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Norway's Arctic Islands

Lofoten, Senja & Tromsø
Holiday information
Nights: 7
Accommodation: 1 rorbu cabin; 1 night on board ship; 1 renovated fishing village; 1 hotel
Meals: 7 breakfasts, 4 dinners, 2 lunches
Start: Sun-Fri
Starting point:

You begin with two nights on Austvågøya at the Svinøya Rorbuer in Svolvær, the small capital of the Lofoten Islands.

Day 1

Surrounded by jagged peaks glistening under a covering of pristine snow, Svolvær makes a spectacular place to start your winter island odyssey. You could don a pair of snowshoes to explore the hills or take a boat trip to see the breathtaking grandeur of the almost mythical Trollfjord, a narrow, sheer-sided fjord that is only just wide enough to allow the passage of larger ships. On the way, keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed sea eagles swooping down to take fish from the icy waters, dolphins and porpoises leaping ahead of the bow waves of the ship, and even whales and pods of orca sweeping majestically by. At night, you can join a guided hike in search of the Northern Lights – keep your fingers crossed for a sighting! (Pay locally in all cases.)

Day 2

As the overnight coastal steamer does not depart until 2200, you have all day to explore further and to relax over dinner in Svolvær before heading for the harbour. Once settled in your cabin, the coastal steamer, one of Hurtigruten’s distinctive red and white fleet, plies its way north on what is indubitably one of the world’s great shipping routes, steaming between the mountainous islands that characterise northern Norway’s fissured coastline.

Day 3

After a night on board – during which you may spot the Northern Lights from the deck – you arrive in Finnsnes on the mainland, where you disembark for the short transfer (0h30) through the dramatic landscapes of the island of Senja to reach the former fishing hamlet of Hamn i Senja, where you stay for two nights. You now have the rest of the day to relax amid these sublime surroundings and to enjoy dinner in the excellent onsite restaurant, before heading to the nearby restored lighthouse, perhaps, to sit back with a coffee and waffles (pay locally) and, with a bit of luck, the Aurora Borealis will entertain you with a thrilling light display.

Day 4

There are numerous outdoor activities to try should you wish to discover this idyllic winter wonderland from different perspectives. To explore your immediate area, hire snowshoes for a guided hike into the nearby coastal pine forests and mountains which rewards with spectacular views across this alluring island. Alternatively, you can take to the water and try ocean body rafting (floating in the current in an insulated survival suit). Another experience not to be missed – and never forgotten – is a wildlife boat safari out into the ice cold waters off Senja which are home to white-tailed sea eagles and dolphins. (Pay locally in all cases.)

Day 5

Tearing yourselves away, you board the Hurtigruten again for the 3-hour journey north to the beautiful island city of Tromsø, ‘Gateway to the Arctic’, arriving in the early afternoon. There's time to enjoy a wander round the city's historic streets before dinner. Your accommodation for the last two nights of the holiday is the waterfront Hotel With.

Day 6

Nestling on an island against a mountain backdrop, Tromsø is unusual in that its old, brightly painted wooden buildings survived WW2. It also boasts the world’s most northerly brewery and university, as well as not one, but two cathedrals: the Domkirke, with its tall spire, and the 20th-century Arctic Cathedral, an iconic structure which resembles an iceberg. There are several small but fascinating museums, too, including the Polar Museum, which is well worth a visit, and the Northern Lights Observatory, all within easy walking distance of your hotel.

To make your time here all the more special, we recommend that you take full advantage of the wide range of winter activities that can be arranged and paid for locally. For a real thrill, join a dog-sledding excursion across the tundra. For something more sedate, head out on snowshoes or cross-country skis, try your hand at ice-fishing, join a reindeer safari into the forest or take a leisurely horse-drawn sleigh ride round the city. And if it's the Northern Lights you wish to see, join our organised excursion into the night – see panel on right.

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Local Map
Seek out the Northern Lights
While in Tromsø, we thoroughly recommend that you pre-book our organised Northern Lights Excursion. Venture out of the city on an atmospheric six-to-eight-hour excursion in search of the Northern Lights. They are an elusive and completely unpredictable phenomenon, but this makes the experience all the more exciting if you do get to see them. Your experienced and enthusiastic local guide will drive you to where the prevailing conditions for the aurora are most promising – this can sometimes lead you as far as the border with Finland – where, with luck, you can marvel at this colourful miracle of nature.