How to travel to Tromso on a budget without missing the fun

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Northern lights roaring above overnight. Dog-sledding through a pastel-colored landscape as the sun sets below the horizon at 2 in the afternoon. Reindeer feeding from your hand at local Sami camps. All these and much more is possible in Tromso, also written Tromsø, in Norway. All these beautiful and unique experiences come with a price, so how much does it cost to travel to Tromso? Is it possible to travel to Tromso on a budget and still have fun?

Woman walking on the snow in Tromso, Norway, with northern lights above her.
Allison in Winter Wonderland!

Hold on, we’re gonna answer these two questions and much more in this guide. Tromso is just one of those bucket-list places, and from my recent trip to Tromso in winter in 2020 before the pandemic began, I can tell you: for me, it was worth every penny!

Is Tromso Expensive? Can we visit Tromso on a budget?

Yes and Yes! If you’re planning a trip to the Arctic North of Norway, you’re probably a bit concerned about budgeting for your trip to Tromso. Many people think Tromso is expensive, and they’re not entirely wrong. Norway is one of the more expensive destinations to travel in the world, and as a result, Tromso is also an expensive destination. 

Keep in mind that traveling to Tromso on a budget is still relatively high compared to other destinations. However, I found many things in Tromso to be more reasonably priced than I expected. That said, at the end of the day, I would never call it a budget destination. I do, however, think you can smartly plan your travel expenses so that you don’t minimize your experience, but you do minimize your costs in Tromso!

How much does it cost to visit Tromso? I’m breaking down Tromso prices below, from accommodation to activities, food and transportation. So you can plan your Tromso travel budget wise and make the most of your trip and money.

Tromso travel cost breakdown

I’m kicking off our Tromso trip costs with accommodation and what you can expect to pay for hotels and hostels there.

Woman posing for a photo with a husky after a dog leading tour in Tromso, Norway.
Locals saying hello! ?

Tromso accommodation costs – hotels, hostels and Airbnb prices

Let’s get this out of the way first, since it’s fairly inevitable you’ll end up staying in a sort of accommodation while exploring Tromso and its surroundings! 

While Norway does have a law which guarantees the right to wild camp (allemannsretten, or everyman’s right), you have to be at least 150 meters away from an inhabited house – hard to do in a city as compact and busy as Tromso! Plus, if you’re visiting Tromso in winter, you’re likely not in the mood for camping, anyway.

If you want to save money while visiting Tromso, Airbnb is a great option. I stayed in a room of a family’s house with lots of privacy for about $57 USD a night – an absolute steal in Norway! This is the Airbnb I stayed in. If it’s your first time using Airbnb, sign up here and get a discount on your first booking!

Meanwhile, Tromso hotels tend to range from $200-300 USD/night and hostels from $50 to 80 USD per bed/night. At the end of the day, it is all about the experience you want to have and how much money you can spend on your trip to Tromso. 

I know accommodation is one of the biggest worries of any traveler, to help you choose the where to stay in Tromso that fits your pocket I made a list of hotels. All of them are among the best hotels in Tromso. 

I’m going to start with luxury stays because, you know, you might want to splurge a bit. Then properties that offer good value for money, to cheap hotels in Tromso and one hostel option. It doesn’t matter which one you choose, a good night of sleep is guaranteed.

Best mid-range/luxury hotels in Tromso, Norway:

Sommarøy Arctic Hotel Tromsø

This is one of the best places to stay in Tromso for travelers that want to sleep under the Northern lights and experience all the raw beauty of Sommaroy Island. Technically it’s not in Tromso, it’s one hour of scenic drive to the city. You will be a bit far from Tromso but in the middle of the wild. All rooms are in Scandinavian style and some of them have incredible sea view.

Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora 

This hotel has a cool hot tub on the roof (great for trying to spot the aurora over the city, which is rare but not unheard of) and is near the Hurtigruten cruise terminal, so it’s great if you’re taking a cruise through Norway which stops in Tromso.

Scandic Ishavshotel

It’s a really nice hotel with a beautiful design, and most of the tours you can book depart from here, so it’s great if you want to do a lot of activities and have it be convenient. Great location.

Best budget hotel in Tromso, Norway:

Smarthotel Tromso

This is a popular budget hotel in Tromso. It’s right by the main shopping street, so it has a central location, but the rooms are a bit on the smaller side, so it’s more affordable.

