Tromsø is easily northern Norway’s biggest town, and has all the ingredients for a fantastic few days should you wish to stop here. The city lies amongst a cluster of islands scattered off the northern coast, and the temperature remains fairly moderate all year round, especially in summer, despite the town being around 400km into the Arctic Circle.
In the winter Tromsø is as close to a wonderland as it gets, surrounded by mighty, white-topped peaks with a fantastic atmosphere and plenty to see and do, whilst the endless summer sunshine brings with it a completely different set of opportunities. Tromsø is well known for its lively inhabitants, a world class university, the alcohol (in a good way) and calendar brimming with culture and activities. Visitors can expect a more than friendly welcome in a city with more pubs per capita than any other in Norway, as well as the revered Mack Brewery, whilst the nearby mountains offer scenic delights, exceptional hiking opportunities in summer and skiing and dog-sledding in winter. Here are a few things to add to your itinerary…
For incredible views of Tromsø and the surrounding fjords, look no further than the cable car which climbs to the top of Mount Storsteinen. The Fjellheisen will take you from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the Storsteinen mountain ledge. At 421 meters above sea level, you can see for miles and miles, with the tour open especially late during the dreamlike Midnight Sun period or even witness the Northern lights during winter.
Between the months of November and March the days in this part of the world grow shorter, making it increasingly likely that you’ll get a chance to see the captivating spectacle of the Northern Lights. For a little extra wonder, combine a magical aurora borealis experience with one of the many dog sledding tours offered by local companies.
A fantastic idea for a day trip from Tromsø starts with a scenic drive around the southern coast of Kvaløya island. Your first stop should be at Skarberget, where you can view some ancient rock carvings before passing the quaint wooden houses of Hella. Sommarøy itself is a contemporary fishing village with silver, sand covered beaches and incredible views of the islands scattered around. If you choose to drive back via Kattfjorden, you'll be treated to further picturesque scenery, interspersed with fjords and impossibly sheer mountains.
The Arctic nights between November and February provide unique light conditions during the short time the sun is up, making for a mystical, surreal atmosphere in Tromsø. At this time of year, plenty of popular festivals and events take place, and the notorious nightlife is said to become even livelier.
Once the sun begins to reappear in late January there is an abundance of snow related fun to be had. Cross-country skiing is hugely popular with the locals, whilst tourists come from all over for the alpine skiing and snowboarding.
Among others, Tromsø is home to two must see museums. The first is the Polar Museum, which is stuffed – excuse the pun - with taxidermy and pelts, showcasing many of the daring expeditions that have taken place in this part of the world, as well as how explorers and locals alike cope with the conditions. Second is the Art Museum of Northern Norway. Inside is an extensive permanent collection, including famous works by Hockney, Munch and other respected Scandinavian artists, bringing to life some of Norway’s many stunning landscapes.