The Northern Lights are at the top of everyone’s bucket list. And after my experience, I don’t see how it’s not a must do for everyone. Chasing aurora was one of the best and exciting moment in all of my travels. We have all seen photos and videos of people capturing the most extravagant moments of spotting the northern lights, but, I’m sure all of you are thinking the same thing I did and saying there is no way they could actually look like that in person. I assumed there was lots of editing and photo shopping to go along with the pictures I have seen. But, I was wrong. If you can catch a good night when chasing them, they light up the sky with the brightest green, yellow and even purple colors you have ever seen.
When it comes to capturing the Northern Lights on a cell phone, its hard because the camera’s megapixel’s aren’t as great as a GoPro or a nice camera. The better the camera, the better your picture’s will be. It will look just like what you see in the sky. They call it chasing aurora because you literally have to chase these lights. The darker and clearer the sky is, the better. You have to travel outside of a city where there aren’t any lights and start driving around until you spot them. Depending on the time of year and where you’re at in the world will depend on how good they are. In the end, it’s the luck of the draw. You never know what you’re going to get when you go out at night.
After doing tons of research on the time of the year and where the best place in the world to see them at, I decided to head up to the Northern part of Norway. Almost all the way to the top where Norway, Sweden, and Finland meet. There are a little town by the name of Tromso that is well-known for chasing aurora. And usually has a very high success rate depending on the time of the year and the weather. They usually start showing the end of September all the way past the beginning of the year. obviously, the closer you wait until winter, the better off you will be seeing them. It gets darker earlier in the day in the winter time. So the chances of seeing them are higher around November and December. I took a chance and went the end of October, and it ended up being absolutely amazing. The town itself is so cute. It sets right on a big lake and has tons of mountain and hills which makes the scenery really nice to go for a walk around the town.
The Northern Lights will set you back in your wallet a little bit. There’s not really a way to do this on a budget, unless you want to do it alone without a tour and rent your own car. I felt like this wasn’t he best option because you won’t really know where the good spots are. Not only that, seeing though you’re so far up in North in the winter time, the weather isn’t the best. Roads can be pretty crazy and dangerous. With that being said, I found the cheapest option and booked it. There is only one hostel in the town on Tromso. It is formerly known as Citycamp Guesthouse, but is now called Tromso Activities Hostel. The price was around $35 a night, but now it has been renovated and will cost you around $50. They offer the cheapest Northern Lights Tour in all of Tromso that is around $110. It include’s free portrait’s with the lights, transport to and from the pick up location (or the hostel), a campfire with snacks and hot coco, and a thermal suits if you didn’t come prepared. Each group only holds up to 8 people so book in advance. The tour can take anywhere from 5-9 hours depending on the time of the year and weather. They offer a deal if you book more than one Northern Lights tour through them. If you have time to waste during the day, the hostel also offers daytime activities as well, from whale watching to hiking up lakes and going for a cold swim!
Theres really only one option to getting up to Tromso, and that’s flying. Almost all the flights fly out of Oslo. I paid around $400 roundtrip. Once you arrive at the airport you can catch a bus that will take you to the town center. Jump off anywhere and you can find your accommodation. The town if fairly small. I stayed for 3 nights and picked my last night to chase aurora. We left the hostel around 8pm and started our journey north. Lucky for me, the lights started showing out 15 minutes outside of the city where it started to get dark. We drove for about 20 minutes and stopped at a pull of point with tons of mountains and watched them dance in the sky! It was one of the best aurora siting’s of the year. They went on for almost 2 hours in all directions. We set up our cameras and just enjoyed every minute of it. The tour brings along a photographer and you can get free pictures standing under the lights. We started a fire and drank some hot coco and just relaxed. I will add it was so freaking cold! I thought I was going to get frost bit on my hands I was so cold. But in the end, it was all worth it. Since the lights were so good, I figured the tour would be over. But it wasn’t.
We all loaded up in the van and headed even further north on a gravel road in the middle of nowhere. Here, we spotted another line of lights racing through the sky. We jumped out onto the road and just watched them for another 10-15 minutes and then just kept driving down the road watching from the van. They were everywhere. Just like the pictures. So bright and colorful and you can actually see them dancing in the sky. Moving back and forth making all different shapes. If you have a good camera, the best option is to set it on a lapse mode and take burst shots while its recording. At the end, you can watch the video and it shows how fast they actually move. Pretty cool.
We headed back to the hostel around 2am. The hostel posts the photos and videos of the trip on their Facebook website so you can have access to them. So no worries if you don’t have a good camera, you will still be able to have plenty of shots.
If Norway isn’t on your list to see the Northern Lights, don’t worry. There are plenty of other places you can go and visit. Head to Finland, Sweden, Iceland, some parts of Canada, Scotland, and even in Ireland! Make sure you do some research in each country so you know the best time to go. You won’t be disappointed. And its well worth the money.