What to do in Tromsø

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Tromsø: The Must-Do Activities

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Tromsø: What to do when you get there?

Geography

Tromsø, Norway is located 350 km. north of the Arctic Circle, making it one of the most northern (and most amazing) destinations to visit for travellers. Part of Troms county, this winter wonderland is nicknamed the ‘Paris of the North’, or Nordens Paris, in Norwegian. Tromsø, along with Hammerfest, Lofoten, Bergen, Oslo, Vesterålen and Ålesund is one of the top visited places in Norway.

Lyngen Alps is a world-renowned place to visit, and is just 87 km. from Tromsø. With spectacular panoramic mountain views, this ski and hikers paradise is part of the Scandinavian Alps. The region has earned a certificate of sustainable tourism as well, ensuring activities for visitors are fun but also respectful of nature and culture.

While Svalbard isn’t especially close to Tromsø, or even Norway by vehicle, it’s worth noting that you can easily fly from Tromsø to Svalbard. This island is nicknamed “bear island”, because it is home to many polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. The island, however, is for those who want to do serious polar expeditions and Arctic adventuring.


Climate

The climate is subarctic with gorgeous, snowy winters. Summers are very short but sweet- just enough time for grass and flowers to bloom on the hillsides and valleys. In northern Norway, between May and August, the sky never goes fully dark. Each day the horizon glows with a beautiful golden haze of an infinite sunrise and sunset. Temperatures usually range from -5° C in the winters, and up to 15° C during the summer.


History

Tromsø was not officially founded until 1794, however, structures still stand today from as early as 1250. The northern city once served as a major site for Arctic trade between other northern cities. Northern Norway is also home to the largest population of Sami people, a group of indigenous nomads that still make their living by fishing, fur trapping and reindeer herding. The University of Tromsø also has a centre founded for the studies of Sami people.

The Sami people are descendants from the first humans who inhabited the northernmost regions. They speak a Finno-Ugric language which has evolved to include Germanic elements. The Sami have 9 dialects of which are so different, that the Sami in the North would not understand the Sami in the South!

The Sami people have had a significant influence on northern cuisine, and there are plenty of restaurants serving traditional foods, which the Samis have been dining on for hundreds of years. For example, the Sami eat smoked meats, such as reindeer, game, wild birds, and fish. Smoking meats was necessary in order to preserve them for long winters. Berries are another staple, which are made into jams and desserts.

 

Top things to do in Tromsø


Northern Lights Hunting

From December - March, many travellers come to Tromsø to see the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. This spectacular display of colours in the sky is at the top of everyone’s bucket list. What most don’t know is the brilliant colours that wave across the sky are actually electrons colliding with one another, released from both the earth and the sun’s energy. 

Though seeing the lights isn’t a guarantee (it’s a natural phenomenon) you can choose to travel to Tromsø during the recommended months. There are many ways to chase the lights down. One way is hunting by sailboat or taking an epic evening dog sledding trip. You can of course also go snowmobiling in the evening through the snowy wilderness and catch the dancing colours there as well.


Fjellheisen (Cable Car) Tromsø

Fjellheisen cable car from Solliveien in Tromsdalen is one of the most popular things to do in Tromsø, and it’s accessible to virtually everyone. Tromsø has an amazing panoramic stretch of mountains, fjords, bridges and islands. The Fjellheisen is an easy and quick way to see everything from above. Two gondolas take passengers up to Storsteinen, which is 421 metres above sea level, in only four minutes. After a long flight and transport from the airport, this is a great relaxing and beautiful first activity to do. What is cool about Fjellheisen is that each gondola can hold up to 28 people at once, so your whole group or family can ride up together, check out the sights, and have some food and drink at the Fjellstua cafe.


