This exciting 13-day adventure—between late February to early April—takes you deep into Norway's boreal territory for unique winter-themed activities and few crowds. After a few days in Oslo, it's time to fly to Tromsø, 'Gateway to the Arctic', where you'll experience local culture and a farm in the wilderness. Then, drive to Alta, Karasjok, and the North Cape for UNESCO-listed rock art, Sami culture, dog sledding, and hiking around Europe's northernmost point before circling back along the stunning coast.

Highlights

  • Ride Tromsø's cable car to get the best view of this modern little city
  • Spend a cozy night at a farm while trapping and fishing with a guide
  • Have lunch overlooking the Alta Fjord followed by some UNESCO culture
  • Learn to steer a pack of huskies through the Arctic landscape
  • Visit quaint fishing villages in the North Cape at your own pace

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo City Tour Oslo
Day 3 Oslo - Flight to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 4 Transfer to Trapper's Farm - Overnight Excursion Tromsø
Day 5 Breakfast at Trapper's Farm - Return to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 6 Breakfast in Tromsø - Drive to Alta Alta
Day 7 Dogsledding & Northern Lights Alta
Day 8 Alta - Drive to Karasjok Karasjok
Day 9 Free Day in Karasjok Karasjok
Day 10 Karasjok - Drive to Honningsvåg Honningsvåg
Day 11 Visit the North Cape Honningsvåg
Day 12 North Cape - Drive to Alta Alta
Day 13 Depart Alta  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo

Welcome to Oslo! Norway's rapidly growing capital is still considered a small city, helped by the fact that it's surrounded by mountains and sea. Not only is the city center made for walking, but outlying neighborhoods—filled with charm and character—are easily accessible by public transportation, so jump on a tram, train, or bus and explore all of what Oslo has to offer.

Suggested activities include: 

  • Take a half-day and wander around Aker Brygge, an area on the Oslofjord made up of beautiful, modern buildings where you can find bars and abundant nightlife. It acts as a sort of courtyard for the city of Oslo and brings together both tourists and locals alike to enjoy the great food, atmosphere, and entertainment.
  • Spend the afternoon visiting the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Open-Air Folk Museum by way of public transportation. Both museums are in the same area, so they pair well together! 
  • Walk along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade)—a new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park, which combines sightseeing, history, art, architecture, and a little bit of adventure.
  • Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where 200 larger than life sculptures are placed throughout this green lung in the middle of the city. 

For dinner, explore the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and cafés that stay cozy in cold weather, with several options that offer outdoor seating during summer months.

Day 2: Oslo City Tour

National Oslo Opera House
National Oslo Opera House

The opportunities for experiencing culture in this amazing Scandinavian city are endless. Oslo is located in the heart of Norway between the water and evergreen forests—and though it's the capital of Norway, it only takes 30 minutes to travel from one end to the other on its metro system. 

If you really want to feel like a local and experience all that Oslo has to offer, hook up with a private guide and get an exclusive tour around town. Here are a few ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

  • Akerselva River Walk (4-5 hours): On this tour, you'll take the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway which offers an abundance of local history. You will start with the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology (on the north side of the river) and then head south to the Labour Museum (part of the Oslo City Museum) while your guide shares stories about the heart of Oslo's history. The river is five miles (8 km) long and passes waterfalls, swimming areas, forested areas, and wildlife, so bring your camera!
  • From Fjord to Forest (full day): This outdoorsy tour takes you to a beautiful island just outside Oslo's harbor, reached by tram in about 30 minutes from the city center. No cars are allowed here, so the island is full of recreation options. Choose an activity depending on the season, or simply walk around one of the lakes while your guide shares local history. 
  • Holmenkollen Ski Jump (2-3 hours): If you have less time to spare, this tour heads for a popular area called Holmenkollen, where a wooded range of hills can be reached by light rail from the city center in about 35 minutes. Open year-round, the Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower presents over 4,000 years of snow sports, polar exploration, and an exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing. Head for the observation deck offering panoramic views of Oslo, and then walk down to the ski jump while your guide shares stories about local trolls, legends, and castles.

