Abroad,  Features,  Travel

Norway Travel Guide | Winter in Tromso

Looking for Norway travel tips? Last March, Barefaced’s Editor went on the trip of a lifetime to Tromso, a city in northern Norway and the stunning cultural hub above the Arctic Circle.

While it may seem a little premature to post a Norway Travel Guide for winter, this type of trip is one to plan in advance and get in your diary now!

So, let’s hop on into my Tromso, Norway Travel Guide…

When to travel to Norway

We traveled to Tromso, Norway, at the tail end of its Polar Nights season, where the sun doesn’t rise. During the Polar Nights is a great time to visit if you wish to see the Northern Lights, but we traveled in early March (Tromso gains around 10 minutes of daylight per day from February until May), so we had daylight during normal day-time hours and were still in with a very good chance of seeing this dazzling display of nature at night.

Our view of the Northern Lights over Tromsø on the Tromsø Bridge

How to get to Tromsø

We flew to Tromso from London Gatwick via Oslo Gardermoen (around a 2.5 hour flight), where we caught a connecting flight to Langes, Tromso (approx  2 hour flight time). Norwegian Air also offer a direct flight from what I can see around the end of October 2018 until the end of March 2019 from as low as £45.50 each way (at the time of writing) with a direct flight time of around 3.5 hours.

Tromso’s airport, Langnes, is a really short drive to the city centre and you can easily hop in a taxi or get a bus which takes a little bit longer – around 30 minutes (we got a taxi to the centre when we arrived, and a bus on the way back to the airport – both very easy!)

We flew with Norwegian and everything went smoothly until our way back to London when we encountered a snow storm and had to stay an extra night – which the airline covered in the most part and thankfully we were able to fly the next day!

Where to stay in Tromso

We stayed in a compact but very cosy and well equipped A‌i‌r‌b‌n‌b‌ which was in Tromsdalen, a 20 minute walk over the Tromso Bridge – a lovely walk if the wind isn’t too strong – to the city centre. Benefits of a location a little further out the centre is that there is less light pollution at night, and therefor a higher chance of seeing the Northern Lights, which we were able to witness directly from our window!

View from window of Northern Lights in Tromso
The view of the Northern Lights from our Airbnb window

On the extra night we had to stay due to the snowstorm, we got a room in the four star Hotel Clarion The Edge, which luckily had some cancellations as everywhere else was fully booked!

Photo c/o Nordic Choice Hotels

 

The Edge hotel is very modern and our room had a luxurious bathroom stocked with Rituals toiletries – which were very welcome after 8 hours spent waiting in the airport. It was also lovely to wake up to a view over snowy Tromso’s harbour with the mountain peaks in the distance.

Tromso Harbour in Norway view from Clarion Edge hotel
A slightly cloudy view from our room at Hotel Clarion The Edge

What to do in Tromso

Explore the city

The centre of Tromso is definitely one to explore for its more traditional  quaint souvenir shops and cafes, as well as plenty modern Scandi style clothing and home-wear shops and swish restaurants and bars. The main pedestrian area is called the Storgata, where you will also find a shopping mall. 

Places to eat and drink are plenty, with some gems along the harbour offering dining with a view – in the evenings you may even be able to dine with a view of the Northern Lights! 

Chase the Northern Lights

We were very lucky to see the Northern Lights on every single night we were in Tromso –  a rare occasion! The first night we saw the lights from our Airbnb, however you can’t rely on luck alone and so we had planned an excursion to ‘Chase’ the Northern Lights with a company called Chasing Lights.

They offer a few different packages and we opted for the Minibus which can take between 8-14 people. The night in question was actually pretty cloudy in the city, so our guide Marek decided we should head South. We made a quick stop in Nordkjosbotn and continued to Skibotn, where we we found a lot of clear sky and ‘Lady Aurora’ joined us as soon as we stopped! Later when clouds were rolling in, we drove to Helligskogen where we still had good amount of clear sky and the Lights made another appearance as we enjoyed a warming meal and hot chocolate around a camp-fire. It was a truly magical experience. Marek took professional photos throughout the night which he emailed to us pretty much first thing the next morning.

Take in the view from Storsteinen

Hop on the Fjellheisen (cable car) from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the mountain ledge, Storsteinen, which at 421m above sea level offers the most incredible view – the winds can be biting this high up, so wrap up warm!

Tickets to get the cable car up and down: 210 Nkr for adult, 100 Nkr for children.

Whale watching

Incredibly, whales and dolphins can be spotted in the fjords around Tromso city on whale watching safaris and boat trips which are active during the autumn and winter months (November until February), costing around 1500 Nkr.

Visit the Arctic Cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral in Tromso is a beautiful work of architecture, built in the 1960’s it is the postcard perfect image on Tromso. It is situated across the Tromso Bridge,and though you can see it from the city center it is worth a visit to see it up close. It is near where the cable car leaves in Tromsdalen, so if you are staying in the centre then you could combine seeing the Cathedral with heading up to Storsteinen. The cost of entry is around 50 Nkr per person, but it is just as beautiful from the outside.

Arctic Cathedral Tromso - c/o Ishavskatedralen  website
Image c/o Ishavskatedralen website (Arctic Cathedral website)

 

What to pack on your winter trip to Tromso

Click here to download a printable PDF What to Pack List!

What to pack for Winter in Tromso, Norway

For more travel features head on over to my Travel section