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Updated: 10-Oct-2019

What was I thinking? Had I really just booked a trip to Tromso in winter? I may live in Minnesota, but that doesn’t mean I like cold weather. Well, that was about to change. 

For most of my life, I hated winter. So, booking a winter trip to Norway was definitely outside my comfort zone. But sometimes, an opportunity presents itself and you just have to go.

I arrived in Norway feeling highly skeptical about this whole winter thing. By the time I left, though, I had fallen deeply in love with this underdog of seasons.

Why Tromso in Winter?

No matter the season, Tromso should be on any outdoor adventurers Norway’s itinerary. As the seasons change, the green mountainous landscape transforms into blanket of bright white contrasting with the deep blue water. I had no idea a winter landscape could be so beautiful.

Located just over 200 miles North of the Arctic Circle, Tromso in winter is the ideal place for those seeking a glimpse at the Northern Lights. During the daytime, explore the snow covered landscape through winter hiking, dogsledding, boat, snowmobile and more!

Getting To/ From Tromso Airport

The Tromso Airport (TOS) is just 3 miles from the city centre. Choose one of these three main options for transport. If you opt for the city bus, get discounted tickets at the Point Kiosk near baggage claim at the airport. Be prepared for a bit of a line at the kiosk. 

Pro Tip: If you have 2 or more people, a taxi is more cost effective than the Airport Express bus.

Where to Stay in Tromso

Eating out in Norway can be expensive so having access to a full kitchen helps to cut costs. Enter Tromso Apartments is a great option with a central location, full kitchen, wifi and laundry machine. They have apartments of all sizes to meet your needs.

If you arrive before check-in, drop your bag and grab a complimentary cup of coffee or tea to warm up. A Spar grocery is less than five minutes walking distance.

Enter Tromso Apartments is a great accommodation in Tromso featuring a full kitchen and laundry in the Tromso city centre.

Check prices on Tromso accommodations.

What is There to do in Tromso in Winter?

There’s no shortage of things to do in Tromso in winter. In fact, the hard part is deciding what to do!

A lot will depend on how long you plan to stay in Tromso, but there are three experiences that I would say are not to be missed. Those are chasing the Northern Lights, dogsledding, and taking the Fjellheisen (cable car) for views of Tromso from above!

If you’re really pressed for time you could even do a Northern Lights tour while riding a dogsled (yes, it’s a thing)! If you have more than 2-3 days or just aren’t interested in the tours I’ve mentioned, here are a few others experiences to try in Tromso in winter!

Tromso in Winter: Tour Reviews

Honestly, I’m not much of a “tour” person. I prefer to explore on my own, whenever possible. So, I take a lot of time to research tours before booking them. Here’s what I thought about my experiences.

Dog Sledding with Tromso Villmarkssenter | Website 

Dog sledding combines two of my favorite things: dogs and adventure. It’s a sport I’ve always wanted to try. So, when booking my visit to Tromso in winter this was at the top of my list! After much research, I chose to do the Self-Drive Dog Sled Tour with Tromso Villmarkssenter.

Dogsledding is one of the top things to do in Tromso in winter!
View from inside the dogsled

Why Tromso Villmarkssenter?

Mother and Son, Tove and Torkil, not only own Tromso Villmarkssenter, but are avid dog sledders themselves. Both have competed in Europe’s longest dog sled race, the Finnmarksloppet, numerous times. Tove, has also competed in the Iditarod. They are passionate about offering an “authentic wildlife experience for everyone.” This passion is evident throughout the dog sledding experience. For more, read this interview with son, Torkil

Additionally, Tromso Villmarkssenter has more than 300 dogs in their care, making it quite a large operation. Despite its size, my observations of the trainer and dog relationship showed me that the dogs are well cared for and quite happy, which put me at ease.

One of the dog sledding trainers plays with her dogs in the dog yard at Tromso Villmarkssenter.
Meeting the dogs in the dog yard before sledding

The Start of the Dogsledding Tour

The tour pickup was at the Radisson Blu in Tromso City Centre, a short walk from Enter Tromso Apartments. The Tromso Villmarkssenter representative was easy to spot in their traditional Sami clothing.

