Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso

23rd Jun 2019

Gateway to the Arctics

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji

In the midst of Arctic wilderness lies a magical land called Tromso. Often known as the gateway to the Arctics or Paris of the North. It is surrounded by geological wonders of Lygen Alps, Norwegian sea and the mighty Fjiords.

Located 400 kms north of the Arctic circle at 69 degrees N, the small city of Tromso bills itself as Norway's gateway to the Arctic. There's definitely more than a hint of polar atmosphere in the town, surrounded by chilly fjords and the Lyngen Alps that remain snow capped for most part of the year.

With a population of 75,000, the city is the closest to the North pole, Arctic circle. The city is covered with bridges and underground tunnels and witnesses two major phenomenon- The aurora borealis and the midnight sun.

View of Tromso city - from Fjellheisen cable car ride

Photo of Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji

Why visit Tromso?

Not only will you be able to experience the unique phenomenon of Aurora Borealis and the Midnight Sun but also experience a frontier fishing port from the middle ages. You will come face to face with traditional Sami life as well as the modern environment champions.

When to visit?

From mid November to mid January, the city is bathed in an eerie greenish twilight and the sun never manages to climb up the horizon. During the summer months starting in June, you can experience 24 hours of sunlight.

If you want to experience the magical Northern lights , plan a winter trip between mid August and mid April. If you want to witness continuous sunlight for 24 hours, then head to Tromso during the summer months. You can also enjoy the Bukta rock festival that takes place in.

Hotel Clarion- The Edge

Photo of Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji

Where to stay?

We stayed at the Hotel Clarion, the Edge. Not only does it boasts of being centrally located but also of amazing views. It is right next to the dock and some of the town's main attractions are at walking distances. The rooms are comfortable and they go to a great extent in maintaining a clean, carbon free environment. They have an amazing complimentary breakfast spread and their rooftop sky bar is definitely worth a visit for the

stunning views. You can check their website for more details.

View from the plane

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji

Transportation -

Tromso Airport is located approximately 5 km from the city centre. They have a bus service called Flybussen which ferries passengers from the airport to various stops around the city. The bookings for the same can be done in advance from the website, at the airport or even at the time of boarding. Norway is a cash free country so they prefer payment by international credit cards.

We walked to most of the places as there is hardly any traffic and it's wonderful to see the quaint little city by foot. There are many bus stops around with details of the destination and booking can be done on the spot.

You can download Apps like Troms Mobillett to buy bus and ferry tickets and Troms Reise to check all the bus routes. Free maps are available at the airport and hotels.

Sightseeing bus

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji

This is a break down of how we spent our 5 days in Tromso.

Day 1

Since we were too tired from the long layovers and erratic flight timings, we decided to rest and generally wander around our hotel. The hotel enjoys a prime location, right in front of the dock and has easy access to many site-seeing spots. You can enjoy a chilly stroll near the dock and see all the impressive ships and ferries park there. Step into Nerstranda, the local mall and buy some souvenirs for friends and family. (though it is cheaper to buy from the duty free at the airport). Check out the local eateries scattered in and around this place.

Photo of Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji
Day 2

Being a museum buff, I had to go see this one. They are home to the bearded seal which can be only seen either here or in France. It is an aquarium where you will learn about Arctics and its animals, The highlight is the feeding of the seals which happens twice a day. It is a short 10-minute walk from the city centre and also from Hotel Clarion. On the way out, you can check out O' Hallen pub nearby. It is the oldest pub in Tromso.

Photo of Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji

After grabbing lunch, we headed towards the city square which was bustling with activities. While walking through the main walking street - Storgata you will find many cafes and tourist shops. Standing in the middle is beautiful wooden church- Tromso Cathedral. Dating back to 1861, it is the only one in Norway that is made of wood.

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji

Every now and then there is a farmer market, selling Sami goods and handicrafts. Most of the pubs are on this road, so you dont have to go far. Do pose next to the statue of a whaler or request an over friendly sea gull for a selfie!

