Three Days in Tromso in Winter

by Planet Hopper Girl
48 comments

The Arctic capital of Norway, Tromso is a city that feels like a dream. Colorful cabins, stunning snowy landscapes and a glorious city views all make this city charming and welcoming for any traveler. Moreover, it is a great location to target for Aurora hunting and other Arctic adventures like whale watching, dog sledding and many more. Just google Tromso and look at the first set of images you see and I bet you would instantly wanna be there. I have spent three days in Tromso in winter trying to cross many arctic bucket list items.

Being an ultimate Norway stalker and fan, Tromso was my obvious city of choice to chase Auroras and I spent three days in Tromso in winter in January.  At the same time, I also wanted to explore the picturesque villages and fjords outside the city, as well as experience some of the arctic adventures during my visit. Keeping all this in mind, I planned a one week road trip for my Arctic expedition with 3  days in Tromso. While venturing out on multiple Northern Lights chases in around Tromso, we experienced the nothing short of epic Norwegian landscape on the neighboring islands and  fjords. In this blog I cover the major Tromso locations that can be covered in three days leaving the arctic adventures in neighbouring areas to be covered in following blogs.

Exclusive Aurora Hunting Guide from the Road Trip Experience

If watching Northern Lights is big on your travel bucket list, DONT MISS the Exclusive Aurora Hunting Tips Blog sharing tips including locations, smart phone applications in the Arctic including Tromso. Unfortunately, while we were not lucky enough to see the Auroras in Tromso we did see them in Abisko, Sweden later on in the trip.

Planning a Trip to Tromso/Arctic?

When to visit Tromso?

The best time to visit Tromso/Arctic for seeing Northern Lights is in winter- starting from mid-September until mid-April. I visited  Tromso during peak winter time in January to also enjoy other winter adventures like whale watching, dog sledding etc. Personally I would recommend aiming for “Peak Winter” period, between November and February. But, if you hate brutal winter, try October/November or February/March.

Dont miss my Aurora Hunting Guide that gives more details on how to maximize the chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Need a Rental Car?

If you are visiting internationally flying into Tromso or other Arctic cities in Sweden, and would like to drive around and chase Auroras yourself you could go for a rental car option. Remember that you drive on the left side of the road in Europe same as USA. Your international driving license is valid, if you feel comfortable to drive. Rental cars come fully equipped for a winter drive. Remember that, it is tricky to drive in extreme winter, we encountered icy roads many times  and only go for it if you have advanced driving experience- Safety First! 

Where to to stay in Tromso?

Tromso and other Arctic cities around give you the opportunity to experience the Scandinavian living. There are many Airbnbs and cottages that are worth a stay. I would particularly recommend staying in colourful cabins of Tromso. We stayed in multiple Airbnbs, both modern Scandinavian as well as in remot cottages- they were all amazing diverse experiences. One top tip is to check accommodation reviews  with possibility to see Northern Lights from the stay itself. If you don’t have a car, just stay in the Tromso city itself, as it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and I recommend the bridge view.

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Leaving to the Arctic Tromso: Small Prep Guide

Words cannot describe the excitement I felt, but pictures in the moment can. Marc and I flew via Norwegian Air to Tromso from Gatwick airport, London and our other friends Mathews, Raunak and Kishore flew in from Holland and Austin.

I usually don’t talk about preparations, however I would like to add it for this trip as it really had a lot to prepare for. I had to fit all kinds of fleeces, scarves and snowboots that my friend Penny kindly gifted me to in my luggage. The scarf was super useful as well as it kept my face very warm throughout the trip. Most of us carried snowboots, marino wool socks, thermal layers, ski pants and gloves. These are really important and remember it is not about having one thick jacket but many layers in cold climates. Another top tip is if you care to have good pictures get a coloured jacket, like Marc, very jazzy 😉

Planet Hopper Girl: Gatwick, London

Arriving in Tromso- Day 1

Arrival in Tromso was a magical experience as we landed while it was snowing heavily and our first moments there were already so fascinating and much of a contrast to what we’d left behind. 

