Tromso, located 250 miles above the Arctic Circle at almost 70° north, is set in the very centre of the Arctic’s most majestic wilderness, right at the heart of the Northern Lights oval, the area with the highest probability of seeing the Northern Lights. Its location makes it both stunningly beautiful and the best place from which to launch a hunt for the beguiling lights in winter or experience the Midnight Sun in summer. The city is surrounded by a stunning natural landscape, which can be admired right from your sleek hotel room at Scandic Ishavshotel, a modernist, maritime-inspired hotel located almost at the end of the quay.
Gaze out of the panoramic windows at the harbour, sprawling fjord and snow-dusted mountains that rise out of the shallows. We suggest securing the Master Suite in order to be able to step onto your private balcony and drink in the scenery or, if the weather turns sour, snuggle up on the sofa in your personal sitting area and keep an eye on conditions through the floor-to-ceiling wraparound windows.
Start your day with the hotel’s renowned organic breakfast buffet – it has won the accolade of being one of Norway’s best breakfasts seven years in a row. Tuck in to a feast of home-smoked salmon, homemade muesli and a wide variety of fruits and smoothies, guaranteed to set you up for the adventures ahead.
Emerge from the hotel right onto the quayside of the Tromso Strait. Explore Tromso’s characterful streets, stopping to appreciate the polar atmosphere around town and brush up on your Arctic history at the Polar Museum. For an exhilarating close-up encounter sign up for a whale safari and go in search of these leviathans, looking out too for sea eagles and seals. There’s also excellent access to the great outdoors for dog sledding, snowshoeing and snowmobile journeys.
Back at the hotel, grab a local beer or craft cocktail at the bar and swap stories of things you’ve seen and Northern Lights displays you’ve witnessed. In the evening, snag a table at Roast, the hotel’s elegant in-house restaurant, for an Arctic gastronomic experience. The restaurant specialises in locally produced meat and freshly caught seafood, all prepared in a lively open kitchen. Spoil yourself by starting with lobster then grilled turbot or cod caught earlier from the North Sea, or go all out with Roast’s meat board and gorge on BBQ ribs and loin of veal.
After dinner and a digestif, drift back into town to experience the lively nightlife on the main street of Storgata before an altogether more cultural midnight concert in the Arctic Cathedral, Ishavskatadralen. Emerge afterwards to gaze ever-skywards in the hope of seeing the glorious, ethereal Northern Lights dance across the sky on your stroll home and don’t forget to remind reception you’d like an Aurora wake-up call in case they emerge later at night.