This fantastic and comprehensive, guided exploration of Northern Norway and Finland is a true Winter experience. From Tromso it moves on to Alta, then Kirkenes, Saariselka, Kemi and Rovaniemi. The highlights are Tromso city tour including the Arctic Cathedral, a visit to the award-winning Alta Museum and Northern Lights Cathedral, spend two nights in a Glass Igloo at the Arctic Snow Hotel, reindeer farm visit with sled ride, Husky farm visit with sled ride, a visit to Rovaniemi and the delightful Santa Claus Village, a wonderful day on the Sampo Icebreaker cruise with ice swimming and (weather permitting) a visit to Kemi Snow Castle. Plus you can add some great optional activities.
On arrival in Tromso take the airport coach to your hotel. Time at leisure - this university town has a lively atmosphere and friendly locals. Perhaps visit the Polar Museum to learn about the role Tromsø has played in Arctic exploration, and MS Polstjerna, a well preserved sailing vessel from 1949. Or visit one of the several excellent art museums, or sample some local beer at Mack Brewery, the world's northernmost brewery. Overnight at Scandic Ishavshotel, Radisson Blu Tromso or similar. Tonight at 19:45hrs you can join an optional cable car ride up to Mount Storsteinen. After a short transfer from the hotel to the cable car station, you will board a gondola which will transport you to 421m above sea level. Enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromso and the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. If you are lucky, the Northern Lights may make an appearance!
Start today with a 3hr city sightseeing tour, where we learn about the nature and culture of northern Norway, and the indigenous Sami people. Next we travel around the island, passing Lake Prestvatn and crossing the bridge to the Arctic Cathedral, a masterpiece built by Jan Inge Hovig in 1965. It reflects northern Norwegian nature, culture and faith, and has a monumental stained-glass window. Afternoon at leisure. Or perhaps join an optional tour to the Polaria Museum and Tromso University Museum. The tour starts with a visit to the Arctic experience Polaria, where the co-dependency of sea and land life is both seen and felt. The next stop is at at the Arctic University Museum of Tromso which offers diverse and insightful exhibitions from northern culture, including everything from Norway’s oldest chewing gum to the northern lights and Vikings. Located in Tromsø, a city Nylund describes as The Port to the Arctic Ocean, the museum is a place for cutting-edge research in subjects ranging from mosquitos and Vikings to fossils, Polar exploration, and the indigenous Sami people. The museum offers three different attractions: Tromsø Museum, the Polar Museum and the Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden.
At 18:30hrs, we head out to the Aurora Camp, where over 300 friendly huskies are waiting to greet you. A visit to the puppy enclosure is also possible! Enjoy a traditional light Norwegian dinner in a cosy Gamme Hut and prepare to search for the Aurora, while a warm fire outside sets the mood and keeps you toasty. Late evening return to the hotel.
Travelling from Tromso to Alta sees stunning scenery and includes two ferry crossings with lunch en route. Sit back, relax and enjoy the views! On arrival in Alta, check-in at the Thon Hotel or similar, for two overnights. This evening is at your leisure. Tonight offers an optional horse-drawn sleigh ride at a nearby, country farm. Pulled along by a charming Norwegian Fjord horse, your sleigh glides through the forest and along Alta River, as you sit back, snuggled warmly in blankets. Along the way, stop for a light supper served around a warm fire. Maybe the Northern Lights will appear!
Today visit the award-winning Alta Museum, on an early settlement site dating back 11,000 years, with exhibitions on local culture and history. Northern Europe's largest and richest rock carving site has walkways around the 2,000-6,200 year old rock carvings, depicting the life of hunters and fishermen. After a guided tour of the museum we visit the Northern Lights Cathedral - an elegant, modern construction with architecture inspired by the Aurora. Tonight offers an optional visit to Sorrisniva Ice Hotel and Aurora search. Travel by bus into the countryside to the family owned Sorrisniva adventure facility, perfectly located to maximise your chances of seeing the magnificent Aurora. Experience the world's northernmost ice and snow hotel, built from the ground every year with different themes, while also enjoying its serenity and silence. Wander amongst handcrafted ice sculptures or perhaps visit the ice bar for a drink (not included). Later a knowledgeable local guide will take you to search for the Aurora. Learn more about the natural phenomenon as well as the local history of Alta. Your guide will also be happy to help you catch some beautiful images with your own camera.
Early departure by coach this morning as we head east to Kirkenes, through beautiful northern Lapland. Sit back and enjoy breathtaking nature and landscapes, with a stop along the way for lunch in Karasjok. Late afternoon arrival into Kirkenes and evening at leisure. Overnight at Thon Hotel Kirkenes or similar.
