For the majority of our time in Norway we were out on excursions such as dog sledding and reindeer sledding in the wild arctic. So when we had some free time to spend in the city center we took advantage of the minimal daylight and ventured out to see what Tromsø had to offer. These are some of our top picks for things to do around Tromsø!
As the world’s most northernly aquarium, Polaria offers an Arctic-themed experience and is located right outside the city centre. Polaria has multiple aquariums with arctic marine life and is home to some of the adorable bearded seals from Spitsbergen.
Although small, we enjoyed watching the feeding of the seals and admiring the marine life. Once we were done walking around the aquarium we relaxed in the panoramic theatre where they play two movies; Svalbard – Arctic Wilderness and the Northern Lights in Arctic Norway.
Opening Hours: 18 May – 31 Aug.: 10.00 – 19.00; 1 Sept. – 17 May: 10.00 – 17.00; 24 & 25 Dec: 13.00-16.00.
Prices: Adults: NOK 120 & Children: NOK 60
Seal Feeding & Training Times: 12.30 and 15.30 in Winter and 12.30 and 15.00 in Summer.
2. Sip a pint at the Ølhallen Pub
Ølhallen Pub is the oldest pub in Tromsø, established in 1928. This pub, which was started in the Mack’s Bryggeri cellar, offers the entire selection of Mack’s beers on draught, in bottles, or both. Mack’s Brewery is even older than Ølhallen and the first beer was brewed there in 1877.
Mack’s Brewery offers tours detailing the history of the brewery and shows the brewing process. We didn’t do the tour of the Brewery but we did enjoy a pint of Mack’s beer at the Ølhallen Pub. The pub has a great atmosphere and interesting Arctic decor.
Opening Hours: Monday thru Saturday 10:00 to 18:00; Closed Sundays
3. Take a stroll through the historical centre of Tromsø
The center of Tromsø is full of the most adorable colored wooden homes. From the beautifully colored architecture to the stunning harbour views, a stroll around the center is a must do!
This charming city takes pride in its arctic heritage and offers many museums dedicated to the history and future of Northern Norway. On Saturday, there was a small market taking place in the center where local Sami men and women were selling handmade gifts while a local choir were on stage performing joiks.
They also were hosting a lasso throwing contest where some of the younger teenagers were competing at throwing a lasso around reindeer antlers at varying distances. We loved wandering around the city and enjoyed popping into the local shops and cafes.
4. Journey back in time at the Polarmusset
The Polar Museum contains multiple exhibits showcasing the history of the polar Arctic, the importance of polar expeditions, and arctic seal hunting. There are also exhibitions highlighting the famous Norwegian polar explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen.
They even honor Roald Amundsen by having a bronze statue of him directly outside the museum building. In addition, the museum describes the bravery and ingenuity of the fisherman, hunters, whalers, trappers and explorers who made the Arctic their home.
Opening hours: 10am-7pm mid-Jun through mid-Aug, 11am-4pm or 5pm rest of the year.
Prices: Adult: 50 NOK; Children: 25 NOK
5. Admire the unique architecture of the Ishavskatedralen
Architect Jan Inge Hovig was largely influenced by the arctic when he created his design for this stunning church. The architect was never clear on his specific inspiration but one can speculate that icebergs, Sami tents, and fish-drying racks may have played a role in the design.
Built in 1965, the Ishavskatedralen is a striking architectural structure situated at the end of the Tromsø bridge. Originally, it was called Tromsdalen Church but due to its striking and unique design the church became known as Ishavskatedralen (The Arctic Cathedral).
From its central location the church can be seen from the centre of town and is one of Tromsø’s most well-known landmarks. Every part of this church has an arctic influence including the mosaic glass design that was added to the east window behind the altar in 1972.
6. Ride the Cable Car for panoramic views of the city
The Cable Car in Tromsø takes you up to Mount Storsteinen on Fløya, a high 421 meters above the sea. We wish we had had time to ride the 4 minutes on the cable car because of the stunning views of the city that you can get from atop but we spent our last afternoon of daylight wondering the center taking once in a lifetime photos!
7. Try some Reindeer at Emmas Drømmekjøkken Restaurant
Located in the heart of Tromsø, the intimate and sophisticated Emmas Drømmekjøkken dishes up beautifully prepared northern Norwegian staples. The cozy atmosphere, friendly service and amazing cuisine easily made this restaurant our favorite in Tromsø. Everything in Tromsø is quite pricey and this meal was no exception; however, it was well worth the hefty price.
8. Admire the only wooden church in northern Norway: Tromsø Cathedral
Built in 1861, Tromsø Domkirke is the only wooden church in Norway and with over 600 seats is also one of the largest. This beautiful pastel colored Cathedral is the northernmost Protestant Cathedral in the world and takes center stage next to the rows of wooden storefronts and buildings in Tromsø.