Europe Travel

Christmas in Norway; First Impressions of Tromsø

Tromso-3131Early this year, we decided we wanted to do something different for Christmas; after years of traveling between NL and the UK to visit both our families, we figured we had done our bit so we decided to go away over Christmas this year. Late May, we booked tickets to Tromsø, the northernmost city in the world with a population above 50,000, all the way up in the Northern part of Norway, in the Arctic Circle. White Christmas guaranteed without any obligations. We chose a hotel, lined up activities and forgot all about this trip for months. Suddenly, late December was here. 

Though it’s definitely cold here, the city is warmer than most other places located on the same latitude, due to the warming effect of the Gulf Stream. So yes, it’s snowy, it’s cold and you surely need to dress warmly, but I’ve experienced lower temperatures in Colorado and British Columbia.

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Tromsø is a city with a rich history, it’s been inhabited since the ice age. It was also the centre of arctic hunting  in the mid-1800’s. As I resent anything related to hunting, historical or not, I skipped a visit to the Polar museum as I wasn’t up for looking at pictures of animals being killed brutally, I guess this statue says enough.

Moving on to way more interesting historical events: it’s also been a place from where a lot of Arctic expeditions originated. Making use of local knowledge of the Arctic, many explorers recruited crew in Tromsø. One of these famous (Norwegian) explorers is Roald Amundsen, the first person to have reached both Poles.

The city is lively, the people are friendly and English is spoken widely, so it’s easy to get around here. The prices of going out for drinks or dinner might come as a shock as that doesn’t come cheap, but then again; that’s not why you should come here anyway.
Save that for another trip.

There is one thing I struggle with though; daylight. Or more accurate: lack thereof. The sun does not come out in December, we get a few hours of twilight between 1000-1300h, but that’s about it. Today, we actually saw something that looked like blue sky; the first since we arrived.

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My body clock is completely off and I feel like I live in some permanent state of jet-lag. When you step out in the morning, it feels like it’s later afternoon and it’s dark again at 1300h.

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I haven’t slept that good, and I can’t decide whether that’s because of the horrible pillows, my body clock, or because I take an occasional nap due to lack of sleep at night. But well, I’m not one for complaining, and I am certainly not going to let that stop me from having a great holiday.


Nature lovers, landscape photographers and outdoorsy people will get everything they look for in this part of the world. The scenery is amazing.

The wildlife is something special too; you can see whales and other sealife on a whale watching tour and wolves, bears or reindeer in various parks. Of course, the Northern Lights are a unique phenomenon worth a chase too. I will write more about this in another post.

The city centre of Tromsø contains the highest number of old wooden houses in Northern Norway, giving it a nice colourful look.

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Have you ever eloped Christmas, and if so where to? Let me know, as I’d love to hear ideas for future December trips. 🙂



  • Reply
    mukul chand
    27 December 2015 at 17:44

    Great Post

  • Reply
    27 December 2015 at 18:23

    This sounds like such an interesting Christmas trip and good for you for booking a yuletide getaway! I can see where the lack of daylight would be a bit rough. I’m not sure I’d do well with that either. The scenery looks amazing though and I can’t wait to hear about the Northern Lights and everything else. We have indeed eloped on Christmas…twice. One year, we spent Christmas in NYC and then took the train to DC for New Years. Another year we did Maui for Christmas which was heavenly. Last year felt like a bit of a getaway too since we had just arrived in Germany and everything was so new. Assuming we don’t have family come to visit us for the holidays next year, I’m thinking another Christmas jaunt is in order.

    • Reply
      Tall Wife
      29 December 2015 at 13:40

      It’s an amazing place, certainly worth a visit while you’re still in Europe. It’s so worth a visit. I’ll write more about the things we did soon with details on the guides etc. if you’re interested. 🙂

      I love eloping; no Xmas stress at all, though we probably can’t get away with doing this every year… 🙂

  • Reply
    27 December 2015 at 23:25

    I loved the pictures but I would definitely have a difficult time with the lack of daylight. I would find it hard to get out of my pjs and go outside. Lol I do look forward to your northern lights pics. I would love to witness that phenomenon. I’ve never gone anywhere for Christmas but I’m toying with planning my next Germany trip to visit my daughter at Christmas time. It’s those Christmas markets and the festive decorations that is calling to me plus I miss my daughter.

    • Reply
      Tall Wife
      29 December 2015 at 13:43

      Thank you! I can imagine that for a mother it’s less fun if your kids ‘elope’! I understand you miss your daughter, especially during those festive days! Hope you will get to see the Christmas markets sometime…

  • Reply
    27 December 2015 at 23:50

    Beautiful place. Thanks for sharing! I especially like that amazing photo of the snow covered benches. We have tried a couple of different locations for the holidays. One year, we spent it in Buenos Aires where it was summer. Another year we chose Copenhagen and loved the cold! I must keep the name of this town for a future destination.

    • Reply
      Tall Wife
      29 December 2015 at 13:45

      I’ve done Christmas in New Zealand once too: quite weird indeed, wearing t shirts. I prefer the cold though; it just adds to the atmosphere! 🙂 This place is worth a visit, but make sure you book your activities in time as they well out quickly during the season! I will write about our guides in upcoming posts, so keep an eye on them! 🙂

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