Originally I had only wanted to see the Northern Lights, but through the recommendations of some of the users here on TA, they suggested making side trips out of the lengthy journey to Tromso. However, after doing some more research, I find that it's increasingly difficult to do this on a tight budget in Norway. I'm not saying it's impossible, but it certainly creates many limitations -- many more than I expect from other European countries. At this point I may very well "get in and get out", i.e. see the Northern Lights and then leave as soon as possible.

So while I shall not be asking "Should I consider side trips on the way to Tromso, Norway?" I would like to ask what are some more affordable things to do in Norway? Thus far, I've been able to budget roughly $50 - $65 per day for most parts of Europe.

Update: I forgot to mention that I would be departing from Berlin and that I would be going in November/December. My apologies!

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    More affordable countries to see the northern lights are Sweden and Finland. Few people travel north in November and seats on the night train from Stockholm to Kiruna - Abisko can at times be very cheap. As a bonus, Abisko has a more suitable climate for aurora watching, too. – gerrit Aug 8 '13 at 16:34
  • @gerrit When you say suitable, do you mean more comfortable because it may not be as cold or it may be easier to get to that specific location? Or do you mean that there's a better chance/visibility that I'll see the auroras? – MarkE Aug 9 '13 at 15:30
  • I mean that there's a better chance/visibility, because there are more clear skies. Abisko is one of the driest places in northern Europe. It's certainly much colder than Tromsø! It might also be easier to reach on a budget, although with flights such things are hard to predict. – gerrit Aug 9 '13 at 15:40
  • @gerrit Did you go to the Auroa sky station? – MarkE Aug 10 '13 at 4:39
  • no, not yet. I actually live in Kiruna myself and can see the aurora from my bedroom. A couple of years ago the Aurora Sky Station was not open during October/November (I wanted to visit for All Saints), but this might have changed, as aurora tourism in Kiruna has grown significantly since the publication of "Lights over Lapland" and the associated company see lightsoverlapland.com (note, the tours by this company are not low-budget, but of course you can always travel to Abisko and walk around by yourself) – gerrit Aug 10 '13 at 13:05

what are some more affordable things to do in Norway?

Anything that does not include supermarkets, hotels, hostels, campings, restaurants, public transportation, organised tours, car rental, souvenirs, postcards, may be affordable in Norway.

It sounds like I'm excluding a lot, but this still includes one of the most popular activities in Norway: exploring the mountains. During my recent trips in Norway, I spent 0 kr (NB: I live 140 km from the Swedish-Norwegian border) on top of the journey.

  • Hiking and camping. Take your camping gear, hike up in the mountains. Bring food from your home country and you can literally spend a week in Norway spending 0 kr once you're there.
  • Skiing, as in ski-touring / cross-country, if you have the skills to do so. Again, sleep in a tent, bring food, collect firewood, and your budget approaches 0 kr.
  • If you're able to bring a bicycle, then a cycling trip can be similarly cheap. Sleep in a tent, away from civilisation, and spend near 0 kr on accommodation.

For tents, Tromsø has a very nice campsite, certainly one of the nicest I've ever been to (Harstad is also good, but Narvik sucks). It's not free, it's 190 NOK for a tent in the high season, 165 NOK in the low season, but this is Norway, moreover Tromsø, so such prices are to be expected.

Tromsø camping

Tromsø camping
Tromsø camping on the morning of 7 August 2012.

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    I agree with your answer, but maybe the temperatures are too low in the winter season to camp in a tent. When we stayed we suffer temperatures of -10º – Ivan Aug 8 '13 at 18:23
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    @Ivan True, the OP did not specify the season though. Northern lights season starts in September (sometimes August if one is lucky) and camping at the coast is not too extreme then (shouldn't get much below 0°C). – gerrit Aug 8 '13 at 18:52
  • @gerrit I have equipment to camp in sub-zero degree temperatures; though I would prefer not to as it would mean carrying more stuff for the rest of my trip. I'll most likely be visiting in October/November – MarkE Aug 9 '13 at 15:38

In 2009 December, 2 friends and I were successful in seeing the Northern Lights in Tromso on a low budget. We spent 280 € per person in 4 days including the flight from Alicante (Spain).

The cheapest way to get to Tromso then was fly to Oslo with Ryanair and then to Tromso with Norwegian. But maybe that's not the cheapest option now or from your location.

Eating is really expensive in Tromso, but you can survive some days buying salads by the kilo at supermarkets and abusing the 1€ promotions at McDonald's. If you have your own gadgets you can cook your own food (we didn't do that).

If you want to sleep really cheap, have a look at Tromso Camping, by far the most affordable accommodation we found. Two persons can stay in a heated cabin for 60€ (or less if you are 3,4 people). The problem is that if you travel alone you have to buy the complete cabin. Other options you may try are CoachSurfing, AirBNB, etc.

Answering to your question (affordable thins in Norway) while we stayed in Tromso we do the following free (or cheap) activities: Northern Lights watching, climb to a mountain near Tromso where we you'll see fantastic views of the city and the nearby landscape and there you can play with the snow (a plastic bag is enough!), play football in the snow (just ask the locals if you can join!),

  • Here you have some photos and info about our trip (in Spanish) : apeadero.ivangadea.com/viaje/escapada-a-noruega – Ivan Aug 8 '13 at 15:42
  • Geez. $100/day is still quite a bit and it sounds like you had to sacrifice quite a bit. – MarkE Aug 9 '13 at 15:40
  • Think it includes flight from Spain (quite far). If you don't include this (magically you appear in Tromso :) ) then your budget is ok (if you share your trip with at least other person). So IMHO your problem is to find a cheap flight to Trompso. – Ivan Aug 10 '13 at 7:59

Whatever you can do to see the Western coastline of the country (the fjords), you should do. If you can do it by boat, that is the best way I think, though I think that is expensive. (I can't remember what we paid, leaving from Bergen, but it was unforgetable.) Although even our train ride back to Bergen was pretty amazing. The views and landscapes are not like anything I've ever seen.

If you try to guide yourself to the West, you should see some pretty amazing sites.

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