I don’t remember a time in my 26 years of life on Earth, that I have not been captivated by the North. Which may not come as a surprise to people that know me, given that I chose to study and now work in the small Nordic fairy-tale country of Denmark. Seeing the Northern lights, however, have been on my bucket list for-ever. So, when my colleague and friend Bambi suggested we take some days off work for a trip (or expedition as we like to call it) to the North Pole in Arctic Norway beginning of February, I didn’t hesitate. Hell, yeah we do a vacation in the heart of the Northern Hemisphere, while everybody else we knew in Copenhagen was heading south to hot sandy beaches.
Meanwhile, dressed with four layers of thermal clothing, we boarded SAS to Tromsø (with a change in Oslo) in February, for an adventurous trip to remember.
One of the many things that I was extremely happy about the trip was that I plucked up the courage to speak “Nordic” to people – and I not only understood everything in Norwegian, but most important – everyone understood my strange Danish!:)
Aurora Borealis from the plane
Unlike what everyone told us prior our departure, we did not have to wait long to see the northern lights dancing across the night sky. The Aurora made sure to give us a perfect welcome to the Artic Norway, before we even landed in Tromsø. If you travel during the night – just watch out through the window!
You would think that, arriving in Norway from Denmark would somehow reduce the wow effect this hyggeligt Scandinavian town would have on us, but we were wonderstruck. Tromsø was a whole new world by itself. It felt disconnected, as if we were at the end of the world (which in a way I guess we were), yet full of life at the same time. We were lucky to have clear sky and sunlight during the whole stay, which made the arctic journey even more enjoyable and gave the aurora a chance to show off its best during all nights.
Walk! We did that for hours until the end of the city and back, which the many layers of clothing and the sun shine made extremely pleasant. Cafes, restaurants, shops, museums, the Tourist Information Center and the harbour are within walking reach and as long as you have appropriate foot wear (beware that most pedestrian paths are icy and extremely slippery), you hardly need any transport to explore the city.
We chose the Smart hotel for our stay, and I can recommend it. The hotel was 10 minutes walk from the harbour and the Tourist Information Center, with very polite and friendly staff.
Aurora Hunt with the Wandering Owl
The highlight of our trip was the eight hours drive and camping during the night with the Wandering Owl, called the Aurora Hunt. It costs about 1.200 Dkk and includes up to nine hours drive, camping, thermal suits to borrow, warm dinner and drinks, as well as professional photos from the trip. Our driver and our guide – Alex and Matias, were such lovely people, and they did everything possible for us to have the best night and aurora adventure across the Northern Norway. We were extremely lucky with the weather conditions, and of course that helped, but even so, the trip would have still been fantastic. What a magical night! We traveled to three destinations – we first arrived at the island of Kvaløya. That was our first stop on the way to Skulsfjord.
We then crossed the tunnel underwater arriving to Ringvassøya island. There was a small frozen lake called “Peder sørensen vatnet”, where we had dinner around the bonfire. The photos below are credits to our guide Matias and are done with professional camera (and a lot of patience). Even though he managed to capture the dancing lights, the photos do not do the aurora justice – experiencing it live is simply breathtaking.
At the end, we stayed next to the sea in Skarsfjord (photo below).
The northern lights travelled with us and did not stop dancing and painting the whole sky through the entire night. The Wandering Owl crew really puts the effort and make sure to drive to the most beautiful places, as far away from the city as possible, so that people have the highest chances of seeing the aurora.
Northern Sea Adventure – Cruise around the fjords with the Rescue Boat Olav
Speaking of trip highlights, adventure and lovely people – this cruise was another must-do, offering breathtaking views during the daylight. The captain Kenneth and our guide Ivan were wonderful, funny and knowledgeable people, and they made sure everyone felt at home onboard and that we saw as much as possible of the fjords and the beautiful Nordic sights. We sailed for four hours, and we did short stops as well, so that we could enjoy the amazing landscapes.
On top of the world – Fjellheisen Top
By the time sunset took over the sky, my friend and I took the cable car up the Fjellheisen top to admire the city and the fjords from a whole new perspective.
I recommend you buy the tickets for the cable car in advance (we did that via tripadvisor). The ride itself takes no more than 5 min, and there is a car leaving every 30 min.
I wonder how we managed to visit several, given everything else we did, but we both are such curious kids we could not help it! The museum I enjoyed the most and strongly recommend is Polaria. Among other activities, we saw a documentary about the Northern Lights, as well as the life at the Arctic, which for me was extremely interesting.
Thank you for taking part of this short summary of my trip to Arctic Norway! I sincerely hope and wish for you to be able to experience what we have.