Surrounded by Norway’s unique Arctic landscape, the small town of Tromsø is located on an island in the Arctic waters. Whether you want to see the Northern Lights, experience Norwegian culture or enjoy Norway’s beautiful nature, Tromsø is the ideal starting point for a trip to Scandinavia. In this article, I will give you important tips for your visit and reveal the most beautiful sights in Tromsø and the surrounding area.

As always, at the end of this article you will find a map of Tromsø, Norway, in which I have marked all the sights and my favorite spots.

When is the best time to travel to Tromsø?

The ideal time to visit Tromsø depends largely on what you want to experience during your trip. To see the magical Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis, with your own eyes, the best time to visit is between September and March, when the nights are particularly long and dark. However, as Tromsø is located 350km north of the Arctic Circle, you won’t see any daylight during a trip in December and January. That’s why we chose February for our trip to have a good chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis and still have a few hours of daylight.

If you prefer milder weather and want to go hiking, then the summer months between June and August are the ideal choice.

Getting to Tromsø

The easiest and quickest way to get to Tromsø in Norway is by plane. Tromsø Airport (TOS) is connected to the major cities in Norway, such as Oslo and Bergen, but also to international airports such as London, Stockholm and Berlin. Incidentally, the approach is gigantic and one of the most beautiful I have ever experienced. So it’s worth booking a window seat. Watching the Arctic snowcaps, which surround Tromsø for miles around, pass by is simply beautiful!

Alternatively, Tromsø can also be reached by ferry from various Norwegian destinations.

the view out of the window from a plane landing in trams, Norway
a view over the countryside landscape in Norway with snow and mountains

How much time should you plan for Tromsø?

To explore both the city and the surrounding area, I recommend three to four days in Tromsø. This will give you enough time to enjoy the most beautiful sights in Tromsø and to explore the landscape that surrounds the city.

Is it worth renting a car in Tromsø?

While the city is very easy to explore on foot, a rental car is worthwhile for a road trip through the countryside and to find the Northern Lights in the evening. However, the prices for a rental car in Tromsø are very high, so you may not want to rent your own car for your entire stay. Within the city, the bus will also get you from A to B easily and cheaply, while taxis are very expensive.

walking tornados a rental car in Tromso, Norway, surrounded by snow and mountains

The most beautiful sights in Tromsø, Norway

The city center of Tromsø

The small and charming city center of Tromsø is a great place to stroll around and explore. There are many cute cafés where you can warm up and stores with local products. There are several sights in Tromsø that you should not miss during your city tour.

→ These Tours in Tromsø are an absolute highlight:

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The Tromsø Polar Museum

I’m not really a big fan of museums when I’m traveling, but we were so cold during our walk through Tromsø in winter that we wanted to warm up and the Polar Museum was the perfect opportunity to do so. In retrospect, I was super happy that we decided to go, as the museum shows in an interesting way how people settled in the Arctic regions from the 17th century onwards and survived on expeditions. The exhibits and the house in which the museum is located take visitors on a journey back in time to a harsh and cold era. Even if some of the details of seal and bear hunting were less attractive to see, they are an important part of the history of the Arctic (and are fortunately forbidden today).

Admission prices & opening hours of the Polar Museum in Tromsø:

  • NOK 110 (approx. EUR 9.50) per adult
  • Free admission for children and young people aged 0-18 years
  • Admission daily from 11 am – 5 pm

Outdoor sauna

Tromsø has some great saunas that are popular with locals and visitors alike. An infusion in the sauna followed by cooling off in the Arctic water is simply part of a visit to Norway!

→ Here I have linked you to a fantastic sauna right in the harbor of Tromsø! Before your visit, you need to book a time slot online.

The Arctic Cathedral

Tromsø is not only located on an island, but part of the city is also on the mainland. Both parts are connected by a bridge, which can be crossed on foot or by car and offers great views.

