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      our holidays > Winter Snow Breaks > Norway > Norway's Arctic Islands

Norway's Arctic Islands

Lofoten, Senja & Tromsø
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Dr M Green  Consett March 2019

This was certainly a trip to remember. We did the wildlife boat trip (pre-booked) from the Svolvaer on a beautiful clear day; it was superb but the arctic suits were welcome in the subzero conditions. We were glad we didn't go on the alternative faster trip by RIB: it would have prevented photography and appreciating the views. The aurora were active that night so we booked at short notice (with difficulty as it was nearly fully booked) on the aurora trip from the Rorbuer and saw a great display. In Hamn it snowed most of the time, but we did get out on the daytime Snowshoeing trip which was great fun (and not difficult). Tromso turned out to be a more interesting city than some previous reviewers have suggested. Our room was at the rear with a poor view: an upgrade to a front room would be worthwhile. We had a good meal at Fiskekompaniet. The weather was clear (though sub-zero), so instead of paying for another organised trip we walked over the bridge to the cablecar for a dusk ascent. We had sunset views over the city, a snack in the very busy cafe, and then admired the aurora arcing across overhead. 

We were pleased we had taken padded jackets and thick gloves for the winter conditions. Boots with good grip are also essential as even in Tromso the pavements and roads are covered in hard-packed snow.

Dr S Whittles  Cirencester February 2019

We had a amazing time. We loved the variety of the different locations. All the hotels were excellent.

It was difficult to choose which activities to do but were very pleased with our choices and were lucky with the weather. We saw the Northern Lights on 5 nights of the holiday. The evening we arrived on Svolvaer we had a good display just by walking down the road towards the fish factory. We found our Northern Lights trip with Jann very useful. On Senja you can just walk up to the lighthouse. The best display we saw was when we went with Wandering Owl from Tromso. It was a long drive to Finland and very cold but worth it. Another highlight was snowshoeing in Senja where we did the longer excursion. Amazing climbing up a mountain in the sunshine just us and our guide and a few reindeer for miles around. Dog sledding near Tromsø and the Lofoten wildlife safari were also great fun.

Dr S Cousins  Tunbridge Wells January 2019

Very enjoyable and smooth-running trip as an introduction to Norway. A little more information on excursions available, with prices, would help with budgeting, as the trip would probably not be worth doing without booking at least three of them. Would have preferred an extra day in the islands and less time in Tromso, given that the flight home is late.

Maybe also make the point strongly that it is essential to book in advance for any of the better Tromso restaurants. Had we not done so we would have been very disappointed. We loved Mathallen there, in addition to your recommendations.

Anon   February 2018

It wasn't our kind of holiday so it probably isn't fair to comment.  The war museum in Svolvaer was fantastic for such a small town and charmingly chaotic.

Miss J Roe  Aylesford February 2018

It's winter, it's Norway, it's cold so get your layers on and get out to explore! Apart from our great accommodation & lovely meals throughout:- in Svolvaer we tried snowshoeing for the 1st time with LofotenAktiv - our guide Elizabeth was super & what a way to see the local scenery from a vantage point, make sure you have hot chocolate & cake at Bacalao(all the locals go here so that is a good sign), get a place on the Winter Lofoten Nature Safari to spot the white tailed sea eagles and enjoy the homemade fish soup which is included for lunch. Try to keep your cabin at Svinoya rorbuer as the Hurtigruten does not leave until 10pm. We saw the Northern Lights from the Hurtigruten deck.

The views from the apartments at Hamn i Senja are amazing and go upto the lighthouse one evening, we did and saw the Northern Lights for a second time. We ventured out on the Wildlife safari complete with flotation suit just incase we fell overboard, saw seals and eagles. We had pre booked for the Northern Lights photo tour combined with the quick introduction photo course. The introduction was great at helping you set up your camera & a tripod was included, Eva the guide was so passionate about the Aurora Borealis and knew some great spots to stop. Lucky for us we saw the best display ever, what more could you ask for!

On arrival in Tromso we did upgrade our accommodation at Hotel With to a room at the front of the hotel overlooking the harbour & the Arctic cathedral. The coffee & waffles at 3pm are a nice idea, you soon learn how to use the waffle machine. We took a trip up the cable car to enjoy the views across Tromso. The light evening meal was very substantial. Next morning we took the trip with Tromso Arctic Reindeer Experience with Sami guides to try out reindeer sledding, feeding the reindeer, having reindeer stew for lunch (vegetarian option available)and finishing off learning some of the Sami culture & history. We had planned to go on the Northern Lights trip in the evening with Daniel from Flexitours but was cancelled due to bad weather, this was disappointing but we had seen them for three nights. After all this fun we had to return home to the chaos of snow in the UK  

Mrs B Workman  USA February 2018

An absolutely beautiful country. So different from our normal winter vacations. Loved the soft lighting during the day. Perfect for avid photographers. We enjoyed the variety of experiences and settings. The Northern Lights danced almost every night. The extensive ice on the roads, sidewalks and trails made it a little treacherous to do everything we had planned. Once engaged, the people were friendly and helpful. This was our first trip with Inntravel. We were so impressed with how everything flowed. It was so relaxing not to worry about all the details. I have already started looking for our next vacation with Inntravel.

