14 Incredible things to do in Tromso

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Tromso is the gateway to the Arctic in Norway. This is a historic city with a young soul. Tromso is packed with colourful heritage buildings intermingled with contemporary glass structures. Here are some cool things to do in Tromso.

Most visitors travel to Bergen to cruise the fjords in Norway, which are famous and ethereally beautiful but some cruise ships also stop in Tromso and Nordkapp, which is further north. Tromso is also home to some impressive landmarks of Norway.

Tromso, Norway

14 Incredible things to do in Tromso

1- Learn about Arctic wildlife at Polaria

Se lion in Polaria - one of the things to do in Tromso
See the bearded sea lions in Polaria – it’s one of the things to do in Tromso, Norway

Polaria is an Arctic aquarium worth visiting as it is a showcase of Arctic animals such as bearded seals.

The glass tunnel is quite an experience, especially when bearded seals float past.

The bearded seal (Erignathus barbatus) is an arctic species with a grey-brown body and long whiskers.

To distinguish it from other seals look for a deeply set lower jaw and square front flippers.

This seal is the largest northern phocid seal, where an adult specimen can be as long as two metres and weigh as much as 250kg.

The seal pool is not a large area and if you’re visiting during high season (especially when there’s a cruise ship is in town), it’s probably going to be crowded.

Despite the crowd, it’s still worth seeing.

You’ll soon realise how intelligent these seals are.

With a little inducement of fish treats, it’s a wonder to see these huge seals launch out of the water onto the ground beside the pool.

Then there are oohs and aahs as you marvel at the frolicking and the responses of the seals to the cues from the seal trainers.

If you have the time to tour Scandinavia, here’s a useful post on the best time to visit Iceland

Arctic seals
tromso things to do
Checking out the various kinds of seals is an eye-opening thing to do in Tromso.

There are six seal species in the Arctic.

Besides the bearded seal, there’s the harp seal, common seal, hooded seal, ringed seal and walrus.

Climate change and the rise in the sea temperature is becoming a pressing problem for these Arctic species.

These Arctic animals, which include polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and seals, have adapted to freezing temperatures and long winters. Now, they are under threat of losing their habitats.

Some researchers predict that global warming will affect the Arctic much more than anywhere else on earth.

Already, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the USA has listed bearded and ringed seals as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

2- See the Northern Lights

what to do in tromso northern lights
One of the amazing things to see in Tromso is the Northern Lights. Photo: Bård Løken Visitnorway. com/Innovation Norway.

I would love to visit this place again when the Northern Lights are dancing in the sky.

They say late Autumn and early Spring are the best times to spot the Aurora Borealis.

I’ve seen the Northern Lights in the Yukon in Canada where a green shimmering curtain falling from the sky had an otherworldly feel and I can imagine seeing it in such an isolated outpost in Norway would be quite a bucket list experience.

The scientific explanation of the Northern Lights is when electrically charged particles from the sun enter the earth’s atmosphere above the magnetic poles, both north and south (when this celestial phenomenon occurs in the south it’s called the Aurora Australis).

Check out a range of attractions in Tromso here

3- Learn to be a musher on a husky sled safari

things to do tromso
Going on a dog sled safari is one of the amazing things to do in Tromso. Photo: C.H/visitnorway. com
Innovation Norway

Marvel at the winter wonderland scenery as you ride in a sleigh pulled by huskies.

The wilderness around Tromso is perfect for an adventurous sleigh ride and a visit to a husky farm.

Check out these fun outdoor tours in Tromso

4- Feed reindeer and learn about Sami culture

things to do in tromso
Visiting a Sami settlement is one of the cool things to do in Tromso.

Listen to Sami stories, feed the reindeer and embrace the traditions of Norway’s Sami people. 

Half of the world’s 80,000 Sami people live in Norway – the rest are in Sweden, Finland and Russia. 

Northern Norway is the traditional home of Sami who support themselves by raising reindeer, fishing and hunting. 

Check out this list of cultural tours around Tromso

5- Get a workout on a snowshoe tour

One of the fun things to do during winter in Norway is to go on a snowshoe safari and Tromso is the perfect place to explore. 

Walking with “tennis rackets” on your feet across the snow-covered ground is a great way to burn off some calories and get into the spirit of a northern adventure. 

Check out a range of outdoor activities in Tromso

6- Join a snowmobile safari

A fantastic day trip from Tromso is a snowmobile safari across through the most amazing winter scener.

