Explorers like Roald Amundsen have started many Arctic expeditions to the North Pole from the beautiful city of Tromso.
Because of its perfect location above the Arctic Circle, the city is also often referred to as the capital of the Northern Lights.
The collision of electrically charged particles from The Sun (solar wind) with oxygen & nitrogen atoms in the Earth’s upper atmosphere at very high speed create a natural light – aurora – in the night’s sky.
Best chance to see the aurora is at the Earth’s magnetic North & South Pole.
We speak of Aurora Borealis in the Northern Hemisphere; in the Southern Hemisphere the natural light is called Aurora Australis.
- Green: solar wind hits oxygen atoms
- Red: also collision with oxygen atoms but higher up in the atmosphere
- Purple: when particles from the solar wind hit nitrogen atoms
You can admire the magical lights from end August until April but statistically you have the best chance to see them in early Spring and early Fall.
Every year a lot of people from all over the world visit Tromsø to see the Northern Lights but there is more to see & do in this wonderful place.
I visited Tromsø in December 2019 as I really wanted to see the killer whales in their natural habitat and I was lucky!
Although… I think luck didn’t have much to do with it – they were just hungry.
Between November and January the black & white colored whales visit this area to feed themselves with tons of herring.
As such you have a really big chance to see them!
We booked a silent* Whale Watching tour onboard MS Brim.
*The ships from Brim Explorer have a hybrid-electric engine – they use the hybrid engine to reach the feeding grounds and once near the whales they switch over to silent electric engine.
As many other tourists I also booked this trip in the hope to see the Northern Lights and technically I did see it but just not the spectacle of bright green lights because… to see the Northern Lights you dó need a bit of luck.
The brightness of the aurora depends on the the strength of the solar wind (the solar activity follows an 11 year cycle). You also need a clear sky and as little light pollution as possible – that’s why we booked transportation to Sommarøy.
There is no way to guarantee you will see the Northern Lights during your stay in Tromso but I would advice to download any of the best Northern Lights forecast Apps to increase your chances.
In December you have only a few hours of daylight so make the most of that time and discover some of the city’s main attractions like:
- Polaria: discovery center about the Arctic region
- Polar museum: learn about stories of the Polar explorers
- Arctic cathedral: modern church architecture inspired by Arctic nature
- The Arctic University Museum of Norway: offers science-based exhibitions, updated with the latest research
- Tromso Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden: the world’s northernmost botanical garden
- The science centre of Northern Norway: interactive installations divided in different themes like the sky above us, climate & weather and more
The city centre is rather small but looked extra magical with the illuminated Christmas trees and street lights shimmering in the night.
If you’re in for some adventure, take a snowmobile to dissapear in the winter landscape or go dog/reindeer sledding or skiing.
Another activity you might be interested in is a guided tour to the Tromso Ice Domes, situated in the beautiful Tamok Valley.
We stayed in one of the best hotels in the city which is Clarion Hotel The Edge.
The hotel is located in the city centre so you have easy access to everywhere in the city – MS Brim departed from opposite our hotel.
If you wish to stay outside the city centre, check out the Sommaroy Arctic Hotel (50 mins from Tromso) or the Aurora Fjord cabins (1,5 hrs from Tromso)
RESTAURANTS & BARS
There are some really nice restaurants in Tromsø, including restaurant Kitchen & Table in our hotel where we ate delicious crab!
Pizzeria Yonas is located right at the harbour and serves tasty pizza’s – I had the one with salmon and shrimps. Perfect after a long day of exploring.
If you are looking for a more culinary experience, visit restaurants Mathallen – Fiskekompaniet – Smak or Bardus Bistro & Bar.
Start planning your trip and find out for yourself why Tromso is thé place to be for exploring the Arctic.
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