12 days Norway Arctic Circle Winter Itinerary

This itinerary is created specifically if you are travelling in winter and want to see northern light. You can see Northern light from September to end March in Tromso and Lofoten but if you want to see both northern light and snow you will need to go in winter. Winter in Norway is magical. I have seen pictures of Norway especially Lofoten in all season and they are all beautiful as each season has its own charm. However for someone like me who live all her life in tropical country with only 2 season, seeing snowy landscape is a mesmerizing beautiful experience.

When to Go

We do not recommend to travel in December or January because you will have little day light in the arctic circle in these 2 months and it will be extremely cold especially in January. Self driving in Lofoten can be challenging also. Our favourite months to travel is from mid Feb to end March for 2 reason:
1. We can still see snowy landscape, the temperature in general is milder averaging from -5 to 5C (depend how close you are to the Arctic) and the day is longer (the sun sets at 6.30pm in March)
2. Children usually get their short term break in March. This 12 days itinerary is perfect if you’re travelling with your kids

You can still expect a lot of snow during this time in Lofoten and Tromso especially in Feb. It may not snow a lot by mid March but you will still see snow landscape everywhere.

How to Dress

Bear in my mind that March is still winter in Norway and other Scandinavian countries. So temperature will still be below 5 Celcius except in Bergen where it may hover between 8-10 Celcius.

You need to dress in layers and follow these layering rules:

Base Layers. These are the layer of clothing closest to your skin, and they help regulate your temperature. They’re designed to keep heat in while wicking sweat away from your skin to keep you comfortable and warm when you’re switching between hot indoor spaces and cold outside climates, or doing outdoor winter activities. Base layers come in both tops and bottoms, and are meant to be fitted close to your skin. The common material for base layers are merino wool, silk, synthetic (some sort of polyester or polyester blend) and bamboo. The warmest base layer is usually merino wool, but if your skin is sensitive to wool, go for synthetic blend.

Mid Layers. It mean what you wear in between base layer and outer layer. So you can wear 1 or 2 tops depending on how cold it is outside and whether they can still fit in nicely after you put on your outer layer. I used 2 tops when we went hunting for northern light. Most likely you won’t need to shop for this as you will already have them in your wardrobe. My favourite fabrics for mid layers are merino wool, lightweight wool, cashmere and fleece. Your pants come as mid layer. Wear fleece lined pants and thermal panst underneath.

Outer Layers. Having the right outer layer helps to protect you from the harsh elements like rain, wind, and snow. You need to get Insulated jacket/shell which is windproof, waterproof and can stand below zero Celcius. With the proper layers worn underneath, this top-layer jacket keeps the wind from robbing you of heat. Remember that all of your layers should be breathable for the layering system to work. Ditch your fancy coat and get a decent winter down jacket. I got mine from Columbia which can stand below zero Celcius with its omni heat property. Other brands you can browse: North Face and 66 North.

Other accessories you need:

Sturdy waterproof hiking boots with a good grip that can keep you warm and comfortable for long walking. Remember that you are going to walk outdoors on snowy and icy ground so your boots have to be comfortable instead of nice looking only. Got mine from Columbia also. Decathlon also has nice selections for more affordable price.

Wool thick socks – bring several. I double my wool socks when we went for ice cave tour and northern light tour

Spike/Cleats – Walking on ice can be very slippery and having spike/cleats on your shoes are super helpful and safe too. If you can’t buy it online you can get them in supermarket. The spike/cleat I mention here is a simple one but can save you from tripping as during winter the footpath can be very slippery.

Scarves from wool or cashmere

Wool knit hats or ear muff to cover your ears as they can cold easily

Wool or waterproof Gloves – get the one with a tip for touch screen phone

Hot hands/packs – These are life saviors when we were chasing northern light as we had to stand outdoor for a long period of time. You can buy this in Norway too. But I got mine from online marketplace

The Itinerary

Day 0: Fly to Oslo. We always prefer night flight when going to Europe so we can sleep during the flight and land in our destination the next day.

Day 1: Land in Oslo and spend one day to explore Oslo (Read here). Either stay in airport Hotel in Oslo (Radisson Blu or Park Inn Hotel) or stay at Hotel within walking distance from Oslo main train station.

