The Ice Hotels in Norway

9 min read

Want to experience a true magical winter wonderland? In Norway you have several options for a unique holiday where illuminated ice carvings and artwork in different colours will light up your day. Kirkenes Snowhotel 360 keeps open all year and Tromsø Ice Domes is built in the beautiful Tamok Valley each year for the winter season.

Did you know that the Kirkenes Snowhotel is open all year? Sure, the winters in Northern Norway are cold, but contrary to many people's perception, Norway is actually not covered in snow and ice in the summer months. So how can Kirkenes have an ice hotel that keeps open all year? For many years the ice hotel, with all 20 rooms, melted during summer and was rebuilt every winter. But now new technology has changed things around allowing the igloo hotel to keep open even during summer.

Just a 75 minute drive from the centre of Tromsø, in the beautiful Tamok Valley, you’ll find Tromsø’s ice hotel, the Tromsø Ice Domes. The hotel consists of ice suites, an ice cinema, ice bars and an ice restaurant. Each section of the hotel will have new themes every year, ensuring that visitors will get a new and unique experience every year they visit. The themes are displayed through different ice carvings and ice sculptures inspired by local culture and history, The Northern Lights and local wildlife. The art is lit up in different colours creating a magical and luminous atmosphere.

Tromsø Ice Domes ice art
Each Room in Tromsø Ice Domes has its own theme and art

Building the Ice Hotels

When they had sufficient supplies of snow, they inflated a massive balloon, which was the base for the construction of the ice bar. They covered the balloon with snow, let it set for a few hours before deflating and removing the balloon. Then the ice bar was ready to be decorated.

After they finished the ice bar room, they continued with the ice suites – one balloon for two rooms. They covered the balloon with snow, let the snow set and removed the balloon. Then they continued this same process for the remaining rooms.

igloo ice hotel at Snowhotel Kirkenes
Snowhotel Kirkenes Ice Igloo

The Tromsø Ice domes are built in a similar way as the Kirkenes Snowhotel, but the process is repeated every winter. They blow up a giant balloon and go around blowing snow on it with a machine. They leave the snow to freeze for a while and then they blow more snow on top of the already frozen snow. They repeat this process until they have created a dome, then they deflate the balloon and remove it. And then the domes are ready to be decorated.

Visiting Kirkenes Snowhotel

If you want to visit this magical fairytale land first hand, you have plenty of options. You can for example go on a day trip to Kirkenes Snowhotel and have a nice dinner at the ice restaurant. You’ll get a tour of the beautiful ice suites and have a drink at the amazing ice bar. There is also a husky farm and reindeer park at the site, with over 180 huskies and puppies you can visit and play with.

ice bed in the Ice Igloo at Kirkenes Snowhotel
An Ice bed at Kirkenes Snowhotel


If you want to spend the night in one of the ice suites you are in for an unforgettable night. It’s the perfect setting for your honeymoon, a romantic holiday or a family trip. Kirkenes Snowhotel has 14 ice suites that are all uniquely carved by professional artists.

You will find Snowhotel Kirkenes just about 8 kilometers outside of Kirkenes and offers several ways to explore or spend the night in an ice castle. But there is much more to this location than a hotel made of snow and ice. The location is made up by "gamme" lodging complex, where you can stay for the duration of your holiday and take part in a range of Artic activities in one place. A gamme gabin is a originally a mud hut used you the indigenous Sami people back in the day. These cabins are wooden replicas of the traditional mud huts and offer a comfortable stay. Of course, if you are feeling extra adventurous you can spend one of your nights in a bed made of ice. During your stay can also visit the reindeers and dogs at the husky farm, go for a ski trip or snowshoeing trip during winter or a hike or bike ride during summer.

Kirkenes Snowhotel restrictions: All guests need to be minimum 7 years of age. It is not possible to sleep in the hotel more than one night at a time.

W hilst staying at Kirkenes Snowhotel you can take part in a wide variety of activities, such as dog sledding, Northern Lights chasing and king crab safaris. Here you have everything you need for an unforgettable and cool vacation in Norway.

Spending the Night in the Kirkenes Snow Hotel

With a few preparations you should be able to sleep like a baby in this frozen fairytale setting. The most common mistake people make when sleeping here is wearing too much clothes. Wearing too many layers can cause you to sweat, which in turn will make you cold. The best thing is to wear one base layer (preferably thin wool garments) in addition to wool socks and a balaclava provided by the hotel. You also get a thermal sleeping bag meant to stand -25 temperatures so you should be good to go. Should the cold still get to you, you’ll have 24/7 access to a warm lounge with toilets, showers, wardrobe and sauna at the site.

Visiting Tromsø Ice Domes – the Ice Hotel in Tromsø

If you want to visit Tromsø Ice Domes you have a huge selection of day trips and combination tours. The visits often include a film viewing at the ice cinema showing how the hotel was built so that you can see this fascinating process for yourself.

ice cinema, in the ice iglo at Tromsø Ice Domes
Watching the igloo hotel building process at the ice cinema

Different Ice Dome Packages allow you to combine a visit to this Arctic snow hotel with other experiences such as dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer feeding and reindeer visits. There is also an exclusive Ice Domes Overnight Stay package that includes snowshoeing, a three course dinner, chasing the Northern Lights and dog sledding. This means that you can combine some of the traditional Northern Norwegian activities with your stay to maximise your experience to the fullest.

Spending the Night at Tromsø Ice Domes.

If you are up for a night in the magical winter kingdom of Tromsø you are in for a cool experience – in both sense of the words. Like with the Kirkenes Snowhotel, a bit of prepping is all you need to ensure a comfortable night. The ice frame bed has a real mattress inside, so you don't have to sleep directly on a hard lump of ice. The room holds a consistent temperature of -5 degrees Celsius. You will be provided with a warm thermal sleeping bag, a sleeping bag liner a balaclava and a neck scarf. All you need to bring is a base layer – thin woolen undergarments is recommended – these can also be purchased on site if you forgot to bring your own. Woolen socks can also be a good idea.

The different ice suits and the rooms at the Tromsø Ice Domes will all have different ice carvings and sculptures that light up in different colours. The art will represent the strong bond between man and nature in an artistic and unique way. As mentioned above you get a unique experience each year as the art have new themes every time the ice hotel is built.

Take Part in Exciting Activities While Staying at Tromsø Ice Domes

Troms Ice Domes is located in the scenic Tamok Valley, with the wilderness centre Camp Tamok close by. During the winter period this camp is the start and end point of variety of activities by dog sled, snowmobile and reindeer sled – it is also one of the best places in the world for Northern Lights observations. At Tromsø Ice Domes you can sleep in a magical snow lodge and go on the experience tour of your life at the same time – in other words, everything you need for the perfect ice hotel holiday.

reindeer sledding northern lights tromsø
Camp Tamok is the starting centre for reindeer sledding and other tours

Tromsø Ice Domes restrictions: All guests need to be minimum 7 years of age

The Igloo Hotel in Alta

The Igloo Hotel in Alta is the world's northernmost ice hotel and is, like the Domes, rebuilt every winter with different themes and artwork. The structure of the hotel and all the sculptures are all made by professional artists using natural snow and ice. Take a guided tour of the hotel and experience the luminited frozen art and get mesmerized by the ambiance. Spend the night in a magical suite each decorated with an unique theme and art made by professional ice sculptors and sleep comfortably on a reindeer sheet. Take part in Arctic activities such as snowmobiles, dog sledding, reindeer safari and learn more about the Sami culture. Here you'll have everything you need for a total Arctic experience.

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