Skip the summer crowds with this autumn-themed itinerary in Norway's far north. The adventure begins in Tromsø—'Gateway to the Arctic'—with time to explore the city and a nearby farm. From here, you'll ferry to Senja island and then cruise to the northernmost point of Europe. Continue by bus to Alta for UNESCO-listed rock carvings before returning to Tromsø. Activities depend on the snow (or lack thereof), and each night presents another opportunity to spot the Northern Lights.

Highlights

  • Start and end the trip sampling Tromsø's robust culture and dining scene
  • Spend a day with a local guide at a working farm for dogsledding and fishing
  • Travel to and from beautiful Senja island by ferry and coastal steamer
  • Visit hiking trails and quaint fishing villages in the North Cape at your own pace
  • Have lunch with views of the Alta Fjord and then look at ancient rock carvings

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tromsø Tromsø
Day 2 Explore Tromsø - Chase the Northern Lights Tromsø
Day 3 Trapper's Farm Day-Trip Tromsø
Day 4 Ferry to Finnsnes - Transfer to Mefjord Brygge Senja
Day 5 Explore Senja Senja
Day 6 Transfer to Finnsnes - Hurtigruten to North Cape Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 7 Arrive in the North Cape - Transfer to Honningsvåg Honningsvåg
Day 8 Explore the North Cape - Bus to Alta Alta
Day 9 Explore Alta Alta
Day 10 Bus from Alta to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 11 Depart Tromsø  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tromsø

Aerial view of Tromsø
Aerial view of Tromsø

Welcome to Tromsø, the largest city in Northern Norway!

Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, Tromsø is a lively place with 65,000 inhabitants. In addition to its lovely scenery and rich history, the city has a large student population and is famous for its robust music and film culture, so get out and explore this self-proclaimed 'Gateway to the Arctic'.

A good place to start is taking a ride on the cable car, which runs up to a mountain ledge in just four minutes. The two gondolas, known as Seal and Polar Bear, each have a capacity of 28 passengers. From the viewing platform at the upper station, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø and the surrounding islands, mountains, and fjords. 

If you want to stay for dinner, Fjellstua restaurant on top offers dinner with views. Otherwise, head back down to Tromsø for a variety of pubs and restaurants.

Day 2: Explore Tromsø - Chase the Northern Lights

Norway's northernmost city
Norway's northernmost city

After breakfast, you will have the day to explore Tromsø. You can explore on your own by wandering the charming streets, museums, and coffee shops on your own—or join one or all of these great activities with local guides:

  • Walk Through History: Meet your local guide and set off on a three-hour walking tour of Tromsø. Visit the largest city in the north—street by street—and take in its rich culture and beautiful architecture, including historic wooden houses dating as far back as 1789. View relics and buildings dating back to medieval times, and learn about the city’s extensive fishing culture, which was established when trade in Norway was at its peak. You will also tour the stunning Arctic Cathedral. 

  • Beer Tour: Visit Tromsø's numerous drinking establishments with a local guide who will share the tastiest beer options around town!

  • Northern Lights Chase: In the evening, get ready to chase the Northern Lights*! Your guide will pick you up in Tromsø and take you on this fun after-dark excursion as they find the best locations away from the city lights for viewing and photographing this spectacular natural occurrence. Throughout the evening, your guide will offer interesting information about the Northern Lights, including why and how they occur, as well as legends and folklore of the indigenous Sami people. Your guide will even be able to assist you in adjusting your camera settings for the best photographs. If the weather allows, there will be a campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows to end your night. 

If you remain in the city in the evening, great restaurants and lively nightlife await.

*The tour provider will check the latest weather update in the early evening. If the likeliness of clear skies is low, the guide will inform you about the situation at pickup time and you can choose to have your money refunded. If you choose to take your chances, the guide will do his/her best to succeed, but there is no guarantee.

Day 3: Trapper's Farm Day-Trip

Get to know a fleet of huskies at the farm
Get to know a fleet of huskies at the farm

This morning, you'll make your way to Trapper's Farm, about an hour outside of Tromso, for a unique excursion that involves hiking through lush forests where you can take part in the simple but true life of a trapper.

After arriving by bus or private transfer, you will meet your guide and the farm's fantastic fleet of Greenland dogs, who will be ready to take you out on an adventure (provided the ground is snow-covered!). Don’t worry, there will be a safety briefing beforehand that covers everything you need to know. Then, prepare the dog teams with your guide and set off into the forest.

There will be plenty of time on the way to check the farm's traps and nets. Towards the end of the afternoon, you will light a bonfire near the water's edge and enjoy a nice dinner together, preparing game or fish from the trip. Sit back and relax as your guide shares stories about the area as well as adventurous expeditions in the wild. 

Once the excursion is over, you'll return to Tromsø in the evening.

Day 4: Ferry to Finnsnes - Transfer to Mefjord Brygge

Senja's awe-inspiring coastline
Senja's awe-inspiring coastline

After a relaxing breakfast in Tromsø, you'll have more time to enjoy the city before taking an afternoon ferry to Finnsnes located just across the Gisundet strait from Senja island (about 1.5 hours).

Upon arrival in Finnsnes, you'll be picked up for an hour drive to your hotel in the small village of Mefjord Brygge on the island's north coast. This quaint village is a great base for travelers with activities in the area such as hiking, wildlife watching, ice climbing, and more. 

