Northern lights (or Aurora Borealis) - a very frequent natural phenomenon in the sky beyond the Arctic Circle. The only problem is that there is no magic button to switch it on. Therefore, the time of the trip to the North of Russia may have to be slightly adjust, according to the weather forecasts. "Prediction" of the Northern Lights is possible two to five days before, as it is the result of flares on the Sun and the release of high-energy particles toward the Earth.
So here is the list of places in Russia, where it is possible to see Aurora Borealis:
A good option for those who doesn’t want to go too far away from civilization. The Northern Lights can be even seen in the city of Arkhangelsk itself - the main thing here is to catch the right moment and follow the solar activity. In the day time you can explore the city or go to Malye Kotely village, which is now and open-air museum, featuring the traditional wooden architecture of Arkhangelsk area.
Khatanga village on Taymyr Peninsula, on the contrary, is an option for extreme lovers - those who want to conquer the most Northern part of Russia and at the same time challenge themselves. On Taimyr, the chances of observing the game of colors is the sky are higher than anywhere else. However, before you choose to come here, consider two facts. First, the average January temperature here is -31 ° C. Secondly, there are very view hotels here, most of them feel like some kind of a Soviet type of hostel and are not available for online booking.
Due to the natural height above sea level, this region is considered one of the best places in Russia to observe the Northern lights. However, to see this great view, you will have to suffer the inconvenience of transportation to recreation centers in the Khibiny mountains. About 10 km from the city of Apatity there is a fresh lake Imandra, on the shores of which there are about a dozen tourist complexes. In addition to photo hunting, you can go skiing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, dog and deer sledding, to barbecue.
4. Murmansk region
To observe the beauty of the sky you will need to move at least 50 km away from the city of Murmansk. Besides, this option implies comfortable living conditions and a fairly wide range of entertainment in the city itself. We recommend to see the nuclear-powered icebreaker "Lenin", go for winter fishing in the Kola Bay, update the knowledge of biology in the local history museum and take pictures of the Arctic Ocean. See our day tours from Murmansk here.
5. Komi Republic
You can see the Northern lights in any city in the region, but the more to the North, the higher your chances. Decide for yourself whether to go to the harsh Vorkuta or to the more compromising Syktyvkar. In the latter case, there is every chance to spend time free from photo-hunting as a usual tourist: to go to restaurants and bars, cinemas and bowling, gyms, paintball and quest rooms.
It is said that here the Northern Lights are the brightest. If you are not afraid of severe frosts (-50 degrees or even less), then take a plane ticket to Yakutsk. You may also want to go to the village of Oymyakon, “the pole of the cold” - it is believed that this is the coldest settlement of the world.
7. Yamal Peninsula
Another option for the strongest ones is Salekhard and its surroundings. In addition to observing Aurora Borealis, you can have a cultural program in the city - there are many unusual museums and exhibition complexes here. Here you can also try Nenets cuisine - venison and fish cooked in various ways.
How to prepare for the Northern lights hunting?
1) Get ready for sleepless nights: 22pm to 3am is the time when the chances to catch Aurora Borealis increase. At the same time, if the weather is so cloudy, that stars and the moon are not visible, than you won’t see the Northern Lights either.
2) The illumination of large cities is not the best place to watch the natural phenomenon. Therefore, you should either stay in small villages, or drive away from cities at a decent distance.
3) Nights beyond the Arctic Circle are freezing cold. Dress as warmly as possible. You need to take care of heating, bring along a large thermos with a ready hot drink.
4) High-quality photographs of the Northern lights can be made only with good camera, on a long exposure, and with a tripod.
5) If you decide to make this night trip by car on your own, you should think about safety. Also do not forget the car charger and spare battery for your phone.