Head to this Norwegian city within the Arctic Circle for the Northern Lights... but then stay for so much more! With husky sledging, whale watching trips or the delights of Summer's Midnight Sun, the city is definitely a year-round destination. Man's known history here goes back over 11,000 years and for many centuries it had a religious draw before its position made it the perfect kicking-off spot for early 20th-century Arctic expeditions. While here, dip into a vibrant calendar of annual events perfectly suited to the area's contrasting seasons.
Things to do in Tromso
Despite its Northern orientation, the city has no shortage of attractions both cultural and historic as well as good shopping, fine dining and a lively nightlife. The first stop on anyone's itinerary should be the town's most famous landmark The Arctic Cathedral.
A soaring landmark
With its soaring design, the modernist Arctic Cathedral was consecrated in 1965 while its stunning stained-glass mosaic was added a few years later. Even the architect Jan Inge Hovig wouldn't commit to what inspired him -- an iceberg, a traditional fish-drying rack or a Sami tent!
Iceberg or aquarium?
The Polaria Aquarium definitely was inspired by Arctic ice floes. With films in a panoramic cinema, multi-media displays and the attractions of the aquarium itself such as the bearded seals, Polaria really does have something for the whole family, and its setting is absolutely stunning.
An unexpected treat
The Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden is the most Northerly in the world and makes a relaxing contrast from the city's more conventional attractions. Wander through rhododendrons from the cold wastes of the Himalayas and enjoy the tranquil Friendship Garden with plants donated by Russia. There is even a traditional garden with magic, medicinal and aphrodisiac herbs.
Calendar of Events
Tromso doesn't let the seasonal differences spoil its fun. In fact, when it's freezing outside and the nights are endless, everyone is ready for some distractions, while the Midnight Sun in Summer entices everybody out of doors.
The Northern Lights Festival. January sees the city plunged into a week-long extravaganza of music. Artists from Norway and around the world present a mix of traditional and modern compositions, jazz and opera or orchestral symphonies. Additionally, it's the perfect time of year to catch the Aurora Borealis.
Sami Week. Following close on its heels is Sami Week held in early February. This week celebrates the culture of the reindeer-herding Sami people. Shop for souvenirs in the Sami Market, take in films and displays at different museums and galleries in Tromso or cheer on the entrants in Lasso Throwing competitions and the Reindeer races.
The Tromso Annual Beer Festival. Summer sees marathons and rock concerts take place, but what better way to make the most of the never-setting sun than by enjoying the local beers al fresco. Mack is the world's northernmost brewery and every August it hosts its own annual beer fest.