Sit back and relax at your hotel while the friendly staff prepares dinner onsite. You'll also have a chance to see the Northern Lights if the skies are clear, so step outside and get some fresh Arctic air!

Day 5: Explore Senja

Northern Lights in Senja
Northern Lights in Senja

This morning, you will be served a local breakfast at Mefjord Brygge before choosing to join a guided (and potentially snowy) activity. A few options include:

  • Snowshoeing or hiking: Let a local expert take you on foot through a range of stunning landscapes surrounding the village. 

  • Arctic Boat Safari: Explore Senja's wintry coast by boat. The watercraft has a comfortable seating area inside or put on warm floating suits (provided) for outdoor seats and the best views. 

In the afternoon, you will be served a nice meal with free time for more outdoor activities or indoor relaxation. Senja is also a year-round paradise for photographers!

After dinner, you can hunt for the Northern Lights near your accommodations.

Day 6: Transfer to Finnsnes - Hurtigruten to North Cape

Set sail on the Hurtigruten in Northern Norway
Set sail on the Hurtigruten in Northern Norway

Today, you can spend the morning at Mefjord Brygge with a relaxing breakfast. At the designated time, you will be transferred back to Finnsnes to board a Hurtigruten cruise towards the North Cape.

If you have time in Finnsnes before you board, check out this small town known for fishing, fish farming, and agriculture. Several small boroughs surround Finnsnes, forming one large urban area. It is an important hub for transportation both on land and sea. There are cafes, restaurants, and even a park with a lake to explore.

Once you've boarded your overnight cruise, you will pass Tromsø and continue north. If the skies are clear, keep an eye out for the Northern Lights!

Day 7: Arrive in the North Cape - Transfer to Honningsvåg

The North Cape
The North Cape

Welcome to the North Cape! You will arrive at one of the northernmost points in Europe, Nordkapp, on the Hurtigruten in the morning.

The North Cape Horn has always been a well-known and important point of orientation for all boats and ships. For a point of reference, this location is 71 degrees north, on the same latitude as Siberia and the tip of Alaska.

During autumn and winter months you can expect potentially snowy and windy weather, so dress warmly.  From the steep cliff, you can view the mighty Barents Sea, which extends from the Arctic Ocean.

You'll have the rest of the day to explore the area's tiny fishing villages at your own pace before you transfer to your hotel in Honningsvåg for the night.

Day 8: Explore the North Cape - Bus to Alta

Honningsvåg is your village base in the North Cape
Honningsvåg is your village base in the North Cape

After breakfast, you'll have more free time to explore the North Cape at your own pace. The stark landscape is hauntingly beautiful, and something you will likely remember for years to come.

Suggestions include:

  • Kirkeporten (church gate): Check out this cliff with a hole, which allows for incredible views of the Nordkapp. 

  • Nordkappmuseet: This small museum reveals information about the aspects of fisheries and everyday life in the far north.

  • Bird Safari: Join a guide and look for rare seabirds that flock to this part of the world, like the beloved puffin. 

  • Hike to Knivsjellodden: This is said to be the true northernmost point of Europe. The trail is marked with red Ts, and the 5-mile (8 km) hike takes an estimated 2.5 hours. Since the weather is unstable at this high latitude, you should take the proper precautions before starting. 

In the mid-afternoon, you'll take the bus from Honningsvåg to Alta arriving in the evening. Upon arrival, enjoy a lovely dinner near your hotel.

Day 9: Explore Alta

Pre-historic rock art near Alta
Pre-historic rock art near Alta

After breakfast, you'll have the entire day to explore Alta and the surrounding area any way you'd like. 

Start by visiting the Alta Museum, featuring Northern Europe’s largest concentration of rock art made by hunter-gatherers. This unique UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of rock carvings and rock paintings made from 7,000 to 2,000 years ago and depicts rituals, symbolism and religious beliefs from the pre-Christian ages. If there happens to be snow on the ground, you will not be able to view the rock art itself, but the museum still makes a worthwhile stop.

Nature-lovers' will also have their pick of forests, mountain plateaus, and dramatic coastal landscapes. With a rental car, you'll have the freedom to enjoy numerous opportunities for photo stops or short hikes along the route. Be sure to wear warm layers and plan accordingly based on the type of activity you'd like to enjoy during the autumn months (snow is also possible). Other outdoor options this time of year include canoeing down the Alta River or fat-tire biking on designated trails or roads.

After dinner, if the skies are clear, keep an eye out for the Northern Lights, which usually start making appearances in October.

Day 10: Bus from Alta to Tromsø

Tromsø's charming harbor at sunset
Tromsø's charming harbor at sunset

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll take a six-hour bus ride from Alta to Tromsø, arriving in the late afternoon. 

This gorgeous ride consists of two ferries that cross stunning fjords, including the beautiful Lyngenfjord amongst other famous areas. The ride also offers forests, mountain plateaus, and dramatic coastal landscapes, so snag a window seat if possible.

Upon arrival, you'll check into your hotel in the city center. Get out and take advantage of any restaurants or nightlife options you may have missed at the beginning of the trip.

Day 11: Depart Tromsø

Goodbye, Tromsø!

It's time to say goodbye to Norway! Before your flight, spend some time wandering this cozy city center and charming pedestrian streets for unique souvenirs before heading to the airport.

Map

Map of Autumn in Northern Norway - 11 Days
Map of Autumn in Northern Norway - 11 Days