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Visiting The Russian Far North
Well, it might just be time to pack up your stuff – hats, mittens, scarves, snowshoes, and anything woolly, for that matter – and head to Russia.
Aurora Borealis is nature’s most dazzling light show that often gets a spot on many a traveler’s bucket list.
And we get it:
We had a chance to see this natural phenomenon in action more times than we could count. And it still leaves us speechless – every single time.
It truly is a magnificent sight!
Stick around and learn more about this Murmansk Northern Lights tour – maybe it’s finally time to cross this one off your travel wish list!
Over the years, we’ve noticed that some questions seem to pop up more frequently among travelers interested in visiting the Russian North. But instead of letting you roam around looking for answers, we decided to get them all in one place for your convenience.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Aurora Borealis in Russia!
Sun does way more than merely sending light and warmth our way – energy and tons of particles end up getting shot into the open space, as well.
Some of those electrically charged particles will find their way into the upper layers of Earth’s atmosphere. They’ll travel down the lines of our planet’s magnetic field around the North and South poles.
Once there, they will collide with gasses commonly present in our atmosphere – mainly oxygen and nitrogen. It’s this collision between charged and gaseous particles that releases photons – light particles – and leads to the natural phenomenon known as Auroras.
Also, have you ever noticed that Aurora Borealis appears in more than one color – from green and yellow to red, blue, and even violet?
There’s a reason for that, too:
When they collide with oxygen in the lower levels of the atmosphere, the resulting lights will mostly be green or yellow. However, if the collision takes place higher in the sky, where there is less oxygen, but more nitrogen, Auroras will appear as red, violet, and sometimes blue.
How cool is that?
Either way, one thing’s certain:
Aurora Borealis is a magical and captivating sight that fascinates anyone who has the privilege to experience it first-hand.
When you’re hunting for Northern Lights in Russia, two main prerequisites have to be met:
The Northern Lights in the Kola Peninsula can be seen anywhere from September till early April. It shows up most often between December – March, if you wish to maximise your chances you may consider these months for your Northern Lights tour.
If you’re visiting Russia in winter for the first time, you can always book a tour at the beginning of March. The weather won’t be as harsh as it would be in December or January, and you’ll still be able to do Aurora Borealis hunting.
The Extreme or Far North makes up a large portion of the country. It’s located north of the Arctic Circle, giving you an endless number of possibilities for catching this natural phenomenon.
Plenty of these areas are sparsely populated, too, meaning that „light pollution“ from surrounding cities won’t be a huge issue.
Plus, there’s so much more to it than just the Northern Lights – you’ll get a chance to get familiar with the life of the indigenous people of the Arctic regions, too. And that, in itself, will be a life-changing experience.
Now that we have that covered, let’s talk about the best place to see Northern Lights in Russia – Murmansk, located on the Kola Peninsula. There, Aurora Borealis is often visible from September to mid April.
The 42 days of the polar night during the winter, however, are considered prime „hunting“ season. The Kola Peninsula summers, on the other hand, are known for White Nights, when the sun doesn’t descend below the horizon far enough for the skies to grow completely dark.
Granted, you won’t precisely experience daytime levels of sunlight.
There will, however, be a surprising amount of light outside – especially for someone who’s never experienced White Nights before – almost to a point where nights can become nearly indistinguishable from days.
It’s easily accessible, yet remote enough to escape the light pollution – it’s only a two-hour flight away from Moscow. And it’s one of the most comfortable regions temperature-wise, too.
It’s not just the natural phenomena that will leave you wide-eyed and amazed – the culture and the people will, too. That’s why we made meeting the locals and learning about their traditions and day-to-day lives a crucial part of our Murmansk Northern Lights package tour.
This four-day Northern Lights tour will take you to the Kola Peninsula in the far northwest of Russia. With careful planning – and a little luck – you’ll witness the natural phenomenon known as Aurora Borealis:
Spirals and waves of green and pulsating red streaks will dance and glide across the clear, dark skies.
To call this natural phenomenon “stunning” would be an understatement. But there’s more to the northern Russian scenery than that.
When we first mapped out this Murmansk Northern Lights package tour, we wanted to make sure that it paints the whole picture of Russia in winter. We wanted to give you a real taste of Far North in all its frosty glory – from nature to the settlements, and everything in between.
