Tromsø

Tromsø (Romsa in Northern Sámi and Tromssa in Kvensk/Finnish) is a city in the very northernmost part of Norway. It is almost 350 km north of the Arctic Circle and is one of the best places to view the spectacular Northern Lights in winter.

Understand

Midnight Sun in Tromsø in early June
Tromsø's mainland side seen from the city centre
Old street in Tromsø
Reindeer sledding championship in the main street

Tromsø is a surprise to most visitors: Here you find art, history, sophistication, good food and an infamous nightlife in a bustling, tiny city. All of it, though, is surrounded by spectacular scenery that is visible from everywhere in town. The city is home to the world's northernmost university, as well as research institutes and satellite based industry. The population is therefore highly skilled, but retains the straightforwardness and sense of humor that the North is known for.

History

Man reached the Tromsø area 11,000 years ago. We hear about Tromsø for the first time in 1252, when the first church was built here. The next 550 years, Tromsø was a minor religious centre, as people in a vast area regularly congregated in Tromsø to go to the only church in the area. Trade and industry, however, suffered under the domination of Bergen and Trondheim to the south. To promote trade in Northern Norway, the 80 heads' strong settlement was issued its city charter in 1794. Initially hindered by the Napoleonic wars, the city soon developed into a small trade centre with connections from Arkhangelsk to Central Europe, and from 1820 onwards, Arctic trapping was a major industry. Early visitors, who probably didn't expect people in Tromsø to eat with a knife and fork, dubbed the city the "Paris of the North" in complete surprise that French was spoken, fashions were more or less up to date and people knew what was happening down below the Arctic Circle.

Expeditions

A number of expeditions made Tromsø their starting point in the first decades of the 20th c. Explorers like Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen frequently recruited sailors in Tromsø. However, the biggest drama took place in 1928, when the airship Italia crashed in the ice near the North Pole, and rescue expeditions were sent out of Tromsø.

WWII and development

For a few weeks in the 1940 campaign, Tromsø was Free Norway's capital. However, the city totally avoided war damage, although the German battleship of the Tirpitz was sunk near Tromsø in November 1944. Since the 1960s, the city has doubled its number of inhabitants, and in 1972 the university started up.

Orientation

Tromsø is found some 2200 km south of the North Pole, in the far north of Norway. The distance south to the Arctic Circle is about 350 km.

Most of Tromsø is situated on the small island of Tromsøya, in English often adapted to "Tromsø Island". This low island is 10 km long, and contains both built-up areas and birch forests, as well as the airport. The city centre is located in the south-eastern part of the island. This is where you find Polaria, the Polar Museum, The Art Museum of Northern Norway, the Contemporary Art Gallery as well as most of the shopping, good eating and nightlife. The main artery of the city is the 1 km long Storgata, where most of the people watching takes place (an activity in which tourists play but a modest role).

Elsewhere on the Island, you find the Tromsø Museum on the southern tip, and the Botanic Garden near the University, on the north-eastern side.

East of the Tromsø Island, across the Tromsø Sound, you find the mainland with the Arctic Cathedral, the Cable Car, the Military Museum and extensive residential areas. The island is connected to the mainland by the 3 km long Tromsø Sound Tunnel and the 1016 metres long Tromsø Bridge.

Weather

Winter in Tromsø is not as severe as other cities at the same latitude due to the Gulf Stream. Average January temperatures hover around -4. The coldest temperature record of Tromsø is -18C. Rain and temperatures up to +6 are not unusual, even in mid winter. Usually, there are large quantities of snow between December and May, and in April 1997, the snow depth in the city was 2.4 metres.

The summer temperatures are highly variable. Overcast, chilly and drizzly days are interspersed with beautiful, warm, sunny days. The July average is +11C and the heat record is +30.

Light and darkness

The city enjoys midnight sun from May 18 to July 26. During this period, the sun is always above the horizon. Popular viewpoints include the Tromsø Bridge, the front of the Arctic Cathedral and most prominently the Upper Station of the Cable Car, but it can be seen at most points in the city area. Due to the topography, you cannot see the Midnight Sun in large parts of the east side of the Tromsø Island, including the upper reaches of the city centre. Recent construction has also blocked off the Midnight Sun from most of the main street.

