness, and away from others.

Iceland is also famous for its Gullfoss Waterfall and the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts about every 5 minutes, as well as its black volcanic beaches and extraordinary volcanic landscape in the north. Whilst the best time to see whales is in the summer with an incidence of sightings at 90%, winter sightings are also high with an average of 70-75% and non summer Whale Watching is now increasing in popularity with the best sightings in the Aurora Season at either end near the equinoxes in March and October. You’ll get spectacular views of the Icelandic nature whatever time of the year you visit, so be sure to pack a good camera.

One of the most popular places to visit in Iceland is the Blue Lagoon. This thermal spa is situated near the capital city of Reykjavik and simply cannot be missed. The water temperature is around 37 to 39 degrees Celsius, making it a stark contrast to the fresh, crisp air temperature. A most pleasurable way to spend the afternoon is having an in water massage followed by a steam bath or sauna.

To see all our Iceland Northern Lights Breaks

 

Sweden and Lapland

This is one of the most popular places to visit; with various cities and villages giving great views of the Northern Lights.

Abisko is found in the north of Sweden, 300 kms above the Arctic Circle, and is a tourist attraction ideal for Northern Lights hunters. Due to its unique climate it has the highest incidence of seeing the Northern Lights in Sweden, if not in the whole of the region.You can take a snowmobile or a pack of huskies on a sled out over the frozen rivers and lakes, away from the light-pollution caused in the cities and towns. This wilderness will give you the perfect open space to chase the Aurora and get the best possible views.

Professional photographers often frequent the region so you may be able to pick up some tips on how best to capture the Northern Lights. Alternatively an evening in the Aurora Sky Station in Abisko is a wonderful way to see the northern lights. The IceHotel near Kiruna is worth including on your trip to Sweden. Made entirely of ice and snow, this hotel was the first of its kind to exist.
Visit the IceBar for a relaxing drink as a completely alternative setting to what you’re used to, and if you go at the right time of year, you may glimpse the Northern Lights here as well.

For the ultimate Northern Lights hunter -do the coast to coast adventure. Start off in Lulea in Swedish Lapland and take a snowmobile over the frozen Archipelago. There are some great opportunities to go ice fishing here, while the vast open plains are fantastic for spotting the northern lights. You can then move on to Sorbyn further inland and spot wild reindeer.

There’s also a chance to stay in the special aurora camp located in the Rane River valley; a truly unique experience for the more adventurous holidaymaker.  Then make your way across the Arctic Circle to Abisko where you not only have the Northern Lights but you can try your hand at ice climbing in this vast National Park or ice fishing on Lake Tornetrask. When you finally reach the Norwegian Fjords, another train ride away, you’ll get some breathtaking views of the mountains and have the chance to ask the locals about the Northern Lights.

To see our Northern Lights Trips to Sweden

Greenland

This emerging destination is a very special place. Can you imagine anything more spectacular than watching the Northern Lights over gigantic Icebergs in the north west of Greenland in Ilulissat?

With numbers limited by very small flight capacity this destination remains a spectacular foray into true wilderness, though equally boasts the most northerly 4 star hotel in the world!

Take a Husky Safari with a Innuit to a remote hunting settlement during the day or go on a snowmobile safari or ice shoe walk in the wilderness as you wait for the evening and the display of Auroras!

To see our Aurora Adventures in Greenland

Norway

Norwegian Lapland was put on the map by Joanna Lumley. The scenery is truly some of the most spectacular with dramatic mountains, fjords and the Northern Lights reflected in the sea. Whale watching has also become a popular pastime in the Fjords with autumn being the prime time for viewings of both whales and northern lights.

To see our Norwegian Lapland Aurora Breaks

The Northern Lights can be viewed in a number of different places around the northern hemisphere and the location you choose will largely depend on the type of holiday you want. If you’re after an action-packed, white-knuckle adventure, you’ll have a different idea of what you expect than if you want a relaxing, chilled-out hotel stay with some spectacular views.

Whatever you’re seeking, you’re sure to find it in one of these places. Just be sure to wrap up warm and take your camera; these are some sights you’ll never want to forget.

People are often quite nervous about what they are going to eat whilst visiting Sweden, north of the Arctic Circle when on a Northern Lights break, expecting the food to be bland. In fact the food is delicious. Simple fresh fare served beautifully.

Artic Char (part of the salmon family) is a popular dish and local delicacy. A fleshy fish which makes an excellent soup, filleted and even roasted when in Abisko. In Lulea Swedish Meatballs make a feast and everywhere in Swedish Lapland Moose and Reindeer are also part of the normal menu often served as a stew or fried with Lingonberries – the native Berry which makes a good tart contrast to the juicy meat. You will come across Lingonberries a few times due to its versatility; served hot , cold, as a sauce and as a soft drink like a cordial.

For those vegetarians who don’t eat fish, or those not keen to eat the local game, there are vegetarian meals consisting mainly of Vegetable stew. At the Arctic Eden Hotel in Kiruna there is even an excellent Thai restaurant, popular with the locals and run by the wife’s owner who is Thai and therefore ensures the authencity and quality are spot on.

At Weekend a La Carte we always ask for any food intolerances before your visit so that we can plan accordingly for you. As the guides take the food with them on the adventure activities, such as snowmobiling and Husky dog sledging it’s important we know beforehand so that we can make sure you have a suitable warming and sustaining meal to give you energy for the next part of your unique arctic adventure on your trip to see the Northern Lights.

