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Nature Discoveries

This city is the ultimate gateway to the Arctic

Ventures by Sabrina - city of Tromso

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.

Every year a lot of people from all over the world visit Tromsø in the hope to see the Northern Lights.  It truly is one of thé highlights but there is more to see & do in this wonderful place.

I visited Tromsø in December as I really wanted to see the killer whales (orca’s) 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 engine – they use the fuel engine to reach the feeding grounds and once near the whales they switch over to the silent electric engine.

As many other tourists I also traveled to Tromsø because it’s one of the best spots in the northern hemisphere to admire the Northern Lights.

To have the most chance to see the lights, we left the city – as too much light pollution – and drove to Sommarøy, a beautiful island 1 hour South West of Tromsø.

Once we arrived in Sommarøy, we started looking up to the sky and waited for the show to begin. 

We stayed for hours and technically* we did see the polar lights but not the spectacle of bright colorful lights as its activity (particles from the Sun colliding with atoms in our upper atmosphere) was just too low.  So to see the Northern Lights you dó need a bit of luck… and a better night vision*

*The green lights were visible on the photo camera but not with the human eye.  When it’s really dark outside, our eyesight  is sensitive to light but not to color – you usually see grey waves and colors in the green/yellow spectrum.  Another reason for the limited view is because – unlike camera sensors – our eyes aren’t able to capture light for an extended period of time.

If you like to know more about what, when and where to see these magical lights, check out my article about the Polar Lights.

It’s during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light” Aristotle

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

Polaria is a discovery center about the Arctic region.  Here you learn to better understand why marine life and life on land depend on each other.

Picture: (the discovery center is expanding and currently under renovation)

  • Arctic cathedral

The Arctic cathedral displays a modern (minimalistic) church architecture inspired by Arctic nature.

  • The Arctic University Museum of Norway

Located at 70 degrees north, the Arctic University of Norway is the northernmost university in the world.  Key research is focused on the polar environment, climate research, medical biology, space physics, computational chemistry, marine bioprospecting and multiple other studies.

It’s museum offers science-based exhibitions, updated with the latest research.

The researchers at UiT collaborate across disciplines and national borders to produce
high-quality research.

The science center of northern Norway is located at campus of the Arctic University – emerge yourself further into the world of sciences, the beautiful Arctic region and beyond.

  • The science center of northern Norway

With the help of interactive installations – divided in different themes – the science center wants to give you more insight into: the universe, the weather phenomena of the Arctic, the climate, energy, physics and the human body.

The science center also accommodates Norway’s largest planetarium – here you can experience auroras every day, no matter what the weather conditions are outside.

On walking distance from the science center, you can find the Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden.

Although the flowering season is over by October, the botanical garden is attractive in the winter season as well with the rocky landscapes and evergreen bushes covered by touches of snow*

*If there is too much snow, you might want to bring your ski rackets.

  • Tromso Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden

In the world’s northernmost botanical garden you can find a great collection of flowering plants collected from Arctic and Alpine areas from the northern hemisphere.

The garden is open 24/7 and the entrance is free.

The city center of Tromsø 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 disappear 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 center 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 center, check out the Sommarøy Arctic Hotel (50 mins from Tromsø) or the Aurora Fjord cabins (1,5 hours from Tromsø)


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 harbor and serves tasty (very affordable) pizza’s – I had the one with salmon and shrimps.  Perfect after a long day of exploring.

Risø Mat & Kaffebar is the place to be for a coffee/tea or juice, and a nice breakfast or lunch (vegetarian & vegan options available)  Located in the heart of the city, this cozy spot offers sandwiches, soup, toast, salades, omelets & pastries.

If you are looking for a more culinary experience, visit restaurants:


Fine dining restaurant that offers quality dishes with locally sourced ingredients.

Here you can dine in a cozy, modern interior featuring an open kitchen.



Trendy seafood restaurant offering healthy & fresh ingredients, and a beautiful sea view. 

Enjoy a culinary experience with typical flavors from Northern Norway and the rest of the world.

For more information, visit


Enjoy delightful culinary creations made from locally sourced ingredients, in a relaxed setting.

Every season they provide the freshest & best ingredients from the sea, fjord, forest and mountains.



I booked flights with Scandinavian Airlines and I believe that’s the best option to fly to Tromsø.

In regards to transfers… you can easily take a taxi at the airport (cost is about € 25 EUR one way)

Plante above clouds - This city is the ultimate gateway to the Arctic - Tromso - Ventures by Sabrina

Exploring Tromsø was a really nice experience and I will definitely go back one day… to see the Northern Lights in full technicolor (hopefully) & to meet the fascinating killer whales again.

Start planning your trip and find out for yourself why Tromso is thé place to be for exploring the Arctic.

Ventures by Sabrina



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