THE "MUST DO'S"
1. FLY HIGH ON THE FJELLHEISEN CABLE CAR!
Take a ride up to the highest peak of Tromsdalen by the Fjellheisen Cable Car. Return cable car price is 210 NOK per adult (approx. £19). Online pre-booking is available here, but it's not necessary. Buy your tickets as you arrive and wait a short while for the next scheduled cable car.
Unless you are a confident hiker with proper mountaineering boots, the cable car is the best and safest option up in the Winter. For warmer months, you can actually walk up & down to the top viewpoint yourself for free.
At the top, step out onto the cantilevered viewpoint for unspoiled, breathtaking views of Tromsø and the snow-capped mountains beyond. Embracing this view coupled with only sounds of the whistling wind is quite something.
There is also a good sized, licensed and most importantly - WARM - café at the top to retreat to if the cold wind get a bit too much. Grab some lunch, wine or a hot beverage (The hot chocolate was delightful with a very generous serving of cream!). You are still spoilt with brilliant views here through their panoramic windows.
Tip: Make sure you visit on a clear day for undisturbed views. If a snowy or cloudy day, visibility is significantly reduced.
Tip: I would recommend trying to get up there late afternoon. This means you will catch daytime views, the gorgeous orange, pink hues of dusk (the best) and watch as Tromsø illuminates before your eyes at night. You effectively get three views for the price of one!
BACK DOWN WE GO!
Breathtaking views overlook the whole of Tromsø!
Breathtaking views overlook the whole of Tromsø!
Night-time views over Tromsø
2. Feed hundreds of wild reindeer & experience sami culture!
Take the rare opportunity to visit a traditional Sami camp and meet their wild reindeer herd. Shake your bucket of pellets and watch 200+ wild reindeer trot towards you for their breakfast! Some will gently eat from your hand, others will just shove their head right in the bucket (hold on tight!).
Once fed, head into a traditional Sámi hut (called a "Gamme") for a hot drink and the choice of reindeer or vegetarian soup (we went veggie)! These modern day Sámi's do not use electricity here. The soup and hot drinks are purely boiled by the fire.
Huddle around the fire for fascinating stories of the indigenous Sámi history and unique culture. The Sami Guides will treat you to a 'Joik', their oldest song tradition. A 'Joik' is a unique, personal song dedicated to honour a person and their achievements. It is a very proud gift for a Sami.
Book this 'Sami Reindeer Feeding' experience through Tromsø Safari by clicking here. They also offer another option to include reindeer sledding.
Tip: Book the morning slot as this is when all of the reindeers are super hungry!
Tip: Tromsø Safari tours always pick up from the Radisson Blu Hotel, just off the Tromsø Harbour. They have their own desk inside reception on the left. It was a 25-30 minute walk from our Tromsdalen accommodation.
Fun Fact: The patterns on a Sámis clothing can tell you instant facts about them, such as their age, their family name and even whether they are single or married!
A Norwegian wild reindeer herd! The herd are brought down from the mountains for protection during the Winter, between November - April. The rest of the year they roam wild and free!
A Disney-themed video montage of our wild reindeer feeding experience!
Liam making new reindeer friends!
PERFORMING A JOIK!
A traditional Sámi hut!
3. WITNESS THE MAGICAL AURORA BOREALIS!
Stand mesmerised, stunned and full of goosebumps as you witness the green lady Aurora light up the skies for the first time. You are in luck, Tromsø is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights! At their strongest, it is possible to see them dancing above Tromsø city! However to maximise your chances, you must venture to the darkest skies - out of the city into the Fiordlands.
Book the 'Aurora Safari Minibus' adventure with Tromsø Safari. Their expert guides follow live solar activity forecasts and follow them to multiple locations. They are also incredibly determined, friendly and full of amazing knowledge and stories. On all of our 4 locations stopped, we witnessed the Aurora every stop, which got stronger and stronger!
Fun fact: The Northern Lights do not always appear green to the human eye. Weak solar activity can be present in the night sky as a grey 'arch shaped' cloud. If you see this, point your camera and take a slow-shutter speed photograph to see if the green is revealed! On the other hand, strong solar activity can be seen as vibrant greens, whites and even purples very clearly by the human eye!
Tip: For the best chance of seeing the lights, the best time to visit is during their darker Winter months, between October - March.
Tip: As this is another Tromsø Safari tour, pick up is from the Radisson Blu Hotel.
Kisses under the Aurora are the best kind!
An impromptu stop on the roadside to witness this beautiful green serpentine!
This incredible display was above our apartment on our last night!
4. STROLL ALONG TROMSO HARBOUR
Marvel at the mass amount of boats, boats and more boats at Tromsø Harbour, from the trusty fisherman's vessels to the modern-day freight-loaders! Colourful wooden buildings contain cafés, bars and restaurants to sit and enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains and ferries sailing past!