The below is an extract from an article that Luiz Hara “The London Foodie” wrote after visiting the region of Lulea in Swedish Lapland which gives you a flavour for the food available at two of the hotels in Lulea.

Where to Eat

Kallkällan Restaurant at Sörbyn Hotel in Lulea

Following our hunting expedition at Sörbyn, we headed back to the hotel to meet Head Chef Richard Karlsson who would be cooking the fruits of our labours – our precious capercaillie. He kindly allowed me into the kitchen to watch the  preparation, and explained in detail the local ingredients he would be using, their origins, and the dishes we were about to eat.

Our starter was a Nigiri Sushi made with Arctic Char, a local fish. He cleverly used a mix of oat porridge and crème fraiche in place of sushi rice, and served the sushi with sliced, blowtorched cucumber, lobster oil, cabbage and ginger mousse. I loved the flavours and presentation of this dish, especially his Nordic take on a Japanese classic using local ingredients.

For main course, naturally, we had roasted Capercaillie, which was surprisingly dense yet tender, flavourful, and not nearly as gamey as I had expected. Chef Karlsson served it with a black liquorice glaze (a heavenly combination – game and liquorice), carrot and roasted garlic puree cooked in a crayfish broth, sliced cabbage cooked in port wine and balsamic vinegar, vasterbotten cheese fries (a local cheese similar in flavour to Parmesan).

This was a delicious main course, and I particularly enjoyed the carrot and roasted garlic puree. Chef Karlsson transformed the humble carrot into something else. He added the sweetness of roasted garlic, and by poaching the vegetable in a broth made from crayfish shells, the resulting puree had many different layers of flavour.

The dessert was an ultra-light layered sponge cake covered in meringue and filled with satsuma and crème chantilly. This was a refreshing, delightful dessert.

There are three main types of travel. The first are the beach holidays. Flights, car hire and a hotel/villa and you’re all set. These are great for when you just want to get away and have a relaxing break. They are perfect for those that don’t want to plan and just decide as they go what they do with tomorrow. This is the sort of trip for someone who wants to keep full control of their schedule. They are simple, easy trips. Pick a beautiful location and half an hour on Expedia, and it’s all done.

The second category is the full set tour package. Whether it is a case of you travelling alone, wanting to meet new people, or whether you are just unsure how to put together everything you want to do, these are the breaks for those wanting someone else to plan out the A’s to B’s. It could be a case of too much to organise or just not knowing how. City breaks are easy to organise, but how about a trip to the arctic on a northern lights holiday? How do you organise a husky sled tour? Or maybe you are travelling around. Organising a trip to the arctic Circle would be quite daunting for most people. This is where the tour package excels; it gives you effortless travel without the worry. Trying to arrange this sort of trip would feel like a comparison search for new car insurance at the end of the day, and that rather defeats the point of a wonderful holiday!But there is a downside to the second category. What if you don’t get on with everyone in the group and you spend part of your coach or cruise trying to avoid set people? Also, it means many early starts, which feels contradictory taking into account that for a few days/week etc you want to escape the alarm clock! Lastly, whilst you’re happy to get up early for a tour you are looking forward to, there are always parts of the ground programme you have no interest in, and that’s when getting out of bed early, packing the case and checking out of your hotel to be driven to the next place, just feels like too much hard work.

Onto category three. At Weekend a la Carte most of our clients have done many of the previous types of trips, and they know what they want. This includes hassle-free travel and to be looked after, but not to be part of a group and have no say on their itinerary. Everything we do is bespoke travel, reaching from an African Big 5 Safari, Venice Carnival package, Northern Lights trips, to city breaks. We know you want control of your holiday, but we also know you want someone else to work on the finer details. Most of our travellers are celebrating special birthdays and wedding anniversaries. These are our forte. We know how to make your trip special. You won’t be waiting for others to get on the bus, we won’t take you places you have no interest in, your hotel won’t be away from all the local sights

The travel dates, hotels and duration are for you to decide. We are very flexible! We have many clients who want us to arrange ground only and then leave them to their devices, and if you want a second snowmobile trip or a extra night at the wilderness cabin, we can do this. We have been doing it for thirteen years, and are constantly looking at ways to improve our breaks, extensions being one of the main ways. We really do have something for everyone. Why not take a look?

Weekend a la Carte – a chocolate box of trips including Slovenia, Russia, Prague, Jordan, India and Vienna.
Aurora Nights – northern lights inspired trips to Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Greenland.
Italian Short Breaks – Verona Opera, Venice Orient Express Train, Venice Carnival and the Siena Palio.
The Big 5 Safari Company – South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique and Namibia.

Now the only hard part is for you to decide where your next adventure takes you!

 

 

 

This was written by Chad Blakley, a professional photographer whom we work with offering Northern Lights photographic evenings in Abisko  in Sweden.

Here are a few tips to help hopeful photographers prepare their camera for the lights before they have an opportunity to join one of our tours:

Your camera will need to be set to full manual program mode including manual focus.

Start with an ISO and exposure time of 1600 and 15 seconds. Exposure time will vary but this is a good place to start.

Use a wide angle lens with a fast maximum aperture. F 3.5 or faster is preferred.

Use a headlamp with a red bulb to preserve your night vision.

Bring extra batteries! The cold Arctic temperatures present in Abisko will cause your batteries to drain much quicker than normal.

Before bringing your camera into a warm room after your night in the park be sure to put it in a plastic bag. Let the camera slowly warm itself to room temperature to avoid condensation on your lens.

For our Abisko Aurora Photographic Breaks in Sweden

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