After being greeted with a big smile, I was checked in and boarded the bus. The bus ride to Kvaløya (also called the Whale Island) was about 30 minutes.

Upon arrival, there was a restroom available to use before checking in at the front desk. Here, I was offered a warm jumpsuit and boots, both were included with the tour. There was a large changing room to change into your jumpsuit and store any extra gear. 

The Dogyard

Once outside, fully dressed, I was greeted by the sound of excited dogs in the dog yard. During our tour of the dog yard, we were encouraged to play with the dogs.

Cuddling with the dogs in the dog yard at Tromso Villmarkssenter before dog sledding in Tromso.
Enjoying pre-sled cuddles with the goodest boy in the dog yard

The guide explained that the huskies don’t all look the same, a common misconception. For dog sledding, dogs are selected based on their build and ability to be trained, not their looks. Torkil shares that he looks at the dog’s psychology and ability to follow commands. He also looks at how the dogs work together as a team. Lead dogs are able to understand very specific commands and then effectively communicate that to the rest of the team. 

It was immediately clear how happy the dogs are and how excited they were to pull the sleds. The guide explained that when they notice a dog is no longer having fun, they retire the dog. Retired dogs are often adopted by mushers and trainers at the center. One has adopted more than 7 of them!

Learning to Dog Sled

After visiting the dog yard, I was taught the basic commands and techniques to drive the sled. The back of the sled is fitted with a spiked metal arm, which you step on to slow or stop the sled. I was also instructed to never let go of the handle, even if we topple over. Luckily, it never came to that!

Learning to drive a dog sled at Tromso Villmarkssenter in Tromso Norway.
Learning how to brake the dogsled

Dog Sledding in Tromso

For the self-drive experience, I was paired with another person and got to drive half of the time. I opted to drive second, so enjoyed the first half from inside of the sled. As we prepared to take off, the dogs were SO happy and ready to go. Some were rolling in the snow, others were howling and jumping. Thank goodness we were anchored to the ground!

And then we were off, sledding through the Arctic countryside. At first our dogs seemed a bit distracted, but then they got into their groove just took off! It was amazing to see them work together as a unit.

Driving the dog sled was hard work. Fortunately I didn’t have to steer as they seem to know the way, but I did have to regulate the speed, especially on the downhill sections. I didn’t want to let the sled run over those cute doggos! I’m thankful that I got to experience both riding and driving.

After Dog Sledding

After parking my dog sled, I was welcomed into a warming hut to enjoy a bowl of reindeer stew and hot cup of tea. The stew was surprisingly tasty and filling!

Pro Tip: Vegetarian options are available!

Play with the beautiful husky puppies in the puppy yard at Tromso Villmarkssenter when dog sledding in Tromso.
Cuddling with Husky puppies after dogsledding

My dogsledding experience ended with a tour of the puppy yard. Again, I was encouraged to hold and play with them to help them socialize. These little pups will begin training as early as 3-6 months old.

As I exited the puppy yard, I noticed that the excited noise of the dogs had paused. I scanned the yard and realized it was feeding time. Each of the trainers were dutifully serving dinner to their dogs after their day’s work.

My Dog Sledding Experience with Tromso Villmarkssenter

Prior to this experience, I was skeptical about how the dogs would be treated. My hesitance subsided as I saw how much they were loved and cared for by the trainers. The trainers knew each dog personally, their fears, strengths and weaknesses. They knew how to motivate each one. And most importantly, they knew when dogsledding was no longer fun for each dog and honored that.

The dogs in action dog sledding in Tromso Norway with Tromso Villmarkssenter.
The dogs wear boots to keep their feet warm while sledding

I asked my guide why she works at Tromso Villmarkssenter out of all of the dogsledding companies. She said that she’s worked for several, and they are all good, but this one cares for the dogs the best. 

Pro Tip: Visiting Tromso in the warmer months? Tromso Villmarkssenter offers a guided tour through the mountains with the huskies in summertime!

Chasing the Northern lights with Tromso Friluftsenter | Website

Between September and March, Tromso is an ideal location to experience the magic of the Northern Lights.

