The final stop of our incredible winter trip around Norway - a country that has very quickly become one of the most beautiful I've ever visited - was to the little island of Sommarøy, part of the municipality of greater Tromsø.
In summer, Sommarøy is an excellent place to experience the midnight sun, where darkness never comes as the sun never sets. In winter, it's a totally different experience as the sun is only up for a few short hours, hanging low in the sky, casting a gorgeous golden glow across everything it touches and long shadows. When the sun is down, you have the chance to see one of the world's most magical phenomenons: the aurora borealis or the northern lights.
I partnered with the Sommarøy Arctic Hotel for a two-night stay on the island to put together this blog post containing all my tips and suggestions of things to do if you ever are lucky enough to get to visit this very northern part of Norway.
How to Get to Sommarøy
The closest airport to the beautiful island of Sommarøy is in nearby Tromsø. Flights land at Tromsø from across Norway, and a few across Europe as well. We flew in from Oslo with Norwegian, after having spent the weekend in the Norwegian capital to kick off our trip.
After our time spent exploring Tromsø, we headed back to the airport to collect a rental car for our weekend getaway to Sommarøy. There are a number of rental car agencies available at Tromsø Airport; we booked in advance with Hertz and had a very comfortable, clean and winter-ready hybrid Toyota Corolla to drive.
The drive from Tromsø to Sommarøy took us just over an hour, mostly spent with our mouths agape in awe at the landscapes we were driving through. Snow-capped mountains rose above the islands and fjords as we drove along the winding road out into the wilderness.
Where to Stay in Sommarøy
We stayed at the incredible 4-star Sommarøy Arctic Hotel, a year-round Arctic destination for the midnight sun in summer and a chance to see the northern lights in the winter.
The Sommarøy Arctic Hotel features a number of guest rooms and suites in their main hotel, as well as individual cabins on the seafront. It's a peaceful, luxurious escape, where the stillness and silence reverberates around you. A delicious and fresh buffet breakfast is available every morning, and their on-site restaurant offers à la carte dining for lunch and dinner with huge glass windows overlooking the Norwegian Sea.
We enjoyed the free use of the onsite sauna, followed up with icy dips in the 6° fjord and felt amazing as we emerged back onto the snowy deck in just our swimwear and scurried back into the heat of the sauna.
The balcony of our suite offered prime northern lights tracking, and the moment we saw it both nights we stayed (how lucky are we!?), we threw on as many clothes as we could find and ran out to the deck to witness the majesty of one of the world's greatest natural phenomenons dancing across the clear skies. We constantly checked the My Aurora Forecast app to track when the best possibilities for spotting them might be.
Best Things to Do on Sommarøy
While the Sommarøy Arctic Hotel is a destination in itself, here are some of the best things we did during our weekend on Sommarøy:
Go in the sauna, followed with a dip in the icy cold fjord
We enjoyed the free use of the onsite sauna at the hotel, followed up with icy dips in the 6° fjord and felt amazing as we emerged back onto the snowy deck in just our swimwear and scurried back into the heat of the sauna. A very Norwegian thing to do! And it gets easier every time!
Hike up Ørnfløya
The best hike on Sommarøy is the short 2km roundtrip trek up to Ørnfløya, with panoramic views in every direction of fjords, islands and sea. Time it with golden hour for possibly one of the best views you've ever seen.
Explore Sommarøy's beaches
Sommarøy is a small island, compact and easy to explore with a car. Spend an afternoon following the roads to the many jaw-dropping Arctic beaches dotted around the perimeter with expansive mountain views off in the distance.
Go ice skating on Kattfjordeidet
If you're lucky, the lake at Kattfjordeidet will be frozen over and you can head out onto the ice with locals and visitors alike with skates or with just your boots on and slide across the ice with the epic mountain backdrop behind you.
Spot the northern lights, if you're lucky
And of course, I saved the best for last. If you're lucky, and you've got clear skies and the right KP index and levels of solar wind (check the My Aurora Forecast app to track when the best possibilities for spotting them might be), then you might just get to witness the majesty of one of the world's greatest natural phenomenons dancing across the clear skies.
We got to see the northern lights both nights we were in Sommarøy, the second night even clearer than the first, and they lit up the entire sky with ripples and waves of pulsing green light. I will never, ever forget the experience.
Drive from Sommarøy to Tromsø
And once your weekend getaway on Sommarøy is over, you still get to enjoy the wonderfully scenic drive back to Tromsø.