Tailormade tour Grand Arctic Norway tour Norway

15 nights/16 days

Trondheim • Bodø • Lofoten Islands • Senja • Alta • Karasjok • Kirkenes • Tromsø

This is a grand tour of Norway’s Arctic Circle by train, boat and car that takes you across the magical landscape of northern Norway and visits the spectacular Lofoten Islands. You begin the tour in historic Trondheim, cross the Arctic Circle by train, cross to the Lofoten Islands by ferry, drive to the far northern town of Kirkenes on the Barents Sea and take a cruise around the northern tip of Europe before finishing in the lively Arctic Capital of Tromsø.
Holiday price guide

Available from May to October subject to the opening period of the hotels, from £4,110 per person. £120 supplement per person for premium class on Nordland Railway

Luxury 15-night touring holiday of Norway's Arctic landscapes inlcuding the Lofoten Islands, Kirkenes and Tromso.


Trondheim • Bodø • Lofoten Islands • Senja • Alta • Karasjok • Kirkenes • Hurtigruten cruise • Tromsø

Day by day

This holiday starts with a flight from London to Trondheim, either direct or via a connection in Oslo. Check in to your hotel in Trondheim for two nights.

Trondheim lies on the southern shore of the Trondheimfjord and has played a significant role in Norwegian history. As the country’s first capital city, it was the site where Norwegian kings were crowned for over 700 years, specifically in the Nidaros Cathedral. We highly recommend taking a visit to this beautiful building, which is the world’s northernmost mediaeval cathedral and started construction in 1070. South of this is the striking Archbishop’s Palace Museum, which offers an insight into the 1000-year history of the cathedral and its diocese. You will also find here the Royal Regalia, including the 200-year old Crown of Norway. For a glimpse of the more rustic side of Norwegian life, a visit to the Trøndelag Folk museum is essential: dominated by the ruins of Sverresborg castle, this outdoor museum consists of eighty historic buildings giving information about folk culture as well as rural monuments and the Haltdalen stave church, which dates back 1170. Another picturesque area of the city is Bakklandet, a small neighbourhood of painted wooden warehouses home to galleries, cafes and restaurants.

After two nights in Trondheim you will board the direct Nordland Railway line service to Bodø. This 729 km railway line is Norway’s longest and presents huge variety in culture, climate and landscape. The journey starts by skirting around Trondheim Fjord, reaching the small town of Steinjker two hours later at the head of the longest arm of the fjord. From here you head into the hills. Be sure to notice the colourful station buildings at the small Norwegian towns as you pass by. Leaving the steel works town of Mo I Rana the train skirts the Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park, passing close by the Swedish border. Shortly after this you cross the Arctic Circle, before heading back towards the coast to reach the shores of Skjerstad Fjord. You continue along this spectacular natural beauty until you reach the station of Bodø, the final stop on the Norwegian railway system and your base for the next two nights.

The city of Bodø is an excellent base from which to explore some of Norway’s best scenery and natural attractions. One of its most well-known features is the Saltstraumen maelstrom, a small strait home to the world’s strongest tidal current. Here you can witness whirlpools bigger 10 metres with the water moving as fast as 40 km/h. Slightly further out of the city is Kjerringøoy, a small, rural community featuring beautiful alpine landscapes ranging from mountains to white sandy beaches. The Kjeringøy trading post is a museum offering a unique insight into the lives of the powerful local merchants and information about the fish trade of the 19th century. For those looking for more adventurous activities, Bodø offers kayaking, RIB tours and even snorkelling in the surrounding fjords, and fishing is a popular local activity. There are also numerous hiking routes including Keiservarden, which leads up to Keiservarden hill overlooking Bodø, and Mount Ronvikfjelet, one of the top viewing spots for the Midnight Sun in the country. Within Bodø itself the beautiful harbour offers views from its pier dating back to 1904 and the Norwegian Aviation Museum offers an insight into the civil and military aviation history of Norway.

After two nights in Bodø you board the Hurtigruten service in the mid-afternoon heading to the Lofoten Islands. This is a journey of roughly six hours which takes you across the open waters of the Vjestfjord to the port of Svolvaer. As you draw closer to the Lofoten Islands its majestic peaks will welcome you as you pull into Svolvaer, the largest town on the islands. We arrange for a taxi to collect you from the port.

