Not for the faint of heart, this epic 10-day trip through Norway's wintry north includes a dizzying array of destinations, travel modes, and activities that are highly unique to the Arctic. Each day presents another opportunity for glorious views and local culture, and lots of animals like huskies, reindeer, and whales. Did we mention all the chances to see the Northern Lights including by horseback? Tepid travelers need not apply.

Highlights

    • Explore Røros' preserved wooden structures housing local artists
    • Sled with huskies and reindeer on two separate occasions 
    • Visit the cathedral over the grave of St. Olav, the 11th-century King of Norway
    • Stay overnight in a tent and a ship while keeping an eye out for the Northern Lights
    • Wear a dry suit and snorkel — yes, snorkel! — with orca whales in the sea

Overview

Fast-paced winter lovers seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations and guided activities in Northern Norway will be drawn to this trip through a portion of the Arctic Circle. And with overnights in seven different locations, this itinerary is ideal for non-maintenance types who like to pack smart and be on the move. 

You'll start in the city of Oslo with free time to explore the capital's museums, modern architecture, and New Nordic cuisine before you take a train to the fairy-tale UNESCO-listed cobblestoned village of Røros. From here, dogsled in the mountains with a fleet of frisky huskies, walk along Trondheim's colorful riverfront, fly to Tromsø (the 'Paris of the North'), and stay overnight in an indigenous Sami tent (with reindeer).

Then, take a coastal steamer — perhaps the most low-key day of the trip — to the Lofoten Islands where you'll snorkel with whales (yes, even in winter), drive through gorgeous fishing villages, like Reine and Hamnoy, and see the Northern Lights by horseback before ferrying to Bodø.

If this seems too much, consider a more relaxing road trip through the Arctic, allowing you to stop at your own pace. 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo - Train to Røros Røros
Day 3 Dogsledding in Røros - Train to Trondheim Trondheim
Day 4 Trondheim - Flight to Tromsø - Lavvu Experience Wilderness
Day 5 Tromsø - Hurtigruten  Hurtigruten
Day 6 Hurtigruten - Explore Svolvær Svolvær
Day 7 Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes Andenes
Day 8 Whale Watching & Snorkeling Safari Svolvær
Day 2 Svolvær - Northern Lights Excursion Svolvær
Day 2 Ferry to Bodo - Flight to Oslo - Depart Norway Oslo

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Bundle up and hit the streets of this buzzing city.

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.
  • 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. The sculptures depict the ups and downs of life and the raw emotions of human beings. Bring your camera!

Day 2: Oslo - Train to Røros

Sledding in Røros: a fun way to get around in this winter wonderland. 

After breakfast in Oslo, take the train north to the village of Røros — a journey of about five hours (including a train change in Hamar). 

When you arrive, check into your hotel and then take a walk around one of Norway's most beautiful villages, which used to be a copper-mining hub. Meander around Røros’ narrow streets with wonderfully preserved 17th- and 18th-century wooden houses (about 80 in total) that make this a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's practically a living museum. Among the houses are neat courtyards and interesting workshops housing a great number of artists and craftsmen, as well as an impressive list of award-winning designer products. 

For dinner and drinks, head to one of the town's restaurants and pubs like Frøyas House, Peder Hiort Mathus, or the Bergstadens Hotel with a microbrewery and gastropub.

If you're here in late February, keep an eye out for the traditional winter festival called Rorosmartnan with an outdoor market and musical theater.

Day 3: Dogsledding in Røros - Train to Trondheim

Walk around Trondheim's attractive waterfront. 

After breakfast in Røros, you'll be picked up by a dogsledding team at your hotel for an unforgettable trip in the Norwegian mountains. Your guides will provide you with equipment and complete instructions for a ride in the snow led by an energetic and handsome fleet of huskies.

Keep your camera close as you make your way to the heart of this beautiful winter landscape, and enjoy a stop where guides will prepare a hot lunch in the countryside. The tour lasts about four hours and includes transfers.

In the evening, you'll take a 2.5-hour train to Norway's third largest city, Trondheim, and stay overnight. 

Day 4: Trondheim - Flight to Tromsø - Lavvu Experience

The main mode of transportation in these parts. 

Today is a big day! You'll wake up for an early breakfast at your hotel and take advantage of the morning to explore Trondheim — dress warm!

This city on a river is scenic with beautiful parks and cultural sights, including the colorful and slightly out-of-kilter antique wooden houses. Walk across the historic Old Town Bridge — a 17th-century iron structure — for photographs. You should also visit the impressive Nidarosdomen Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav, the King of Norway in the 11th century. 

The intimate city center is also great for shopping with independent boutiques, along with local cafés where you can warm up after the walk.

