Tromsø, a beautiful snowy city in the winter above the arctic circle located at the top of Norway. It’s actually an island, a tiny one but full of culture, friendly people and gorgeous scenery. It is also insanely expensive (for me anyway) like most Scandavanian countries but don’t let that deter you.
I love to visit during the summer time but if you are planning to visit, here are the top 10 things to do in Tromsø in winter:
1. Chase the Northern lights
One of the best places in the world to witness this magnificent phenomenon since the city is situated almost perfectly in the center of the Northern lights oval. The locals I have spoken to says they see it all the time even in the city center. However, this is not a guarantee; no one can promise that you’ll be able to see it. It all depends on the weather, how clear the sky is etc.
There are several tours, from large big ones to small private tours to a photography tour. It all depends on what you want. One of the tour agency mentioned that they once drove all the way to the Finland to catch a glimpse of the lights. But with all my heart, I sincerely hope that you will get to witness the lights.
The tour company I went with was Northern shots
Or check out the hotel I stayed called the Sydspissen Hotell – the view is brilliant and you can see the Northern lights from your bedroom window.
2. Visit the Arctic Cathedral
Tromsdalen Church, also known as Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral) located across the bridge in Tromsdalen Valley. The cathedral is now a landmark of Tromsø, and is even visible from aircraft. (If it’s too windy or icy, you can take the bus or taxi to the cathedral instead of walking across the bridge). A wonderful architecture.
There is an entrance fee of 50 NOK but unfortunately, it was closed when I visited. The view from the church is magnificent, you can see the mountains and the whole city.
3. Fjellheisen (Cable car ride)
The Fjellheisen cable car in Tromsø, which takes you up Mount Floya operating every half hour during winter. For me, this is a must – the view of Tromsø from 400 ft is truly beautiful especially if you go during twilight, you get both light blue version of Tromsø and in darkness. It is located behind the Arctic cathedral, around 30 min uphill walk – could be longer in the snow and ice.
They cost 170 NOK for adults (they have student and children prices too). When you are up there, there is a massive cafe with tons of heating, good beer, and burgers. They also have secure viewing platform to view Tromsø city and wheelchair facilities. You can also see the snowy mountain ranges and the whole of Tromsø from the viewing point, which will surely make your trip much more memorable.
It’s also a very good spot to view the Northern lights, you can trek behind the cafe lodge into the mountains away from the city lights. Check their website first before going, they close if it is bad weather i.e foggy etc.
4. Dog Sledding
I missed out on this one! So gutted- all because I thought I could rock up to the tour agencies and book one when I get there but it was sold out all week. My suggestion – book way ahead of time!
An afternoon or half a day with huskies and husky puppies, learn how to dog sled and soak in the atmosphere sounds incredible.
5. Ice Fishing
Something different that Tromso provides is Ice Fishing. Get the opportunity to do a special Norwegian activity; the city surrounded by water and lakes, there are opportunities to catch a trout or coalfish etc.
Have you ever thought of fishing on top of glaciers? This is an experience that is almost exclusive to Tromsø, and you can’t find it elsewhere in the world. There are tours organised by local agencies, and you can reserve your place for an amazing and ice cold adventure.
Website: Guide Gunnar
6.Visit the seals in Polaria (Aquarium)
The Polaria is the world’s northernmost aquarium. Inside are 4 bearded huge seals and if you come at 3.30pm, it’s feeding time! There are researchers on hand to answer your question, and take a selfie in the dedicated selfie hole with the seal.
They also have a panoramic cinema, which shows a short film that explains the phenomenon of the Northern Lights, and a section where they address tough topics like how ice is melting in the Arctic, as well as the wildlife that calls our Polar regions home. It’s a lovely experience to walk around, especially if you have kids or if you want to see exotic fishes and seals.
Website: Polaria Aquarium
This one is such a poser! Knows his angles too!
7. Reindeer Sledding and the Sami tribe
Norway’s reindeer are all wild and roam freely, but they are all owned by Sami people. Reindeer herding and moving about the Arctic was once the Sami’s only way of life.
You can experience the Sami culture, feed reindeers or if you fancy it, go on a sleigh ride. Tours usually include an invitation into their Sami tent which resembles the Native American Tipi and provides food while they explain more about their culture. There are tours where you can stay the night in the Sami tent and if you’re lucky also get to witness the northern lights.
8. Explore Tromso City
A charming city with a University in the center, a shopping mall and boutiques. There is no shortage of bars and restaurants as well.
Or visit the Tourist center, and they can assist you with a variety of options from the majority of the tour agencies available.
Website: Tromso Tourist center
9. Whale Watching
Join a whale safari tour that could take between 3 to 6 hours. Pass by fishing trawlers, the stunning Fjords in search of the wild orcas, sperm and humpback whales.
Website: Tromso Safari
10. Beautiful Sunrises and landscape
Get some fresh air and go hiking in one of the many trails Tromso has to offer. During Winter, the sun ‘rises’ around 11.30pm and on a very good day, you get to witness this magnificent sunrise. The entire sky turned from dark blue in the early morning to an array of fiery red, yellow and orange colours.
Check out the different trails you can go on this website here
Have you been? Where or what would you recommend on doing?
Check out my other Tromsø post: Entering the Arctic Circle
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