Magical. This is the world that fits the best to describe the city of Tromsø. And from the moment when your plane lands, you will inmediately understand it. The view over the fjord, the mountains, the snow who turns pink or blue depending on the light…
This modern and lively city lays about 350 km north of the northern Arctic Circle. Depending on the time of the year, you will find two different worlds: the one where Lady Aurora lights up the long polar nights, and the one where the sun never sets – the phenomena of midnight sun.
This time, we will talk about the city of Tromsø during winter. Here’s a list of things that you can’t miss in your backpacker adventure up in the North.
1. Northern Lights hunt
Tromsø is the perfect base to see the majestic phenomenon of Northern Lights between October and March. Actually, we can see them from the city, considering that the chances of spotting aurora borealis depend on the cloud cover and the amount of solar activity, wich is difficult to predict. However, the ideal would be to take a car and go outside the city, in order to see them without the light pollution. If you want to know more about Northern Lights, check out this article.
2. Reindeer and dog sledding
If you are looking for a different experience to try, this is exactly the definition of “different”. A lot of companies arrange dog and reindeer sledding trips for tourists in the winter season. Reindeer sledding is the oldest way of transport in the North, and an ancient part of the Sami culture. In most of these trips, you will get to know more about Sami traditions (and maybe to share a traditional dish and a cup of cocoa sitting next to a bonfire, while listening to old stories).
3. Arctic fauna
Those who are passionated by fauna will find their paradise in this area. At the Polar Park, the northernmost zoo in the world, you can get an encounter with “the big four”: Wolf, wolverine, bear and lynx. In addition, you will be able to see other creatures from the northern forests and the treeless tundra, such as arctic foxes, mooses and reindeers. Furthermore, it’s your place if you dream to spend a night surrounded by wolfs, or feed the arctic foxes. The Park is 3 hours driving from Tromsø. Of course, winter is also the perfect time to meet the whales, as some companies make trips specifically to get to see them.
4. Museums & sightseeing
There are lots of museums in Tromsø, and the best part is that most of them are for free! Perspektivet Museum is a very interesting one. In this moment, you can see the “Homo Religiosus” photography exhibition, about the spiritual world. Just a few blocks away, the Art Museum of Northern Norway is also free of charge, with a big collection of Norwegian art from the early 19th Century – especially adressing Northern Norway.
But the city’s star attraction is the modernist Arctic Cathedral. Designed by the Norwegian architect Jan Inge Holvig, it’s located in Tromsaden, so to get there you will have to cross the long and famous bridge (20 minutes walking). Once you get there, you will be surprise by the dramatic form of the building. The inside is illuminated in a very magical way.
5. Local gastronomy
Tromsø is also a perfect place for those who want to taste new things, especially sea food. Reindeer and moose soup is also a local specialty, as well as the whale meat. The food prices depend of course on the place where you eat (student canteens at the university campus are maybe the cheapest). Most of the tours (like the Northern Lights hunt and the reindeer sledding) include a traditional meal in the price.
6. Winter fun
Those who like outdoor activities will enjoy each of the possibilities that the city has to offer. Snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating… As we already mentioned, reindeer and dog sledding are also very popular activities. The city is surrounded by forests and natural areas, that in winter time are just gorgeus. Just take a walk to enjoy the breathtaking landscape and the fresh air.
Every hiking route in the surroundings of the city is perfect. If you want to get the perfect view over Tromsø, go up to the Mount Storsteinen, 421 meters above the sea. From the top, you have a magnificent panoramic view over the city and the surrounding islands. If you prefer not to walk all the way up, you can always take the Cable Car.
If you’re lucky enough, you will see the Northern Lights, but even if you don’t, you will enjoy the winter appeal of this unique Norwegian city.
Written by María de la Cruz Gutiérrez