The Northern Lights are known for their fleeting nature – we are talking about a natural phenomenon, after all. Still, we found a way to maximize your chances of seeing them on our Northern Lights tour:
Throughout this four-day tour, our expert team of Murmansk guides will consistently monitor the regional weather, as well as other contributing real-time Aurora Borealis predicting factors and forecasts.
So, don’t be surprised if you don’t find fixed dates for the Northern Lights hunting trips in our tour program:
Our team continually monitors Aurora Borealis forecasts, determining the best times for Northern Lights hunting. Worry not; your tour guides will promptly announce these before the actual program starts.
Here’s the best part, though:
Since you’re going hunting for Northern Lights in the Kola Peninsula, the noticeably shorter daytime and Polar Nights will increase your success rates significantly.
It’s not uncommon for our visitors to see the Northern Lights even outside the planned hunting trips – while traveling from one place to another, or during leisure activities and excursions.
And if you’re one of the lucky ones, you’ll get a chance to catch Aurora Borealis more than once during your stay in Murmansk, too!
What a lot of people don’t get is that witnessing Aurora Borealis is never a guarantee. You can plan all you want, and it will still be a matter of luck, more than anything else.
Our guides will do their best to maximize your chances of success, though!
Furthermore, that’s why we tried to make this Northern Lights tour as exciting and engaging as possible:
Visit Russia in winter for its magical beauty, the Northern Russian cuisine, the chance to meet the indigenous people of Kola Peninsula, the reindeer, and the Arctic foxes.
The Northern Lights should be the cherry on top!
So, what is it that makes this Murmansk Northern Lights tour so exciting?
One might argue that an opportunity to catch Northern Lights in all their glory is more than enough to get you on board. Then again, we know that others might need a little extra push before they venture out in the Russian North in freezing temperatures.
Here’s what our tour guides have in store for you:
Our four-day itinerary offers a unique blend of Russia’s northern cities and the remote communities hidden within Russia’s Arctic Circle. That way, you can get the best of both worlds.
Keep on reading for a more detailed take on this remarkable Arctic adventure and info about our most popular package tour!
As we briefly mentioned, Murmansk, located in the extreme northwest, offers more than 40 days of nearly continuous nights. Don’t worry, though; it’s not as intense as it sounds:
The day time is quite short, with no more than a few hours of sunlight, but it’s not pitch-black dark all the time. It’s a stunning sight in itself, almost unreal in its beauty. Murmansk is engulfed in something that’s best described as half-darkness – a grey twilight infused with inky-blue hues.
That’s one of the primary reasons why it’s considered the world’s best destinations for Northern Lights tours.
At the same time, the city still has over 300,000 residents, which makes it one of the largest towns north of the Arctic Circle. It walks that fine line between the serenity of the Arctic, and the comforts of a modern city.
It’s no surprise, then, that our adventure kicks off with the Murmansk tour!
One thing you’ll notice from the get-go is how tightly intertwined the city is with the sea. It is, after all, Russia’s fourth commercial port.
During the Civil War in Russia, the excellent geographic location made it one of the vital points for the Allied intervention. It played a critical role in the Cold War, too – the Russian Northern Fleet headquarters were located at Severomorsk, near Murmansk.
But enough with the history – let’s talk about what you’ll see on this Murmansk Tour for a bit.
Among other things, you’ll get a chance to visit the following locations and attractions:
In the afternoon, we’ll take you to see the world’s first nuclear-powered surface ship – the icebreaker named Lenin – which is now converted into a museum.
And now, we’re getting to why you’re here – seeing the Northern Lights in the Russian North:
Each day of this four-day package tour will end with a hunt for Aurora Borealis.
So, once the evening comes, put on your warmest clothes, and set out to catch this natural phenomenon on one of the best Northern Lights tours in Russia!
You can either arrive in Murmansk on the first day of this four-day tour package or a day early if you choose so.
However, if you do opt for early arrival, keep in mind that there will be additional accommodation costs. These are not included in the original Murmansk Northern Lights tour package and have to be paid for separately.
