Summer is the perfect time to visit Tromso, and this post highlights why visiting Tromso in summer and spending time under the midnight sun is worth experiencing. Discover why Tromso is so much more than a snowy winter destination and why a trip to Norway in summer should be on every traveller’s destination bucket list.
Summer in Tromso, Norway, is the perfect season for a city break to this unique Scandic location. Fondly known as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic’, it is easy to reach with regular 2-hour connecting flights from Oslo.
Majestic mountains surround the city, along with glacial lakes and beautiful countryside, and, in summer, Tromso becomes a playground for lovers of the great outdoors.
One of the best reasons for visiting Tromso in summer is the fine weather plus the 24 hours of daylight, meaning you can participate in some unique summer activities.
To see the midnight sun is a phenomenon that has to be experienced, which is why visiting Tromso in summer is a must.
Is Tromso Worth Visiting in Summer?
Tromso is most definitely worth visiting in the summer months. This alpine town offers a wealth of summer outdoor pursuits for all ages and fitness levels.
Forget the woolly hats and layers; there’s no snow here in summer, only mild sunny days and 24-hour daylight!
Because the weather is fine, you can do all the Tromso activities that can’t be done in the freezing winter temperatures.
Tromso summer activities include riding the mountain cable car for clear city views, hiking the mountain trails, strolling through the Arctic Botanical Gardens and taking midnight sun boat cruises.
Visiting Tromso in Summer
The summer temperature in Tromso is a far cry from the dark, snowy scenes in winter. A Tromso summer is a mix of hot weather (it reached the high 20s on my visit) and breezy weather, requiring a light jumper or light jacket.
You can visit Tromso as a stand-alone destination by flying into Oslo Airport and taking another internal flight to reach the town. There are enough things to do in Tromso in summer to make it worth visiting on a European city break.
Tromso is also a good base from which to start your drive if you intend to make a summer road trip around the archipelago.
The Best Months to See the Midnight Sun
The only time to see the midnight sun in Tromso is in summer, from the end of May until the end of July.
The midnight sun in Tromso was our first experience of this phenomenon, and it took our brains a while to comprehend that it was staying light all through the night.
I visited Tromso during peak summertime in July and was able to stroll around taking photos at midnight!
Travelling from Oslo to Tromso
Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway, located 220 miles north of the Arctic Circle, giving it the name Gateway to the Arctic; however, there are very few direct international flights to Tromso.
Flights to Tromso usually go via Oslo and take 2 hours.
If you are flying into Oslo from the UK, the flight time is 2 hours and 15 minutes, followed by the 2-hour connecting flight to Tromso.
Once you leave the airport terminal in Tromso, queue for the Tromso Airport Bus, which takes 20 minutes to get to the city centre. You will see it to the right of the airport exit.
If you want to take a taxi, you must pre-book one as they don’t sit outside the airport waiting for customers as in most other destinations.
I booked a taxi, but it never turned up, so we had to join the long bus queue. It was a bit of a disaster, but we were in the land of the midnight sun, so it was all worth it in the end.
If travelling from the UK or further afield, you might consider extending your trip and spending 3-nights in Oslo either on your way to Tromso or when you return.
I added a few days to the end of my five-day Lofoten road trip itinerary to explore Norway’s capital, and I have to say Oslo in summer is another fabulous place to visit in Norway.
Getting to Tromso by Sea
Many visitors to Tromso arrive on cruise ships such as Hurtigruten or by long-distance ferries from other Norwegian destinations.
Please note: there is no train station in Tromso.
Summer Driving in Tromso and Beyond
Tromso is a compact and walkable city, so you won’t need to drive in Tromso.
Tromso has a good bus system. Purchase tickets at bus stop ticket machines, on board (only cash accepted), or through the Troms Mobillett app.
We found the mobile app the easiest way to purchase bus tickets.
Taxis are also available, with many being Tesla vehicles, which is quite a step up from my local taxi firm!
If, like me, you are setting off from Tromso on a road trip to the Lofoten islands, you can hire a car from several points in the city. The most convenient car hire in Tromso is by the visitor centre in the harbour.
