One of the challenging things about planning a trip to Tromso is deciding what activities to do, especially if you are there for less than a week. There are so many things to see and do while there, that it can be hard to choose if you have a limited amount of time. There are aurora tours (nighttime only, so you can still do day trips), reindeer sledging, husky dog sledging, snowmobile tours, and a day trip (and if desired, overnight) to the Tromso Ice Domes.
Even though we had visited something similar when in Fairbanks (the Aurora Ice Museum at the Chena Hot Springs Resort), I couldn’t resist a trip to the Tromso Ice Domes, just because I love ice hotels and ice sculptures. Even though the name has “Tromso” in it, realize that the ice hotel is not in Tromso, but rather a 90 minute drive away (or in our case, a 2.5 hour drive away. We had to take the long way around, since the shorter road was closed to avalanche risk. However, that drive was a gorgeous drive along the Tromso coastline and into the Tromso wilderness, so it wasn’t an unwelcome delay). So this will be a full day trip if you choose to take it, or again, an overnight for those who want to spend the night in an ice hotel (one day I will stay at one).
Once we arrived on site, we were shown an introductory video on how the ice hotel was designed and built. Even though Tromso never gets hot in the summer, it still gets warm enough to melt snow and ice, so obviously this hotel is not a year round attraction, but instead built special in the November timeframe, and the design and ice sculptures change yearly. It was interesting to hear how difficult it was to build this year’s hotel and what they had to go through to get it set up.
Once the video was done, we got a guided tour through the hotel and the bar (with of course a complimentary shot of Norwegian vodka and some sort of tasty berry juice). We were shown into all of the rooms and each room has a different color pattern and a different snow design. There were designs of local wildlife, such as moose, reindeer and wolves, and other animals, such as polar bears and even some mythological settings.
Since the group tour is small, it didn’t feel overwhelmed with people, and it was fun to get a peek into what a night in the hotel would be like (very dark and very silent and very cold- though they give you thermal sleeping bags to keep you warm at night). I had never really thought about an ice hotel night visit before, but the next time I am in the Arctic north (probably Finland), I definitely would want to give it a try, just to experience it. Once the group left, I had the hotel to myself, and it was eerie but also peaceful to experience that stillness and the silence (though not the darkness since the lights were still on), since the hotel blocks out outside sound. I could see how some people would be creeped out by it, but I think I would love it.
Like all other tours in Norway, this one isn’t cheap, but it is fun and something a bit different to do while in Tromso.