Although it may sound antithetical, visiting Tromso in winter is absolutely a great idea. First of all, the months of January through March tend to be the cheapest time of year to visit the area. Second, winter corresponds to peak Northern Lights season as well as whale watching season, two incredible natural phenomena you should not miss.
On top of that, heading to Tromso in winter means you’ll get the chance to experience polar night, or 24 hours of darkness. You can also enjoy some other popular things to do in Tromso in winter like skiing, dog sledding, and even hiking.
I also recommend visiting Tromso in December, since spending Christmas in Tromso is so much fun. Of course, Tromso winter weather can be cold and snowy, so be sure to pack warm clothing that you can layer.
Now, let’s get into why winter is one of the best times of year to visit Tromso.
1. See the Northern Lights, one of the best things to do in Tromso in winter
One of the top things to do in Tromso in winter is seeing the Northern Lights. Darkness is key for aurora viewing, so the 24 hours of nighttime polar night provides will up your chances of catching the Northern Lights, as long as the sky is clear.
Tromso is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Norway, so you can easily try aurora hunting on your own. Alternatively, book a stay at one of the best Northern Lights hotels, like the Tromso Ice Domes, where you won’t even have to leave your room to see an aurora display.
Of course, taking one of the many Northern Lights tours that leave from Tromso, like this all-inclusive minibus tour, will greatly increase your likelihood of seeing the aurora. The guides’ expert knowledge means that you’ll generally end up in the right place at the right time to catch the “Green Lady.”
2. Go whale watching, a perfect Tromso winter activity
Winter is pretty much the only time of year to see whales in Tromso, since whale watching season lasts from November to the beginning of February. Take advantage of this seasonal overlap and book one of the top Tromso whale watching tours.
Even if you miss out on seeing whales or orcas, these Tromso winter tours provide an excellent opportunity to see other Norwegian wildlife and explore the fjords. Just remember to bundle up because the tours usually last several hours, plus you’ll be in a boat on the water, so the temperatures can get quite chilly.
I would highly recommend this fjord cruise and whale safari boat tour, which is the whale watching tour we took while we were in Tromso. We managed to see orcas, humpback whales and dolphins on our trip. You’ll also be treated to presentations on local fishing history and culture as well as plenty of snacks.
3. Visit one of Tromso’s many museums, what to do in Tromso if the weather’s bad
On bitterly cold days, you probably won’t want to be outside. Instead, head to the best indoor Tromso winter attractions: Tromso’s museums. Beyond allowing you to stay warm inside, these educational and informative institutions will help you learn more about art, history, science, culture, and even Norwegian folklore through fun and interactive exhibits.
Whether you want to discover more about Arctic exploration at the Polar Museum, tackle puzzles at the Northern Norwegian Science Center, or admire art at the Tromso Center for Contemporary Art, you’ll find there’s a museum to match almost every set of interests.
4. Go dog sledding, a fun Tromso winter tour
If you want to try a unique Tromso winter activity, look no further than dog sledding. You’ll have the chance to make new dog friends as well as get outside and enjoy the snow. Best of all, you’ll get to see the wonders of the Arctic wilderness up close as you drive your dog team along a snowy trail.
Our favorite husky tour is this self-drive husky sledding adventure, which is also one of the best tours in Tromso. Besides meeting and petting the huskies, the tour includes a sledding trip and chocolate cake with hot drinks by a fireplace – everything you need for a great Tromso winter excursion!
5. Stay at The Ice Domes, one of the most exciting things to do in Tromso in winter
Face the winter cold head on by staying at the Tromso Ice Domes, one of the best Northern Lights hotels in Norway. The Ice Domes is an accommodation made entirely of ice and snow that is rebuilt every autumn, so you’ll never see the same structure twice.
Inside the hotel, ice sculptures and art adorn the walls, and you’ll also find an ice bar, restaurant, and ice cinema. Even if you don’t stay the night, it’s worth booking a Tromso winter day tour to explore and admire this icy lodging for yourself.
6. Ski in Tromso, Norway, an exhilarating thing to do in Tromso in winter
If there’s one thing you should do in winter, it’s ski in Tromso, Norway. The daredevils in your group can hit the slopes at Tromso Alpinpark for some downhill skiing and snowboarding. Both skiing and snowboarding gear are available to rent, and you can purchase one-day passes, multi-day passes, or even seasonal passes.
On the other hand, those who prefer their Tromso winter activities to be calm and peaceful should choose cross country skiing, which is actually Norway’s national sport. It’s also the perfect way to explore places that are too snowy to be hiked on foot.