Best hostel in Tromso, Norway:

Tromso Activities Hostel

If you are looking for a cheap hostel in Tromso without giving up the comfort, Tromso Active Hostel is the palace to put your head at rest. It’s a cozy house-style hostel with shared bathroom and kitchen facilities, and close to Tromso attractions.

You can find more hotels and hostels in Tromso on or Agoda, so keep searching if you are not sure about where to stay. Read our  Accommodation Guide here for more tips on how to choose and book the perfect accommodation for any trip.

Costs of getting around Tromso – local and airport transportation

One great place to save money in Tromso is on transportation. The city is very walkable, so if you stay within 10 minutes of the city center, you can walk just about everywhere you need to go.

The bus in Tromso is rather expensive. Tromso bus pass price is 50 NOK (about $6) for a single ride and 100 NOK (about $12) for a 24-hour pass. So if you are trying to decide between staying in a hotel in Tromso city center and a place outside the center where you will need to take a bus, be sure to factor transportation into your budget as well.

Views from the cable car in Tromso, Norway. You can see the city and mountains covered in snow.
Amazing views from Tromso cable car!

You don’t need to have cash to use the buses in Norway. You really don’t need cash for anything, frankly! You can pay with credit card or you can download the app TFT Mobillett to pay for your tickets. If you use the app, I believe you can get a discounted rate for 33 NOK per ride ($4 USD).

The good news is that transportation to and from the airport in Tromso is rather affordable. You can take one of several city bus lines, or you can take the Flybuss Airport Express Coach for 70 NOK (about $8) one way, 100 NOK (about $12) return.

Compared to many European city’s transit costs between airports and city centers, this is a downright deal!

If you are up for a road trip in Norway, you can rent a car in Tromso from 60 to 100 USD per day. Not cheap, but it might be a good option if you are traveling with friends or family and want to plan some Tromso day trips by yourself. You can find the best deals for car rentals in Tromso at Rentalcars and Auto Europe.

Woman feed a reindeer; this is a popular activity Tromso, even if you travel to Tromso on a budget.
Snack time!

Cost of food in Tromso – how to eat well and cheap

Here is another place where you can make a huge variety of choices that will impact the overall outcome of your Tromso budget. 

If you go to one of the Norwegian supermarkets, the cost of groceries is rather affordable. Frankly, I find Norwegian grocery costs to be roughly on par with most European supermarkets.

However, the cost of fruit and vegetables beyond basic veggies like spinach and broccoli are often relatively high due to the distance they must travel to arrive North of the Arctic circle. So if you rely a lot on salads, you may end up finding groceries a bit on the pricy side.

One great thing about grocery stores in Tromso is that there are so many options for vegan, gluten-free, etc., and the prices for specialty diet products are not drastically higher than other groceries. So if you are worried about finding the type of food you need for your diet, I wouldn’t be concerned!

You can also dine out for your meals in Tromso, and I do recommend this! Tromso is a vibrant university city of 50,000+ people and the dining scene here is delicious. I love Nordic food because it’s simple, focuses on local and seasonally available ingredients such as seafood, and it’s creative. 

A plate of typical food from Tromso. A piece of fish with vegetables and pure. The cost of food in Tromso could be high if you decided to eat out every day.
Not only beautiful, but also delicious!

I mean, where else can you get a dish of fried codfish tongues which taste like delicious chicken nuggets, or reindeer burgers? I do suggest staying the hell away from the lutefisk, though, unless you have a stomach that belongs in Fear Factor.

Here are my tips for eating out in Tromso. 

Most restaurants have a good deal for lunch which is dramatically cheaper than dinner. Most of the time, I was able to get a two-course lunch for around $20 USD. I had a great cheap meal at Mathallen for lunch, where my special was less than $10 USD. And I had an amazing two-course meal at the fanciest restaurant in the city, Fisketcompanie, for $40 USD with a table overlooking the harbor!

However, those same meals at dinner could easily be double the price. So if you are looking for cheap eats in Tromso, keep an eye on the lunch deals.

If you are trying to save money, I would strongly recommend eating breakfast at home or grabbing just a small coffee and pastry from a coffee shop (this can be done for about $8 USD), and eating out your meals at lunch time, and then cooking at home.

Do note, as well, that many activities include a meal, such as trips to Sami reindeer camps and dog-sledding adventures, especially if they are evening activities. These can reduce your overall costs and take a bit of sting out of the cost of activities in Tromso… easily your biggest expense when traveling to Tromso!

