Complete guide of Unique things to do in Tromso, Norway
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In the first couple of months that I moved to the UK, I remember days when I wouldn't even open the curtains, because #futile.
It would usually be a dull, rainy day and in winter (which is when we moved) it was windy. Living in the central part of UK, we did get the occasional snowfall but since it wasn't a winter wonderland and turned to sludge the next day, it wasn't pleasant.
But my visit to Norway changed all perceptions I had of winter. Norway does proper winter as the Brits would say! Snow capped mountains, completely iced roads and frozen lakes.
The complete package.
If you're thinking, that would imply sitting in a log cabin by a fireside with some hot chocolate and waiting for the Northern Lights to show up - you're so wrong!
There are a couple of weeks where it's complete twilight and the sun does not show up but the days get bigger quickly later. The temperatures in Northern Norway have gradually been on the rise, you are not going to freeze when you step out.
All the operators usually provide a snow suit so you will be well insulated. And if you are terrified (like me) and end up wearing a lot of base layers, you might even break into a sweat in winter!
While many opt to visit Norway becuase of the Auroras,they are elusive. Many have visited for about a week and have had no luck with the lights!
You shouldn't let that dampen your spirits though as Northern Norway has many once in a lifetime experiences.
Expensive but unique. (But you knew it would be expensive!)
There's quite a spread and it can get tricky when deciding what to invest in, as each is equally tempting.
So rather than alienating yourself from civilisation and hunting only for the lights, it can be quite an adventure if you opt for one of these things to do during the day.
For the adrenaline junkies
This is addictive! And it isn't too difficult.
While I did not do much of the driving as I found it tough to turn, a quick 10 minute session, a trial ride and we were good to go. We drove across freshly snowed forests, continued through panoramic landscapes and ended on the top of a mountain looking down on the Fjords.
The air was crisp and I spent quite a chunk of my time making snow angels and staring into the sea trying to catch a glimpse of the whales.
It can get quite chilly while you're driving and if you're too close to the person driving in front, you could even be showered with snow.
Ensure to wear helmets that will be provided. Balaclava's and fur hats are provided too, but do carry your own to be safer (as they're not heavy to take around too)
You can also chase the Northern Lights on snowmobiles. Many do provide evening trips.
We ended our ride around a campfire, roasted some sausages and bread and had coffee made with snow - Norwegian style!
Tentative price: ~£125 per person, children get a discount. Some may ask you to share while others may give you a snowmobile of your own.
Season: December to March
Duration: Apprx. 4-5 hours. Will take longer if you live in the city and have to head off to the outskirts.
We started off with Katharina (who owns about 12 dogs) instructing us on how to prepare the sled and tie the ropes securely. The dogs were super cute, cuddly and raring to go. We were cautioned that they would immediately start running after her as that is what they were taught to do.
We were to always keep one foot on the brakes.
I chose to sit on the sled which was cosy. You could also opt to stand and manoeuvre the sled. It may seem easy but manoeuvring a sled is not an easy task. The dogs are powerful and you will get quite a workout! If there’s been fresh snow, you may even have to push the sled uphill.
We rode by the Reisa river which had been frozen and was now melting away. For a while all we could hear were the dogs panting and the river flowing by the side. After a while we reached our picnic spot and had a hearty lunch of roasted ham, cheese and bread around a bonfire.
The dogs were happy to get tidbits too.
Once we were back we fed the dogs (who made quite a mess) and then played with them for ages.
Definitely a must-do for all dog lovers.
Tentative price: ~£125 per person on a sharing basis.
Season: Mid-October to March
Duration: Apprx. 4-5 hours. Will take longer if you have to head off to the outskirts.
The Norwegians are very fond of cross-country skiing. In fact a big group of backpacking skiers visited the lodge we were staying at, as the island has a unique ski slope that ends a couple of feet away from the ocean!
Not an activity you would opt for if you havn't done it before, but isn't something that is restricted only for professionals. You might even end up having fun!
Tentative price: ~£75 per person, designed for beginners
Season: November to April
Duration: Apprx. 3 hours. Ski gear is provided. You can opt to rent ski clothing.
For the ones looking for something less challenging
The Sami are the only people in Scandinavia who are allowed to own herds of reindeer, so the guides are always Sami. It's a more relaxing experience than dog sledding as the reindeer are in no rush and usually softly plod through the snow.
The guides lead the reindeer and share fascinating tales from their culture.
It's the perfect activity even if you've got kids along.
A surreal experience gliding on a sledge through a forest (or the Lyngen Alps in this case) driven by your own Rudolph!
Tentative price: ~£150 per person, for a minimum of 2 people. children get a discount
Season: November to March
Duration: Apprx. 5 hours. Transport not included.
While there's whale watching in summer too, the Orca and the Humpback visit in winter in search of Herring and other small crustaceans.
As they come in search of food, they are very active and there's always a chance to spot them even till mid February as Tromso can offer some of the highest probabilities of whale sightings.
The guides usually take you in a Catamaran so you needn't be scared of getting toppled over by a whale :)
You will not spot Keiko (aka Free Willy) but you might spot one that looks just the same, as you won't be able to tell the difference!