Pro Tip: If you have your heart set on seeing them, consider allowing more than one day as weather and visibility can be unpredictable. 

The first faint glimpse of the Northern Lights over the water outside of Tromso Norway.
First glimpse of the Northern Lights overhead

Why Tromso Friluftsenter?

Not all Northern Lights tours in Tromso are created equal. While there is no guarantee that you will see the lights, some companies, like Tromso Friluftsenter, will re-book you on the tour the next night if conditions don’t cooperate.

Depending on conditions, Tromso Friluftsenter has a base camp which offers a warm hut, toilets, hot drinks and yummy cake all on the owner’s property about an hour outside of Tromso. Many tours don’t offer a base camp option, so be prepared to be driving around chasing the lights in your bus. 

Getting the Tour Started

Tour pickup in Tromso City Center was at the Scandic Ishavshotel. During the hour long bus ride to base camp, our energetic guide shared some of Tromso’s history and a short video on the science behind the Northern Lights. Once we arrived, the guide offered a warm suit and tripod to each of us. Both are included in the tour.

As we assembled in the warm hut, our guide walked us through how to setup our cameras to photograph the Northern Lights. This was incredibly helpful if you’re not familiar with nighttime photography.

Pro Tip: Practice outside before the lights are visible so you are comfortable with your settings.

Getting a Glimpse of the Northern Lights

Within an hour, the lights made their appearance. At first, they were a faint haze in the sky over the mountains. Gradually, they got brighter until they were visibly green and dancing rapidly across the sky. The base camp is located along a fjord, so the lights reflected in the water. Our guide was jumping up and down with excitement!

Enjoying the Northern Lights dancing over my head from the end of the pier near Tromso.
Taking some time to enjoy the view overhead

If you want to leave photography to the experts, Tromso Friluftsenter guides will take photos for you. They will give you a business card with a link to download them a few days after your tour at no extra cost.

The Northern Lights danced until after midnight, when we left to head back to Tromso city centre. We were dropped back at the same hotel, just a 10 minute walk from Enter Tromso Apartments. 

Riding the Fjellheisen Cable Car | Website

If you’re looking for a self-guided activity, why not try the Fjellheisen cable car? Enjoy panoramic views of Tromso and the surrounding fjords from above.

Enjoy the view of Tromso from above by riding the Fjellheisen cable car, with snowcapped mountains in the background and bright blue water surrounding the island.
Enjoy a view of Tromso from above

Take the cable car up to the top of the mountain Storsteien for this breathtaking view. Walk out onto the viewing platform above the restaurant before hiking around.

Pro Tip: Be sure to bring crampons or microspikes to navigate the ice. 

Hike around at the top of the Tromso Fjellheisen cable car for incredible views of snowcapped mountains.
Taking in the view from the top of the Tromso Fjelleheisen cable car

To get here, take the #26 bus (cost 50Kr) from Tromso city centre to Solliveien, or just tell the driver you are going to the Cable Car. After they drop you off, follow the signs to the Fjellheisen. Be sure to ask about student rates if you qualify for a discount.

What’s the Verdict on Tromso in Winter?

Seriously, just go! Experiencing winter in Tromso made me finally fall in love with cold weather adventures after more than 30 years of hating the season.

If you’re nervous about the cold and not sure what to wear, here are my tips for what to pack for winter hiking in Norway!

Disclaimer: I was hosted by Tromso Villmarkssenter as a guest. My opinions, however, are my own. I am under no obligation to write a positive review.

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If you want to see the Northern Lights, Tromso just may be the perfect destination for you! This winter adventure guide for Tromso Norway covers things to do in Tromso in winter, where to stay in Tromso, Tromso tour reviews and more! Find out about my experiences and tips to see the Northern Lights and go dogsledding in Tromso. #Tromso #Norway #Norwaytravel #northernlights #auroraborealis #hiking #wintertravel
Tromso Norway is an adventure lovers dream! And the fun doesn't stop in the winter. This epic adventure guide to Tromso in winter includes where to stay in Tromso, things to do in Tromso, Tromso tips, and Tromso tour reviews. Also included are tour reviews of dogsledding and chasing the Northern Lights! #Norway #Tromso #Norwaytravel #northernlights #auroraborealis #hiking

