Northern Lights in the rain shadow
The peaks of the Lyngen Alps, which rise to 1,833 metres (6,014 ft), form an impregnable barrier to rain clouds, making the valleys on the east side of the Lyngenfjord one of the driest places in the country. The night skies here are clear and sparkling, which means that this is a perfect place from which to watch the Northern Lights dancing above the mountaintops. It's a Northern Lights photography heaven, with the silhouette of the mountains against the starry sky, the moon and the Northern Lights. Joanna Lumley saw the Northern Lights here in 2008, and many of the best Northern Lights pictures you have seen will have come from this part of the Lyngenfjord.
Chase the Northern Lights
The easiest thing is to book a holiday cottage beside the Lyngenfjord, which means that you are able to watch for the Northern Lights every night. If the weather is clear, anywhere here is perfect. If there are snow clouds around, it's best to go to the valleys in the east, like Kåfjorddalen, Manndalen, Skibotndalen and Kitdalen. The clouds rarely make it this far in, and there is an excellent chance of seeing the Northern Lights ripple above the mountaintops.
In February, when the sun has returned and the snow is several metres deep along the 1,000-metre (3,281 ft) high mountainsides, off-piste skiers don't waste any time getting out there. The mountains around the Lyngenfjord vary from easy slopes to adrenaline-rush descents that are only for the experts. Whichever you choose, you are guaranteed incredible views over the Lyngenfjord and the mountains. The season lasts all through May, and sometimes even well into June, which means that at the tail end of the season, you might even be able to ski under the midnight sun.
At more than 100 kilometres (60 miles) long, the Lyngen Alps are a mountain range of Alpine peaks, glaciers, deep valleys and huge stone screes that stretch from deep inland, across the Lyngen peninsula, all the way out to Lyngstuva. This landscape has now been granted status as a protected area. You can get close up to the peaks along the west side of the fjord, while the east side gives you the whole, huge panorama. Spåkenes, jutting out into the fjord, is a viewpoint from which you can see not only the full mountain range, but also the big islands on the north side.
Play in the snow
Driving a snowmobile along the Lyngenfjord is different here than in the rest of Northern Norway. The steep terrain means that you can't race along with abandon; here, driving along the mountainsides is a technical challenge that's also great fun. The views from the summits take most people's breath away. You can also try dog sledding in the snow-clad forests of the valleys, do some skiing, or go for a snowshoe trek.
Meeting place of three tribes
The people along the Lyngenfjord represent a meeting between three peoples, namely the Sami, Kven and Norwegians. The woven carpets of Grenebua in the Manndalen valley belong to a tradition going back many thousands of years. Havnnes Trading Post, the northernmost preserved specimen of the many trading posts that used to be along this coastline, represents the Norwegian fishermen farmer culture. The old trading stalls in Skibotn, where many people are of Kven origin, were important during the great Skibotn Markets, where traders from all over Nordkalotten met. Lyngen Church, dating back to 1770, is the oldest church in the area.
Getting to Lyngenfjord
Lyngenfjord is not far from Tromsø, which is served by an airport offering domestic and international flight connections. Buses run from Tromsø to places such as Lyngseidet, Oteren, Skibotn and Olderdalen. There is also an express boat to Nord-Lenangen. However, the best way to get around the area is by car. The easiest way is to hire a car in Tromsø, book your accommodation on the Lyngenfjord, and spend your evenings watching for the Northern Lights and your days doing easy sightseeing.
Most people who come to see the Northern Lights on the Lyngenfjord stay in a hotel in Tromsø. However, it is much more relaxing to stay in the area for two or three nights. There is a wonderful designer hotel, several sea fishing cabins with comfortable, modern fishermen's cabins at the water's edge, and numerous campsites with well-appointed bungalows. There are also many restaurants serving unique food, but self-catering is also an attractive option.
- The Visit Lyngenfjord website tells you everything you need to know about the municipalities in the Lyngenfjord area: Lyngen, Kåfjord and Storfjord.
- The biggest activity provider is Lyngsfjord Adventure.