Tromso & beyond: Six fantastic alternatives in Arctic Norway

In recent years, Tromso’s status as one of Scandinavia’s top winter travel destinations has soared to extraordinary heights, in no small part down to its reputation as a Northern Lights hotspot. This trend shows no signs of slowing down, either, with increasingly regular direct flights from the UK making it more accessible than ever. While its appeal undoubtedly remains strong, offering a rare blend of urban sophistication and epic outdoor pursuits, Tromso is by no means the only place to experience the myriad thrills of the Norwegian Arctic. Below, we take a look at a range of fantastic, lesser-visited alternatives in Norway’s far north, some of which can easily be combined with a trip to Tromso.

1. Alta

Sorrisniva Arctic Wilderness Lodge, Alta

Sorrisniva Arctic Wilderness Resort, Alta

Nestled at the head of a fjord around 170 kilometres northeast of Tromso, Alta is the most populous urban centre in Finnmark, Norway’s northernmost county. At 70°N, it lies directly beneath the auroral oval and is therefore one of the most reliable places in Norway to see the Northern Lights. In fact, the world’s first Northern Lights observatory was built here in 1899, while Alta’s cathedral is named after the Northern Lights. As well as classic winter activities such as husky sledding and snowmobiling, you can also visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Alta Museum, which houses a vast collection of rock carvings providing a fascinating window into the lives of prehistoric hunter-gatherers, as far back as 7,000 years ago. A stay at the riverside Sorrisniva – part luxury wilderness lodge, part igloo hotel – is a magical experience.

Browse Arctic Norway holidays

2. Kirkenes

An ice-carved room in the Snowhotel Kirkenes

Snowhotel Kirkenes

Fjords, mountains, lakes and forests form the rugged backyard of Kirkenes, a small town in Norway’s northeast corner on the edge of the Barents Sea. Although most often visited rather briefly as the final frontier (or starting point) of famous Norwegian coastal cruises, there’s ample reason to spend a little longer. The Snowhotel, open 365 days a year, is a remarkable architectural feat, featuring individually-carved rooms, an ice bar and a restaurant serving seasonal Arctic dishes. King crab safaris are also a big deal here, along with husky sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing. From the middle of November to the middle of January, Kirkenes experiences Polar Night, as the sun doesn’t rise for two months, while the summer months bring perpetual daylight and the Midnight Sun.

Browse ice & snow hotel holidays

3. Lyngen Alps

The Northern Lights dancing over Lyngen Lodge in Norway

Northern Lights at Lyngen Lodge

This 90-kilometre chain of snow-capped, steep-sided mountains plunging into icy fjords is home to some of the most dramatic scenery and best ski slopes in Northern Norway. Its name, Lyngen, derives from the Old Norse term for ‘peaceful’ or ‘quiet’, which is exactly what you’ll find in abundance in this region. If you’re looking to get away from it all and stay somewhere truly remote, Lyngen Lodge, on the shores of the Lyngen fjord, is just the place. This turf-roofed, pine wood lodge strikes a fine balance between rustic and luxurious, priding itself on culinary excellence, cosy and authentic accommodation, and nature-based activities ranging from whale watching and salmon fishing to Northern Lights chasing and glacier hiking.

Browse Northern Lights holidays

4. Malangen

Reindeer feeding at Malangen Resort in Norway

Reindeer at Malangen Resort

The southern cities of Bergen and Stavanger may be more renowned as gateways to the Norwegian fjords, but there are plenty of awe-inspiring ones in Northern Norway as well. Around an hour’s drive south of Tromso, the Malangen fjord stretches 60 kilometres from the village of Nordfjordboten out to Hekkingen Lighthouse, slicing between the islands of Senja and Kvaloya. In summer, it’s a paradise for mountain hiking, cycling, kayaking and wild swimming, while in winter, all the usual snow-based activities are available. With minimal light pollution, it’s also an excellent place for Northern Lights viewing. A stay at Malangen Resort is highly recommended, with modern rooms and traditional fishermen's cabins to choose from, along with a wilderness camp, a spa and a restaurant specialising in Norwegian Arctic cuisine.

Browse Scandinavian lodge holidays

5. Svolvaer

Northern Lights over Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands

Svolvaer, Lofoten Islands

The razor-sharp peaks of the Lofoten Islands, rising out of the Norwegian Sea like gnarled granite teeth, are among the most impressive sights in Arctic Norway. As such, the archipelago is by no means off the beaten track anymore, particularly during the summer months when the tourist season reaches its crescendo. Visitor numbers dwindle in autumn and in winter, though, presenting a quieter window of opportunity to discover the Lofoten Islands, either as part of a cruise or for a longer stay. Basing yourself in the capital, Svolvaer, is a smart choice, allowing you to take advantage of the plentiful choice of restaurants, accommodation and excursions, such as kayaking expeditions, RIB boat safaris, horse riding and eagle safaris.

Browse Lofoten Islands holidays

6. Longyearbyen

Snowy scenery in Longyearybyen, Svalbard

Longyearbyen, Svalbard

At 78°N, Longyearbyen is the world’s northernmost settlement with a population greater than 1,000, lying roughly half-way between the northern tip of mainland Norway and the North Pole. Although just a 90-minute flight from Tromso, it feels like another world entirely. The landscapes of Svalbard are considerably more barren, from distinctive, flat-topped mountains with serrated edges to vast swathes of uninhabited, frozen tundra where polar bears roam wild. For somewhere so remote, Longyearbyen has a surprisingly extensive selection of hotels, shops, restaurants and bars, including the world’s northernmost brewery. Snowmobiling, husky sledding and ice caving trips will introduce you to breathtaking polar landscapes, where signs of human civilisation are few and far between. 

Browse Svalbard holidays

Related holidays

Lofoten Aurora Break

Lofoten Aurora Break

4 day tailor-made break

» From £1,295 per person incl. flights