Tromsø. Town in Norway, Europe


Town in Norway, Europe

Tromsø Photo © unknown

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Tromsø, the major port in northern Norway, full of sights and attractions, is situated 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. One of the largest and fastest-growing cruise and fishing ports in Norway is rich with culture and history and surrounded by snow-capped mountains, fjords, and islands. "The capital of the Arctic" with more pubs per capital than any other Norwegian town has a vibrant and lively nightlife.

Although the city lies close to the Arctic Circle, the Gulf Stream drift warms it enough to keep the seaways and fishing grounds open, and the local climate, pleasantly mild. The length of the day varies significantly over the course of the year. The shortest day is December 21th with zero hours of daylight and the longest day is June 20th with 24 hours of daylight.

Travel to Tromsø in July or early August for 24-hour daylight, and a good chance of warm weather. Alternatively, travel in winter – not for the sun, but for the Northern Lights. But if you are going there in the winter time make sure you check the weather forecast. A modern urban city with more traditional Norwegian wooden houses than anywhere else in Northern Norway, stretches along the east shore of the island of Tromsøya, linked to the mainland by a gracefully arched bridge. Over 100 nationalities are represented among the 58,000 residents, making the city a truly multicultural and diverse subarctic paradise for visitors.

	harbour from the bridge to the mainland - Tromsø
Tromsø harbour from the bridge to the mainland. Photo by hugovk


People have been living in the Tromsø region since the end of the ice age. Way back then it was the Sami people that first braved the arctic, settling down in the fjords. Tromsø received its municipal charter in 1794, when the city was developing as a trading center, but its history goes way back to the 13th century, when the first local church was built. The church was the Sanctae Mariae de Trums juxta paganos ("The Church of Saint Mary in Troms near the Heathens") and was built in 1252. The church does not exist today, but in the Elverhoy church on the island you can see a wooden Madonna which most likely featured in this very first church. The fact that there were only about 80 people living in the city didn't seem to curb people’s urban aspirations and in the 1800’s Tromsø got the nickname ‘Paris of the North’. Tromsø’s growing expertise in arctic hunting and arctic weather conditions also meant that the city became a departure point for Arctic explorers and hunters since the 18th century. Today, this town of some 58,000 individuals is home to the northernmost university in the world, which gives Tromsø a lively cultural scene, highlighted by the annual Midnight Sun Marathon in August.

Northern Lights over Tromsø - Tromsø
Northern Lights over Tromsø. Photo by

Northern Lights

Tromsø Northern Lights
	- Tromsø
Tromsø Northern Lights - Tromsø. Photo by Ronel Reyes
The greatest marvel of the region is the Northern Lights or “Aurora Borealis”. The Northern Lights stem from when large numbers of electrically charged particles (electrons) at high speed stream in towards the Earth along its magnetic field and collide with the highest air particles. The air then lights up rather like what happens in a fluorescent light tube. The resulting colors reflect which gases we find up there, the most usual yellow-green color coming from oxygen. The presence of the Northern Lights lasts from September to the middle of April. However, chances of spotting the Northern Lights depend on the cloud cover and the amount of solar activity, and therefore is difficult to predict.

The Midnight Sun

It’s one o’clock in the morning, and the sun’s still shining? From the 20th May through to the 22nd July the sun does not set in Tromsø. The inhabitants of Tromsø change their daily rhythm completely during the Midnight Sun period. The program of the numerous summer festivals always extend until past midnight and the fish bite best at night, according to locals. The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon occurring in summer months at latitudes north and nearby to the south and north of the Antarctic Circle, where the sun remains visible at the local midnight.

Midnight Sun - Tromsø
Midnight Sun - Tromsø. Photo by Luis Rodriguez

Attractions & Things to do

You are spoilt for choice of things to do in Tromsø – from sightseeing, hiking, Northern Lights hunting, kayaking, canoeing to whale safaris, dog sledging, ice fishing, reindeer sleigh rides, and skiing, Many of the attractions in Tromsø are related to the location of the city and its history. Tromsø has also the most northern brewery in the world - The Mack brewery. You can get a tour there but check for tour times in advance.

 - Arctic Cathedral
Arctic Cathedral. Photo by The Municipality of Tromso

Arctic Cathedral
Arctic Cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral is a daring piece of architecture built in 1965 and inspired by Arctic nature. Although it’s actually a church, it’s commonly called the Arctic Cathedral by locals and visitors. The 11 aluminium-coated concrete panels on each side of the roof provide the cathedral’s form. The main entrance on the western side is surrounded by a large glass facade with a pronounced cross.

Tromsø Bridge

The bridge connects Tromsdalen on the mainland and the island Tromsøya, it was built in 1960 with a total length of 1,014 meters. There is one track for the cars in each direction and at both sides there is a separate path for pedestrians as well.


Polaria has an arctic aquarium, interesting knowledge-based exhibits, a panoramic cinema, and a gift and souvenir shop. The Polaria’s most prized possession is their open pool that is the home of bearded seals. At 1 pm every day they feed the seals for the public to watch.

Polaria - Polaria
Polaria. Photo by washingtonydc

Fjellheisen Cable Car

View from Fjellheisen -
View from Fjellheisen - Tromsø. Photo by El Coleccionista de Instantes
A 4-minute cable car ride to Mount Storsteinen (421 m) is offering a fantastic view of the city. Whether you're planning a hike or merely to stand and gaze at the view of the mountains, it's a lovely experience. I suggest you take bus 26 and buy a combined bus and cable-car ticket .

The Polar Museum

The museum, located in Tollbodbrygga in a picturesque maritime setting of old houses, gives a nice introduction to Norwegian polar and arctic activities. It showcases the bravery and ingenuity of the 19th and early 20th century fishermen, hunters, whalers, trappers, and explorers who made the Arctic their home.

Tromsø University Museum

The museum features Norway’s most extensive exhibits on Sami culture and history. There's also a small section on the Vikings, who were of lesser importance in the history of northern Norway. The museum also features a fantastic exhibit on Norway's number one tourist attraction: the Arctic's spectacular Northern Lights.

Food & Drink

Cod, coal-fish, halibut, and haddock are taken fresh from the sea, cooked and delivered straight to the table. Reindeer, goat, and elk get their taste from the forests and mountains. Numerous quality restaurants in Tromsø make use of the unique raw ingredients of the Arctic, but search for inspiration from the great French tradition or from the latest trends in international cooking. Tromsø locals are a social breed and spend endless hours in the cafés lining the main street, and visitors are expected to partake.

Storgata - Tromsø
Storgata - Tromsø. Photo by Harald Groven


Storgata, Tromsø’s main pedestrian street, is a treasure trove of different shops selling local and international products. The shopping mall Nerstranda has three floors of shops in a convenient city location where locals and visitors alike can browse around for gifts, fashion, and home decoration items, among other things. On the other side of Tromsø Island, Jekta Storsenter has 56 different shops, and being located close to the airport this is a handy option before heading back home. Amfisenter Pyramiden, another good place for shopping with 32 shops, is only a few minutes away from the Arctic Cathedral.

Getting around

Tromsø is compact and can be easily explored on foot and by using the efficient city bus network. Local and regional buses within the city are operated by Nobina and the tickets can be bought on the bus.

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Author: Ayda. Last updated: Feb 24, 2015

Pictures of Tromsø

Sky Over Tromsø - Tromsø
Sky Over Tromsø - Photo by Nietnagel


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