Tromsø: 8 (winter) activities for an unforgettable vacation

Tromsø is not only the perfect place to see the Northern Lights, but also for all kinds of other, fun and unique (winter) activities that you will only find in the North.

There is an awful lot to do in Tromsø and the surrounding area. In this travel blog we tell you the very best activities that will guarantee you an unforgettable vacation in Tromsø. Would you also like to see some atmospheric images? Check out the video at the bottom of the article.

1. Snowmobiling

We rode a snowmobile through the idyllic Lyngen Alps. Is there any place in the world more restful than this? And where you get so much adrenaline at the same time? How cool was this.

On this snowmobile excursion, you will always be two on a snowmobile. The one with a license drives, if you both have a license, you can alternate. It is not difficult to drive the snowmobile, once you get the hang of it, all you have to do is enjoy the beautiful views and the silence of the mountains.

This excursion includes a delicious lunch, hot chocolate and fun storytelling about the mountains and its mythical trolls. You’ll also get warm clothes, snow boots, gloves and a helmet.

From the center of Tromsø you will be picked up and take a scenic route to the ferry. The mountains get higher and higher and you just feel the tranquility coming at you. Then it turns out that you may spend hours there 😉

At the camp itself, everything was super well organized. The team is fun and the guide tells everything in an enthusiastic way. The whole day is just about having fun.

You see, I can’t put away my enthusiasm. It was genuinely one of the coolest activities ever. Want to take a ride on the snowmobile? We can highly recommend Camp Troll!

👉 Book the snowmobiling tour through GetYourGuide
You can always cancel or move the date up to 24 hours in advance. Tours often sell out, so be sure not to wait too long!

2. Drive your own dog sled

Driving your own dog sled should really be on your bucket list! And how cool it is to see how much fun the dogs have sledding. If you take a break, the huskies are eager (wagging, barking, rolling, …) to sled down the hills again.

Before participating in any activity that involves animals, these days we do some research on possible animal suffering. We are not saints, but neither do we want to participate in animal suffering out of entertainment for people.

During our research, we read mostly that the dogs have a lot of fun in this and that these breeds are really made for running in the snow. Also, dogs would generally be well cared for in Norway.

But we also found some disturbing stories about the fate of retired sled dogs. Some kennels would kill off the animals because of high (feed) costs.

So naturally I went looking for a kennel that openly shared information about the fate of retired dogs. I found that one at Arctic Adventure Tours, they talk at length about their actions in animal welfare.

It was one of the few kennels that gave so much information, so I decided to book this one. We did not regret that. Not only do they themselves tell about the fate of the animals, it was very clear that the animals here are well cared for and it all looked very clean as well. A big difference from another dog kennel we saw during our vacation in Norway.

👉 You can book the dogsled tour yourself through GetYourGuide.

After sledding, there will be plenty of time to cuddle with the huskies and learn about the dogs over a delicious lunch. For example, they told us that all those dogs are huskies, different breeds we didn’t know yet. And the retired dogs, they are often placed with families. There was also an old dog at the kennel who really enjoyed being cuddled!

The tour will pick you up and take you to and from Tromsø. They pick you up from the meeting point downtown with a small van and within an hour (and a scenic route) you are at the dog kennel. You will get a warm suit, boots and gloves.

The dog sledding was really great to do and is actually a shared number one on our list! So for this cool winter activity, Arctic Adventure Tours is the place to be.

3. Mini road trip

From the city you can do many fun activities, but the surroundings are far too beautiful to stay in the city for long. Our tip: rent a car and drive to the surrounding islands like Kvaløya, Sommarøy or the Lofoten Islands.

Unite yourself with nature and trust me, you will be able to release any stress or restlessness there. Stay at least two nights, but if your budget allows, definitely stay longer!

We ourselves went to Kvaløya for two nights and also visited the island of Sommarøy from there. Along the way we saw bald eagles, sea otters and moose! The first day it was a bit rainy in the morning and then we were very happy with the jacuzzi and sauna at our accommodation. The next day we saw the Northern Lights next to the cottage!

If you are planning to go to Kvaløya, definitely consider booking Buvik Sea Lodge. Everything was just perfect about this apartment and how I would have loved to stay longer.

If you prefer to stay on Sommarøy, Sommarøy Arctic Hotel Tromsø is a good option. The only hotel on the island, which we heard many good stories about.

4. Take the cable car

You thought you needed a drone for this photo? No way, just take the cable car Fjellheisen to Mount Storsteinen. Here you will enjoy the beautiful views of the city and the other islands.

You can hike at the edge of the mountain and enjoy the beautiful panoramas, or go further up the mountain where there are several hiking trails. At the cable car there is also a restaurant (Fjellstua Café) where you can warm up with a hot chocolate or a good meal.

If you are very lucky you can see the Northern Lights here at night. After all, that famous photo with the Northern Lights over the city was taken here. Since the city is brightly lit, the aurora must be really strong to see it. The cable car is often open until midnight, so be sure to take your chances on a clear night with (a lot of) solar activity! Will you be in Tromsø during the polar night? Then you might see it in the afternoon!