On the mainland side, the Arctic Cathedral is the biggest eye-catcher thanks to its special architecture. It looks particularly beautiful at night when the light from the interior lighting glitters through the colorful windows.

a view over Tromso, Norway, seeing the harbor and the arctic cathedral
the arctic cathedral in Tromso, ist one of the best sights in  Tromso, Norway

The Fjellheisen cable car – the most beautiful sight in Tromsø

The most beautiful view over Tromsø can be seen on a ride on the popular Fjellheisen cable car up Tromsø’s local mountain: Storsteinen. The ride takes you to the viewpoint at the top of the mountain at a height of 421 meters. The view is best when you get there just before sunset. Then you can enjoy the view over the mountains both during the day and at night, when the lights of Tromsø begin to twinkle. The spot is also popular later in the evening, as with a bit of luck you can see the Northern Lights – the last train back down to the valley leaves at midnight.

The cable car ride in combination with a hike or snowshoe hike is also popular.

night view over Tromso, Norway from the Fjellheisen cable car, one of the best sights in Tromso

Caution: It is very icy and slippery at the top of the mountain. However, there is hardly any protection on the cliff (usually just a thin wire). Therefore, you should definitely wear shoes with a good profile to avoid accidentally slipping!

Prices & travel times for the Fjellheisen cable car in Tromsø:

  • Round trip 415 NOK (approx. 35 EUR) per adult & 200 NOK per child (3-15 years)
  • Single trip (it is possible to hike downhill) 270 NOK (approx. 23 EUR) per adult & 130 NOK per child (3-15 years)
  • Trips take place daily from 10 am – midnight

→ Here you will find the right tours for an unforgettable experience:

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More sights & activities in the Tromsø area that you shouldn’t miss:

Aurora Borealis – See the Northern Lights in Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø offers the ideal conditions to see the mystical Northern Lights with your own eyes. However, for this dream to come true, a number of factors must be fulfilled, because in addition to the strength of the solar activity, the visibility of the Aurora Borealis depends on many factors: Where are you located? Is it dark enough? Do you have a clear view to the north? Is it cloudy? Are the lights strong enough to see them with the naked eye?

You can see the most amazing Northern Lights in one place, while a person just a few kilometers away from you will only see a dark sky.

To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights in Tromsø, I recommend the following:

  • → This live weather and cloud radar – it gives very reliable information about the cloud density in your area
  • A rental car with which you can drive to cloud-free spots
  • A compass – the Northern Lights are only visible when you are facing north
  • Patience – the Northern Lights move at an average speed of 400 km/h!!! So the sky above your head can change constantly.
  • A tripod and a camera or smartphone with long exposure – while the lights are barely visible to the eye when they are faint, you will be able to capture them much more clearly thanks to long exposure.
the northern lights, shot in Norway, close to Tromso, Aurora Borealis
the northern lights, shot in Norway, close to Tromso, Aurora Borealis
the northern lights, shot in Norway, close to Tromso, Aurora Borealis

The easier alternative? Book a guided Northern Lights tour. 

The tour guides know the best spots in the area, provide camera equipment and warm clothing, stay in contact with their colleagues and therefore greatly increase the chance of seeing the Northern Lights with your own eyes! The guides are also experienced in night photography and will help you to take the perfect souvenir photo. This was a great challenge even for us – as experienced travel photographers – as the conditions and camera settings vary greatly.

→ Here you can find the best Northern Lights tours in Norway from Tromsø

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A mini Norway road trip from Tromsø

My favorite day in Tromsø was our trip by car through the picturesque Arctic landscape of Norway. To make the most of the daylight (especially in winter), you should set off at sunrise. During our trip to Tromsø in February, the sun rose at around 8 am and set again at around 2:30 pm. During this time, we drove by car via Tomasjord to Skibotn and passed numerous fantastic views over fjords and mountains. I have marked some of my favorite spots on my Tromsø map.

aerial shot of a scenic road in Norway leading through mountains and fjords
an iced waterfall in Norway
sunset Mountain View in Norway, close to Tromso

Tromsø, Norway – My map with the best sights

Map Legend:

  • blue – Sights in Tromsø
  • red – beautiful spots & views for your Mini Road Trip from Tromsø
  • green – spots where we photographed the northern lights

→ Here you find more amazing activities in and around Tromsø:

Tromsø is the perfect mix of a Scandinavian city and breathtaking nature – all year round! I hope this article has revealed some of the most beautiful sights in and around Tromsø and that my tips will help you plan your own trip to Norway!

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the bets tips for Tromso, Norway with map
Tromso, Norway, the ultimate travel guide

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