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A Budget Guide To Independently Chasing The Northern Lights In Norway

Bergsbotn, with a view of Bergsfjord, Senja, Northern Norway

Type Of Travel

Norway is as expensive as it gets, and since we were in the middle of the Artic winter, we decided against roughing it in any way… We chose rather comfortable hotels (especially in Senja), we rented a car in Senja (which actually saved us a lot of money), and last but not least, we went on several local tours (a significant chunk of our budget). All in all, this led to a horrendous total cost, the highest (average travel cost per person per day) of all my trips altogether!

 

Itinerary & Time Of The Visit

We chose Northern Norway, beginning of February 2018, 400 kilometers north of the Artic Polar Circle, and more precisely the island of Senja & the city of Tromsø,the “Paris of the North”,to go seeing the Northern Lights.

We spent 9 days there, which is significantly more than most people do, but we wanted to take it easy and to enhance our chances to experience the Northern Lights, since weather is extremely unpredictable, and clear skies are absolutely necessary.

 

Global Budget

Costs per Person per Day in € 2018
Long Distances’ Transport €  16,00
Short Distances’ Transport €    2,10
Total Transport €  18,10
Hotels € 102,90
Restaurants & Food €  35,70
Drinks & Going Out €    5,70
Every Day Life €    0,00
Total Living € 144,30
Visits & Tours €  54,60
Activities €    0,00
Total Tours & Activities €  54,60
Total Norway: € 217,00

 

Hostels & Hotels

On the one hand, we could have saved a lot in Senja, opting for a smaller room without a view on the Fjord, but we wanted to make the most of the stunning landscape… In Tromsø, on the other hand, it would have been difficult to find much cheaper, unless opting for dorms, which we did not even consider!

City Hostel / Hotel
Name
Type of
Accommodation
Type of Room Price
per Night (€)
Duration
(Nights)
Evaluation
(1 to 5 Stars)
Senja Hamn i Senja Hotel Suite 287,02 4 ***
Tromsø Comfort Xpress Tromsø Hotel Double Room 140,74 5 ***
Total Norway 205,75 9  

 

Restaurants & Food

That came to a surprise: food is indeed expensive, but comparatively to the overall costs in Norway not THAT expensive. And we did not try to save in any way, choosing rather cozy and pleasant places.

City Restaurant
Name
Type of Meal Type of
Restaurant
Price
Food (€)
Evaluation
(1 to 5 Stars)
Senja Hamn i Senja Diner Hotel 39,98 ***
Tromsø Raketten Lunch Food Stall 5,23 ****
Tromsø Huken Diner Pub 19,74 *****
Tromsø Bardus Bistro Diner Restaurant 36,28 ****
Tromsø Clarion Hotel Breakfast Hotel 16,01 ***
Tromsø Aungarden Lunch Restaurant 14,94 ****
Tromsø Riso Kaffebar Breakfast Café 22,41 ****
Tromsø Art Café Lunch Café 31,48 *****
Tromsø Huken Diner Pub 15,15 *****
Total Norway 22,36  

 

Drinks & Going Out

Alcohol is expensive in Norway, so we reduced our consumption to the max, and only had a few beers in Tromsø. If you fancy some fine wines and liquors, be ready to spend significant amounts of money!

City Bar
Name
Type of Drink Type of
Bar
Price
Drink (€)
Evaluation
(1 to 5 Stars)
Tromsø Huken Pub Beer Bar 7,26 ****
Tromsø Bardus Bistro Beer Restaurant 8,96 ****
Tromsø Mack Pub Beer Bar 9,71 ****
Total Norway 8,64  

 

Transport

We were concerned about road conditions 400 km north of the Artic Polar Circle in the middle of the Artic winter, and expected driving being a significant challenge. How wrong!

Roads are mostly free of snow, and rental cars all have winter tires / studded tires, making driving easy and relaxed, even deep in the night (we arrived at Bardufoss Airport at 22:30 and drove approx. 100 km to Hamn I Senja), and even on ice in more remote places.

So renting a car will surely be your best bet, especially since car rentals are comparatively not THAT expensive, and in any way much cheaper than other options:

  • It will give you the flexibility to do what you want when you want
  • It will enable you to avoid local tours, which are horribly expensive

 

Tours & Activities

THAT will be a big chunk of your budget! Local tours are awfully expensive, no matter if you want to go see the Northern Lights, go Dog or Reindeers Sledging, go Racketing, go Whale Watching (if whales are around, which was not the case when we were there) or whatever.

We did 3 tours:

  • Seeing the Northern Lights with Hamn I Senja – 140 € / Pax

It was a good tour as we were shown some nice spots to see the Northern Lights. But we were not very lucky that evening, with a fulminant start (15 to 20 minutes) and a very quiet evening afterwards…

Even as an experienced photographer, you might not know all the tricks to make a perfect night photo (I had little experience in that field so far). Francisco gave us lots of insights, and enabled me to significantly enhance my pictures.

I actually had no really good pictures from Hamn I Senja, and LOTS of them from Tromsø (during the tour and afterwards) – To me, it was well invested money. And we were truly lucky that night,with Northern Lights during hours, at times dancing above our heads.

This is about as touristy as it gets, but it was good fun. Book ahead that kind of activities, as they are high in demand with tour groups, and they have priority over independent travelers.

 

Splurge At Reasonable Costs?

Anything that is out of the ordinary will cost A LOT! More than in many other places in the world. So maybe, choose to stick to your lower standards, or be ready to dish out significant amounts of money. Interestingly, slightly nicer restaurants were NOT that expensive… comparatively!

 

Reduce Costs?

Do not go there in the middle of the winter if you are not ready to dish out significant amounts of money. No matter how hard you try, you will NOT be able to reduce expenditures. You might be able to save on accommodation, but only up to a certain level.

Having your own wheels (car rentals are comparatively affordable) and not taking any local tours will definitely help. This is surely your best bet!

 

 

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