We left cold, windy London for even colder Tromso in Northern Norway (about 15 degrees colder: from 10 degrees in London down to negative 5). We wandered along dark and peacefully quiet, snow covered streets in search for our hotel. We landed in Tromso in the evening but decided the negative temps and darkness wasn’t enough of a deterrent to stop us from going out for a bit of an explore. We didn’t last long. The cold won out. We stocked up on Norwegian snacks; dried cod chips, cured reindeer sticks, Norwegian chocolate and salt and pepper chips. We warmed ourselves up back at the hotel whilst enjoying these snacks and decided to leave the exploring for the next day.
The main plan for our trip to Tromso was to see the Northern Lights as it’s right within in the Arctic Circle and therefore one of the best places to see this natural phenomenon. this, of course, can only be done at night which left us with a few hours to fill before night fall. We walked over the bridge, connecting Tromso to the mainland, stopping frequently so I could photograph the snow covered mountains but we got there eventually. There were two must do’s this side of the bridge-take the cable car up the mountain for spectacular views back over Tromso, the fjords and the surrounding snow covered mountain landscape. Second was to check out the exterior and interior of the Arctic Cathedral-a church designed like a snow covered mountain or an iceberg, with a beautiful stained glass window inside and lit up at night.
Back to the hotel to add on a few more layers, pack snacks and camera gear for our first night of chasing the Northern Lights. It was a big bus tour with the company ‘Chasing Lights’ and I would 100% recommend them to anyone whose visiting Tromso during the winter and wants to get out to see the Northern Lights. Of course no one has control over when they will make an appearance as it all to do with the magic of nature but when they do appear, they sure can put on a show!
Within a couple of hours of driving and stopping to check the skies we finally caught our first glimpse of the lights out the bus window. The guides found the nearest clearing and we all piled off the bus quickly. For over an hour we were wowed by the lights flashing and dancing across the sky in front and above us. It was an hour of magic and I tried my best to capture every moment and every movement. I’ve seen the lights before in Iceland but they paled in comparison to this dancing light show. It was so worth the frozen toes (and butt from sitting on the snow whilst photographing). We warmed up around a fire with hot chocolate and cookies while the guides answered all our questions about the phenomenon of Aurora Borealis.
Late back to Tromso and the hotel, a quick hot shower to thaw out before crashing and having a well earned sleep in.
Knowing we had another late night ahead of us we had a chill day wandering around Tromso. It started off with reindeer hotdogs and mulled wine whilst sitting around a fire next to the smallest bar in the universe.
Out afternoon was spent out of the cold at a tour of the Mack Brewery, the northern most brewery where they produce a broad range of beers and ciders. We followed this, of course, by going next door to the brewery owned pub, Olhallen, Tromsø’s oldest pub where locals and tourists sit, drink and warm up. I tried Mack’s alcoholic gingerbeer with chili and it definitely warmed up the insides.
For our last night we joined a small group bus tour to hopefully see the northern lights again but unfortunately it was too cloudy to see any action. The guide even took us all the way to Finland in the hopes of finding a clear spot. Another country to tick off the list. On the way back we did manage a glimpse of green between clouds and above mountains but nothing like the night before. Back to the hotel late again, a hot shower to thaw out and straight to bed.
We manged to wake up and pack up our stuff just in time for check out (check out being midday, oops). It was snowing as we wandered down in to Central town and we could watch the snow clouds moving across the fjord. We ducked into a bistro that offered a range of local cusine- King crab, reindeer stew and cod- which we tried all three and I drank another of Mack’s drinks, this time a raspberry and peach cider. We could see it had stopped snowing so we head back out for more exploring only for the snow fall to come back so we made our way back to the pub for Mack beer tasting and trying more ciders. It was warm with a cozy atmosphere inside and we hung out as it snowed outside. Before heading to the airport we found a bar with reindeer burgers and they were absolutely delicious! I actually miss eating the reindeer meat of Norway. Norway is beautiful with its snow-covered mountains and fjords and mystical skies in the winter nights but next time I’ll be visiting during the summer months to better explore the stunning countryside.