Nestled amidst Norway’s northern wilderness, 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, you’ll find the city of Tromso. Captivating intrepid explorers with its ethereal landscapes and vibrant cultural centre. Known as the “Gateway to the Arctic,” this enchanting city is a true winter wonderland. Use this Tromso itinerary to plan your perfect Arctic adventure. Spend 2, 3 or 4 days in Tromso to discover the bustling energy of its city centre, tranquil snow-draped fjords, and vast, untamed wilderness.
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How Many Days in Tromso?
The first thing you will want to do when planning your Arctic itinerary is decide how many days to spend in Tromso. Unfortunately, this question has no easy answer; it revolves around how many activities you want to do during your stay.
The possibilities are endless. To keep it simple, we have allocated one day to explore the city itself, and then any additional days are dedicated to local activities.
So, if you only want to do 2 activities, you could fit them into 2 days in Tromso. But be warned, you are guaranteed to fall in love with this winter wonderland, so if possible, try to allocate more time to explore.
With 3 days in Tromso, you will discover the city centre and rich culture and enjoy at least 3 or even 4 activities of your choosing. Most activities are 3 – 4 hours, so you can easily fit 2 into one day.
If you are lucky enough to have a full 4 days in Tromso, or even longer, you’ll be able to fully immerse yourself in the Arctic experience. You could squeeze in at least 6 activities in 4 days if you wanted to pack out your holiday or take 4 or 5 at a slower pace.
Some of these activities can be fairly physical, so taking the full 4 days will allow you to take time out in between to relax without feeling like you are missing out.
The best time to visit Tromso is in the winter. Most of the activities available around the city rely on snow cover, making a winter trip ideal. The Northern lights are also at their most active around this time, so this would be your best chance to see them dancing across the sky in all their glory.
The winter also gives you the opportunity to experience Polar Night from November to January. You could visit during the summer, especially if you want to see the midnight sun, but hiking is the only activity readily available during the warmer months.
Getting To & Around Tromso
Once you see Tromso on a map, it may seem like getting there would be difficult. You have several options to reach Tromso; the quickest and easiest is by plane. Tromso has its own international airport, Tromsø Airport, Langnes, which is well-connected to major cities in Norway and some international destinations.
There are direct flights from Oslo, so this is the most popular way to reach this Arctic city, fly into Oslo and then take a connecting flight to Tromso. Oslo is a major airport with flights inbound from most major international airports.
If you don’t want to fly, then there are several additional options to get to Tromso. While there’s no direct train connection to Tromso, you can take a train to Narvik, the closest train station to Tromso. From Narvik, you can take a bus or rent a car to reach Tromso.
Some cruise ships and ferries include Tromsø in their itineraries, especially during the summer months. The Hurtigruten coastal ferry service also stops in Tromso, providing a scenic and unique way to reach the city.
Keep in mind that driving conditions can be challenging in Tromso in winter due to snow and ice, so it’s important to be prepared for the weather and road conditions.
If you are taking your own car on the road trip of a lifetime, make sure you have fitted winter tyres and have snow chains ready. You can browse Rentalcars.com to compare prices for car hire in Tromso.
Once you have arrived for your trip to Tromso, getting around is quick and easy. Tromso city centre is relatively compact, making it a great place for walking. Most major attractions, shops, restaurants, and hotels are within walking distance of each other.
If your accommodation is on the outskirts, Tromso has a well-developed public transportation system, including buses that cover various parts of the city. The bus system is reliable, and you can buy tickets onboard or through mobile apps.
If you have a car, parking in Tromso can be expensive, so it’s best to park outside of the centre and walk or take the bus into the heart of the city. Most activity providers for a day trip offer a pickup and drop-off service from your hotel, so you don’t need to hire a car to make the most of this Tromso itinerary.
2, 3 to 4 Days in Tromso Itinerary
The trip of a lifetime awaits, this winter destination is pure magic. The colourful buildings, vibrant against the snowy landscape, the majestic fjord, and boats bobbing in the harbour. The city of Tromso is the perfect postcard for northern Norway.
Combine the city with the myriad of outdoor activities on offer, and you have a recipe for the perfect trip. It’s time to delve into this Arctic itinerary, the very best of Tromso in 2-4 days.
Day 1 – Explore Tromso City
Tromso’s city centre is a vibrant Arctic hub that seamlessly blends history with modernity. The iconic Storgata Street is the beating heart of the centre; here, you will find souvenir shops, local cafes, artisan producers and plenty of window shopping opportunities.
The city is compact, so you can explore the centre on foot. Take your time, strolling through the streets, taking in some of the unusual architecture. Don’t forget to wrap up warm; you’ll need a good winter coat, gloves, a hat and some sort of thermal layers. You can book a walking tour if you want to learn about the city from a local guide.