This morning collect your hire car and start exploring your surroundings. The Lofoten Islands have some of the most incredible landscapes in the world, ranging from mountains to fjords to white sandy beaches. Your base of Svolvaer is the largest town in the Lofoten Islands and offers fishing excursions and cruises around the islands. Using your hire car we recommend visiting some of the other picturesque fishing villages such as Henningsvaer and Hamnoy, which offer excellent authentic dining options. Nusfjord is one of the best-preserved fishing villages and is now an open-air museum with a sawmill producing cod-liver oil. A perhaps unexpected attraction of the islands is their top-quality beaches. Framed by towering mountains, these stretches of white snad and clear water even offer excellent surfing opportunities, although this is a much more comfortable experience during the summer months. Uttakleiv Beach and Haukland Beach are easily accessible by car and can be reached in just over an hour from Svolvaer. For the best views the Lofoten Islands have to offer we recommend indulging in some of their hiking trails. Reinebringen is the most popular of these with its lookout onto the numerous villages and jagged peaks resting on the calm waters, although this is a relatively challenging hike. For those looking for an easier option Ryten, Svolvaer Floya and Festvagtind are shorter, easier options which still have a rewarding view from the top.

On your final day in the Lofoten Islands drive to the very northern tip of the islands, a journey of about three hours, and a chance to experience more dramatic scenery along the way. The vista is one of mountains, sky, green fields and water.

This morning you take the car ferry from Andenes to Gryllefjord, with a departure daily at 08.45 from 18 May until 3 September, with another departure at 13.00 hrs from 10 June until 13 August. The cost is about NOK 600 and you pay on board the ferry. The journey to Gryllefjord on Senja takes two hours and then it’s about 1 hour and 20 minutes’ drive to your hotel. Given the next day is a long one, it’s worth arriving on Senja with the early ferry so you have some time to explor enja is a lot quieter than most other destinations, giving you chance to truly appreciate the scenery and tranquillity of this beautiful area. You may want to spend your time here exploring the Senja National Tourist Route, which will take you along the island’s rugged outer coastline. Other areas of interest include the Bergsbotn viewing platform which offers an outlook onto the town of Bergsfjord and the surrounding peaks. Hiking is a popular activity here, with the most popular route being Segla. The beaches are also well-worth a visit, in particular Ersfjord Beach, a white sand beach in the town of Ersfjord. Senja is known for its fishing villages, the most active of which is Husøy. This town sits on an island in the middle of the Øyford and is worth visiting for the views en route alone. 

After one night on the island of Senja you will drive further into the heart Arctic Norway to Alta, a journey of about six hours. Start by driving along the coast of Senja, skirting the beautiful Anderdalen National Park. You will cross back to mainland Norway at Silsand, arriving at the small town of Finnsnes. Continue along the coast, passing small harbours and quaint boating houses. You will then head further inland, passing through small towns and villages interspersed with dense forest, before skirting the edge of the remote lake of Finnfjordvatnet. As you proceed further north the settlements become less frequent and the mountains become bigger. One of the visual highlights of this journey will be when you join the Northern Lights route, driving along the length of the Lyngenfjord. You will head briefly away from the fjord to travel down remote lanes hemmed in by mountains before heading back to the beauty of the fjord. On the final stretch of the journey more buildings will start to appear again as you draw closer to Alta, also known as the Town of the Northern Lights. Located 375 km above the Arctic Circle, Alta is a small town with a population of just under 15,000 people. One of its most well-known features is the Rock Art of Alta. This is a group of thousands of paintings and engravings dating from around 4200 to 500 B.C. split between 45 different sites, the most of its kind in northern Europe. They are believed to have been made by hunter-gatherers and give an insight into the cosmology of prehistoric peoples. Alta is also known as the Town of the Northern Lights and is home to the world’s first observatory dedicated to studying the Aurora Borealis. The relatively low level of annual precipitation its location on the inner section of the Altafjorden makes it an excellent Northern Light-spotting site. The Northern Lights Cathedral is a large modern church in the town centre designed to represent the lights.

After one night in the Town of the Northern Lights, you travel on to Karasjok, a journey of roughly two and a half hours. Much of the scenery you pass here consists of vast open landscapes interspersed with beautiful clear waters of small lakes. The mountains are much smaller than many other places in Norway but still provide dramatic backgrounds as you traverse the open roads. As you draw further away from Alta you will start to feel like you have entered the true Arctic wilderness with very few settlements to be found. The final stretch as you approach Karasjok will give you tantalising glimpses of the Karasjohka river, which meanders its way through the county of Finnmark. Arrive at the tiny town of Karasjok and check in to your hotel for one night. Karasjok is the headquarter of the Sami people, an indigenous group with a total population of approximately 80,000. This is the oldest culture in large areas of Northern Norway with the current population being the descendants of nomadic peoples who inhabited northern Scandinavia for thousands of years. The Sami Parliament is an important visit if you wish to learn more about these people – opened in 1989 it is the representative body for people of Sami heritage in Norway.

