Tromsø in Northern Norway


Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway in terms of population and area. More than 75.000 inhabitants live on 2.566 square kilometers. The extent corresponds almost to the dimensions of the Saarland.

The city is north of the Arctic Circle. Tromsø and the North Cape are only 300 kilometers apart as the crow flies; just two degrees of latitude. The city center was built on the island of Tromsoy. The one kilometer long and 43 meters high Bruvegen Bridge connects the island with the other districts on the mainland.

Tromsø - Bruvegen Bridge

Tromsø's nickname

Tromsø's nicknames are: "Paris of the North" and "Gate to the Arctic Ocean". While the first seems difficult to understand and unfounded, the second fits all the more. Polar explorers started their expeditions from Tromsø. In the city center, for example, a statue commemorates the explorer and polar explorer Roald Amundsen.

Roald Amundsen monument

Tromsø's origins go back a long way

Archaeological finds show that parts of the region were settled around 11.000 years ago. However, the traces of the first residents were lost again. One thing is certain, however: the history of the Sami has been traceable in the area for at least 3.000 years.

Although the city was not officially founded until 1794, there was a community at the current location as early as the 13th century. The evidence: The very first known church in the area can be traced back to 1252.

Tromsø highlights

Tromsø can claim several superlatives for itself: The city has the northernmost university in the world, the northernmost brewery in Europe and the two northernmost episcopal churches. Another special feature: over 100 nationalities live in the multicultural city.

The Evangelical Lutheran cathedral church

University and science location

The city was still the center of polar sea fishing in the middle of the 19th century. And at the beginning of the 20th century, Arctic and Antarctic expeditions started from Tromsø. In the present, Tromsø is primarily a symbol of research, teaching, administration, the fishing industry and satellite technology.

Scientific heavyweights are the Arctic University (UiT), the Norwegian Fisheries School and the Framsenteret Climate and Environmental Research Center. Around 15.500 students study at the university's nine faculties. The university hospital "UNN", which cooperates with the university, is a cross-regional facility. With around 4.500 employees, it is the most important employer in the entire region.

The Arctic Council occupies a special position. It is an intergovernmental forum that has its permanent seat in Tromsø. The council serves to balance interests between the Arctic countries and the indigenous peoples.

Tourist center

The city lies in the middle of a charming island world. Urban development accents, on the other hand, are few. Tromsø is a mixture of different architectural styles. Although the city was spared destruction in World War II, many historic buildings in the center were lost during a large fire in the 1960s. Using the example of the pedestrian zone Main street The buildings that have remained from bygone times give an idea of ​​how tranquil it may have looked in the center in the past.

Tromsø - Storgata pedestrian street

Tromsø is a busy, young city. It is characterized by the many hotels, restaurants and the lively night scene. Especially during the midnight sun, which shines between May 20th and July 20th, Tromsø's nights are described as very entertaining. By the way: The counterpart, the polar night, lasts from November 22nd to January 20th. During this time the sun does not rise! Layers of ice cover the streets and the snow piles meters high on the roadside.

Tromso sights

Most of Tromsø's sights refer to the city's subpolar location and are closely related to the surrounding nature.

The arctic-alpine botanical garden

Thousands of plant species from around the world are grown in Tromsø University's themed gardens. Only plants that come from polar regions or the high mountains come into the gardens.

View of the Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden

There are plants from the Himalayas, small rhododendrons and an arctic landscape. Plants from the Rocky Mountains live alongside Russian ornamental plants. A pond landscape was created and plants from the southern tip of America have also found their way to Tromsø.

The garden is opposite the Breivika quay. You only have to cross the main street.
Entry to the garden is not required.

Important church buildings 

The Tromsø Domkirke

The mighty neo-Gothic wooden church in the city center is the Evangelical Lutheran episcopal church of the diocese of North Hålogaland. The northernmost Protestant cathedral in the world and seats 800 people. The construction was completed in 1861. The organ was not completed until two years later. It is known as one of the most historically valuable church organs in Scandinavia. A medieval cemetery adjoins the church.

Altar and pulpit of the Evangelical Lutheran cathedral

The Arctic Cathedral

The name is deceptive: the Arctic Cathedral is not a bishop's church. It is an Evangelical Lutheran parish church in the Tromsdalen district. This district is on the other side of the Bruvegen Bridge, opposite the center. The church is considered to be the most distinctive modern church in Norway. It was consecrated in December 1965.

Tromsø's Arctic Cathedral

The special thing about the church is its shape. The roof slopes reach down to the ground and form the outer walls of the church. The architecture wants to recall the violence of stacked sheets of pack ice. While the western front of the Arctic Cathedral is made of colorless glass, the choir side has a beautiful glass mosaic window. It is one of the largest in Europe.

