How To See Northern Lights On Budget
Lots of people dream to see the Northern Lights at least once in their lifetime but the fact that aurora zone lies in some of the most expensive countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Canada) makes Aurora not a very budget friendly experience.
Be it accommodation or food or transportation, prices are sky high in these countries.
However, after doing lots of research we found out that Abisko in Sweden could be a budget friendly option to watch the Northern Lights.
We are just back from our trip and now we can say with much confidence that Abisko in Sweden is one of the best places to catch Northern Lights on budget.
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Why is Abisko The Best Place To Watch The Northern Lights?
Abisko is not only a budget friendly place to catch the northern lights but also one of the best places to catch them. Reason being, it is surrounded by mountains and hence, has very little precipitation compared to any other place located within the aurora zone.
The Northern Lights are never guaranteed but if you have some facts in place, you feel much more comfortable. Statistics says that if you spend 3 nights in Abisko, you have 88% chance to catch the aurora show. And if you spend 5 nights in Abisko, you increase your chances of spotting the lights to 98% probability!
We spent 3 days in Abisko and can say that these facts appeared just about right.
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How Much Will It Cost To Catch The Northern Lights On Budget?
We spent 270 USD PP in our 3 night trip to Abisko (including flights from Stockholm).
Here is the cost break down:
- Flight from Stockholm to Kiruna – 110 USD (must be booked in advance)
- Transportation from Kiruna to Abisko – 23 USD
- Transportation from Abisko back to Kiruna – 23 USD
- Accommodation – 90 USD (for 3 nights at 30 USD/Night)
- Food – 25 USD (for 3 days)
Catching the Northern Lights: You can take a tour or visit Abisko Sky Station to watch Aurora Borealis if you’d like to. Alternatively, you can also easily spot the lights on your own in Abisko.
Tip: We recommend you to stay 5 nights. As mentioned above, statistically there is a high chance that you will spot the Northern Lights even in a shorter stay but staying 5 days makes the success almost certain. And anyways watching aurora multiple times is an incredible experience.
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How To Get To Abisko On Budget
We feel that flight is the fastest way at a reasonable price to reach Kiruna from Stockholm. There is a train option available for 100 USD one way but train takes almost 17 hours. Too long! So we recommend you to fly to Kiruna. Make sure you book in advance because during the peak Aurora season, flight prices rise pretty quickly.
If you book in advance, you will be able to get a return flight from Stockholm to Kiruna for 110-120 USD.
From Kiruna to Abisko you can go by train for 75 SEK, which is 9 USD at Dec 2017 rate. You can book your train on the official website of Swedish Railways (SJ): https://www.sj.se/en
To reach from the Kiruna airport to the train station, you need to catch a bus to the city’s bus station which will cost you 120 SEK (14 USD) and from there you will be catching another free shuttle bus to the train station. It can seem complicated but it’s actually pretty simple while you are there. Besides, Swedish people are fluent in English which makes it extremely easy to navigate by simply asking locals for directions.
Train from Kiruna to Abisko takes just 1h 15min. And all the Abisko hotels & hostels are within walking distance from Abisko station.
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Accommodation On Budget
Of all the Scandinavian countries we have visited, Abisko is the place where we have found the cheapest accommodation (in countryside). You can find a hostel dorm available for 30 USD/ night.
Booking can be done here
Private room can be booked at just 35 USD PP @ 2 people occupancy.
We stayed in Winterday Hostel and it was well worth the money.
They have a nice kitchen where you can cook you own food from supermarket, a warm shower and even sauna if you fancy.
In fact, if you do not have proper winter gear, you can rent it for 150 SEK (18 USD) for your full stay. Not per day but for your full stay no matter how long it is! The gear includes outer layer top and bottom, snow boots and mittens. It really gives you piece of mind, especially if you’re worried that you may not enjoy the cold weather.
Needless to say, you better book in advance, as cheapest accommodation sells out pretty fast.
Food On Budget
There is a grocery store at a walking distance form Winterday Hostel. We shopped for around 20 USD PP for 3 days including beer. 😀 Most of the accommodation in Abisko comes with a kitchen, so you should be able to cook your own food. During winter, daylight anyways lasts only for a couple of hours so you’ll end up spending quite some time indoors.
There is cheap food truck right outside the grocery store which serves burgers, sandwiches and fries. You can get a reindeer burger for 85 SEK (10 USD). YUMMY!
Another low cost hint: Abisko Turiststation STF serves a lunch buffet for 120 SEK (14 USD) with great variety of food.
So this is how we watched the Northern Lights on budget. Have you seen Aurora already? Any budget friendly tips which we haven’t mentioned here? Or if you have more questions about the trip planning, please leave us a comment below and we will get back to you as soon as possible. 😆