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Tromso, Norway

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.

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.


Tromsø is found some 2200 km south of the North Pole, in the far north of... Read more

Tromso, Norway

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.

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.


Tromsø is found some 2200 km south of the North Pole, in the far north of Norway. Tromsø lays about 350 km north of the northern Arctic Circle and about 1800 km north of Oslo, capital of Norway.
Most of Tromsø is situated on the small island of Tromsøya, in English often adapted to "Tromsø Island". This low island is 10km long and contains both built-up areas and birch forests, as well as the airport. The city center 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 1km 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


, 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 3km long Tromsøysund Tunnel and the 1016 meters long Tromsø Bridge.

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 center. 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 center, 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 colors at midday.


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Tromso, Norway: Port Information

Small cruise ships dock at the Prostneset dock located right in the center of Tromso.
Larger cruise ships dock at the Breivikaat dock located 4 km to the north. From this dock, you can get to the city center by shuttle bus or by Bus 42. 

Get around Tromso, Norway

Generally, most things in Tromsø's compact center 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.
Note that many routes have the city center in the middle of their route, therefore it is essential to catch a route in the right direction. E.g. 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 center:
  • Bus 28(Solligården), 26, 20 (Kroken), and 24 (Kroken) are found in the Sjøgata/Havnegata street just down below the Torget (Main square). Any one of these is good for the Arctic Cathedral (Ishavskatedralen).
  • Bus 26 goes to the Cable Car from Peppe's Pizza near Torget (The Main Square). Ask for a "Fjellheisbillett" (Cable Car Ticket). This includes a return bus ticket and the Cable Car ride and is cheaper than buying each ticket individually.
  • Bus 37 goes to The Tromsø Museum. It leaves from Fredrik Langes Gate, just down below the Åhléns outlet.
  • Bus 20(Stakkevollan) and 21(UiT/UNN) goes to the University. For the Botanic Garden, take the 20/21 to the (Bankrupt) Planetarium, walk down the nice footpath, enjoy the Garden and take bus 42(Storelv) back into town.
  • Bus 34 from the southern end of Sjøgata (opposite Dolly Dimple's), just up from the Tourist Information for a tour of the Island. It takes you around the southern tip to the shopping center of Jekta, from where there are lots of buses back into town: 24 (Kroken sør) and 26 (Kroken) tae rather long detours through several residential areas (26 also passes the Carmelite nunnery), 28 (Solligården) and 40 (Sentrum) take a somewhat more direct route, while 42 (Stakkevollan) takes you to Polaria and then downtown through a tunnel (with two roundabouts inside).
  • Bus 20(Stakkevollan) from Fredrik Langes gate or 42 (Stakkevollan) from Sjøgata to Stakkevollan Skole, walk up the hill at the water reservoir and watch Northern Lights to the north (less light pollution than elsewhere on the island).
  • Bus 20(Kroken) or 24(Kroken) from Havnegata to Tromsø alpine center
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 meters above sea level. The project planned in 1872 has never been built.

By ferry
  • Hurtigbåtene (The express ferries) are quick catamaran boats, of great benefit for those living here or visiting the area: they ply the waterways north and south of Tromsø. There are four daily departures from Tromsø to Harstad via Finnsnes, Brøstadbotn, and Engenes (two services only on Saturdays and Sundays). The catamaran to Lysnes departs twice a day (once on Sundays), making a loop between the peninsulas south of Tromsø, with calls at Vikran, Lysnes, and Tennskjær, and is a scenic boat ride and back. A single daily service links Skjervøy to Tromsø once a day, via Finnkroken, Vannvåg, Nord-Lenangen, Arnøyhamn, Nikkeby and Vorterøya (two departures from Skjervøy to Tromsø on Tuesdays and Thursdays). The route differs according to the day. The boats are operated by Torghatten Nord. The Hurtigbåter depart from the pier facing Kaigata, by the Hurtigruten terminal.
  • Fergene (ferries) ride four to six times a day from Bellvika (also called Belvik, on the northeastern peninsula of Kvaløya), a 25 minute's drive northwest of Tromsø, to Vengsøya (70 inhabitants, according to the last census), Musvær (a tiny island where just 2 inhabitants live), Laukvika (Hersøya), Risøya and Mjølvika (Sandøya). Expect no onboard service, “just” a lovely ride between the islands and the occasional possibility to buy coffee. The ferries are operated by Torghatten Nord.

