Fourth stop: Tromsø
Last major stage of this of this trip, Tromsø, the biggest city north of the polar circle. We’re out of the polar night, but days are still very short, with sunlight from 9.30am to 1pm.. Built on an island, it is linked to the continent by a bridge, not too surprising, but also a 4-lane tunnel with 7 exits, which is way more impressive! It was the first time I saw a roundabout underground, and with Kevin Noideawhatrightofwaymeans driving the bus, it was even more so! We got to our hotel safely, which is what matters I guess. And that wasn’t just any other hotel, the Scandic Ishavshotel! So, without further ado…
WHERE TO SLEEP?
Undoubtedly, at Scandic Ishavshotel !
It all started a few months before the trip, when we were wondering where we would indulge ourselves by booking something a bit more luxurious. A that point, we were going back and forth between our two Arctic destinations. However, fate decided for us, as it turned out there are no Airbnb rentals in Svalbard. It would therefore be hotel in Longyearbyen and Airbnb in Tromsø. A pity, as the Scandic really looked awesome! Ideally located (my advice,don’t book outside of city centre), an original architecture making the hotel look like a ship, an amazing view on the city (see top picture!) and the sea from the rooms and the restaurant, great design and decoration, and the mother of all breakfasts according to comments from previous guests… Of course, we had to go… No wanting to pass on this hotel (and I suspect, the gigantic breakfast buffet, but I’m not one to judge), my boyfriend booked anyway there for my birthday! We arrived in the late afternoon, ready to enjoy our last days of this Scandinavian adventure!
WHAT TO SEE AND/OR DO
- Whale Safari: It was impossible to leave Norway without a small detour to go and meet whales! And since we don’t really like doing things like everyone else, instead of booking a cruise on one of those large ships that leave from city centre (which take forever to get to the good spots and are loaded with tourists), I looked for a smaller alternative and found a human scale, family business, Tromso Friluftsenter. Their organisation may not be foolproof, but they’re super nice people and offer a cruise on a small wood trawler, with way more charm and way less people on board (20 or so). Their bus picked us up in front of the hotel for a 30 or 40-minute drive on the roads of Whale Island, aka Kvaløya, to reach Kvaløyvågen, a super small fishing harbor. Once we were on borad started a 2 and a half hour cruise on the fjords, during which we saw a dozen humpback whales, two orcas, and ate fish soup made on the boat with the take of the moment! Make sure you wear warm clothes for this, being on water takes its toll!
- Polaria: The Arctic museum/aquarium of the city. Built right on the waterfront, the building looks like massive chunks of ice brought by the sea. A nice architectural design, mix of white concrete and wide openings to let the light in. The main interest of going in resides in the seals’ pool and the 15 minutes of feeding time. A bit overrated but cute.
- Tromsdalen Church aka the Arctic Cathedral: One of the major landmarks of the city and one of its symbols, easily recognised at night when illuminated. The view from the opposite shore is beautiful.
- The Lofoten islands. Like I said in my frist Norwegian post, we had to make a choice and we couldn’t go and discover those fjords. But obviously, with a bit more time (and money!), we would have loved the opportunity to see more of Norwegian Lapland. It will have to be for another trip, which is a good reason to back in spring or summer!
WHERE TO HAVE COFFEE OR EAT
- Kaffebonna: A coffee shop that looks halfway between a bakery and a diner. Very good latte and nice atmosphere for a short break. Also a great place to warm up during a stroll in the city!
- Solid: Little pub, pretty cosy, perfect place to drink your daily pint of beer or cider at the end of the afternoon!
- Roast Tromsø: Our hotel’s restaurant. We went for our last dinner, we had only heard good things about it, and it didn’t disappoint! Not much more expensive than the national pizza chain (Peppe’s Pizza, you let us down BIG TIME!) and much more deliciouser! An intimate dining room, far from the noise agitation of the hotel lobby, refined dishes with local goods (try the moose tartare!), perfect seasoning (best mushroom ever!)… An absolute feasting! Whether you’re staying at the Scandic, Roast is definitely the place to go. Do book ahead though, as hotel guests have priority.
Oh, and Roast also has a cocktail bar… just saying!
That’s it for our 13 days of absolute bliss in Norwegian territory. So many memories! I fell in love with this country. Norway stole a bit of me, and it will take a bit of time for me to really come back.
SAVE IT ON PINTEREST !
Feel free to pin the picture below, that I created specially for Pinterest… for you to find your way back to this article more easily!