Norway’s Arctic capital may be small but there’s plenty of things to do.
Although Tromsø is the perfect spot to base yourself during an Arctic adventure or for northern lights hunting, there’s so many attractions within the city itself that it makes sense to stay a little longer.
Top sights in Tromsø
Here’s a selection of the best:
Cable Car – Upgraded in 2016 with a new drive system, the city’s cable car (Fjellheisen) transports visitors from the suburb of Tromsdalen to the top of Mount Fløya, 421 metres above sea level, from where you’ll get an unbeatable view across the city and surrounding mountains.
The best time to go is for the midnight sun (June and July) or late morning / early afternoon in wintertime to see the city bathed in blue light. Be warned, it will be significantly colder and windier up there, so dress appropriately! fjellheisen.no
Arctic Cathedral – This famous landmark is not actually a cathedral! The Tromsdalen Parish Church is nevertheless famous for its unique architecture and catchy name. The tall triangular structure with feature cross and 11 aluminum-coated concrete panels are clearly visible from across the water on Tromsøya island. Thanks to the brave vision of architect Jan Inge Hovig, the church has become far more than a place of worship and is today an internationally recognised design icon of Arctic Norway.
Walk across the bridge, catch a bus or hire a taxi to reach the church. Try to catch a midnight sun concert, held every night at 11.30pm from June to mid-August. ishavskatedralen.no
Museums in Tromsø
Polar Museum – This central museum documents the city’s history as a base for Arctic exploration. Some of the exhibits are only detailed in Norwegian, so be sure to borrow an English language information booklet from the reception. Part of the University museum. uit.no
Northern Norway Art Museum – Next door to the Tourist Information office and around the corner from the Hurtigruten port, this art gallery enjoys a decent number of visitors year-round.
There is an understandable focus on art from or inspired by northern Norway, but the museum is actually dominated by a series of temporary exhibits, meaning there’s often something new to see. nnkm.no
Perspectives Museum – One of the city’s lesser-known museums yet arguably one of the most interesting, the Perspectives Museum provides a window into cultural history, both in the Tromsø area and the wider world.
The museum is currently in the process of digitising their vast collection of photographs, of which a selection are on display. Collections change frequently, so check their website for what to expect. perspektivet.no
Other things to do in Tromsø
Polaria – The world’s northernmost aquarium with a particular focus on education. Visitors are welcomed by films that explain the science behind the northern lights and profile the natural environment of Svalbard, before taking the ‘Arctic walk’ through the aquarium.
Check the times for seal feeding to see these gorgeous creatures up close. Open every day. polaria.no
Mack Brewery Tour – The Mack Brewery has a proud history and although the beer is now brewed outside Tromsø, the old factory buildings still play host to a tour of the original brewery. On the one hour tour you’ll learn about the ingredients and the beer brewing process, and of course the strong relationship Mack has with the city.
Tromsø Cathedral – Although not as famous as the Arctic Cathedral, Tromsø Cathedral is still an impressive sight. Built in the 19th century Gothic Revival style with the entrance under the clock tower, the building is Norway’s only wooden cathedral and the northernmost Lutheran cathedral in the world.
The modest interior is lifted with golden chandeliers, a Madonna figure believed to be more than 400 years older than the church itself, and a copy of the Resurrection painting by Adolph Tidemand that hangs above the altar.