In winter, the sun is below the horizon between November 26 and January 15. Because the city is surrounded by mountains, the period is prolonged a few days. In the city centre, the sun is not visible between November 21 and January 21. However, there is some daylight for a few hours, and often there are beautiful colours at midday.

Get in

Mountains of Kvaløya Island seen from the airport
Train? This is the best Tromsø can do
Midnight Sun shining in the port of Tromsø
The Tromsø Bridge takes you to Tromsø
Tromsø Palm (Heracleum persicum), an immigrant from the Caucasus
Hurtigruten calling at Tromsø on May Day
Roald Amundsen overlooks guests arriving by boat

Despite the location, it is fairly easy to reach Tromsø. Most people get to Tromsø by plane, but one can also go by bus or boat. Driving up is also an option, but take the 1700 km distance from Oslo into consideration. Considering the low speed limits on Norwegian convoluted roads along fjords, allow several days (a week is not too much) for the journey. There is also one ferry crossing, Skarberget-Bognes, unless you drive through Sweden. That said, you do not encounter any particular dangers on the way, and the distances between petrol stations, accommodation and shops are not frightening. The scenery is unforgettable.

By plane

All international and domestic flights land at the small, modern Langnes Airport (IATA: TOS). There are about 10 daily departures to Oslo, by SAS and the low cost Norwegian. There are flights to Svalbard (Spitsbergen), and the city also has connections to Murmansk and Arkhangelsk (Nordavia) several times a week. In summer, there may be flights to Stockholm as well. The low cost airline Norwegian has a direct route to London/Gatwick, going through London may be the cheapest option for getting to Tromsø. From April 2009 AirBaltic has a direct route from Tromsø to Riga. SAS commuter airline Widerøe has routes to several other North-Norwegian airports, mainly STOLports. Both Widerøe and Norwegian offer a direct route from Tromsø to Bergen and Widerøe offers a summer route to Sandefjord. Both SAS and Norwegian have a route, via Bodø, to Trondheim. Check the Avinor webpages for updated information on timetables to/from Tromsø.

Budget-conscious travellers should have the lower summer fares in mind, usually available in July/August. Furthermore, there are plenty of cheap tickets available in the Northern Lights months of January/February. Festivals, however, fill up the planes quickly. Friday and Sunday, planes are full all year. International travellers should bear in mind that some budget airlines promote the rather distant TRF, Torp Airport, in Sandefjord as "Oslo Airport". Nearly all flights to Tromsø, however, leave from OSL, Oslo Airport Gardermoen. Only Widerøe has a direct route from TRF (Summer). Norwegian has a route, via Bodø, to RYG, Rygge Airport near to Moss (Promoted as Oslo - Rygge). Connections between Torp, Rygge and Gardermoen are time-consuming. Budget-conscious travellers can, if lucky, find last-minute charter tickets to and from Turkey, Spain, Greece and various other charter destinations.

From the airport into town

The distance into town is very short.

By train

There is no train all the way to Tromsø. Take a bus from the railheads in Fauske, Narvik and Rovaniemi. Check the timetable.

By car

The roads up to Tromsø are in good condition, but it is a long drive from Southern Scandinavia. When in Tromsø, renting a car is an option. In June, July and August, prices are high and reservation is a must. The rest of the year, it is relatively cheap (around NOK 1000) for a small car for a whole weekend. Make the reservation in the office hours before 4PM on Friday.

Winter

Driving in winter usually poses no problem even for two-wheel drives. However, the occasional snow storm closes the roads for shorter periods. This is broadcast on radio, but if you don't speak Norwegian, the petrol stations along the route are well updated.

From Oslo

The E6 goes all the way from Trelleborg, South Sweden, through Oslo, Trondheim and Narvik to Nordkjosbotn, from where you take off along the E8 to Tromsø. The distance to Oslo is about 1700 km.

The road conditions are good, especially compared to the traffic. Despite the long distances, there are plenty of accommodation options as well as petrol stations along the way, and you encounter no particular dangers. It's also possible to drive the inland road through Sweden, it's longer but may be faster.

