Around Tromso, we will find exceptional landscapes. Mountains, fjords, valleys, all extending easily within a radius of 100km around the city. And after many stays there, I still discover more, trip after trip.
So here I will dwell on one of the most beautiful islands in the country, 2 steps from Tromso: Kvaloya, located northwest of the city.
Super easy to access, just cross the bridge next to the airport, Kvaloya is a condensed version of Norway and contains everything we need to keep us busy for a few days and amaze us. And, in addition to that, it contains dozens of super nice viewpoints to observe the northern lights
Kvaloya has roughly 4 routes, 3 of which really worth it. And as in winter it gets dark early, with the photo breaks, a road will really occupy a full day! Especially if you meet reindeers 🙂
It’s the classic, the must-see on Kvaloya, and accessible by bus (see the timetables here). The Ersfjordbotn fjord is superb, ultra photogenic. A large impressive fjord that can be observed from a viewpoint above or from the water’s edge. You can easily approach it, but also go to the small port and the peninsula which gives an even better view.
The first view of Ersfjord is up to the hill, there is a car park with a great and wide view. Nice to enjoy the northern lights too !
Full west oriented, this fjord is a nice place for sunset. But for the northern lights, it might be too bright because of light pollution, both the main place or down to the water. But you still can take nice shots !
For the main point of view in height it is easy to park and from there you can walk everywhere or even take a nice hike at the top of the mountain. It seriously climbs!
Otherwise you can go down to the level of the fjord, the best is to leave the car at the level of the factory on the left. There is also a cafe which is excellent!
The road to Sommaroy
Sommaroy is a small set of islands at the western end of Kvaloya. It’s one of the new fashionable destinations because it’s very heavenly, between white sand beaches, transparent water, hiking trails. The road crosses the center of the island, in a pretty valley, before going through two superb fjords along which you can easily stop. The arrival on Sommaroy gives a superb landscape with the mountains in the background, and its very “Norwegian” bridge :). We will have a lot of stopping points for the auroras, very well oriented.
First, in the first valley, stop by the Kattfjordvatnet lake. Many points of view yes, lots of parking possible, some even better because without the cables, in winter you can walk on the lake. And all facing a beautiful mountain.
Then it’s even more beautiful, you go through a very long fjord, a smaller one and then you have a view of really beautiful, different mountains. From here you have great views for the sunset. Pass by Sandvika, the small beach where you can sometimes find reindeer. Then 2/3 views before the famous bridge.
This bridge, besides, I also advise you to go by foot because the view on both sides is great. On one side the mountains of Kvaloya, on the other the mountains of Senja. Really perfect!
Then in Sommaroy, full of small beaches before the village, small walks. And even a coffee! This one saves life when it’s cold.
The road to Tromvik
Tromvik is a super cute fishing village, including a sunset to die for. And the road to get there is for me the prettiest on the island because it really takes the view. Between the two fjords that are Kaldfjord and especially Grotfjord, magnificent. Its small village is also cool with a nice beach, especially under the snow. And on top of that, we have a superb view of the island of Vengsoya. And all of this gives great vantage points for the Northern Lights. Sometimes a little light, but we’ll deal with it very easily 🙂
This road really goes for Grotfjord, which you reach after 40min. A super beautiful, deep fjord, where you can stop absolutely anywhere on both sides but especially at the bottom of the fjord, where you can get close to the water. Sometimes we have seals and otters bathing in the fjord 🙂 This fjord is also one of the best places for the aurora!
After Tromvik, you can take the road to Rekvik if it is open, the view is really nice, there is a very nice hike outside winter and you still face Senja.
The road to Skulsfjord
Surprisingly, it’s a road that I discovered late. And yet, it is really cool because it goes towards the north of the island, notably passes by a magical (but damn windy!) viewpoint over the whole north of the island, to go down again towards the village of Skulsfjord passing by a corner with the trees petrified by the cold.
So to get the beautiful view, on the road to Skulsfjord you will take a left just before the tunnel. It’s a great place to see the Northern Lights and see the scenery.
After that, the valley that goes down towards Vengsoya is also superb and sometimes we meet reindeer. We’ll have a nice little beach (but not crazy for the lights).
Once in Skulsfjord, leave your car at the far end, in the parking lot, and go for a walk. In general the path is clear enough in winter to go to the opposite of the island and have a magnificent view. It’s also very nice for the aurora borealis with a beautiful view!
The road to Kvaloyvagen
Much less traveled, this road has the advantage of offering beautiful viewpoints for the aurora, little light, and a lot of reindeer, which is quite nice. A little before the village of Kvaloyvagen, we will have super nice little lakes. It also allows you to go to the other island of Ringvassoya (another great place around Tromso !). Besides, if we’re not careful, we take the tunnel that leads to it, a classic mistake.
Before the tunnel, to have the best views on the auroras, you have to continue towards Kvaloyvagen and it will be just after the fishing huts, 5 minutes further, we can go down to the beach. Further on, there are a few lakes and a place without lights also to see the aurora, very nice, towards the old Sami camp.
How to see the northern lights in Kvaloya
Kvaloya is a bit of a place to be to see the aurora when you are in Tromso. Indeed, the island, as we have seen, has several fjords, lakes, roads without light with very high visibility. We have easy access to an unobstructed view to the north, east, west, and in addition in a magnificent setting. So that’s naturally where we go, and quite often the agencies too.
So i’ll propose you a few viewpoints :
- road to Kvaloyvagen, a few km before, there are some fishermen cabins and beaches
- Kattfjordvatnet, a lot of places to stop by the lake to see the lights
- Grotfjord, all along the fjord, and also at the bottom of the fjord
- The view over the village of Grotfjord
- The road to Rekvik
- Sandvika by Sommaroy
But there are many more !
How to see the northern lights in Kvaloya
You don’t have a car or want to maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights ? So it’s better to go through one of the good tours in Tromso. Not all are good, but some are really excellent. I have listed below 4 where you can go without any hesitation ! Prices vary between 120 and 180€
How to visit Kvaloya with a tour
When you don’t have a car, or even to be able to discover the best places without worrying or driving on frozen roads (even if it’s easy to do), you may want to go through a tour. There is everything you need in Tromso. So I suggest you the ones I know, from whom I have heard good things, whose opinions are very good and above all, avoid large groups. The ideal is between 4 and 8 persons, to enjoy it and have time. My first visit to Kvaloya was with a very big agency and it wasn’t crazy, so now I’m more careful 🙂
Find a hotel in Kvaloya
Finding an accommodation in Kvaloya is not that easy. We will find some hotels just close to Tromso, in Sommaroy, Kaldfjord. If you plan to spend more time on the island than in Tromso, this is a good alternative. And above all, it’s still quieter and some places can be perfect to see the aurora.
The Sommaroy Arctic Hotel is located on the Sommaroy Archipelago, a beautiful place! Otherwise the Ersfjordbotn Brygge, located in the idyllic fjord of Ersfjord, not cheap but superb.
Finally, a hotel that does not look like much but is especially worthwhile for its location and price, the lovely Melishome, ideal for observing the aurora, at less than 60€!
Kvaloya is truly a little gem to discover when visiting Tromso. You have to take the time because there are a lot of spots for photos, you come across reindeer, fjords, the colors change all the time. In general I do not do more than one route per day because even if going to Tromvik or Sommaroy takes only one hour, we will take so many breaks that the day will pass very quickly! Especially if you go there in winter when the days are very short 🙂
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What do you think about Kvaloya ?