How to enjoy a warm Arctic oasis in winter

If you’re thinking of heading to the Arctic this winter, but are wary of the deep freeze, you may want to consider the tundra shunning islands of Lofoten in Norway’s far north. Despite its location well within the Arctic Circle, the climate of this polar archipelago is extremely mild. And it’s not global warming. Due to a meeting of three underwater currents, including the Gulf Stream, the region’s temperature rarely dips below freezing, even when deep in winter.
The temperature anomaly in Lofoten is larger than any other such weather weird spot on Earth. However, while the islands duck the permafrost, they can’t escape the perma-dark that is winter in the higher latitudes. The sun will disappear there this week and return in early January. Check out this Arctic oasis below.

Looking at these ice-free shores, it’s hard to imagine these islands are at the same latitude as Siberia and Greenland. Image by Cristiano Corsini

Ancient humans found this warm refuge in the far north long ago. There’s evidence of human settlement going back 11,000 years. Image by Diego

Late May to mid-July the sun never sets. And unlike most places that experience the midnight sun, you can actually go outside and enjoy it with real summer weather. Image by Nicholas Ng

Because it’s so far north, and not painful to be outside in winter, it’s one of the best locations to take in the northern lights. Image by Jiri Matyas

If you do visit Lofoten, it will help if you like fish. The islands have been central to the Atlantic cod fisheries for more than 1,000 years. Image by Aitor Garcia Vinas

The meeting of the warm undersea currents permits a rich diversity of wildlife to thrive both above and below the sea. The largest system of deep-water coral reefs is located here. Image by Gaellery

The Moskstraumen is a system of tidal eddies and whirlpools located in western Lofoten. English borrowed the name, which you’ll recognized as the word “maelstrom.” Image by Hendrik Granna

The Gulf Stream means you can actually go swimming in the Arctic Circle without joining a Polar Bear club. Water temperatures in the 60s are not uncommon. Image by Cristiano Corsini