Tromsø Fjord Tours

Norway is known for it’s beautiful fjords and the abundance of life that call them home. The fjords have formed because much of Norway is a collection of small islands connected by narrow pieces of land, and bridges, such as the Tromsø bridge. Tromsø itself, is located on a small island called Tromsoyø, in between two larger land masses. Unique to Norway are the many beautiful fjords that weave in and out between the mountains. Tours of the fjords are popular by boat for the breathtaking scenery. One of the most amazing ways to enhance fjord adventures even further is by taking a whale watching tour. Visitors who enjoy boating will also enjoy a visit to the Maritime Museum of Norway as well.


Museums

Speaking of museums, for history and culture buffs, Tromsø has quite an array of interesting museums to visit in addition to the Norwegian Maritime Museum, Tromsø also has the Polar Museum, Tromsø Museum, Northern Norwegian Science Center, Tromsø Public Library, and the Nordnorsk kunstmuseum.

 

Tromsø Ice Domes

Ice domes and hotels are the stuff of icy winter dreams! In Tromsø, visiting the Magic Ice Bar tops the list of best things to do. The ice bar is run by the Ice Hotel. These beautiful white structures are actually rebuilt every year using 100,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow. One of the most highly-rated activities is taking a snowmobiling trip, and then heading to the ice domes afterwards. The ice bar has cool shot glasses made of ice (of course!), as well as delicious meals.


Tromsø Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden 

Also known as Tromsø Botaniske Hage in Norwegian, the botanical gardens are quite a popular activity choice for people visiting Tromsø. These gardens have been named in the top ten most beautiful gardens in the world by the BBC and The Guardian!

As surprising as it is, colorful species of flowers do actually grow in arctic regions. These plants start their lives in cracks of rock and are also grown this way to replicate natural environments in the gardens. The rocks are removed from the wild with their original moss and lichen covers to help the plants grow.

The flowers on display here are from cold and alpine climates from all over the world. With 25 theme collections from the Arctic, the Himalayas, South America and ancient northern Norwegian gardens, this is a spectacular collection likely to not be seen anywhere else in the world. 

 

Tromsø Arctic Cathedral

Tromsdalen Church, also called in Norwegian Ishavskatedralen, is one of the of the most recognizable features of the Tromsø skyline. The unique, triangular structure makes it stand out both by land and from the air. The Western-face of the cathedral is composed of a stunning stained-glass mosaic. The cathedral also has a French-designed organ with 2940 pipes, the longest of which is 32 feet! The cathedral also hosts concerts every year, totaling over 500 in 2017 alone. Performers include everything from local artists to internationally-recognized performers.


Polaris Arctic Aquarium and more

In addition to these favorite things to do, visitors to Tromsø also enjoy visiting the local Norwegian aquarium, Polaria Arctic Aquarium. At the aquarium, you can see seals, and many other adorable fish and animals. During the summer, Grotfjord, Telegrafbukta beach, Prestvannet Lake are all popular places to hike, swim and explore.

 

Outdoor Activities

Last but certainly not least, there are a limitless amount of outdoor activities to do. Hiking, fishing, and kayaking are great summer activities, while ice diving, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, husky puppy-training, and reindeer-feeding top the favorites list for winter.


South of Tromsø 

Plenty of adventure activities are available just south of Tromsø. Quite a range of outdoor activities are offered- all of which are super fun. Take an Arctic truck adventure through the snowy wilderness, or go reindeer sledding for a truly magical journey.

Whether it's whale watching from a sailboat, dog sledding, reindeer sledding, or snowmobiling, this is one of the best places for thrill-seekers to visit! If you prefer to enjoy quieter activities, you can always book a snowshoe hike. In the summer, you can also enjoy the lush landscapes of the Arctic by sea kayak.

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See the Tromsø activities on a map

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All our activities in Tromsø

Dog sledding
Sailing
Snowshoeing
Hiking / Trekking
Snowmobiling
Snow Experiences
Wildlife Experiences
    Sea Kayaking
      Reindeer sledding
        Ski touring
          Mountain bike
            Jet Boating
              Ice Climbing
                Cross-country skiing

                  Tromsø: What to do when you get there?

