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Take a train to see the northern lights

Vacations by Rail offers several dreamy treks to Arctic regions to witness magical winter skies.

Have you ever dreamed of seeing the northern lights and watching the sky shimmer with brilliant color late at night? It's one of those bucket-list aspirations that many of us want to do someday, but might not know how to make happen. Here's an interesting suggestion, proposed by a company called Vacations by Rail: you could take a train.

This fits perfectly with the trend toward lower-impact travel and the rise in popularity of tagskryt, or train bragging, as it translates from Swedish. Country Living wrote recently,

“[Tagskryt] is about rediscovering the beauty of rail travel at a time when everyone needs to be reducing their carbon footprint. When it comes to flight shaming, this refers to our own travel habits rather than the shaming of others. The trend encourages us to rethink the way we discover the world, not put an end to our love of travelling.”

So, for our purposes today, there are several winter rail packages available for northern destinations in North America and Europe that would bring you within viewing distance of the aurora borealis. And while Vacations by Rail cannot guarantee you'll catch a glimpse of them, due to the uncontrollability of weather and solar patterns, your chances are good, and you'll have a train adventure adding to the whole experience.

If you want to do a six-day tour in Alaska, travellers can take the Aurora Train, complete with a Vista Dome Car to allow for stunning scenery, from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and then get flown to Bettles Lodge, where “at nighttime a communal bonfire brings all of the guests together as the dark sky gives light to the Northern Lights.”

If you want to go to Europe, there's an 11-day tour through Norway and Sweden that involves several rail lines between cities, through mountains, and all the way to the Arctic Circle and Lapland. It has a strong wildlife emphasis, as well:

“The sixth day involves a ferry ride to Svolvaer, the capital island of the Lofoten Islands. Spending two days on the magical islands home to a plethora of fishing villages, the aurora can be spotted at night while the daytime showcases the rich biodiversity of the region, from sea eagles to minke whales.”

Lofoten Islands, Norway© Vacations by Rail – Aurora borealis on the Lofoten islands, Norway

Further east is a grand 12-day journey through Russia, starting in St. Petersburg and crossing into the Arctic Circle. At the Norwegian border, “a bus tour ventures out into the wilderness with the guest astronomer coming along to guide the travellers on the solar phenomena they are witnessing.” The train will make its way to the old Arctic trading post at Murmansk, Europe's second-largest lake Onega, and finally Moscow.

These trips aren't cheap, with the Russian one beyond most people's budgets at a whopping US$12,995. Alaska and Norway are much more accessible at US$2,127 and US$3,332 respectively. It is good to see the trend toward train holidays growing, and hopefully more people will embrace this slower form of travel. It's kinder to the planet by making more of the journey itself.

Learn more at Vacations by Rail, which certainly are not limited to northern tours. You can go many interesting places on a train.

Vacations by Rail offers several dreamy treks to Arctic regions to witness magical winter skies.