Curious about staying in an arctic dome? Here’s everything you need to know before you try it!
I stayed in an arctic dome in early 2023 while on a trip through northern Europe with my partner and knew immediately that I needed to write a post about it. We were on a northern lights tour that spanned northern Finland, Sweden, and Norway, and chose to treat ourselves to a night in an arctic dome while in Norway.
The arctic dome I visited was the Narvik Adventures AS in Narvik, Norway. I visited after spending several days at the STF Abisko Turiststation in Abisko, Sweden. The dome was romantic, secluded, and private – a welcome change after spending four days in a hostel – albeit a very nice one – in Abisko.
The most surprising aspect of staying in an arctic dome was the fabulous view. Because we were located on a hillside, we could see out over the nearby town and had incredible views of Ofotfjord, the adjacent fjord. I felt like our arctic dome tent was completely secluded from the town, though in reality it was only a short walk from other houses and a ski lift.
Staying In An Arctic Dome: Is It Worth It?
As a budget traveler, it wasn’t an obvious decision to stay in an arctic dome. They’re more expensive than the accommodations I typically choose, and to be honest it seemed a bit touristy. Still, I was curious and wanted to try something new while I was visiting Norway!
I was very pleasantly surprised by my experience staying in an arctic dome in Narvik, Norway. It did feel a little touristy, but I was impressed by how many thoughtful touches the owner had included in the dome. There was a coffee maker, crocs that we could use to walk to the bathroom, and even some binoculars to look out over the town.
The dome that I visited was positioned on a steep hillside and overlooked the town of Narvik, Norway. It was also a very short walk to a gondola and local ski resort, which would have been very fun to try out if we had stayed longer. There was a private bathroom unit a short walk from the dome, and a very basic kitchen that was part of the nearby house available for us to use.
The best part of the dome? The views. From our perch on a mountainside in Narvik, we were able to look out and see the town as the snow fell. It was one of the coziest experiences of my life.
**Note that many other domes have great views of forests and nearby lakes, but large parts of Finland are quite flat, so you might not experience the birds’ eye view effect that I describe here. However, they’re still nice and worth visiting!
Does it feel like camping?
To me, staying in an arctic dome was similar to what I imagine it’s like to glamp. There were almost all of the amenities that you’d find in a well-appointed Airbnb, but the bathroom and kitchen were a short walk away. The dome was partially made from canvas, which did remind me of camping in a tent on a platform.
Some other arctic domes and glass igloos have bathrooms, saunas, and even kitchenettes in the unit with you, so they’ll feel much less like glamping in the arctic. I’ve included several types of domes at different price points in a later section of this post.
Advice for Choosing an Arctic Dome
In the event that you’d like to stay in a different arctic dome than the one I visited in Norway, you’re in luck! There are domes throughout northern Norway and Finland, along with a few in northern Sweden.
The biggest factor when choosing an arctic dome will be the location. It can be hard to travel around above the Arctic Circle, especially if you don’t have a rental car, so be sure to look carefully before booking. Additionally, check to ensure that the dome has all of the amenities that you’ll need, including a bathroom if that’s important to you.
Stay during the winter
Some arctic domes and glass igloos are available to book throughout the year. Given the relative expense of the the domes, I would recommend that you only splurge on this experience if you’re visiting during the winter months.
When reading reviews for this post, I noticed that many (though not all!) of the disappointed reviewers stayed in the summer or shoulder months. Unless you find a really great deal, stick to hotels and more common accommodations during the spring, summer, and fall.
Read the reviews
Carefully read the reviews before booking any experience in an arctic dome. Specifically, I’d want to know what the views are like, how warm it was at night, and how far away the bathrooms are from the domes.
If possible, read reviews from multiple sites before booking.
Even if the domes are kept at a cozy temperature, it can still be dangerously cold outside. Be sure to have a big, warm jacket and layers that you can easily slip on if you need to go outside to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Warm clothes will also help you to stay comfortable if you choose to take any tours or other experiences during the day when you’re not in the domes.
Note any extra amenities
Some domes have many more amenities than others. The Narvik Adventures AS dome had piles of cozy blankets, games, and was set up with places to sit. We had our own private bathroom and shower, and there was a kitchen available for us to use.
Some domes have extra amenities like private saunas, jacuzzis, or onsite bars. We were happy enough to read and listen to music in our dome, but some reviewers of other properties noted feeling a bit listless during their stay.