The glass front of the Arctic Cathedral
Altar and glass mosaic windows of the Arctic Cathedral
The organ of the Arctic Cathedral

About 30 minutes walk from the center over the busy Bruvegen bridge or with the bus routes 20, 24 and 26. Day tickets for Tromsø's buses are sold at the port exit.
Opening times of the church: 01.06 to 15.08: between 09:00 and 19:00; on Sundays from 13pm
Ticket price: 50 NOK adults (approx. 5,20 euros)

The Vår Frue Cathedral Church

The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady is the smallest known Catholic cathedral. The church is the seat of the northernmost Catholic diocese in the world. The wooden church is laid out in the neo-Gothic style. The nave offers space for 150 worshipers. The interior of the church is simple and brightly colored.

Tromsø's Roman Catholic Cathedral
Tromsø's Roman Catholic Cathedral - the altar


Exhibitions and museums

The Polaria Adventure Center

According to its own admission, Polaria is Norway's “national showcase for polar knowledge”. The building was built on the initiative of the Norwegian Ministry of Environment. The impressive architecture symbolizes ice floes pushed ashore.

Polaria adventure center

Polaria adventure center

The Polaria offers a panoramic cinema, several aquariums and exhibitions on the polar regions including the Barents Sea. Attached is an arctic aquarium with two bearded seals and two harbor seals. The animals can be seen swimming or feeding. The films shown on a 180-degree screen in the panorama cinema are gripping. They describe the arctic wilderness of Svalbard and the phenomenal northern lights.

Seal feeding in the Polaria adventure center

Summer opening hours: 10:00am to 17:00pm, winter opening times: 10:00am to 16:00 p.m
Seal feeding times: 10:30am, 12:30pm and 3:00pm
Ticket price: Adults 220 NOK (approx. 19,50 euros), discounts are granted.

The seal catcher MS Polstjerna / Polarstern

The “Polarstern” was a ship built for seal hunting. In the course of 33 hunting seasons, the men of the Polarstern hunted almost 100.000 seals. The ship lies in a glass building with a panoramic view next to the Polaria adventure center. The exhibition “Snowhow” is also presented in the area.

MS Polstjerna

Summer opening times: 11:00am to 17:00pm
Ticket price: Adults 50 NOK (approx. 4,70 euros)

The Tromsø Art Forum

The center for contemporary art is located in a small green area, only a few steps away from the Polaria.

Tromsø art forum

Summer opening times: Thursday to Sunday between 14pm and 00pm Admission is free.

The polar museum

The polar museum run by the University of Tromsø provides information about the Norwegian polar expeditions. In addition, the fishing methods in the polar regions are demonstrated. The museum can be found in the vicinity of the Skansen open-air museum. It is housed in the former Toldbodbrygga customs station.


Tromsø's polar museum


The Roald Amundsen Memorial

A statue was placed in Tromsø for the polar explorer. Amundsen is considered to be the most successful explorer in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Location: Roald Amundsens Plass; between the Domkirke and the waterline

The fishing memorial / catch monument

The monument, reminding of the original main income of the population, stands on the central market square. It is dedicated to fishermen and hunters who stayed at sea.

The catch monument

The King Haakon statue

The monument erected in front of the old town hall commemorates the indomitable King Haakon VII of Norway, who did not cooperate with the German occupiers in World War II. In 1940 he ruled the country from Tromsø for two months before being evacuated to England.

The bandstand with the King Haakon statue

Buildings in the city center

That is an eye catcher old City Hall from Tromsø with the bandstand in front of it. Today it serves as the location of a theater project. Modern architecture offers that new townhall, the Library and The Culture House. The latter is a versatile event center.

Tromsø's library flooded with light

The cable car on the Storsteinen

The ride with the cable car takes only four minutes Storsteinen. The viewing platform Fellstua is 421 meters high. The visitors look out over Tromsø, the surrounding archipelago, the fjords and the wide sea. A look in the opposite direction shows that Tromsdalstinden, a 1.238 meter high mountain massif. There is a restaurant next to the viewing terrace. The mountain station can also be reached via the Sherpa stairs with around 1300 stone steps. In winter, the ascent and descent can be challenging in snow and ice.

The Storsteinen

The Storsteinen

Cable car station: Solliveien 12 in the Tromsdalen district
Ticket price: Adults NOK 345 (approx. EUR 30,54), discounts are granted
Bus line 26 goes to the cable car. 

Tromsø - a destination for cruise ships

In addition to the Hurtigruten ships, more than 70 cruise ships call at Tromsø each year. The visits mainly take place in the summer months. However, there are also start-ups in winter. These are related to the northern lights.

The Breivika Quay - berth for cruise ships

Large cruise ships dock four kilometers from the city center at quay 23, the Breivika Dock on. It's not particularly inviting. Smaller cruise ships and Hurtiguten ships dock in the city center Cheerset Kai. The bus stops are easy to reach from both berths. Organized tours on site may be dispensed with. Tromsø offers day visitors good means of transport for their excursions.

Book shore excursions to Tromsø


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