Tromso In Winter – 15 Magical Things To Do
Have you ever wanted to explore the beauty of the Arctic? Tromso is the gateway to the Arctic Circle and a bucket-list destination for many travellers. Tromso in winter is a magical place. With its snow-covered landscapes, long nights, and abundance of unique activities, it is no wonder that this small city in northern Norway has become one of the top destinations for winter travel.
Often referred to as the Paris of the North or the Capital of the Arctic, Tromso is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Winter in Tromso is like something out of a fairytale—dog sledding in the morning, and the Northern Lights dancing above your head at night. You can’t help but fall in love with this beautiful place.
Tromso has no shortage of spectacular winter activities that are sure to make lasting memories. Whether you are visiting with your family or on your own, this guide will help you make the most of your trip to Tromso in winter. Here are some of the top activities during the winter season!
A City Girl Outside contains affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase through these links, I will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for reading!
Planning your trip to Tromso last minute?
Below are some of the best tours, places to stay and more for planning your perfect trip!
Top Tours & Experiences in Tromso:
- Reindeer Sledding & Feeding with Sami Guide (my favourite!)
- Top Tromso Northern Lights Tour (most popular Northern Lights tour in Tromso!)
- Whale Watching Tour by Hybrid Electric Catamaran
- Dog Sledding Adventure
- Ice Domes Guided Tour
Best Places to Stay in Tromso:
Where is Tromso?
This beautiful city is located in one of the most northern regions of Norway and sits on two separate islands – Troms (Tromsøy) and Kval (Kvaløy). You can even see the divide between these two islands if you take the cable car up Mount Storsteinen. It boasts being both the largest urban area north of the Arctic Circle and home to over 150 different nationalities.
To put into perspective just how far north Tromso actually is, Oslo is 3345 km away from North Pole and 740 km away from Arctic Circle – while Tromso is 2200 km away from North Pole and 350 km away from Arctic Circle. That’s quite a difference!
The best part is that it’s one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights! Due to its close proximity to the Arctic Circle, there’s more chance for clear skies that are dark enough for auroras to be visible – meaning you have more chance of seeing them here than anywhere else in Norway. Plus this area gets around 200 days of clear sky each year.
How to Get to Tromso?
I visited Tromso while visiting the UK so I my flight was direct with a duration of 2.5 to 3 hours. If you are coming from Europe you may be able to score a direct flight otherwise be prepared to have a flight change. Several flights are operated daily to/from Tromsø by Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian, Lufthansa, Wizz Air and Finnair.
Getting from Tromso Airport to the city of Tromso couldn’t be more easier. I pre-booked the Bussring shuttle through Best Arctic – the ride in total is a short ten minutes and shuttles arrive approximately every 20-minutes. A return journey will cost you 400NOK.
Best Time To Visit Tromso
I highly recommend visiting Tromso during late January to early February when temperatures are cold (but bearable) and there is plenty of snow on the ground for all your winter activities. During this time there are also days with sunshine which adds a wonderful contrast against all the white snow. With so much to explore and experience during these months, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with your trip!
Is Tromso Expensive?
In my opinion, Tromso wasn’t near as expensive as it is made out to be. I am from the UK and now live in Canada and prices were comparable, if not cheaper than Canada. It was far cheaper than the UK however. So being used to Canadian prices, this wasn’t a shock for me. But it is dependent on where you are coming from.
I found the tours to be very expensive (but that is all travel now unfortunately). But the souvenirs, hotels and restaurants were not costly. If you book well in advance you can get a good deal on a hotel, as as far as restaurants go – you can find affordable places with GREAT food! I was actually surprised at how much better the quality of food was in Tromso.
Either way, I would bring as much cash as you can to really get the best out of your trip. This is somewhere you don’t want to limit a budget to.
Why Visit Tromso?
Many visitors come to Tromso specifically to see the northern lights. However, there is so much more that this city has to offer! Amongst the snow-capped mountains and bright skies are museums and galleries that showcase Norwegian culture and history. In addition, there are numerous eateries that serve up traditional Norwegian dishes as well as international cuisine. If you love shopping and browsing local shops, then you’ll definitely enjoy perusing the many boutiques found throughout the area. Lastly, take advantage of all the unique outdoor activities such as whale watching, dog sledding or snowmobiling – there are plenty of options for getting out into nature during your stay in Tromso!
Where to Stay in Tromso?
Accommodation is one of the pricier parts of your trip, so be sure to budget accordingly and book early. Prices for budget hotels range from $100 USD per night up to around $300, while upper-tier accommodations can cost upwards of $300 per night. If you want something truly special—like one of the ice hotels or Northern lights hotels in Tromso—expect to spend even more.