From Sweden and Finland

From Stockholm and Luleå in Sweden the recommended route would be E10 to Överkalix, road 392 to Pajala, crossing the border to Finland at Kolari, from where the E8 goes to Tromsø. Luleå – Tromsø is 700 km, 9 hours. Alternative longer routes are E10 – E45 – E8 over GällivareKaresuando or E10 – E6 – E8 over Kiruna.

The E8 from Helsinki through Tornio and Karesuvanto crosses the Norwegian border at Kilpisjärvi, a 160 km/3hours drive from Tromsø. When coming from southern Finland, one should also consider the car train option (see next section).

From the Baltics

It's just some six hours of actual driving from Tallinn to Tromsø. First there are plenty of ferries going from Tallinn to Helsinki - the slowest ferries are often nicest and cheapest, Tallink has internet on board. The next step is to take a car train from Helsinki to Kolari (alternatively Rovaniemi) - three persons, a cabin plus the car from Helsinki to Kolari costs 116 euro .

From Finnmark and Russia

Driving south from the Nordkapp region is easy and straightforward along the E6. The National Highway 91, with a ferry from Olderdalen to Lyngseidet and again from Svensby to Breivikeidet saves you no time, but is a lot more relaxing. Driving from Kautokeino, Karasjok and parts of East-Finnmark the fastest route is through Finland, take the National Highway 93 to the south from Kautokeino to Enontekiö in Finland, turn northwards again when you hit the E8 and drive into Norway again in Kilpisjärvi. From the Norwegian-Russian border and the area around Kirkenes in Finnmark the fastest route is driving the E6 until Neiden, follow road 893 until you reach Finland. In Finland the same road changes name to 971, follow it until you reach E75 at Kaamanen. From Kaamanen you can drive to Karigasniemi and Karasjok, then follow the route described above. There is a shorter but more isolated route from Kaamanen; Take the E75 to Inari, then change to road 955 until Köngäs (note that the last 50 km of this road has no asphalt (2009)). From Köngäs take road 956 to Sirkka and Levi, then road 79 until you hit E8 at Muonio. From Muonio, keep heading northwards on the E8 until you reach the border at Kilpisjärvi and finally Tromsø.

By bus

There is one daily bus to Alta, leaving at 16:00, and arriving at 22:30. If you intend to go on by bus to Nordkapp, you have to spend the night in Alta. There are three daily buses to Narvik, the first one at 06:20 (not week-ends), corresponding with Narvik-Kiruna-Luleå train. The second ones, at 10:30, corresponds with an onward bus Narvik-Fauske, from where you can take the night train to Trondheim. It also corresponds with a train to Sweden.

In summer, there is a daily bus to Rovaniemi, Finland. From there, you can take the train to Helsinki. In winter you must go via Alta to Tana, which has connections to Finland all the year.

By boat

The legendary Hurtigruten ships stop in Tromsø. The northbound ships arrive daily at 14:30 and continues at 18:30 to Skjervøy, Hammerfest, the North Cape and Kirkenes. The southbound ships arrive at 23:45, and depart at 01:30 in the night, to Finnsnes , Lofoten, Trondheim and Bergen all year round.

These ships depart from the Hurtigrute-terminal (Samuel Arnesens gate 4-5), less than 290 m (310 yd) from the church.

Be aware of (rare) cancellations of certain departures in winter, when harsh weather prevents any boat or ship to sail. Otherwise, the service is punctual. There is no official luggage storage for the southbound coastal express, but the Rica Ishavshotel has graciously allowed non-guests to store their luggage there. You can check times either with the Tourist Information or at the Hurtigrute website .

Due to a building project at Prostneset (near Kirkeparken ), this embarkment area will be modified by December 2010. The new “Prostneset” can be seen on this Tromsø Harbor page .

Cruise boats for all parts of Europe and North America often often moor in Tromsø, too.

For  Hurtigbåter services, see below: Get around By ferry

Get around

The historic street of Verftsgata
Townhouse from 1832
Tromsø has no train, but there is a railway station
Northern end of the city port

Generally, most things in Tromsø's compact centre are within walking distance. However, there is also a good network of buses. In summer, you can rent bikes, and in winter you can rent cross country skis, both allowing you to roam the built-up areas of Tromsø.