28 Comments

  1. Such stunning pictures and what a truly Norweigan experience! How awesome that you got to see Northern Lights – on my bucketlist for sure!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Thank you! I was completely and totally mesmerized by the Northern Lights. Hope you’re able to see them someday! It’s a magical experience 🙂

  2. What a great guide! I’ve lived in Tromsø for 3 years – it’s such a beautiful city. Love the nature 😀

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Thanks so much! I imagine living in Tromsø was an amazing experience. I can see why you stayed for 3 years 🙂

  3. Perfect timing. We will be there for a few days at the beginning of January. So this is really helpful!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Ooh, super excited for you!! Glad you found this helpful. Have an amazing time!

  4. I’ve visited Tromso only once, also in the middle of winter. It sure was freezing cold. But beautiful. Unfortunately it was a business trip, so didn’t get to see and do too much. But would love to go back and explore a little more.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Yes, you certainly need to bundle up in the wintertime in Tromso! Too bad you were on a business trip and not able to explore as much as you’d like. Hope you make it back there someday 🙂

  5. Woooow! You were so lucky to see the Northern lights! We have tried to see them a few times, but always seem to find clouds. (Doh!)

    This whole trip sounds amazing. Canada is slowly making me fall in love with winter time too. A couple of years ago I would have hated the idea of Norway in winter, but now your post really has me fancying it! Learning to ride with doggos sounds like the highlight!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Oh my gosh, Josy, the Northern Lights danced above us for HOURS! It was so mesmerizing! I hope you get to experience them eventually.

      I can totally relate to your journey with loving winter through your time in Canada. It’s taken me many years, but now I’m hooked!

  6. I am jealous of your big and amazing adventure in Tromso. I would love to do that one day especially the dogsledding, what a fantastic experience… I am just scared of the cold..

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      The dogsledding was such a fun way to experience the Arctic! I totally understand being a little scared of the cold. I’ve learned, though, that with a few key pieces of winter gear, it’s not so bad (especially if you stay active)! I wrote a blog post about winter gear I recommend bringing for winter in Norway… I recommend taking a look when you plan your trip 🙂

  7. I’m learning from your travel articles!!! Traveling is one of the best learning experiences in life. We not only discover the world but also discover ourselves.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      So happy to hear that! I agree! I learn so much about myself and others each time I travel 🙂

  8. Love your photos. The dogsledding looks like so much fun! It’s something I’ve always wanted to try. Norway looks like the perfect place to do so 😉 and I would love to see the Northern Lights as well!!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Thank you! Norway is a great place to go dog sledding… plus there’s so much else to do while you’re there 🙂

  9. Looks like an amazing experience. The pictures are beautiful, thank you very much for sharing!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed reading about it!

  10. Love this. The sledding and northern lights look amazing. I think I need to see Norway!

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      You definitely need to see Norway!! 🙂

  11. OMG Total Bucket List Experience, I really really have to do that soon! Pinned for later 🙂

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      I hope you’re able to do all of this soon! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have questions. I’d go back to Tromso in a moment!

  12. Norway seems incredible! Would love to explore it on my own some day 🙂

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      The country really blew me away! I knew it’d be beautiful but it exceeded my expectations!

  13. As much as I hate cold weather, I have always wanted to go dog sledding. Maybe they know the way to a bar so I could warm up.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      Ha ha I love how you think! Yes, I also have historically hated cold weather (ironic that I live in Minnesota). This year I decided to get out and try to enjoy it and I actually did! Lots of layers, and maybe a few shots to warm you up, and then let the dogs do what they do 🙂

  14. Ahhh I’ve wanted to go to Norway forever! Tromso looks just perfect. I’m a big fan of apartment rentals when traveling; it really does help with food costs. Also, I had the same concerns about dog sledding until I went a few months ago in Montana. Seeing the dogs and their handlers interact, and how well they were treated, really put me at ease.

    • This Big Wild World Reply

      That’s great that you observed the same thing with your dog sledding experience! I’m sure there are some bad eggs, so it’s good to know of companies that treat them well. I hope you make it to Norway soon 🙂

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