TROMSØ, NORWAY:A GATEWAY TO THE ARCTIC

TROMSØ IS THE LARGEST URBAN AREA IN NORTHERN NORWAY AND THE THIRD LARGEST NORTH OF THE ARCTIC CIRCLE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. IN THE BREATHTAKING SURROUNDINGS OF THE MAIN ISLAND, VISITORS CAN ENJOY SPECTACULAR WHALE AND BIRD WATCHING, HIKING, SAILING, FISHING, AND SKIING.

By MARIANA MEJIA

Beautiful Tromsø, located 70 degrees north, is known as a top destination for northern lights and midnight sun adventures. The city is often referred to as “Paris of the North” due to its interesting architecture and vibrant cultural life filled with great restaurants, sights, and attractions. Numerous Arctic expeditions have started from here, which is why Tromsø is also known as a gateway to the wild Arctic nature. So whether you travel to Tromsø by air, sea, road, or train and bus, there will be accessible transportation when you get to your location and it’ll be conveniently affordable to get into the city. But, on this vacation, the vacation won’t start off in the city; it’s in the Arctic wilderness. The Snowhotel Kirkenes is situated 8 km outside Kirkenes in the secluded wilds of Northern Norway. A world where you sleep in snow, walk on snow, drive through on a snowmobile, or go through with a dogsled. They even serve snow in their restaurant! At the hotel, there are at least 180 huskies excitedly awaiting your arrival, which the hotel provides if you need husky transportation or want to ride along for an adventurously cute tour. So, whether you’re staying in an igloo hotel or a warm and cozy cabin, you’ll be able to enjoy the arctic air while watching the spectacular northern light dance phenomenon, which illuminates the snowy surroundings with vibrant green and yellow hues. An adventure from the moment you arrive! snowhotelkirkenes.com

If you think you didn’t have enough of the northern lights, how about we spend the entire day on a four-to-five-hour group tour all while reindeer sledding through Tromsø. Most visitors to Northern Norway don’t get an authentic taste of Sámi culture, but you will on this tour from Tromsø that’s led by a Sámi reindeer-herder guide. You are introduced to animals, invited into a lavvu (similar to a tipi), and told stories about the culture of the Sámi, the indigenous people of Northern Europe. Enjoy sledding through the pristine Arctic wilderness, spot the northern lights, and savor a delicious meal inside the lavvu. The tour will begin with a pick-up from the Tromsø city center. Here you will meet your guide and settle into a vehicle for the journey out of the city. Upon arrival at the destination, your tour guide will provide you with a thermal suit as you climb on board a sled for an adventure through the snow. Afterward, you and your group will spend some time getting to know the reindeer you will be travelling with. Of course, under the careful supervision of your reindeer-herder guide, you may pet and feed the animals. Next, you’ll enter a lavvu, a temporary dwelling used by the Sami people, and warm up with a traditional stew and hot drinks.

Afterward, head outside to (hopefully) spot the northern lights. And finally, relax on your journey back to Tromsø, where your tour concludes with a drop-off back at the original departure point.

As for the next day, you’ll be traveling back to the Tromsø city center since you and your group didn’t get to enjoy or experience the city center when your tour guide came to pick you up. The best way to truly experience city life is by traveling through Tromsø’s cable cars. The Cable Car is Tromsø’s most popular tourist destination. It runs from Solliveien in Tromsdalen up to the mountain ledge of Storsteinen. The lower station is located on Tromsø’s mainland, 50 m above sea level, while the upper station, Fjellstua, is situated at an altitude of 421 m above sea level. The trip takes just four minutes. From the large outdoor terrace, you can enjoy the spectacular panoramic view of Tromsø and the virtually endless sight of islands, fjords, mountains, and the open sea. Fjellheisen was built in 1961 by Brødrene Jakobsens Rederi, a local shipping company active in arctic hunting and trapping, fishing, and expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. The gondolas proudly convey this tradition by bearing the shipping company’s symbols: the polar bear and the seal. After you get off the cable car, you might want to stop by for lunch at the Fjellstua Café og Restaurant, located at the mountain lift, which has a variety of Scandinavian, Norwegian, and European cuisine. When you have completed your meal, you’ll eventually want to head up towards the Tromsø city center and navigate. Shop in Storgata Street for some memorable gifts, or maybe stop in a little café and get some hot chocolate or coffee, whichever you and your loved ones prefer. fjellheisen.no

Storgata street is the main pedestrian street in Tromsø and is packed with restaurants, cafes, and souvenir and specialty shops. It is an excellent place to start if you are exploring Tromsø on foot or still have a few hours to kill in between tours. Tromsø Harbor is a short walk from Storgata Street. There are various shops and restaurants around, as well as a few different hotels that are right on the water. There are so many wonderful tours that depart from Tromsø City. Some of these tours include whale watching, northern lights, dog sledding, snowshoeing, fishing, fjord cruises, and more. Since whale watching is a must when heading to the Tromsø Harbor, you will be taking the rest of your day on a whale safari tour led by an experienced crew to show you these unbelievable animals in their natural habitat while driving through the water on a boat for 30 minutes. This allows the captain and crew to show you more of their beautiful archipelago. Exploring these areas of the world with their high mountains, breathtaking wildlife, and deep fjords truly is a treat. The tour will then end with the crew serving you a fish soup made on the yacht or boat, maybe the best in the region, but if you don’t like fish or can’t have fish, you might want to pack a lunch before riding on a boat from the Tromsø Harbor. All are welcome on board!

As for your final days here in Norway, on your last day you won’t want to miss out on all the fun. That includes being on a three-hour Hidden Fjord Kayaking Trip Tour. The unspoiled Hjørund and Norangsfjord are hidden gems in the vicinity of Ålesund. Away from the busy tourist spots, there is a hidden gem for you where you can enjoy spectacular fjord scenery and pristine nature in tranquility. On this tour, you will start here with a welcome and short instruction on kayak paddling, after which you’ll paddle into the fjord (2–3 hours) and, depending on where the wind hits, you and your group might be able to cross the fjord and visit a typical fjord side farm traditionally used for goat farming. This kayak tour is perfect to enjoy and discover the natural beauty of the very dramatic Norwegian fjords in a very tranquil way (since tourist crowds are elsewhere). Depending on the weather, we will see smaller or bigger waterfalls. At the end of the tour, you will be back in Urke, where you can enjoy a cup of coffee and a traditional Norwegian waffle at the Urke Kaihus. A perfect ending to quench your thirst and hunger, up until you head back home safely. Farvel, til neste gang! (Good bye, until next time!)