There are plenty of places to visit in Tromso, regardless of the time of year you travel to this city in northern Norway. Specifically, it is 217 miles above the Arctic Circle, which is why Tromso is the so-called “Arctic capital” of Norway.
We visited Tromsø in winter, before starting our trip to the Lofoten Islands. We were there at the best time to see the Northern Lights, so next time we would like to visit Tromso in summer to see the midnight sun, since it’s something I haven’t seen yet.
If you’re planning to visit the “Arctic Capital,” keep in mind that, in addition to seeing the Northern Lights or the midnight sun, there are many other things to do in Tromso, such as hikes, whale watching tours, and fjord cruises.
In order to help you plan your trip, here are the best places to visit in Tromso.
1. The Arctic Cathedral, the top-rated tourist attraction in Tromso
The Arctic Cathedral is, without a doubt, the most popular tourist attraction in Tromso, Norway. Although it is known as a cathedral, it’s actually a parish church. It’s in Tromsdalen and has become one of the most iconic places in the city.
The Arctic Cathedral is the work of architect Jan Inge Hovig. It is made up of 11 aluminum-coated concrete panels on each side of the roof and has been compared numerous times to the Sydney Opera House in Australia due to its pyramid shape. It might also be said to resemble an iceberg.
Visiting this cathedral is, without a doubt, one of the must-do things in Tromso. Besides, you have no excuse, since the church can be seen from various different points in the city. However, I do recommend you visit it so you can see it up close.
2. Polaria, one of the most popular places to visit in Tromso
Polaria is the northernmost aquarium in the world and one of the most popular places to visit in Tromso.
It was opened with a purely scientific aim and initially housed educational exhibitions for kids. Nowadays, inside, there is a panoramic cinema, an “Arctic Walkway” area with displays of polar exploration equipment, stuffed animals and simulated permafrost, and a conventional aquarium and pool where several bearded seals live.
However, although going to Polaria is recommended in any guide to sightseeing in Tromso, Norway, we didn’t go because we don’t like to see animals in captivity.
3. Take the Fjellheisen Cable Car, one of the best things to do in Tromso
Taking the Fjellheisen cable car is one of the best things to do in Tromso all year round.
The cable car leads to Storsteinen, which is 1,525 feet above sea level, on Mount Fløya. From here, the views are incredible. Also, if you get lucky, it’s one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. However, even if you travel to Tromsø after the Aurora season, I still recommend going up because, from there, you get incredible views of the Norwegian fjords.
Right where the Fjellheisen cable car drops you is a path that takes you to Tromsdalstinden, which is 4,032 feet above sea level. The trail is perfect if you like hiking since you get even better views from there.
4. See the Northern Lights, the most spectacular thing to do in Tromso in winter
Seeing the Northern Lights is the most impressive thing to do in Tromso in winter. Thanks to Tromso’s location, it is one of the best places to see Northern Lights in Norway. Although we’ve already seen them in different parts of the world on many occasions, I can assure you that they are completely magical, and each time we see them again, we get excited.
Whether you travel exclusively to Tromso to see the Northern Lights or not, I assure you that it’s one of the most important things to do in Tromso in winter. If you’ve never seen them before, you should definitely book one of the Northern Lights tours in Tromso that I recommend. Your guide will know exactly where to go to increase your chances of seeing them. They aren’t always easy to find, since sightings depend on how clear and light polluted the sky is.
My favorite tour is this one, as they will take you wherever you need to go, including Finland and Sweden, to fulfill your dream of seeing the Northern Lights.
5. Fjord Cruise, a beautiful tour to take in Tromsø all year round
One of the most popular excursions in Tromso is taking a Norwegian fjords cruise. With a bit of luck, in addition to seeing the beautiful fjords, you might see some of Tromso’s wildlife.
This is why taking a fjord cruise is one of the best activities in Tromso all year round.
Many ferries and boats pass through the fjords, but I recommend this tour. It includes breakfast, and, although wild animals can be unpredictable, there is a good chance that you might see everything from various species of birds, such as puffins if you go in the summer, to seals and otters.
6. Tromsø Cathedral, a must-visit place in Tromso, Norway
Tromso Cathedral is a monument you must visit. It is the work of Christian Heinrich Grosch and was built in 1861 in a neo-Gothic style. Interestingly, the cathedral’s floor is made of wood, a feature it shares with the Cathedral of Our Lady of Tromsø.
This cathedral is a very important point of interest in Tromso, and visiting it is very easy, since it’s in the very center of the city, on Storgata Street.
7. Dog Sledding, an activity to do in Tromsø in winter
Going dog sledding is one of the most popular activities in Tromso in winter.
Personally, it isn’t one of my favorite things to do in Tromso, since I prefer to play with the dogs rather than use them as transport. However, I’ve read some reviews, and the dogs seem to be well cared for.
If you want to do this activity, I recommend booking this tour because it’s gotten very good reviews. The ride lasts half a day. They ‘ll teach you how to use the sled, and you’ll enjoy incredible views along the way.
