Seeing the Aurora is on everyone's bucket list and I'm being asked questions about where and when it's best to see them, on a weekly basis. The honest answer, however, is that there is no such thing as "the best place to see the Northern Lights".There are pros and cons to all the tourist hubs in the European Arctic, which I'd like to explain in this article - along with information on what else there is to do and see besides hunting the Aurora.
Bodø. A city with only 45000 inhabitants in Northern Norway - situated 100 km from the Lofoten Islands and over 500 km from Tromsø further north. Not many travelers know about Bodø and many of those who do only use it as a pit stop to get to Lofoten. Others don't even stop here at all and head to Tromsø instead, which arguably offers more sights and attractions but is thus also more crowded and expensive.
A lot of the questions I get, I've heard before: "How much snow is there?", "What do I need to pack?", "What can I do in Tromsø on New Year's Eve?", and the list goes on and on.So I thought I'd make it easier for all of us and provide you with everything you need to know about visiting Tromsø between November and January in this post - after all, surviving 3 polar nights as a Tromsø resident should make me somewhat of an expert?!
Norway isn't just like any other country in Europe, and especially its northern part is a world on its own. In the 3 years that I've lived and travelled around Norway and the Arctic, I've accumulated tons of things that have become vital for my everyday life up north. Thus, I've compiled a list of the 15 things I absolutely couldn't live without here in Norway to give you an idea what you should put on your packing list asap!
Svalbard. An Arctic archipelago halfway between the North Pole and the Norwegian mainland. 60% of the islands is covered by glaciers, and the landscape is a polar desert - you have to look closely to find any vegetation here. October to February is one long polar night while April to August is a never-ending day, thanks to the midnight sun.
Yes, Tromsø is quite an expensive place to visit but that doesn't mean that a budget stay is impossible. If you've read my guide on free things you can do and see in town, you already know that activities don't have to make up the biggest chunk of your spendings. Accommodation however is a different story but I hope I can help you out a bit with this overview of where to stay in Tromsø if you're traveling on a budget!
We decided to visit Kiruna by bus and train in the naive assumption that it would be cheap. Considering our taxi fares and all the stress we had on our journey to and from Swedish Lapland, I certainly would rather spend a few bucks more and rent a car next time. But well, hindsight is 20/20. Don't make our mistakes on your trip to the Arctic Circle!
Now winter isn't the most popular time to travel and even less so when the destination in question only has 6 hours of daylight in December and an average temperature of -3 degrees Celsius in February. Of course, Stockholm is an absolute beauty when the sun shines and you can work on your tan at Lake Mälaren. However winter is a pretty special time to visit Sweden too so here's a quick guide on what there is to see and do if you visit Stockholm in winter.
In Norway/Tromso, many landlords want to see testimonials from former places you've lived in to make sure that you're a responsible and tidy person. This doesn't have to be a written statement, mostly it's enough to provide a phone number to your previous landlord. I admit, I definitely feel that this is a bit over the top - especially when some people require at least 3 testimonials, like how often do they expect you to move?
Greenland in summer though is amazing too and probably the season where you would consider visiting the country. As you know, I only visited Nuuk but everything I'll say now, is true for the rest of the country. And if I can't convince you to put Greenland on your bucket list today, I definitely surrender, promised!