1. Chase the Northern Lights
Even in today’s scientific world we remain under the spell of the Northern Lights, nature’s magnificent diaphanous display that turns the crisp Arctic night into a dancing display of disco beams. With Tromso just a few hours’ flight from Britain, these celestial charms have never been easier to find.
2. Drive a snowmobile past the Lyngen Alps
To the east of the city lie the Lyngen Alps, a range of sharp snow-capped peaks that extend northwards towards the Norwegian Sea, dropping dramatically to Lyngenfjord on the far side. Riding a snowmobile is the best way to view this imposing landscape, giving you the agility and power to carve your way up steep ascents and meander through thick forests.
3. Take a husky safari through the Arctic wilderness
The peoples of the Arctic haven’t lost the need for a well-trained pack of huskies. A mode of transport that has changed little in a thousand years, dogsledding remains the most reliable way of getting around, and, as you glide over the ice with the hazy wintry light filtering through the trees and glittering off the ground, you’ll appreciate it’s the most beautiful mode of travel too.
4. Take a Northern Lights dinner cruise through Tromso harbour
Chasing the aurora with a trip into a wilderness with zero light pollution may well be the best way to guarantee a front row seat at the polar show, but a dinner cruise is the equivalent of getting a box, adding an atmosphere of pure refinement. Dining on delicacies, sipping fine wine, accompanied by the moody lighting of the Tromso quayside is possibly the best way to view the Northern Lights in style.
5. Indulge in the five-course tasting menu at Emma's Drømmekjøkken
Say ‘drømmekjøkken’ enough times and you might be able to work out the English translation. No? ‘Dream kitchen’. The menu here lives up to its name, offering treats such as carpaccio of whale, roasted roe deer and a klippfisk soup, a local delicacy of dried, salted cod, all served alongside the catch of the day and a smorgasbord of fresh local produce, providing an unforgettable introduction to Arctic haute cuisine.
6. Visit the ice domes and tuck into arctic tapas
A recent addition to the city’s winter scene, the Tromsø Ice Domes are carved anew each year by expert artists, their shimmering sculptures and friezes lit by ethereal glows and themed on everything from the Northern Lights to the local region’s Samí culture. On this tour, you’ll enjoy a drink at the ice bar, explore the domes themselves in the company of a guide, and then settle down to an included lunch of delicious arctic tapas.
7. Spend the night in a fjord-side cabin at Malangen Resort
The painted wooden cabins of this scenic resort that fringe the shore of Malangen fjord mimic the traditional fishing huts that you’ll spot all over Norway’s Arctic fjordlands: small, simple boxes raised on stilts, coloured in vermillion to make a chocolate-box image when combined with the idyllic mountain backdrop and the gently lapping sea.
8. Explore Tromso's seas on a rib boat tour
The coastline around Tromsø is truly spectacular, its snow-dusted fjords and soaring cliffs home to all manner of seabirds, from puffins and guillemots to little auks and the delightfully named yellow-billed loon. From time to time, seals can be seen lazing on the rocks and, while most whales tend to depart before the onset of winter, there are still the odd pod or two that hang around well into January.
9. Head out into the wilds on a guided snowshoe tour
They’ve been the preferred choice of footwear among Arctic explorers for centuries. Now, you can follow in the steps of Amundsen and the rest by strapping on your very own pair of snowshoes and heading off into Tromso’s wintry surrounds. It’s a trip made all the more memorable by sweeping views across Balsfjord and the chance to warm up afterwards with hot drinks by a roaring fire.
10. Learn about the Sami culture and enjoy a reindeer sled ride
More closely related to the Arctic peoples of Siberia than to the Vikings, these semi-nomadic pastoralists have inhabited Norway’s northern regions for millennia. Masters of trapping, fishing and reindeer herding, the Sami showcase an ancient and sustainable way to live off the land, and studying their culture offers a fascinating insight into man’s ability to adapt to almost any environment.