For dinner, if you're looking for Oslo's trendiest local scene, head east for Grünerløkka, which many inhabitants refer to affectionately as "Løkka." This once-run-down sector of Oslo is now the site of refurbished apartments, fashionable cafés, and hip restaurants.

Day 3: Oslo - Flight to Tromsø

An aerial view of Tromsø
An aerial view of Tromsø

Today you'll take a flight to Tromsø, the largest city in Northern Norway!

When you arrive, get to know the self-proclaimed 'Gateway to the Arctic'. Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, Tromsø is a lively place with 65,000 inhabitants. The city has a large student population and is famous for its robust music and film culture.  

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. 

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 stunning Arctic Cathedral. 

  • 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. 

*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 decide 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 4: Transfer to Trapper's Farm - Overnight Excursion

Dog sledding above the Arctic Circle
Dog sledding above the Arctic Circle

After breakfast this morning, you'll be picked up and transferred to Trapper's Farm, less than two hours outside of Tromsø, for a unique all-inclusive excursion in the great outdoors. 

Each tour offered by the farm varies slightly depending on the time of year and weather patterns, but you can expect to take part in a range of day-time trapping and fishing trips as you travel through the countryside by dogsled (snowy months only).

The small, modern cabins at the farm will be your base camp for the night where you'll participate and enjoy traditional meals together made from local ingredients, many of which you helped catch. An expert guide will also provide a broad insight into the area's local history, culture, and traditions along the journey. Of course, you'll also get plenty of time to spend with the faithful Greenland husky dogs who join your adventures every day, while keeping an eye out for other species of wildlife. 

Depending on the tour, you might have the option to sleep in a tent or under the open sky next to a warm bonfire as you search for the Northern Lights.

This type of adventure does not require previous experience but it does require participants to be in good physical shape. You and your travel companions will receive a list of essential items to pack to ensure your warmth and comfort.

Day 5: Breakfast at Trapper's Farm - Return to Tromsø

Return to Tromsø after your night in the wilderness
Return to Tromsø after your night in the wilderness

Today you will have breakfast at the farm before saying your goodbyes to the staff and huskies. Then, transfer back to Tromsø where you'll pick up your rental car and have the rest of the day to spend as you please. 

If you haven't yet, explore the city's museums on your own. There are a number of options in town, including the Polar Museum for regional nature and history and an arctic aquarium with seals. You can check out a 1949 ship that documents its former crew of seal hunters, or visit the Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum—a state-of-the-art visual arts museum.

After camping last night, tonight is the perfect opportunity to sample the local culinary scene; in fact, Tromsø refers to itself as the 'Paris of the North' and has a great reputation for sophisticated dining options.

Day 6: Breakfast in Tromsø - Drive to Alta

Snowcapped scenery near the town of Alta
Snowcapped scenery near the town of Alta

After breakfast in Tromsø, you'll begin the road trip towards Alta. This gorgeous ride (about 5-6 hours) consists of forests, mountain plateaus, dramatic coastlines, and two ferry rides across stunning fjords. 

Upon arrival, check into your hotel in town and then start exploring. Many visitors head for the Alta Museum featuring Northern Europe’s largest concentration of rock art made by hunter-gatherers. The 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 is a lot of snow on the ground, you will not be able to view the rock art itself, but the museum still makes a worthwhile stop while in the area.

In the evening, wander around town and visit the Northern Lights Cathedral, a modern architectural icon. There are also several restaurants to try for dinner, like Alta Bistro and Restaurant Havblikk, as well as Trine og Trasti for local ingredients, and even a chic, cozy space called Du Verden Matbar that serves Nothern Norway's traditional dried fish.

Day 7: Dogsledding & Northern Lights

A Northern Lights display near Alta
A Northern Lights display near Alta

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, you'll have free time to spend in Alta before you head out on an overnight excursion that combines the area's spectacular wilderness along with a touch of luxury. 

Your private guide will pick you up from Alta's city center and take you to a lodge outside of Alta, where the first priority is a fun dog sled ride through the snowy landscape, surrounded by crisp air and the natural light of winter.

