What To Do In Tromso | Norway

Tromso, the city in my heart where I have spent most of my life, is located at 69°North in the Arctic part of Norway. Although it is relatively small with its 73 000 inhabitants it has much to offer visitors, with plenty of things to do all year round.

In the winter, people come to Tromso to witness the amazing northern lights that oat triplaze across the sky in the dark winter nights. Surrounded by unspoiled wilderness on every side Tromso is a fantastic place to experience some of nature’s wonders such as the sight of the hundreds of whales that every winter enter the fjords around Tromso to feast on herring. The abundance of snow during winter, also make it a perfect place for skiing from November to late May.

The summer is all about the midnight sun and the long bright nights, hiking, fishing, and basically just enjoying the beautiful nature that Tromso has to offer.

Tromso is also, surprisingly for such a small city, famous for its party life and pubs. The city has more pubs per inhabitants than any other city in Norway and the main street Storgata is packed with happy partying people on Friday and Saturday nights. Maybe the University of Tromso’s 16 000 students has something to do with it.

Tromso really has something to offer for everyone all year round!

How To Get Around Tromso

Tromso is located on a small island called Tromsoya which is only 23 km². The island is 10 km long from the northern most tip to the southern most tip, and there is a very popular walking path from one end to the other called Lysloypa. Lysloypa is great from walking, running, cycling and skiing.Tromso city center is very compact, and most of the things in this guide are within walking distance.

Taking The Bus In Tromso

If you prefer to take the bus, then there are many city buses, covering all areas of Tromso both on Tromsoya, Kvaloya, and the mainland (Tromsdalen). The city buses run every day from early morning around 6 o`clock till around midnight. Most bus routes operate on two departures per hour schedule but during the rush hours in the morning and afternoon, there are often as many as four.

You can buy tickets on the bus but you can only pay in cash and a single ticket cost NOK 50 (adult). You can save money by buying the bus ticket up front at a kiosk or at the Tourist Information at Prostneset. Then the ticket costs NOK 30 (adult).

If you plan to take the bus a lot one day, you can buy a day ticket (valid for 24 hours).  It costs NOK 110 (adult) if you buy it onboard the bus, a day ticket for children cost NOK 55.

There is also a great mobile app called “Troms Mobillett” (just search for it in App Store or Google Play) where you can buy tickets for all buses in the whole area of Troms, as well as all ferries and speedboats (Hurtigbaat). A bus ticket for the city buses in Tromso only cost NOK 29,60 (adult) with this app, while a child is NOK 19. You should also download the free app called “Troms Reise” where you can easily find routes, bus stops and when the bus departs (also in real time, if it delayed it will show up in the app).

There are some district buses running to Kvaloya, but there are very few departures. So if you want to head out of Tromso and for instance do some hiking in the mountains on Kvaloya, you really should rent a car.

Renting a car in Tromsø

If you want to explore outside the city center then a rental car is a great option in Tromso. It's easiest to book the car online before you travel and then pick up your car at the airport. Tromso Airport has cars from several international car rental agencies such as Avis, Hertz, Sixt and Budget.

Click here to compare prices and see the available cars at Tromso Airport.

The 10 Best Things To Do In Tromso All Year Round

1. Cable car up to the mountain Floya

The cable car “Fjellheisen” is a true icon in Tromso, dating back to 1961, and loved by both the locals and tourists. In my opinion, it is the number one must-do-thing when visiting Tromso.

From the top, you get an amazing view of Tromso city and it`s beautiful surroundings of mountains and fjords. In the background, you can see Kvaloya, one of Norway’s largest islands, where I grew up. ♥

Floya Tromso

View from Floya Mountain

It is magical watching the northern lights dancing above the city in the winter, or see the midnight sun sparkling in the sea surrounding Tromso in the summer. So it is a great thing to do all year-round. Be sure to bring warm windproof clothes as it gets chilly at the top even in the summer months.

There is a nice cafe/ restaurant at the top where you can buy cold beer, hot drinks like tea, coffee, and hot chocolate, cakes, Norwegian waffles (they are the best!), ice cream as well as a light meal.

Floya Tromso

If you are the sporty type, you can walk up to the top. The walk is great and takes about 30-60 minutes. I really love this hike! You can either take the path to the right of the cable car house, or the new Sherpa build stair steps to the left of the cable car house.

To save your knees and shorten the walking time, you can take the cable car down and save half the ticket price. The mountain where the Cable Car stops is actually called “Storsteinen” (Big Rock, 421 m above sea level), while the actual Floya mountain (671 m above sea level) is a bit further up.

  • Opening hours summer (15th of May – 15th of August): 10:00 – 01:00 every day
  • Opening hours winter (16th of August – 14th of May): 10:00 – 22:00 every day
  • Departs every half hour, the trip takes 4 min each way
  • Ticket price: 170 kr for adult/ 60 kr for children
  • How to get there: You can drive a car over to the cable car in Tromsdalen (5 min). There is a big parking place at the bottom of the cable car. You can also walk over the bridge to Tromsdalen (30 min, 2,5 km), which is a beautiful easy walk where you pass the famous Arctic Cathedral. Just follow the signs. Another alternative is the bus, take bus no. 26, which departs near the main square.
  • Nearby sights: You will pass the Arctic Cathedral on your way to the Cable Car. There is only a 15-minute walk from the Cathedral to the Cable Car.
  • Fjellheisen webpage

2. The Arctic Cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral, or Ishavkatedralen in Norwegian, is a real landmark in Tromso. It is on every postcard and is THE image of Tromso. It was built in 1965 and designed by a famous Norwegian architect called Jan Inge Hovig. Fun fact: He was married to the famous Norwegian TV-chef Ingrid Espelid Hovig, who revolutionized the Norwegian kitchen and cooking skills in all Norwegian homes.

