Tromso is a lively city located above the Arctic Circle, surrounded by fjords and mountains. It is a major port and university center and is often referred to as the “gateway to the Arctic” and the “Paris of the North”. In addition, Tromso is a popular destination on the route of sea, car and bike trips through the fjords of Norway; it also attracts lovers of mountain walks, rock climbing and fishing. According to populationmonster, Tromso is one of the largest cities in Norway.
The main part of the city is located on the small island of Tromsey, with separate areas on the mainland and on the island of Kvaley. The city center is small and easy to get around on foot. The historical part includes the main street Storgata, as well as the streets Strandgata, Skippergata and Skansegata, which lie closer to the sea. The main market square, Stortorget, overlooks the harbor and the Arctic Cathedral across the strait. On the other side of Storgata, houses climb steeply up the ridge of hills that separate the eastern part of the city from the western part and from the airport.
The Tromso Tourist Office is located at: Kirkegata 2; Tel.: +47 77 61 00 00, +47 77 61 00 time 9:00-16:00, Sat 10:00-16:00, Sun closed.
As Tromsø is located within the Arctic Circle, you can see the midnight sun (polar day) here in summer and the northern lights in winter.
How to get there
Tromso is between Narvik (4 hours drive) and Alta (6 hours).
Tromso has its own Langnes airport, which receives flights from Russia, in particular from Murmansk (Aeroflot-Nord). In addition, there are direct flights from London (Gatwick), Munich, Riga, in the summer – from Antalya, Chania, Palma, Rhodes and Stockholm.
Local flights connect Tromso with Oslo (up to ten times a day, SAS and Norwegian), Bergen (Widerøe), Trondheim (via Bodø, Norwegian), as well as with nearby towns in the Arctic region (Widerøe). Planes flying to Oslo usually land at Gardemoyen Airport, but some cheap flights go to Torp/Sandefjord or Rigge.
From the center of Tromso, the airport can be reached by the Flybussen bus. The first departure from the center is at 5:40, the last from the airport is at 00:00 (Fri), the fare is 90 NOK (for children – 45 NOK), travel time is 14 minutes. In addition, regular buses No. 40 and No. 42 run, operating hours: 6:25-23:50, fare 50 NOK (children – 25 NOK), travel time 15-20 minutes. A taxi from the airport to the center costs 200-250 NOK, the journey takes about 10 minutes.
Due to the mountainous landscape, the entire northern part of Norway, starting from Bodø, is cut off from the country’s railway system. It is not yet possible to get to Tromso by train.
Shopping and shops
The largest shopping center in Tromso, Nerstranda Senter (address: Nerstranda 9, tel.: +47 77618855, opening hours: 10:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-18:00) is located in the heart of the city, a minute walk from Prostneset from where intercity buses depart.
The largest shopping mall in Northern Norway, Jekta, is located near the airport (address: Heiloveien 19, tel.: +47 77604500, opening hours: 10:00-20:00, Sat 10:00-18:00).
Souvenirs are worth buying in museum shops, as well as in: Tromsø Gift and Souvenir Shop, Snarby Strikkestudio (in the very center, opposite the city bus stops; Norwegian sweaters), Blåst (between Nestranda and the brewery; glass souvenirs), Arppa (Sami products, decorations, as well as books in the Sami language).
You can go to Kvaløy (whale island) – the fifth largest island in Norway, connected to the main part of Tromso by a bridge. Sommarøy is a fishing village on islets near the western tip of Kvaleja, with a sandy beach overlooking the open sea and the island of Senja. Not far from Sommaray are the beaches of Sandvika and Otervika.
Hella (Straumhella, 30 km) is a popular place for out-of-town recreation and fishing for residents and guests of Tromso. Straumengård, next to Hella, is a small museum of grass-roofed peasant houses. Grøtfjord (40 km) – sandy beach with stunning views of the sea and the island of Vengsøy.
The islands north of Kvalei can be reached by ferry. Ferries run from Belvik to Vengsay, Myusvær (Musvær, 5 inhabitants) and Sandøy (Sandøy, 3 inhabitants). The large island of Ringvassøya is connected to Kvalei by an underwater tunnel E863. The Mikkelvik-Bromnes ferry connects this island with Rebbenesøya in the northwest. To the east, from Hansnes, you can take a ferry to Reynøya, Vannøya and Karlsøya, the famous island of hippies, artists and musicians, where a music festival is held every summer.
Cuisine and restaurants
You can have a budget meal in the student canteen (cantina) in one of the educational buildings of the University of Tromso. In the city center, a similar dining room is located in the city council building (Rådhus), the main course is up to 80-90 NOK. In other places you can dine for about 110-120 NOK, the lowest prices are at Burger King.
Good cafes: Café Mirage (delicious and hearty on-duty menu), Blå Rock (best hamburgers in town), Gründer, Skarven (fish restaurant), Dolly Dimple’s pizzeria (Pizzabuffet – eat as much as you can, about 130 NOK), Yonas pizzeria, Peppes Pizza (free Internet).
There are no restaurants with traditional cuisine in Tromso, however, you can taste typical Norwegian dishes in: Arctandria (fish dishes), Store Norske Fiskekompani (fresh fish), Sjøgata 12 (bakalau or klippfisk – dried and salted cod), the oldest restaurant in the city Peppermøllen (French and international cuisine, as well as local raw products).
Fine dining restaurants: Tang’s, Lotus, Il Mare, Compagniet and the fantastic Emmas Drømmekjøkken (300-380 NOK main course, NOK 760 “five-course menu”).
Entertainment and attractions Tromso
Of interest is the Arctic Cathedral, decorated with an original stained-glass window, which was built in 1965. In the summer, concerts “Midnight Sun” are given here. The Fjelhuisen funicular, which leads to Mount Storsteinen, is located at an altitude of 420 m. From there, breathtaking views of the city, rivers and mountains open up, and if you’re lucky, then the midnight sun or the northern lights.
The museum complex of the University of Tromso (Universitetsmuseet, address: Lars Thøringsvei 10, tel.: +47 77645000) includes:
- Arctic Alpine Botanical Garden (Arktisk alpin Botanisk hage), open 24/7. Alpine plants from all over the world are represented here.
- Polaria Museum, address: Hjalmar Johansens gate 12, tel.: +47 77750100, opening hours: 10:00-19:00 in summer (from August 31 to May 16), 12:00-17:00 in the rest of the year. The exposition of the museum dedicated to the nature of the polar regions includes pools with catfish, flounders, sea anemones and starfish. And also: a large swimming pool with seals, a film about the nature of Svalbard, a souvenir shop. Admission 130 NOK adults, 65 NOK children, 70 NOK students, family ticket – 280 NOK.
The Perspektivet Museum exhibits exhibits that tell about the history of the city, as well as interesting temporary exhibitions. The Art Museum of Northern Norway showcases the art and traditions of Northern Norway from the nineteenth century to the present day. Interesting displays of Norwegian and international art can be seen in the Modern Art Gallery.
Mack Bryggeri, the northernmost brewery in the world, conducts interesting tours where tourists are introduced to the process of making beer, show equipment and the Ølhallen Beer Hall, built in 1928.
Weather in Tromso
The waters of the Gulf Stream bring the city mild winters (average -3°C) and moderate summers (+15°C). The surrounding mountains protect the island from the open sea and cold winds from Lapland. Tromso is known for its high rainfall, especially in winter.