By bus

Buses are plentiful and very reliable. You currently pay NOK 50 for a one hour ticket when bought on board the bus. Buying a 1h30 ticket costs 35 NOK when bought from one of the locations listed here. Alternatively, you can use the very convenient Troms Mobillett app, that allows you to buy ticket from your mobile phone (beware though that mobile data may be needed!). Choose credit card payment rather than prepay account else you'll have to pay 200NOK upfront. Alternatively, a 24h ticket costs 100 NOK.

Note that many routes have the city centre in the middle of their route, therefore it is essential to catch a route in the right direction. If it says 'via sentrum' it might already have been there and drives away from the centre! F.ex. 42(Stakkevollan) is driving to a residential area on the Tromsø island, 42(Storelv)is driving to Kvaløya. The ride from Storelva to Stakkevollan takes 45 minutes.

From the city centre:

By taxi

There are plenty of taxis all over town, however, you will probably have to wait in line if you plan on taking a taxi home after a long night out. This especially goes for Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays as these days are particularly busy.

The rest of the time, there are plenty of taxis. Call them at 77 60 30 00. It is, however, cheaper to just go to a taxi stand and pick one up. Taxis are metered, and completely safe.

By train

There is no train, although there is a pub called Jernbanen (the train station), 3,48 metres above sea level. The project planned in 1872 has never been built.

By ferry

NB: Where the places above are not islands (øy in Norwegian bokmål and nynorsk, singular indefinite form, suolu in Northern Sámi) by themselves, the name of their island is given in brackets. Names may differ from what timetables indicate, e.g. Bellvika is also spelt (and pronounced) Belvik, Risøya may be Risøy etc. This depends on the use (or not) of the definite article -a, in many cases, and on the fact that various dialects coexist, together with the Sámi language.

For  Hurtigruten services, see over: Get in By boat

See

Northern Lights captured just above the city centre

Tromsø's most visited attractions include Polaria, The Arctic Cathedral, The Cable Car, The Tromsø Museum, the Polar Museum and the Botanic Garden.

Aurora

The Aurora Borealis or Northern Lights is a natural light phenomenon in the night sky.

Tromsø is very favorably located for viewing the Northern Lights, but you cannot see the aurora at all times.

Churches

Arctic Cathedral
Interior of the Lutheran Cathedral of Tromsø
Early morning sunshine on the Cathedral's south façade

Tromsø's inhabitants are overwhelmingly Lutheran, and at the same time overwhelmingly secular in attitude. Small communities of other faiths are also present, like around 400 Catholics, and probably a similar number of Muslims. Various non-Lutheran Protestant churches as well as Lutheran dissenters are also important.

Other churches in town of note include:

Occasionally, Orthodox masses are held on the premises of Kirkens Bymisjon on Jaklins plass. The most welcoming of the two mosques in Tromsø is the Alnor Senter, with prayer rooms for both men and women.

Museums and galleries

The Polar Museum is housed in a warehouse from 1830

Other

Up with the Cable Car to see the Midnight Sun

This brewery is looking for an alternative place to set up a new factory, seemingly in Nordkjosbotn (Balsfjord municipality), 70 km (45 mi) to the south. But the town council is striving to keep the brewery in or near Tromsø, insisting on their ties with another famous place in Tromsø, Ølhallen  see below: Drink  Bars and pubs. The debate and the population's relationship with Mack is getting so passionate that some threaten the brewery to boycott their products if they leave town.

Café inside the garden (open 11h30-15h30 daily in summer, on Sunday only otherwise).

Parks

The extent and quality of parks in Tromsø is no great draw for travellers. There are only a few parks in Tromsø, and they are not very large. Your best shot would probably be the Kirkeparken ("Church park") surrounding the Domkirken. Whenever the temperature exceeds +18C, bluish white flesh is frying in the sun.

Kongeparken, the Royal Park, a couple of blocks up from the main street, is curiously empty on warm days. There is also a patch of park down below the Art Society, just south of the city centre. But don't let the kids run wild there; this park is surrounded by heavy traffic.

