The Sherpatrappa or “Sherpa stairs” is a popular hike in Tromso also known by tourists as the cable car hike. It’s a trail that is loved by locals and is on the itinerary of practically all visitors to this arctic city.
It is a stone staircase that starts at the base of the mountain near Tromsdalen, Troms og Finnmark and takes you up to the top. From the top you will be treated to stunning views across all of Tromso and even as far as some parts of Kvaloya.
Regardless of the weather, you will see the multiple mountain peaks that cover the region and you’ll be in awe of the view. Plus, if you like dogs, you’re likely to see some along the trail since many pet owners use this sherpa stairs trail to exercise themselves and their furry friends (which may have been my favourite part)!
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Country: Norway – Currency: Krona/NOK – Check if you need a visa here
Location of the Sherpatrappa trail
The sherpa stairs and cable car hike are located on the mainland of Tromsdalen. If you are travelling from the centre of Tromso, you will need to travel across the Tromso road bridge that crosses the Tromsoyundet Strait.
This bridge connects the mainland of Tromsdalen and the island (downtown) which is known as Tromsoya. From this bridge you will see stunning views in all directions (if you’re not distracted by the rush of cars racing past you).
Luckily there is a safety barrier separating the pedestrian path and the road to keep you safe from the cars. As you are heading towards the mainland across the bridge you will see the stunning Arctic Cathedral will be right in front of you which is a fantastic piece of architecture that stands out in the residential area. You will need to continue past this cathedral to reach your destination.
If you are looking for the cable car you will need to follow signs for the Fjellheisen. The hiking trail is listed as the Sherpatrappa and the local street signs will read this.
The trail itself starts on the north-west facing side of the mountain and curves around the north side. It starts just off of a residential street – Floyvegen – which you can find here.
Sherpa stairs trail stats
Time to complete:
40 mins one-way / 1.5 hrs return
Length of trail:
1.3km one way / 2.6km return
This hike contains 1203 stone steps (sherpa stairs) in total, which were built by sherpas to create a safer hiking route. You may be familiar with other step trails sherpas have carved into mountains around the world. The trail is rated as moderate difficulty due to how steep some sections are.
It isn’t difficult to navigate or particularly dangerous (except in winter), but the steps can get really tiring. As you progress up the hiking trail it becomes a real thigh burner.
Note: Although the hike is not suitable for those with limited ability, you can still reach the top via the cable car to admire the views.
The trail is quite steep, however it does not require much technical ability. Plus, as with any popular trail with public transport access, you can almost guarantee to meet other hikers. This means the trail can get busy during peak times.
What to expect on the Sherpatrappa trail
The trail “officially” starts next to a residential area with a small trail leading into the forest. Also, the trail is not as close to the cable car entrance as you might expect so don’t be surprised that you won’t see it until you reach the top.
The Sherpatrappa hike begins when you see the brightly coloured bunting (Tibetan prayer flags) in the trees above the staircase.
You will mostly be walking up a continuous staircase up to the top and in total there are 1203 “sherpa” steps. As you can see from the image below you will find some steps have numbers carved into them. These numbers will let you know how many steps you have climbed to reach each point. This is great except when you feel like you have been walking forever and you’ve only climbed 302 steps.
The staircase will wind through openings in the trees and back through the forest. Whether you see snow or not (and at what stage along the hike) depends on the season that you choose to go.
If you are worried about the difficulty of the cable car hike, I can promise you, you will have lots of opportunities to take breaks. There are so many benches and viewpoints off to the sides of the steps so you can rest and take in the increasingly stunning view.
Be aware: The view is very restricted for the first half of the trail. Only once you are above the treeline will you start to see the full effect of the view.
What shoes should I wear? I wore hiking boots through fear of it being icy at the top. However, although there was snow from about 600 steps and above, it wasn’t slippery at all when I went. Many people wore regular running shoes both up and down. However, the weather was unusually dry and sunny for the time of year I went – November.
If it has been icy or it rains followed by a deep freeze then it could be worth wearing boots too but as long as you check the latest weather forecast you’ll be able to determine how safe it is. Many locals recommend using boot spikes and poles for extra balance when tackling the hike during the winter months.