Driving in summer is great. All the snow has melted, and the scenery is beautiful. The roads are all well-maintained. Driving is on the right-hand side of the road.
You could also pick up your rental car at the airport. There are several car rental companies, including Thrifty, Hertz and Europcar.
Best Accommodation in Tromso
Accommodation in Tromso ranges from luxury to mid-range hotels and private rentals.
I stayed in the Comfort Hotel Express for my first night in Tromso. The bed was comfortable, and the guy in reception was very helpful, giving us a couple of places to visit for morning coffee (we love good coffee!)
A short walk from the Comfort Express is the fabulous 4-star Clarion Hotel The Edge; I stayed here for two more nights in Tromso.
It has stunning views across the harbour, to the Arctic Cathedral and the mountains, and is within walking distance of the main landmark sights.
Private rentals like the Red Old House are available in the local neighbourhood.
A Guide to the Best Things to Do in Tromso in Summer
Experience the midnight sun – a natural Tromso summer activity
While visitors are likelier to visit Tromso in winter to see the Northern Lights, the midnight sun is equally as impressive and is a unique Tromso summer experience.
It may not supply the vivid colours of the Aurora Borealis, but it gives 24 hours of daylight in Tromso. This means the sky never goes completely dark!
Visitors to Tromso can see the night skies turn a blueish-yellow hue between the end of May and the end of July.
If it is the first time you have witnessed the midnight sun, it can be a bit confusing for your brain to take in, but after a couple of days, you will forget that the skies at night are normally dark.
To experience this phenomenon is one of the best reasons to visit Tromso in the summer and should not be missed.
On my visit, I could still wander around town at 1 am taking photographs; I can’t say that’s something I have done anywhere else in the world!
The midnight sun and aurora borealis occur naturally in the Northern Hemisphere due to the planet’s tilt at certain times of the year. To see either one is an activity worthy of any traveller’s bucket list.
Take a midnight sun cruise – the best Tromso tour in summer
Take a ride on the Fjellheisen cable car for the best views of Tromso in summer
One of Tromsø’s most popular tourist attractions is taking the cable car to the top of Mount Storsteinen, 421 m above sea level. The trip to the upper station, Fjellstua, takes four minutes.
From the top, the views are breathtaking. You can spot the Arctic cathedral, the bridge and the hotels lining the harbour; from so high up, it looks like a toy town.
On a clear summer’s day, the islands of Kvaløya and Tromsøya can be seen in the distance, as can the mighty mountain, Tromsdalstinde.
You can take a little walk around the summit.
There are a few benches to take a moment and enjoy the scenery and a glacial lake and alpine flowers to see.
For hikers, there are trails to explore.
At the summit is a large outdoor terrace, a cafe serving light bites and the all-important toilets.
Hike the mountain trails in summer for a breath of fresh air
If you love hiking, you can ascend Mount Storsteinen on foot rather than by cable car.
A small trail starts behind the cable car entrance station and leads through pine trees.
If you are feeling adventurous, you could even do a midnight sun hike. Imagine hiking in the middle of the night and it still being light!
Be dazzled by the stunning architecture of the Arctic Cathedral
Tromso’s landmark building is, without a doubt, the Arctic Cathedral.
Sitting in the shadow of Storsteinen Mountain, it can be seen from every part of the city, even when arriving by plane.
A visit to the cathedral can easily be combined with a cable car ride.
The cathedral, also known as Tromsdalen Church, was constructed in 1965 and is architecturally spectacular.
The modern design mimics Arctic nature using metal, concrete and glass.
In the winter, it is illuminated to light up the dark skies, and in summer, it holds concerts for all to enjoy.
The interior is a little underwhelming compared to the exterior; however, it has a beautiful glass mosaic window, the second largest in Europe.
The stained glass window depicts God’s hand reaching down and releasing three rays of light: one through Jesus, one through a man woman and one through a woman.
Cross Tromso bridge and enjoy the sea views
The Tromso Bridge links the city by car, foot and bike to the Arctic Cathedral and the cable car.
Walk across the 3,399-metre span for fabulous views of the sea.
Be sure to walk on the south side of the bridge so you are in the correct position to take photos of the cathedral from a distance.
Crossing the bridge is breezy, so hold on to your hat!
