Tromsø: Norway’s Arctic gem

Fresh fish, northern lights, and fjords.

Photo: Unsplash
March 2024
Spectacular nature, unique Arctic atmosphere, fresh fish, and saunas. Here’s our guide to what you simply can’t miss when visiting this Norwegian gem.

Tromsø is surrounded by the Norwegian mountains, with the sea as its closest neighbor. Home to only 80,000 people, the city attracts tourists from all over the world for everything from nature-based adventures to Arctic food, culture, and locally produced spirits. Picturesque Tromsø has a host of unique experiences to offer.

Experience the northern lights

Between September and April, it’s possible to experience the captivating northern lights when visiting Tromsø. A number of companies offer northern lights tours almost daily, among them Best Arctic. They bring visitors from all over the world to the most favorable locations to experience the northern lights during well-planned, guided tours through the beautiful Norwegian landscape. In addition to northern lights adventures, Best Arctic also offers a variety of other exciting activities, such as fjord tours, reindeer encounters, and sleigh rides.

Best Arctic
Photo: Best Arctic

Spa day on the water

Vulkana is a unique spa concept, to say the least. The boat, which is an old whaling ship from 1957, has been converted into a spa with a hammam, Japanese lounge, hot tub, and sauna with a fantastic view of the fjords. End with a refreshing dip in the Norwegian Sea if you’re feeling brave—or sip a refreshing cocktail and enjoy the beautiful surroundings of Tromsø.

Photo: Christian Nilsen

Culture in Tromsø

Tromsø is known for its rich cultural scene with several exciting museums to choose from. One of the most famous is Polaria, where visitors can learn about Arctic nature through interactive exhibitions. There is also an aquarium with seals and Arctic fish to discover. For those interested in music, Tromsø also offers several music events throughout the year, such as the electronic music festival Insomnia. The annual festival combines music, design, and new technology and involves the whole city.

Photo: Polaria

Tromsø’s unique range of bars

Despite its size, Tromsø has a wide range of bars to explore (it is said to have the most bars per capita in Scandinavia). Among them, you’ll find unique concepts such as the Magic Ice Bar Tromsø, where you can enjoy your drinks surrounded by beautiful ice sculptures.

Another unique bar experience you’ll find in Tromsø is Raketten Bar & Pølse, a small kiosk in the center of town that serves pølse, beer, and wine from its window. 

If premium cocktails are more your thing, Bardus is the perfect option. Here, you’ll find exciting drinks on the menu, such as the mythical Arctic Seaweed Cocktail.

Magic Ice Bar Tromsø
Photo: Magic Ice Bar Tromsø

Ride along the fjords

A unique way to experience the beautiful landscape of Tromsø is to book a ride with the Tromsø Lyngshest. The Norwegian horse breed, similar to the Icelandic horse, is part of Norway’s cultural heritage and is also suitable for adventurous families with children. You can visit the horse farm a few miles outside of Tromsø to meet the horses and ride along Norway’s beautiful fjords. It’s an enchanting experience in nature for young and old alike.

Tromsø Lyngshest
Photo: Tromsø Lyngshest

Fresh fish and seafood

Tromsø has a long and vital history of fishing, and its proximity to the Arctic Ocean means that the city has a rich supply of delicacies from the sea. At Fiskekompaniet, right next to the quay, you can taste fresh Arctic fish and other seafood. Another popular destination is the seafood restaurant Arctandria, where you’ll find several unique dishes on the menu, such as whale and fermented rakfisk. Be sure to try the classic fish cake while you’re here—made from fish, spices, and potatoes, it can be eaten with a side dish or as a snack to go. For more restaurant tips, see our article The best flavours in Tromsø.

Text by Peggy Hansson