tromso norway itinerary what to do

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Quite often, people think about coming to Tromso for 3/4 days, thinking there is not much to do apart from see the Northern Lights.

In my experience, this is not enough, and for several reasons. First of all, in 3/4 days, there is no 100% chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Indeed, when the weather’s bad, it can be spread out over this period, especially in winter when the weather’s a real tease. Even more, in just 3/4 days, you’d miss out on some great activities and places to see, each more beautiful than the last.

That’s why I think that in just one week in the region, there’s more than enough to keep you amused, occupied and full of surprises. So I’m proposing an itinerary for a week in Tromso, in winter, based on the places I love, the activities that are great to do, but also taking into account a number of parameters such as short daylight hours, not rushing and above all having fun without ending up completely exhausted.

This itinerary, however, is based on the fact that you have a car. Driving on snow or ice here is easy, so don’t let that hold you back 🙂

If you don’t have a car, then I suggest you read my article on what to do in Tromso without a car, which also contains a suitable itinerary 🙂

Day 1: City tour and Fjellheisen cable car

Day: Walking tour of Tromso, the Paris of the North

Before you set off on your assault on the region, I suggest you start by visiting the pretty town of Tromso, strolling through its streets between its wooden houses, along the harbor, crossing the bridge on foot and admiring the view all the way to the famous Arctic Church. Tromso is nicknamed the Paris of the North, and it’s true that it’s clearly one of the most beautiful cities in Norway, especially in winter under the snow. I must admit, though, that it doesn’t have much in common with Paris. Its reputation is due more to its fashion than its architecture, so I’d recommend the following:

  • the super-pretty city center
  • the little harbour
  • the polarmuseet
  • a hotdog and mulled wine at the smallest restaurant/bar: the Raketten

Here are all the reasons to visit Tromso🙂

City of Tromso house wood center Norway

Sunset and evening: Fjellheisen

Perhaps my favorite spot in Tromso, taking the Fjellheisen cable car to overlook the city. You don’t have to do it only in the evening for the auroras, nor only during the day to walk up there. So I go for the sunset (the article’s photo), with a 180° view over the mountains, and wait for the auroras to arrive. Okay, if the sun goes down early, it can be a long wait, but you can sit there, have dinner and a coffee, and watch the city gradually light up. In winter, the wind can be icy, but if you get there early enough, you can enjoy some lovely walks!

Fjellheisen Tromso northern lights

Day 2: Discover Kvaloya by road to Tromvik

Day: the road to Tromvik

Today, we’re off to discover the superb island of Kvaloya, in particular by taking the road to Tromvik. But first, don’t forget to stop off at Ersfjordbotn, one of the region’s most beautiful fjords. Then, on the way to Tromvik, you’ll stop quite a few times, as the road is top-notch and runs along the east and north coasts, but especially at the little village of Grotfjord and its sumptuous fjord a little further on. Finally, the fishing village of Tromvik is full of charm and an ideal place to watch the sunset. If you have a bit of time, continue on the road to Rekvik, with particularly fine views at Brosmetinden.

Sunset Tromvik Kvaloya Tromso

Evening: northern lights viewing at Grotfjord

As you can see during the day, the road to Tromvik is full of great places to watch the northern lights. In fact, it’s very clear to the north-west, which is the best orientation, even if it’s not an exact science. So how about returning to the Grotfjord fjord to wait for the northern lights this time? The view is sumptuous and it’s not too cold. You can also stand above the village, which gives a full panorama, but a little brighter by the village lights. You can find other viewpoints for the aurora in this article.

Northern Lights Grotfjord Kvaloya Tromso Norway
Book northern lights tour Tromso

Day 3: out to sea to see whales, fjords, or fish

Day: See whales or go fishing with a local

Because Tromso is also renowned for its marine wildlife (orcas, whales), it would be a shame not to take advantage of it if it’s the right season. In general, after the beginning of February, it becomes complicated, but this changes every year and they move from one place to another, depending on the fish. At the moment, whales and orcas are settling around the island of Skjervoy, a 3-hour drive away. So it can be a bit tiring to drive that far.
Fortunately, there are comfortable boats going there. Find out more about seeing whales and orcas in Tromso

whale watching orcas tromso Skjervoy Tromso best tour

The cool alternative, if you don’t want to go that far, or if they’re no longer there, is to take a trip out to sea with fishermen. 2-3 companies offer this in Tromso and, having already done it in summer, it’s quite fun (especially for those who get seasick! remember to take a Coke, it really helps). Usually the fishing trip is coupled with a visit to the fjords. Here, for example, with the pretty fishing boat Hermes II.