8. See the midnight sun, the most beautiful thing to do in Tromso in summer
The midnight sun is probably one of the most beautiful things to see in Tromso in summer. We haven’t traveled to Tromso during this time of year before, but we will certainly do so soon, since, in addition to seeing the midnight sun, we still have a lot of trails we want to hike in Tromso in the summertime.
The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the summer months in the northern area of the Arctic Circle and in the southern area of the Antarctic Circle. For a period of time, close to the summer solstice, the sun is visible 24 hours a day. That is, it doesn’t set at all.
If you travel to Tromso during the summer, I recommend booking this tour so you can enjoy this event on a fjord cruise. Another option is to take the Fjellheisen cable car, which, in summer, is open until midnight, so you can see the midnight sun from the Storsteinen summit.
Wherever you choose to see it from, the midnight sun is a must-see in Tromso during the summer and something you shouldn’t miss if you travel during this time of year.
9. Whale Watching Fjord Tour, the best experience in Tromso
Whale watching while enjoying incredible views of the Norwegian fjords is a mind-blowing thing to do in Tromso.
The best time to see whales in Tromso is from November to early February, making it one of the best winter activities in Tromsø.
Humpback and killer whales are the most common whales you can see during these months, since they go to the fjords to feed on herring. You can also see eagles and dolphins.
This tour is the one I recommend because you’ll travel in a hybrid boat. When the whales get close, the captain will use a quiet electric motor so as not to disturb them. The only downside is that snacks and drinks are not included, so you should bring your own food, since, depending on how far away the whales are, the tour could last up to 8 hours.
10. Tromsø Ice Domes, an unmissable place to go in Tromso
Sleeping in an Ice Dome is something unique to do in Tromso. Additionally, the Tromso Ice Domes are one of the best Northern Lights hotels in Norway.
Although it may seem like a very cold place, the hotel will provide all the equipment you need to make you feel warm. You can book a night at this peculiar hotel here. If for any reason you don’t want to stay there, I recommend you at least visit it. It’s one of the most curious places to visit around Tromso, Norway.
11. Reindeer Sledding, another activity to do in Tromso in winter
Reindeer sledding, like dog sledding, is one of the most popular activities in Tromso. However, as I said earlier, it’s not something that I like because I prefer to see wildlife in the wild.
Nevertheless, we were very lucky to be able to see wild reindeers! For me, seeing these fantastic animals in the wild is one of the best things to do in Tromso in winter.
If you prefer to book a tour, I recommend this one.
12. Tromsø Bridge, a place to visit in Tromso all year round
Tromsø Bridge connects the islands of Tromsøya and Kvaløya to the mainland, and, of course, it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Tromso. The construction of the bridge in 1960 meant that the islands were no longer only connected to the mainland by ferry service. You can imagine how important this bridge is for the city.
It was the first cantilever bridge in Norway, and, at the time it was built, it was also the longest in Europe. Like the Arctic Cathedral and the Tromsdalstinden mountain, it has been protected by the Directorate for Cultural Heritage since 2000, and modifications to it are prohibited.
13. The Polar Museum, an interesting place to go in Tromso
The Tromsø Polar Museum is one of the most iconic museums in the city and a place to go in Tromso, Norway.
If you like museums, this one is inside an old customs house. Its most striking exhibition is the one about traditional seal hunting, which, luckily, is not legal anymore. Although seal hunting may seem quite cruel, I consider it to be part of the history of the region, making this museum one of the most important tourist attractions in Tromso.
14. Snowshoe Hiking Tour and other winter activities in Tromso
If you love hiking as much as I do, snowshoeing is one of the best things to do in Tromso in winter.
If you book this tour, they will give you all the equipment you need. With a guide, you will explore the mountains, enjoy incredible views, and, with a little bit of luck, see some of the region’s fauna. Another option, if long walks don’t appeal to you, is to book this snowmobile tour where you’ll visit the Ice Domes and a reindeer farm.
Choose the tour that best suits your tastes, but enjoy one of these excursions because the landscapes you’ll see are one of the most beautiful things to see in Tromso in winter.
15. Torget, an important place to visit in Tromso
Torget is the main square of the “capital of the Arctic.” Storgata, the most important street in the city and the street on which Tromso Cathedral is located, starts from this square. Visiting it is not just an interesting thing to do in Tromso; it’s also unavoidable because the square is in the heart of the city.
In this square, you’ll find the Town Hall, the music temple, the statue of King Haakon VII of Norway, the Culture House, and the statue of Fangstmonument, the Arctic hunter. Also, after visiting Torget, I recommend you walk along Storgata, as this street is full of hotels, restaurants, and shops.
Both Torget and Storgata are great places to visit in Tromso.
16. Tromsø Port, another place to go in Tromsø, Norway
I also recommend you visit Tromso Port, which is very close to Torget. From there, you get very nice views of the Arctic Cathedral, Tromsø Bridge, and Mount Fløya, meaning the port is a must-see in Tromso.
Also, if you happen to be traveling to Tromso at Christmas, the port is an essential visit. During the New Year’s celebrations, it’s the best place to see fireworks and the place with the most festive atmosphere. We haven’t visited Tromso at Christmastime, but I’m sure it’s beautiful.
