High up on the north coast, Tromsø is the largest city in Arctic Norway, and a real magnet for tourists. But it can be surprisingly tricky to reach from Oslo!
Most of the city sits on an island, and is dark from 26th November to 15th January each year, so it’s a great place for seeing the northern lights.
Conversely, it also has 24 hours of daylight from 18th May to 26th July, so is known as one of the best places on earth for experiencing the midnight sun.
Tromsø is also home to world’s northernmost university, cathedral and brewery.
For more on the city’s fun activities, see our ultimate guide to what to see and do in Tromsø.
So, where is Tromsø?
Tromsø’s remote, end-of-the-world atmosphere is part of its appeal, but of course this can make it a bit of a challenge to get to.
As the crow flies, it’s only 715 miles between Tromsø and Norway’s capital Oslo.
However, by land it’s more than 1000 miles, much of which passes around mountains, twisty indented fjords and coastline.
And the journey time can take you anything from two hours to five days!
Here’s a quick look at how long each mode of transport takes from Oslo to Tromsø.
|23 hours (non-stop!)
|By train and bus
|By boat and train
So, how do you get from Oslo to Tromsø? Which is quickest way? Which is the cheapest way? And which is the most fun way?
Read on to find out the most cost-effective and time-efficient travel options between these two cities.
The quickest way: by air
Flying is the fastest way to travel between Oslo and Tromsø – just two hours – and it’s also the most popular.
Fares are similar on both airlines and range from around 900 NOK if you book in advance and travel in low season up to around 2670 NOK for a last-minute peak-time ticket.
Travelling mid-week and at a quieter time of day will bag you the cheapest rates. Check with Omio for up-to-date rates on both airlines.
The greenest way: by train
There is no train line to Tromsø, so you’ll have to do at least part of the journey by bus. And, perhaps strangely, the most straightforward way is to go via Sweden.
You can get a direct train from Oslo to Stockholm (SJ trains; 5 hours, 20 minutes; tickets from 400 NOK), then catch the overnight train from Stockholm to Narvik (Vy trains; 18 hours, 30 minutes; from 865 NOK).
From here, you can get a bus to Tromsø (4 hours; from 295 NOK). So, that’s 28 hours of travelling (not including connection times) which will set you back at least 1735 NOK.
However, it’s one of the most scenic train routes you can do, and because you’re travelling overnight you’ll save on the cost of accommodation.
Add to that it’s the most environmentally friendly option, so it’s definitely worth considering. And if you have an Internal or Eurail pass, both train journeys are included.
It can be slightly cheaper to travel via Norway, though you’ll probably spend longer hanging around waiting for transport connections.
If you don’t mind this, you can get as far as Fauske by train, the nearest train station to Tromsø on the Norwegian rail network. This involves a direct train from Oslo to Trondheim, where you change onto an overnight train to Fauske.
From Fauske, there’s a daily long-distance bus to Tromsø but you’ll have to change buses in Narvik, and the entire journey takes around 11 hours. Fares for the bus journey start at around 630 NOK.
So, neither rail route is fast or cheap, though both are beautiful and if you have the time to stop off en-route and enjoy the trip we thoroughly recommend both options.
Plans to build a new line that connects Tromsø with the Norwegian rail network at Fauske have been bubbling under for years, but seem unlikely to come to fruition any time soon.
There is no long-distance bus direct from Oslo to Tromsø. Travelling the entire route by bus is long and convoluted and involves several changes of bus and long waits for connections.
The quickest route involves changing buses in Lillehammer and Trondheim, then getting the train from Trondheim to Fauske then another bus to Narvik, where you change buses again to Tromsø.
Because of the poor connections, the journey could well take a couple of days and is unlikely to be any cheaper than the train.
The scenic route: by boat
If you’re after a bucket-list experience, we suggest taking the train from Oslo to Bergen, then catching the Hurtigruten ferry up the coast to Tromsø.
The direct Vy train from Oslo to Bergen takes around seven hours and costs from 330 NOK. In Bergen, you can catch the daily Hurtigruten boat up to Tromsø, which takes five days and costs from 6500 NOK including a basic inside cabin.
The route sails along the Norwegian coastline past towering mountains and deep fjords, stopping in at pretty fishing village and towns on the way.
For the full lowdown on the trip, route and boats, check out our guide to the Hurigruten: all you need to know.
The most flexible: by car
So, if you fancy taking a road-trip and making this part of your holiday, the journey between Oslo and Tromsø is undoubtedly scenic.
Make sure you factor in enough time to stop off en-route and see some of the scenery and settlements, so that you’re not just piling down the main roads.
Via Sweden and Finland
Again the fastest route is through Sweden, taking the main E45 road via Gallivare.
At Karesuando, you turn onto the E8, which heads northwest through Finland for a bit then across the Norwegian border to Tromsø. The journey is 1080 miles and takes 23 hours non-stop!
We suggest taking at least three days over the journey, with an overnight stay in Östersund (about eight hours from Oslo), a lively town on the shores of Lake Storsjön and known for its Swedish gastronomy.
Then, it’s another eight hours to Jokkmokk, a fascinating town that is the centre of the Sami community in Swedish Lapland, where you can spend the second night. From here it’s further eight hours to Tromsø.
The journey via Norway is actually slightly shorter in terms of mileage (almost exactly 1000 miles), but takes an hour or two longer.
The route piles straight up the E6 to Nordkjosbotn, where you turn west onto the E8 for the final hour of the journey.
Trondheim makes a good first overnight stop (six and a half hours out of Oslo), then it’s another seven hours to Mo-i-rana. We suggest you spend a couple of nights here so that you have time to explore the nearby Saltfjellet Svartisen National Park.
From Mo-i-Rana, you could do the final ten hours to Tromsø in one day, but we recommend taking your time and stopping off in Narvik for a night, then travelling the final scenic three to four hours the next day.
Whichever route you take, make sure you check the weather and road conditions in advance and bear in mind that if you’re travelling in winter daylight hours are short this far north.
For all the low-down on car rental, see our guide to renting a car in Norway.
Getting from Oslo to Tromsø: which route is best?
If speed is of the essence, then clearly flying is the quickest option – and if you can book in advance, then it won’t cost much more than the train.
However, if you want to make the journey part of your holiday and are up for stopping off and having a few adventures en route, then a road-trip can be a really fun way of travelling.
And if there are four of you who can share the cost of a hire car, it needn’t be too expensive.
If money is no object, we recommend taking the Hurtigruten. It’s a real bucket-list experience that allows you to see the best of the fjords en-route.
Interrail and Eurail pass holders should definitely take the train. We like the idea of a round-trip – travelling up via Stockholm and Narvik, then returning through Norway via Fauske and Trondheim.
And if you’re short on time, you can always mix and match your routes. You could take the overnight train via Stockholm up to Tromsø, then fly back again.
But whichever route you pick, we recommend allowing enough time to enjoy the journey. We suggest you stop off en-route, explore the surroundings and make the most your the trip.