The Cathedral has the shape of an iceberg, and in front, there is a stunning glass mosaic which sparkles with incredible colors when the sun shines through it. Some say that the shape of the Cathedral is inspired by the small island Håja on the outside of Tromso (you will see it if you drive out to Sommaroy island).

You can easily see the Arctic Cathedral from Tromso Center, from the city harbor, but if you want to see the mosaic you have to head over the Tromso Bridge and step into the church. It’s an easy walk with a beautiful view of the harbor.

During summer (1st of June – 15th of August), there are organ concerts in the church every day at 14:00, and Midnight Sun Concerts at 23:00. At winter (9th of February – 12th of March) there are similar concerts called Northern Lights Concerts in the church. These are also at 23:00 every week from Thursday to Sunday. The doors open 22:30, the best seats get taken first. The Midnight Sun Concerts and Northern Lights Concerts are a great and a wonderful way to see the church.

A visit to the Arctic Cathedral is perfect to combine with a cable car trip (above). You can, for instance, do the cable car first, and head down to catch the Midnight Sun/ Northern Lights Concert after.

  • Opening hours summer (1st of June – 15th of August): 09:00 – 19:00 (Sundays 13 – 19)
  • Opening hours winter (16th of August – 31st of May): 14:00 or 15:00 – 18:00
  • Ticket price entrance: 50 kr
  • Ticket price Organ concert: 70 kr
  • Ticket price Midnight Sun concert/ Northern Lights concert: 170 kr for adult, 50 kr for child
  • How to get there: You can drive a car over to the cable car in Tromsdalen (5 min). There is parking just next to the church. You can also walk over the bridge to Tromsdalen (30 min, 2,5 km), which is a beautiful easy walk. Another alternative is the bus, take bus no. 20, 24, 26 or 28. They all leave close to the main square.
  • Nearby sights: The Cable Car (no. 1 in this guide)
  • The Arctic Cathedral Webpage

3. Polaria Arctic Experience Center and Aquarium

Polaria is kind of a museum but also so much more. It is a combination of an experience center and an aquarium where you will learn about the Arctic nature and animals, including several nice films like the one about the Northern Lights.

The highlight at the Polaria is in my opinion when they feed the seals and make them do tricks. I really loved it! Great fun for kids too. There are two feedings per day, 12:30 both winter and summer, and 15:00 during summer and 15:30 during winter. So make sure to be there at one of these times! It is great fun! The rest of the aquarium consists of arctic fish of all kinds like the king crab, cod, and wolffish.

Just next to Polaria is the old seal hunting ship M/S Polarstjerna, covered by a glass shelter. Here you can walk around on the ship and get a feel for how it must have been to live the life of a seal hunter.

On your way out, you walk through a really nice gift shop where they sell handmade local products made of seal skin, reindeer bones, wood and so on. They also have a cafeteria open every day.

  • Opening hours summer (18th of May – 31st of August): 10:00 – 19:00
  • Opening hours winter (1st of September – 17th of May): 10:00 – 17:00
  • Ticket price: 130 kr adult/ 65 kr child
  • How to get there: A short walk from Tromso Center (10 min)
  • Th Polaria Wepage

4. Polar Museum

If you are to visit only one museum in Tromso, then this is it. It shows the unique position Tromso had as the capital of sealing and as the “Gateway to the Arctic”. The exhibitions give an insight into the hard life the trappers had on Svalbard through the winter. The lives of famous trappers like Henry Rudi and Wanny Wolstad, as well as the amazing polar exploration expeditions of Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen, are just some of what you will learn about at this museum.

Polar Museum, one of many things to do in Tromso

The Polar Museum

At this museum, you will actually also see the Siberian Husky dog, Sajak, that I grew up with! He is standing outside of the little trapper´s hut, obviously not alive anymore, but his fur is still looking pretty good if you ask me. ♥

Just next to the Polar Museum is Skansen, the oldest house in Tromso. It was built as a customs station back in 1789. It is surrounded by other small old houses and a beautiful garden. There is a cafe here in the summer.

Skansen Tromso

Skansen – The oldest house in Tromso

  • Opening hours summer (15th of June – 5th of August): 09:00 – 18:00
  • Opening hours winter (1st of Januar – 14th of June & 16th of August – 31st of December): 11:00 – 17:00
  • Closed: 1st of May and 17th of May
  • Ticket price: 60 kr adult/ 30 kr child
  • How to get there: It is located in downtown of Tromso
  • Nearby sights: Skansen, the old part of Tromso, which consists of the oldest buildings of Tromso
  • The Polar Museum´s webpage

5. Extreme Auroras – Northern Lights Movie at The Science Centre

The brand new and spectacular Northern Lights movie “Extreme Auroras” is made by the well-known and talented Northern Lights photographer and filmmaker Ole Salomonsen. We saw the movie at the premiere with Ole himself in the audience where he also told us all about the challenges of making this movie.

For 26 minutes you will witness amazing Northern Lights photos and videos in the 360-degree planetarium and it feels so real, almost like witnessing the real thing or maybe even better!

The Planetarium in Tromso is the largest in Norway and is a part of the Science Center of Northern Norway located on the campus of the Arctic University of Norway. Before or after the movie, make sure to visit the Science Center and have some fun doing some science experiments.