This cross country skiing tour takes you on the trails near Breivikeidet and the Aurora Alps, a beautiful area. Equipment is provided, and you’ll learn basic cross country skiing techniques before you head off into the wilderness.
If you get very lucky, you may even be able to see the Northern Lights from the slopes or the trail.
7. Experience polar night, a once-in-a-lifetime Tromso in winter adventure
Until you’ve lived through 24 hours of darkness for yourself, it can be difficult to imagine a day without the sun. The zero hours of daylight throughout December in Tromso are known as polar night, the opposite of the midnight sun, or 24 hours of daylight, if you visit Tromso in summer.
Polar night is an exceptional phenomenon that is worth witnessing at least once. At the very least, experiencing total darkness will help you develop an appreciation for the winter daylight hours, however limited, you have back home.
You can also see this natural phenomenon if you visit Tromso in January, since Tromso January daylight amounts to only between one and two hours per day.
8. Go reindeer sledding, one of the best Tromso winter tours
Learn about the indigenous people of Scandinavia, the Sami, in an immersive, engaging way by booking a reindeer sledding tour. You’ll also get to explore the Arctic wilderness as well as meet and feed the reindeer.
Reindeer herding represents an important part of Sami life, and your guide will tell you all about Sami culture, along with introducing you to traditional food and music. Of all the Tromso winter tours, this is the one that best combines style and substance.
9. Go snowshoe hiking, a unique way to get in your Tromso winter hikes
Most Tromso winter hikes involve either snowshoes or skis because the region gets so much snow. If you can’t or don’t want to ski, hiking with snowshoes is a fun, easy way to get outside and explore without sinking into the snow and getting your feet wet.
You can always rent snowshoes and head out on your own snowy hike, but if you’d rather go with a group, this snowshoe hiking tour in the Aurora Alps includes snowshoes and poles as well as a brief snowshoeing tutorial. You’ll also even get to meet some huskies.
Alternatively, if you’d rather not hike with snowshoes, some hiking in Tromso can be done with boots and/or crampons year-round.
10. Take the Fjellheisen cable car, one of the best Tromso winter activities
While taking the Fjellheisen cable car to the top of Mount Storsteinen is one of the best things to do in Tromso in winter, it is also one of the best things to do in Tromso at any time of year.
The ride to the top only lasts 4 minutes, but along the way, you’ll be able to marvel at the city beneath you as well as the surrounding fjords and mountains. Additionally, in winter, there’s always the possibility of seeing the aurora from the cable car or from the top of Storsteinen.
Other tips for visiting Tromso in the winter
To have the best trip possible, you’ll need to know more than how to keep yourself busy. Below, you’ll find more information for planning a visit to Tromso in winter, including average temperatures, daylight hours per month, and a suggested packing list.
Tromso winter weather – Temperature & daylight
The best time to visit Tromso in winter in terms of weather will depend on what you value most. Winter is the snowiest time of year in Tromso, so the region can experience a great deal of precipitation. Moreover, the temperatures tend to be rather frosty in January and February, while they increase slightly in December and March.
The limited hours of daylight in Tromso in December and January are ideal for aurora chasing but less than perfect if you’d prefer to see and do a lot during the day. If that’s the case for you, February or March, which benefit from many more daylight hours, would be better options for a visit.
Hours of daylight
Hours of sunshine
Average low temp.
Average high temp.
Days with precipitation
Average precipitation (rain + snow)
|TROMSO WINTER WEATHER – TEMPERATURE & DAYLIGHT|
*In December and January the fjords are full of whales but the few hours of light make it difficult to see them.
Tromso winter packing list
As you may have guessed, warm clothing (think plenty of wool!) and layers are key for braving the Tromso winter temperatures. Some items you should pack for your Tromso winter visit are:
- A hat, gloves, and scarf.
- Long underwear and wool socks – the perfect layering elements.
- Wool sweaters.
- A parka.
- Warm and sturdy hiking boots.
- Crampons for snowy or icy hiking trails.
- Skiing/snowboarding gear.
- A camera for capturing all of your exciting escapades.
Now that you have all the tips and tricks to plan your visit to Tromso, you’ll be able to appreciate this Norwegian city for the winter wonderland that it is. Don’t let the limited daylight hours and icy Tromso winter temperatures deter you; Tromso in winter is full of charm and things to do.
Before you go, remember to download this map of Tromso so you can find your way around the city.
Enjoy your wintry adventure in Tromso!