Hermes Fishing Boat Tromso

Finally, if all you want to do is discover the fjords by boat, I recommend the Brim Explorer boat trip. Comfortable, quiet and very recent, it visits the fjords around Tromso. But in the next article, I’ll tell you about all the fjord tours by boat!

croisière tromso bateau

Evening: Northern lights viewing in Breivikeidet

Because there’s a good chance that after a sea trip we’ll be totally exhausted, especially if we’ve made it all the way to Skjervoy and back, we’re not going to go too far for this evening of Northern Lights watching. The Breivikeidet valley is a good place to see the Northern Lights, as it’s colder (seriously, I lost haft a toe there!) and the weather is often better. In winter, there are places to stop along the road, sometimes to go deeper into the forest or to take the small roads with no-one around. It’s 20min from Tromso, so it’s very convenient! After that, it depends on the weather, of course, so depending on where the clouds are, check out this article for good places to see the aurora, or set off to discover Kvaloya!

Northern lights breivikeidet tromso Norway
vincent voyage instagram northern lights norway

Day 4: Get out of town and discover the Signaldalen mountains

Day: on the way to Signaldalen

Watch out, you’re in for a treat. And not just because of the destination, for the whole route is sumptuous. You’ll first drive down to Nordkjosbotn, along the coast, two beautiful fjords, and you’ll have to stop at the Sorbotn campsite, where you’ll have a magnificent view, as the water in the fjord is partly frozen. Then you’ll have a view of a superb mountain range. They’re everywhere, so you’ll want to take breaks all the time, but be careful :p

You’ll make a small fork in the road, heading towards Laksvatn, to enter a superb valley. From here, continue straight on to the Naustbukta fjord, where you can descend, then continue on to Lakelvbukt, facing the magnificent Lyngen Alps!

If you have time, you can continue a little further north, skirting the Lyngen. Jovik is quite far away, but the road is beautiful, and you can take the small Lakselvdalvegen road back to the main road.

Once at Nordkjosbotn, you enter a beautiful valley (where it’s a bit more freezing :p) and start to see the Lyngen Alps again and the impressive Tamokdalen. After Oteren, take the road signposted Signaldalen and the mountain will be right in front of you. Then you’ll have plenty of great vantage points for shooting, and you can get closer to the river.

You can also continue a little further to Skibotn for a great view of the Lyngens. This is the Northern Lights Road.

Mountain Otertind signaldalen Tromso Norway

Evening: Northern Lights viewing at Signaldalen

This ultra-photogenic mountain is an icon here. It would be a shame to have driven so far only to see it during the day. Especially as you can also enjoy the sunset from here. Wait until nightfall at Nordkjosbotn, where there are cafés and restaurants, and then return to Signaldalen to see the aurora. Drive along the road and you’ll have a huge number of great viewpoints 🙂

Northern lights Signaldalen Tromso

4 recommended activities in Tromso

Dog Sledding Lofoten Norway

DOG SLEDDING

  • Great sensations
  • Adorable doggies
  • From €155
Red northern lights Tromso fall Norway

NORTHERN LIGHTS

  • Discover with a tour
  • To optimize your chances
  • From €110
snowmobile arctic Finland Lapland

SNOWMOBILE

  • In the Lyngen Alps
  • An exceptional setting
  • From €180
Whale watching orcas Tromso Skjervoy Norway

WHALES & ORCAS

  • November to January
  • with a boat trip
  • From €140

Day 5: Dog sledding

Day: Sports activities in the Breivikeidet valley

An essential activity in Norway. If you’ve got enough snow (it falls in abundance at this time of year), you can have your fill of dogs and thrills.

