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Whether it’s the snow or it’s the dark skies of December, there’s nothing like spending a night in the world’s northernmost countries with winter food, board games, and a respectable northern snowman. But even though Norway and Alaska can both have the dim skies of the winter solstice, these two places tend to be quite different, and staying in either one will never be the same as the other.
If you are looking for more natural scenery with toppling landscapes, mountainous ridges, and crags, Norway is the way to go. But if you prefer an urban atmosphere, open fields broken by busy cities, and cruising ports bustling amidst the harsh cold, Alaska is way better.
|Cost of Stay: Weekly (USD)||$1,110.82 per person||$3000 per person (including cruise)$1383 per person(excluding cruise)|
|Climate||Similar throughout||Varies per region|
|Temperatures (During Peak Season)||Slightly above freezing||Cold but not close to freezing|
|Mountains||Mountainous everywhere with high peaks||Limited to the eastern area with lower peaks|
|Water Bodies||Mostly fjords and beaches||Lots of beaches|
|Wildlife||Mountain biomes||Diverse. Each region has a different biome.|
|Northern Lights Viewing|
|Recreational Activities||Cruising, whaling, and a strong community for mountaineering||Hunting. Big game is hunted here. That, and cruising, fishing, and some mountaineering|
The Kingdom of Norway is a European country on the northernmost part of the Scandinavian peninsula. Despite this, the kingdom faces milder temperatures than its more southern neighbors and might not even reach below freezing temperatures during the polar nights.
The State of Alaska is the United States of America’s northernmost state and is the only US state known to experience polar nights. Despite the low population-density, Alaska tends to have a variety of man-made structures that emphasize the reach of human influence in the natural world.
Today, we’ll be comparing the lush scenery of these lovely destinations to help you decide which of these winter wonderlands you should head to.
Nature and Wildlife
Norway is a mountainous country filled with steep hills, crags, fjords, and towering mountains. As such, most of the country’s wildlife is mountain-based. Muskoxen are a sight to look at, and so are the gigantic Norway elk that roam the land.
Meanwhile, Alaska is more diverse in terms of ecosystems and biodiversity. This is because the area is more varied in terms of land formations and geology. Many elk species can be easily found along hunting grounds and highways, while caribous are found in the northern tundra region. Area parks around Delta Junction offer a respite to some wildlife and game, which include the American Bison for hunters.
When it comes to snowy mountaintops that look upon the sea, Norway’s mountainous ranges and hill formations are definitely a must-see.
In fact, the Norwegian Trollveggen is a sight to behold, whether you stand at the bottom of the crag or sit atop of it. There are various routes that tourists can go through to find better views of the land below from atop the mountain. But the aid routes offer a much better challenge with greater rewards.
Whereas Western Alaska features a flatter geography, a trip to the most symmetrical mountain in the world coated in white snow amid blue skies and the snowier ground will melt your heart away.
Norway has a huge history of whaling. In the whaling capital at Sandefjord, you will find a busy port filled with different ships for both whaling and cruising. In other areas of the country, you may find beaches and deep fjords that are open to the public and people sporting beachwear despite the area’s cold climate.
Alaska, on the other hand, has big business with fishing and cruise ships that regularly roam their oceans. Cruise lines in Ketchikan connect the west coast of Alaska to other parts of the world; the number of tourists in the area fill the place with lots of activity during the summer.
Norway has some of the unique architectural attractions in the form of the topsy-turvy Atlantic Road. Hold your breath as you drive past the Sverd I Fjell, and stop by to admire the sculptures of Vigeland Park.
The whimsical architecture can be seen in the toppled Polaria aquarium, the glassy Aurland Lookout, all the way to the delicately powerful Urnes Stave Church. The Norwegian touch can be felt throughout the country as you drive past it, but the experience of riding past it in the rollercoaster train ride at Flåmsbana.
While Norway’s human-made wonders may take your breath away, Alaska’s structures evoke a sense of homeliness that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world. The neon Aurora Ice Museum, the straight-out-of-a-childhood-movie Goose Creek Tower, and the ever-giving Santa Claus House all evoke a sense of familiarity in the unfamiliar cityscape.
Alaska is also home to some unique locations such as the abandoned and ruined ghost towns, the secluded Igloo City, and the Tiny Church. But the true magic of Alaska lies in the simplest places like the Jilkaat Kwaan Heritage Center, the rustic Proennecke’s Cabin, and the Totem Bight State Historical Park successfully encapture the lifestyle, personality, and history of the friendly locals who reside in this faraway state.
While both Norway and Alaska offer promises to their tourists, they will witness the aerial spectacle Northern Lights, i.e., Aurora Borealis; the former is more likely to fulfill it.
Alaska’s Aurora Borealis sightings are subjected to no specific timings and tourists’ chances of seeing it are defined purely by luck. However, they are more likely to see the Northern Lights in the Arctic Belt and Fairbanks during the winter and early spring on clear nights.
On the other hand, in Norway, the sightings of Northern Lights are quite common in the northern part of the country, and one is bound to see them drifting in the night sky from late September all through late March.
Now that’s two notable places for stargazing under the northern lights! Aren’t they great?
We highly recommend Norway’s view for the wonderful display of wildlife and remote mountains for the more nature-loving travelers out there. But for the people who would like to see a little bit more human activity in the arctic frontier, then Alaska is definitely the way to go.