A much larger park is Folkeparken (The Popular Park), surrounding the Tromsø Museum. This, though, seems like a patch of wild forest saved from development by its park status. When you visit the University Museum, take a stroll down to the Folk Museum, with a few old houses moved here from various parts of the county of Troms. The Telegrafbukta beach is also within easy reach. There is no lack of greenery in the residential areas, and the "Lysløypa" (floodlit ski track) runs from around the Tromsø Museum to the Northern tip of the Island. In winter, this is perfect for cross country skiing; in summer the locals enter it on sneakers, mountain bikes and horses. The residents of the residential areas on the mainland and on the Kvaløya Island usually have less than 5 minutes' walk to reach the surrounding forests and mountains.

Nature

The nature surrounding Tromsø is spectacular. Mountains, fjords and fauna in an arctic perspective. Just outside Tromsø you can find various birds (sea eagles, puffins, fulmars), musk oxen and the world's largest mammals - the whales.

Do

Most activities take place in the sheltered waters around the city area, or in the mountains surrounding the city. Check out the website of the Tourist Information for all the details. The Tourist Information also has a number of organised tours on offer.

Some activities are easy to do without assistance, whereas others require the guidance of a trained guide. Make sure you know what you're doing before setting off on your own.

Winter

Dog sledding at Tromsø Villmarkssenter

The reason people go to Tromsø in the winter is to experience the Northern Lights and the spectacular winter landscapes. It's good to come for the Northern Lights between December and March. March and April are good for cross country treks and off-piste skiing.

The winter temperatures hover around -4C, occasionally dropping to -12/-15, or rising to around +5. This means it's never too cold to do outdoor activities. Snowmobiles are not allowed in the borough of Tromsø, but in neighbouring Lyngen, you can speed up assisted by Natur i nord

The Tourist Information has a number of activities on offer, and they can usually be reserved on short notice. i.e. Northern lights visits.

The Lyngen Alps and other mountains around Tromsø are among the best places in the world for Off piste. The catamaran Cetacea of Arctic Cruises offers rides from town to the Lyngen Alps in March/April, or you can stay in the Lyngen Area in huts.

Summer

Paragliding over Tromsø. Possible to organise on occasion

Seasoned mountaineers should seek out the Lyngen Alps as well as the Keel range close to the Finnish/Swedish border. This requires membership in the Troms Turlag (or its mother organisation, the Den Norske Turistforeningen) and careful planning (help provided by Troms Turlag).

Hiking

Hiking is safe and beautiful, although strenuous due to the topography. Troms Turlag in Kirkegata 2 (same house as the Tourist Information) offers maps and good information.

Tour operators

Learn

Most locals will be happy to teach you a few Norwegian words and phrases over a few beers at one of the many pubs and bars. Use them with care down below the Arctic Circle, as the local lingo is peppered with colourful profanities.

The University offers several Master programs in English, including the Peace Studies, Visual Anthropology, the International course of linguistics, Indigenous studies etc. Check if your university has some kind of co-operation with or recognition of the University of Tromsø.

Norwegian classes are hard to come by. Immigrants receive basic education at Voksenopplæringen i Tromsø kommune. The University organizes classes for its international staff. Foreigners who just want a quick introduction, have few or no options. Neither is there anything on offer for short term visitors who would like to learn Sami.

Work

The University of Tromsø (UiT) and the nearby University Hospital of Tromsø (UNN) are situated at the northern end of the Tromsø island, and are the two largest workplaces in Tromsø. The Norwegian Telemedicine Centre at UNN is a WHO collaborating center. The Norwegian Polar Institute is another major institution. All these institutions employ a good many foreign nationals.

In Tromsø, more than 100 nationalities are represented. However, getting a job for someone with no special skills or no knowledge of Norwegian is difficult. Hotel housekeeping and cleaning, along with fish processing are often the only options. Health workers are much in demand, though.

Anyone who wants to work in Norway, needs a valid permit. These are readily available for residents of the EU, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland. For anyone else, getting a work permit means an endless papermill and probable rejection.

Buy

Main street in the Saturday peak hour
Knitware sold at the main market
Farmer's market at the main square
Handicraft sold on the main square
Fishing boat in port

Most shopping takes place in the busy main street, Storgata. These days, we can thank the Chinese for most souvenirs, but the attentive shopper will find locally made stuff. Keep in mind that business hours are traditional; most main street shops close at 5PM, although they usually stay up until 7PM on Thursdays. They close at 3-4PM on Saturdays, and remain closed all Sunday. Department stores stay open longer, though.