When it comes time to pick where to stay in Tromso, you have a few categories of accommodation to choose from—budget hotels and boutique hotels to luxury. Budget hotels are more affordable but lack some of the amenities that you find at more upscale places, like complimentary breakfast and access to swimming pools or fitness centres. On the other hand, boutique hotels offer more luxurious amenities and often have unique design elements that make them stand out from the crowd.
I stayed at the Smarthotel Tromso during my stay which is a very basic budget hotel, but has everything you need for a short stay. Located in central Tromso, it’s easy to get around and enjoy all the activities that this beautiful city has to offer. Smarthotel offers all the amenities that you need for an enjoyable stay — 24 hour reception, comfortable beds, a work desk, and some food available in the lobby. Keep in mind that breakfast is not included in the price but can be added for a fee.
Thon Hotel Polar
If you’re looking for a mid-level option that offers great value without breaking the bank, I recommend Thon Hotel Polar which offers chic boutique hotel rooms with an arctic and polar theme and many vibrant pops of colour. It’s a great choice if you want something with character but don’t want to break the bank. Breakfast is included with your stay as well as restaurant on-site should you choose to dine there.
Scandic Ishavshotel Tromso
Are you looking for a luxurious place to stay in Tromso? Look no further than Scandic Ishavshotel! Located right on the harbour, this hotel offers stunning views of the sea, and all rooms have been recently renovated. In addition to its great location and fresh new look, Ishavshotel is known for its award-winning breakfast.
Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora
This hotel is harbourfront and has an incredible view of both sea and mountains; plus, it features modern decor with traditional Norwegian touches throughout. Rooms are modern, airy and spacious with large windows that offer beautiful views of the sea or mountainside. All rooms feature a fridge, bathrobe and slippers, plus comfortable beds with crisp white linens. One bonus point: wake up early enough and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights right outside your window!
Best Things to do in Tromso in Winter
Tromso is teeming with adventure, and you won’t want to miss out on any of it. The best way to make the most of your time in Tromso is to sign up for any one of the amazing tours that are offered by experienced guides. From Northern Lights tours and reindeer sledding, to snowmobiling and whale watching, there are countless activities that can turn a normal winter vacation into an extraordinary one. Here are the best things to do in Tromso in winter!
Chase The Northern Lights
One of nature’s greatest wonders awaits at night when colourful lights dance across the sky above Tromso—the Northern Lights! Bundle up and head outside after dark to witness this breathtaking phenomenon first hand.
Tromso, Norway is one of the best places in the world to view the spectacular Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the northern lights. While predicting when and where you can see the northern lights is tricky business, Tromso’s latitude and ability to find clear sky nearby makes it a great place for increasing your chances of seeing them. The best way to maximize your chances of catching a glimpse of this natural wonder is by booking a northern lights chase tour with an experienced operator.
Experienced operators know how to read weather patterns, so they’ll be able to find those precious moments when conditions are just right for viewing the northern lights. Many tours come with photography tips from experienced guides who know exactly how to capture these magical moments and make them last forever.
This means that instead of relying on shaky smartphone footage or blurry snapshots taken in haste, you can look forward to stunning images that will remind you of your time spent chasing after these captivating natural displays for years to come!
Best Northern Lights Tours in Tromso:
Northern Lights Photography Tips!
- A sturdy tripod is a must when photographing the Northern Lights, whether you have a DSLR or Phone Camera.
- A wide angle lens will help capture a fuller picture.
- A DSLR with manual settings will capture the lights better than a point & shoot camera or Iphone.
Reindeer Sledding and Feeding Tour
If you’re looking for an activity that’s more interactive, then consider going on a reindeer feeding tour! On this tour, visitors get up close and personal with these majestic creatures while learning about their habits and customs from an experienced guide. It’s truly an incredible experience that cannot be replicated elsewhere.
Once everyone has had a chance to get acquainted with these friendly creatures, you can take an exciting sled ride around the farm and take in the winter scenery.
The Sami people are known for their special relationship with reindeer – it has been an important source of income for many Sami people living in the northern regions of Norway. At the Tromso Arctic Reindeer, you will have a chance to meet some amazing creatures up close and learn more about the Sami culture from knowledgeable Sami guides.
Visiting a reindeer farm is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Tromso in winter.
Tromso Arctic Cathedral
When it comes to unique architecture, the Arctic Cathedral in Tromso, Norway is easily one of the most interesting and strange-looking churches in the world. Built in 1965 and designed by architect Jan Inge Hovig, this unusual church stands out from its surroundings with its horizontal cascade of triangles stacked together like dominos.
From any vantage point within the city, you can spot this white beam of light against the backdrop of a dark winter sky. Not only is it an impressive sight, but if you are curious about this incredible structure you can take a tour and learn more about how it was constructed.