Morning at leisure. Or perhaps join an optional 3hr King Crab Safari. This giant of the sea, living in Kirkenes Fjord, can reach up to 2m across and weigh 15kg. Depending on weather/ice, this excursion might be by boat or snowmobile drawn sleigh (no snowmobile driving; passengers' sit in a sled drawn by the guide's snowmobile). Once the King Crab has been caught, transfer to a remote cabin, where it is cooked for a delicious lunch. Early afternoon we continue south to the centre of Sami world at Inari, the capital of Lapland, to visit the Sajos Sami Cultural Centre and Parliament. Set in the heart of Sapmi, in a unique natural landscape on the shore of Lake Inari, it serves as a centre for Sami self-governance, culture, education and know-how. Modern conference premises, facilities and technology go hand in hand with authentic, living, Sami culture. Continue on to tiny Saariselka village, the centre of Finland's winter sports. Your evening is at leisure. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Tunturi or similar.
Morning departure for Rovaniemi. Visit a traditional Sami reindeer farm and meet the farmers. Dressed in their colourful Sami clothing, they tell about the importance of reindeer in their culture. Learn how to throw a Suopunki (Sami lasso) before relaxing into a short reindeer-sleigh ride. As you move through the white landscape, the only sound you hear is the music of reindeer bells. Lunch is included at the farm.
This evening, you may like the optional Aurora Camp by Snowmobile adventure. Drive through a snow-covered forest wilderness and along a frozen river, to discover the phenomena of a Northern sky. In the theatre at the Aurora Borealis camp, enjoy afilm about the myths and facts of this amazing natural phenomenon. There is time at leisure to wander around the camp, take a brisk sleigh ride or simply recline by the fire in the snow observatory and admire the heavens above. With some luck, a clear sky will prevail and the Northern Lights will appear. A delicious reindeer burger is served before our return to the city. Overnight at Santa's Hotel Santa Claus (or similar).
Late morning departure and visit to the world-famous Santa Claus Village, built right on the Arctic Circle and home to Santa Claus. Stop by his busy post office where you can ask Santa to send a letter to your loved ones just before Christmas. Take a step into the magical world of Santa´s home and meet Santa himself. No words can describe the emotions of this fairy-tale-like moment. It is something you will always remember. An absolute must for any visit to Lapland. Time on your own for visiting the area and to enjoy a local lunch. In the early afternoon, continue to the banks of the Kemi-joki river to enjoy one of the highlights of the tour, one of the most idyllic Husky Farms in the region. The happy dogs will welcome you with their barks, while the head musher tells you all about the life of these hard working Arctic dogs. In pairs, you will enjoy a sled ride (one person driving, one person seated), along forest trails.
Then continue along winding roads to the Arctic Snow Hotel, for your magical experience where you will spend the next two nights in a Glass Igloo. Check-in and afternoon at leisure. Enjoy the warmth and comfort inside, while the elements surround you outside as you search for the elusive Northern Lights or millions of stars. Take an optional Snow Sauna and Outdoor Jacuzzi. The Snow Sauna has walls made of snow and ice, only the sauna benches are wood, making for an astonishing combination of thick steam within intimate snow walls. Afterwards, take a warm soothing soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi, as you admire the magical skies of Northern Lapland. Or perhaps take an optional upgrade to stay one night in a Snow Suite. Each year, the Snow Hotel is built anew, with local artists creating the ice sculptures that decorate the suites. All of them offer a unique Arctic experience, as you spend the night as the Sami once did... in an igloo. Sleeping in a special Arctic sleeping bag, on a mattress covering ice, you stay warm in the quiet, snow walls with an ambient temperature of 0 and -5°. Bathroom facilities are located nearby, in the hotel's warm section. This upgrade also includes a Sauna and Outdoor Jacuzzi session.
Travel south to Kemi where we visit the fabulous SnowCastle* where snow walls surround the biggest SnowCastle of its kind, in the world. Built entirely of snow and ice, it has a special snow slide and amazing sculptures. After that, we embark on the Sampo Icebreaker. Cruise on a remarkable vessel as it breaks through the ice in the northern Gulf of Bothnia. This experience includes a guided tour of the ship and a delicious meal, plus something very special - swimming in Europe's largest ice field. A guide is with you at all times, as you wearing a snug survival, floatation drysuit. You will stay dry as you slide into the water and float. Early evening return to the Arctic Snowhotel for your 2nd night. Tonight, join your fellow travellers for a Lappish farewell dinner prepared by the open fire in a wooden kota. After dinner, perhaps enjoy a drink in the Sky Bar.
Transfer to Rovaniemi Airport, where your arrangements conclude.
For a shorter 8 Day version of this tour, starting in Alta instead of Tromso, please refer to the itinerary below:-
Day 1 Alta Arrival
Day 2 Alta: Alta Museum & Arctic Cathedral
Day 3 Alta-Kirkenes
Day 4 Kirkenes-Saariselka: Sami Cultural Centre
Day 5 Saariselka-Rovaniemi: Sami Reindeer Farm Visit & Sleigh Ride
Day 6 Rovaniemi-Santa Claus Village-Sinetta: Husky Farm & Safari and 1st overnight in Glass Igloo
Day 7 Sinetta-Kemi*-Sinetta: Sampo Ice Breaker & Ice Floating and 2nd overnight in Glass Igloo
Day 8 Sinetta-Rovaniemi Departure
*Construction of the Snow Castle is weather dependent and may not be completed until mid to late January.
Maximum Group Size: 32 persons
All optional excursions must be pre-booked.