72 Hours in Tromsø

things to do in Tromsø

As the capital of the Arctic Circle, and, to some, the quirkiest town in Norway, Tromsø has quite the reputation to live up to. This is the place where all Nordic adventures begin, where history meets Scandinavian art de vivre, and where thrill meets unadulterated awe.

Tempted to explore Tromsø for a long weekend? Here’s everything you need to know in order to spend a worthwhile, activity-packed 72 hours in Norway’s northernmost city.

Things To Do In Tromsø: Day 1

Coffee at Kaffebønna

things to do in Tromsø

This adorable coffee shop has two locations in Tromsø, both equally easy on the eyes and with coffee that will shy the inevitable shivers away (this is the Arctic, after all). Don’t fight your inner voice that begs you to get their mouth-watering sweets; Kaffebønna also owns a bakery downtown where they do everything themselves in the utmost Norwegian tradition.

Polaria Museum

The aptly-named museum is dedicated to Northern Norway and its many aspects, from the daring expeditions to the Svalbard islands to the science behind the phenomenon that is the Northern Lights, and, for the little ones and their young-at-heart parents, the cold fish aquarium and its now famous trio of seals.

Snowshoeing with the locals and Tromsø Outdoor

things to do in Tromsø
things to do in Tromsø
 

Tromsø Outdoor does not bother to take visitors very far out of the city for their 2-hour long snowshoeing adventure; instead, they took me straight to Tromsø’s backyard where my little group and I mingled with locals on their daily ski outing.

Let it be known that snowshoeing might actually be the only sport I enjoy doing. If you know me at all, you know this is quite the statement!

Eat at Aunegården

This old butcher shop is now home to an intimate café with adorable crannies and strong French flavours, including the eternal classics like croque-monsieur. A modest but excellent pick for lunch or dinner.

Northern Lights tour with Guide Gunnar

This is what most people who travel to Northern Norway come to see. With Gunnar, you are getting the experience and knowledge of an ex-Norwegian military no-nonsense character who’s been doing Northern Lights tours for the last ten years. In his own words, “he’ll take you to Finland if he has to!”, should the Tromsø weather forecast not ever be in your favour.

Things To Do In Tromsø: Day 2

Coffee at Smørtorget

things to do in Tromsø

This is one of my favourite places in the city. This café / artist studio / vintage shop is so incredibly Scandinavian and oozes cool with its indie playlist and ample candles. Their soy latte is particularly good. Their gigantic floor-to-ceiling windows make for ideal people-watching opportunities.

Dog sledding with Tromsø Villmarkssenter

things to do in Tromsø

things to do in Tromsø
 

Before you even think about saying that dog sledding is cruel, watch this video. If these dogs are not the very incarnation of eagerness and excitement, then I don’t know what is. This is what they live for, and what they love to do. It’s so much fun to see them get ready and pumped up for the ride!

It should be noted that self-driven sleighs can be hard labour, however, especially with a fresh layer of snow. These dogs can only get you so far with a foot of powder, and you’ll have to help them uphill. My experience was quite a workout! But you know what made it all worth it? Post ride cuddles >>> sleigh rides.

Eat at Pastafabrikken

Because you can only eat fish so many times a day! This restaurant offers fresh pasta dishes in a beautiful atmosphere, the ideal place to wind down after a long day of activities.

Shop Scandinavian design at Ting

things to do in Tromsø

Walking out of that store and not load up my credit card was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. If you’re a Scandinavian design lover like me, Ting is definitely a must-do. They carry a mix of local and more famous international brands like Normann Copenhagen and Ferm Living. Definitely the place to go for gift-shopping, either for yourself or for your loved ones.

Things To Do In Tromsø: Day 3

Snowmobiling and reindeer sledding with Lyngsfjord Adventure

things to do in Tromsø
things to do in Tromsø
 

Getting to Lyngsfjord Adventure‘s basecamp takes over an hour and a half; far from being a deterrent, the drive further in the Arctic mainland is rather spectacular, and the final result is well worth the detour. At Camp Tamok you will meet the indigenous Sami people and their reindeer herds, which will take you on a 4-kilometres long ride around some of Finnmark’s most beautiful scenery. You can also stay for a little while longer and get your adrenaline pumping on a lengthy roaring snowmobile ride!