Another tip for saving money is to skip alcohol during your stay. A glass of wine is easily $15 USD, and the price of beer in Tromso is not far off, around $10-12 USD. Stay dry on your trip to Tromso and you’ll save a fortune! 

And if you must drink, pick up some beers at the Kjeller 5 to enjoy at home – the beers here are a reasonable price. Any stronger drinks must be purchased at a government liquor store, Vinmonopolet (literally, wine monopoly!). The prices there are slightly reasonable, better than buying in a restaurant, though tax is high.

Cost of activities in Tromso and how to save

Husky running on the snow pulling a sled. This is a must-do in Tromso for any budget or traveler.
Natural beauty and wilderness at their best.

This is really where most of your budget will go in Tromso. I spent a lot of money on activities while I was in Tromso for 7 days, but honestly, I don’t regret a thing! The reason you go to Tromso is to get involved in the local wilderness, strongly preserved Indigenous and Northern Norwegian culture, and see the magic of Tromso Northern Lights.

Here are a few activities I did and the costs associated with each; click on names to see all the details.

All in all, I spent $937 on activities in Tromso on a one-week trip. However, my whale watching tour was canceled, so it ended up being a little less.

If you have to narrow it down to just three things to do in Tromso, I would pick the aurora chasing tour, the dog-sledding adventure, and either the Tromso Ice Domes or the reindeer farm tour with a Sami guide.

You also could cut back significantly by viewing museums such as the Polar Museum, Northern Norway Art Museum, and the Arctic Cathedral – all with entry fees around $10 USD – but I do think you should do some activities as well, even if you are visiting Tromso on a budget.

How to get to Tromso on a budget – flights best prices

To wrap up our post about how much it costs to travel to Tromso, let’s talk about getting there. My flight to Tromso from Sofia via Frankfurt was $500 USD roundtrip, so not outrageous, but not cheap either. 

The cheapest flights to Tromso leave from Oslo and London. Flights from Oslo to Tromso can be as cheap as 40 USD, and you can find flights from London to Tromso for as little as 150 USD. You can Skyscanner or to search for the best prices for flights to Tromso.

You can also travel from Oslo to Tromso by train or bus. They will take longer than flying and most of the time it won’t be cheaper either. But in case you want to check the prices and timetables, OMIO website can help you with that.

A reindeer from a Sami camp in Tromso. During this tour, you can see the animals, feed them, and learn about the Sami people's history and culture.
Sami camp in Tromso, Norway.

The total cost of a trip to Tromso, Norway

It’s hard to predict the exact costs to visit Tromso as it depends on many factors. But here is what I think a budget range would be and a mid-range budget would be.

For visiting Tromso on a budget, you will spend about $60 USD on accommodation a day, $150 on activities a day, and $30 on food a day. That totals up to $240 USD a day.

For a mid-range budget, you will spend about $200 USD on accommodation a day, $200 on activities a day, and $100 on food a day. That totals up to $500 USD a day.

Of course, this doesn’t factor in smaller costs like inter-city transit or incidental purchases, optional things like shopping, your travel insurance or your cost of getting to Tromso. 

Don’t forget to buy your Travel Insurance!

We use World Nomads and SafetyWing. Just click on the name of the company and book your insurance now. If you need more information, read our Travel Insurance Guide here.

The total cost of my trip to Tromso was about $2,500 USD including airfare, for a week there. For me, it was a fair price for a bucket list trip of a lifetime, but for others, I know it sounds expensive. 

Rovaniemi in Finland is another great arctic destination, it’s also an expensive place to visit but totally worth it. Read our Guide to Rovaniemi Northern Lights and Activities here.

Now that you know how much money you need to travel to Tromso on a budget, check dates on your calendar and start planning this dream trip. It will be worth every penny, that’s for sure. 

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Author: Allison Green

Allison is a passionate traveler who left her teaching job at the age of 26 to see as much of the world as she could. She visited 60 countries before the age of 30 and decided to move back to her beloved hometown of San Francisco. She blogs about international travel at Eternal Arrival and also podcasts about living and traveling with anxiety on her podcast, I’m Anxious About. You can follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook.

5 thoughts on “How to travel to Tromso on a budget without missing the fun”

    • Hi Linda,
      Yes, Norway is a super safe country and you will find travelers from all ages and walks of life there. If you like cold and adventure, Tromso is definitely a worthy destination for solo travel.
      All the best!

  1. How late in year can you see northern lights? Like March or any later? Have school aged kid who I want to take and only breaks are open.

    Many thanks
    Happy Holiday!!


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