Best Things to do in Tromsø

7 min read

From mountain to fjords, wildlife to winter activities, culture and city life to nature, Tromsø is the optimal starting point for an ultimate Arctic adventure. Below we will take a closer look at some of the best things to do in Tromsø.

Chase the Northern Lights

As one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, Tromsø gives you a great opportunity to experience the Green Lady dance above you. Watch the dark sky break into an explosion of shimmering lights and wonderful colours – a guaranteed heart stopping moment. Just remember to bring enough clothes, because when Aurora makes an appearance, you are not going to want to leave any time soon.

You can also chase the Northern Lights with a local guide in the outskirts of Tromsø. With the wilderness just outside the city, you will easily be able to escape the light pollution and find Lady Aurora’s favourite dancing spots.

Marvel at the Midnight Sun

In summer a different light makes an appearance – the midnight sun. Above the Arctic Circle the sun never sets during summer months – approximately from May to July. This means that Tromsø – the Arctic Capital – gives you the perfect excuse to stay out all night and soak in everything this vibrant city has to offer.

Mush Your Own Husky Team

The eager sled dogs are at their happiest when they get to do what they were born to do – run. Want to join them on an adventure? Try your luck as the musher for a day on a self-drive tour. Take your place behind the sled, step off the break and feel the Arctic wind blow on your face as you let the huskies lead the way through the Arctic landscape. The only sound you'll hear is the dogs breathing and the sled sliding through the snow. Go on a day tour and enjoy the beautiful scenery or take an evening tour and see if Lady Aurora shows up.

Pay a visit to the Polar Museum, preserving and conveying stories related to the history of Tromsø and the Arctic regions. In the late 19th century, Tromsø ended up being a base for many polar expeditions and this museum gives you great insights into this narrative.

Tromsø and Northern Norway is a great place to learn more about the Sami culture and experience ancient traditions like reindeer sledding and joik – a traditional form of Sami song, usually dedicated to a person, an animal or a place, that has strong roots in the Sami culture.

Set Off on a Snowmobile Adventure

Ready for some action? The snowmobile tours is an activity for the adventurous kind. Take your place in the driver seat or kick back and relax in the passenger seat. Slide through the snow in Camp Tamok or Lyngsalpene and switch places along the way. Go on an evening tour in the wilderness where the only light you'll see is the snowmobile in front of you. If you are lucky, the Northern Lights will dance above you all night

Visit the seals in Polaria – an Arctic Experience Centre perfect for the whole family. This is one of two places in Europe you get to see bearded seals up close. After you have gotten acquainted with the seals and learned all their names, you can visit the aquariums and explore different fish, shellfish and plants from the Arctic oceans. At the panoramic cinema you can take part in an epic ocean journey through films from Northern Norway and Svalbard and immerse yourself in the local landscapes.

The Magical Ice Hotel in Tromsø

Each year, as the polar night approaches, Tromsø Ice Domes are built in the gorgeous Tamok Valley, situated a 75 minute drive from Tromsø city centre. Every year new ice sculptures, carvings and themes are created, so each year will be a brand new experience. The art work represents the local history, culture and wildlife. There are plenty of day trips allowing you to explore the art and if you want an extended experience you can book a package including an overnight stay at the domes.

Things to do During Summer

Tromsø is known as hotspot for Arctic winter activities, but there's a lot to do and see during the summer months too. When the midnight sun makes its appearance the days are extended into the later hours with loads of activities allowing you to enjoy the magical bright nights the best way possible. Join a kayaking adventure or listen to a midnight sun concert at the Arctic Cathedral. Enjoy breathtaking views from the Fjellheisen cable car or let the sun light up your way as you join a fjord cruise.

woman on boat under the midnight sun
The Five Senses Fjord Cruise in Tromsø

Go on a shopping spree in the city's many busy shopping street. Explore museums and culture activities. Enjoy the mountains and the sea. Check out the nightlife or join a festival. Check out the "What's on list" for more things to do in Tromsø during summer.