Day 2: Fly to Lofoten (Leknes airport).
Lofoten has 3 airports; Leknes and Svolvaer which is located in central Lofoten and they are 1hour+ away by car. The other airport is Harstad/Narvik airport in Evenes. Harstad/Narvik airport has direct flight from Oslo but it is not exactly in Lofoten and it is 3.5 hour away by car from Leknes.
If you fly into Leknes or Svolvaer from Oslo, you will need to transit in Bodo and the flight is usually only once a day. From Bodo you will change into a small propeller plane to fly you to Leknes or Svolvaer and the journey time is less than 30 minutes. You can reach Lofoten by ferry from Bodo and travel by train from Oslo to Bodo. But if you want to save time, flying is the best option. Read here for more options on reaching Lofoten.
Pick up your rental car from the airport and drive to your accommodation. Your adventure in Lofoten starts as you drive to your accommodation and enjoy the beautiful landscape as you drive. Stay in one of the Rorbuer in Reine, Hamnoy or Sakrisoy. There is a lot to choose from and they come in various sizes from 1 bedroom to 3 bedrooms. Our favourite is Eliasen Rorbuer in Hamnoy, one hour drive from Leknes airport. Stop by to stock up on grocery at Rema 1000 or Extra supermarket. If you arrive on Sunday, only Rema 1000 is opened with limited options and you may have to prepare your own dinner as Restaurants are closed on Sunday and Monday.
It will be late afternoon when you settle in to your accommodation. Stroll around your surrounding and when it gets dark check the sky from time to time as you may get lucky and northern light decided to present herself to you. You can download Aurora forecast app to see if there is a high possibility for sighting at your location.

Day 3: Road trip to the south and visit A, Reine and Sakrisoy.

Day 4: Road Trip to Ramberg beach, Nusfjord, Haukland beach, Uttakleiv beach and Vikten beach

Day 5: Check out from your accommodation in the south and drive to the North. Visit Lofotr Viking museum and Henningsvaer village and stay the night in Svolvaer. If you have more than 10 days, you can spend 1-2 days in Lofoten. If you fancy whale watching you can drive up to Andanes and take whale watching tour with Whale Safari. They run boat trip twice in winter.

Day 6: Fly out from Svolvaer to Tromso.
Stay in Tromso center so you can walk to explore Tromso museum and harbour and take a bus to see Tromso Cathedral and climb the Fjellheisen Cable Car. If the sky is clear you can try Northern Light sighting from Fjellheisen Cable Car or just walk to the harbour. Check here on what to do in Tromso.

Day 7: Husky Sledding in the morning and take the Northern light tour (usually starts around 6pm).

Day 8: You can either take the Fjord and landscape tour on the road or if you want to try your luck with whale sighting take the Fjord tour on a boat. Tour usually finish around 2 or 3pm and you can stroll around Tromso afterward.

Day 9: Fly to Bergen (2 hours direct flight). Stay in Bergen center (Near fish market or train station) for easy access. From Bergen airport you can take the light rail (Bybanen) or Fly to Get Bus.
Walk to Bergen Fortress, Bryggen, take the cable car in Floibanen and stroll the fish market area and have your dinner nearby. If you have more than 10 days you can add 1 extra day in Bergen. Check here what to do in Bergen.

Day 10: Take the classic DIY Norway in a nutshell trip from Bergen to Oslo. In this trip you will take the cruise to Naerofjord from Gudvangen to Flam and follow by Flamsbana train to Myrdal. From Myrdal you will take the train to Oslo. If you’re carrying large suitcases you can use the transfer service so you don’t need to carry them with you along the journey. Stay the night in Oslo, either at the airport hotel or near the train station.
Alternatively from Myrdal you can go back to Bergen by train and fly out from Bergen the next day.

Day 11: Fly from Oslo back to home country

Day 12: Arrive in home country

You can easily modify this 10 days itinerary and make it 15 days by adding 2 more days in Lofoten and 1 more day in Bergen. If this is your first time to Norway read our article here. I hope this itinerary is useful and you get to see northern light on your trip!

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