In the late morning, you'll be transferred to the airport for a flight to Tromsø, the 'Gateway to the Arctic'. But the adventure doesn't stop here: You'll soon be picked up for an overnight stay in the wilderness, part of a custom-built Sami village (the indigenous people of the north).

These native tents, called lavvus, can sleep groups of up to six people. This is not only an important and fun cultural experience, but you'll also have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights this far from the city lights. Once you're settled, enjoy a traditional Sami dinner and hot beverages as you look for the stars. Your guides will also provide warm layers, boots, and winter-insulated sleeping bags. 

Day 5: Tromsø - Hurtigruten to Svolvær

Ride through the night on the famous Hurtigruten.

Today, enjoy your breakfast outdoors or in the lavvu before transferring back to Tromsø in the morning. You can leave your luggage at the hotel and spend the whole day enjoying this city, often called the 'Paris of the North'!

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. 

You can also take a tour with an English-speaking local guide:

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. 

In the evening, dine in town at one of the town's trendy restaurants or lively pubs and then wait for the Hurtigruten — the overnight coastal steamer — to dock at the port. You'll board the ship in the late evening and begin your journey to the Lofoten Islands. If you're not too exhausted, keep an eye out for a Northern Lights display from the sea. 

Day 6: Hurtigruten - Explore Svolvær

Svolvær is the village hub of the Lofoten Islands.

Today, sleep in and relax. You will spend most of the day on the Hurtigruten as you sail your way towards the Lofoten Islands along the Arctic Sea.

When you arrive at the village of Svolvær in the early evening, have dinner in one of the charming restaurants. While this is the busiest village in Lofoten, it still only has a population of fewer than 5000 people.

Day 7: Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes

The village of Andenes on the lesser-known Vesterålen islands.

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, you'll pick up a rental car and have time to explore the Lofoten Islands before you drive north along the coast to the town of Andenes. This is the base of tomorrow's orca whale safari, and since the tour starts early in the morning, it's best to stay the night here. 

The driving distance to Andenes from Svolvær is about 3-4 hours. This is a great opportunity to see even more of the beautiful landscapes as you head to an even more remote archipelago: the Vesterålen! 

Day 8: Whale Watching and Snorkeling Safari

Get close (but not too close) to these magical creatures.

After breakfast in Andenes, you'll be picked up for your snorkeling adventure with the orca whales! This extraordinary winter tour starts off with an educational lecture and security briefing about the whales. You'll then be suited up from head-to-toe for the safari — your guides will provide you with a dry suit and snorkeling equipment so that you stay warm.

To be in the water with the orcas while they're communicating is a powerful experience and an unforgettable meeting with nature. Bring your camera and wear long underwear, warm socks, a hat, and gloves — and perhaps bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet. 

When you return from the excursion, around midday, you can have lunch on your own and then get back on the road. Return to Svolvær and have dinner in town. 

Day 9: Svolvær - Northern Lights Excursion

What a way to end the trip.

This will be a relaxing day to explore the Lofoten Islands as you please. Get plenty of rest: This evening, after dark, you'll be picked up for Northern Lights excursion by horseback. 

But first, hit the road and explore the islands at your own pace. One of the best ways to appreciate the stunning natural scenery of the Lofoten Islands is to follow the E10 road, which runs along the archipelago allowing you to stop and admire the dramatic landscape along the way.

Two fishing villages on Moskenesøya Island worth exploring are Reine and Hamnøy. Reine is particularly breathtaking from the highway with red and white fishermen’s huts from the late 1800s — called rorbuer — dotting the shoreline and surrounding peaks of granite shooting out of the Reinefjorden. The small neighboring town of Hamnøy is the oldest fishing village (cod is in season during winter months) in the Lofoten archipelago and unbelievably beautiful.

In the late afternoon, return your rental car in Svolvær and have a hearty dinner before you meet up with your guides for a four-hour horseback adventure in the dark. You'll cross ridges, sandy beaches, and ancient remnants from the Viking Age while looking for a natural display of color. Included with the tour are free use of riding boots, helmets, and headlights, as well as hot drinks and transportation. 

Day 10: Ferry to Bodø - Flight to Oslo

The Lofoten Islands are arguably prettiest in the wintertime.

Although it's time to say goodbye to Norway, the memories from your trip will surely stay with you forever!

Enjoy your last morning in Svolvær with a leisurely breakfast before you're transferred to Moskenes — a port along the western part of the Lofoten Islands where you'll catch an afternoon ferry to Bodø.  

When you arrive in Bodø, you'll head to the airport and take a short flight to Oslo. Connect to your international flight this evening, or stay overnight near the airport for an early departure. 

Map

Map of Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic - 10 Days
Map of Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic - 10 Days