Updated: Apr 21, 2020
For our fourth wedding anniversary, we decided to head on a 10 day trip Scandinavia. Since a lot of you have been asking for our Northern Lights experience, I've decided to start with a post on Norway, which is where we saw the lights.
A lot of people thought we were bonkers for visiting Norway during the crazy winter season but we actually love the snowy winters. There is nothing more dreamy than watching purple skies or snow-capped mountains through the window. Our trip was mostly spent in Tromso and Oslo. We only spent 4 nights in the country. We would love to head back in the summer for a different kind of experience.
Day 1 - Tromso city and chasing Northern Lights all night
Day 2 - Snowshoeing and sunset views Day 3 - Fjords and arctic Landscapes
Day 4 - Oslo city
Best time to visit
Depending on what sort of experience you want to have, you can choose summer or winter. We went to see the Northern lights and honestly, late November-early December is not the best time to visit but it was the only time we could travel, so we took a chance and it paid off. If your only aim is to see the Aurora, I would recommend end of December to end of January for the best chance of a sighting.
Getting there and Visa
We would have loved to take the train but with just little over a week, we chose to fly between the countries. If you do have the time, I recommend riding the train (account for delays during the winter).
A Schengen Visa is required for entry into Norway.
The official language spoken in the country is Norwegian. Of course, like most Scandinavian countries, they all speak real good English.
Travel and Medical Insurance, Currency
Travel and Medical Insurance is mandatory for travel to all Schengen countries. Currency is Norwegian Krone.
Where we stayed
This was the husbands' first hostel experience (these days he prefers not to stay in hostels because it feels cramped). We had limited budget-friendly options two years back.
We stayed at the Enter Backpack hostel in Tromso. The hostel was centrally located, close to a grocery store and the city center. Kitchen and bath were both spacious.
Cost and getting around
Walk. Tromso city is real small and (with good winter shoes) you can easily walk around the town. Keep in mind that the roads will not be cleared often during winter, so a winter shoe with good grip is absolutely vital.
Tromso is expensive - as you would expect in a Scandinavian country. A vegetarian meal would cost somewhere around EUR 10-15.
Had no issues with safety. We felt everyone we met was warm and helpful.
We carried some of our own food on this trip since were staying in hostels. It was too cold to head out at night, so on hindsight, this was a life saver. When we did venture out during the day, we stuck to the chains, Pizzerias and burger joints.
What to pack
Waterproof pants. Winters are insanely COLD. If you are chasing the Northern Lights, bring layers - LOTS of it. Winter Gloves. Thick winter socks. Fleece. Two pairs of thick waterproof winter jackets. Shawl. Beanies. Solid winter trekking shoes.
Our first day was spent in Trosmo. The small town is located 69 degrees North of the Arctic part of Norway. Though small wit just over 75000 inhabitants, there is a lot of things you can do here. For one, you will see the mountains from every corner of the city.
We were exhausted from arriving late the previous night, so we slept in. After a quick warm shower we went over to the cozy cafe just across the road from our hostel for a warm cup of coffee and insanely flaky croissants.
TIP: The summers here are all about bright skies and long nights but in winter, you will barely have 5 hours of sunlight. So if you are planning on doing activities, get an early start.