This adventurous weeklong road trip from late May to late August begins and ends in Tromsø, the country's gateway to the Arctic, where—during summer months—the sun never sets on these gorgeous views. From here, you'll journey through rugged landscapes of Norway's second largest island (Senja), and partake in active outings like cycling, kayaking, and swimming before ferrying to another less-populated island (Andøya) where spotting whales is practically a guarantee. Hike the coastal trail on the Queen’s Route before heading back to Tromsø for a few more nights of Scandinavian fun.

Highlights

  • Ride Tromsø's cable car to get the best view of this modern little city
  • Dine on local cuisine options like arctic char, salt cod, and goat cheese
  • Jump on a day-cruise for a glimpse of sperm whales and unique seabirds
  • Drive one of Norway's prettiest routes for a string of picturesque fishing villages
  • Kayak under the Midnight Sun to one of Tromsø's nearby islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tromsø Tromsø
Day 2 Tromsø - Drive to Senja Senja
Day 3 Explore Senja Senja
Day 4 Ferry to Andenes - Whale Watching Andenes
Day 5 Hike the Queen's Route Andenes
Day 6 Andenes - Drive to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 7 Explore Tromsø in Summer Tromsø
Day 8 Depart Tromsø  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tromsø

Tromso's picturesque setting
Tromso's picturesque setting

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: Tromsø - Drive to Senja

Forests and rivers on the way to Senja
Forests and rivers on the way to Senja

After breakfast in Tromsø, hit the road and take a three-hour drive for 130 miles (210 km) to Senja, Norway's second largest island. Stop at
Nordkjosbotn along the way for a snack or lunch—this tiny village is located at the end of the Balsfjorden where the river Nordkjoselva meets the fjord. 

Once you reach Senja, check out the staggering diversity of the landscapes around you, with ocean views, mountains, beaches, lakes, forests, and fields within short distances of each other. Staying here allows you to partake in a wide variety of adventures all on the same day: hiking, kayaking, fishing, cycling, or just lying on the beach! 

Restaurants and eateries in Senja also reflect the region’s scenery and nature. To get a real taste of local delicacies, keep your eye out for char from Altevatn Lake, cod from Senja, and goat cheese from Balsfjorden.

Day 3: Explore Senja

Rugged mountains along the coastline
Rugged mountains along the coastline

Wake up and enjoy a leisurely breakfast as you take in the natural surroundings (keep an eye out for white-tailed eagles). With summertime's extended daylight hours, there will be plenty of time to jump in the car and explore the island's traffic-free roads.

It's a good idea to stick to Senja's National Tourist Route, where villages are linked by roads with amazing views. You can drive along most of Senja's coast, stopping to wander around rocks sculpted by the elements and colorful fishing villages in sheltered coves; meanwhile, Senja's inland is filled with mountains, lakes, and forests, and its mainland-facing coast offers unexpectedly green fields.

There are a wealth of trails to choose from for hiking and biking, as well as one of the world’s best fishing areas. Another option is to rent a kayak and paddle the calm waters, taking in the bird life and majestic scenery. Hop out for lunch or a swim at one of the many sandy beaches on the island and stay well into the night, watching the landscape become bathed in golden light from the midnight sun.

Day 4: Ferry to Andenes - Whale Watching

Get up close to these magnificent creatures
Get up close to these magnificent creatures

Following breakfast at your hotel, pack up your car and take a 1.5-hour ferry* to Andenes on Andøya Island, within the archipelago of Vesterålen — just north of the more touristy Lofoten Islands.

Nature lovers will be in heaven here, for the varied landscapes span from calm and peaceful beaches to craggy, alpine mountains and dramatic fjords.

Most Norwegians know Andenes as a year-round whale watching destination and the northernmost point in the world where you can observe sperm whales. Even short trips offer a very high chance of spotting a whale, so take the afternoon to enjoy a 2-4 hour boat trip with a local whale watching operation, where you can get a glimpse of the mighty sperm whales as well as other aquatic life and seabirds. 

*Please note this is a summer ferry and there are no departures after September 3rd.

Day 5: Hike the Queen's Route

Aerial view of this lesser-visited region in Norway
Aerial view of this lesser-visited region in Norway

After a hearty breakfast, set out towards the fishing village of Stø — a beautiful 2.5-hour drive from Andenes, 93 miles away (151 km).

From here, you'll hike along Dronningruta, the Queen’s Route. This moderate, 9-mile (15 km) round trip takes you along the shoreline and over the mountain between Stø and the old fishing village of Nyksund, in the far north of Langøya, Norway's third largest island.

Named after Queen Sonja, who first visited the island in 1994, the route itself is much older and has been used by many people, including (according to legend) the midwife of Stø on her way to births in Nyksund. The route is now a combination of two well-marked hiking trails (a low and high route) running along the ocean's edge. Together, they form an incredibly beautiful walk.

When you're done hiking, take time in the late afternoon for a drive on the National Tourist Route along the west coast of Andøya— one of the best ways to experience the region's coastline and its characteristic fishing villages with colorful wooden houses.

Day 6: Andenes - Drive to Tromsø

Tromsø's picturesque waterfront
Tromsø's picturesque waterfront

Get an early start and take the ferry back to Gryllefjord in Senja, and then drive 136 miles (219 km) to Tromsø, which will take you about three and a half hours. Here's your final chance to take a detour for any adventures you may have missed along the way.

Upon arrival in Tromsø, a local guide will meet you for a three-hour walking tour of the city. Visit the largest metropolis 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 Arctic Cathedral.

This is your last evening in Norway, so enjoy the city's great restaurants and fun nightlife.

Day 7: Explore Tromsø in Summer

The bridge entering Tromsø, a city of about 50,000 people
The bridge entering Tromsø, a city of about 50,000 people

After breakfast, you will have the whole day to explore Tromsø. Here are a few suggested tours and activities that can be arranged 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 modern Arctic Cathedral. 

Hike to Mount Fløya: This easy to moderate in-town hike draws visitors, especially in the evening, who want to see the city's best place to watch the Midnight Sun. That being said, you can hike up any time of day for a great view of the city and surrounding islands. There are several ways to get to the top: some choose to ride the cable car to Storsteinen and then walk further up the hill, while others climb 324 steps along the “Sherpa staircase”, which starts close to the lower station located on Tromsø’s mainland.

Kayaking under the Midnight Sun: Explore the Arctic wilderness by sea kayak under the magical light of the Midnight Sun. This full-day activity led by a professional guide passes small picturesque villages, mountainous fjords, and small islands with opportunities to encounter jellyfish, sea stars, otters, sea eagles, puffins, and bottlenose dolphins. During a break on a nearby island, you will enjoy the warmth of an open wood fire with grilled sausages and hot beverages.

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

Day 8: Depart Tromsø

Sunrise in Norway's Arctic
Sunrise in Norway's Arctic

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.