What to do in Tromso, Norway!

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When I found cheap flights to Norway and Sweden for the wintertime, I knew it was my chance to finally see the Aurora Borealis.  While researching, I found Tromso, Norway listed as one of the top hubs in the world to witness this wonder.  I just had to get there.  Tromso is a little island on the coast at the tippy top of Norway, way up in the Arctic Circle.  I found my flight from Olso to Tromso for only $40!  Little did I know, but this charming city has so many wonderful things to offer!!!

Tromso in the winter is a magical, snowy wonderland.  I imagine Elsa and Ana probably lived in this very city.  The famous Norwegian fjords are glossy with snow and reflect the glow of the sun.  Although there aren’t as many hours of sunlight, when there is, the sun is low by the horizon creating hues of a sunrise or sunset all day long. February was a perfect time to visit, as there were longer daytime hours than say December or January, but still enough darkness for high levels of aurora activity.

Northern Lights

Because I’m all about the budget travel and love a challenge, I really wanted to try and find them on my own like a true wilderness explorer. But we gave in and decided to join a “Northern Lights Chase,” and boy, I am so thankful we did.  We wouldn’t have experienced such a spectacular light display if we hadn’t.  The tours drive you outside of the city to dark sky areas and search multiple locations all night based on tracking the light activity, cloud coverage, and communication with other tour groups. We chose Scan Adventure Tours and definitely enjoyed them.  They provide you with snowsuits and warm clothing, since it’s unbearably freezing standing around waiting at night.  After all, it is the arctic.  The guide told us tales of Tromso’s past while in transit and helped everyone set up their camera settings for the auroras! We were lucky enough to catch the magnificent green phenomenon in three different locations that night.  It was a unforgettable evening.

Reindeer Sledding, Dog Sledding, or Snow Mobile

I get such an adrenaline rush from activities like these, so it was so hard to choose just one!  Reindeer sledding is more like a leisurely stroll, dog sledding is athletic and fast, and riding in a snow mobile obviously has the power of an engine!  I love authentic experiences so we decided to reindeer sled with Tromso Arctic Reindeer, but more for the other cultural experiences they pair with it.  The Sami people, the indigenous arctic people of this region, invite you to their camp where you feed wild reindeer, take a ride in a sled, eat a traditional stew, and learn about their culture in a lavvu tent around a fire.  I simply fell in love with the Sami people and way of life!  I did see some dog sledders charging through the fjords, and it's definitely on my bucket list now!

 Snow Shoeing, Cross Country Skiing, or Downhill Skiing

Cross country skiing is the national sport of Norway!  If you get a chance, rent some skis and glide along the local trails around the city, although you may not be very graceful on your first attempt! You can also drive to downhill skiing courses outside of the city.  I had never snow shoed before, adventure called, and so we braved the 5-hour snowshoe hike with Tromso Outdoor, a company that offers excursions as well as equipment and winter-clothing rentals.  We were nervous about it being too challenging, but everyone in our group of all ages and sizes made it to the top with the pacing help of our guide, Simon.  It definitely was a work out, but the views were breathtaking along the entire journey.  The reward? Sipping warm black currant juice and nibbling snacks at the top of the snowy fjord while basking in sunshine (thank you mother nature for smiling down on us for the day)  It was a perfect moment.  We even saw many locals hiking up and then popping on skis to ride down before heading off to their work day! What a way of life!

Explore the town

The city is small, yet mighty.  Its little shops are adorable and fun to poke in and out of.  On the main shopping street, they even have heated sidewalks to save you from an embarrassing wipe out on the ice!  If you like popping into churches in your travels, the Arctic Cathedral, or Tromsdalen Church, is very unique in structure on the inside and outside.  I mostly enjoyed strolling down by the water and taking my time to enjoy the views while walking across the main bridge in town.  It’s very picturesque so bring your camera! And don’t forget to try some arctic food- post to come!

Where to stay

We stayed at the Xpress Tromso, which was conveniently walking distance from everything we needed to get to.  Hostels are surprisingly not a thing here, but it’s the most affordable hotel in the area, which is music to my ears as a budget traveler.   But more importantly, I loved that it makes a huge effort at being eco-friendly with their electricity, food waste, water, and recycled artwork.  I like to support companies that make an effort to protect this beautiful world! 

There are so many more things that winter in Tromso has to offer!  Make sure you give yourself multiple days there.  It'll give you a better chance at seeing the Northern Lights, and you'll want the time to do all of the exciting activities too! Apparently in January, Orca whales migrate through the area, and you can take boat tours out to look for them! I'm so sad we just missed the whales by a week or two!  Guess I have to go back!

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  1. Great Tour Guide to Tromso. I hope I would travel to this place once a day and turn my visuals into reality

  2. This is the beautiful place I Have ever seen.

  3. Nice post. Yes, northern lights are amazing. It is the factor of luck your see this beauty. If you want to experience northern lights beauty then we offer Northern lights photo tour and alaska bear viewing trips



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