Today you depart Karasjok for your most remote destination – the town of Kirkenes. The first section of this 4-hour journey closely follows the Karasjohka river, which will flit in and out of view as the trees part. Upon reaching the tiny village of Tana you will eventually cross the river, traversing briefly back down the other side before branching off into more isolated scenery consisting of rolling fields and shining lakes. You will pass through the town of Varanger, where you may want to stop at the Varanger Sami Museum to learn more about the culture and history of this indigenous people. From here you venture further south, skirting the edge of the large Varangerfjord, before arriving at Kirkenes in the far east of Norway. You spend two nights here.

This town in the far north-east of Norway has a rich history. During World War II Kirkenes was an important German base where 10,000 soldiers were stationed and the area around the town was the site of some dramatic battles. Over 80 prisons and prisoner of war camps were constructed around Kirkenes and following a disastrous air raid in 1944 it became one of the most bombed areas in Europe. In the centre of Kirkenes you will find a monument dedicated to the memory of the Soviet soldiers who fought and died here, and the Borderland Museum gives a deep insight into this fraught period of history. The museum’s centrepiece is a Soviet military aircraft which crashed into a lake and was recovered in 1947. Another main attraction of Kirkenes is king crab fishing: these enormous crabs can reach 1.5 metres in length and were introduced artificially in the 1960s by the Soviet Union.

The Hurtigruten ferry departs from Kirkenes at 12.30 and arrives at 23.45 the next day. This journey will take you along the outer edge of Norway’s northern coast, allowing you to take in spectacular views of the mountains and fjords. Following a relaxing lunch you will sail across the Barents Sea, with local experts often giving information about the wildlife found in the area such as king crabs and birds. The ship docks in Berlevag in the evening before continuing overnight.

This morning the Hurtigruten cruise ship travels around North Cape to Hammerfest, Norway’s former polar capital, to reach the town at 11.00 you will witness the Meridian column, erected in 1854 to commemorate the Struve international land measurements of the earth. You have one hour and 45 minutes in Hammerfest and excursions can be arranged by Hurtigruten. After crossing the open sea, the ship reaches Tromsø at 23:45. We aim to book you into a hotel opposite the ferry port.

You have today to enjoy the lively city of Tromsø. You can return your car this morning to the downtown office or keep it to drive back to the airport the next day. Tromsø is known by many as the Arctic capital, and for good reason. With its plethora of activities and interesting museums, there is something to do here for everyone. The city is perhaps best-known for being an excellent location to see the Northern Lights. The Polar Night, from mid-November to mid-January, is the best period to witness this extraordinary natural phenomenon, as the sun never rises above the horizon. For an excellent view of these the Storsteinen mountain ledge, reachable via cable car, offers an uninterrupted outlook on the city. This is also a popular location from which to see the Midnight Sun during the summer months. Some of the more adventurous activities offered in Tromsø are whale and dolphin safaris and fjord cruises, where you will witness stunning scenes of snow-capped mountains and cascading waterfalls, and possibly the occasional reindeer. Within the city itself the most striking feature is the Artic Cathedral. Consecrated in 1965, this aluminium and glass building is luminescent during the long polar nights and during the summer there are special Midnight Sun concerts given by professional musicians. Tromsø is also home to several museums: The Polar Museum offers an insight into the lives of polar pioneers, whilst the Tromsø Museum explores the history and geology of the region and its inhabitants.

Today make your way to Tromsø airport for your return flight home via Oslo.

It was an excellent holiday - due to excellent planning on your side. Super efficient, very professional.
Mrs F, Holiday to Norway, Oct 2023

Holiday price guide From £4,110 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and a Polar outside cabin on the Kirkenes to Tromsø Hurtigruten overnight cruise.

Holiday Code SCFD06

Luxury 15-night touring holiday of Norway's Arctic landscapes inlcuding the Lofoten Islands, Kirkenes and Tromso.

It was an excellent holiday - due to excellent planning on your side. Super efficient, very professional.
Mrs F, Holiday to Norway, Oct 2023

Holiday price guide From £4,110 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and a Polar outside cabin on the Kirkenes to Tromsø Hurtigruten overnight cruise.

