Tromsø is a city steeped in history and culture, located 350 km north of the Arctic Circle and It’s the largest city in northern Norway. It was founded about 200 years ago, but the first human settlements in the area date back thousands of years. The city prospered over time, and in the early 1900s, it became the base for expeditions to the North Pole. Hence the nickname “Gateway to the Arctic.”
Also known as the Capital of the Arctic and the Paris of the North, Tromsø is divided into three parts: the city center is located on the island of Tromsøya, while the rest of the city stretches from Tromsdalen to the island of Kvaløya (Whale Island).
Tromso’s pretty little center has the highest number of old houses in all of northern Norway. The main street (Storgata) contains most of the buildings that survived before World War II and the 1969 fire that destroyed the town.
The oldest house dates back to 1789, while Stortorvet Square contains the old Town Hall, dating from 1864 and housing the police station and prison for more than a century, and the Music Pavilion, dating from 1892. Also on the square is the Rakettkiosken, the city’s oldest kiosk, opened as a newspaper kiosk in 1911
Given its location, it is possible to experience both Polar Night and the Midnight Sun. From the end of November to mid-January, the Sun never rises above the horizon, while from mid-May to mid-July, the Sun never sets. These two periods are the first thing to keep in mind when planning your trip to Tromsø.
In this article, you will find activities to do among the many that this pretty city has to offer.
Northern Light Photo Tour
Being lucky enough to be able to see the Northern Lights dancing in the sky is a thrill we wish everyone to experience at least once in their lifetime. In Tromso it is possible to watch the Northern Lights from late August to early April.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, I recommend joining a Northern Lights photography tour.
These tours are led by an experienced photographer who will help you find the best places to see the northern lights based on weather conditions, cloudiness, and solar activity.
Night photography, especially capturing the northern lights, is very complicated if you are not an experienced photographer. The photographer will teach you the basics you need to take great photos like a pro. In this way, you will be able to capture a magical memory to keep forever.
Reindeer sledding tour
The reindeer sleigh is an important part of the artic experience, as it is the oldest known means of transportation in the north and its role is central to Sami culture. This experience will allow you to ride a real reindeer sleigh through the Arctic wilderness. Many local businesses include visiting a reindeer camp, feeding these wonderful animals, and enjoying a local meal by the fire, immersing you in the stories of Sami culture.
Polar Museum (Polarmuseet)
Located a short walk from downtown Tromsø, Polarmuseet stands as one of the city’s most representative museums of Norwegian exploration history. Here you can learn more about Tromsø’s history and its crucial role in North Pole exploration, Arctic science, and Norwegian hunting practices during Arctic expeditions.
This cable car will take you up Mount Storsteinen in just a few minutes and gives you the best view of the city. The cable car, which has been open since 1961, is especially popular in summer to enjoy the breathtaking views of Tromsø under the light of the Midnight Sun. The cable car ride takes about 4 minutes and a round trip ticket for adults costs NOK 230.
If you visit Tromsø in summer, you can avoid boarding the cable car by climbing the 1,200 stone steps.
One of the most beautiful and fun adventures is snowmobiling through the frozen Arctic landscape. You have views of majestic mountains, deep forests and frozen rivers from your seat. Driving a snowmobile is very easy, and usually local guides will give the necessary directions and rent the right equipment. All you need is a regular driver’s license that is also valid in Norway. You have to be careful, though, for wildlife you can encounter in the Tromsø region, such as reindeer, moose and various bird species.
The Arctic Cathedral
The Arctic Cathedral is an imposing modern-style church built in 1965.
Located on the mainland, just in front of the beginning of the bridge leading to the island of Tromsøya , the Arctic Cathedral is recognized as the symbol of the city. It is visible from the harbor and from the entire coast of Tromsø. With its iceberg or lavvo shape, the typical Sami tent, it is the first element of Tromso that greets you when you arrive.
Whale Watching Tour
The best time to see whales in Tromsø is during the months of November, December and January. By participating in a Whale Watching Tour, you will have an unforgettable experience admiring orcas and whales in their natural environment, you will learn more about these magnificent creatures while enjoying complete safety aboard a catamaran. For this excursion, remember to wear warm clothes, over which you will be given a thermal suit before the tour begins.
I hope this article has helped you in planning things to do in Tromsø.
Tromsø is a fairly large and vibrant city. In both winter and summer you can find activities to do and things to see, you just need to equip yourself with the right clothing or in some cases you can rent it avoiding having to make new purchases and fill your suitcase unnecessarily.
Contact us if you are planning to explore and photograph the great Arctic, in our private adventures in Lofoten, Tromsø and Lapland you are guided by professionals who will take you in the right place at the right time safely.