One photograph was enough, for my friend and me to decide our next travel destination. Beautiful fjords and the mystic northern lights– Norway was the place where we could find both. Through this blog, I would like to share few tips, which might help you plan your trip to this Scandinavian country.
Visa to Norway
We applied for our visa from India, and, it took 20 long days to get our passport stamped. Thankfully, we applied 30 days before our travel dates. The process of application is easy and, all the details are available on VFS website, but I suggest to apply a little early.
Oslo International Airport
From India, there is no direct flight to Norway. Our flight to Oslo was via Frankfurt. Don’t be surprised when you fly over the city and land in between the fields. It took me a while too, to grasp that we were on the right flight.
The Gardemoen international airport in Oslo is 20mins away from the city center by express trains. You can use the help desk or the ticketing machines at the airport to buy your train tickets. International debit or credit cards can be used to pay.
Travel within the Oslo city
We bought a 24hr day pass in Oslo, which we could use on trams, trains, buses, subways and even on ferries. It can be bought from any convenience store like 7-11 or Narvesen. International debit and credit cards are accepted everywhere.
However, because of limited options and moreover, to enjoy the majestic landscapes, we preferred to drive in Lofoten islands. Though driving is quite expensive in Norway, but every penny spent was worth it. Also, Indians can drive in Norway on their Indian driving license if it is written in English, so, we enjoyed every bit of it.
Cost of stay
Staying in a hotel in Norway will definitely drain your pocket. If you want to save on your stays, choose hostels. Not only will you save money, but also, you would be staying in city center. We stayed in Anker hostel in Oslo, our dorm was small but comfortable and had a pantry counter where we cooked our dinner.
Whether you are a vegetarian, a non-vegetarian or even a vegan, you will find n number of options available to suit your taste buds. Most of the cities have Indian restaurants.
We chose to cook whenever and wherever we could, as eating out definitely drained our pockets.
Language, Safety and Public Amenities
We could roam around at night, but there were patches with no street lights and humans, which scared us. English is widely spoken and people are really kind to help with whatever means they can. So mostly we were at peace.
Norway was too cold for us, and we looked around for a washroom more than the monument. We could easily find one at the touristic sights and most of them were free to use. But it was a task to find a washroom in remote places like Lofoten Islands, where finding a human being was even harder.
Norway is an all-weather country and has something for everyone to enjoy, beat its’ history, outdoor adventure or photography tours. Up north you can enjoy the mid-night sun from mid-April to mid-August, a perfect time for adventure lovers. While, there you also get to see the polar nights from November to January. This is the time for the Northern Light enthusiasts.
Summer generally starts from June and the temperature can reach upto 25 degree Celsius. But one should prepare well for the rains even in Summer. Also, the Nordic sun can burn your skin even if it is not warm. Carry your UV-filter sunglasses and sunscreen all time along.
Winter starts from September, and November to March is the best time to chase the Northern Lights, as the nights are darker and longer.
We chose October first week for our Northern light chase. The days were shorter and the nights were dark enough to see the lights clearly. But it was definitely windy and cold for us. Indoors are centrally heated but the outdoors are definitely harsh.
To be honest, we were not prepared well for this weather. If you want to enjoy the outdoors, you must cover yourself well and carry an overcoat, gloves, boots and a cap, along with the body moisturizer and a face cream.
Northern Lights in Norway
Northern light is a natural phenomenon and no one can assure its visibility on a particular day. We were lucky enough to enjoy the light show on all four nights while we were there. We used apps which are available on Google play store and Apple store to predict the aurora activity in and around the city and it definitely helped us choose our day for the northern light tour.
We went to Tromso as the probability to find the lights is higher in northern region. There we spotted a location within the city and away from the city lights, where it was dark enough to see the lights clearly. Though travelling with a tour operator would have been a better option, as they make sure to keep you warm the entire time, and they take you to the best spots away from the city.
It is not that you won’t see the lights in a city, but at times you may see only a streak of light which might be mistaken for clouds. For a clear view, dark spots are best.
In Norway, the cities are connected by bus, flights and ferries. Flying is the cheapest and fastest option though. Interestingly, my friend bought one of her domestic flight to Tromso for $290, while I booked the same for $200. So, keep an eye on the deals and you might be the lucky one; however, you would need to pay extra for your luggage.
We ended our tour in Tromso, and, took our flight back home carrying with us the beautiful memories of this picturesque country. I hope I was able to cover all the aspects which helps you plan your trip to Norway. In the next blog, i’ll share our itinerary which took us a month to plan. Till then enjoy and follow me to know more.