Please sign in to post.

Beginners European Travelers (4 adults) - Norway winter travel advice 12 days

My wife and I (Late 30's) are traveling with my mom and aunt (mid 60s) to Norway from November 24th - December 5th. (Not that much time, I know).

We are arriving to Tromso on November 24th and Departing Oslo December 5th. I've been feeling overwhelmed planning this as I've been getting different views and opinions which have all been welcomed.

My Travel Style: I'm good with being in a particular city no more than 3 days max usually. Honestly I'm good with around 2 but depending on activities i can do 3. I'm more about scenery, nature, hikes more than I am museums, architecture etc. That doesn't mean I can't appreciate the beauty and intrigue with the latter but I prefer the first. Winter time I'm aware is a little more difficult as far as hikes go.

There are really only 3-4 things I'm trying to do while I'm out there: 1) Northern Lights (obviously). I'm hoping to see them in my first three days in Tromso but I'm aware I'm not guaranteed them so if we don't see them after that time period we will move on and still hope to see them. 2) Fjords - trolltunga i've seen in the winter is a difficult hike but I am willing to take it on but any fjords for that matter I'm interested in seeing 3) Dog sledding - ive read that there might not be enough snow during that time but any recommendation would be appreciated 4) Snowboarding.

We are not opposed to flying to places but don't want to miss out on cool scenery if a train ride is worth it more. I'm also aware of the dark polar nights too so we are taking all that into account.

Other than that we want to keep it pretty loose and just enjoy where we are at.

Any advice for first timers is appreciated.

Posted by
6652 posts

1) If the northern lights are important, Tromsø is to be honest not the best place to visit. The coastal location means it is often very cloudy, and an overcast sky is not great if you want to see the northern lights.

2) It is a difficult hike to Trolltunga in the winter, and you should not attempt it on your own. But there are guided tours.

3) Don't count on it. There is a large risk that there won't be enough snow that early in the season. But who knows? You might be lucky.

4) Again, it's early in the season a lot of ski resorts won't be open. But you can probably find some. Åre usually opens early I think. Trysil might also be an option.

Posted by
3 posts

To Badger: Respectively I've heard and read everywhere Tromso is the best place to see the northern lights, could you provide some more insight on that part?

Posted by
6652 posts

I've not read it everywhere, while some people claim it is, there are also other opinions. I'm also wondering how much money the city has spent on advertising. I'm a bit reluctant to name a single place "the best", but Tromsø has a large drawback, the cloudy weather.

It is a coastal city located between the ocean and a mountain range. The gulf stream brings a lot of warm water and some of it evaporates so the air often is very humid. And since westerly wind are rather common, that air is blown in over land where the mountain range forces it to rise. As the air rises, it cools down, the humidity condenses and form clouds.

One advantage Tromsø has is that it is a rather large city with other attractions. So for a trip where the Northern lights are a nice bonus, Tromsø is not a bad choice. But if the lights are the main reason for the trip, there are better places in my opinion. And being a larger city also means a lot of light pollution.

Should you end up in Tromsø there are northern lights tours that will increase you chance of actually seeing the lights. They are usually pretty good at finding places where they are visible (assuming they show up). Just be aware that they sometimes drive very far to find a place with clear sky. It's not uncommon for them to drive hundreds of kilometres from Tromsø. So those tours might involve 2-3 hours in a van, and then 2-3 hours on the way back.

Posted by
3 posts

I appreciate the info. I've read where it will require quite a drive to get out to somehwere to see the northern lights which i was probably just going to rent a car and stay out there as long as needed.

Regarding the northern lights, I've been reading on reddit, facebook groups, and youtubers that have gone to a few difference places but said Tromso was by far hands down the best which is why I initially chose Tromso.

What would you say is the top place?

Posted by
6652 posts

I've read where it will require quite a drive to get out to somehwere
to see the northern lights which i was probably just going to rent a
car and stay out there as long as needed.

That is certainly an option. But how would you now where to drive? That will require some careful study of the weather forecast and aurora forecast. And some local knowledge is probably good as well. Also, how are your winter driving skills?

What would you say is the top place?

I'm not sure I can name a top place. But if the lights are the most important thing, consider Abisko. It has a few advantages. It's on the other side of the mountain range, and at around 400 m altitude, so a much higher chance of a clear sky. It is a small village, so not a lot of light pollution. It also offers an unobstructed view to the north. And despite the location, it is pretty well connected as it is a stop on the Narvik-Kiruna rail line. And if the views from the valley are bad, there is a chair lift to the nearby mountain and the "Sky station" there. There are also tours from Abisko, but the big advantage of Abisko is that those tours are often not needed.