Tentative price: ~£175 per person
Season: November to January
Duration: Apprx. 2 hours. Transport not included.
Fishing in the fjords may not be any different but the chilly air and the possiblility of catching salmon is exciting.
We were taken around the Fjord and cast our rods. The water wasn't calm and in such situations the fish swim to the bottom, in search of camler waters. It took us quite a while to catch our first fish but it was big!
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Although we did not catch any Salmon we did spot some Salmon jumping frantically in a couple of Salmon farms.
Tentative price: Depends on the hours you opt for
Season: Onwards from March
Duration: Can be customised
Snow shoe walking
A great activity for anyone who loves hiking and the outdoors. The shoes are adjustable and are worn over your own shoes. They're pretty light and can be easily trekked with.
Showshoeing is delightful as it gives you ample time to enjoy the snowy landscapes around as well as stop wherever you wish to take pictures if required.
We trekked to the top of a tiny mountain and had hot chocolate with some nuts and gazed at the Fjords below, before heading down again.
Was very refreshing. If you're going uphill, you might want to skip the snow-suit as by the time we stopped at our pit-stop, I was sweating profusely!
Tentative price: ~£50 per person
Season: November to April
Duration: Apprx. 2 hours to 5 hours depending on the difficulty level.
Ice fishing is carried out in peak winter when the lakes have frozen. You're made to wear snow shoes and walk to the middle of the lake. Then a fishing hole is drilled for you and tiny fishing rods are provided.
Ample time is provided and lunch is also included.
You may not end up catching anything or you might get Trout. If you're bored holding the fishing rod you can even prop it in the ice and it stays put!
Another great family activity.
Tentative price: ~£125 per person
Season: December to February
Duration: Apprx. 7 hours including lunch time.
A Northern Lights chase
Everyone pays a visit to chase the fleeting lights. And they can be very unpredicatble. I chose a place wherein I did not need to chase them and only had to step out of my lodge for a sighting. Very convenient and in fact it was even cheaper.
This is because every chase costs about a £100 pounds and sightings can't be guaranteed. I saw the lights 2 times out of the 7 nights I was in Norway. More about that here.
But I've heard the guides are very proactive if you head off on a chase. They drive to the outskirts where city lights are almost nil and its dark. If it's cloudy in a certain region they will drive you someplace else.
They keep checking the activity using Aurora Activity and somehow know of the best places where sightings can be guaranteed.
Meals are also provided by a campfire.
The countryside is dreamy at night and your chances will not be affected even if it's a full moon night.
You can opt to chase the lights on a Snowmobile, Ski's, Snowshoes or even on Reindeer sleighs.
When we chanced upon the lights it was an out-worldly experience. At first there were just green wisps in the sky and then the lights twirled right from one end of the horizon to the other passing over the lake.
One moment I was screaming in joy and at the other I was speechless. If you're lucky the Lady might pay you a visit!
Tentative price: ~£100 per person
Season: September to April
Duration: Apprx. 7 hours including snacks/dinner.
Norway (and all the other Scandinavian countries) have plenty on offer if chasing the lights and enjoying the landscapes is the only thing on your mind. Enjoy the snow, maybe make your own snowman!
Head off for walks although it may be difficult when the snow melts rapidly at the end of March.
Irrespective of what activity you opt for, the guides are very co-operative and take good care of their guests. Winter-wear is always provided by many so you don't need to spend a fortune on winter-wear, if you're heading from a tropical country.
It truly can be a once in a lifetime experience for many, so think, plan and don't hold back!
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Complete guide of Unique things to do in Tromso Norway
- Do inquire at a couple of organisers to ensure you get a good price. Many organisers ensure a pick up and drop off service.
- I would recommend Guide Gunnar for a lot of the above activities in Tromsø
- I stayed at the Arctic Panorama Lodge. I got a really good deal as most of the activities were included and so was transportation.
- The Arctic Panorama Lodge is a great option if you want to chase the lights but cannot manage to spend apprx. £100 per night. Like I've mentioned in one of my previous posts, you don't need to chase the lights, you only have to pay for lodging.
- To capture the Northern Lights:
- Ensure you carry additional batteries
- You will also need a sturdy tripod
- Also carry a small torchlight as it will help to configure the settings on the camera in the dark
- The lights cannot be captured on a phone (unless they are super strong). You need a DSLR.
- Also invest in a remote shutter release to click pictures as the smallest movement blurs the images as the images need exposure of at least 20 seconds
- Although a lot of tours provide snow suits, ensure you wear thermal clothing
- There are many apps that will predict magnetic activity and your probability of seeing the lights. Aurora Forecast is one of the best!
- November, February and March are the best months but the Northern Lights are visible throughout winter
- If you're not interested in heading off to Tromsø, the next location in Norway that has amazing Northern Light activity is Alta.
- The island of Uløya also has one of the rarest ski slopes in the world, where the hill slope almost touches the sea, in addition to many activities that are held here that include Snow Mobile drives and Snow-shoe walks. More reasons to visit!
Looking for some info to chase the Northern Lights? Check the Norway archives here!
Which is your favorite activity from the list above?
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