Holiday Code SCFD06

Our prices include ● Flight from London to Trondheim and Tromsø to London via Oslo.
● Second-class travel on all trains (Plus class available on certain trains can be booked at a supplement)
● Hurtigruten ship from Bodø to Svolvaer as foot passengers (no cabin)
● Hurtigruten ship from Kirkenes to Tromsø with car and with Polar outside cabin
● Hire of a group B car for 10 days (a one-way drop-off fee is payable)
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Superior double room at Britannia Hotel, Trondheim
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at the Thon Hotel Nordlys, Bodø
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Rorbu S cabin at Svinøya Rorbuer, Svolvaer
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Thon Hotel Andrikken, Andenes
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Senja Fjordhotel, Senja
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Scandic Alta, Alta
● 1 night’s bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Scandic Karasjok, Karasjok
● 2 nights’ half board in a Gamme cabin at Kirkenes Snowhotel, Kirkenes
● 2 nights’ bed and breakfast in a Standard double room at Clarion the Edge or Scandic Ishavshotel in Tromsø
● Taxi transfer in Svolvaer from port to hotel on arrival
● Concierge service and Expressions Holidays regional helpful hints

Our prices do not include ● Early check-in or late check-out at any hotels (although we can arrange this on request at additional cost)
● Any other services not mentioned above, such as transfers and meals except breakfast at hotels
● Personal holiday insurance. This is essential and cover should be in place from when you book the holiday.
● Possible local tourist tax, usually the equivalent of £1 to £3 per person per night, and payable locally to the hotel
● Transfers other than one in Svolvaer
● One-way drop-off charge for the hire-car (about £450 for picking up in Svolvaer and dropping off in Tromsø

Additional information This holiday can be arranged from May to October. Timings can vary depending on the month and day of the week.

Luxury 15-night touring holiday of Norway's Arctic landscapes inlcuding the Lofoten Islands, Kirkenes and Tromso.

Hotels included in this tour
It was an excellent holiday - due to excellent planning on your side. Super efficient, very professional.
Mrs F, Holiday to Norway, Oct 2023

Holiday price guide From £4,110 per person based on two people sharing a double or twin room and a Polar outside cabin on the Kirkenes to Tromsø Hurtigruten overnight cruise.

Holiday Code SCFD06

Luxury 15-night touring holiday of Norway's Arctic landscapes inlcuding the Lofoten Islands, Kirkenes and Tromso.

Highlights of Norway

The numerous fjords: Eidfjord – branch of the Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord – precipitous, one of Norway’s signature images, Hardangerfjord – rolling hills and pretty villages, Jossingfjord – vertiginous fjord in the flatlands of the south, Lysefjord – plunging cliffs, cruises and look out points, Naeroyfjord – narrow and very pretty, Sognefjord – Norway’s longest and one of the most beautiful, Trollfjord – very steep fjord on Lofoten, Vestfjord – sheltered bays and pretty villages separating Lofoten from the mainland. The Hurtigruten ferry that covers over 2500 km from Bergen to Kirkenes with over 30 stops. The Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. Stave churches, beautifully preserved in wood, dating from Viking times, for example at Borgund, Lom, Ringebu and Urnes. Viking ships and artefacts, burial mounds and trinkets in museums throughout the country. The red, wooden houses perched stilts over the sea on the Lofoten Islands. The modern architecture of Oslo. Picking wild blueberries, sampling aquavit made from potatoes and caraway, and tasting reindeer steak with cranberries. The charm of Oslofjorden with its pretty, arty village and towns, harbours with sailing boats, islands offshore and beaches. Hike over the Jotunheimen and relish the natural landscape of this stunning National Park.

Cultural highlights of Norway

The architecture of stave churches dating from the Viking era and Viking treasure in museums around the country. The literature of Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun. Folk tales and mythology. The music of Edvard Grieg and the art of Edvard Munch. Contemporary jazz and folk music.

Gastronomy of Norway

Norway’s gastronomy is a clear reflection of its land and sea. From the land come reindeer, venison, lamb, cured meats and potatoes of all types: boiled, roasted and fried. From the freshwater lakes and streams come salmon served grilled and smoked, and freshwater fish. Sea fish is a vast array of cod, haddock, shrimps, mackerel, fish soup, fish balls, salt cod. From the orchards particularly around the Hardangerfjord come apples, cherries and plums as well as berries of all sorts including blueberries, cranberries, bilberries and, a great delicacy, cloudberries. Cheeses include Jarlsberg and brown cheese. Coffee is almost certainly the national drink, followed by beer, of which there are all sorts of craft beers brewed locally, and Aquavit is the national spirit made from potatoes and caraway.

Facts in brief

Capital Oslo
Airport Oslo Gardermoen
Size 323,878 sq km
Population 4.4 million
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