The entrance fee for non-churchgoers is 50 NOK, slightly more if there is an event or concert going on inside. Once you have paid your entrance fee, you will be able to take a tour around this historic church and get up close and personal with its incredible design features.
When visiting Tromso be sure not to miss out on taking a tour inside this unique structure. With its wide seating area, incredible natural lighting, organ music, sculptures scattered throughout, spending time exploring this historical landmark gives visitors an even greater appreciation for Scandinavian architecture and culture.
Escape the Polar Night with Tromso’s Museums
The polar night of Tromso is a sight to behold, but sometimes you just need a break from the cold. If you are looking for a cozy and educational way to enjoy your time in Norway, look no further than the city’s indoor museums. From art to science, history to culture, there is something for everyone here. Let’s explore some of the most popular museums in Tromso.
Perspektivetmuseet (Perspective Museum)
The Perspective Museum (perspektivetmuseet) is a great place to start. This small photography museum features rotating and fixed exhibits from Norwegian photographers that showcase some of the greatest photography in Norway’s history. Not only will you get to take a break from the cold, but admission to this museum is free for kids! Admission for adults is 50NOK.
Polarmuseet (Polar Museum)
If art isn’t your thing, perhaps the Polar Museum (Polarmuseet) is more your style. This museum covers all aspects of life in the Arctic regions, including wildlife and expedition stories. Whether you are interested in learning about maritime history or arctic nature, this museum has all sorts of educational exhibits sure to keep you entertained for hours on end during those long winter nights. Adult admission is 100NOK.
If science and exploration are more your speed then Polaria should be next on your list. This interactive aquarium lets you learn about life underwater through touchpads that allow kids and adults alike to explore the depths of Norway’s fjords up close and personal. There are plenty of activities geared towards children where they can learn about different animal species first hand – without leaving the warmth of indoors! Adult Admission is 220NOK.
Sample Beer at Olhallen – The Northernmost Brewery in the World!
Warm up with some good old-fashioned hops at Mack’s Ølhallen, the northernmost brewery in the world. Founded in 1877, Mack’s Ølhallen has become an iconic part of Tromso culture. With over 200 years of brewing experience under its belt, this brewhouse offers up some truly unique beers. From light ales and lagers to dark stouts, you can find something for every kind of beer drinker here.
The pub itself is warm and inviting with plenty of seating for groups large or small. You can even order bar snacks like pretzels and nuts if you get hungry while enjoying your beer!
Get A Bird’s Eye View of Tromso at Fjellheisen
The Fjellheisen cable car will take you to the top of Mount Storsteinen, where you can experience some of the most stunning views in all of Norway. The journey to Fjellheisen starts with a bus or taxi ride up to Storsteinen Station. From there, you board a cable car that will take you up to the top of the mountain. The ride takes approximately seven minutes and offers breathtaking views along the way.
Once at the top, visitors can explore both an indoor seating area and an open air observation deck where they can take in stunning views of both Tromso and its surrounding areas. For those looking for something more substantial than snacks, there is also a small restaurant that serves sandwiches, hot drinks and larger meals – though keep in mind that this restaurant is quite popular so it may be hard to get a table with a window seat if it’s busy!
If possible, try and time your visit so that you reach Fjellheisen right before sunset (or during polar night golden hour). This is when the sky is still golden but beginning to darken, creating a beautiful backdrop for your visit. As night falls and Tromso lights up below, it creates an unforgettable sight from above – one that will stay with you long after your trip ends!
An Unforgettable Experience at Vulkana Arctic Spa
Located in the Tromso harbour, this old whaling boat has been transformed into a luxury spa with steam rooms, saunas, and hot tubs. Step inside, and you’ll find beautiful rooms complete with hardwood floors, fireplaces, and a full bar. If you’re feeling daring enough you can take their “Polar Plunge” challenge and jump into the nearby ocean before relaxing in their heated outdoor hot tub on the top deck.
On the main deck lies a traditional Finnish sauna that has some of the most jaw-dropping views of the sea around it. If you haven’t been in a traditional Finnish sauna yet, be prepared to be amazed by its unique beauty.
This type of sauna is different from other types because it uses a wood-fired stove instead of electricity or gas, and utilizes traditional methods such as tossing water onto the hot rocks to create steam. Once inside, visitors can lay back and enjoy all that an authentic Finnish sauna has to offer while taking in all of nature’s beauty outside.
Experience the Norwegian Wilderness by Snowmobile
Experience the wilderness like never before with a snowmobile tour. Snowmobiling is an amazing way to experience northern Norway’s beautiful wilderness while also getting a little adrenaline rush along the way! From being provided with warm thermal suits, helmets, and gloves to enjoying a delicious fish soup lunch inside a traditional lavvu tent, this snowmobile tour is truly an adventure like no other.
