Tromso, Norway is the most Northern City in the Arctic. Before booking our family trip, I'm going to admit that I had never heard of such a place. Our main goal was to see the Norther Lights in Norway, but where that was going to be... a little researching needed to be done on my part. After a little googling, it's easy to see that Tromso, pronounced Tromssa, is one of the best places to see the Auroa Borrealis because of it's location! So boom. Done. Let's go to Tromso. We didn't need much convincing. Being that it was an island, and pretty isolated, was another plus. We like islands, and we like exploring "off the beaten path".
We took off to Tromso a few days after Christmas, which means there is absolutely no sunlight. Their polar nights last from about November 27 through January 15. It's not a complete blackout, but there are only 5 or so hours of illumination throughout the day (0930 -1400). It's like dusk most of the time with a beautiful blue that fills the atmosphere, and when the weather is really favorable you can see breathtaking hues of sunset in the sky. If you've never experienced the polar nights, I definitely suggest you book a trip during the winter! It's an experience and the lack of sunlight does not keep these people indoors.
What to Wear?!
Traveling in the winter... in the Arctic... calls for some major winter clothes. Being from Hawaii, where we have NO changing seasons and are tropical year round, I rely on Pinterest, Amazon, and Google for reviews, and in this case, winter clothing. For our boys I went with the Obermeyer Boys Turoa Suit, which has kept them nice and toasty without worry of them being cold! The great thing about this suit is that it's a one piece which keeps out the snow and cold draughts! It also extends a few inches so they won't out grow it for at least another year or two! They've used it all winter and can last a good 4-5 hours of outdoor play until their faces start to freeze over. The real test was riding the Huskies in the pouring snow and sleet. These suits withstood the water and the cold 100%! My husband and I had to use the winter proof suits the tour provided and we were still cold! They also had on Sorrel Children's Commander Snow Boots, which are amazing in the snow and cold! With good socks - feet do not get cold and definitely don't get wet!
For adults: Good winter proof boots are a MUST. There was snow, melted snow, rain, mud, puddles, etc! I would suggest water proof boots that will keep your feet warm.
Also pants made for snow are kind of also worth it. Many of the tours provide snow suits (if you're doing a winter adventure type tour), but just walking around the town in the elements (snow, rain, and wind) my snow pants kept me super warm! I wasn't uncomfortable at all when everyone else in our group were literally freezing wearing jeans.
As far a jackets go - I would probably recommend a winter proof one. Just as long as you have a good outer jacket that resists wind and water - you'll be good to go (with layers inside of course).
Lastly, you can't go wrong with a beanie, scarf, and most importantly gloves! Whew! Dressing for winter is a pain, but fun when you have the right articles! =)
I like to book a lot our family adventures on Viator, which is a Trip Advisor company. They have an app and a website that allows you to look at hundreds of activities in 450 destinations worldwide! I LOVE Viator because it's legit (a Trip Advisor Company), they have 24/7 support with a live person, and you can book basically anything. We've experienced the Colosseum, Vatican, Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, walking tours and museums in Berlin, the Northern Lights Safari, Fjords, sledding with Huskies and more! Booking through Viator also alleviates the stress of looking at dozens of websites, tour companies, and always has the lowest prices available with many different options. Check out their link here-------> www.viator.com or download their app in the app store. Here's a quick review of the tours we went on.
Like I said earlier we booked all 3 tours with Viator.
1. Northern Lights Chasing Small Group Tour with Polar Adventures.
We like small groups because we enjoy the small group setting. We like to hear and learn from the tour guide and we feel it's just easier with kids. The tour starts at 7 and ends indefinitely. They vow to drive all the way to the Finnish border to chase the lights - and they do! They drove us 2.5 hrs (one way) near Finland because the weather was not favorable in Tromso to see the lights. The tour guides are very passionate about seeing the lights and even more passionate about sharing them with people from all over the world! With expert and professional Northern Lights weather forecasters we were able to catch about 30 mins of this breath taking natural phenomena. On top of getting you to the lights, the tour provided a bunch of tripods and individually helped us with what camera settings to use. They also handed out hot chocolate, fruits, cookies, and sandwiches! It was a long night, as in we got back to our hotel at 2:30 am, but more than worth it, because duh, we got to see the Aurora Borrealis!
2. Fjord Excursion Including Mountain and Sea Arctic Scenery from Tromso with Polar Adventures.
I had always thought I would view the famous Fjords of Norway on a boat, but after doing some research and reading reviews, I found that people really enjoyed viewing them roadside and stopping at all the different lookouts. After thinking about it for a little while we decided to go with this route because we like to get out, walk around, and take pictures, which we wouldn't get to do when on a ferry... and you still get to see the same thing! It was also freezing and I figured we wouldn't stand out on the deck the entire time and would probably seek refuge in the warm indoors of the boat. So Yes! This tour was winnahs. We saw Orca's, humpbacks, and eagles from the shore! They drove us to this beautiful beach where we saw people braving the arctic temps and surfing, then to harbor where local farmer's were drying legs of lamb and fresh caught cod! So many things we wouldn't have experienced if we were on a ferry. I would still like to take a ferry ride and see the Fjords, but maybe in the summer and on the Geirangerfjorden.
3. Husky Sledding Ride Including Campfire Lunch with the Tromso Villmarkssenter (Tromso Wilderness Center).
This was, hands down, a tour that everyone should book. These dogs are amazing and are treated with the utmost love and care. We were fortunate enough to have met the owner of the Wilderness Center and Boss Lady of all the dogs, Tove Sorenson. We were even luckier that she was our musher on the excursion along with her personal race dogs doing the pulling! She is a local of Tromso and her family has been there and dog sledding for generations. She trains with her son and has done Europe's longest dog sledding race 15 times and the World's longest dog sledding race in Alaska 1 time. What accomplishments! And no no.. there are no whips involved... she directs them by calling out different commands, in which they all understand. These dogs are smart! We got to meet them, play with them, ride the sled, and at then end were served a delicious Reindeer Soup! They even provided waterproof snowsuits and boots to ensure everyone would be warm and enjoy the trip.
Would we go again?!
YES, YES, AND YES! Everyone was so nice in Tromso. It is a beautiful Island with extraordinary sights, wildlife, and things to do. It's unique and a must visit on everyone's Bucket List.
Happy Traveling All!