Department stores and shopping malls

Department stores in Tromsø are easy to overview, and hold no surprises. They are convenient for any necessity, though, since they stay open until 8PM (6PM on Saturdays).

Design

Original buys include:

Literature

The production of interesting books about the north in Norwegian language is huge. However, the selection of good titles in English is limited.

Markets

Since Tromsø has a refreshing climate, the outdoor markets are not all that impressive. Look for the following, though:

Eat

Aunegården, the delicious cakes make it a danger zone

A number of good seafood restaurants are worth the extra kroner, and especially in the winter, when the cod reaches the coast, there is a lot of good eating. It all comes at a price, though. Do note, however, that cheap food is relatively expensive in Tromsø (as in Norway in general), whereas exclusive food is relatively good value. In other words, a little extra money increases the experience immensely.

Vegetarians have a hard time in Tromsø, as the knowledge of vegetarian food is limited (however, there is at least one cafe with a vegetarian menu in town, see below). Most places can cook something up, but be prepared to explain your food requests in detail. There is probably no point in going to an expensive restaurant. Chinese places have stir fries etc. that can be filling enough. Vegans and vegetarian Hindus have to take special care.

Budget

Budget-conscious visitors should avoid anything named "restaurant". Instead, all the cafés in town are good for a quick bite. Expect friendly service at the counter; table service is a luxury in Norway. Expect to pay around NOK 100 for a filling meal.

The canteen for employees in the town hall serves reasonably cheap food, and there is also the student canteens at the university campus. It's possible to buy hot food in many supermarkets, and the price may be a bit lower than buying something in a café. Several greasy spoon bakeries and cafés serve the infamous tacobolle (taco bun), a doughy bun with mince, tomato sauce and cheese. Highly uncultured, but yummy, for NOK 30. Both Yonas and Peppes Pizza have lunch buffets (eat as much as you can) during the daytime on weekdays, for around NOK 100. Peppes Pizza has free internet as well.

Mid-range

In this category expect sit-down friendly service and prices varying from NOK 150 to NOK 230 for a filling plate of food. Italian food is not found in the city centre, but a few neighbourhood places in residential areas serve up thin, Italian pizza and pasta. Picando and Allegro are found on the mainland side, and La Speranza is found at Håpet on the west side of the Island. On Kvaløya, genuine Thai food is found at Ban Thai where Kusaya prepares tasty home cooking from her homeland in a rather unassuming neighbourhood restaurant (Bus 42 takes you there, well worth the trip!). Finish off with some Thai karaoke. Chinese food is represented by Choi's Kjøkken and Shanghai, both situated in the north of the city. Mains here start at NOK 130. More upmarket alternatives include Tang's, Lotus and Il Mare. Authentic Thai food is found at Thai House Restaurant. Steakhouses are vastly popular (many people that cook good fish at home, prefer a good steak when they go out). Expect no local character.

Splurge

The price difference between mid-range and splurge is not that big, making the occasional splurge a good value.

Drink

Snow clearing in Tromsø, between all the bars

Tromsø is known throughout Norway for its hefty nightlife, and there's always room for one more barfly. Throughout the week, people hang around in cafés, and in the week-ends, it's always full at every dance floor.

People in Tromsø have an emotional relationship to their beer. Mack continues to resist takeover attempts from the dark forces of Southern Norwegian capitalism, and locals expect outsiders to join in on the battle. Other Norwegian beers are difficult to get, but a few places specialise in international brands. Blanding is half a pilsner and half bayer, a dark beer, in the same glass. Try it out!

The per capita consumption of cognac must be among the highest in the world, and don't be surprised to see 20 year olds nursing a fine VSOP at 2AM. Daiquiris, caipirinhas, mojitos etc. are in fashion, but not all places serve good ones, so look at the recommendations below!

Don't take the age and crowd indications too seriously; in Tromsø the stylish set mixes easily with everyone, and young and ex-young people can actually talk to each other.

