This epic trip through Norway's wintry north is all about the travel modes and activities unique to the Arctic. Begin in Oslo and take a train to the UNESCO-listed village of Røros. Dogsled in the mountains, stroll through Trondheim, and stay overnight in an indigenous Sami tent near Tromsø. Cap it off with a coastal steamer ride to the Lofoten Islands, where you'll snorkel with whales and see the Northern Lights by horseback.

Highlights

  • Visit the best museums and restaurants in bustling Oslo
  • Walk among the 18th-century wooden houses in Røros
  • Learn to drive a sled with your own team of huskies
  • Stay overnight in a traditional lavvu tent and learn about Sami culture
  • Take a coastal steamer to the spectacular Lofoten Islands

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo City Tour Oslo
Day 3 Oslo - Train to Røros Røros
Day 4 Dogsledding in Røros - Train to Trondheim Trondheim
Day 5 Trondheim - Flight to Tromsø - Lavvu Experience Inner Troms
Day 6 Return to Tromsø & Explore Tromsø
Day 7 Hurtigruten - Explore Svolvær Svolvær
Day 8 Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes Andenes
Day 9 Whale Watching & Snorkeling Safari - Drive to Svolvær Svolvær
Day 10 Explore Lofoten - Northern Lights Horseback Riding Svolvær
Day 11 Ferry to Bodø - Flight to Oslo Oslo
Day 12 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Winter shoppers in Norway's capital
Winter shoppers in Norway's capital

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

Vigeland Sculpture Park
Vigeland Sculpture Park

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 - Train to Røros

Scenic Røros in the snow
Scenic Røros in the snow

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 4: Dogsledding in Røros - Train to Trondheim

Trondheim's harbor
Trondheim's harbor

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 this epic ride 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 5: Trondheim - Flight to Tromsø - Lavvu Experience

A reindeer in Norway's wilderness
A reindeer in Norway's wilderness

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 6: Return to Tromsø & Explore

Ride this mighty coastal steamer
Ride this mighty coastal steamer

Today, you will return to Tromsø and have the rest of the day to enjoy the city at your own pace.

Often called, 'Paris of the North', Tromsø has a notable restaurant and cocktail bar scene, so take advantage of your evening in the city! A sample of options includes Fiskekompaniet for seafood, Presis Tapas for Spanish food, and Bardus Bistro for the locally harvested Arctic seaweed cocktail.

Day 7: Hurtigruten - Explore Svolvær

Svolvæer is a hub town in the Lofoten Islands
Svolvæer is a hub town in the Lofoten Islands

Today, you can 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 Norwegian Sea, passing some spectacular scenery along the way.

When you arrive at the village of Svolvær in the early evening, take a stroll and have dinner in one of the charming restaurants like Børsen, which serves seasonal fare. While this is the busiest village in Lofoten, it still only has a population of fewer than 5,000 people.

Day 8: Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes

Scenery in the Vesterålen
Scenery in the Vesterålen

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.

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 9: Whale Watching & Snorkeling Safari - Drive to Svolvær

Winter whale watching
Winter whale watching

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 10: Explore Lofoten - Northern Lights Horseback Riding

Spend an eveing chasing the Aurora Borealis
Spend an eveing chasing the Aurora Borealis

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 a 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 to Svolvær and have a hearty dinner before you meet up with your guides for an epic 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. 

*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 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 11: Ferry to Bodø - Flight to Oslo

Sunset off the Ferry from Bodø
Sunset off the Ferry from Bodø

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.  Along the way, you'll encounter more scenery and other beautiful villages. 

When you arrive in Bodø, you'll head to the airport and take a short flight to Oslo.

Day 12: 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.

Map

Map of Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic - 12 Days
Map of Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic - 12 Days