Ways to complete the Tromso cable car hike
- Hike up the steps and take the cable car down
- Hike up the steps and down the same way
- Take the cable car up then hike down the steps
- Take the cable car up and back down again – although then you’d miss the hike altogether!
I actually went up to the top on multiple occasions during my stay in Tromso and each time I did something different. This way I was able to enjoy the view from the sherpa stairs trail as well as during different times of the day from the top viewpoint.
You can purchase tickets for the cable car in two ways:
In person at the cable car kiosk or online on their official website.
|Ticket user||One way||Return|
|Adult||225 NOK / 18 GBP||345 NOK / 29 GBP|
|Children||115 NOK / 9.50 GBP||170 NOK / 14 GBP|
|Family (2 + 2)||460 NOK / 39 GBP||700 NOK / 59 GBP|
|Student||190 NOK / 16 GBP||290 NOK / 25 GBP|
Now, you should bear in mind that this hike is only around 45 minutes to 1 hour, but there is a longer “addition” to the hike which can take you along a further and more windy route. This other route takes you slightly more between the mountains so you get a little less of the city view, but don’t worry, you will still have more than enough views to admire.
The top of the mountain
The Tromso cable car hike itself is not the only thing to look forward to. At the top you will get the chance to enjoy the panoramic views of Tromso and the surrounding mountain range from the viewing platform. The platform has tilted safety glass as a “fence” so that children and those in wheelchairs can also enjoy the view from a lower height – while staying safe.
Plus, if you walk away from the restaurant in any direction, you’ll have more chances for views across the valley. Not to mention the fun travel sign at the top which has become a tourist photo opportunity. It points in the direction of lots of popular destinations around the world.
You will also get to enjoy a break in the Fjellstua restaurant.
The restaurant caters for locals and tourists by offering menus in both Norwegian and English. This saves a lot of time for those who can’t speak Norwegian! You can get everything from snacks, hot and cold drinks, alcoholic beverages and meals. It’s a fantastic time to warm up and relax to reward yourself after the cable car hike in Tromso.
Best time to visit the Tromso sherpa stairs
I would recommend Spring or Autumn around lunch time. That way. you have enough time to climb up during the day while enjoying day time views. But it will be dark early enough to enjoy the view at sunset and during the dark too. This is the best of all scenarios!
The Tromso cable car hike is open year-round. This means that you can walk up the Sherpatrappa trail during any month and is open 24 hours a day. During the summer months, there really isn’t a “best” time to visit since there are so many hours of daylight to enjoy it.
During the winter however, there are only a few hours of sunlight (if any at all) so the Sherpatrappa trail becomes slightly more dangerous. If you do decide to head up or down the trail during the winter or after dark make sure to take a headlamp with you.
Safety tip: The trail can be steep and become dangerous. Use caution!
Where to stay locally
Tromso is one of the largest university cities in Norway and there are a few accommodation choices to choose from. Whether you are travelling in a group or on your own you will be able to find something suitable. If you need a little help or some recommendations here are some below:
Aurora Friend’s Apartment – Booked through HostelWorld, this is a basic and low cost accommodation for solo or budget travellers. It is a self catering set up with dorm-style bedrooms. It is roughly a 10 minute walk to the centre of town.
Radisson Blu – This is a more luxurious accommodation right by the harbourside. As it is a hotel, the rooms are private and more centrally located. Most of the tour groups have the option to pick up from here.
Other activities in Tromso
Ok so honestly there is SO much to do in Tromso it is impossible to try and fit it all into one small trip. That’s why if you are only there for a few days there are definitely a few activities you should try to fit in if you can.
Visit Kvaloya – Whether you have access to your own car rental or join a tour group, you should definitely check out the postcard perfect views on Kvaloya island!
Chase northern lights – This is probably the main activity tourists plan to do in Tromso & they’re totally worth the journey.
Visit a Sami camp – Learn about the indegenous locals known as the Sami people and their way of life.
Summary of the cable car hike
No matter what season you visit this arctic city, you should try to make time to climb the Sherpatrappa stairs. Not only is it a rewarding hike, but you can also experience the best view in all of Tromso.
Have you hiked the Sherpatrappa?