OMG this is a real winter wonderland moment, Tromso, Norway

OMG this is a real winter wonderland moment, Tromso, Norway

As we arrived rather late at night, we all met at the airport, picked up our rental car and headed to our accommodation to crash. Waking up to Tromso was like waking up in a dream, the Airbnb where we stayed was just behind a lake with a great view. I really love the houses painted in teal, green, grey etc.

Yess I am in Tromso and Norwayyy moment, Tromso, Norway

Yess I am in Tromso and Norwayyy moment, Tromso, Norway

Our stay and a neighbor house in Tromso, Norway

The Arctic Road trip Squad, Tromso, Norway

The Arctic Road trip Squad, Tromso, Norway

We all went to the lake nearby and had some photo shoots. Taking in the view really demanded a lot of time. I fondly recall how everyone walked in different directions to explore this calm and silent world as opposed to my usual city trips where we are all constantly chatting along with the usual hustle and bustle.

Looking over the Fjords in Tromso, Norway

Looking over the Fjords in Tromso, Norway

On our way to hit the roads of Arctic Norway, Sweden and Finland

We stopped for this view in Tromso city where we also saw this bus stop. Look at that, what a view!  To be honest I feel pictures speak a lot than anything I could write.  As I mentioned before, it is super quiet place that we were all silently taking the view in whenever we stopped anywhere.

Cute colorful cabins in Tromso, Norway

Planet Hopper Girl: Cute colorful cabins in Tromso, Norway

The Norwegian snow landscape in Tromso, Norway

The Norwegian snow landscape in Tromso, Norway

We soon found ourselves on the road headed towards the Arctic Sweden, Abisko and Kiruna

On the road in the Arctic Norway, Tromso, Norway

We spent 3 days road tripping to Sweden, Finland and Lyngen before we returned back to Tromso to complete our journey. The route we took can been seen on the link below and will be covered in my future blogs.

Back in Tromso- Day 5

We arrived back in Tromso on the fifth day and had decided to use our three remaining days to visit some of the top landmarks and nearby villages on our list, and spurred on by our past Aurora experience, to spend our nights hunting for a longer Aurora experience.

The Airbnb we stayed at offered a stunning view of the city and sea and if the skies were clear, would have been a great location to see the Northen lights from but we weren’t so lucky.

By now we’d decided to embrace our inner Norwegian and had gotten ourselves some Norway scarfs to proudly roam around living out our Norwegian dream. Here is a shot of fully Arctic equipped Marc who was our main photographer during the trip. Hands up if you love Norway, we will be best friends! All of us are mad about Norway! 

Our second stay in Tromso, Norway

The Arctic Cathedral

We first headed to the famous Arctic Cathedral (Tromsdalen Church) in Tromso which has a unique triangle shape with colorful stained glass windows.

The Arctic Cathedral Tromso, Norway

While the exterior is super pretty (checkout Google for some stunning aerial shots.) the interior leaves something to be desired and I would not recommend it unless you love to visit churches or want to support the locals by paying for the entry fee.

The Arctic Cathedral Tromso, Norway

The Tromso Funicular

If you go up the funicular you land on the snowy mountain to get one of the best views of this city, which easily ranks as my most favorite city view so far. There is a glorious shape to the city from the top, showcasing the islands, bridges and mountains. It was a lot to digest how pretty a city and parts of planet can be sometimes. We did not manage to capture stunning shots really as it was always a battle between getting the light settings just right and still being able to feel your fingers, but trust me this was breath taking. Note that this is a prime location to see the Auroras on a clear sky day. As you can see there were clouds for us and although we waited as long as we could, we did not see the lights here. either (:bad luck:)

The Tromso City view at night, Norway

The Tromso City view at night, Norway

The sky did get slightly clearer at some point so that we could see this oval shape of light surrounding the moon. This is a very common view in the Arctic sky and is a treat to the eyes, while we pondered about the magnificent universe and galaxy we are revolving in for every moment we spend on the planet.

The Tromso City View from the Funicular, Tromso, Norway

Tromso Safari Aurora Hunting

As we didn’t manage to see lights from our own attempts around Tromoso, we decided to seek expert help. We booked our trip with the company Tromso Safari (Read details in my Aurora hunting blog, why we chose the company etc.). We boarded their bus from the city hoping to see the lights that night and praying to the weather god to bless us.