What to see in Tromso, Norway

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.
  • Tromsø is within the aurora belt mostly between 6 pm and midnight, occasionally between 4 pm and 2 am.
  • It has to be dark for you to see it. Between late September and late March, it is dark after six, and you have maximum chances of seeing the lights.
  • Clouds obstruct the view of the Northern Lights. October and November are humid autumn months, and often you don't see the lights. From December onwards, the weather is drier. March is THE driest month in this six-month period of good chances.
  • Conclusion: December to mid/late March are the best times. Pick December/January for atmospheric visits in the dark, or February/March for thrilling outdoor activities. Sporty, outdoorsy people are recommended to come in March, as this month gives the opportunity to do outdoor activities in plenty of sunshine and good weather, and still observe the aurora after dark. The mid-term holiday in February in many European countries is also a good time to come.
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.
  • Ishavskatedralen (Arctic cathedral), Hans Nilsens vei 41, +47 47 68 06 68. s the city's most photographed building. The striking 1965 structure contains one of the biggest stained-glass windows in Northern Europe and enjoys a fantastic location on the mainland, just opposite the city center.
Other churches in the town of note include:
  • The Lutheran Cathedral (Tromsø Domkirka), Storgata 25, +47 77 66 25 80. is the world's northernmost protestant Cathedral from 1861. With 800 seats, it's one of Norway's major wooden churches.  
  • Our Lady Church (Vår Frue Kirke), Storgata 94, +47 77 68 59 05. This tiny church is the seat of the world's northernmost Catholic bishop and also dates from 1861.
  • The Church of Elverhøy (Elverhøy kirke), Barduvegen 20, +47 77 66 25 90. Dating back to 1803, it's the oldest church in town. Originally located in the city center, it is now found in a residential area on top of the is.
  • The Carmel Monastery (Totus Tuus), Holtveien 38, +47 77 69 10 80 is the world's northernmost Carmelite Nunnery. The nuns have recorded several CDs, and any mass in their chapel is a musical experience.  
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
  • Tromsø Museum (University Museum), Lars Thørings veg 10 (Take bus 37 from Fredrik Langes gate), +47 77 64 50 00 is a rather large museum with a number of different exhibits on the North. Look out for their Sami exhibits, the Archaeological Exhibit, Religious art and Northern Lights machine. Avoid Sundays, as weekend daddies let their little monsters run screaming through the exhibits. In the summer of 2008, they invited everyone to a cup of coffee in "gammen", a traditional Sami turf house built outside the building.
  • Polar Museum, Søndre Tollbodgaten 11, +47 77 60 66 30 displays the Arctic Hunting that took place from Tromsø, as well as the expeditions to the Arctic. The museum is housed in an old warehouse from 1830. 
  • Perspektivet Museum, Storgata 95, +47 77 60 19 10 has temporary exhibits on the north. Their location in an 1838 building in the main street is superb, and there is free admission.
  • The Northern Norwegian Art Museum (Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum), Sjøgata 1, +47 77 64 70 20 has art from Northern Norway from 1800 onwards, as well as Norwegian art in general. Look out for their temporary exhibits. 
  • The Tromsø Gallery of Contemporary Art (Tromsø Kunstforening), Muségata 2, +47 77 65 58 27 has temporary exhibits on contemporary art.
  • Tromsø War Museum (Tromsø Forsvarsmuseum), Solstrandveien (Bus 28 from the main square), +47 77 65 54 40 situated in a wartime German bunker, focuses on the sinking of the "Tirpitz" in 1944. It's open in summer only, because of the temperature.
  • Mack Brewery (Macks Ølbryggeri), Storgata 5 (just in front of the ''Hurtigbåter'' quay). Offers guided tours of what was until Summer 2015 the world's northernmost brewery (now there's one in Svalbard). Established in the town's center since 1877, the brewery remains in the ownership of the same family. Monday to Thursday, they offer guided tours at 3:30 pm. Unfortunately, they have now introduced a minimum number of participants to start up, 4. So you risk coming there for your tour, and not getting it. 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 the town.
  • The Arctic Alpine Botanic Garden (Arktisk-alpin botanisk hage), (By the university), +47 77 64 57 17 is the world's northernmost botanic garden, Although not a particularly big garden, it has some interesting features:  
  • The Rhododendron Valley with specimens from the China and the Himalayas, as well as the local variety rhododendron lapponicum.
  • The Himalaya section with the blue poppy (Meconopsis).
  • The friendship garden, with plants donated by the Kirovsk Botanic Garden in Russia, previously the world's northernmost.
  • Various sections of alpine plants and southern hemisphere plants.
  • The pond, surrounded by giant perennials.
  • The traditional garden with plants used in traditional medicine, magics and even as aphrodisiacs.
  • The Cable Car (Fjellheisen), Sollivegen 12, +47 77 63 87 37 in winter, half-hourly 11:00 to 15:30. On Mount Storsteinen, offers a fantastic view from 421metres/1382feet above sea level. In summer, make sure you go up there at Midnight. The view from the top is amazing in winter also.   
The extent and quality of parks in Tromsø is no reason to come to Tromsø. 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 the park down below the Art Society, just south of the city center. 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 Kvaløya Island usually have less than 5 minutes' walk to reach the surrounding forests and mountains.