This part of the Russian North is characterized by a blend of snow-covered Tundra, vast lands, and never-ending horizons open to frosty winds, and close interactions with neighboring North Europe.
You’ll get a glimpse of it once we leave Murmansk, and head for Teriberka – the village at the edge of the world – for the day.
There, you’ll get a chance to meet the Pomory – hunters and sea-farers that inhabit these lands – discover their culture first-hand, and enjoy their hospitality.
The Pomory will greet you with open arms. They might look harsh to the outsider’s eye, but they’re one of the most free-spirited, warm-hearted people you’ll ever meet.
Also, here’s a fun fact about this lovely, secluded place for all you film buffs:
The popular contemporary Russian movie “The Leviathan” was filmed right here, in this very village.
While we’re there, you’ll get a chance to have an authentic Pomory-style picnic on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. We’ll serve sandwiches, hot tea – you’ll need all the warmth you can get – and, according to tradition, a piece of Teriberka cake.
If you’re interested, we could also take a moment to explore the former military fields, the first weather station in this part of Russia – and more!
And once the sun sets, we’ll go chasing the Northern Lights.
What a perfect end to an already exciting day, right?
Continuing the “anthropological research” that started with your earlier visit to Teriberka, the third day of your Northern Lights tour in Murmansk is all about meeting the Sami people.
There’s a fascinating contrast between the Sami’s nomadic nature and the more sedentary Russians to be observed here.
These nomadic aborigines of the Kola Peninsula – fishermen, hunters of sea mammals, and nomadic herders of caribou – have inhabited the Kola Peninsula for centuries now. And on the third day of your tour, you’ll get a chance to experience their way of life first-hand.
We’ve made sure that the tour of the Sami Village in Murmansk includes tons of fun activities – and plenty of opportunities for taking beautiful photographs, too.
If you’re interested, you can take pictures in the Sami national dresses – our guides will take care of it. And for those who would much rather hang out with Northern animals, you can always take a few photos with the Arctic foxes and huskies!
And since we’re trying to make this visit to the Russian North as authentic as possible, we’ve prepared a little surprise for you:
You’ll get a chance to give the unique Arctic cuisine a try, and have lunch Kola-style:
Lovozero bread, tea, roast venison, and ukha – the traditional Russian fish soup – will all be part of the menu!
After lunch, we’ll take a brief visit to the Observation Deck Olenegorsk – the open-pit iron-ore mines reaching depths of more than 300 meters.
And then, we’ll head for Kirovsk, a town located on the edges of the Khibiny Mountains. The city tour will include a trip to the Museum of Mineralogy, and another Aurora Borealis hunting adventure will follow.
You’ll then head back to the nearby hotel in Kirovsk to get some much-needed warmth and rest before the final Russian winter adventure starts!
The fourth day of the Northern Lights package tour starts with a check-out from the hotel in Kirovsk – but it’s not over yet. We still have two more adventures to take you on before we bring this four-day Northern Lights package tour to an end:
First, we’ll take you to the Snow Village in Kirovsk, and then, you’ll get a chance to explore and appreciate the exquisite Winter Fairytale Ice Sculptures.
Every year, ice sculptors from all over the Arctic region – not only Russia but Norway, Sweden, and Finland, too – come together here. Their common goal is to bring into existence the tourist center known as Snow Village. And each time, they’re challenged by a new theme.
So, even if you already visited the Snow Village once, you haven’t precisely „seen it all.“ Each year, an entirely new world of ice sculptures and carvings springs into existence within the halls and tunnels of this icy labyrinth, ready to be explored all over again.
Oh, and you’ll get a chance to meet Ded Mroz and Snegurochka right there, in their Arctic residence!
Wait until you go sledding down the snowy hills or have a thrilling ride on a giant „banana“ pulled by a snowmobile!
After that, we’ll be headed to the Murmansk airport, where you’ll board your flight and head home. And that is where our four-day Northern Lights tour comes to an end.
We hope to see you again next year, though!
The Snow Village is open for exploration from December until the end of April. However, if you time your visit right, you might have an opportunity to attend the Snegoled festival in Kirovsk, too. This festival of snow and ice sculptures takes place during the last week of January.
Consider it one more reason to visit Russia in winter!
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