This exciting two-week road trip from late February to early April takes you deep into Norway's boreal territory for unique winter-themed activities and few crowds. Your self-drive tour begins from Tromsø, 'Gateway to the Arctic', where you can ride a cable car, meet reindeer, and chase the Northern Lights after dark. Continue to Alta for some of the oldest rock art in existence today (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a 3-day dogsledding tour. From here, drive to Karasjok and Europe's northernmost point where you can hike along the stunning North Cape before flying to Oslo for one more night on the town.

Highlights

  • Check out Tromsø's impressive restaurant scene
  • Learn to steer a pack of huskies through the Arctic landscape
  • Have lunch overlooking the Alta Fjord paired with UNESCO culture
  • Stay overnight in a traditional Sami tent called a "lavvu”
  • Start and end the trip in Oslo, Europe's fastest growing capital

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo - Flight to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 3 Explore Tromsø & Chase the Northern Lights Tromsø
Day 4 Free Morning in Tromsø - Reindeer Sledding Tromsø
Day 5 Drive to Alta & Explore Alta
Day 6 Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 1 Finnmark
Day 7 Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 2 Finnmark
Day 8 Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 3 Finnmark
Day 9 Winter Activities in Alta Alta
Day 10 Alta - Drive to Karasjok Karasjok
Day 11 Karasjok - Drive to Honningsvåg Honningsvåg
Day 12 Visit the North Cape Honningsvåg
Day 13 Honnigsvåg - Flight to Oslo Oslo
Day 14 Depart Oslo  

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 - 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 "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. 

Day 3: 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, or join either or both 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. 

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.

Day 4: Free Morning in Tromsø - Reindeer Sledding

You'll meet quite a few reindeer today!
You'll meet quite a few reindeer today!

Today, you'll spend the day exploring Tromsø on your own. 

In the evening, you will meet a local guide for your reindeer sledding and Northern Lights adventure, where you'll stay overnight in a traditional Sami tent called a "lavvu." Your overnight stay in the lavvu includes warm clothing, an Arctic sleeping bag, hot dinner and breakfast, drinks and transfer back to Tromsø. 

Reindeer sledding is one of the oldest forms of transportation in Norway and deeply seeded in the Sami culture. This is truly an authentic experience complete with traditional Sami food and music (called Joik.) Inside the lavvu, you'll sleep in an arctic sleeping bag laid on top of authentic reindeer skins.

You will want to keep an eye out for the Northern Lights in the sky above the camp. There is very little artificial light, which makes it the perfect place for viewing this natural phenomenon. 

You will depart from the camp at 9:30 am the next day and head back to Tromsø.

Day 5: Drive to Alta & Explore

Snowcapped scenery along Norway's most northerly coast
Snowcapped scenery along Norway's most northerly coast

After breakfast, you'll hit the open road either by rental car or bus and make your way to the small town of Alta, which stands at the head of Altafjord. This gorgeous ride (about 5-6 hours) consists of forests, mountain plateaus, dramatic coastlines, and two ferry rides crossing stunning fjords. 

If renting a car, you'll have numerous opportunities to stop for photos or short walks along the route, but be sure to wear warm layers and plan accordingly based on the type of activity you'd like to enjoy during the winter months. 

On arrival, visit 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 snow on the ground, you will not be able to view the rock art itself, but the museum still makes a worthwhile stop on your way into Alta.

The northernmost hotel in the world made entirely of ice and snow is located just outside of Alta, which also makes a memorable stop. For the adventurous, it is possible to spend the night!

Day 6: Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 1

Meet a fleet of happy Huskies
Meet a fleet of happy Huskies

After breakfast at your hotel in Alta, it's time to start your dog sledding adventure!

Your private guide will arrange for an early start time so you can make use of the available daylight. First, you'll be picked up and transferred to the kennel where you will be given a list of the names of the Huskies that will be part of your dog team. Then, you'll be given a tutorial on how to drive the sleigh before you pack up and head on your way.

The first section is a 2.5-mile (4 km) ride along the Alta River. This route can get steep and the Huskies will need a little encouragement. When this more challenging part is out of the way, you will continue to climb upwards, though the hills will become gentler from here. You'll ride over some small lakes before stopping for lunch cooked over an open fire where you can relax over a hot meal.  

The site of the Finnmarksvidda Mountain Plateau starts the final 6.2 miles (10 km) ride of the day. Upon completion, you'll reach the mountain lodge in Jotka where you can take in the early evening Arctic blue light. You'll help stable the dogs, prepare their food, and attend to them before they rest for the night. Then, the guide will prepare your dinner while you keep an eye out for the Northern Lights.

Day 7: Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 2

Northern Lights sighting in Norway
Northern Lights sighting in Norway

After waking up at the mountain lodge, you—along with the help of your guide—will feed and take care of the dogs. While the Huskies are digesting their food, you will have breakfast and plan the day's round-trip journey. There are several options to choose from and you can select the route based on the prevailing snow and weather conditions. This is a participatory experience, as you play a part in deciding where and how long you will ride. 

Like yesterday, you will stop midday and have a relaxing lunch around an open campfire. When you return to the mountain lodge, you'll feed and take care of the dogs before they head to sleep. Dinner is then served for the two-legged participants before you wait and see if the Northern Lights decide to appear.

Day 8: Dogsledding Adventure from Alta - Day 3

Beautiful views along the coast near Alta
Beautiful views along the coast near Alta

Today is your last day with the Huskies!

Like yesterday, you will wake up to feed the dogs, eat breakfast, and pack up your gear before setting off for your return trip to the kennel. This day is noticeably easier as you head down all the hills that were climbed on your first day. Like the two previous days, you will stop for lunch en route.

Upon arrival, you will remove the harnesses and return the dogs to their respective kennels. Say your heartfelt goodbye to these hard-working canines and take any last photos together. Enjoy a light meal and have fun recapping the experience with your guide before you return to Alta for your last night in Norway.

Day 9: Winter Activities in Alta

Cross-country skiing in Norway's Arctic wilderness
Cross-country skiing in Norway's Arctic wilderness

After breakfast at your hotel, you will have a free day in the Alta area to enjoy some outdoor activities. Some ideas include:

  • Skiing: Just outside of Alta, you’ll find an alpine center that offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even ice skating. A café on-site serves hearty food, hot drinks, and lounge areas to warm up and relax before heading out again.
  • Snowshoe tour: Take a trip into the wilderness using the ancient method of snowshoes (although the shoes themselves are thoroughly modern). You'll feel part of the nature that surrounds you as you tramp along. Keep an eye out for animal tracks from animals like reindeer and moose as you go along.
  • Winter hiking: Alta has extraordinary nature, and winter offers hikes and tours that range from moderate to strenuous in many locations and destinations in the Arctic wilderness. Hikes can be arranged for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
  • Snowmobiling tour: Snowmobiling is a favorite activity for the area. Join the fun, whether you are experienced or a newbie. With a tutorial, climb aboard your snowmobile and follow the guides along the forest trail. 

Day 10: 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 (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 11: 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 12: Visit the North Cape

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 13: Honnigsvåg - Flight to Oslo

Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Holmenkollen Ski Jump

This morning, you'll have breakfast in Honnigsvåg and then make your way to the airport for a short flight to Oslo. Once you arrive, you'll be transferred to your hotel for your last day (and night) on the town! 

Depending on what time you arrive, you can hook up with a private guide and get an exclusive tour around town. Here is a shorter tour option that past travelers have enjoyed:

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 14: Depart Oslo

Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo
Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last few hours walking around Oslo's neighborhoods, relaxing in a café, or visiting local boutiques for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.