Welcome to Tromsø

Tromsø is known as “The gateway to the Arctic” due to the numerous polar expeditions that started here in early 1900’s. Tromsø is the world’s largest city above the Arctic Circle, and also the largest city in Northern Norway with approximately 60000 inhabitants.

Additionally, Tromsø is the capital city of Northern Norway, with the world’s northernmost university, which adds another 5-6000 students to the population every year. It also adds many different cultures, because University of Tromsø has about 10% foreign students coming from more than 60 countries.

For thousands of years Tromsø has been a meeting-place for people from the Sámi, Finish and Norwegian cultures. The first settlement in the area dates back around 10,000 years, while the Sámi culture here goes back at least 2000 years. Nordic cultural artifacts from 300-400 AD have been found here, and the area experienced immigration from Finland in the 1700s. After the town received its official Town Charter in 1794, merchants from far and near moved here, turning the city into “The Paris of the North”.

Tromsø, still a popular meeting-place, is a modern city in every respect, and is relatively easy to reach by air, boat or by car. Tromsø is widely known for being a lively and exotic town all year round - open, intimate and full of North Norwegian charm.

Location and climate

Tromsø is located above the Arctic Circle, at 69 ° 40′ 33” N, 18 ° 55′ 10” E, about the same latitude as Northern Alaska and Siberia. It gets pretty cold in the winter, with lowest measured temperature -18.4 ° C in 1966. Overall, the average temperature year round is 2.5 °C, and the hottest day ever was in 1972 when the temperature rose to 30.2 °C. The average temperature in August and September is between 7-10°C, and the weather can be very changeable. See met.no for more information.

Light and darkness

The Midnight sun is above the horizon from about May 18th to July 26th. You can see the sun from 21ts May to 21st July, as the mountains in the north block its view for a few days. Due to position of Tromsø on the top of the world, twilight is considerably longer and there is no real darkness between late April and mid August.

From November 26th to January 15th, the sun remains under the horizon and it is a time of darkness in Tromsø, or as Norwegians call it: “Mørketida”. It is not completely dark during the middle of the day: rather there is a sort of twilight. And on a clear day during this period, the light and color in the sky are astonishing.

The return of the sun is celebrated in schools. However, there is one great phenomenon is highly visible in “Mørketida”, namely the Aurora Borealis, or the Northern Lights. Tromsø is situated right in the centre of the Northern Light zone and is among the best places on Earth to observe them. Most of the Northern Lights we see from Tromsø are green, but sometimes you can also see other colors. The greatest frequency is between 6pm and 2am. In order to see the Northern Lights, it must be a dark and clear sky, which is the reason that we never see them between late April and mid August.

Tromsø in summer, as seen from The Cable Car ("Fjellheisen")

Tromsø in April, as seen from The Cable Car

The city and the mountains

Tromsø’s twilight at noon

Main sponsors: Univeristy of Tromsø   Research Council of Norway