I Saw The Northern Lights Before It Was Cool


Recently, I’ve seen many people sharing pictures of the Northern Lights & adding it to their bucket lists. Now I am not saying that I went there 10 years ago, but I went to Norway in November, 2015. It wasn’t cool thing by that time either. An article on ‘how the Northern Lights are fading & this February (or March) might be the last month to witness this miracle’, is being circulated by people.

Scientifically, it’s a rumor. Every 2 years, some study claims that the Northern Lights are going away, fading away, won’t be seen again, won’t be seen for 12 years again etc. But worry not, if you want to see the Northern Lights, they will be there for you (at their own time, obviously). Here’s how I made my trip possible & experienced one of the best lightshows of the nature.

Deciding the location

After researching about 6-7 months on the entire trip, I chose Tromso to be the place from where I’d get to see the Northern Lights. Tromso is world’s northernmost town with a population of 75,000. It’s advanced, energetic & lively as any other European town.

Like many European cities, Tromso is full of interesting museums.

Polar Museum Tromso Norway

Tromso has many beautiful & different looking churches.

Arctic Cathedral Tromso NorwayTromso Church

It also has an amazing library. I have never seen such an outstanding structure for a library.

Bibliotek Tromso Norway

Pretty streets & warm people.

Streets of Tromso

But the most wonderful phenomenon, which is almost exclusive to this town, happens 100 km above your head – The Northern Lights

Northern Lights Norway

Tromso is the northernmost place (topping Iceland, Sweden’s Kiruna & Finland’s Rovaniemi) among other contenders. Tromso is also full of facilities & a proper town. Other places of Sweden & Finland are not as developed. It also has more hostels, hotels & couchsurfers than other places. Hence, I chose Tromso to be the first place from where I’d try looking for the Northern Lights.

Where to stay?

Since the town is close to Arctic, facilities tend to get expensive. Norway, anyway, is an expensive country & Tromso is even more costly.

Hostels & Hotels cost almost Rs. 3,600 per night in Tromso (Single bed). To actually see the Northern Lights, I had to go away from the town to see sky without light pollution. There are tour operators which take you away from the city on the Northern Lights tour for approximately Rs. 10,000. This is expensive, kind of useless & not guaranteed.

Read about my 1st Couchsurfing experience here.

I contacted a Couchsurfer whose home was almost 50 km away from the city. It was countryside so secluded & free from light pollution. He happily hosted me & I saved almost Rs. 14,000 per night. And I stayed there for 2 nights.

1st night’s lights

Northern Lights Night 1

2nd night’s lights

The Northern Lights Night 2

How to maximize your chances to see the Northern Lights?

Here are some conditions

  • August to March is the time when the Northern Lights can be seen. If you go in November or the 1st half of December, you will get cheapest rates & lights are fairly visible on most days.
  • If you go in 2nd half of December or January, it will get more expensive because Christmas & holidays. Lights are very visible, chances are high.
  • If you go in February or March, you will get moderate rates & lights start getting faint.
  • Get away from the light pollution
  • Clearer the sky, higher the chance
  • Avoid full moon or days around it. New Moon is the best day to experience it. Darker sky = Better light show

Check these tips for photographing the Northern Lights.


Pictures Credits: Parichay Mehta

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