                  Geography

                  Tromsø, Norway is located 350 km. north of the Arctic Circle, making it one of the most northern (and most amazing) destinations to visit for travellers. Part of Troms county, this winter wonderland is nicknamed the ‘Paris of the North’, or Nordens Paris, in Norwegian. Tromsø, along with Hammerfest, Lofoten, Bergen, Oslo, Vesterålen and Ålesund is one of the top visited places in Norway.

                  Lyngen Alps is a world-renowned place to visit, and is just 87 km. from Tromsø. With spectacular panoramic mountain views, this ski and hikers paradise is part of the Scandinavian Alps. The region has earned a certificate of sustainable tourism as well, ensuring activities for visitors are fun but also respectful of nature and culture.

                  While Svalbard isn’t especially close to Tromsø, or even Norway by vehicle, it’s worth noting that you can easily fly from Tromsø to Svalbard. This island is nicknamed “bear island”, because it is home to many polar bears and other Arctic wildlife. The island, however, is for those who want to do serious polar expeditions and Arctic adventuring.


                  Climate

                  The climate is subarctic with gorgeous, snowy winters. Summers are very short but sweet- just enough time for grass and flowers to bloom on the hillsides and valleys. In northern Norway, between May and August, the sky never goes fully dark. Each day the horizon glows with a beautiful golden haze of an infinite sunrise and sunset. Temperatures usually range from -5° C in the winters, and up to 15° C during the summer.


                  History

                  Tromsø was not officially founded until 1794, however, structures still stand today from as early as 1250. The northern city once served as a major site for Arctic trade between other northern cities. Northern Norway is also home to the largest population of Sami people, a group of indigenous nomads that still make their living by fishing, fur trapping and reindeer herding. The University of Tromsø also has a centre founded for the studies of Sami people.

                  The Sami people are descendants from the first humans who inhabited the northernmost regions. They speak a Finno-Ugric language which has evolved to include Germanic elements. The Sami have 9 dialects of which are so different, that the Sami in the North would not understand the Sami in the South!

                  The Sami people have had a significant influence on northern cuisine, and there are plenty of restaurants serving traditional foods, which the Samis have been dining on for hundreds of years. For example, the Sami eat smoked meats, such as reindeer, game, wild birds, and fish. Smoking meats was necessary in order to preserve them for long winters. Berries are another staple, which are made into jams and desserts.

                   

                  Top things to do in Tromsø


                  Northern Lights Hunting

                  From December - March, many travellers come to Tromsø to see the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. This spectacular display of colours in the sky is at the top of everyone’s bucket list. What most don’t know is the brilliant colours that wave across the sky are actually electrons colliding with one another, released from both the earth and the sun’s energy. 

                  Though seeing the lights isn’t a guarantee (it’s a natural phenomenon) you can choose to travel to Tromsø during the recommended months. There are many ways to chase the lights down. One way is hunting by sailboat or taking an epic evening dog sledding trip. You can of course also go snowmobiling in the evening through the snowy wilderness and catch the dancing colours there as well.


                  Fjellheisen (Cable Car) Tromsø

                  Fjellheisen cable car from Solliveien in Tromsdalen is one of the most popular things to do in Tromsø, and it’s accessible to virtually everyone. Tromsø has an amazing panoramic stretch of mountains, fjords, bridges and islands. The Fjellheisen is an easy and quick way to see everything from above. Two gondolas take passengers up to Storsteinen, which is 421 metres above sea level, in only four minutes. After a long flight and transport from the airport, this is a great relaxing and beautiful first activity to do. What is cool about Fjellheisen is that each gondola can hold up to 28 people at once, so your whole group or family can ride up together, check out the sights, and have some food and drink at the Fjellstua cafe.


