This exciting and less-traveled winter adventure takes you deep into Norway's boreal territory for spectacular snowcapped scenery. The trip kicks off in Tromsø, a sophisticated little city known as the 'Paris of the North'. From here, make your way east to Kirkenes—traveling by bus—while taking advantage of unique Arctic excursions and numerous possibilities for spotting the Northern Lights.

Highlights

  • Check out Tromsø's impressive dining, culture, and nightlife options
  • Learn how to steer a pack of huskies through the Arctic's snowy wilderness
  • Have lunch with views of the Alta Fjord and walk through ancient rock carvings
  • Sip cocktails and stay overnight in cozy igloos surrounded by alpine scenery
  • Spend a day with wild reindeer near a town known for Sami culture

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tromsø Tromsø
Day 2 Explore Tromsø & Chase the Northern Lights Tromsø
Day 3 Transfer to Trapper's Farm - Overnight Excursion Tromsø
Day 4 Breakfast at Trapper's Farm - Return to Tromsø Tromsø
Day 5 Breakfast in Tromsø - Bus to Alta Alta
Day 6 Winter Activities in Alta Alta
Day 7 Igloo Hotel Experience Alta
Day 8 Bus from Alta to Karasjok Karasjok
Day 9 Free Day in Karasjok Karasjok
Day 10 Snowmobile & Reindeer Excursion in Karasjok Karasjok
Day 11 Bus from Karasjok to Kirkenes Kirkenes
Day 12 Explore Kirkenes - Depart Norway  

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, 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.

*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: 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 4: 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 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 5: Breakfast in Tromsø - Bus to Alta

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

After breakfast in Tromsø, you'll transfer to the bus station for the journey east 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 6: 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 7: Igloo Hotel Experience

Cocktails at the igloo hotel
Cocktails at the igloo hotel

Today, you'll have more time to relax in Alta before you are picked up and transferred to your overnight in the world's northernmost ice hotel, Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel. Since 2000, this hotel uses sustainable materials like natural snow and ice to create a new theme each season with the help of a local team of builders. 

While staying here, you can experience Norway's peaceful nature and relax in a warm atmosphere. There is a lounge area for relaxing and a restaurant that serves local cuisine. (A table is reserved for you when staying the night.)

After dinner, you'll experience the contrast between staying in the cold igloo environment, while your cozy sleeping bag keeps you nice and warm. Long underwear is recommended.

Included in your stay:

  • An extreme cold sleeping bag and pillow suitable for low temperatures 
  • Bathroom towels
  • Time in the morning sauna 
  • Breakfast buffet with local ingredients 
  • Coffee, tea, and drinking water
  • Wifi

Day 8: Bus from Alta to Karasjok

Make sure to visit the Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta before departing
Visit the Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta before departing

Today, you will experience another scenic bus journey in Northern Norway—this time from Alta to Karasjok, the unofficial Sami capital. The comfortable journey will take about 3.5 hours and you will pass interesting landscapes along the way, so sit back and enjoy the views. 

Karasjok is a cultural place, home to the Sami parliament, the Sami library, a Sami radio station, a Sami museum, and even a Sami theme park. When you arrive, you will be picked up by a host for your accommodations for the next few nights: Engholm Husky Design Lodge. The designed log houses are situated next to Karasjohka River, a few miles outside of Karasjok, and offer special charm. The on-site farm also consists of 50 highly trained sled dogs for long-distance racing and dog sledding tours and expeditions. 

In the evening, you and your fellow guests will be served a wonderful dinner at the lodge based on local ingredients.

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: Snowmobile & Reindeer Excursion in Karasjok

Spend the day with a herd of reindeer on this authentic excursion
Spend the day with a herd of reindeer on this authentic excursion

Today is another adventurous day in Karasjok. After breakfast at the lodge, you'll be picked up by a Sami reindeer herder and travel by snowmobile, beyond the beaten tracks, to arrive at a winter settlement for Sámi reindeer herders who pursue their livelihood on winter pasture. 

This trip is recommended for people that would like to do something truly unique and learn about the real Sami culture and their livelihood is today. During this unique activity, you can join the herders' regular regime with the reindeer and gain insight into their way of living in their natural environment. This adventure is a privilege made available by a Sámi family from Karasjok.

A simple lunch is included and served around a campfire in the wilderness together with the Sami reindeer herder and, of course, the reindeer.

Day 11: Bus from Karasjok to Kirkenes

Kirkenes is a small town on the Finnish and Russian borders
Kirkenes is a small town on the Finnish and Russian borders

Early this morning, you will take another stunning bus ride—this time from Karasjok to Kirkenes, a small town in northeastern Norway, close to the Finnish and Russian borders. The journey takes about seven hours in total and offers plenty of beautiful landscapes along the way, including possible reindeer sightings. Bus rides in Northern Norway are helmed by friendly and skilled drivers for types of weather and terrain. 

On arrival in Kirkenes, you will check into your hotel and enjoy a nice, relaxing dinner.

Day 12: Explore Kirkenes - Depart Norway

Goodbye, Norway!
Goodbye, Norway!

It's time to say goodbye to Norway! After breakfast in Kirkenes, take advantage of any extra time you have to enjoy the area before heading to the airport for your departure home.

Depending on the time of your flight, you can join an ice fishing or king crab excursion. For those with less time, you can visit the Grenselandmuseet (a museum focused on World War II history) and shop at a Russian market for authentic, handmade goods—great for souvenirs.

Safe travels!  

Map

Map of Tromsø to Kirkenes Winter Adventure - 12 Days
Map of Tromsø to Kirkenes Winter Adventure - 12 Days