Pre-trip planning for Norway and Finland

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photo via express.co.uk

 

Went to Iceland Jan 2017, hoping to catch the Northern Lights but nope, not today or any other days of your trip, said Mother Nature. Being persistent (and depressed after seeing seemingly everyone else see the Northern Lights), a plan to the North began.

By Travel HAN-ter

Throwback to 31 Mar 17

Air tickets

Norway and Finland were the top two choices for Northern Light Hunt 2.0 and cheap tickets were tempting me throughout the year, starting with flight to Stockholm by SQ at S$870 to flight to Oslo by Finnair at $799 but eventually, I booked the flight to Helsinki via Finnair at S$600.

HAN-dy tip: Finnair frequently has promotional prices to Europe which you can opt for free stopover in Helsinki for up to 5 nights.

Route

When visiting multi-countries/ cities, I usually prefer to fly to the other countries/ cities before returning to the country/ city I will be returning to Singapore from. This is to prevent missing the flight home should there be any unforeseen circumstances. However for this trip, I will be touring Finland first before going to Norway and returning back to Finland. This is mainly due to the lack of transportation between the Northern part of Finland and Norway.

  • Helsinki to Rovaniemi

Upon reaching Helsinki, we will be staying one night in Helsinki before taking the overnight train from Helsinki to Rovaniemi which takes about 6 hrs. The train tickets with a private room cost about €77.80 to €136 but can only be booked 60 days in advance.

  • Rovaniemi to Ivalo

Booked a bus to bring us from Rovaniemi to Ivalo which costs us €57.15 each and takes about 4 hrs 20 mins. The bus stops at multiple stops and will be dropping right at Hotel Ivalo where we will be staying.

  • Ivalo to Kirkenes

The connection between Ivalo (Finland) and Kirkenes (Norway) gave me the biggest headache as flights had to transit back at either Oslo or Helsinki and there were no trains between the two cities. Had to take a taxi which costs us €360 for one way!

  • Kirkenes to Bergen

Besides going Kirkenes for the King Crab Safari tour, we are also going to take the 6 days Hurtigruten Classic Voyage South cruise to Bergen. We took a basic Arctic Superior room with all meals included and the fare was £ 1484 for two. There were other higher end packages with perks like free wifi, beverages and room selection but that would cost us another £ 500 so nah.

  • Bergen to Oslo

After disembarking in Bergen, we will be spending the night there and taking an overnight train to Oslo. The trip takes about 7 hr 30 mins and about NOK1000 each for a private sleeping cabin. The train tickets can only be booked three months in advance.

  • Oslo to Helsinki

Spending a night in Oslo, we will be taking the afternoon flight via Norwegian Air back to Helsinki where we will be catching our flight back to Singapore. The one way air ticket costs €60.64, with 20 kg baggage and seat selection. Extra baggage costs €12 per piece.

Accommodations

Since we are going during the winter season, for the accommodations, my main concern was the distance from the train station. I’m usually a fan of Airbnb but for this trip, I’ve booked only hotel as we are not driving and I am quite worried about the ease of travelling with our luggages on the possibly snowy road conditions. We had really exhausting experience lugging our luggages during our Italy and Switzerland trip previously and that was during summer! So winter seems even tougher for luggage lugging! Also, as we are mainly staying for one night, the service and cleaning fee on airbnb can add up and be quite costly.

  • Helsinki

Holiday Inn Helsinki City Centre – Standard room @ S$241.63

Booked my stay directly with the hotel itself as there was a member discount of about €5.

HAN-dy tip: International hotel chains are usually not eligible for discount codes given by online booking websites so try booking with the hotel itself or the site that gives you the most points.

  • Rovaniemi

Hotel Santa Claus – Glass igloo @ €431

I couldn’t find the availability of the glass igloo on the website itself so I made a booking via their contact email.

HAN-dy tip: Try emailing the hotel itself if the website indicates no availability.

Artic Light hotel – Magic Double Room @ S$230.17 (S$267.12 before discount)

Saved S$36.95 by making the booking via Expedia:

– 10 % discount using the discount code SAFRAEXPHOL

– Expedia Points (5,174 Expedia+ points used: -S$36.95)

HAN-dy tip: Book your hotel using Expedia App as they give two times the points.

  • Ivalo

Hotel Ivalo – Twin Room @ €95

Booked the hotel with Expedia but couldn’t use any discount code as we have to pay for the stay at the hotel itself.

  • Kirkenes

Scandic Kirkenes Hotel @ S$192.22

Booked the hotel with Zuji using a discount code which gave 12% discount. Other booking websites that I’ve checked do not accept discount codes for Scandic hotels.

HAN-dy tip: Zuji frequently has promotions giving up to 12% discounts on hotel bookings and sometimes cash rebate when paying with Visa or Mastercard.

  • Bergen

Scandic Ornen Hotel @ S$239.22

Booked the hotel with Zuji using a discount code which gave 12% discount. Other booking websites that I’ve checked do not accept discount codes for Scandic hotels.

  • Oslo

Scandic Byorten Hotel @ S$251.99

Booked the hotel with Zuji using a discount code which gave 12% discount. Other booking websites that I’ve checked do not accept discount codes for Scandic hotels.

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