Next, take a walk across the Tromso Bridge to reach The Arctic Cathedral. The bridge is 1km long, so it can take 15-20 minutes to make your way across, but it is worth it for the views along the way.
The cathedral stands as a striking masterpiece against the Arctic sky. Its contemporary, triangular design resembles an ice-bound cathedral. A wonder of architecture, the Arctic Cathedral is one of the most iconic landscapes in Tromso. You can enter and explore the interior for 55 NOK.
The Polar Museum is a captivating look into the world of Arctic exploration and survival. Housed in a historic warehouse, it recounts the daring expeditions of legendary explorers who braved the frozen unknown.
Exhibits bring to life the stories of polar heroes across the ages, their challenges, and triumphs while also showcasing incredible artefacts. There is a large area dedicated to Roald Amundsen, the first person to travel to the North and South Poles as well as many other adventurers that headed out in search of the North Pole from Tromso.
Something that is worth noting, alongside the world-famous male explorers, the museum also delves into the lives of many female explorers, such as Monica Kristensen Solås and Liv Arnesen.
The museum’s displays also give you an insight into indigenous cultures and the Arctic’s fragile ecosystem.
Polaria Arctic Experience Centre
Nestled on the shore, just outside of the city centre, the Polaria Arctic Experience Centre offers an immersive journey into the polar realms. Architecturally unique, its icy design mirrors the Arctic’s frozen landscapes surrounding the city.
Within, you will discover interactive exhibits showcasing Arctic ecosystems, wildlife, and climate challenges. The centrepiece, an Arctic aquarium, housing bearded seals that gracefully glide through icy waters. Polaris also presents compelling short films capturing the essence of Arctic life.
Ascending from Tromso, the Fjellheisen cable car unveils a breathtaking panorama of the Arctic landscape high above the city. A brief ascent transports you to Storsteinen Mountain’s summit, where you will find far-reaching views across fjords, down to the city lights, and across to snow-cloaked peaks.
Day or night, this journey is like something out of a dreamscape, especially if you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights gracing the sky.
If you want to walk around at the top, you will need sturdy boots and crampons, as the terrain is very icy. The best views of the city are from the viewing platform, so there is no need to prepare for any hiking if you don’t want to.
Sami cuisine may not be the most widely recognised, but it is worth embracing the local food during your stay. There is plenty to discover, some of which you may never have heard of before, a true culinary journey.
Local restaurants offer a taste of reindeer meat prepared in diverse ways, from tender roasts to savoury stews. Sample cured fish, such as the iconic ‘rakfisk,’ and indulgent desserts like ‘gáhkko’ – a sweet pastry infused with lingonberries.
These dishes pay homage to centuries of Sami heritage, their connection with the land, and their ability to transform Arctic ingredients. Dining in Tromso’s Sami-inspired eateries is not only delicious, but it also deepens your appreciation for the indigenous traditions.
Day 2 – Dog Sledding & the Northern Lights
After spending the day in the city centre, it’s time to kick off the winter adventure activities. If you only have 2 days in Tromso, this is a must-do, hence why it is the first feature on our itinerary.
Embarking on a dog sledding experience is an exhilarating immersion into the Arctic wilderness. Guided by the rhythmic harmony of eager huskies, you are whisked away across the snow-blanketed landscapes beneath the Nordic sky.
You can opt to take a self-drive tour where you are in charge of handling your sled or book a husky sledding guide such as this full-day tour. Husky guides share their passion and insights, which can definitely enhance the experience, but there is no experience quite like opting for self-drive.
This way, you get to drive the sledge yourself, taking turns with a partner. You head out in a small group with experienced mushers on hand to help if needed. It is exhilarating, and you learn so much along the way. Some of the daytime tours include a traditional Sami lunch in a traditional, heated tent.
The bond between humans and these remarkable animals spans the ages, and having the opportunity to experience this traditional way of traversing the icy tundra is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the best things to do in Tromso.
Northern Lights Tour
Unlike some of the other stationary Northern Lights watching tours you actually chase the lights all night long on a minibus – sometimes even dipping into neighbouring Finland or Sweden!
Witnessing the cosmic wonder of the Aurora Borealis is an experience unlike any other. The sky dances with vibrant hues as ethereal curtains of green, pink, and purple paint the night canvas.
It’s worth noting most of the late-night guided tours offer a meal around 10pm, so it may be worth packing a few snacks to keep you going until then.
Day 3 – Fjords, Orcas & Reindeer
Fjord Trip / Orca Watching
Sailing through the fjords may sound like a summer activity, but taking a trip out onto the water such as on this full-day tour is one of the top things to do in Tromso in the winter. The whale-watching season runs from November to January, so if you are hoping to cruise alongside Orcas, this is the perfect time to visit.
That first glimpse of the dorsal fin slicing through the waves is magical. These sleek giants arrive alongside your boat against a backdrop of snow-clad peaks.