For a start, the dogs are really adorable; they love their job, and they’ll let you know it!

Secondly, dog sledding is a fun and sporty activity. It pulls on arms, abs and thighs. And you can taste the snow if you don’t hold on tight 😀

It’s one of the highlights of your stay in Tromso, so I encourage you to try it, even if it’s quite expensive.

There are several providers, and in the following article I’ll give you the different dog-sledding tours in Tromso, but I’d advise you to choose the one in Breivikeidet, for the superb view. You’re facing the Lyngen Alps!

Dog Sledding Lofoten Norway

ALTERNATIVE: It would also be a shame not to take the opportunity to get a closer taste of the snow.

It’s easy to rent snowshoes or cross-country skis at Tromso Outdoor, for example. You’ll find plenty of pistes in Tromso itself, or in Kattfjordvatnet (incredible landscapes), but let’s head for the Breivikeidet valley, a superb natural valley where you won’t find anyone but a few skiers.

There are several starting points, the easiest of which should be just after the mini-bridge (impossible to miss). Be careful, though: it’s really freezing in this valley! But it’s worth it 🙂

At the far end, you’ll find the ferry to the Lyngen Alps, which can be accompanied by a guide if you wish. Already done, it’s great too.

Breivikeidet valley Tromso Norway Winter

ALTERNATIVE: why not go snowmobiling? That too is a very natural activity, with great sensations! Especially as most of the tours take place in the Lyngen Alps. It’s hard to beat that! It comes at a price, around 200€, but if you have your driving license, you won’t regret it 🙂

snowmobile arctic Finland Lapland

Evening: Northern Lights viewing on the road to Kvaloyvagen

The Kvaloyvagen road is probably the best place to observe the northern lights, in terms of orientation. You’ve got a clear east/north/west view, and the waterside setting is really nice. Understandably, it’s a little popular with the tours. You need to stop 5/10min after the tunnel to Ringvassoya, just after passing some abandoned huts. The view is totally unobstructed, and sitting on the pebbles, it’s pretty good. Plus, we’re not too far from town.

Northern lights Tromso kvaloyvagen

Day 6: off to Sommaroy

Day: the road to Sommaroy

The second essential road to Kvaloya. Sommaroy is a superb little archipelago, with heavenly beaches, transparent water, fine white sand, 5° water and a wind that could straighten a sheep. But it’s great. It’s the new hot spot, with lots of construction underway. The road to get there is incredible, via valleys, frozen fjords, mountains… where you’ll also meet reindeers.

Sommaroy is also the best place for sunset.

Sunset Sommaroy Tromso Kvaloya

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Evening: Northern Lights viewing in Sommaroy

As it’s an archipelago, there are lots of great vantage points. On the island itself, but you have to get away from the lights by going to the north-western end, or for the 2-3 km just before the bridge. You’ll find small beaches, rocks, views of the mountains, but also the pretty Sommaroy bridge in the distance. There’s no shortage of views here 🙂 Sommaroy has 2-3 cafés and restaurants to keep you warm while you wait for the sun to rise. There’s no need to return to Tromso if you’ve got all your stuff.

Northern lights Sommaroy Sandvika Tromso Kvaloya

CAR RENTAL IN NORWAY

Rent a car in Norway from Discover Cars

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  • Rent a car from many airports or in the city
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Day 7: Let’s go to the Lyngen Alps

Day trip to the Lyngen Alps

For your last day, the Lyngen Alps will blow your mind. There are two possible routes. From the south, but you’ve already taken that route to Signaldalen, or via the ferry from Breivikeidet to Svensby.

So to get there, I’d recommend taking the ferry quite early (especially if the days are short). Then head north first. You’ll be skirting some of the most beautiful mountains in the area, including the hike to Blavatnet.

Then head back down towards Lyngseidet, with a magnificent fjord before you reach the town. If you have time, I’d advise you to go north to Koppangen, which is really pretty.

Finally, to get back to Tromso, you can take the road (it’s over 1h30) around the Lyngen by the south or take the ferry, depending on how much time you have and whether or not you want to do a lot of driving.