                  Tromsø Fjord Tours

                  Norway is known for it’s beautiful fjords and the abundance of life that call them home. The fjords have formed because much of Norway is a collection of small islands connected by narrow pieces of land, and bridges, such as the Tromsø bridge. Tromsø itself, is located on a small island called Tromsoyø, in between two larger land masses. Unique to Norway are the many beautiful fjords that weave in and out between the mountains. Tours of the fjords are popular by boat for the breathtaking scenery. One of the most amazing ways to enhance fjord adventures even further is by taking a whale watching tour. Visitors who enjoy boating will also enjoy a visit to the Maritime Museum of Norway as well.


                  Museums

                  Speaking of museums, for history and culture buffs, Tromsø has quite an array of interesting museums to visit in addition to the Norwegian Maritime Museum, Tromsø also has the Polar Museum, Tromsø Museum, Northern Norwegian Science Center, Tromsø Public Library, and the Nordnorsk kunstmuseum.

                   

                  Tromsø Ice Domes

                  Ice domes and hotels are the stuff of icy winter dreams! In Tromsø, visiting the Magic Ice Bar tops the list of best things to do. The ice bar is run by the Ice Hotel. These beautiful white structures are actually rebuilt every year using 100,000 tons of ice and 30,000 tons of snow. One of the most highly-rated activities is taking a snowmobiling trip, and then heading to the ice domes afterwards. The ice bar has cool shot glasses made of ice (of course!), as well as delicious meals.


                  Tromsø Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden 

                  Also known as Tromsø Botaniske Hage in Norwegian, the botanical gardens are quite a popular activity choice for people visiting Tromsø. These gardens have been named in the top ten most beautiful gardens in the world by the BBC and The Guardian!

                  As surprising as it is, colorful species of flowers do actually grow in arctic regions. These plants start their lives in cracks of rock and are also grown this way to replicate natural environments in the gardens. The rocks are removed from the wild with their original moss and lichen covers to help the plants grow.

                  The flowers on display here are from cold and alpine climates from all over the world. With 25 theme collections from the Arctic, the Himalayas, South America and ancient northern Norwegian gardens, this is a spectacular collection likely to not be seen anywhere else in the world. 

                   

                  Tromsø Arctic Cathedral

                  Tromsdalen Church, also called in Norwegian Ishavskatedralen, is one of the of the most recognizable features of the Tromsø skyline. The unique, triangular structure makes it stand out both by land and from the air. The Western-face of the cathedral is composed of a stunning stained-glass mosaic. The cathedral also has a French-designed organ with 2940 pipes, the longest of which is 32 feet! The cathedral also hosts concerts every year, totaling over 500 in 2017 alone. Performers include everything from local artists to internationally-recognized performers.


                  Polaris Arctic Aquarium and more

                  In addition to these favorite things to do, visitors to Tromsø also enjoy visiting the local Norwegian aquarium, Polaria Arctic Aquarium. At the aquarium, you can see seals, and many other adorable fish and animals. During the summer, Grotfjord, Telegrafbukta beach, Prestvannet Lake are all popular places to hike, swim and explore.

                   

                  Outdoor Activities

                  Last but certainly not least, there are a limitless amount of outdoor activities to do. Hiking, fishing, and kayaking are great summer activities, while ice diving, dog sledding, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, husky puppy-training, and reindeer-feeding top the favorites list for winter.


                  South of Tromsø 

                  Plenty of adventure activities are available just south of Tromsø. Quite a range of outdoor activities are offered- all of which are super fun. Take an Arctic truck adventure through the snowy wilderness, or go reindeer sledding for a truly magical journey.

                  Whether it's whale watching from a sailboat, dog sledding, reindeer sledding, or snowmobiling, this is one of the best places for thrill-seekers to visit! If you prefer to enjoy quieter activities, you can always book a snowshoe hike. In the summer, you can also enjoy the lush landscapes of the Arctic by sea kayak.

                  See more

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