Things to do in Tromso

Must-see Tromso sights

Friendly Tromso, the “gateway to the arctic”, is the de facto capital of northern Norway. Set on an island, connected to the mainland by bridge and tunnel, and surrounded by dramatic mountains and craggy shoreline, it offers easy access to a multitude of winter and summer activities.

  1. Head to the Domkirke area
  2. Discover the area of Polaria
  3. Explore the Arctic Cathedral
  4. Head to the Tromso Museum
  5. Try and see the Northern Lights
  6. See the Midnight Sun spectacle
  7. Enjoy Tromso’s art scene

Tromso has plenty going for it, with a clutch of interesting museums, and a tasty food scene. The city provides the opportunity to indulge in once in a lifetime experiences, such as seeing the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun spectacle. Use this list as some inspiration for what to do in Tromso.

In collaboration with
Rough Guides

1. Head to the Domkirke area

In the centre of town, you can’t miss the striking woodwork of the Domkirke. From the church, it’s a short walk north along the harbour front to one of the most diverting museums in the city, the Polar Museum. The varied displays here include skeletons retrieved from the permafrost of Svalbard and accounts of expeditions by polar explorers Fridjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.

Best for: An interesting area to explore in Tromso

While you’re there: If you’re looking for lunch, you can buy freshly caught cooked prawns straight off the boats at the Stortorget pier.

2. Discover the area of Polaria

Also on the waterfront, Polaria, Hjalmar Johansens gate 12, the city’s star attraction, draws coach-loads of tourists to see the 3pm feeding of the bearded seals. This state-of-the-art aquarium combines its tanks of cold-water fish with a walk-through seal tunnel, displays about the region’s fragile ecosystem and a stunning panoramic film on Svalbard. Kids will love spotting all the seals, so it’s a great day out for all the family. Looking for Tromso holidays? We recommend staying at Enter City Hotel for a wonderful stay in the city.

Best for: Family fun

While you’re there: Make sure to visit the Planetarium in Tromso. Children will also love watching the educational films there.

3. Explore the Arctic Cathedral

Across the long Tromso Bridge from the centre, the white, pointy, ultramodern Arctic Cathedral is outstanding, its shape inspired by the Hoja mountain near Tromso. It’s made up of eleven immense triangular concrete sections, with a stunning stained-glass window.

Best for: Wonderful architecture

While you’re there: Note that the best time to visit Norway is May, June, September and October when the weather is perfect.

4. Head to the Tromso Museum

The excellent anthropological and geological Tromso Museum should not be missed by anyone with an interest in all things northern. Apart from the excellent displays on both traditional and modern Sami culture, complete with ceremonial objects, traditional dress and household implements, downstairs you can learn about the Aurora Borealis phenomenon - how it works - as well as create your own.

Best for: Museum

While you’re there: Note that bus #37 can take you here from the centre.

5. Try and see the Northern Lights

Tromso’s northerly location but relatively mild climate has made it one of the most popular spots in the world from which to view the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, which are seen here regularly between November and April. Caused by solar winds as they hit the Earth’s atmosphere, they light up the sky in shimmering waves of blue, yellow and green - a spectacle of celestial proportions. This is by far one of the best things to do in Tromso.

Best for: Incredible memories

While you’re there: After, head to Emma’s Drømmekjokken where they serve sublime locally sourced fare from Arctic char to reindeer.

6. See the Midnight Sun spectacle

In the summertime there’s an entirely different Arctic phenomenon to behold: the midnight sun. In Tromso you’re so far north that the sun never actually dips beneath the horizon. Head for Fjellheisen, a cable car that runs to the top of Mount Storsteinen between around May 20 and July 22 around midnight, and you’ll see the glowing sun, hovering over the horizon in the west. Hands down the experience is one of the finest things to do in Tromso. If you’re looking for a pitstop after all that, head to Olhallen Pub, home to cosy cellar decor and a fantastic location. It’s the city’s favourite pub.

Best for: Summer memories

While you're there: In the summer, you can top up your tan on the beach in Telegrafbukta.

7. Enjoy Tromso’s art scene

Tromso has a couple of excellent free art museums. The Art Museum of Northern Norway focuses on landscape paintings by northern Norwegian artists, as well as modern sculpture and photography exhibitions, while Perspektivet, stages cutting-edge photography exhibitions.

Best for: Arty folk

While you're there: Why not try out Tromso’s rock scene? The Blå Rock Café is definitely the place to go for rock music and live acts.

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