Tromsø: The Trials and Tribulation of a Trip to the Arctic Circle

by Jasmine Angus, University of Bergen, Norway

The adventures of three geographers travelling 1,823 Km across Norway.

Our trip to Tromsø was something that we had spoken about, saved for, and planned for months. Visiting the Arctic Circle seemed like a no-brainer of a trip whilst living in Norway for a whole year so it had to be done.

After what seemed like the longest month of my life after we had finally booked our flights, the day finally came. All packed and layered up within an inch of our lives, we made our way to the airport and boarded with no issues. Feelings of ecstasy and childlike excitement filled the aeroplane as we took off on our 2 hour journey across 1,823 Km across Norway. The views were spectacular and the skies were so clear, I hadn’t felt such mental clarity and serenity in a long time.

But of course, like every good story, something went wrong.

As the sun began to set over Tromsø, the descent seemed to take an abnormally long time. This is when we were alerted that due to unsafe conditions we would be returning back to Bergen. The weight of my stomach dropping, and the choking sensation as a lump formed in my throat became painful as I anxiously looked at my friends in desperation as to what to do next.

Due to technical complications, the staff weren’t able to contact people on the ground and therefore everyone on the plane was unaware of what happened next. The 2 hour flight back felt incessantly long. The overwhelming anxiety and sadness plagued the aircraft’s recycled air as we made our way home. The absolute dichotomy of excitement to disappointment in the space of one announcement was staggering.

We finally returned back to Bergen after almost 5 hours on the plane. We grabbed our bags and trudged through the same gate doors we had only walked through a few hours earlier. A lovely lady from Widerø was waiting at the desk and as we waited to hear the fate of our trip we looked around at each other defeated and tired. Once again, our fate was about to change.

This wonderful woman told us that we were being placed in a hotel from across the airport for the night and had already been booked on to the first flight tomorrow morning. We made our way to the hotel, checked in, dropped our bags and made our way down to dinner (which was covered by the airline – amazing right!)

With an early rise the next morning we clamoured into bed ready to wake up at 5:30 AM.

Day 1

At approx. 10:30 AM we FINALLY made it to Tromsø!! It was colder than anything I had ever experienced and I was eager to get onto a bus and to get to the hostel to layer up a bit more. We found our hostel, freshened up and were quick to go explore the city and make up for lost time.

We first visited the polar museum which was free for students (bonus!) where we learnt all about the Norwegian trapping and hunting industry here in the arctic. There was a lot of information about seals, seal hunting and local trapping legends; one who famously hunted over 713 polar bears.

Next, we then visited the Perspektivet museum (also free for students) where there where 2 amazing exhibitions: a photography, and a biographical exhibition of Sara Fabricius a famous author/artist from Tromsø which was very interesting!

After this, we ventured across the bridge to see the Arctic Cathedral (70 NOK for all), the stained glasses windows inside are beautiful and the external architecture was really unique and impressive but it certainly wasn’t my most favourite cathedral I have visited this year. If you ever find yourself in Tromsø and are deliberating whether to go or not, I’d probably give it a miss.

The first night, we dined at Sabrura. It’s a sushi restaurant that does a sushi buffet for approx £17 for students, such good value for money and found in all big Norwegian cities – would strongly recommend!! Stuffed and rolling out the door, we thought it would be a good idea to absolutely batter each other with snowballs. After rolling around slightly wet and exhausted from laughing, we then headed over to the oldest pub in tromso ølhallen for an overpriced pint, that was very much needed!!

We completed the night with trying to see the northern lights (the chances were 51%) but the cloud coverage was way too dense, on some photos we got you can see the lights behind the clouds but ever so faintly – slightly disappointed and overly tired we headed back to the hostel.

Day 2

After a well deserved rest, we got up early and made our way up to the cable car to the top of Storsteinen mountain but unfortunately due to technical problems it was broken 🙁

Next, we went to the Tromsø badet swimming pool which is hands down the best public swimming pool I’ve ever been to. For £12 we had access to the pools, outdoor heated pools, sauna, plunge pool etc. it was crazy! We all did a sauna and then a plunge in the pool which was regulated to the sea temperature and to say it was *insert any profanity you wish* freezing is still probably an understatement!

We went to Huken Brygg for lunch, the reviews were amazing and it’s safe to say they weren’t lying! The burgers were amazing and would definitely recommend to anyone going to check this place out, it was about £22 for a cocktail and burger and chips.

Heading back to our hostel, we started getting ready for the main event, our Aurora Husky Experience ( We turned up to the meeting point, and at first there were only 2 other people and a full 50 person coach right in front of us. After waiting a while about 8 of us made our way onto the coach and we made our way to Tromsø villmarkssenter to meet over 200 huskies.

It was very remote and bloody windy, they offered us snow suits and we snatched up the opportunity to live our fantasy of looking like all those cute Norwegian kids in their all-in-ones traipsing around the snow.

We met some beautiful Alaskan huskies including will, Micky and Mynte. Next, we were taken into a Gamme-hut which is a typical Sami building to learn all about how the northern lights form, hot drinks, and s’mores. During our talk on the Northern Lights, we were beckoned out to see the Northern Lights and it was honestly awe inspiring, it truly was magnificent.

This was then followed by a traditional norwegian meal and some sledding down a snow into the dark snowy abyss which was insanely fun – couldn’t have asked for a better experience 🫶

Day 3

Final day! Sleepily, we made our way to Narvesen for our classic breakfast deal (coffee and a pastry 35 NOK – bargain) then went to Polaria (130 NOK for a student ticket) where we saw the sweetest little seal show and learnt lots about harbour and bearded seals. There was a lot of information on climate change, but as a group of geographers we were already pretty clued up.

At the Tromsø museum (free for students) we learnt about Nazi occupied Norway, the Sami people, and Norwegian culture.

For lunch, we headed back to town for a reindeer hotdog which was delicious and very cheap! We grabbed some more snacks before heading to the airport to come home.

I would strongly recommend Tromsø to anyone visiting or studying in Norway, there are so many free things to do for students and the activities and views are truly phenomenal. The flights and accommodation can be quite expensive but if this is something you know that you want to do – start saving and get booking!

Overall, despite the turmoil of the first day we truly made the most of a bad situation and had the most incredible time whilst doing it. Tromsø you have my heart and I hope that one day I’ll return – this time definitely when it’s a bit warmer.

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