Since we were not very tired and in the mood to explore more, we visited the Polar museum and Skansen. (Both are right next to each other). Polar museum exhibit gives an insight into the hard life the seal trappers had on Svalbard through the winter. Next to the museum is Skansen, the oldest house in Tromso. It is surrounded by old houses and a beautiful garden.

Skansen- oldest part of Tromso

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji
Day 3

Fjellheisen- The cable car ride is the true icon of Tromso. It was started in 1961 and is a must do for everyone. Once you reach the top of the mountain, you get to see a panoramic view of the city, Mount Floya and the fjords. It is here you will truly feel that you have come to the gateway to the Arctic. After a photo session at the deck, we treated ourselves to a warm cup of coffee at their tiny cafeteria. This is possibly the best place to witness the magic of midnight sun and the northern lights.

Since we were tired from previous day's strenuous walks, we decided to take the bus to this place. If you are particularly sporty and able to walk, then you can take an hour long hike up to the base of the mountain by crossing the Tromso bridge. Otherwise you can take a bus which departs from the main square up to the mountain base.

Photo of Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji

A fifteen-minute walk and we came across one of the biggest landmarks of Tromso- The Arctic Cathedral. It was built in 1965 and designed by famous Norwegian architect called Jan Inge Hovig in the shape of an iceberg. A visit to the cathedral can be easily combined with the cable car ride. Do the cable car ride first and then walk down to the cathedral. If you reach around midnight, you enjoy the midnight organ concert in the cathedral.

Day 4

Telegrafbukta beach- Best place to have picnic in Tromso. It is the perfect spot to enjoy the Lyngen Alps, Norwegian sea and soft, white sand. So pack a wholesome meal and head towards the beach. Make sure to pack thermals and warm drinks as it gets really cold! You easily spend an hour or two walking down the beach or simply doing nothing. It is a 40 minute walk from the city centre or you can take bus number 34 to reach there.

Telegrafbukta beach

Photo of Telegrafbukta, Tromsø, Norway by Ankita Mukherji
Day 5

We decided not to wander around too much on the last day as we had two more countries to travel too. We did a bit of shopping instead and chilling. There are many other activities one can do, so listing down a few.

Fjord sailing and fishing can be done in both summer and winters. Take a boat trip and experience the Arctic wilderness.

Go to Hella (45 minute drive from city centre or take a rib boat) and try your hand at fishing.

Musuem tour- Tromso museum, Norway art museum, Contemporary art gallery, Perspektivet photo museum.

Vulcana Spa boat- Enjoy a luxurious spa and brunch on the boat.

Day trip to Kvaloya island

Lyngen Alps

Photo of Gateway to the Arctics- Tromso by Ankita Mukherji

Things to do during winters-

1.) North lights chase and tour-

2.) Northern lights sailing tour

3.) Dog sledding tour

4.) Snowshoeing

5.) Snow mobile tour

6.) Reindeer tour- feeding and sledding

7.) Whale watching

There are many tourist kiosks and travel shops scattered around the city centre who will give you a better insight on how to book these tours. Tickets can also be booked online, in advance.

Things to pack for the trip

1.) Rain jacket

2.) Water proof shoes

3.) Umbrella- it rains frequently during summers. Summers can be overcast and chilly and the temperature is around 11 degrees average.

4.) Atleast two good winter jackets-The coldest Tromso can get during winters is - 18 degrees with 2.4m depth of snow!

5.) Sunglasses

6.) Good sunscreen- since it is so close to the Arctics, you will get a bad tan

7.) Snacks and instant food- in case you are a vegetarian or get really tired of eating fish. Also food and drinks are quite expensive in the Scandinavian countries.

8.) Water bottle- Drinking water is safe unlike in India can be had directly from the tap. It is better to carry your own bottle and reduce the usage of plastic.

9.) Medicines- Relispray (might need it for all the walking)

10.) International charger

Tromso Event calendar-

June- Midnight Sun Marathon

July- Bukta Beach rock concert.

August- Jazz festival

September- Tromso Food Festival

October- Insomnia Techno Music Festival

September to April- Chasing northern lights.

Hope this has been useful. Do share your comments and any query that you have.

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