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), Muskoxen and the worlds largest mammals - the whales. For whale watching in Tromsø - Whale watching in Norway.

What to do in Tromso, Norway

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 organized 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.

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, yet they can be seen from the end of August to middle April as long as the sky is clear. March and April are great 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 neighboring 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. Offer includes northern lights chases, cross country ski trips, snowshoe trips, whale watching, sea fishing, snowmobiles, dogs and reindeer sledding, laavo camp visits and others.
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.
  • Cross country skiing, a wide network of prepared cross country ski trails is available. Main trails are lighted until midnight. Various opportunities for skiing out of the trails on Kvaløya and Ringvasøya. Ski rentals, cross country ski trips and courses are available.
  • For those are not fond of skiing snowshoeing is a great alternative. Popular destinations reachable by foot or 20 minutes bus drive from the city center are Fløya, Rødtind and Kjølen.
  • Tromsø offers also prepared slopes, Alpine Ski Center in Kroken is only 6 km from the city center and offers 2 lifts and 4 slopes.Tromsø Alpinsenter, Jadevegen, +47 77 60 66 80‎ is the city's ski station. It's not the best ski station in the world but is more than steep enough for most people.  
  • Dog-sledding at the Tromsø Villmarkssenter, Arctic Adventures or Lyngen Outdoor Adventure.
  • Snowmobiles are not allowed in the borough of Tromsø, but in neighboring Lyngen, you can speed up assisted by Natur i Nord.
  • Reindeer sledding at Tromsø Friluftssenter or with Lyngsfjord Adventure in neighboring Tamokdalen.
  • Snowshoe and Cross country ski trips and equipment rentals can be arranged with Tromsø Outdoor.
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 organization, the Den Norske Turistforeningen) and careful planning (help provided by Troms Turlag).
  • On a warm summer day, visit the beach Telegrafbukta near the Tromsø Museum. Bring a picnic or barbeque (small disposable grills, available in grocery stores, are popular here). If you dare, take a dip in the water-it may just have reached 11C/52F.
  • Watch soccer (football) match. Tromsø's team is in the Tippeliga (the highest division). 
  • Go fishing! You can try from the shore or even better from a boat. Fewer species are fished than in Southern Norway, but the amount and the size are far better. Common fish are coalfish, cod, halibut, and seawolf. Fishing trips are organized by the Tourist Information in summer, but you can just as well go to Hella, next to an ocean current half an hour's drive out of the city.
  • Glacier walks in the Lyngen Alps are on offer from Tromsø Villmarkssenter and Lyngsfjord Adventure. Do NOT go glacier walking without a guide, you might fall into a crack.
  • Kayaking is a good idea between the islands off Tromsø, and trips are offered by Arctic Experience, Tromsø Villmarkssenter and Arctic Adventure.
  • Hiking is safe and beautiful, although strenuous due to the topography. For instance, Fløya, and for the more experienced Tromsdalstind can be reached by foot from the city center. Troms Turlag in Kirkegata 2 (same house as the Tourist Information) offers maps and good information. The mountains nearest to the city are suited for beginners. Troms Turlag operates mountain refuges in the mountains on the mainland side, from North to South Trollvassbu, Nonsby, Blåkollkoia, and Skarvassbu.

