Tromso, Norway: travel tips for a different winter destination

How does one decide to travel in winter, a rather unpleasant season for me, to an area that lies in the direction of the North Pole, and where it is even more winter than in the local latitudes??

It’s simply a matter of questioning your own habits and preferences. And to act accordingly. Everyone can go to the Caribbean or Florida in November.

But traveling to Tromso in the far north of Norway with the goal of seeing orcas, whales and the northern lights is meshuga, but that’s what gets you going mentally. As a person as well as a traveler. Dog sledding as well, I have always wanted to do that. Because these, in my opinion, fabulous activities can hardly be done in other places in Europe.

Arrival in the north of Norway: From the airport to the city

The airport TOS in Tromsø is manageable, but sometimes quite crowded. There is only one baggage carousel (on the first floor), so you don’t have to look far to find out where your luggage will come out. The cab stand is directly at the exit of the airport building on the right hand side.

Airport construction update: Currently, Tromso’s airport is being expanded and massively rebuilt during the winter of 2021/2022. Terminal B is closed, but an interim Terminal C has been built, where check-in takes place. The new terminal, currently under construction, is expected to be operational as early as 2023

The airport bus is quite fast (15 minutes) to downtown Tromso – the airport is only 5km away. A ticket costs 80 Norwegian Kroner (NOK). Bus number 42 also goes to the city center, even for a little less money, 50 NOK. A cab from Tromso airport to the city center costs 200 NOK, travel time is ca. 10 minutes.

A cab from Tromsø airport to the city center costs 200 NOK, travel time is ca. 10 minutes.

If you want to go from the city to the airport, the cheapest option is bus 42, you can buy tickets in advance (e.g. at the Tourist Office) then they cost only 35 NOK. There is also recently a mobile app for the airport bus ticket, which is given on the airport page, link see below.

An interesting flight from Tromsoe goes to Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen/Svalbard, with the Norwegian airline Wideroe. So if you want to travel individually to Spitsbergen in winter, this is the flight for you!

Tips for winter clothing and the layering system of sensible winter clothing is explained in detail in the previous link.

Excursions and activities in Tromsoe: Northern Lights, whales, dog sledding, snowshoeing, where to book

Aurora/Northern Lights

Most people go to Tromsø, I assume now after various conversations with fellow travelers, because of the aurora borealis.

We met travelers from India and Singapore, who wanted to see the northern lights. These tours all start around 6pm at the hotels in the city center, either by minibus, then you drive around the various fjords chasing gaps in the clouds and hoping for the northern lights. The journey is already two to three hours, so actually quite long. One provider offers a base station located in the Lyngen Alps with toilet, dinner and campfire towards the Finnish border. Here we wait for a clear view and a glowing sky, we go there with a big bus and the corresponding group. The dinner is a soup, for 225 NOK absolutely overpriced.

For my next trip I would a) check the weather, because if it’s cloudy you can’t see the aurora, and b) buy some food at the supermarket and take it with me

Some people, and we met people from India and Singapore, make this trip multiple times just to see the aurora borealis.

Tromsoe harbor, Norway

Whale Watching in Tromsoe

Otherwise, whale watching is a big topic in Tromsoe, because orcas (killer whales resp. Orcas) as well as humpback whales are permanent winter guests, and the probability of a sighting is just under 100%.

What can not be said for the Northern Lights!

You can book tours to the northern lights, to the whales as well as dog sled trips, winter hikes, snowshoe hikes etc. etc. Either at the Tourist Office (behind the Radisson Blu Hotel, at the harbor where the Hurtigruten ships dock) or at Tromso Safari, in the lobby of the Radisson Blu.

The Tourist Office also has a very good overview of all tour operators and tours, and also makes the reservations. You can also pay directly there. And the people from Visit Tromsoe are very helpful and friendly! Or, to make booking your tour to the whales of Norway easier (advertising):

This can also be done here directly and online. (Affiliate link, with your booking you support this travel blog).

Driving with the dog sled

This is a special highlight in Tromsoe and I described it in this article: Dog Sledding in Tromsoe Norway

Tromso Norway travel blog

Eating out in Tromsoe

Norway is so expensive, here Swiss go and complain about the high prices. If you want to eat out in Tromsoe, there are actually quite a few options around the harbor and in the city center. But as I said, do not ask about the prices. An example: Two pizzas at the harbor, with a view of the quay of the Hurtigruten, a water (free of charge) and a coke burden the travel budget with a good 50 euros.

If you consume alcohol and meat, you pay much more again. There is also in the district at the harbor a kind of Vapiano restaurant with halfway civil prices, delicious pasta and good beer from the brewery from Tromso.

For self catering there is a small supermarket near the Scandic Hotel.

Coffee and cake in the many beautiful cafes in Tromsø costs about as much as in our country, here, as far as I know, no “luxury tax” is levied as in the restaurants.

Accommodation in Norway’s north

Through the usual hotel booking platforms, you have a very good selection of pretty nice hotels in Tromsoe. If you book a package of flight plus hotel, sleep and breakfast very well at acceptable prices. However, Tromsoe has become such a sought after destination for Northern Lights seekers, you have to book very early in the year to get any rooms at all.

There are a few hostels aimed at a young crowd, with smaller prices and a wide range of outdoor activities. Also to be booked via hostel platforms on the net. Definitely recommendable are the Radisson Blu as well as the Scandic Ishavs-Hotel.