My mum is always very straightforward in her requests when we pick a destination for our annual trip. This time she wanted to visit Lappland. Then I can start the tweaking, so I decided on northern Norway because of the stories I had heard about it and I picked Tromsø over Alta because of the flights. It’s not easy to find sample multi day itineraries online for this city, so if you’re also heading there in winter I hope this post helps.
Morning: Tromsø Exploration
First things first, Tromsø has a nice little airport from which it’s easy to reach city centre by Flybussen or City Bus 40 or 42. Getting to Tromsø might take a changeover though. My mum and I flew through Oslo, where we had a very odd experience with our checked in luggage – we had to basically wait until our names appeared on a sign, this meant our luggage had passed through and we ourselves could go through passport control. Apart from picking up checked in luggage when changing over in the USA I had never experienced something like this.
Right, on the first day I would advise you to spend the day exploring the city. There’s plenty to see and do there. My mum and I did everything on foot, including the walk to the Ishavskatedralen (Arctic Church). If something is an iconic sight in the city, it’s this church.
If you’re staying in the city centre, there’s a good viewing point near the Radisson Blu hotel.
I didn’t find the church itself very special. The entrance price is 50 NOK (around 5 euro), which I thought was a bit steep for a church which admittedly has a beautiful glass mosaic but nothing much else to see.
In short the outside is much better and more iconic than the inside.
Closer to the city centre and much more fun to visit is the Polar Museum. However, if you don’t like embalmed animals skip this museum (and the next few photos) altogether.
It tells the story of the polar expeditions. Tromsø was the centre of seal hunting in northern Norway, and the town was established at the “Gateway to the Arctic” in the late 1800s. The museum exhibits this polar seafaring tradition.
The visit won’t take too long as it’s a small building, but I quite enjoyed it. The entrance is 60 NOK (around 6 euro).
Other museums to visit in Tromsø are for example the Tromsø museum, which is a rather large museum with a number of different exhibits about the north, including Sami exhibits, and Polstjerna, a former seal hunter ship.
The main street is also worth a roam. There are plenty of souvenir shops here, and the northern-most Lutheran cathedral.
That’s it for the city centre, I will get to the more natural related sights in Tromsø later on in this post.
Evening: Northern Lights
Allow me to be short about this activity. I would certainly advise you to take one of the northern lights chasing tours. We opted for the Tromsø Friluftsenter. We had nothing to complain about the company, but it was incredibly cloudy, and our tour guide told us that if we would only find a clear spot we would be fine.
This was not true because we found clear spots further away from Tromsø, which is the benefit of a “chase” tour, but again… We couldn’t see the lights with our eyes. Only cameras could capture them, exactly like we had experienced in Iceland. I wonder if I will ever get to see them “in real life”.
Morning: Husky Sledding
Highest on my list for this destination was husky sledding. I loved it, and I would definitely do it again somewhere else! If husky sledding is not your cup of tea, I would still advise you to leave the city for other activities – maybe you’re more into whale watching or hiking or riding a snow mobile? Try that and make your way back to the city in the afternoon.
Read more about my experiences with husky sledding in Tromsø here.
Afternoon: Prestvannet Park
If the tour you were on doesn’t end too late in the afternoon you could hike to Prestvannet. Prestvannet is a small lake on the highest point of the island of the city of Tromsø (complicated sentence, but if you look at a map it will make sense).
The lake area has been preserved as a nesting place for birds. Surrounding the pond is a track used for recreational activities and sports, as well as a nature trail with plaques informing about the local wildlife. In the winter, the frozen pond is a popular place for ice skating.
My opinion is that it’s great to be around nature when it’s covered in snow. The hike to Prestvannet isn’t without its dangers though. It can get quite slippery in winter, so even though Google Maps says it will take around 30 minutes to walk there from the city centre count on a bit more.
Morning: Reindeer Sledding
Another day, another morning, another new activity. We opted for reindeer sledding. If you have read my post about this subject, you’ll find that my mum and I weren’t a fan of the reindeer sledding. The feeding and Sami stories are well worth the visit to the place though.
Read more about my experiences with reindeer sledding in Tromsø here.
The best thing to do in Tromsø city is to visit the mountain ledge Storsteinen (421 m above sea level). This was definitely my highlight because it offers beautiful views over the surrounding islands, mountains and fjords. You can reach the ledge by cable car which runs from Solliveien to the ledge in just four minutes.
You could walk to Solliveien or you could take a bus.
The cable car is open every day in summer from 10am until 1am and in winter until 11pm. It departs on the half hour.
The price is quite steep at 210 NOK (approximately 21 euro), so when you go take your time at the top by enjoying the view and by enjoying a meal.
From the viewing platform at the upper station, you can enjoy the panoramic views . At Fjellstua restaurant, you can enjoy a meal based on local produce, while you take pleasure in the view.
The viewing platform itself is basically the snowy mountain so it’s quite slippery. I’m not going to lie, there was some complaining involved from my side every time I slipped and almost fell.
I hope this sample three day itinerary will help you plan your own visit. I didn’t really get into what I think about the city, and I figure the conclusion is as good a place as any to let you know that even though I loved the activities of husky sledding & reindeer feeding I didn’t fall in love with Tromsø.
I’m 100% I didn’t see enough of Norway to say anything about the country yet, so I’ll leave that open for now. This trip has lowered my expectations a bit though. Sure, the landscape in the north is pretty – but not as pretty as Iceland. The people didn’t enchant me like the Russians in St. Petersburg did this year, and on top of all it’s expensive. A glass of wine cost 80 NOK (8 euro), which for me is simply outrageous. Meals are expensive, and not delicious enough to be worth the price.
I loved going on this trip with my mum and we had a lot of fun, but I have to be honest with you guys: Tromsø didn’t sweep me off my feet. It’s very possible I had my expectations set too high. Let’s see how I feel about Norway when I visit in the future.