Audun Pettersen heads up efforts at Innovation Norway to promote Norway as a tourist destination, and he knows a lot about where to find the best Arctic adventures. When we asked him to choose his favourite place, he had no trouble answering:
“I think Northern Norway is the most fabulous place to see in the winter and it is different from other countries because the experience is more authentic,” says Pettersen.
The Igloo Hotel in Alta opens in mid-January each year (provided snow and ice conditions permit). Photo: Kenneth Bjerga/Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
Spend the night in the Igloo Hotel
“I would start by flying to Alta and spending the night at the Igloo Hotel. It will be an experience you will not soon forget, and it is not actually as cold as you might think, considering that the entire hotel is made of ice. There is a special kind of stillness there due to the snow and ice, and I had an unbelievably good night’s sleep when I stayed there.”
The Sámi culture
“The next day I would travel to Karasjok and Kautokeino to get a taste of our unique Sámi culture.”
The population of Kautokeino is 3,000 people and 100,000 reindeer. Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/Innovation Norway
King crab fishing
The next stop would be Kirkenes.
“This is a great area to go on a king crab safari and Kirkenes is probably the best place for this. Sometimes you can dive to catch the crabs yourself and other times they catch the crabs for you,” explains Pettersen.
King crab safari in Kirkenes. Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/Innovation Norway
King crabs can grow to be up to 1.8 meters long. The Discovery Channel has made a TV series about crab fishing called “The Deadliest Catch”.
The Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are the next place on Pettersen’s list for several reasons.
“There is so much to do in Lofoten. I would spend the night in one of the cabins by the sea and begin my stay with a fishing trip. Something I would especially recommend is to take a boat excursion to view the sea eagles.”
If you are lucky, you can see the Northern Lights in the skies above Lofoten. Photo: Stockshots.no/Innovation Norge
Swim with the orcas
“But by far the most amazing experience I have had in Northern Norway is the orca whale safari in Tysfjord. The day begins with a lecture about the whales before you go out on a boat. The last thing the captain tells you before setting out to sea is ‘I hope none of you ate herring for breakfast’! But don’t worry, it’s just a joke.”
“In the evening everyone gets together to watch the video from the safari along with researchers who explain more about the whales’ behaviour.”
“The reason I like the orca whale safari so much is that it is based on research and you learn a lot. The orca whale safari is absolutely the most exotic thing I have ever done, so go if you can! Especially since there is no guarantee that you will be able to get this close to the orcas in Tysfjord in the future. Warmer water temperatures have forced the herring farther out to sea and the whales follow after them.”
Norway’s largest ski resort is located in Trysil. Photo: Ute foto/Innovation Norway
No winter adventure in Norway would be complete without skiing, and for Audun Pettersen the Trysil ski resort is the place to be. Trysil is located two to three hours north of Oslo and offers everything a ski tourist dreams of.
“Trysil is Norway’s largest ski resort, but it is child-friendly at the same time. The resort has many off-piste areas and cross-country ski trails. Trysil can be very busy, especially during the schools’ winter break and around Easter, but it has invested a lot in infrastructure so the queues are short.”