But, if you arrive earlier, I would strongly suggest you, before the ferry, to go to Nakkevatnet and Sjursnes. You won’t regret it !

Fjord Lyngen Alps Tromso Norway Fall

Evening activity under the northern lights

Finally, to round off this trip in style, I’d like to suggest an activity that’s always popular: seeing the northern lights, but not only that. In Tromso, we now have the opportunity to see them in a different context, by combining this with another activity:

  • by boat
  • dog sledding
  • snowmobiling
  • with the reindeer

So there’s a whole range of great possibilities. I’ve heard that dog sledding at dawn is great, and I haven’t done it yet, but it’s something I’d really like to do.

  • snowmobiling is at Camp Tamok, 1h15 south of Tromso in the heart of superb mountains, 195€.
  • Dog sledding is also available at Camp Tamok. In addition to an early-morning outing, you’ll also get to pet the dogs, 205€.
  • Tromso Lapland offers you the chance to see reindeers on a Sami farm, at night and with the Northern Lights in the background. Learn more about Sami culture,€120
  • take a cruise to see the northern lights, board a comfortable boat in the evening to sail the fjords of Tromso in search of the aurora, 80€.

Remarks

Proposing an itinerary for Tromso in winter is quite a gamble. There are so many parameters to take into account. First of all, the days are short! You may only have 4/5 hours of daylight. Or 12, depending on whether you leave at the end of December (winter solstice, longest night, on the 21st) or in March, for example (equinox on the 21st). But the weather will also have a major influence. If the weather’s bad, snowshoeing isn’t the best option. If it’s very cold, you’ll avoid hiking. For my part, my favorite activity is exploring the roads, the small ones, to get new views, new playgrounds for the northern lights in particular.

Also, this is a one week itinerary. But, if you want to know more, in the next article I tell you everything for a  2-week itinerary in Tromso, Senja and Lofoten Islands.

Find a hotel in Tromso

Finding accommodation in Tromso isn’t always easy. There isn’t much on offer, and most of it is very expensive. But if you get in early and leave outside the high season, you’ll have access to a few inexpensive hotels and some nice ones like the Thon Hotel, the Radisson or the Scandic. In the following article, I’ll explain how to find accommodation in Tromso, and list and compare the city’s main hotels, trying to have something for every budget.

Ami Hotel Tromso pas cher

AMI HOTEL

  • Cheap and very correct
  • 8.4/10 on Booking
  • From €74
Radisson Blu Tromso

RADISSON BLU

  • Fantastic breakfast
  • A reference in Tromso
  • From €160
Viking Cabin Alpes Lyngen

VIKING CABINS

  • In the Lyngen Alps
  • 8.8/10 on Booking
  • From €130
The Crush apartment Ersfjord Tromso louer

THE CRUSH APARTMENT

  • In a fjord
  • 9.2/10 on Booking!
  • From €100

In conclusion

Obviously, this is only a proposal based on the multitudes of possible activities, on perfect weather. It is not necessarily to be followed to the letter.

If you don’t like driving, then maybe you shouldn’t go to Signaldalen. If you don’t like cross-country skiing or snowshoeing, you can also walk in the same places. And if you’d like to see the Northern Lights, don’t hesitate to change or move depending on the weather.

If the weather is bad in Kvaloyvagen, it can be beautiful in Signaldalen. You’ll find a list of the best places to see the northern lights in Tromso, and if you want to go through an agency to see the northern lights, you’ll find a list of the best guides in Tromso.

It just goes to show that you can have fun, enjoy yourself and make the most of Tromso easily for a week 🙂

But also, feel free to take a look at the infographic in the following article to find out when to go to Tromso, if it fits well with the activities you want to do.

see Northern lights tromso Grotfjord Norway Kvaloya winter

To gather all these information, i’ve created the best map of Tromso, including :

  • most beautiful places
  • accommodations
  • where to see the northern lights
  • tours and activities
  • hikes…

⭐️ Click here to access the map! ⭐️

Map Tromso best places hikes northern lights tours

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