What to eat and drink in Tromso, Norway


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-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.
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. Both Yonas and Peppes Pizza have lunch buffets (eat as much as you can) during the daytime on weekdays. Peppes Pizza has free internet as well.
  • Allegro, Turistvegen 19, +47 77 68 80 71‎. Su-Th 15-23, F-Sa 15-midnight in Tromsdalen (behind the Arctic Cathedral) has thin, Italian pizzas for a good price.
  • Blå Rock, Strandgata 14-16, +47 77 61 00 20. Daily 11.30-2 except F 11.30-03.30 and Su 13-2. The best burgers in town with their infamous fried potato skins. Don't ask for a diet coke with it, it makes little difference.
  • Aunegården (OL Aune), Sjøgata 29, 77 65 12 34. 11-23. Café in the front, with counter service. Restaurant with table service in the back. International menu, also a few local specialties. The cakes have many fans in Tromsø. 
  • Dolly Dimple's, Heiloveien 4. M-F 10-20, Sa 10-18. The "Pizzabuffet" (All you can eat - pizza buffet) is ok and cheap.
  • Driv, Søndre Tollbodgate 3, +47 77 60 07 76. M-Th 14-1.30, F-Sa 12-3. Offers great food at a reasonable price in a nice atmosphere, and have discounts for students.  
  • Gründer, Storgata 44, +47 77 75 37 67. M-Th 11-2, F-Sa 11-3.30. The international menu is tasty and good value, and the service is humorously informal.  
  • Peppes Pizza, Stortorget 2, +47 22 22 55 55 daily 11-23.30. Part of an international chain, but the lunch specials are cheap.  
  • Sivertsens Kafekooperativ, Rådstua Teaterhus, Vestregata 48. W-Sa noon-5 PM. Vegetarian cafe with a small but good and affordable menu.  
  • Skarven, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 11. has fish casseroles and other local specialties at good prices.
  • Yonas, Sjøgata 7, +47 77 66 66 66. Daily 11-midnight. has good deep-pan American pizza. Taco-pizza is unknown in Mexico but is a normal pizza with shredded Chinese cabbage and a mustard dressing. You love it, or you loathe it. 
Italian food is not found in the city center, but a few neighborhood 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 neighborhood 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. 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.
  • Arctandria, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 28‎. M-Sa from 16. has a lot of local fish specialties, as well as a humorous menu. Before Christmas, their lutefisk buffet is heaven for some, and hell for others.  
  • Fiskekompaniet Sjøsiden, Sjøgata 17B, +47 77 68 76 00. Daily 15-23 has excellent fresh fish and a menu of modern Norwegian cuisine. Seafood is considered an aphrodisiac, and after their delicious seafood platters, you're ready for anything.  
  • Sjøgata 12, Sjøgata 12, +47 77 67 11 00. M-F 15-23, Sa 13-23 makes use of one of Norway's most prominent export articles, the bacalhau or klippfisk (dried and salted cod). The chefs are from Spain and Portugal, and the cuisine is the Mediterranean.  
  • Skarvens Biffhus, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 15.30 in a 1820'ies wharf house, has thick steaks but also specializes in goat meat. The waiters are humorous and professional. 
  • Steakers, Fredrik Langesgate 13, +47 77 61 33 30. M-Sa 15-23, Su 14-22. lining the inner port, offers no local character, but is constantly full of meat-hungry locals, and the American theme is matched by the enormous portions. The young staff is friendly and offers a really good service.  
The price difference between mid-range and splurge is not that big, making the occasional splurge good value.
  • Compagniet, Sjøgata 12, +47 77 66 42 22. M-Sa 17-23 is situated in a merchant's home from the 1830s. Doubles at a nightclub in the weekends after 22.  
  • Emmas Drømmekjøkken, Kirkegaten 8, +47 77 63 77 30. M-Sa from 18. is a fantastic restaurant that has got excellent reviews in the Oslo press. Look out for their excellently matched 5-course menus. The Lunch menu isn't bad either, and comparatively cheap!  