Be sure that you understand the location
Arctic domes are typically set up in somewhat remote locations, so they can be hard to reach. Carefully read the instructions before booking, because we ended up having to carry our heavy bags up a very large hill to reach the Narvik Adventures AS. If I were to do it again, I would probably hire a taxi or, even better, rent a car to make the journey easier.
Remember that you might not see the northern lights
I didn’t see the northern lights from inside our dome because it was very cloudy during our entire trip. It’s always worth remembering that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, so you can never guarantee that you’ll be able to see them. In the event that you are able to see them from inside or near your arctic dome, consider yourself lucky!
Book as early as possible
The prices for stays in arctic domes can vary dramatically based on seasonality and availability. To find the best price and to have the most options, I recommend that you book as early as possible.
Arctic Domes Worth Considering in Northern Europe
I loved staying in the Narvik Adventures AS arctic dome in Norway, but it’s far from the only dome worth considering in northern Europe. I loved that it was situated on a steep hill near a ski slope because it offered fabulous views and lots of privacy. However, the large levels of light pollution in the area would probably make it hard to see the northern lights.
Throughout Finland, Norway, and Sweden, you’ll see a mix of arctic domes – sometimes called ‘tents’ – and glass igloos. For the purposes of this section, I’ve included arctic domes and glass igloos together. Regardless of the style, these tents and igloos are a unique way to watch the northern lights and experience the arctic.
Arctic domes or glass igloos are most popular in Finland, and you’ll find the most options near Rovaniemi. Ryanair and a number of other airlines fly into Rovaniemi, making it more accessible than other areas of northern Finland and northern Sweden. Accordingly, there are a number of arctic domes within a short drive of the infamous Santa Claus Village.
Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos in Rovaniemi, Finland
The Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos is located just a 20 minute drive or 36 minute bus ride outside of Rovaniemi, Finland. For travelers who will be in Rovaniemi, these glass igloos can’t be beat for their convenient location and free breakfast.
Although they’re in a convenient location, be aware that you’ll be very close to the other igloos. Visitors noted the lack of privacy, sparse activities during the day, and light pollution from other igloos as potential detractors from the experience.
The LakeLodge Kiehinen & Igloos are only a 20 minute drive from Rovaniemi, perfect for a unique getaway after a visit to Santa Claus Village or just a few days in the city center. The accommodations are perched on the side of Lake Norvajarvi, complete with beautiful views out over the frozen expanse (in the winter, anyway).
LakeLodge has two northern lights viewing igloos available. One is a more traditional glass igloo and the other is a smaller “glass hut.” Guests reported that the area is free from light pollution and some of them were able to see the northern lights from their beds while looking out over the lake.
For anyone intimidated by the glamping aspect of staying in an arctic dome, you might consider the Ranua Resort Arctic Igloos. They’re a bit more remote – about an hour’s drive from Rovaniemi – but each igloo has its own private sauna, kitchenette, and bathroom. These igloos are more similar to small cabins than tents, so they won’t feel as rustic as some of the other domes I’ve mentioned in this post.
As a bonus, you’ll be surrounded by a fully glass dome (instead of just a small section) and further from the city lights, offering a greater chance of seeing the northern lights from your bed.
Northern Norway was one of my favorite spots on my arctic trip. In particular, I loved the island of Senja, which had the most brilliant northern lights displays of the places I visited.
As noted above, when I stayed in an arctic dome, it was located in Narvik, near the Swedish border – just a short train ride from Kiruna/Abisko. However, many of the arctic domes and glass igloos in Norway are located in Tromso or the surrounding area to the north.
Here are a few arctic domes and igloos worth considering in Norway.
The Glød Aurora Canvas Domes are the highest rated arctic domes on this list, though they’re rather remote – nearly 6 hours by car from Tromsø. Located in Alta, Norway, your best bet is to fly into the local Alta airport or plan for a long road trip through northern Norway.
The domes are stylishly decorated and the nearby facilities include modern showers and toilets. Guests especially loved the delicious breakfast and other meals available onsite, usually for an extra charge (but check the fine print before booking). As a special bonus, staff sometimes greet you with coffee to wake up in the morning!
If you’re willing to make the trek to Alta, the GLØD Aurora Canvas Dome is probably one of the nicest experiences you can have staying in an arctic dome.
Norwegian Wild Senja Tent on the island of Senja
When I sat down to write this post, I knew I needed to include an option on the island of Senja if I could find one. Lo and behold, Norwegian Wild rents arctic domes (tents) in Senja – the same style as the dome I stayed in when I was in Narvik.
The domes have kitchenettes and bathrooms nearby, but not inside the structure – more similar to glamping. There are also chalets on site with big, open windows that offer great views without the novelty (and rustic amenities) of the arctic domes.