Visit an arctic beach in Tromso and cool off in summer
Yes, that’s right, beaches on the outskirts of town are a magnet for locals and tourists during the summer in Tromso. Relax on white sandy beaches and swim in the refreshing turquoise waters.
Enjoy the warm summer weather in Tromso and wander around town
Tromso is a walkable city and so easy to explore on foot. At its heart is Storgata, lined with cafes, restaurants and alpine clothing stores.
In winter, Tromso is a popular place to see the Northern Lights and enjoy winter activities, but still seeing ski suits and winter woollies displayed in shop windows on a hot day in July seemed strange. Nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from buying a pair of thermal gloves to return to England with!
You’ll also see polar bears and trolls outside shops, a reminder that you are in the northernmost region of Norway; however, in summer, it all seems very much out of place!
The world’s most northernmost Lutheran cathedral sits proudly in the town centre.
It was built in 1861, and its yellow clapperboard facade and neo-Gothic architecture invite you to look inside and enjoy a few moments of tranquillity.
On a summer’s day, you can hop aboard Ishavstoget, the arctic tourist train and take a quick journey around all Tromso’s best sights mentioned in this post.
See Verdensteatret in Tromso. It is Norway’s oldest cinema building that is still in operation.
Pop into Biblioteca if you are a fan of libraries. You will love the modern lines of the city’s library, which is close to the harbour.
If you are a fan of Nordic architecture, the city has plenty of interesting buildings to see, both historic and modern. It also seems to have quite a few places of worship!
See Norwegian street art – one of the free Tromso activities to do in summer
I love European street art, so I was pleasantly surprised to see some incredible street murals in Tromso.
I wouldn’t have thought this sleepy town on the edge of the Arctic Circle would have so many images painted on its walls, but it does!
It is nice to wander around town on a summer’s day and see how many pieces you can spot.
The street art, skateboarders, artisan coffee and vintage shops give Tromso a slight urban vibe moving away from its traditional fishing community identity.
Explore the harbour – a relaxing way to spend time in Tromso
Tromso Harbour is the city’s hub, where you will find hotels, restaurants, museums and boat tours.
It is only small, so it won’t take long to explore, but it is a nice mix of historical landmarks and modern architecture.
Enjoy a glass of wine on one of the outdoor terraces and watch the pleasure and fishing boats go about their daily business.
Order a hot dog and a cool beer and sit outside the world’s smallest bar
Adding a hot dog stand as a reason to visit Tromso may seem strange, but this charming 100-year-old building is one of the city’s landmarks, close to the harbour.
It has found fame because of its claim to serve some of the best hotdogs in Norway, and by all accounts, Norwegians know a thing or two about hotdogs.
This tiny hotdog stand also serves beer and hot chocolate, so it is a cute place to experience while in Tromso and claims to be one of the smallest bars in the world.
Walk in the summer sunshine to Prestvannet Lake
On our first afternoon in Tromso, the sun was out, and we chose to walk to Prestvannet Lake.
We followed the roads up from Storgata, which took us higher and higher above the city. The views back to the mountains are incredible.
The walk is steep, uphill, and quite tiring on a warm day, so bring water and snacks and wear a hat! It should take you around 2.5 hours to visit the lake and return.
On the walk, you will also see Tromso’s traditional wooden clapperboard houses painted in rainbow colours.
Many of them are painted red, a reminder of when Tromso was a major whaling centre and whale and animal blood was mixed to use as paint for buildings.
I have to say that while the views during the walk and the clapperboard houses were good to see, the actual lake was underwhelming.
I would say skip it and use this time to enjoy a boat trip or visit one of the museums in Tromso.
Discover the museums in Tromso
Tromso has a centuries-long history of arctic exploration, sealing expeditions (thankfully now stopped), and Scandi culture and folktales, meaning it also has plenty of museums to visit!
Here are four of my favourites:
The Polaria Museum is a must-see when you visit Tromso for its futuristic architecture as much as its exhibits.
It is designed to reflect icebergs pressed against one another and is true to form. It is a stunning building and the most visited attraction in Tromso.
It is on the waterfront, a short walk from the main harbour, and houses exhibitions on Arctic nature, animals and hunting.