The most original place to hang out in Tromsø is definitely Ølhallen, the Beer Hall. It opened its doors in 1928, and has hardly changed since then. Their only concession to modernity was the installation of a ladies' room in the seventies (in fact, they made a swanky, new toilet for the blokes, and gave the old one to the ladies...). They open at 9AM, and close at 6PM (Mon-Fri) and 3PM (Sat), and that's the way it is. Promise not to ask for Chardonnay...

Cafes

Invitation to eating and drinking
Summer café in the oldest house in the city
Tromsøites populating outdoor cafés
Outdoor café in the main street

Cafes stay open from lunchtime to 3AM, and typically serve good value food and coffee specials before they turn into crowded bars at night. Being flexible is the key to survive the stiff competition in Tromsø.


Bars and pubs

Nightclubs

Student's house of Driv, in summer

During week-ends, the places fill up. However, on a dull Monday, go to cafés to find people.

Oddities

Culture and festivals

The cultural centre of the high north of Norway offers some interesting festivals.

Winter fun

Samba parade in the March No siesta fiesta Latin Music Festival

When temperatures are freezing and the night seems endless, enjoying culture is a good idea.

Luminous summer festivals

The summer festivals celebrate the endless days, and are preferably outdoor.

Autumn festivals

Sleep

Mist in the sound, late August

Tromsø's main bulk of hotel rooms are in the upper mid range, since they mainly cater for business people. There are no five-star luxury hotels, no old-world hotels, no spa hotels and no boutique hotels, and there is one whole swimming pool. Expect multi-lingual, friendly and professional, if overworked, staff, and breakfast is usually very good. Rooms and baths are often renovated.

Tromsø is a popular place to stay, and consequently it can sometimes be hard to find a place to stay. In June, it's full all the time, and the Midnight Sun Marathon week-end people practically sleep in hotel elevators. July is a lot easier, August even more so, and you can benefit from lower summer rates. September, October and November are usually rather full, as are March/April. December, January and February (except the January Film Festival) are less full, with possibilities for a bargain. Also the Easter week (between Palm Sunday and Easter Monday), the Ascension long week-end (Thursday to Monday) and occasionally the Whitsun week-end are less busy. Timing your visit to low season will save you some kroner, and many of the low seasons are good times to visit (Easter, Whitsun, August etc.).

Rock bottom

The ultra-tough back-packer has a hard time in Tromsø, since there are few of the really cheap dorm-style places, but the Right to access means you can camp mostly anywhere (outside the city centre) for free! (nearest spot 10min walk uphill from the centre), otherwise try these:

Budget

Make sure to contact some of these places as early as possible, since they fill up early. These places more or less have the same rates mid-week and week-end, and do not give particular summer discounts. Private accommodation can be a good alternative. Check out the home page of the tourist board. Most places, though, are rented to students in the school year, and only available in the summer months.

Mid-range

Although Norway has no star-rating system, the hotels in this category could be called three star. Expect well-furnished rooms with tiled bathrooms and a good buffet-style breakfast. Double room rates hover around NOK 1200 mid-week, but expect substantial discounts in week-ends, especially in winter, and during the July/early August holiday period, when business people stay away. The price difference between budget and mid range might be narrowed by major discounts in the mid-range places in July/August and during week-ends the rest of the year.

Splurge

The top-end hotels are but a small step up from the mid range in price and quality. No hotel in Tromsø is in the absolute top division in the world. Week-end discounts and favourable summer rates can make these hotels an affordable alternative.

Connect

Free internet is found at the Public Library in the city centre (ask the main desk for WiFi access). Burger King also has free WiFi. The student house Driv (see Cafes section) offers eduroam, and unlike the library they stay open a lot longer. Coin operated machines are found at Dark Light and at Meieriet.

Free wireless zones are found in many places around town, including Peppe's Pizza and Kafé Verdensteatret, where it is free of charge. Many hotels also have it, but often charge you.

Stay safe

Midnight sun shining in the Arctic Cathedral

Go next

On the beach in Sommarøy, with Håja island in the distance

There are very few buses into the immediate surroundings of Tromsø. It is difficult to find a bus that goes out of town in the morning, and back again in the afternoon.

Routes through Tromsø

END  W  E  Skibotn Tornio


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