It had long been a dream of mine to visit a winter wonderland, see wild whales and the Northern lights.
After a lot of searching Tromsø appealed to me most, a vibrant university city with close access to the fjords for whale watching and within the Arctic Circle for a chance to see the elusive Northern lights. We chose to visit in January and packed a lot into our 4 night trip, from whale spotting to husky sled riding and plenty of eating!
Where to stay?
After lots research we decided to stay at Bed & Waffles and absolutely loved our time there. The rooms are really comfortable with a kitchenette and waffle making facilities! Each morning fresh ingredients are delivered to your door containing everything you need to make a delicious waffle breakfast.
The views of Tromsø and surrounding mountains are beautiful with close access to the city via bus or foot. There are many options in Tromsø for accommodation including large hotels on the harbour but the cute intimate B&B suited us wonderfully.
The best night at our B&B was when we woke up at midnight and saw the Northern lights shining above us right out of our bedroom window!
Seeing the Northern Lights was truly wonderful. We had spent one of our nights driving out into the countryside in the hope of seeing them but sadly didn’t. It made it extra special to be able to see them when we weren’t even chasing them.
What to pack?
Before we went to Tromsø I spent a long time looking at what I should take, here is a list of what I actually found useful while I was there:
Thermal layers (merino wool is great)
Warm and waterproof winter coat with a hood
Snow boots (big dilemma with these, I ended up packing them and wearing trainers on the plane. I am pleased I did this as I ended up wearing my trainers quite often for going into the city despite the snow! Sorel boots are fantastic)
Tops, jumpers and jeans
Fleece jumper as a second layer on extra cold days
Gloves with touch fingers for using devices
Ski type gloves for over the top or wool mittens (especially needed for whale watching and dog sledding!)
Merino wool socks
For sight seeing around Tromsø I wore my thermals with jeans and a jumper or fleece over the top. Then my coat hat and gloves for extra warmth.
Some days I wore my snow boots but found for walking to dinner and things trainers were sufficient!
For the activities where I would be out in the cold a lot more like whale watching and dog sledding I definitely needed my snow boots and extra things like the second pair of gloves and snood as well as more layers like the fleece and jumpers. Our tours did also provide snow suits.
What to do?
There are so many things do in Tromsø!
Whale watching (October – January), husky sledding, Northern lights chasing, skiing, hiking, shopping, there are also fabulous restaurants, lovely cafes, and good nightlife.
Top of the list for me was whale watching, I booked our trip through Arctic Explorers https://arcticholidays.org
There are many tours running from Tromsó but this one seemed the best trip for the best price. For ours we had to get up rather early (4am!!) to travel by bus to Skjervoy, I have since seen tours available which travel to this area by boat from Tromsø.
The journey had some spectacular views to enjoy on the way so it did’nt feel too far. Once we arrived it was a quick change into snow suits supplied by the tour company. You do still need a lot of your own layers for underneath though, as I mentioned earlier. We were then ready to go out onto the fjords on a RIB, a very exciting and cold experience! It was all worth it though when we spotted the Orcas and Humpback whales.
Another trip we did took us to the Tromsø Wilderness centre https://villmarkssenter.no
We had the best time with all of the lovely dogs and puppies there including a dog sledding experience. After the tour we enjoyed some delicious food and Norweigan cake around the open fire in their Gamme-hut and played with the dogs a lot.
Within Tromsø we visited the Polaria as well as the Cathedral and also took the cable car from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the mountain ledge Storsteinen, there are spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø and the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords.
This was the lightest Tromsø got while we were there. The Polar Night had just come to an end and the sun had just begun to peep over the horizon for a short time each day.
Tromsø is such an amazing place with so much to offer and I would recommend it to anyone. One day I will return to the Arctic Circle.