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 weekends, it's always full at every dance floor. People in Tromsø have an emotional relationship with 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 specialize 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 2 am. 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 9 am and close at 6 pm (Mon-Fri) and 3 pm (Sat), and that's the way it is. Promise not to ask for Chardonnay...

Cafes stay open from lunchtime to 3 am, 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.
  • Artur, Storgata 57, +47 77 64 79 85. M-Th 15-1, F-Sa 13-2 is a coffee bar during the day and a crowded bar at night. 
  • Blå Rock, Strandgata 14, +47 77 61 00 20. Daily 11.30-2, except F 11.30-3.30 and S 13-2. is the place for burgers, lots of international beer, rock'n'roll, and concerts. A piercing in your ear (or somewhere else) will make you fit in.  
  • Circa, Storgata 36, +47 77 68 10 20‎ is currently a very popular place, with the winning concept in Tromsø of lunch dishes, coffee specialties and beer at night. Students and younger professionals.  
  • Driv, Søndre Tollbodgate 3, +47 77 60 07 76. M-Th 14-1.30, F-Sa 12-3. is the Student House. An ambitious concert programme, quiz nights, etc. Excellent place for the 18-30 years old, but far better in winter than in summer. Look out for their "Fucking North Pole Festival" in April (if you curse in a foreign language, it doesn't count).  
  • Flyt, Sjøgata 25, +47 77 69 68 00. M-Tu 11-23,W-Th 11-midnight,F 11-3.30,Sa noon-3.30,Su 15-23. sports a sport's theme, with off-piste skis decorating the walls, and cool recordings from the slopes entertain on every flat screen. Go there for a burger in the afternoon, or to hang around with the extreme sporters at night.  
  • Meieriet, Grønnegata 37, +47 77 61 36 39. Su-W 10-midnight,Th 10-2,F-Sa 10-3.30. is a young place, with lots of beer types and a good value menu. 
  • Paletten, Storgata 51, +47 77 68 05 10. M-Th 11-1,F-Sa 11-3,Su noon-1. is a football pub with two large outdoor terraces, also serves food during the day.
  • Kaffebønna, Strandtorget 1 & Stortorget 3, +47 77 63 94 00. M-F 8-18,Sa 9-18, Su 11-18. serves no alcohol, but serves up smart coffee, Italian ice cream, pain au chocolat and plenty of sandwiches. Minimalist décor and cool staff (occasionally too cool). 
  • Perez, Skippergata 6, +47 92 23 33 13 at the northern end of the city center, is tiny but manages to offer lunch specials, coffees and a sophisticated wine selection. Loud and full in the evening, so keep your stomach in!  
  • Skansen Kafé, Tollbodgate 8. M-W 11-18,Th 11-22,F 11-2,Sa noon-2,Su noon-18. is housed in the annex of the oldest house in town. In summer, they serve fantastic shells and other lunch specials, along with good wine and coffee. In winter, they close, though. 
  • Skarven, Strandtorget 1, +47 77 60 07 20. Daily from 11. is another long-timer, and serves good food, including loads of fish (a welcome respite from the feta cheese and olive fare of the other cafés), and loads of beer way into the night in a 1920's margarine factory. The crowd is grown-up and well-heeled, but just as loud as the rest.  
  • Sånn, Erling Bangsunds plass 1, +47 77 69 10 80. M-Th 11-midnight, F 11-1, Sa noon-1. at the upper end of the Main Square is another example of the Tromsø receipt: A good lunch menu (with relatively good prices), coffee specialties and a cool bar in the evening.  