  • The Extreme Auroras film is shown every day at 15:15 (English), and during weekend and holiday also at 13:15 at 14:15 (German voiceover)
  • Opening hours Science Center: 10:00 – 17:00 every day
  • Ticket price entrance Science Center including the film Extreme Auroras: 120 kr adult/ 60 kr child
  • How to get there: The Science Center and Planetarium is a part of the Arctic Universty of Norway (where I work). From Troms Center you can walk (45 min), drive (10 min) or take bus no. 20.
  • The Science Center of Northern Norway`s webpage

6. Tromso Cathedral

When walking through the main street of Tromso, Storgata, you can`t miss this old and beautiful wooden church “Domkirka”. Dating back to 1861, this is the Northern most Protestant cathedral and the only one in Norway that is made of wood.

We join the church service at this Cathedral every Christmas Eve, it`s a family tradition.

If you want to learn more about the city of Tromso, you should take this guided city walking tour. This tour is a great deal as a guided tour at the Polar Museum is included in the price of this tour.

  • Opening hours summer: June & July 13:00 – 15:00, August 13:00 – 16:00
  • Opening hours winter: Monday till Friday 13:00 – 17:00
  • Ticket price: Free
  • How to get there: It is located right in the middle of downtown Tromso

7. Cafes and Shopping

The main pedestrian street of Tromso is called Storgata, and here there are plenty of nice shops, cafes, and restaurants. Storgata is most lively on Saturdays and is well worth a stroll.

Storgata Tromso

Storgata

Tromso Harbour

Tromso Harbour

In addition to regular mainstream souvenir shops, there are several unique shops in Tromso that sell local handicrafts and Norwegian design clothing and souvenirs. Some of them are:

Farmers market tromso

Approximately every second month there is a Farmers Market in Storgata, where you can buy local homemade organic products like honey, knitted clothes, vegetables and fruits, cheese, berries, pastries, candy, jam, and other delicatessens. Make sure to try svele (Norwegian style pancake served with jam)! Mmmmmm, sooooo yummy! ♥

Us local Tromso people do, however, love Jekta shopping mall. It is the biggest shopping mall in Tromso (probably the whole Northern Norway). It is located next to the Airport, about a 10-minute drive from the Center of Tromso (bus no. 34, 40 or 42).


Tromso is famous for it` vibrant nightlife, so if you fancy to head the clubs and pubs and go partying, Tromso is the place! Most of the clubs and pubs are located in Storgata, so you don`t have to go far to get to the next place to have a beer or a drink or glass of wine.

8. Visit Tromso’s oldest pub Ølhallen

Mack Brewery established in 1877 is, although it moved outside of town in 2012, Tromso’s pride and joy. It used to be the Northern most brewery in the world until Svalbard brewery opened in 2015.

Mack`s famous pub Ølhallen is Tromso’s oldest pub established 29th of February 1928, and a visit here is mandatory if you ask any die hard Tromso fan. Ølhallen has Europe`s longest tap beer tower with 70 beers on tap. Mack also has a Micro Brewery with over 100 different beers on their production list.

I have a tradition with some friends of mine to head to Ølhallen pub every December when Mack releases their famous Christmas Beer. When you enter Ølhallen, you have to take notice of the big stuffed polar bear, it is huge!

If you are a beer enthusiast, take the Tromso Beer Safari!

  • Ølhallen opening hours: 10:00 – 19:30 Monday till Wednesday, 10:00 – 00:30 Thursday – Saturday, closed on Sundays
  • Address: Storgata 4 (in downtown Tromso)
  • Mack`s Webpage

9. Boat Trip & Fishing

Taking a boat trip is a excellent way to experience the artic wilderness and its animals up close. There are several tour operators in Tromso offering boat trips around Tromso Island and the surrounding fjords. A popular trip is the 5 hours cruise on board the classic wooden boat “Fjord Queen”. Click here for more information, prices and availability.

Fishing has been a part of the culture of Norway and particular Northern Norway for decades and still is one of the country`s main sources of income. You can fish in the sea from shore anywhere, but it`s extra fun to head out to the sea in a boat and go fishing.

On some boat trips, they even cook your self-caught fish onboard and you can have it for lunch. Super fresh and yummy! One of these tours is the 5-Hour Polar Fishing Adventure. Everything you need is included like fishing gear and insulated body suits.

I would say that chances are pretty good that you will catch some fish, both cod and coalfish are common but you can get lucky and catch more exotic fish like halibut and wolffish.

Every summer we head out to a place called Hella on Kvaloya (a 45 min drive from Tromso Center), which is a very popular fishing spot where a big strong current makes it excellent for catching some wolffish and coalfish.

Hellastua Cafe

There is also a nice cafe/ restaurant called Hellastua run by a French couple which makes the most delicious cakes and food. Hella has many old houses that originally was located in Tromso City so it feels kind of like an outdoor museum. Hella is also a nice and popular place to go camping, and you can actually book a night in one of the old houses.

  • Boat trip from downtown Tromso: costs approximately 1200 Nkr = 145 us$, duration 4-5 hours
  • Opening hours at Hella Cafe: Saturdays and Sundays 11:00 – 17:00 (April – October)
  • How to get to Hella: Drive over to Kvaloya towards Straumsbukta (45 min). Google Maps direction

10. The Museums

Tromsø Museum

If museums are your thing, Tromso Museum has exhibitions of everything you want to know about the Arctic and Northern Norway like the Sami people and their culture, the science and myth of the Northern Lights, the Viking era, and the nature and wildlife in general.