Join a Cruise and Explore the Fjords

Spot wildlife above and below water. Watch Aurora Borealis dance in the sky above you during winter. Cruise past majestic mountains under the midnight sun during summer. Relax in the comfortable lounges and enjoy the spectacular Arctic landscape when the weather is not on your side. There are daily fjord cruise departures from Tromsø city during both the winter and summer season.

Free Things to do in Tromsø

Go hiking. Tromsø is an eldorado for any mountain lover – whether you are seeking peace and quiet or looking to spruce up your Instagram feed. Must see mountains in the area include Tromsdalstinden (1238 metres above sea level), Bønntuva (776 metres above sea level), Fløya (671 metres above sea level) and Storsteinen (421 metres above sea level).

Tromsø Botanical Gardens – check out different plants from all continents of the world! This is the world's northernmost botanic garden. Free entry and open 24/7 this could be a good place to kill a few hours.

Couple on top of Storsteinen Mountain Tromsø
Couple on top of Storsteinen Mountain

Telegrafbukta Beach – Conveniently located at the southern tip of Tromsø islands this area lets you explore vast grass areas, forest, beach and boulders.

Grotfjord Beach – located in the bottom of a little fjord, this idyllic beach offers mountains sceneries and views of the open sea.

Tromsø Cathedral – This yellow cathedral dates back to 1861 and is the only cathedral in Norway made of wood.

Enjoy The Views From Fjellheisen Cable Car

Step into the Fjellheisen cable car and let the gondola transport you to Mount Storsteinen 420 metres above sea level while you enjoy spectacular views of the city. Thanks to the gondola you can go from the busy city to a calming mountain viewing platform in just under four minutes. You can also make your way to the top using your own two feet. Follow the sherpa stone staircase consisting of 1200 steps and enjoy a well deserved break at the top as you take in the city views.

Things to do in The City

Dubbed the “The Paris of the North'', the streets in Tromsø are filled with shops, cafés and restaurants. The dynamic nightlife unfolds in the evenings allowing you to dance the night away at the many pubs and clubs.

Tromsø is also the perfect place for cultural experiences. Visitors can appreciate a range of concerts, art exhibitions and festivals happening throughout the year. Step into the Arctic Cathedral – a modern architectural masterpiece – and sit back and enjoy a magical musical evening lit up by candles.

For the film enthusiasts Tromsø can offer TIFF (Tromsø International Film Festival) every year. Taking place in January TIFF has 5 movie venues, including an outdoor snow cinema. This is a popular cultural event among the audience as well as an important meeting point for anyone working in the film industry.

With its many restaurants the Arctic Capital is a great spot to check out the local treats. Sink your teeth into delicacies like stockfish, reindeer steak, whale, pork ribs and more. Bardus Bistro, Smak and Full Steam are all good choices for an Arctic menu. If you are looking for something more familiar, Pastafabrikken has a wide variety of pasta and pizza dishes and Skarven is a popular steakhouse.

Meet the Whales

Every year, during winter, giant humpback whales travel thousands of kilometres from the warm Caribbean coast to the cold waters off Tromsø. The whales go where the fish go and Tromsø coast is a superb feeding ground for these majestic creatures. During the peak season (approximately from November to January) there are daily whale safari departures from Tromsø giving you the chance to spot killer whales (orca), harbour porpoises and fin whales as well as the humpback whales. On a whale safari you’ll also get an incredible sightseeing tour of the beautiful fjords and the rough mountains brutally rising from the sea.

Choose Your Favourite Hotel

In Tromsø there are plenty of options allowing you to stay right in the heart of the city. Scandic Ishavshotel has previously won the award for the county's best hotel breakfast and is located in Tromsø quayside. Scandic Grand Tromsø is located smack in the middle of the centre – the perfect base for experiencing city life, nature, activities and attractions.

Scandic Ishavshotel hotel room
Scandic Ishavshotel

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