The views that you will see during your snowmobiling tour are breathtaking—snow-covered forests, frozen lakes, majestic mountains, and more. This is a great way to get away from city life for a little bit and take some time to appreciate the beauty of nature in its purest form. Even if it’s cold out there, you won’t be able to help but marvel at the stunning landscape that surrounds you as you explore on your snowmobile!
A Taste of Tromso at Raketten Bar & Pølse
Make sure you stop by Raketten Bar & Pølse for an unforgettable culinary experience! The kiosk itself has been a part of Tromso history for more than 100 years and in 2014 was reimagined as “Norways smallest bar”. It’s hard to miss this cute little spot, you’ll often see lines in the weekends and there are always people outside.
This historic kiosk offers delicious reindeer hot dogs (with pork and veggie options available) accompanied by mulled wine or hot chocolate to keep you warm throughout the winter months. Enjoy your meal while sitting around a fire pit on reindeer hide benches.
Dog Sledding in Tromso
The Arctic is a wild and wonderful place, and what better way to experience it than on a sled pulled by a pack of fluffy, excitable Alaskan huskies? Dog sledding in the Arctic is an incredible winter activity that lets you explore the snow-covered wilderness. You’ll get to make new furry friends, enjoy the crisp winter air, and take in all the marvels of this beautiful part of the world. Get ready to experience one of your most memorable adventures yet!
Depending on your operator, you may have the option to drive your own team or sit back and let someone else take charge. Whatever route you take, it will be an unforgettable experience.
If you’re looking for something unique to do while visiting Tromso in winter, consider a dog sledding tour as an unforgettable way to explore the Arctic landscape. There are plenty of operators offering self-driving options or guided tours with lunch included—and even cuddle time with the huskies! So bundle up and get ready for an adventure.
Enjoy the Treasures of Tromso’s Ice Domes
The Tromso Ice Domes offer an unforgettable winter experience that is guaranteed to be like no other. Whether you are a seasoned traveller or a first timer, the ice domes will certainly provide a unique and memorable experience.
These stunning domes are made entirely out of snow and ice and are illuminated with lights from within, making them an awe-inspiring sight during the night time hours. The interiors of these domes feature many unique sculptures and decorations, creating a truly captivating atmosphere.
Most visitors to Tromso opt to take the day tour to the Ice Domes which involves learning how the domes are made, exploring the bedrooms and being treated to a traditional Sami reindeer stew. But it is possible to book to stay the night. A night in one of the Ice Dome rooms starts at $1,200 USD – so definitely on the pricey side! The package includes transportation, a guided snowshoe tour, dinner, breakfast & lunch, and your choice of activity in the morning.
Savour Tromso’s Seafood Scene
If you’re looking to indulge in some fresh seafood, Tromso will not disappoint! There are many restaurants along the waterfront serving up a variety of local seafood dishes. Fiskekompaniet is one of the most popular restaurants in Tromso. It offers an extensive menu featuring a wide range of seafood options, from succulent soups to grilled sea bass.
Whether you’re looking for something luxurious or something more affordable but still delicious, there’s no shortage of great food options in Tromso. Make sure to check out some local seafood spots – especially Fiskekompaniet if you’re feeling extra adventurous – as well as places like Egon Restaurant for more traditional Nordic fare with generous portions and affordable prices.
Experience the Magic of Whale Watching in Tromso
On a whale watching tour in Tromso, you can expect to see orcas and/or humpback whales up close and personal. These tours are usually done on silent catamarans, allowing you to get a peaceful journey while getting an intimate view of these giant creatures. Most tours will also include knowledgeable guides who will provide valuable information about the history and conservation of these amazing animals.
The best time to go whale watching in Tromso is between November and February. So if you’re planning a trip to Tromso in winter, it won’t be hard to fit this activity into your itinerary! In addition to whale watching tours, there are also other activities like kayaking and hiking which can be enjoyed year-round.
There is nothing quite like seeing majestic whales in their natural habitat! If you have ever wanted to witness this type of beauty up close, then make sure to add a whale-watching tour into your winter travels in Tromso.
If you’re looking for an unforgettable winter getaway, then a visit to Tromso should be at the top of your list. With its combination of breathtaking views and amazing activities such as dog sledding or whale watching – plus its proximity to the Arctic Circle – this Scandinavian city will prove to be an unforgettable adventure!
Between late January and early February is definitely one of the best times to go as temperatures are cold but bearable with plenty of snowfall that creates an incredible backdrop for all your winter activities. So what are you waiting for? Grab your scarf and mittens – it’s time to explore Tromso this winter season!
Enjoy More Winter Travel!
Check out these other detailed winter travel guides here:
Click A Pin Below To Save For Later!