Tromso Museum

The Tromso Museum

  • Opening hours summer (1st of June – 31st of August): 09:00 – 18:00
  • Opening hours winter (1st of September – 31st of May): 10:00 – 16:30 Mondays – Fridays, 12:00 – 15:00 Saturdays, 11:00 – 16:00 Sundays
  • Closed 1st of May, 17th of May, 24th, and 25th of December
  • Ticket price: 60 kr adult/ 30 kr child
  • How to get there: You can walk from the Center of Tromso (45 min), or you can take bus no. 37 towards “Rostbakken”
  • Tromso Museum`s Webpage

Northern Norway Art Museum

If you’re interested in art, you can also consider stopping by the Northern Norway Art Museum. The exhibitions on display vary. Check their web page to get an overview of what`s on display.

Perspektivet Photo Museum

With a photo archive containing over 500 000 photos, the Perspektivet Museum is a great place to get an impression of how Tromso city has changed over the years from the 1900 and up till today, both when it comes to buildings, people and fashion. Photos from some of Northern Norway’s most famous photographers are on display here.

  • Opening hours: Tuesday – Friday 10:00 – 16:00, Saturday and Sunday 11:00 – 17:00
  • Ticket price: Free
  • How to get there: Just walk to Storgata 95 (downtown Tromso, next to the main square)
  • Perspektivet Museum`s Webpage

The 5 Best Things To Do In Tromso In Winter

1. Northern Lights

Tromso is famous for being one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights is sometimes so strong that you can see it in the downtown of Tromso or from your hotel window, but it will be more intense if you head out of town to areas where there are hardly any houses and no artificial lighting like street lights.

Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Ersfjord

Witnessing the Northern Lights dancing across the sky is an incredible sight and something everyone should experience once in their lifetime. Since the sun never rises above the horizon in Tromso from the 21st of November until the 21st of January, these are the best months to see the Northern Lights.

There are several webpages and apps where you can check the probability of northern lights, but we like this one: https://norway-lights.com/#tromso

There are several tour operators that do Northern Lights trips; some even have photos trips where you learn how to take the best photos of the northern lights. Some of them rent out professional cameras if you don`t have your own. A Northern Lights tours usually include a hot meal, coffee/ tea, warm thermal clothes/ suits, warm winter boots, and pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

Click here for a list of excellent Northern Lights tours

  • Northern Lights season: October – March
  • Northern Lights trips takes about 8-10 hours
  • Price: approximately 1500 Nkr = 183 us$ for Northern Lights trips/ photo trips

2. Dog Sledding

I simply love Husky dogs! I have had Siberian Huskies all my life, five altogether, so for me, nothing is more fun than dog sledding. I highly recommend it! And if you are lucky, you will see the northern lights while being pulled on a sled by 6-12 Huskies and the only thing you hear is the small dog paws running in the snow.

Me on a dog sledding trip with Engholm Husky

There are several great dog sledding companies in and around Tromso, with Active Tromso and Tromso Wilderness center as the ones closest to Tromso.

Tromso Wilderness center offers a very popular 4 hour dog sledding ride. Click here to check availability and prices 

You can even go on a dog sledding tour for several days where you sleep in tent or cabin, like the five day ultimate wilderness adventure.

3. Skiing and Snowshoeing

Tromso is surrounded by some of the best mountains for skiing in Norway, and there are usually excellent conditions from October till June.

Skiing Tromso

Skiing at the mountain Kjolen

Kvaløya island (a 10-minute drive from downtown of Tromso) have the best mountains for skiing close to Tromso. If you want an easy mountain skiing trip, that is easily accessible by bus, then I also recommend that you head to Rødtind (bus no. 42).

Kattfjordeidet is also a very popular skiing area, nicknamed “Little Chamonix” by us locals, with several great mountains for skiing.

Kvaloya

View from Kvaloya

Lyngen is another great area just outside of Tromso (1,5 hours by car including a ferry). The mountains here are spectacular, steep, tall, and go straight down into the ocean.

Ski & Sail tours to Lyngen has become really popular lately. This is where you stay and live onboard a sailboat while you do hikes to different mountains in Lyngen each day. There are several companies that do these kinds of trips. We have been sailing with Boreal Yachting several times over the last few years, and they are great guys and very professional!

Do, however, be aware of the danger of avalanche as sadly almost every year people get killed by avalanches in these mountains. You should also have the clothes, skiing equipment, and excellent skiing skills if you plan to head up into some of these mountains. I have skied the highest mountain in this area, Jiehkkevarri, and it was pretty challenging even for me that have been skiing my whole life. So I would say that Lyngen is for more advanced skiers.

There are also great cross-country skiing opportunities and conditions in Tromso. On top of Tromsoya is the “lysløypa”, which is a trail with perfect cross-country skiing tracks that are lit by street lights. Here is a map of the cross-country skiing tracks in Tromso.

Or why not sign up for a guided cross country skiing beginners course.

Cross-country skiing in Lysloypa

Me and my dog Varga cross-country skiing in Lysloypa

Snowshoeing has become more and more popular in Tromso over the years. Several hikes are perfect for snowshoes offering some spectacular views. There are also several tour operators that do guided trips on both skis and snowshoes, like this five hours guided snowshoe hill hike, or this much shorter two hour snowshoe hike on Tromso Island.

4. Whale Watching

Over the last five years, whales and dolphins like humpback whales, fin whales, and killer whales (orcas), have been entering the fjords around Tromso city in great numbers to feed on herring fish. A whole industry of Whale Watching safaris and boat trips have appeared and a whale watching trip is one of the highlights during the autumn and winter months from November until February.