If you are lucky, you could even see them breach up out of the water, excluding power and grace. Guided by marine experts, you learn about their behaviours, migrations, and the fragile balance of the Arctic ecosystem.
If you are visiting outside of the whale watching months, don’t worry, you can still enjoy a boat ride through the icy depths to witness a variety of Arctic inhabitants such as dolphins, seals and majestic eagles.
Most of the boating trips on the fjord take up the majority of the day, but that doesn’t mean your day has to end there. Visiting the traditional Sami reindeer herds is an activity that can be done day or night on several tours such as this half-day tour or this evening tour.
It’s important to understand the Sami culture and heritage and how you, as a tourist, can support their indigenous population. Visiting a Sami reindeer farm is a great way to immerse yourself in their culture and learn about local traditions.
After a walk around the Reindeer farm and a 20-minute sledding tour through the sparkling frosty landscape, the majority of the tour takes place in a Lavvu, which is a Sami tent. Here you will have a meal (typically Bido, a Reindeer stew), then experience Sami storytelling and Joiking (which is a traditional Sami song).
This is the perfect activity to do at night, you are far away from the light pollution of the city centre, so it’s likely you will get to see the Northern Lights again whilst enjoying the rhythmic sound of the bells attached to the reindeer as they trot through the snow. If you have 3 days in Tromso, this is the perfect activity to end your trip.
Day 4 – Tromso Ice Domes & Snow Activities
If you are lucky enough to have 4 days in Tromso, there are a few options for your last day, depending on how much of an adrenaline junkie you consider yourself to be.
Whilst you may not usually include visiting a hotel on your itinerary, the Tromso Ice Domes is the exception. Working around the clock, a dedicated team built these magnificent domes from scratch over the course of 6 weeks.
Using large chunks of ice from a nearby river, each room is handcrafted into the ice, lasting the winter months and then melting away as the weather begins to warm up. There’s no doubt that this is one of the best places to visit in Tromso.
There are full-day tours available, whether you are staying in the hotel or not. Take a shuttle bus (1.5hr) from Tromso through the jaw-dropping Arctic landscapes, then take a guided tour to learn more about the icy hotel.
You can enjoy a drink at the bar and a bite to eat in the restaurant before heading back to Tromso. If you have the budget, you could spend the night in one of the Ice Dome’s rooms, but it is very expensive.
Guided by the soft crunch of each step, weave through silent forests and across frozen expanses. If you are an avid hiker, this is an amazing way to experience nature in a unique way. Led by experienced guides, you learn about the Arctic’s delicate ecosystem and its resilient inhabitants.
If you are an experienced outdoor enthusiast, you may want to hire your own snowshoes and head off into the wilderness without a guide, but for those of you that want the comfort and knowledge of local experts, several guided tours such as this half-day tour are available.
At a slightly faster pace, our next option for day 4 is a snowmobile safari tour. Tromso is located on the outskirts of the Lyngen Alps, making it the perfect base for a full-day excursion into the wilderness.
Guided by seasoned experts, you roar across snow-blanketed landscapes, feeling the thrill of speed in the heart of winter’s embrace. Additional waterproof snowsuits are provided to make sure you are dressed up, ready for the blasting of icy air.
It is worth noting you can only hire a snowmobile if you have a full driver’s license.
Cross country skiing
Whether you are an experienced skier or not, you can strap on your ski boots and head out on a cross-country skiing adventure. Gliding along groomed trails, you become part of nature, the only sound being the swish of your skis.
With towering mountains and serene fjords as your backdrop, each stride reveals more of the Arctic’s untouched beauty. There are trails suitable for everyone around Tromso, but if you are a real beginner, there are several options for lessons such as this 3-hour lesson or this guided trip.
Where to Stay in Tromso
Thon Hotel Polar – Located in the centre of Tromso, this hotel is perfect for mid-rage travellers visiting this northern Norwegian city. They have a number of hip rooms to choose from and there is breakfast available each morning. Click here to check availability
Scandic Ishavshotel – This 4-star hotel is a fantastic option if you’re looking for a high-end place to stay when visiting Tromso. They have a number of plush rooms to choose from along with breakfast and an on-site restaurant. Click here to check availability
Tromsø City Apartments – Those looking for a self-catering place to stay in Tromso will love these cool apartments in the centre of the city. There are a range of flats to choose from and all come fully equipped with all you may need during your stay. Click here to check availability
Tromso Activities Hostel – If you’re looking for a great budget option or if you’re travelling solo, then this hostel is an excellent choice. They offer both dorms and private rooms, good self-catering facilities and an excellent location for exploring the city. Click here to check availability
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Tromso hotels!
An unforgettable adventure high up in the Arctic Circle. Tromso is the beating heart of Northern Norway, blending history and culture with wildlife and vast snow-covered landscapes. This really is a trip of a lifetime, with incredible experiences around every corner. There’s nowhere quite like it.
Are you planning to visit Tromso? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!