Tip: Fancy exploring further afield? There are opportunities to catch a daily express boat to nearby islands & villages from the Harbour, which can be found here. We ran out of time but will definitely do this if we return!
Immaculate Fisherman's boat docked at the Harbour.
Walking along the Harbour looking back at the main bridge to Tromsdalen.
View across to Tromsdalen. Can you spot: The Arctic Cathedral & The Fjellheisen Viewpoint?
5. REACH THE POLARIA AQUARIUM
At the end of the Harbour, you will find the world's nothernmost aquarium - Polaria. It was designed to replicate large ice floes being stacked up against the shore. The story goes that the idea actually struck the architect as he was creating strokes by testing the ink in his pen! We didn't explore inside the Aquarium; the thought of paying to see captive seals did not appeal to us. So, we just appreciated the building's design from the outside.
Directly opposite you will see 'MS Polstjerna', a historic seal-hunting vessel, showcased in glass. The vessel had captured approx.
100,000 seals during its sailing days. Though that fact alone may be a little bit difficult to swallow, it holds a vast importance for Tromsø's early history.
Tip: The Motorcycle Club ("Pengebingen") next to the Aquarium is fully painted with the brightest, most colourful street mural I think I've seen! Stop off and take a few snaps against this backdrop of dreams for photographs bursting with colour!
Looking right: The stacked ice floe inspired design of the Polaria Aquarium!
Looking left: The glass-encased 'MS Polstjerna' hunting vessel and the colourful Motorcycle Club Building
This bold mural made me so happy!
6. GET LOST IN TROMSO'S CITY CENTRE
Spend an hour or two uncovering Tromsø's vibrant and diverse city, from bars, cafés and unique boutique shops. I could've spent hours shopping in all of the independant stores - Even the gift shops had beautiful products (no tat here)! There is also some high-street stores such as H&M. See if you can spot the iconic pale yellow Cathedral - the northernmost Cathedral in the world!
Keep your eyes peeled for an amazing mix of iconic Scandinavian style buildings with a scattering of interesting modern architecture.
There is a shopping mall in downtown Tromsø called 'Nerstranda'. It has 46 stores (fashion, gift and interiors), restaurants and cafés, a pharmacy and ATM.
Tip: One store which was a beauty for Scandinavian interior products was 'Ting'. They have a stand alone store on Tromsø high-street, and a larger collaborative store in the 'Nerstranda' shopping mall.
Weave through colourful, Scandinavian style shops.
Have a nose around the cutest, independant shops!
The 'Ting & Sånt' Interior store in Nerstranda Shopping Mall
LOOK OUT FOR TING!
7. GO BACK IN TIME AT THE PERSPEKTIVET MUSEUM
The Perspektivet Museum, (the "Perspective" museum) hosts captivating photographic exhibitions into Tromsø's cultural and town history, dating from the mid-1800's to the present day. The Perspektivet Museum owns approximately 500,000 photographs from amateur and professional photographers, providing an ever-
changing, unique insight into the history of Tromsø. What we found most extraordinary stepping back in time with a raw insight into the lives of its 19th century residents and how much Tromsø has changed. To check for exhibitions during your visit, please click here.
8. HAVE A PINT IN TROMSO'S OLDEST PUB!
Fancy a drink? Look no further than Ølhallen, the oldest pub in Tromsø! Since 1928, this northernmost brewery in the world has embodied a place of community and sanctuary for local townspeople and fishermen of all ages. Today, it still resonates this history as you view the dozens of photographs from its younger years. Choose between 72 taps of Norwegian beer, or opt for a cider (the strawberry cider is delicious!). Click here for their website.
Tip: As all of their goods are imported, Norway is renowned for being extremely expensive, particularly for alcohol. Be prepared to treat yourself to a £10+ pint! Our beer, cider and two packets of crisps came to £27!
£27 WORTH OF FOOD AND DRINK!
The external facade of Ølhallen brewery
The opening times of Ølhallen brewery
9. VENTURE TO TELEGRAFBUKTA BEACH AT SUNSET
Want to really stretch your legs? Stroll for 30-minutes past the main harbour south to Telegrafbukta Beach. You are greeted with Tromsø's own beachside destination. Visiting in January, surprisingly there were no sunbathers in sight for us. Just one of the most beautiful sunsets we've seen setting on the snow-capped hills. It is easily accessible by local buses also, the #33 there and #34 back to town.
Tip: If visiting in the Summer, this spot is a popular local 'beach' destination for tourists and residents.
Tip: Telegrafbukta Park is known as a hotspot for Aurora activity (Winter months only) due to its minimal light pollution.