Check this amazing video by our friend Anders Schürmann:

If you are lucky you can see a lot of whales jumping, splashing, and hunting for fish. You might get a little wet as they sometimes come pretty close to the boats. All kinds of boats offer these tours from ribs, sailing boats, catamarans, big fishing boats and so on.

If you are lucky you will also see other Arctic animals like seals and sea eagles.

  • Whale watching season: November – February (changes every year)
  • The whale watching trips take about 2-6 hours
  • Price: around 1500 Nkr = 183 us$

5. Reindeer Sledding

Experience the Sami people`s culture and go on a reindeer sledding trip. The reindeer camps are located about a 30-minute drive out of downtown Tromso, but the transport is included in the ticket price. There are several tour operators offering reindeer sledding trips.

Here you can feed tame reindeer, learn to throw a lasso, get to know about the Sami traditions and culture, hear joik (Sami folk song), and have coffee and something to eat in a Lavu (traditional Sami tent).

  • The whole trip takes about 4-5 hours, they pick you up in downtown Tromso
  • Price: around 1500 Nkr = 183 us$

The 7 Best Things To Do In Tromso In Summer

1. Midnight Sun

The long summer nights where the sun never sets is the most unique and best things of the summertime in Northern Norway in my opinion.

Midnight Sun

Midnight Sun in Grotfjord

It is kind of magical when the sky is on fire of a mix of yellow, orange, pink and red it never gets dark. You just want to stay up all night, have a bonfire on the beach or go hiking in the mountains. I`m pretty sure that people living in Northern Norway sleep half as much in summer as they do in winter.

Midnightsun

Midnight sun at Sommaroy island

The best place to see the midnight sun is on the mountain Floya on the main land (take the cable car or walk up), and the outside of the island Kvaloya like Sommaroy or Grotfjord.

  • Midnight Sun season: 20th of May – 22nd of July

2. Hiking in the mountains

Tromso has some of the best hiking options in the whole of Norway. The city is surrounded by lots of mountains, and you can start hiking just a 10-minute drive from the downtown of Tromso. To have the wilderness so close to the city is pretty unique and awesome if you ask me! That`s the main reason why I ♥ Tromso so much.

Ornfloya Tromso

Me and our dog Frost hiking Ornfloya. Great view over Sommaroy Island

I have collected all my favorite hikes (that everyone is able to do) in an article.

3. Tromso Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden

Tromso Botanical GardenTromso has the northern most botanical garden in the world and it is open from May until October. It is incredibly green, lush and colorful with beautiful flowers from early spring till late autumn, consisting of plants from all over the northern hemisphere of the world.

You can also join a guided tour around the garden in July, every Monday till Friday at 14:00. It cost NOK 225.

There is a cozy cafe in the garden, in an old white wooden house called Hansine Hansen, where you can buy delicious waffles, ice cream, and a selection of cakes. You can sit inside or outside in the garden. The cafe is open during summer (1st of June until 1st of September) from 11:30 till 15:30 every day.

Tromso Botanical Garden

The cozy cafe in the Tromso Botanical Garden

  • Opening hours: Open day and night from May until October. You can even walk around the garden at night and enjoy the midnight sun
  • Ticket prices: FREE! Yay!
  • Where is it: The garden is located to the southeast of the University of Tromsø Campus, in Breivika.
  • How to get there: You can walk from downtown of Tromso (takes about an hour) or you can take bus no. 20, 33, or 42.
  • Webpage

4. Sailing

Sailing TromsoTromso is actually perfect for sailing all year round since the sea never freezes. There are plenty of great sailing areas around Tromso, like on the outside of Kvaloya where there are lots of small islands, Senja island, Lyngen Alps, or the Lofoten islands.

We have been sailing with Boreal Yachting that has lots of sailing trips to offer, both with or without a captain.

5. Canoeing & Kayaking

Sea kayaking is very popular in Tromso and there is a big kayaking community. There are several tour operators where you can rent a kayak, learn how to kayak, and join others on kayaking trips. There are lots of places to go kayaking around Tromso both for beginners and more advanced paddlers and lots of islands where you can go ashore.

Kayak Tromso

Kayaking in the dark winter season. Foto by Anders Schürmann

You can rent a kayak at:

Or take a guided Kayaking tour around Tromso. You can even take a kayaking tour at night under the midnight sun.

6. Bicycling

There are some great bicycling options in and around Tromso, both for mountain bike and on the road, and the bicycling sport has become extremely popular among the locals over the past years. Its popularity might have something to do with the Norwegians doing well in the professional tours, like Tour de France and we also have a race up in the Arctic – Arctic Race of Norway.

Foto by Anders Schürmann

 

You can rent a bicycle at Tromsø Outdoor.

7. Bukta Beach

Whenever the sun is shining and the temperature is above 15 degrees, the locals head to the city beach “Bukta”, or “Telegrafbukta” which is its full name.

Telegrafbukta Tromso

Telegrafbukta

Here you will get a nice view over the sea and the surrounding islands and mountains. In the summertime, the sun is shining in Bukta the whole day and night making this the perfect spot to have a barbecue and watch the Midnight Sun. Here you will find picnic tables, benches, grills, beach volleyball nets, and toilets.

If you are a real Viking, you can even have a swim in the ocean as the sand is white and soft, but the water is freezing cold the whole year-round!

It is darker here than in the downtown of Tromso, so it is a nice place to see the Northern Lights at winter. Bring warm clothes and something hot to drink on a thermos as it will be cold.

