‘Gateway to the Arctic’, Tromsø, Norway



What a beautiful sight filled our eyes as we cruised towards our port this morning.  Snow covered mountains and a sprawling city awaited us as we approached the port at Tromsø, Norway.

Tromsø is located 217 miles north of the Arctic Circle, and is the largest city in Northern Norway and has a populations of 72,000.IMG_3974b

The morning air was brisk but comfortable in the sun.  We decided to have breakfast in the dining room this morning with Sue and Doug.  After breakfast Randy and I went to the Next Cruise office and signed up for another cruise before returning to our cabin for a relaxing morning in the cabin.



IMG_3969bAt 2PM we were on our way to the pier to meet Sue and Doug for our Panoramic Tromsø bus tour.  This would be a short tour around Tromsø to get a feel for the city and the people who live here.


Our first stop however, took us over the Sandnessund Bridge over to Kvaløya or Whale Island to a fjord south of the city.  An interesting fact our tour guide made was telling us, “We have to check wind because it is dangerous to cross in high winds”.


As we drove along our wonderful and very funny guide told us that Tromsø has had two nicknames.  The first, and oldest, is “The Paris of the North”.  The second and more current nickname is “Gateway to the Arctic” which she feels is more fitting.

The city is host to over 130,000 visitors a year from cruise ships.  There are also many large fishery ships and cargo ships that come to Tromsø’s port.

“We can’t grow anything here and have to import many items,” she told us.


As we drove along a very narrow, winding, barren road our guide told us that the island’s name comes from being a very large island and that from November to January the island is visited by humpback whales, killer whales and minke whales following the herrings.




We exited the bus and walked a short distance and what a beautiful site laid before us. Snow-capped mountains and cliffs leading down to a beautiful, blue body of water.  There seemed to be a small village at the bottom.



While we were taking in the view Doug started to walk away.  We turned to see what he was up to and immediately knew.  We watched as he bent down and scooped up a hand full of snow and started to form snowballs. As we were taking pictures of him walking back he started to lob the snowballs in our direction. They missed causing much laughter on our part. Very funny!

In the distance you can see the Arctic Cathedral

In the distance you can see the Arctic Cathedral

Back on the bus our guide started to share other lit bits of information about the area such as Birch trees are native to the area others were brought in for ship and home building; trees are very young and do not live very long because of avalanches and that all reindeer are not wild but belong to the Sámi people.

According to Wikipedia, “The Sami people (also Sámi or Saami, traditionally known in English as Lapps or Laplanders) are an indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the Arctic area of Sápmi, which today encompasses parts of far northern Norway, Sweden, Finland, the Kola Peninsula of Russia, and the border area between south and middle Sweden…”


The first thing we saw as we made our way back across the bridge to Tromsø was a tent down by the water’s edge.   The tent or Lavvu is a temporary dwelling used by the Sámi people.  Evidently, this patch of land is where a Sámi community once existed.

“The Sami people lived there in the olden days but now the area is where school groups go to learn about the history, songs, etc., of the Sámi people.  At the end of the lesson the children go into the tent and eat reindeer stew,” our guide said.


We continued to make our way to the city center.   As we rode along our guide drew our attention to many points of interest.  We passed many sights including the County Hall, The Arctic Cathedral, Main Square, Polaria Museum, Statue of King Håkon  in front of the old City Hall and the Tromsø Cathedral which is the only wooden cathedral in Norway and one of the largest wooden churches in the country.


Statue of King Håkon in front of old City Hall

I loved the architecture, the soft colors of the buildings and wonderful mixture of old and new.  The city was quite lovely and very clean.  As the tour ended Randy commented, “This is the first large city we have seen since Copenhagen and we are still north of the Arctic Circle!!”

Picture by Vilma

Picture by Vilma

Beautiful example of old wooden building

Beautiful example of old wooden building



By the time we returned to the ship we had just enough time to prepare for cocktails, dinner, a top-tier event and the evening’s entertainment.

Picture by Vilma

Picture by Vilma

Picture by Vilma-Polaria Museum

Picture by Vilma-Polaria Museum

During dinner we heard all about what the others had done as they walked around Tromsø’s city center.  It sounded like they had a really good time.

I was just too tired after the top tier event to go to the theater so I returned to the cabin while Randy, Doug and Sue continued on to the show.




I spent a little time out on the balcony and was instantly caught up in the beauty that lay before my eyes as we left port and started to make our way to our next stop.  Everything I saw was so beautiful.



Tomorrow we are will be at sea.



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4 Responses to ‘Gateway to the Arctic’, Tromsø, Norway

  1. Genny says:

    It’s a shame you didn’t get to see the Northern Lights. It looked cold there, in spite that it was the middle of the year. Br-r-r!

  2. Randy Chartier says:

    I enjoyed the tour we were on, but if we had time, would have loved to walk around town a bit and explore. During WWII the Germans had a Battleship stationed in the harbor and it was finally sunk by the allies. The remains of it still are there in the harbor.

  3. Bob and Sandy says:

    We are amazed at all the beautiful buildings. I like the different colors. No color boredom there!!

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