  • På Byen, Strandgata 24, +47 77 65 85 20. M-Th 11-2,F-Sa 11-3.30,Su 13-2. is for the 20' or 30' somethings, usually well-dressed. Their sheltered outdoor terrace with winter heating circumvents the smoking ban. Have some pasta with the after-office crowd, or taste some wine in the evening. 
  • Kafé Verdensteatret, Storgata 93b, +47 77 75 30 90. M-Th 11-2,F-Sa 11-3.30,Su 13-2. is a friendly, sophisticated, ultra-modern place in the 1916 cinema "Verdensteatret", the oldest functioning cinema in Northern Europe. The sandwiches are good, but the main reason to come here is to hang about for a glass of wine and endless conversation. Friday and Saturday night, the place turns into a cool, crowded hangout. Mixed crowd, mixed ages. 
  • Åpenbar, Grønnegata 81, +47 77 68 46 00. Tu-Th 16-1.30,F 15-3,Sa 14-3. serves tapas made of seal and other arctic foodstuffs. Nice way to try it out... Rather stylish hang-out in the week-end.
  • Grom cafe, Storgata 67, +47 77 68 90 69 ( M-F 10-23,Sa 10-18,Su 14-23. The city's best burgers and a very good lunch for a nice price, come and enjoy. 
  • serves focaccia with DOM ham and cheese, wraps and the best city soup. They also sell several Mediterranean products of the best quality. 
  • ===Bars and pubs=== Bastard Bar, Strandgata 22. M-Th 18-2,F 18-3.30,Sa 13-3.30,Su 13-2. Is located in a cellar next to the Nerstranda shopping center. It offers one or two live concerts each week, jam every other Tuesday and shows English, Norwegian and European football. The only food offered is sausages with mustard. Bastard has a collection of international beers as well as Tromsø's own Mack.  
  • Victoria Fun Pub, Grønnegata 81, +47 77 68 49 06. M-Th 15-2,F 15-3.30,Sa 14-3.30, 19-2. Is a football place, and can be a fun pub for the not overdressed during weekends; has a billiards table.  
  • Grand Baren, Storgata 44, +47 77 75 37 64. M-Th 18-2, F-Sa 18-3.30. caters for the more mature audience, and combines style and informality. Their heated smoking terrace with a view might tempt you to pick up the habit.  
  • Skibsbroen, Fredrik Langesgate 2, +47 77 66 64 00 inside the Rica Ishavshotel offers a fantastic view towards the north and is among the more elegant places. Armani-clad visitors from Oslo's west end rub shoulders with trawler crews with loads of money to spend.  
  • Ølhallen (The Beer Hall), Storgata 4, +47 77 62 45 80. M-F 9-18, Sa 9-15. Both well-known and much cherished by the population, undoubtedly linked to the Mack beer. 
  • Tromso Jernbanestasjon (Tromsø Railwaystation), Strandgata 33, +47 77 61 23 48 ( Tromsø Jernbanestasjon is a bar in Tromso and established itself early as the cool place because of its completed thematic decor - especially since there is no train to Tromsø. There are waiters in conductor uniforms and reported regularly trains in places like Murmansk Kautokeino and the speaker system.  
  • The Chinese restaurant Il Mare doubles as a Latino dance hall on Saturdays. The crowd falls into three categories: the Latino community that always knew how to salsa, the salsa class Norwegians with more sedate hips counting their steps and the curious onlookers. ¡Que empiece la fiesta!
  • Despite Tromsø being a tolerant and open-minded city, no gay place has managed to stay afloat. Open gays are possibly too well integrated, and closeted gays may be too visible in this, after all, small city. However, gay parties are occasionally organized. The first gay festival, Homsø, took place in October 2007.