It is located nearby Tromso Museum, so you can easily combine those two. You can also walk around Folkeparken Open-Air Museum which is located just above Bukta Beach. This open-air museum in Folkeparken consists of 13 houses who originated from Tromso city and the surrounding area. It is actually Norway’s oldest open-air museum.

Tromso Folk Museum

Tromso open-air museum in Folkeparken

  • How to get here: You can walk from the down town (about 30 min), or you can drive or take the bus (bus no. 34, departs every 15 min during the day and every 30 min during the evening until midnight). It has it` own bus stop.
  • Best of all, it` s free and you can bring your dog!

Where To Stay In Tromsø

Norway, in general, is quite expensive when it comes to accommodation and dining, and Tromsø is no exception. Tromsø is a small city with a compact downtown, so everything is within a short walking distance. Here are our favorite hotels in Tromsø, at different price ranges:

Mid-Range

Clarion Collection Hotel With
Hotel With, as it is known locally, has the perfect location right by Tromso Harbour with a beautiful view over the sea and over to the Arctic Cathedral, the Tromso Bridge, Tromsdalstinden mountain and Fjellheisen. You are right in the middle of everything if you choose to stay at this hotel, very close to all the city's restaurants and shops.

An extra plus with this hotel is that you get free coffee/tea and Norwegian waffles with sour cream, jam and brown cheese (Espen`s favorite!) in the afternoon (from 15 to 18 o`clock) and a free meal in the evening (from 18 to 21 o`clock). This makes this hotel a good value for your money as eating out is expensive. A friend of mine from my class at the University used to work here during the weekends, and the staff here is well trained and provides good service and help to the guests.
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Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora
Next door to Hotel With is its sister hotel Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora. This hotel also has free waffles in the afternoon and an evening meal included in the price. The extra plus of this hotel is the rooftop jacuzzi and sauna! Here you can relax in the evenings and watch the northern lights from the hot tub. Sounds pretty sweet if you ask me!
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The Edge Hotel
The new "star" when it comes to hotels in Tromso is, however, The Edge. It is brand new and has an excellent bar and restaurant which is also very popular among the locals in Tromso. You really should try the hamburger, it is great! The breakfast at The Edge is maybe the best in town with everything you can imagine. Located by the harbor, but further south than the hotels above, and close to the Tourist Information office.
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City Living Hotel & Apartments
This apartment hotel has a central location on the street just above Tromso's main street Storgata. The apartments have a small kitchen, which is handy for making breakfast, lunch or even dinner inside. That way you can save some money by shopping at one of the close-by supermarkets and cook your own food.

The hotel also has a laundry room that the guests can use for free. Very handy as dry cleaning is expensive and there are no other options in town if you want to get your clothes washed. There is, however, no daily cleaning service, but you can help yourself to coffee and clean sheets and towels whenever you want from the second floor. You can easily get here by the Airport Bus (Flybuss) from the airport.
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Budget

Amalie Hotel
This is a small budget hotel and a less expensive option than the hotels above. It has an excellent location just next to the big and more expensive Radisson Blu Hotel. An extra bonus is unlimited free coffee and tea the whole day and complimentary waffles in the afternoon. The rooms are a bit small but well equipped with kettle, tea/coffee, mini fridge, iron, and hairdryer. You get a lot for your money. Great breakfast included in the price.
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Comfort Hotel Xpress Tromso
This is a budget hotel with perfect location in Grønnegata, the street adjacent to the city's main street Storgata. The hotel rooms are clean, new and fresh, but a bit small. If you are out all day on tours and sightseeing, then the small rooms will not be a problem. There is no daily housekeeping service. There is no restaurant in the hotel, but it is very close to all the restaurants and cafes that Tromso has to offer. You can get a breakfast discount of 50 % (150 KR) at their sister hotel Clarion Hotel, which is well worth the money as you can eat all you want at their excellent breakfast buffet.
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Smarthotel Tromso
Another budget option with small rooms but well equipped, fresh and modern. The hotel has an excellent location right in the middle of downtown Tromso. You get breakfast included in the price, which is fairly good. You get free coffee and tea the whole day. Great value for your money!
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The 10 Best Places To Eat In Tromso

Although there are plenty of international food to find in Tromso, like Asian, American and South American food, as a visitor you would like to try some local food, right? Here are my favorite restaurants in Tromso that serve local Norwegian food:

Arctandria Restaurant

This place serves local traditional North Norwegian food like different sort of fish, whale, reindeer, seal and all sorts of shellfish. I love their specialty grilled stock fish, not to mention reindeer and whale that are my favorite meats.

  • Opening hours: Monday – Saturday from 16:00. Closed on Sundays.
  • Address: Strandtorget 1
  • Webpage

Biffhuset

Located in the same building as Arctandria Restaurant, Biffhuset is one of my favorite restaurants in Tromsoe due to their juicy and tender steak.

Biffhuset and Skarven Pub

Biffhuset and Skarven Pub

They also have ribs, king crabs, goat, chicken, pork, and Norwegian dessert specialties like kjelost and cloud berries (my favorite dessert in the whole world…..). A few fish dishes are also on the menu, like grilled stock fish.

  • Opening hours: every day 15:30 – 22:30 (22:00 on Sundays)
  • Address: Strandtorget 1
  • Webpage

Emmas

Emmas is centrally located just next to the Tromso Cathedral and consist of two restaurants – Emma` Drommekjokken (“Emmas Dream Kitchen”) and Emmas Under (located down stairs). The Emmas Under is cheaper and has several small dishes perfect for lunch or an early afternoon dinner. Try their signature dish, Fish soup which is delicious. The upstairs Emma` Dromsmekjokken is quite expensive but serves excellent Norwegian food of the best quality. Great for a special night out. We celebrated my dad`s 70th birthday here.

  • Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 22:00. Closed Sundays.
  • Address: Kirkegata 8
  • Webpage

Smak Restaurant

This new restaurant is THE thing in Tromso at the moment, as it has been listed in several top notch international food guides. They serve upper-class food that is made of local ingredients and change the menu every week. You can choose 3, 4, 5, 6, or even 7 courses including specially selected wines that go well with every course.Opening hours:

  • Tuesday – Saturday 17:00 – Midnight. Closed Sundays and Mondays.
  • Address: Skippergata 16B
  • Webpage

Hildr Gastro Bar

Located in an old white wooden house, Hildr is one of my favorite restaurants not only because of their delicious food but because the atmosphere here is so cozy. They change their menu according to what kind of fresh fish they have been able to find, although their tapas is regularly on the menu. They also have a 3 or 5-course set menu with or without wine. Across the street is their “brother restaurant” Burgr serving Tromso`s best burger in my opinion! Well worth a try, and a cheaper option than Hildr.

  • Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 – around midnight. Closed on Sundays.
  • Address: Skippergata 11
  • Webpage

Mathallen

Their interior decor might seem a bit “cold” and basic, but their open kitchen is super cool and their food excellent. They have different sorts of fish, soups and whale dishes on their menu. You can also choose a 3 or 4-course set menu with ingredients from local food producers. Definitely worth a try for lunch or dinner, or both. They also have a shop next door selling local food from Northern Norway.

  • Opening hours: Monday – Saturday 11:00 – 23:00. Sundays closed.
  • Address: Grønnegata 60
  • Webpage

Fiskekompaniet

This fish restaurant probably has Tromso’s best location view-wise right by the harbor. Here you can sit and enjoy some delicious seafood and look at the sea and the boats. You might even see Hurtigruta pass by. If you like oysters, then you should try this as a starter. They mainly have fish on the menu, but also serve whale.

  • Opening hours: Every day (also Sundays) 16:00 – 22:00
  • Address: Killengrensgate
  • Webpage

Bardus Bistro

Bardus is located in a cozy old wooden house right by the library. Their menu is not the biggest, but the dishes they have is delicious. They have fish of the day, goat, hamburger (lunch menu), and some other stuff. If you’re feeling adventurous and you’ve never tried the Northern Norway specialty cod tongue, then you should definitely head here and check it out yourself (I hate it by the way, hehe).Their neighboring bar is also great, and they make Tromso´s best drinks in my opinion!

  • Opening hours: Every day 11:00 (12:00 at weekends) – 22:00 (18:00 on Sundays and 17:00 on Mondays).
  • Address: Cora Sandelsgate 4
  • Webpage

Skirri at Kystens Mathus

Located at the new Kystens Mathus right at the harbor of Tromso, this restaurant has an amazing view over the sea and across the to the Tromso Bridge, the Arctic Cathedral, and the Cable Car.

Skirri cafe and restaurant tromso

Skirri cafe and restaurant

Here you can eat everything from fresh shrimps, salmon, chicken, a hamburger made of wolffish or moose, lamb, reindeer, grilled clip fish, king crab, and whale carpaccio.

  • Opening hours: every day 12:00 – 18:00
  • Address: Stortorget 1
  • Webpage

Aunegarden

This house, which dates back 200 years, used to be an old butchers shop but is now a cozy and atmospheric cafe/ restaurant that serves the best cakes and coffee. They also have light meals like fish soup, sandwiches, hamburger, and salmon. For dessert, try the “suksessterte” (success tart) which is my favorite cake. I bake it for my birthday every year. 🙂 Grab one of the tables along the windows and do some people-watching, great fun.

  • Opening hours: every day 11:00 – 22:00 (except Monday and Tuesday when they close at 18:00)
  • Address: Sjøgata 29
  • Webpage

The Best Festivals In Tromso

Every year Tromso plays host to some excellent festivals that often draw top international artists from all around the world.

Bukta Festival

Bukta Open Air Rock Music Festival

Bukta Open Air Rock Music Festival

A rock music festival held in a scenic place – Bukta Beach, with an awesome view over the sea and the midnight sun.

  • When: Middle of July every year
  • Webpage

Tromso International Film Festival – TIFF

The biggest film festival in Norway with incredible 60619 people attending in 2016. Do not expect to see any blockbuster Hollywood movies here, they mainly screen more challenging films from all over the world.

  • When: Middle of January every year
  • Webpage

Nordlysfestivalen

A music festival, “Music in the Arctic”, that has classical music concerts from all over the world.

  • When: End of January/ beginning of February
  • Webpage

Rakettnatt

A pop/rock music festival in the middle of downtown Tromso, with Norwegian and international super stars.

  • When: Last weekend of August
  • Webpage
Rakettnatt

Rakettnatt Festival

Midnight Sun Marathon

The biggest marathon competition in Norway, where you can run the full marathon, half-marathon or 10 km. If there are no clouds, then you can even enjoy the Midnight Sun while you run.

Tromso Jazzfestival

A jazzy weekend where you can enjoy concerts by some of the best jazz musicians, both Norwegian and international artists.

Smak – Tromso Food Festival

A food festival where you can walk around eating your way through Storgata and pop into the restaurants in Tromso getting a special dish at a reduced price. A great way to try out some North Norwegian specialties.

Insomnia

A techno/ electronic/ dance festival hosting some of the biggest techno artists in the world.

