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Caused by electrically charged solar particles entering Earth's atmosphere, the Aurora Borealis - or The Northern Lights - is a spectacular display of yellow-green, sometimes red colour, which fills up the sky remarkably quickly, and is particularly dazzling during the winter, hence why a number of lines operate Northern Lights cruises during the winter months.

On a Northern Lights cruise, you'll explore some of Norway's most memorable ports of call, each with their own history and attractions, and have the chance to get a feel for the traditions and cultures of the many generations of people who have gazed skyward and pondered as to the origins of this amazing phenomenon, which has formed a captivating part of their heritage.

A popular first port of call for ships on a Northern Lights Cruise, the former Viking stronghold of Bergen, is home to the mighty Hardanger Fjord and Sognefjord - the country's largest fjord - and excursions operate from Norway's second largest city to visit both. One attraction not to be missed in the city itself is World Heritage Site the Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf, which recalls the long maritime heritage of Bergen. Think winding cobbled streets, bustling markets and brightly-coloured wooden houses.

Further north up the coast of Norway's western fjord country lies Alesund. Spread over a number of islands, sitting at the foot of Mount Aksla, it offers beautiful coastal views and arresting Art Deco architecture, due to the fact that a large portion of the town was rebuilt in the style following a fire in the early 20th century. Another key attraction is Atlanterhavsparken, one of the world's largest aquariums, which offers the chance to see an impressive array of sea life.

Despite being home to stunning fjords and mighty, snow-capped mountains, the county of Troms, in the North of Norway, also offers visitors the chance to see the Northern Lights, making its capital Tromso a popular port of call. The city will offer you an authentic taste of the arctic, with ski and sled excursions a popular choice. The city's Arctic Cathedral is well worth checking out, and looks spectacular when lit up at night, while the Polar Museum is a fascinating journey through the region's historical role in arctic exploration.

Finnmark is the northernmost county of mainland Norway, and it's where you'll find Alta, another important destination on Northern Lights cruises. A key attraction in the town and the ideal location from which to experience The Aurora Borealis is the Northern Lights Observatory, the first building constructed to view and study the lights. Visit on a clear night for a spectacular view, or by day to enjoy a stunning panorama of the surrounding fjords and mountains. The Alta Museum is a World Heritage Site, home to the largest collection of ancient rock art in Scandinavia.

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