Tip: be sure to check Fjellheisen’s website or their Instagram stories before heading there. If there is a lot of wind, rain or snow, the cable car will not open.

📍 Sollivegen 12, 9020 Tromsdalen, Norway

5. Chase the Northern Lights

Chase the Northern Lights by visiting all the dark – that is, without light pollution – spots on the islands by yourself, or book an Aurora Chasing Tour to increase your chances.

In Lapland, the Northern Lights are very often there, but if it’s cloudy, you won’t see them. With a tour, you go in search of clear skies.

For example, we had a snowstorm in Tromsø, but there was also solar activity. We decided to book a Northern Lights excursion and this bus tour drove us all the way to Finland. We wanted to give up a long time ago, but they finally found a clearing where we saw the Northern Lights for the first time.

Often tour operators work with a large network to find the right place. So if you really want that bucket list item crossed off, it’s best to book a Northern Lights excursion just to be sure. If you have a good tour, they will go out of their way to find the Northern Lights. By the way, you not only have bus tours, but also Northern Lights boat tours.

Want to increase your chances even more? 👉 Then be sure to check out our blog with tips for spotting the Aurora.

6. Winter beaches

We are real beach lovers and the beaches in and around Tromsø are really beautiful. It was a nice experience to see such clear blue water on beaches that are also filled with snow and ice. A day at the beach thus took on a whole new dimension.

Are you on the island of Kvaløya? Then be sure to visit Sandviksletta beach. In Tromsø itself, Telegrafbukta is a nice beach. Sommarøy also has many beautiful, smaller beaches.

By the way, did you know that beaches are also one of the best Northern Lights spots? After all, there is no light pollution here.

7. Sami & reindeer

During a first visit to Lapland, a Sami activity really should not be skipped. Here you will learn about Sami culture – the original inhabitants of Lapland – and their traditions at a reindeer camp.

The Sami used to live entirely on reindeer: both for food and drink, clothing and transportation. During this activity you will feed reindeer yourself and if you want, you may also take a ride on the reindeer sleigh.

It is fun to see, pet and feed the reindeer up close in such a beautiful setting. We also enjoyed the explanation of the Sami way of life.

We personally found the sled itself a little less so, we had the impression that the reindeer did not enjoy this – quite a contrast to the dog sled. By the way, we were not able to find any negative stories regarding the reindeer and possible animal suffering.

By the way, did you know that the reindeer run loose for much of the year? That is why you can also encounter them along the road, but they are owned by the Sami.

This Sami activity includes transportation to and from Tromsø center, and a good lunch. You can choose between vegetarian or – yes, really – reindeer stew.

If you start researching tours, you will find many. The advantage of this tour is that this reindeer camp is not far from Tromsø. That way you will have something to do with your day after the excursion. In addition, the setting is very beautiful with the water and mountains in the background.

And how things are in other reindeer camps, we don’t know, but the animals here seemed well cared for.

👉 You can book the Sami & reindeer tour through GetYourGuide here.

8. Drink an Arctic pint

Beer lover? Then you should definitely go to Mack’s pub Ølhallen. Mack is the northernmost brewery in the world AND Ølhallen is the oldest café in Tromsø.

With as many as 72 taps of quality Norwegian beer, you’re sure to find a pint you like.

Cheap beers are not cheap, but then alcohol is very expensive in Norway. To give you an example, we paid between 79 and 118 NOK for a 33 centiliter beer. Roughly converted, then, between 8 and 12 euros, which are normal prices in this region.

📍 Storgata 4, 9008 Tromsø, Norway

Tip: occasional pints at bars are nice, but every day gets pricey. Are you watching your budget and still want a drink in the evening? Then bring some drinks from your own country. There is a handy app from Customs where you can calculate how much alcohol (and tobacco) you can take with you.


Photo: Jonas Bratland via Pexels

Bonus tip: whale watching

Are you going to Tromsø between mid-November and the end of January? Then you have a very good chance of spotting whales!

From Tromsø you will sail by boat towards Skjervøy, to the “whale watching areas”: places where orcas and humpback whales are often spotted. Usually places where there are huge amounts of fish and therefore where you see many beautiful birds.

👉 There is currently an offer running at GetYourGuide where you enjoy 15% off, so be quick! This is the first boat to leave for the whale area. And if you read the reviews, this trip is really worth it!

That was it! We list the best activities in Tromsø for you once again:

  1. Snowmobile tour of the Lyngen Alps
  2. Driving your own dog sled
  3. A road trip to surrounding islands
  4. Taking the Fjellheisen cable car
  5. A Northern Lights tour
  6. Visiting beautiful beaches
  7. Learning about Sami culture and feeding reindeer
  8. Drinking an Arctic beer
  9. Bonus: whale watching

Did you benefit from these tips or have any additions? Let us know in the comments!

Also be sure to check out the video for some additional atmospheric images 🙂