The Best Day Trips From Tromso

Sommarøy (Summer Island)

The small island Sommarøy, located on the outside of Kvaloya, is a beautiful and charming little fishing village, surrounded by white sandy beaches, and the azure blue ocean.

Sommaroy Island

Sommaroy Island

There is also a hotel on the island, Sommarøy Arctic Hotel, where you can choose between sleeping in hotel rooms or cabins by the sea (Rorbu). The hotel also has a lovely restaurant serving breakfast, lunch or dinner. The hotel can arrange fishing trips by boat, sailing, and kayak trips.
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There are some great hiking options in the area around Sommarøy.

  • How to get to Sommarøy: It is easiest to get to Sommarøy by car (1 hour). From Tromsø, drive to Kvaløya and follow the signs to Sommarøy. You can also take bus no. 420 or 422 to Sommarøy.

Ersfjord

Ersfjord is a beautiful fjord located on Kvaloya, a half an hour drive from downtown Tromso. The fjord is surrounded by jagged mountains that run straight down into the sea.

Ersfjord

Ersfjord

Ersfjord

Ersfjord

In Ersfjord is Tromso`s coziest cafe – Bryggejentene which serves delicious cakes, biscuits, coffee, tea, soda, ice-cream and everything a cafe should serve. The cafe is right on the pier with an amazing view over Ersfjord and it` surrounding mountains.

In Ersfjord is also a couple of other small local shops like Wabi Sabi which makes beautiful jewelry.

Ersfjord is a great place to take Northern Lights photos, or just go for a walk along the shore.

Ersfjord

Ersfjord

  • Opening hours Bryggejentene cafe/ shop: Monday – Friday 11 – 16, Saturday 11 – 17, Sundays closed
  • How to get to Ersfjord: It is easiest to get to Ersfjord by car (30 min). Drive to Kvaløya, take right when you get to Eidkjosen and follow the signs to Ersfjord.

Senja Island

Senja, being the second largest island of Norway, has a great contrast of mountains, sea, beautiful sandy beaches, and fishing villages. It is a very nice day trip from Tromso, both winter and summer, or you can stay a night or two at some of the guesthouses and private cabins or bring your own tent.

Senja Island

Me and our dog Frost looking over to Senja Island from Brensholmen (where the ferry to Senja leaves from)

Lyngen

Lyngen with its peaky mountains that go straight down into the sea is an awesome area north of Tromso, about an hour and a half with car and ferry.

The ferry trip from Breivikeidet to Svendsby in Lyngen is well worth the trip in itself as it is a beautiful ferry trip across the fjord with an amazing view of the Lyngen Alps. From Svendsby you can drive through Lyngen and take another ferry from Lyngseidet to Olderdalen. From Olderdalen you can drive back to Tromso, the drive takes 2,5 hours (without taking any ferries).

Lyngen

View from the ferry over to Lyngen

Some great places to stay in Lyngen are:

If you want a guided tour, AscentDescent offers trips both winter and summer. Lyngen is great for mountain hiking, ice climbing, glacier trekking, skiing, kayaking, fishing, and biking.

Skjærvøy Island

North of Tromso lays the beautiful island Skjærvøy. You can do a round-trip from Tromso to Skjærvøy by express boat and/or Hurtigruten through the stunning Lyngen Fjord that runs through the Lyngen Alps.

The express boat does round-trips to Skjervøy Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday. The fare is NOK 560. Another option is to take the express boat that departs from Tromso Tuesday at 16:00 or Thursday at 16:00 or Sunday at 14:30, and then the southbound Hurtigruten back from Skjervøy to Tromso. The Hurtigruta departs from Skjervøy at 19:45 (18:30 in April and May), and arrives in Tromso at 23:45.

Ferry round-trip to islands outside of Tromso

If you want to see some of the many beautiful small islands outside of Tromso and Kvaloya, you can take a ferry round-trip from Belvik in Skulsfjord on Kvaloya. The ferry goes to the islands Vengsøy, Musvær and Risøy before returning back to Belvik and it is a beautiful trip. The round-trip takes about 2-3 hours and has several departures every day.

The End

Phew, there you go, our ultimate guide to my hometown Tromso!

To sum up, the cable car is a real must when visiting Tromso, along with the Polaria and the Polar Museum. Then it depends whether you visit in the winter or summer, but the Northern Lights, skiing, dog sledding, and going whale watching are the winter highlights and hiking in the midnight sun, boat trip, and fishing is, in my opinion, the must-dos in summer.

By the way, have you seen the movie Insomnia from 2002 starring Al Pacino, Robin Williams and  Hillary Shcwank? Did you know that it is actually a remake of a Norwegian film also called Insomnia from 1997 which was filmed in Tromso? The police officer played by Stellan Skarsgård is really struggling with the midnight sun and cannot sleep due to the bright nights, as the title refers to. You can watch the trailer of the original Insomnia from Tromso here:

Facts about Tromso

What is this article about?

A complete travel guide to my home city Tromso

Where is this?

Tromso is located in the northern part of Norway

How to get there

Fly from Oslo (2 hours), SAS or Norwegian have many departures each day

When to go

Whole year round, summer for the midnight sun and hiking, winter for the northern lights, skiing, and whales

Facts

Population: 73 000
Located at 69 degrees north
Northern Lights season: September - March
Whale season: November/ December - February
Midnight sun season: 20th of May - 22nd of July
Skiing season: December - June
Tromso is also called Paris of the North due to the fashionable women

Have you been to Tromso? Is there something I have missed? And if you have not been to Tromso, would you like to go? Please leave a comment below, and if you find this useful please share on social media. Thanks a million! 🙂

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