Think Narnia and Lord of the Rings as you wind your way through the winter wonderland landscape of the Lyngen Alps.

A bonus: the ferry trip across the fjords is an enchanting contrast to the snow-covered Alps.

See more details about a snowmobile safari from Tromso here

7- Go cross-country skiing

Even if you’ve never tried cross-country skiing before, you’ll enjoy learning to do it in Tromso.

Norway is the land of world-class skiing competitors and learning to ski here is an experience you’ll always remember.

From flat terrain to some hilly country, the conditions are perfect for learners. 

Check out this cross-country skiing tour 

8- Go on a fjord cruise

Most people stop in Tromso as a port of call while on a Norwegian coastline cruise from Bergen through the fjords. 

If you happen to be one of the few visitors that came by land or air then make sure you book yourself into one of these amazing fjord cruises from Tromso

9- Join a fishing tour

How about going fishing? Fishing in Norway is a great way to get into the local lifestyle. Norwegians go fjord fishing, deep sea fishing and freshwater fishing. 

Here are some luxury fishing tours in Tromso that will allow you to enjoy the stunning scenery on the water near Tromso and the chance to catch a fish or two (not guaranteed!)

10- Go on a beer safari

Yep, you read it right – not a bear safari but a beer safari of Tromso’s pubs. 

Norway’s brewing traditions stretch way back into the country’s past and there’s something really cool about sipping a dark lager in the world’s northernmost brewery.

Fancy some reindeer carpaccio? How does 10 beers and Arctic tapas sound? 

Check out Tromso’s beer tour

11- Tour Tromso on the Arctic train

what to do in tromso
Tromso may be small but you’ll be thankful to hop on board the tourist train.

Save your feet and tour through the streets of Tromso on the tourist train, which also heads to the waterfront up to a scenic viewpoint and then back through the streets of Skansen.

12- Visit the Arctic Cathedral

Tromso’s Arctic Cathedral or Tromsdalen Church was built in 1965 and is a landmark that can be seen from Tromsø Sound and Tromsø Bridge. 

It’s an architectural creation with 11 aluminium-coated concrete panels and an impressive glass mosaic that was added to the cathedral in 1972.

As an architectural work of art, the cathedral is worth a visit just to see its glass mosaic, oak pews and chandeliers. 

Even better if there’s a Northern Lights concert on as the sound of music to the backdrop of the lights is simply magical. 

13- Ride the Fjellheisen cable car

things to do in tromso norway
If you take the cable car (Fjellheisen) up the mountain, you can check out Tromsø’s best views and the best place to see the midnight sun. Photo: Alexander Benjaminsen/Visitnorway.com/Innovation Norway

Get an eyeful of Tromso from the Fjellheisen cable car, which operates between Solliveien in Tromsdalen to Storsteinen (421 m high).

The trip only takes four minutes and the view from the platform is truly spectacular. 

If you have time, have dinner at the restaurant for a romantic treat. Check out the operating times here

Multi-day tours from Tromso

14- See the midnight sun at Nordkapp 

day trip from tromso
Seeing the midnight sun at Nordkapp is a bucket list thing to do as a trip from Tromso.

545km north of Tromso, I arrive at a place that looks like it’s at the edge of the world.

I boarded the local bus from Honningsvag, the nearest village, and arrived at Nordkapp (North Cape) visitor’s centre.

Nordkapp sits on a cliff 307m above the ocean.

Near the edge of the cliff is a globe that serves as a landmark.

Nordkapp is Europe’s northernmost point (71°10’21″).

Actually, Nordkapp is not far from the North Pole.

2100km of ocean and the Svalbard Islands separates the two.

Standing at the edge of the cliff, the wind whips my hair and I feel a strong sense of isolation.

It seems incongruous to feel isolated when you’re surrounded by busloads of tourists but looking out at the Arctic Ocean from the clifftop still manages to make me feel like I’m in a remote and distant land.

The visitor’s centre has an underground tunnel and exhibits that describe the history of the North Cape.

There’s also a small chapel and a restaurant and function centre.

Not surprisingly, St Johannes chapel is the world’s northern-most chapel.

The dining area has magnificent views of the Arctic Ocean.

Click here for more amazing multi-day tours from Tromso 

13 Incredible things to do in Tromso

13 Incredible things to do in Tromso

14 Incredible things to do in Tromso