See bearded seals and cold-water fish up close as you walk through their watery world.
This is more of an immersive experience than a museum; nevertheless, it is a chance to board the MS Polstjerna to discover what life aboard such a sealing vessel would have been like.
It’s hard to comprehend that this ship was in use until 1981 for catching seals.
This little red wooden museum close to the harbour is an interesting attraction in Tromso.
It contains facts and displays surrounding Arctic and polar expeditions.
You can learn about Roald Amundsen, the famous Norwegian Arctic explorer who was the first to reach the South Pole.
He is well-loved in Tromso, and you will see a couple of statues dedicated to him in town.
One museum in Tromso not to miss is the Troll Museum.
It focuses entirely on trolls and fairy tales, providing a whimsical look at Norwegian folk tales and beliefs. Fun for adults and children!
Get back to nature at the Arctic-Alpine Botanical Garden – a summer outdoor activity
If you love visiting botanical gardens, a great reason to visit Tromso in summer is to see the Arctic-Alpine garden in all its glory.
Just outside of town and part of the city university, this botanical garden is like no other.
And that’s because it is the world’s northernmost botanic garden.
Huge rocks, bridges, waterfalls and ponds are planted with arctic and alpine plants from all over the northern hemisphere.
Visitors can see that despite the freezing winter temperatures in Tromso, plant life returns in abundance in the summer sunshine.
The gardens are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The gardens are one of the best free things to do in Tromso.
Cafe Hansine Hansen in the white building is open during the day between June and August.
In the summer, when the midnight sun is out, visitors can see the gardens in the middle of the night if they wish. How cool is that!
Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden is free to enter and can be found at Stakkevollvegen 200
Enjoy Hand-Brewed Craft Coffee in Tromso
If you have visited other Nordic cities, you will know that the artisan coffee shops are fantastic, and Tromso is no different.
We tried out some of the best coffee shops in Tromso and can say they were all great.
Two branches of Riso can be found in Tromso, offering coffee and light bites. Take a moment to savour the hand-brewed craft coffee before continuing to explore Tromso.
Find Riso at Strandgata 32, 9008 Tromsø, Norway
Smortorgat Kaffe and Mat
On entering this coffee shop, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in the wrong place, mainly because you must walk through a vintage clothes store to get to it.
Nevertheless, the two blend seamlessly, and the coffee shop serves a great flat white. Try the porridge for a healthy breakfast, it is delicious.
Find Smortorgat Kaffe and Mat at Fredrik Langes gate 9, 9008 Tromsø, Norway
With two branches of Kaffebønna in Tromso, the owners are on to a winner.
The branch by the Clarion Hotel has sea views and serves great coffee and pastries. If you can get an outside table, sit, sip and watch the world go by.
Find Kaffebønna at Storgata 71, 9008 Tromsø, Norway
Try Norwegian Dishes in Tromso
There are some fantastic places to eat in Tromso, and in summer, you can sit on the restaurants’ outdoor terraces and enjoy a meal with the sun on your face.
During my three days in Tromso, I tried each of these restaurants, and they were all good.
Maskinverkstedet – was where we ate lunch after visiting the Arctic cathedral and riding the cable car.
It is located in an area not far from the bridge that looks like it is being regenerated.
The restaurant’s interior looked very plush, although we chose to sit on the terrace as it was a gorgeous, warm summer’s day.
Restaurant Skirri – Set in the harbour, we enjoyed lunch and wine on the terrace on another warm afternoon.
Fresh produce landed from the waters surrounding Tromso, and tasty treats make this restaurant popular with tourists and locals.
Pepe’s Pizza Restaurant – I didn’t intend to eat pizza in Norway; however, after visiting the Botanical Gardens late one evening, we decided to grab something simple and ended up at Pepe’s Pizza!
With an extensive menu, we opted for a pizza with Chinese toppings, which was huge and delicious. This is a good option if you are on a budget, as eating out in Norway can be very expensive.
I hope this Tromso Travel Guide has inspired a summer visit to Tromso. It highlights that this Arctic destination is just as incredible in summer as in winter.If you have any questions about Tromso, please leave them in the comments box.
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