Tromsø – Hunting the Northern Lights

Tromsø has Many Northernmost Claims:

Polarmuseet in Winter, Tromsø Follow Me on Pinterest

Polarmuseet in Winter, Tromsø..

Tromsø is a town that can boast of many things. This capital of Arctic Norway is the gateway to the Arctic Ocean and is the largest town in the polar region of Scandinavia.

Tromsø is a very important research town and at Polaria, the national centre for research and information, studies of the polar region and the Arctic are carried out, as is marine biology.  For those hunting the Northern Lights, the Northern Lights Observatory is here as well.

Tromsø University has 4,000 students and is the world’s northernmost university . With the large student population comes services and Tromsø it seems also boasts of the largest number of restaurants, cafes, nightclubs and discos in Norway per capita. It has the world’s northernmost brewery with a bar that’s open to visitors.

Walking Around Tromsø Town Centre

The town centre is laid out in a grid and it’s easy to find your own way around. From the pier we walk to the right and before long we reach Polarmuseet in the harbour area of Old Tromsø. The Polar Museum houses exhibits and exhibitions of Norway’s Polar history from hunting in the Arctic to Polar expeditions by Nansen, Amundsen and Andree. The Polar Museum office is nearby and in front of it is the bust of Roald Amundsen. In Old Tromsø you can also see the old warehouses and wooden buildings from the 1830s.

From the Old Town and looking across the Tromsoysundet, we can see Ishavskatendralen, Tromsø’s famous northernmost Arctic Cathedral. The Tromsø bridge which links the town to the mainland gets you to the cathedral but as the bridge itself is over 1,000 metres, we didn’t attempt the crossing. The 23 metre stained glass window is a key attraction of this Cathedral.

Statue of Roald Amundsen, Tromsø Follow Me on Pinterest

Statue of Roald Amundsen, Tromsø

The grounds are very icy and slippery and with each step, I worry about landing on my butt. A couple of ladies had already had falls as early in the trip as Bodø and suffered fractured limbs.

We leave the Old Town and walk southwards towards the centre of town and the streets are nicely decorated with red heart-shaped Christmas lights. The very modern and flash-looking Tromsø Bibliotek at Grønnegata 94 looms larger than life.

The shops lights of Storgata attract our attention and it seems that we’ve hit the main shopping precint. We stay on Storgata and towards the southern end of the town centre we hit the Mack Brewery but we didn’t go in. In the freezing temperatures you tend not to feel thirsty – but Tony will tell me to speak for myself! Tromsø Kunstforening, the oldest art society in northern Norway is close by. In this area are many of the pubs, cafes and restaurants that Tromsø boasts about and they are, surprising to me,  quite full.

Polaria is not too far from where we are but it’s time to head back to the ship.

Tromsø’s other attractions include:

  • Tromsø Museum which is 4 km from the town centre
  • Tromsø Botanical Gardens are the northernmost botanical gardens in the world. This Botanical Gardens would be interesting to visit as it has plants from the Arctic and Antarctic as well as mountain plants from all over the world.
  • In summer the Fjellheisen cable car takes you 420m above sea level for a panoramic view of the area.
  • Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum near the bus station has exhibits of old and modern handicrafts from northern Norway.

Tromsø has many attractions for the visitor, but the most sought after attraction for many of us on this Hurtigruten cruise is to see the Northern Lights.  We’re told that from Tromsø onwards we may get to see this magical light show – weather permitting!

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