When we (I and my friend) decided to see the northern lights, primarily, we wanted to visit Iceland. However, due to my financial difficulties, I discovered that you can also see them in Norway which is closer to where we lived (the Netherlands) at that moment.
Tromso (Tromsø) is located in the north of Norway, we took a plane from Oslo to Tromsø, and a bus to get into town. We arrived on the 27 December and stayed until 29 December 2015. We booked a hostel through Booking.com and booked a tour with the hostel for the northern lights on the night of the 28th. Apart from Tromsø, other towns to view the northern lights in Norway include:
- the Lofoten islands etc.
Now, before everyone starts booking to Norway, it is crucial to understand that auroras (or northern lights) are a natural phenomenon. Some people said they visited Iceland for weeks and only saw them once. So, when I say that you need to be lucky, I really mean it. We checked the forecast for to see how much chance we’ll have to see the northern lights. I recall that we got a “try” on the day that we arrive, this means that it is a 50/50 chance. And in the evening it cchanged to “Go”. So, this forecast changes throughout the day. You can download the app which is called “Norwaylights” available both on Apple and Android OS.
Other Visited Places
Since we decided to see the lights on the night of 28th, we took the remaining time to explore the town and took photos of the spectacular views. The weather was snowing on the 27th, the rest of the trip was without snow, but extremely cold (-5- (-10) ˚c Brrruuuuh), and everywhere was covered in snow. We visited the Polar Museum (Polarmuseet), and the Arctic Cathedral (Tromsøysund Church) for our visit to Tromsø’s attractions. The Polar Museum was a nice visit, if you like to learn some of Tromsø’s history and famous people, the arctic animal hunting systems etc. The Arctic Cathedral was interesting in architecture and a huge stained glass on the other side of the church which is best taken for a photo at night.
Apart from that, I visited a horse farm in the outside of town and on another island, the farm owner was a sweet and lovely person, she guided me through the barn and to see the horses.
She owns around 15 horse of the Fjord breed which is Norway’s local horse. The horses were adorable, they are a smaller horse compared to other breeds with long fluffy fur. I brushed and fed the horses, and I was able to ride the horse for the view around the farm as well. After completing the tour, my guide gave me various insights on the city. The tour was finished off with a glass of warm coffee with homemade crepe filled with Brunost (or brown cheese). Brunost has a sweet taste and is very rich, it goes well with the warm coffee or tea. It was definitely a new taste on my tongue (since the palate couldn’t receive taste ;)). The tour finished at 10.30 p.m. with some bonus visits because I was the only one person who bought the tour that night.
[The bonus visit included a night view of the Arctic Cathedral, a quick stop at the reindeer farm, and a special drop-off service at the hostel.]
I was a bit disappointed that we did not have enough time to do the dog sledding activity (sled by Siberian husky), since this was open only in the afternoon, and night time was only open in January onwards. Crossing my fingers for next time!
Northern Lights Time
The night of the 28th was really our only chance because we will head back to Oslo early of the 29th. We were a group of 9 people including the guide and his girlfriend, and left the hostel at 7.30 p.m. Our tour was NOK 600 which is equivalent to approximately EUR 60-62 per person, I could say that this was the cheapest price I could find albeit not the fanciest. The tour guide was really trying to get us to see the northern lights so we did change a few places to stop for the view.
Since I did not have any camera with sufficient specs to shoot the night sky, I only watched them through my eyes, and it was astonishing. Even in the beginning we didn’t see the lights yet, but the amount of stars on the sky was spectacular, you can see the constellations clearly a well as the asterism. The big dipper was extremely easy to identify.
We arrived at the coastal of one of Tromsø’s island, the guide started setting up a camp fire which was highly appreciated due to the weather of –15˚c at around 9 p.m. While we were having some hot chocolate and cookies, I and my friend asked for hot water for our instant noodles cup instead (we skipped hot chocolate). After we finished our snacks (in our case a meal), right on cue the northern lights began gliding through the night sky.
In that moment, I dare say that there really was the adrenaline rush. I did not feel any coldness, only warmth spread over me and I was exuberant and excited to finally see them with my own eyes. Right there, the blue and bright green colors of the northern lights were dancing on the sky. They came in wavy shapes, straight lines, curves. They were surely dancing the whole time as there were new lines of northern lights coming through and others moving away from our view.
The guide, with his professional camera, started taking photos for us as both individuals and groups. A smile was on my face the whole time, after there were no lights in the area, our guide, lead us to another famous area of Tromsø called Ersfjordbotn for a broader night sky view. We left the area at 11 p.m. and that was the end of our tour.
We came back to the room exhausted, but in a good way. We packed our stuffs and slept for 3 hours to leave the hostel, and to catch the bus for our 6.30 a.m. flight.
To say the least, our 3 days and 2 nights trip to Tromsø was a success! We fulfilled our bucket list, endured the extreme coldness, and most importantly had an unforgettable memory that will last a lifetime. I hope you enjoyed my first entry for my blog and if you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment.
Happy travelling and enjoy eating!