Please note: I couldn’t find reviews for the domes specifically. The property overall has decent reviews (8.2 out of 10 on Booking.com with 335 reviews), but as of this writing none of the reviews specifically mentioned the domes/tents.
Although you’ll find the biggest selection of arctic domes in Finland and Norway, it’s still possible to stay in an arctic dome in Sweden. When researching for this post, I found two domes in northern Sweden that I think are worth considering. The first is a conveniently located glass igloo in Kiruna, while the second is a remote option in Jokkmokk.
Aurora River Camp Glass Igloos & Cabins in Kiruna, Sweden
The Aurora River Camp Glass Igloos & Cabins are located in Kiruna, Sweden, not far from Abisko. These glass igloos are outfitted with a kitchenette and a private bathroom with a shower, perfect for taking in the northern lights in comfort. Unlike the arctic dome I stayed in, the kitchenette and bathroom are located inside the igloo.
The property has a shared sauna onsite. Sometimes sauna time is included with your stay in the igloo, but double check the fine print on your reservation to be sure.
A paid airport shuttle from Kiruna is available if you’d prefer not to rent a car.
Peace & Quiet Hotel in Jokkmokk, Sweden
The Peace & Quiet Hotel is an off-the-grid style accommodation located in the remote area of Jokkmokk, Sweden, about 3 hours south of Kiruna by car. These glass igloos either overlook a lake or the mountains, depending on which igloo you choose. The hotel is so remote that the hosts will pick you up and drive you to the igloos on a snowmobile.
You can fly into Luleå or Kiruna and rent a car to reach the Peace and Quiet Hotel. From Luleå, the drive is about 2 hours, and it’s about 3 hours from Kiruna.
This is a remote igloo that is perfect for getting off of the grid, but it doesn’t have many modern amenities. There is no shower, only USB ports are available for charging, and only a camping toilet is available for guests.
Staying In An Arctic Dome: FAQs
Still considering staying in an arctic dome? Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions to help you make up your mind.
How much does it cost to stay in glass igloo?
Glass igloos – or arctic domes – usually start at $150 per night, but the prices can increase steeply depending on the location and other amenities. Some glass igloos only hold two people while others have space for 4 adults.
On the whole, I would estimate that a night in a glass igloo will cost anywhere from $150-1,000+ per night. You will find better deals on glass igloos during the shoulder season, from October to early November and again starting in late March.
Is it worth staying in a glass igloo?
Yes, I think it is worth staying in a glass igloo or arctic dome for a unique experience while visiting the arctic! Although the glass igloos can get quite pricey, staying in one is a memorable way to experience the arctic and to try to see the northern lights. Remember that whether you’re able to see the lights will depend on the weather conditions and your luck!
Are there bathrooms in glass igloos?
It depends on the glass igloo. In most cases, the bathrooms will be a short walk from the igloos, but some designs include a bathroom, kitchen, and sometimes even a sauna in the igloo. Depending on the setup, you might have your own bathrooms or they could be shared with other nearby domes.
When I stayed in an arctic dome in Norway, it did have a small plastic jug that could be used as a makeshift urinal in the middle of the night. We didn’t use it, but, unfortunately for me, I accidentally touched it while trying to figure out what it was… gross. (yes, I immediately washed my hands!)
Where are the northern lights igloos?
Northern lights igloos can be found across northern Europe in places like Norway, Finland, and Sweden, usually in places where the aurora borealis is visible. Glass igloos are particularly common in the Finnish Lapland and near Tromso in Norway. Most, though not all, igloos are located near tourist centers like Rovaneimi and Tromso.
Conclusion: Arctic Dome
Staying in an arctic dome was one of the highlights of my trip to northern Europe, and I’d definitely recommend it if you enjoy unique stays. The domes tend to be much pricier than hotels or hostels, so it’s worth doing some extra research to make sure that you choose a dome in a great location.
There were no restaurants or food services at the arctic dome that I stayed in, so we had to bring our own food and prepare it in the kitchenette. This is common but not universal for arctic domes, so I recommend that you closely read the property description and reviews so you’re not surprised when you arrive. If you need to bring and prepare your own food, don’t forget to go grocery shopping before you make your way to the dome.
When researching arctic domes, you’ll probably notice that there are a variety of styles, price points, and locations to choose from. Importantly, remember that some arctic domes are placed very near to each other, which will make the experience much less private. Overall, staying in an arctic dome is an unforgettable experience, and if you have the room in your budget it’s worth the splurge when in northern Europe.