Shopping in Tromso, Norway

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 5 pm, although they usually stay up until 7 pm on Thursdays. They close at 3-4 pm 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 8 pm (6 pm on Saturdays).
  • Nerstranda (Steen & Strøm), Nerstranda 9. In the city center, allows shopping until 8 at night. 
  • Jekta, Heiloveien 19. Near the airport, is the biggest shopping mall in Northern Norway.
  • Pyramiden (Amfi), Solstrandveien 47. On the mainland side is also a sizable center.
Original buys include:
  • Blåst, Peder Hansensgate 4, +47 77 68 34 60 the world's northernmost glass factory makes original glass objects. They also ship. 
  • Kranes Kunstgalleri og rammeverksted, Strandgata 30 is the place to look for paintings and sculptures from Northern Norway.  
  • Tromsø Gift and Souvenir Shop, Strandgaten 36, +47 77 67 34 13 is the ultimate souvenir shop in town and offers glitzy kitsch with a wink. Great fun, and the place to look for a gift to the person that looks after your cat.  
  • Snarby Strikkestudio, Fredrik Langes Gate 18, +47 77 64 13 20 has knitwear from Norway, as well as a vast array of souvenirs. Look for seal skin slippers.  
  • Husfliden, Sjøgata 4, +47 77 75 88 60 is part of a national chain of craft shops. The quality is high, and so are the prices. 
The production of interesting books about the north in the Norwegian language is huge. However, the selection of good titles in English is limited.
  • Bokhuset, Storgata 86, +47 77 68 30 36 is the best place in town to look for books on Norwegian themes. Most books are in Norwegian, though. 
  • Tromsø Museum, part of the University of Tromsø, has a rather good selection of scientific books on the north, again mostly in Norwegian.
  • For English-language pocketbooks, many Narvesen kiosks stock the latest best-sellers (Norwegians buy them too). Bookshops like Bokhuset, Ark and Tromsø Bokhandel (all in the main street) have a bigger selection.
Since Tromsø has a refreshing climate, the outdoor markets are not all that impressive. Look for the following, though:
  • The Main Square (Torget) has numerous souvenir sellers in summer. Russians sell souvenirs, and you get some knitwear and Sami souvenirs (sold by real Sami people). Due to the northern location, local vegetables are of limited volume. However, in August and September, little turnips and carrots that are really crunchy and tasty are for sale. In late July you might want to look for northern strawberries.
  • The fish port sells cod, coalfish, and shrimps directly from the boat. This is not the biggest fish market in the world, but the catch is straight from the sea. If the boats are all gone by the time you come, go to Dragøy next to the dockside. Here you get good quality fish, they can even make you a picnic of varied fish and seafood. Another interesting place to purchase interesting food are the lorries selling fish, particularly during the winter cod fishery. Cod flesh, liver, roe, tongues, stomachs and chins are on sale. Ask how to bread your cod's tongue right to get that crunchy taste!
  • Before Christmas, the farmers from the inland valleys visit. In addition to Christmas trees, they sell local cakes and sweets.
  • Julemesse is another pre-Christmas specialty, meaning a little fair of craft. The knitting ladies from the whole area sell their mittens, tablecloths, etc., and the income is often for some charity. An excellent way to stock up on original Christmas presents, and a deep dive into the traditional craft.

Safety in Tromso, Norway

  • Norway is a fairly safe country in general, and Tromsø is no exception. Violence is usually limited to drunk 19-year-olds fighting in the taxi line at 4 in the morning. Theft is not unheard of, though, and don't leave your camera unattended.
  • Earlier, the local drug addicts used to beg for money along the main street. They have now started selling "Virkelig", a local version of The Big Issue, and they have now been replaced by beggars from the Balkans. Neither represents a danger, though.
  • Far more life-threatening are outdoor activities. Tourists occasionally try unguided glacier walks, deep sea fishing, hiking, and off-piste skiing without being properly trained or equipped, once in a while with fatal results. Do not try any glacier walks on your own. Deep sea fishing and off-piste need good training. Don't over-estimate yourself when hiking in the mountains, although there is a mountain for any level. Most accidents could be avoided by seeking local advice (tourist information, Troms Turlag etc).
  • In winter, the city center is occasionally a giant ice rink, or bobsleigh track. To save your neck, make sure your shoe soles have plenty of rubber (as opposed to plastic), and consider purchasing a pair of crampons.

Language spoken in Tromso, Norway

Norwegian is the main official language. English is the main foreign language. 


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