Once you return, you will have time to relax with a hot shower before having dinner in the dining room of the lodge's beautiful, renovated barn. Then, join your fellow guests for an after-dinner drink in the cozy common areas, while swapping stories about your recent travels and adventures. Another option is to put on your bathing suit and visit the Jacuzzi and sauna. 

When it’s time for bed, head to your tent or 'lavvu'. These private bungalows are insulated against the winter’s cold, and come with a double bed (with comforters and heated blankets just in case), and a wood-burning stove so you can watch the crackling fire as you curl up in bed. One section of the structure has been replaced with a floor-to-top window for views. On clear nights, you can watch the stars, and—if lucky—the Northern Lights!

Day 8: Alta - Drive to Karasjok

Drive on near-empty roads along the Barents Sea
Drive on near-empty roads along the Barents Sea

After breakfast in Alta, you'll get back on the road and drive 2.5 to 3.5 hours or 124 miles (200 km) to Karasjok, depending on which route you take. 

This area of Northern Norway is inland from the coast and is part of the vast Finnmark Plateau. In Karasjok, you will get to experience Sami culture—the indigenous people of Northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. While here, visit the Sami National Museum, where you can learn about the ancient art of knife making. If there's time, view the oldest church in Finnmark (dating back to 1807), and learn about the rituals and beliefs of the Sami shamans before Christianity came to Norway.

Day 9: Free Day in Karasjok

Get more quality time with some huskies
Get more quality time with some huskies

Today after breakfast, you'll have the entire day to enjoy adventures in and around Karasjok and Engholm Husky Lodge. You can spend the day with the huskies on a dog sledding excursion in the wilderness, where you'll learn how to take the reigns, or simply hang out with the puppies at base camp. If you've had enough dog sledding, there are more options for winter sports available, like ice fishing, snowshoeing, and Nordic skiing. If there isn't enough snow, check out hiking trails in the area.

Karasjok also offers several opportunities in town to experience Sami heritage and connect with the natives, if that's more your speed

In the evening, you'll return to Engholm to enjoy a home-cooked dinner with local ingredients along with your fellow guests. Keep an eye out for the Northern Lights if the skies are clear!

Day 10: Karasjok - Drive to Honningsvåg

Your next stop is this pretty port town
Your next stop is this pretty port town

After breakfast,  you will drive north for about 3.5 hours (237 km) to Honningsvåg.

This tiny village is the northernmost city in Norway (and Europe) and contains around 2,400 residents. With its colorful houses, cod-drying racks, and charming cafés, Honningsvåg is a nice place to explore by foot and a great home base for exploring the North Cape, especially in the quieter winter months (as summer brings in hordes of cruise ship passengers). 

Check out a cultural performance at the theater Perleporten Kulturhus, with a wonderful view over the harbor. Other attractions include the Artico Icebar and local shops selling handmade Norwegian goods and treats.

Day 11: Visit the North Cape

North Cape is said to be the northernmost point in Europe
North Cape is said to be the northernmost point in Europe

After breakfast, you will travel to the North Cape, known in Norwegian as Nordkapp. From this steep cliff, you can view the mighty Barents Sea, which extends from the Arctic Ocean.

The most northerly part of Europe, Nordkapp is approximately 1,224 miles (2,000 km) from the North Pole. It's located on Magerøya at the very end of the European landmass, and the plateau itself rises 1,007 feet (307 meters) almost straight up from the Arctic Ocean to form a flat surface. 

If you're up for a hike, you can walk up to the Kirkeporten arch (with a view of the cape) or take the more challenging walk up to Knivskjellodden to view the dramatic seaside cliff. The stark landscape is hauntingly beautiful, and something you will likely remember for years to come.

Day 12: North Cape - Drive to Alta

Scenery on the north coast
Scenery on the north coast

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 drive to Alta arriving in the evening. Upon arrival, enjoy a lovely dinner near your hotel.

Day 13: Depart Alta

Alta Harbor
Alta's harbor

It's time to say goodbye to Norway! At the designated time, transfer to the airport for your departure flight home. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Northern Norway Winter Adventure - 13 Days
Map of Northern Norway Winter Adventure - 13 Days