The Aurora chase trip, Tromso, Norway

The Aurora chase trip, Tromso, Norway

The snow mountain camp we were taken to was amazing with little huts organized to welcome the guests. You get all essential gear here including ski jackets, tripods etc. We were also served some delicious Norwegian cheese dessert and tea as we sat waiting for the sky to get clearer. The fire place really added extra warmth to this whole experience.

A Aurora Chasing Camp Site, Tromso,Norway

An Aurora Chasing Camp Site, Tromso,Norway

Waiting for the Aurora in a camp site, Tromso, Norway

Little huts in the snowy mountains, Tromso, Norway

While we waited for the Auroras, we had some fun here playing with some photography tricks. I tried to showcase my hand writing skills with the torch on my phone while the fellow photographers clicked. I am super jealous of these folks now as I don’t have this Norway printed picture. Gotta do this againnnnnn.

We are leaving parts of our heart and foot prints in Norway moment, Tromso, Norway
We are leaving parts of our heart and foot prints in Norway moment, Tromso, Norway

We are leaving parts of our heart and foot prints in Norway moment, Tromso, Norway

Aurora Hunting in Tromso Island: Kvaloya

After being unsuccessful with the expert trip, we continued our own chase in the island of Tromso which is a very famous place to see the lights. We roamed around Kvaloya, but were not lucky yet again. Here are some shots of a clearer sky. Check Kvaloya on google, you will see stunning Aurora pictures in similar locations. Just to stress this, folks read my blog on the chase tip as it is purely due to weather we didn’t see them while we were there. Having favorable weather is such an important factor to seeing Auroras.

Aurora Chasing in Kvaloya, Norway

Aurora Chasing in Kvaloya, Norway

Three Days in Tromso in Winter : Final Thoughts

This is a glimpse of the Tromso landmarks and the beginning of our trip. I will cover other locations of the road trip, other arctic adventures and an island called Sommaroy near Tromso in the upcoming blogs. Stay in Touch!

Arctic Adventures Not to Miss in Tromso Norway

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48 comments

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48 comments

Melissa October 24, 2020 - 11:51 am

Norway is such a beautiful country and your photos are no exception! I’m not the biggest fan of the cold, but I think I would be able to suck it up for a trip to Norway! I would love exploring the Fjords and going Auora chasing. I’m sorry you didn’t get to see them, I would be so dissapointing. But I think the experience would be great nonetheless!

Reply
Planet Hopper Girl October 24, 2020 - 6:12 pm

Definitely, Norway is a stunner. Yeh cold is a bit harsh but an adventure for other experiences which are worth you know. Thanks Melissa.

Reply
Agnes October 24, 2020 - 5:33 pm

I was in Tromso during summer, but I would love to visit in the wintertime. Beautiful snow, and it’s possible to see the aurora. It’s on my bucket list, so I would definitely go to Tromso to see the aurora. You had a terrific trip!

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Planet Hopper Girl October 24, 2020 - 6:09 pm

Tromso is great for an all year round Arctic experience I think, I would love to explore it in other seasons too. But yeh, it is an ultimate winter destination.
Just going to post the winter adventures next, you will be more convinced 😉

Reply
Jayati | Between Longitudes October 25, 2020 - 3:58 am

Norway is on my bucket list. Tromso looks incredible and the details you have included in the post is going to make travel planning to Tromso much easier. The photos are intriguing too! Thanks for sharing your experience!

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Planet Hopper Girl October 26, 2020 - 10:42 pm

Thanks Jayati. I am glad you found the article useful. Norway is top on my list too and yet to go see the south some day.

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Venaugh October 26, 2020 - 8:42 pm

Thanks for sharing such a cool article! I feel cold for you just watching these pictures. It’s a pity the Arctic Cathedral wasn’t as expected, but I appreciate the honesty as that has happened to me too!

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Planet Hopper Girl October 26, 2020 - 10:40 pm

Thank you so much for reading the article. Hehe Tromso in winter is freezing but that is the adventure really. Yeh Arctic Cathedral definitely looks charming from outside so disappointment was acceptable.

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