8 girls, each from different parts of Poland. One common goal – chasing the Northern Lights 🙂 Everything took place 350 km north of the Arctic Circle, near the Norwegian Tromso. Accommodation reserved, car for 8 people also arranged. The only thing left was to embrace warm clothes and go to the far north.
Tromso, where the Arctic adventure begins
Tromso, also known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”, the largest city of Northern Norway, this is where our adventure began. I could admire the snow-covered mountains and the city on the island of Tromsoya already from the plane. The first impression I had, it’s not as cold as I thought because of the North Atlantic Current. Despite that it was nice to hear how the snow squeaks under the shoes on the way from plane to the airport building. Tromso airport is located about 3 km from the center of Tromso. The cheapest way to get there is to fly from Gdansk or London with the low-cost airline Wizzair.
Tromso – what to do
Among the most interesting things to do in Tromso is to take cable car or hike up to Tromsdalen viewpoint – Fjellheisen . The cost of the ride up to 421 m above the sea level is 210 NOK return. Departures are held every half hour (more here). From there, you can go farther up Floya (671 m above the sea level) – about 4 km in both directions. Fjellheisen and Floya offer beautiful views of Tromso and the nearby mountains. Definitely a place worth recommending!
Another attraction, and at the same time the symbol of Tromso is the Arctic Cathedral – Ishavskatedralen, known also as the Church of Tromdalen. The shape resembles piling up ice blocks and is visible from almmost every point in Tromso. Admission costs 50 NOK. You can go there also to one of the many organ concerts. More information you can find here.
Center of Tromso
The main street of Tromso is Storgata, where you can find numerous wooden houses, restaurants and shops. There you can also visit the most famous and oldest pub in Tromso – Ølhallen. It belongs to the Mack brewery (Mack Bryggeri), which in 2015 lost the position of the northernmost brewery to the brewery Svalbard Bryggeri.
On Storgata Street there is also one of the oldest cinemas in Europe . Verdensteatret was created in 1916 especially for silent movies.
Not on Storgat Street itself, but nearby the Polar Museum (Polarmuseet) is located. It is an ideal place for anyone who would like to learn more about Arctic expeditions. Once Tromso was an important base for the famous Arctic expeditions, this led to the city being known as the “Gateway to the Arctic”. Admission to the museum is 60 NOK.
Festivals in Tromso
The main square in Tromso is Stortorget. We were lucky because the International Snow Festival took place there on our last day. The space in the center of Tromso was filled with ice sculptures, which were additionally beautifully highlighted. So there was a sculpture showing friendship between a dragon and a polar bear made by team from Thailand, an arctic cupcake from Finland or the heart of a snowman who liked it in Tromso so much that he left it there.
Other festivals in Tromso:
- Tromso International Film Festival
- Tromso Northern Lights Festival – music festival
- Sami Week – a feast of Sami, an indigenous population living in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and the Kola Peninsula. On February 6, they celebrate The Sami National Day and because of that lots of different activities are held. Among the others Norwegian Championship in Lasso Throwing or the Norwegian championship of reindeer racing.
- Soldagen – the sun feast takes place on January 21, the day the sun rises after the polar night for the first time. Residents of Tromso celebrate this day by eating a skoleboller – buns with custard and coconut.
Accommodation by Lyngen Fjordcamp
Lyngen Fjordcamp, where we stayed, is located in the quiet town of Nord Lenangen on the Ullsfjorden fjord. The perfect place not only in the winter, but also in the summer. The cottage is fully equipped and you can use the traditionally wood-fired sauna. There is also a hot tub for an additional fee. In the end, we didn’t take advantage of jacuzzie because of the strong wind, but I can only imagine how wonderful it would be to admire the night spectacle involving aurora in hot water.
The location of the cottage meant that you didn’t have to go too far to see the power of the northern lights. I will never forget my excitement when I opened the door to the terrace, and saw it, an amazing aurora lighting up the night sky! What a beautiful view! Seeing intensively green aurora with flashes of other colors definitely count among one of the most beautiful experiences of my life.
How to get to Lyngen Fjordcamp
To get to this place, you have to go from Tromso to the east and take the ferry (cost 122 NOK). This almost 100 km ride offers beautiful views of the nearby mountains. The last ferry from Breivikeide to Svensby departs during the week at 22:30. Sometimes we had the feeling that ferry doesn’t leave on schedule but maybe it was because of the weather contidions or sooner if it was filled up. Here you can check ferry schedule.
The Lyngen peninsula itself, where our base was located, is dominated by the Lyngen Alps. This untouched, pristine area, covered with glaciers is ideal for both winter and summer tourism. There are numerous trekking trails, and in the winter you can enjoy the scenery on cross-country skis or snowshoeing.
Snowshoeing in the Lyngen Alps
From Xlyngen we rented showshoes with poles for 200 NOK. We headed towards Lyngstuva, the furthest point of the Lyngen peninsula. The whole trip is about 6 km in both directions. On the way there is a place for a bonfire, toilet and a kind of shelter which protects from the wind ad rain. The day we went it was very windy and we didn’t manage to reach the end of the trail where the lighthouse is located. Around it is a small cabin, where you can spend the night (space for 2-3 people). It is a pity that we didn’t make it there, because at the end there is a view of the fjords of Hamrefjorden, Ullsfjorden and Lyngen and the nearby islands. The trail is quite easy, but it offers beautiful views.
The trail we had the opportunity to get to know is only one of the many available on the peninsula. Below you will find links to websites where you can check other interesting trekkings.
The island of Kvaloya, or “Whale Island”, is a beautiful island west of Tromso. To get there, all you need is a 20-minute drive across the Sandnessund bridge. This fifth largest island in Norway has a lot to offer throughout the year. During our all-day trip we had the opportunity to admire the fjords, beautiful snow-covered peaks and reindeers! Wild reindeers that are so easy to miss. Especially when their antlers look like the bushes, as it was in our case. We also went for a short walk towards the Nattmålsfjellet summit (297 m above the sea level), from where there was an amazing view of the Ersfjord and Kaldfjord.
Is it worth going to the area of Tromso?
Definitely yes! This was my first such winter trip to the north and the views absolutely fascinated me. This fairy-tale frosty land has lots of to offer and it seems to me that everyone will find something for themselves. When we were there, just after Soldagen, the day was still not too long (sunrise 10:24, sunset 13:28), but fully used. Each day was accompanied by colors of pink and blue, which made the place magical. Most importantly, we’ve been able to watch aurora every day! A phenomenon that every time gave me goosebumps all over my body. It is difficult to describe these feelings when a spectacle with Green Lady suddenly begins in the sky. The Aurora changed shapes, disappeared to appear in a completely different place in a moment. Sometimes it was more intense, sometimes just a cloud in the sky.
What I have described is just an example of how you can spend your time in the area of Tromso. Besides chasing the northern lights, you can also go on a visit to the Saami reindeer farm, take part in an organized dog sleds or discover new places on cross-country skiing.
Would you go on such a trip?