Tromsø things to do

Northern lights, the world’s northernmost cathedral and the midnight sun make this city an Arctic bucket list treasure

The largest city in Northern Norway and located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is a region rich in history, nature and wilderness.

Founded in 1794, the city became the starting point for tourist expeditions, research and hunting in the early 1990’s, lending the name ‘Gateway to the Arctic’.

In 1965, Tromsdalen Church (The Arctic Cathedral) was consecrated and in 1972, the world’s northernmost university, UIT, opened in the city.

Tromsø is also home to rock paintings, believed to date back from around 7000 BC.

Whether its reindeer sledding, Northern Lights chasing, glacial hiking or fun in the midnight sun, the city, which has more pubs per capita than any other Norwegian town, is a snow-capped wonder to explore.


How to get there:

Fly: Low-cost airline Norwegian has direct flights to Tromsø from London Gatwick.


SAS flies to Tromsø twice a week from Copenhagen.

There are domestic flights from Oslo with SAS and Norwegian; from Bergen with SAS and Widerøe; and from Trondheim with SAS & Norwegian.


Tip: Some flights only operate during the winter season, so remember to take this into consideration when planning your trip.

Train: There is no train service to Tromsø. The nearest train station is in Narvik (for the Swedish railway connection through to Abisko, Kiruna and Stockholm) and Fauske (for the Norwegian railway line through to Trondheim and Oslo).

For domestic train journeys, there are daily train services from Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim to Fauske, where there is a long-distance bus to Tromsø via Narvik.

Bus: Between 1 December – 31 March, there are daily bus routes from Tromsø to Narvik (Route 915), and from Tromsø to Lyngen (Route 902).


Tip: When you’ve landed and exited the airport, Flybussen transfers tourists to the town centre in 15 minutes. A return ticket costs £10.

Tip: City bus routes 40 and 42 run between the airport and Tromsø city centre. A single ticket for these city buses (purchased on board the bus) costs NOK 50 for adults. If you buy tickets from the ticket machine by the bus stop, it is cheaper than purchasing from the driver.

Tip: There is also a taxi rank outside the airport. The fare from the airport to the city centre during the daytime on week days is approximately NOK 200. A higher fare applies on weekends and in the evening.

What to pack:

Tromsø has a varied climate. The average temperature in the winter is -4 °C and 12 °C in the summer. If you’re visiting for Arctic explorations, temperatures range from 5 °C to -25 °C.

In general, it’s advised to wear comfortable, warm clothing:

  • Layer clothing
  • Jumper
  • Trousers
  • Coat / fleece
  • Thermal tops/leggings
  • Scarf
  • Hat
  • Gloves
  • Hiking boots / outdoor shoes

Where to stay:

Staying at the Comfort Hotel Xpress was a great place to bed and enjoy Tromsø. It is just a few streets away from the city centre. With helpful staff and comfy rooms it was a great place to come in from the cold.


What to see:

Arctic Cathedral

Also known as Ishavskatedralen, the cathedral was dedicated on 19 November 1965. The cathedral is a landmark visible from the Tromsø Sound, the Tromsø Bridge and when landing in the city and was designed by architect Jan Inge Hovig.

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The main entrance on the western side is surrounded by a large glass façade with a cross and a glass mosaic on the eastern side depicts God’s hand from which departs three rays of light.

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The cathedral’s organ built in 2005 from pine wood and reindeer hind, comprises 2940 pipes.

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Opening times: Click on this link for opening times during the different seasons.

Price: NOK 50 per adult.


The world’s most northerly aquarium, Polaria houses fish, shellfish, seals and ocean plants. The training and feeding of its four seals is one of the aquarium’s most popular attractions.


The four seals are from two different species: the Bearded Seals Bella and Mai San belong to a purely Arctic species and came from Svalbard in 2003. Harbour Seals Loffen and Lyra arrived from Lofotakvariet in 2010.


Opening times: Click on this link for opening times during the different seasons.

Price: NOK 145 per adult. 70 NOK for children between 3-16 years old.

The Polar Museum

The Scott Polar Research Institute showcases the study of polar environments and the history of exploration and science of the Antarctic.

Comprising of around 3,000 objects, the collection includes foodstuffs, scientific equipment, clothing, sledges and memorabilia.

Established in 1920 as part of the University of Cambridge, the museum displays the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton in the 1900s and 1910s and the Norwegian-British-Swedish Antarctic Expedition in the 1950s.

The Museum’s entrance is located on Lensfield Road, close to the centre of Cambridge.

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Opening times: 10am-4pm from Tuesday to Saturday (and on Bank Holidays).

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Price: Free

Alfheim Stadion 

Founded in 1920, the football ground is the second most-northern stadium used in EU football, after the Finnmarkshallen, which is located 107 miles to the northeast in Alta, Norway. Located in Tromsø, the stadium can hold 6,859 fans and is about a 10-minute walk from downtown.


Tromsø Cathedral

The world’s northernmost Protestant cathedral and Norway’s only wooden church, the cathedral dates back to 1861.


With a Gothic revival style, the place of prayer was completed in 1861 and designed by architect Christian Heinrich Grosch.


Tromsø Centre

From 20 May to 20 July, the midnight sun makes it possible to do as the locals and participate in various activities around the clock.


Visit some of the restaurants for locally sourced food or take a trip to the city’s oldest pub from 1928 – Ølhallen Brewpub.

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The Kystens Hus restaurant is located next to the city’s harbour and overlooks the Arctic Cathedral. Visit here for fish soup and great reindeer stew.



For the best view on Tromsø, take the Fjellheisen cable car for a breath-taking outlook.

The cable car runs from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the mountain ledge Storsteinen (421 m above sea level) in just four minutes.

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Once at the top, you’ll enjoy a panoramic view of the city and surrounding mountains and fjords and islands. There’s also a cafe serving local produce.

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Opening times: Remember to check for seasonal opening times (Winter = 1 Aug-31 May 10.00am-23.00pm and Summer = 1 June – 31 July 10.00am – 1.00am.)

Price: A return ticket costs NOK 210 per adult. A single fare costs NOK 150 per adult.


Take a gentle walk to the harbour to enjoy reflecting views of the mountains and building lights.

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Catch the no.42 bus in the city centre and head for Eidkjosen. Once there, it is a short walk to Kaldfjord and some great views of Store Blåmann.


Click here for more information on Tromsø.

Checking out C & J

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