A gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø was made famous as the launching point for Arctic expeditions. Today, it's still a base for adventurers of the leisure type: Northern Lights hunters and winter sports lovers. As a big university town, there’s a lively atmosphere with lots of shops, bars, and restaurants. Stop in for a beer at one of the world’s most northernmost breweries for some well-deserved bragging rights.
What We Love
Polar Museum: Polar History 101 is taught at this excellent museum with exhibits on Fridtjof Nansen’s and Roald Amundsen’s world-famous expeditions (one was the first to reach the South Pole; the other made the first Greenland interior crossing); Wanny Woldstad, the first woman to winter in the Arctic; and the region’s history of seal hunting.
Arctic Cathedral: This striking structure evokes a Sami tent or icy glaciers. It’s a must-see (and you will when you arrive in port) for the enormous stained glass windows and nearly 3,000-pipe organ.
Best Known For
Winter Activities: Whether you’re mushing a dogsled or snowmobiling on frozen fjords, there are many opportunities for polar adventures in Tromsø and its surrounds.
Polaria Museum: You can’t miss this unusual museum, constructed to look like tumbling ice floes. Inside, an Arctic aquarium harbors bearded seals and exhibits on the polar region’s changing landscape.
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Who It's Best For
Northern Lights Hunters: Tromsø is located in prime Northern Lights territory, so the chances of getting a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis is high, particularly between the months of September and April.
Polar History Buffs: Tromsø has a rich history of intrepid adventurers — hunters, trappers, and researchers, including Roald Amundsen, the first explorer to reach the South Pole.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
Prices are High: Nothing is Norway comes cheaply, so be prepared to pay a premium.
Kim Foley MacKinnon is a Boston-based writer for ShermansCruise whose work has also appeared in The Boston Globe.