Spending Christmas in Tromso is the perfect way to experience some of the best things this Norwegian city has to offer. After all, so many fascinating events and natural phenomena coincide in December: peak Northern Lights season, whale watching season, polar night, and, of course, Christmastime.
On top of that, if you visit Tromso in December, there will be no shortage of festive activities: seeing reindeer, going dog sledding, sampling gløgg, visiting a Tromso Christmas market, and much more. Even with 24 hours of darkness, you’ll still be able to find plenty of ways to celebrate.
This article will focus on Tromsø Christmas-related activities and travel tips, so if you want more general information on visiting Tromso from December to March, check out our article on Tromso in winter.
Ready to celebrate Christmas in Tromso? Let’s get into it!
1. Visit the Tromso Christmas markets
A trip to Tromso at Christmastime would not be complete without a visit to the Tromso Christmas markets. Nothing will put you in a more festive mood than wandering past charmingly decorated stalls with arts, crafts, and gifts as you sip on a hot drink.
Every year, from mid-November through the month of December, various Tromso Christmas markets pop up around the city. Several are located around the Prostneset port terminal area, where you’ll also find a Ferris wheel at this time of the year.
Perhaps the most picturesque Tromso Christmas market is located in Stortorget, the city’s main square. There, you’ll see Tromso’s main Christmas tree as well as the Fangstmonument, or “Arctic Hunter” statue, a tribute to the whalers and fishermen who lost their lives at sea.
Each market’s wares include local crafts, jewelry, food products, and more, all of which make thoughtful gifts or unique souvenirs.
2. Go ice skating and soak up the Tromso Christmas holiday spirit
Make like a local and head to Prestvannet Lake for some ice skating. This small lake freezes over every winter, so bring your own skates or rent a pair and hit the ice for some classic holiday fun.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer a smoother skating surface, take advantage of the recent Tromso Christmas holiday season tradition of setting up an ice rink in the city center. There, you’ll enjoy lovely views of the Arctic Cathedral and cable car as you skate.
If you get very lucky, you might even be able to see the aurora from the rink. Tromsø is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world, so it’s certainly not out of the question.
When you’ve had your fill of skating, take a moment to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate or some gløgg, also known as mulled wine, a traditional Scandinavian Christmas drink.
3. See Arctic reindeer, a unique Christmas in Tromso adventure
There’s no better way to get into the Christmas spirit than by making some Tromsø Arctic reindeer friends. Become a Tromso Santa Claus for a day by taking this reindeer sledding tour, one of the best tours in Tromso. You’ll get the chance to not only meet and feed the reindeer, but also learn about Sami culture and reindeer herding.
If you’re more of a dog person, husky sledding is a wonderful alternative. On this self-drive husky sledding tour, you’ll get to meet the dogs, embark on a snowy sledding adventure, and end the day with a slice of chocolate cake by the fire.
4. See the aurora, one of the best things to do in Tromso in December
December is one of the best months to see the Northern Lights in Norway, since polar night means 24 hours of darkness. The more hours of darkness there are, the higher the chances of spotting an aurora, as long as the skies are clear.
Make your Tromso Christmas one to remember by booking one of the many Northern Lights tours that leave from Tromso. In particular, I highly recommend this all-inclusive Northern Lights tour, which includes food, hot drinks, professional portrait photos, and thermal suits.
Joining a tour will give you a much higher chance of catching the Northern Lights, since the expert tour leaders will know exactly where to take you and whether the conditions are good enough to see the aurora.
5. Experience a Tromso New Year’s Eve to end your Tromso holidays
Cap off your Tromso holiday season by experiencing an unforgettable Tromso New Year’s Eve celebration. Like many cities, Tromso launches a firework display as soon as the clock strikes 12. However, you’ll also see the old year’s digits lit up with fiery torches on the mountainside before they transform into the new year’s numerals.
You can watch this dazzling display from various locations on the island, such as Charlottenlund Park, Alfheim Stadium, or Tromsø Maritime Skole. Other excellent spots include Tromsø Bridge and Mount Storsteinen, which you can reach by taking the Fjellheisen cable car.
Other tips for visiting Tromso at Christmastime
If you do plan to visit Tromso in December, you’ll need to know more than just activities to do. As such, below, you’ll find information on hotels, restaurants, and weather as well as a helpful packing list for essential items.
Where to stay in Tromso for Christmas
There are plenty of fantastic accommodations for Christmas in Tromso, but staying at one of the top Northern Lights hotels in Norway is probably the best choice of all. Not only will you get the chance to see the Northern Lights from your hotel room, but you’ll also experience top-notch service and amenities.
One unique accommodation option is the Tromsø Ice Domes Hotel, where you can sleep in a room made of ice and take a guided snowshoe excursion to hunt for the Northern Lights. Another great pick is the Radisson Blu Hotel, one of the best hotels in Tromso, where you can watch the aurora dance overhead from the hotel’s glass bridge.
If you want something more private, a cabin near Tromso with fjord views is a wonderful option too.
Restaurants that are open for Christmas in Tromso
Most shops and restaurants are closed from December 25th to 26th, even many of the best restaurants in Tromso. Be prepared to buy food in advance and potentially cook your own meal, but of course, you can always check with individual restaurants to see if they’re open.
On the bright side, most restaurants and shops are open between December 27th and New Year’s Eve, so you’ll still have the chance to eat a delicious holiday meal.
A fantastic dining option is Bardus Bistro, where you can enjoy Norwegian home-style meals with a Mediterranean twist, along with creative cocktails. You also can’t go wrong with Suvi, a Japanese fusion restaurant with Asian tapas, sushi, classics like katsu curry and teriyaki, and vegan and vegetarian options.
Weather in Tromso in December
Temperatures can get quite low in Tromso in December, so pack warm clothing and be prepared to bundle up if you go outside.
You may also be wondering: does it snow in Tromso in December? The answer is yes, Tromso can get quite a bit of snow. Luckily, that means you’ll experience the perfect white Christmas.
As I’ve already mentioned, unfortunately, you won’t see any daylight in Tromso in December, as there are 24 hours of darkness every day throughout the month. The flip side of this phenomenon, however, is that the long, dark nights are ideal for aurora viewing, so it’s still one of the best times of year to visit Tromso.
Hours of daylight
Hours of sunshine
Average low temp.
Average high temp.
Days with precipitation
Average precipitation (rain + snow)
Yes (but it’s too dark to see them!)
WEATHER IN TROMSO IN DECEMBER
Christmas packing list for Tromso
Last but not least, it’s useful to have some idea of what to pack if you’re spending Christmas in Tromso. Here are a few of the most important items you should bring:
- A camera for taking photos of the Northern Lights, the festive decorations, or anything else that catches your eye.
- Warm clothing – a hat, gloves, scarf, parka, wool sweaters, wool socks, and long underwear. Layering is key for staying warm.
- Warm, sturdy hiking boots for any Tromso hiking or outdoor activities you do.
- Crampons for hiking on icy or snowy trails.
- A swimsuit for visiting a sauna or hot tub.
And with that, you should have everything you need to spend Christmas in Tromsø! As you’ll have seen, there are plenty of reasons to spend the holiday season in Tromso: the lovely Christmas markets, the Northern Lights, the brilliant Tromso New Year’s Eve festivities, the chance to meet reindeer and huskies, the festive, snowy atmosphere, and the whale watching.
Enjoy your Christmas in Tromso!