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From November 27th to January 14th, the sun never rises in Tromsø, Norway. During the shortest days, there is only a little bit of light in the sky during the day, putting the city a brief twilight in between long periods of darkness. However, this time of year is actually still busy in Tromsø. Unlike the interior of the country, the sea currents keep the city comparatively warm for its position above the Arctic Circle, so going outside is not necessarily unpleasant. There are plenty of fun things to do during the Polar Night in Tromsø, Norway! Here are some of my favorites.
See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are the premier attraction in Northern Norway during the winter months. Northern Lights tours depart nightly from Tromsø, and on the nights with the strongest solar activity, the aurora borealis can even be seen from the city itself.
Go dogsledding or participate in other winter sports
Cold winters mean snow (generally… though climate change meant that when I arrived in Tromsø, there was no snow on the ground at the lower elevations). Snow means there are some other fun activities to do during the daytime when you’re not looking for the Northern Lights. You can go dog sledding, whale watching, snowshoeing, and skiing.
Explore the city centre & its museums
Tromsø is a cute little city. The waterfront is pleasant to walk around.
During the holiday period, there are lights, and since there’s always some level of darkness, they’re always on.
If you’re tired of the darkness, visit the Northern Norway Art Museum, the Polar Museum, or the Polaria aquarium.
Visit the Arctic Cathedral
The Arctic Cathedral is across the water from central Tromsø. It resembles a snowy mountain peak, making it an iconic part of the backdrop for your photos from Tromsø’s waterfront.
Drink craft beer
There are several decent places to drink craft beer in Tromsø. If it’s always dark, it’s very easy to convince yourself it’s an appropriate time for a drink.
Go see a movie
Normally I wouldn’t go see a movie while traveling. However, when it’s so dark outside during the Polar Night in Tromsø, you run out of things to do. So while I was in Tromsø, I went to Aurora Fokus Cinema a couple of times. They run all the latest movies in English with Norwegian subtitles.
Have dinner at Mathallen
Prior to going to a movie, I treated myself to a fantastic dinner at a nearby restaurant called Mathallen. Mathallen specializes in Norwegian dishes made only with local ingredients.
I had the set four course menu, which consisted of king crab soup, pan-fried halibut, reindeer sirloin, and baked chocolate pudding. Everything was outstanding. The rich soup was a great start to the meal, and the halibut & reindeer were cooked to perfection.
One last recommendation: If you’re going to experience the Polar Night in Tromsø, Norway, I highly recommend traveling somewhere further south first if you are traveling across many time zones. Getting over jet lag when there is no sunlight is difficult, so do it somewhere nicer, then head north.
While the Polar Night in Tromsø, Norway might not initially seem like a pleasant time to visit, there are plenty of reasons to go during this season. Whether you just want to see the spectacle of the Northern Lights or if you want to participate in some outdoor winter activities, Tromsø is still a nice place to visit during the darkest months of the year.