Mr D Steele  Horsham February 2018

A huge WOW! We had an amazing time, a lot of firsts for both of us - first time above the Arcitc Circle; Snowshoing Expedition; Wildlife Safari; Northern Lights tour (and we saw them three times, which was incredible!!!!); Dog sledding in the Lyden Alps to the East of Tromso, was truely fantastic... Every aspect of our time in Norway was a wonderful experience, the local people were incredibly freindly and helpful, all of the accommodation was superb, the food really nice, the scenery, well... the time on board the ships also great... we would recomend this to everyone...

Mr R Sales  Ashbourne January 2018

Highlights: watching the amazing Northern lights display at Svolvaer and Hamn i Senja and the moon eclipse at Hamn i Senja

Mrs H Thorpe  Hyde January 2018

This was an excellent holiday allowing a taster of the beautiful scenery in the Lofotens and on Senja in particular.  Our personal highlights were:

- The RIB boat trip from Svolvaer to see the Sea Eagles. Even though there was too much ice for the boat to get into the Trollfjord none of us minded as the rest of the trip was excellent with wonderful views from the boat and the experiences with the Sea Eagles taking the fish from right in front of you - you could not have been closer to them.

- Hamn i Senja - the views from your apartment alone are wonderful. The staff were really friendly and made both of the trips we booked really enjoyable. It is quite a surreal place as it feels a bit like you have gone to the end of the world. We were also lucky enough to see a Golden Eagle very close to us on our snowshoe walk.

- The sunset over Tromso on our last night, which went on for about two hours and gave us time to go up the cable car to enjoy it from the mountain. 

- Seeing the Northern lights on most nights of our holiday, with a particularly good display on our Snowshoe trek in Hamn i Senja where we were lucky enough to see pinks and whites as well as green colours as the lights danced overhead.

Our Personal tips would be:

- Book your activities for Hamn i Senja in advance. The Northern Lights Snowshoe trip and the early boat trip were both fully booked by the day we arrived. Luckily we had already booked for the snowshoe trip.

- We were disappointed by the Polaria museum in Tromso and didn't feel that it was value for money. We could have spent more time in the Polar museum instead which is very interesting and has a lot of information to read and absorb.

- If you have a clear sky and you are there at the right time of year it is definitely worth timing your trip up the cable car in Tromso for the sunset so you see the views in daylight and then as the sun sets.

- If the Aurora is strong enough you can see it from where there are lights, although you may only pick up the colours with your camera and not the naked eye. We had a good display our first night in Svolvaer but instead of just enjoying it we were trying to get away from lights as we thought we would see it better then. The next night we paid for the light hunting trip which took us to dark skies but it turns out the display had been better the first night as the activity was stronger!

Mrs CH Irving  Oxford March 2017

Best memories - sea eagles diving for fish behind our boat, a walk in the mountains in the sun and snow, the two Hurtigruten journeys, the incredible view of sea birds and seals from our apartment in Hamn.

Tips - make sure that you book trips for your time in Tromso in advance. Nothing else to do there for more than a couple of hours! Try and extend your room timings at Svinoyer - it's a long wait for the taxi if your trip is cancelled.

No need to collect bags at Oslo going out.

Miss C Smith  Maidenhead March 2017

We absolutely loved our trip! The selection of places was great as they all had their individual charms. The journeys on the Hurtigruten were really fun and we are glad that we were on the 1964 one (despite the tiny cabin!) and the modern one to see the differences between them. The amount of time in each place was good although we could have stayed for much longer in general as we had such a great time! The people we met in all the places were lovely and so too were the guides for snow-shoeing , etc. We particularly loved Dan in Tromso who drove us to the border with Finland to see the Aurora. He was so knowledgable and had prepared lots of food and drinks and lit a fire for us to keep warm! Overall it was fantastic and we would return tomorrow!

Mr T Butler  Newark February 2017

We had 7 days of almost total sunshine and the sea was calm. We saw the aurora for 2 nights running from the comfort of our Hamn in Senja cabin. The Hurtigruten and Wideroe experiences were awesome. A totally phenomenal experience.

Mrs E Kennedy  Haslemere February 2017

A great way to get a taster of this wonderful part of Norway. Highly recommend sea eagle boat trip, horse riding and informative northern lights trip with Jann in Svolvaer.

Staff at Hamn are great and very keen to help you enjoy your stay, just not able to fit in all activities in time frame! Restaurants at both these locations served very good set menus. Longer in Lofoten and Senja would be good but then Tromso is worth a visit also. Hotel "With" is a good location and we did have a harbour view although the window was quite narrow and the room poorly lit. Food here is pretty average but included. We enjoyed Aunegarden for lunch and had an excellent, if a bit expensive, evening meal at Fiskekompaniet (a lovely way to end our adventure).

Mrs M Hood  Blandford Forum February 2017

We saw the Northern Lights five nights in a row, in spectacular fashion. We had a very good introductory talk from Jann Engstad in Svolvar on our second night, followed by five hours of quite spectacular lights. They got better and better for the next four nights. We had a very good RIB safari to see Sea Eagles at Svolvar, up to Trollfjord. At Hamn we did several interesting walks and an enjoyable wildlife safari. The whales had left some time ago, but there was quite a bit of other bird and animal like to see.

Tromso was wet and warm, and not conducive to expeditions. We thought that more indications for opportunities in Tromso would be welcome. We even thought that the time in Tromso is excessive, and perhaps could be allocated to a place or places more in line with the preferences of Inntravellers.     

Mrs H Davies  Selby February 2017

Avoid Tromso. Personal highlight was Hamn i Senja. The hotel and staff were excellent and the wildlife safari tour was also very good and unusually for Norway a hot drink and biscuits were included. The scenery on the Lofotens and Senja was stunningingly beautiful.

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