Eat at Skirri

This restaurant hits all the right notes: a wonderfully modern decor, gorgeous views of the Tromso fjord, and an extensive and affordable lunch menu. If the fish gratin is available, you’re in luck!

Shop for Norwegian delicacies at Mathallen

things to do in Tromsø

If you just can’t get enough of Arctic cuisine and Norwegian food, then plan for a stop at Mathallen’s deli, adjacent to their well-respected restaurant. Here you will find plenty of fish products, cheeses, savoury and sweet treats, all inspired by traditional northern Norwegian culinary tradition.

Northern Lights tour with Tromsø Friluftsenter

things to do in Tromsø

Although you can’t judge a Northern Lights-oriented tour operator by the show you’re getting (these displays are notoriously difficult to predict, as they require a very precise combination of both clear skies and strong solar winds), I did end up sitting in the snow crying out of sheer amazement during my outing with Tromsø Friluftsenter. This expedition to one of their base camps included warm beverages and cake, as well as a sheltered lavvo tent with a roaring fire.

Tromsø travel tips

  • If you’re on a budget, lunch deals will be your new favourite thing. Dinners are quite expensive in Tromsø but most restaurants will offer several fairly-priced options at lunchtime with prices valid until 5 PM.
  • A few other great places to get a good meal: Bardus Bistro, Emmas Drømmekjøkken, Hildr Gastro Bar, and 69° N Brasserie.
  • Don’t think twice about wandering in the streets of Tromsø to get the best views. I

things to do in Tromsø

 

14 Comments on 72 Hours in Tromsø

    • Marie-Eve
      March 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm (1 year ago)

      They really were! The Nordic know how to make everything look so cosy.

      Reply
  1. Map & Fork
    March 1, 2016 at 10:40 am (1 year ago)

    It remind us the wonderful landscape of northern Norway that we admired during our recent Interrail there. Just magic!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 5, 2016 at 3:25 pm (1 year ago)

      It must have been an amazing train trip!

      Reply
  2. Heather @ Ferreting Out the Fun
    March 3, 2016 at 3:22 am (1 year ago)

    I so want to visit this magical place! A friend of mine just got back from a long weekend in Tromso and had a wonderful time doing many of the things you outline here. And her Northern Lights pics were spectacular!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm (1 year ago)

      It’s such a beautiful town! There are plenty of things to do.

      Reply
  3. Mary @ Green Global Travel
    March 9, 2016 at 11:45 pm (1 year ago)

    Love the snowshoeing and dog-sledding activities! I guess one has to be okay with the cold temperatures to fully enjoy the outdoor experiences in Tromsø, but it looks beautiful!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 11, 2016 at 11:09 am (1 year ago)

      It wasn’t that cold but yes, you have to be well prepared to spend a winter day outdoors!

      Reply
  4. Susanna
    August 21, 2016 at 10:59 am (9 months ago)

    Love this! I’m looking into Norway and this is exactly what I’ve been looking for. May I ask your timeframe/dates when you were there? Also I saw that you did the flam train. Do you think it’s possible to do that on this trip too?

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      August 22, 2016 at 6:19 pm (9 months ago)

      This trip was in February, which is perfect if you want to hit up all the winter activities like snowshoeing, dog sledding, and northern lights watching. It will be difficult to do the Flam train from Tromso or in the winter, it’s infinitely better in summer or fall.

      Reply
      • Susanna
        August 24, 2016 at 12:09 pm (9 months ago)

        Thank you! Now to look for tickets! Last question! Any specific items that needs to be packed for the trip other than warm clothes? Anything for the activities?

      • Marie-Eve
        August 29, 2016 at 11:31 am (9 months ago)

        Not really. They provide you with extra warm boots and overalls anyway, so you really don’t need to bring much!

  5. Megan
    March 17, 2017 at 1:21 pm (2 months ago)

    May I ask how you traveled to Tromso? We’re flying into Oslo and doing Norway in a Nutshell to Bergen. Trying to determine the best route up north and back!

    Reply
    • Marie-Eve
      March 24, 2017 at 5:53 pm (2 months ago)

      Flew from Oslo to Tromso!

      Reply

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