Troms is a former county in Northern Norway. It is an area of big islands, jagged mountains, deep valleys and long winters. Tromsø city is the northern lights capital of Norway and northern lighs hunters often travel around the county and even into Finland in search of the magic light.
Troms occupies the middle part of Northern Norway, bordering Nordland (south) and Finnmark (north-east). Some 155,000 people live in the county, which also borders Sweden and Finland. Troms is almost as far north as one can travel on mainland Norway. Finnmark next door, since 2020 the other half of the county, is only slightly further north. Sweden's northernmost point is at the border with Troms. Finland's highest mountain is shared with Troms.
Except for the inner areas along the border, Troms is characterised by a fragmented landscape with several big islands, the largest of which are Hinnøya and Senja. Harstad city is on Hinnøy while central Tromsø sits on a smaller island in a fjord. The landscape is generally mountainous with several alpine areas such as on Senja and in Lyngen. Unlike the narrow valleys of Western Norway, the inner valleys of Troms are often generously wide with slow meandering rivers. There are several great fjords cutting deep into the land, almost to the border at some points.
Despite the northern location, the coastal areas, including Tromsø, have relatively mild winters, similar to Oslo much further south. The interior can however be very cold during winter and Tromsø city and surroundings can have enormous snowfalls. Even in late April there can be more than a metre of snow in Tromsø.
During the last stages of World War II, the northern and eastern part of Troms were evacuated and all buildings and infrastructure destroyed by retreating German troops. German troops retreated from the northern section of the eastern front (including Finnmark and Finland) behind the Lyngen mountains. Evacuated areas were quickly reconstructed in a post-war style.
- South Troms – the area around Harstad; islands with mountains and some agriculture
- Inland Troms and Senja – Bardu and Målselv; forested valleys, rivers and mountains, Dividalen national park, Senja island
- Tromsø area – the area around Tromsø city; including mountainous islands and the Lyngen alps
- North Troms – the northeastern part; islands and mountains, rivers, Reisa valley with Reisa national park
- 1 Tromsø – largest city (city pop. 40,000)
- 2 Bardufoss – in Målselv (town pop. 2,600)
- 3 Finnsnes – in Lenvik, third-largest city (pop. 10,000)
- 4 Harstad – in Harstad, second-largest city (pop. 22,000)
- 5 Setermoen – in Bardu (town pop. 2,400), nearest town from 1 Innset on Nordkalottleden
- 6 Skibotn
- 7 Skjervøy – in Skjervøy (town pop. 2,500)
- 8 Storslett – in Nordreisa (town pop. 1,800)
- 1 Karlsøy – archipelago municipality
- 2 Lyngen – mountains
- 3 Reisa National Park – the Reisa canyon like river valley and its surroundings, accessible from Storslett or by the Nordkalottleden trail. Saraelv is a small settlement close to the park, which can be used as gateway.
- 4 Senja – rugged coastline and picturesque villages
Norwegian is the official language of Norway and it is the most commonly spoken language in Troms. Norwegian is somewhat mutually intelligible with Danish and Swedish.
Sami is official in one municipality, Kåfjord.
Most people speak English well.
The easiest, fastest and probably cheapest way to reach Troms is by air.
There are three airports in Troms:
Tromsø airport is the largest airport in the county.
- Domestic flights
- Oslo Gardermoen (OSL)
- Evenes (Harstad/Narvik)
and a number of smaller airports in Northern Norway
- International connections (as of 2017)
- London Gatwick (operated by Norwegian Air Int.)
- Stockholm (summer only)
- Oulu (operated by Nexjet)
- Alicante (operated by Norwegian Air Int.)
Bardufoss airport serves Mid Troms, including Finnsnes and the island of Senja. Domestic flights to:
- Oslo Gardermoen (OSL)
Evenes airport is in Nordland county, and is the main airport for southern Troms, including Harstad and Narvik. Domestic flights to:
- Oslo Gardermoen (OSL)
E6 is the main route to Troms when driving from the southern parts of Norway (Oslo, Trondheim). Be aware of the long distances. From Oslo to the southern border of Troms it is appr. 1400 kilometers, and to the northern border appr. 1820 kilometers.
It is also possible to drive to Troms from Finland via Tornio and through the Torne Valley and the "arm" of Finland by E8. 1 Border crossing in Kilpisjärvi. E10 from Kiruna and Luleå in Sweden enters Norway just north of Narvik in Nordland county. The distance from the national border to Troms county border is abot 50 km. The best way from central Sweden to Tromsø is through Pajala and Kolari and then by the E8.
If you arrive during winter, be aware that winter tires are necessary and required by law. Do not try to drive without, even if you don't expect snow or ice.
There is no railway in Troms. The closest station is in Narvik just south of the county border. From Narvik there are buses to Harstad, Finnsnes, Tromsø and other towns in Troms. Narvik is connected only to the Swedish railway network, not the Norwegian. Passenger trains, going from Stockholm, are operated by SJ.
Because of the long distance, there are no long distance buses from southern Norway to Troms or Nordland. There is bus connection from Fauske in Nordland, which has train connection from southern Norway. Check rutebok.no.
Hurtigruten travels most of the Norwegian coast and calls at Harstad, Finnsnes, Tromsø and Skjervøy.
Getting around in Troms is easiest if you have your own car. There are reasonably good roads all over the county. The main road network is mostly of quite good standard. Some roads are narrow and windy, this is especially true when it comes to local roads. Traffic levels are low, except in and around the largest towns. The only road toll in Troms is on road 858.
Some fjords are crossed by car ferry. They have fees. The ferry between road 82 and 86 goes only in summertime with a few daily departures .
Air travel is possible between Tromsø and Harstad (Evenes airport), and between Tromsø and Storslett (Sørkjosen airport). If you book your ticket well in advance this is likely to be the cheapest (and fastest) way of travelling between these places.
If you do not have a car, bus might be a good option, maybe even the only option. Most communities in the county can be reached by bus. There are regular bus connections between the larger towns, normally several buses each day. There are also regular connections to Alta in Finnmark county and Narvik in Nordland county. Distances are fairly long so they take long time. When it comes to smaller communities there might be a very limited service, maybe just a few buses during the week. It's important to plan ahead and check the timetables! Search snelandia.no for bus connections. Route planner is available.
Many coastal communities can be reached by catamaran from the nearest town; Harstad, Finnsnes, Tromsø or Skjervøy. There are also catamaran routes between these towns. Hurtigruten travels most of the Norwegian coast and also calls at these four ports.
|Routes through Troms|
|Oslo ← Narvik ←||S N||→ Alta → Kirkenes|
|Tromsø ←||W E||→ Tornio|