17. Visit Ølhallen, the oldest pub in Tromso
Ølhallen is the oldest pub in the city, making it an iconic place to go in Tromso, Norway. Fishermen, farmers, and townspeople used to meet here. In addition to being a popular pub in the city, it’s also ideal for having a good beer after a long day of sightseeing in Tromso.
Just opposite Ølhallen is Mack Brewery, which is the northernmost brewery on the planet. Both places are a must-visit in Tromso, especially if you’re a beer lover.
18. Senja and other places to hike in Tromso
Some of the things I liked most about Tromso were the many hiking trails. Without a doubt, hiking is one of the best activities to do in Tromso and surroundings.
Kvaløya Island, which is a half-hour drive away, is one of the best places for hiking near Tromso, although the Tromvik area is also very worthwhile. There, in winter, from the seashore, you can see whales that are attracted to the coast by herring. However, we weren’t lucky enough to see any. Keep in mind that they are wild animals, so sightings are quite unpredictable.
Another interesting excursion in Tromso is going to Sommarøya Island to hike up Hillesøya, which is 692 feet above sea level. From there, the views are wonderful. In fact, the turquoise waters gave us the feeling that we were in the Caribbean, as opposed to Norwegian Lapland, despite the thick layer of snow.
And finally, if you don’t mind driving for about three hours, I recommend getting to Senja, which is where the best hiking trails in the country are. We saved that adventure for our next summer trip to Tromso, since it’s a place where we’d like to spend at least a week.
In any case, I recommend you rent a car to get to all these places. It’s undoubtedly the best way to get around Tromso.
19. Visit the Tromsø Public Library and City Archives in Norway
The Tromso Public Library and City Archives is another place to visit in Tromso. It is the northernmost public library in the world and is 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle.
The building was designed by the architect Gunnar Bøgeberg Haugen, and its construction was completed in 2005. It is located in the city center, just 164 feet from Storgata. The most striking features of the building are its roof with four sloping arches and its glazed facade that takes full advantage of the natural light.
20. Sami Culture Tour, a must-do in Tromso
Another of the excursions in Tromso that I recommend is the one that allows you to learn about Sami culture.
The Sami were nomadic people who lived off of fishing, reindeer herding, and fruit- and berry-picking. They were a tribe with their own culture and are considered the first known indigenous population of Scandinavia.
This tour is a great option if you’d like to learn a little about Sami traditions and culture, and it’s one of the most popular things to do in Tromso.
Interestingly enough, the Sami lived in lavvu, huge tents made of wood and reindeer skin, which have now been converted into one of the most original places to stay in Tromso.
21. Tromsø University Museum, one of the oldest museums in northern Norway
Although we’re not very into museums, the Tromsø University Museum is definitely a museum to visit in Tromso, Norway, to learn about the country’s art, history, and science.
All the exhibitions in this museum are related to studies and specialties of the university. The topics they cover are related to geology, the Northern Lights, Sami culture, sacred art, and the Vikings.
22. Telegrafbukta Beach, a perfect place to visit in Tromso in summer
The “Arctic capital” is a place that can be visited at any time of the year because each season has its charm. Telegrafbukta beach is one of the most popular places to go in Tromso during the summer.
From this beach, you get spectacular views of Tromso, and, if you go during the summer, you can take a dip in the Arctic Sea. Of course, at that time of year, it’s full of locals, although you should still be able to visit it.
In winter, it’s also something original to visit in Tromso, since it’s very beautiful to see it when it snows.
23. Go kayaking among the Norwegian fjords, something to do in Tromso
Kayaking in the Norwegian fjords is one of the most curious activities in Tromso.
On this excursion, you can go in a double kayak if you don’t have much experience kayaking, or in a single one if you feel like going at your own pace. On the trip, you will travel along the Håkøya coast and discover its impressive fjords and marine fauna.
In addition to following a trusty guide, you’ll also get a special coat and gloves to help protect you as you kayak in the Arctic. This is definitely one of the most curious activities to do in Tromso. Of course, not many come to the Arctic with the idea of kayaking in mind.
24. MS Polstjerna, an interesting museum in Tromsø
The MS Polstjerna ship is one of the most popular museums in Tromso, since it’s set inside a ship and is very close to Polaria.
The exhibits inside are focused on what life was like on board during expeditions through the Arctic, and the museum displays tools that were used to hunt seals, an activity that, luckily, as I said before, is no longer allowed.
25. Northern Norwegian Science Center, another museum to go to in Tromso
And finally, another place to visit in Tromso that I recommend is the Northern Norwegian Science Center.
This science museum is a great place to visit in Tromso with kids because it’s interactive and has an exclusively educational purpose. In addition, right next to it is the beautiful Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden of Tromsø. This garden is only open from the end of May to the beginning of October, the time when the collection of Arctic, Antarctic, and alpine plants from all over the world flourishes.
These are the 25 places to visit in Tromso that I recommend for your trip to the beautiful “Arctic capital.”As you can see, there are things to do in Tromso all year round, so it’s always a good time to visit this city.
Below is a map of Tromso so you can find the main attractions in Tromso. You can also download the map to have it offline on your phone.