Simply put, Tromsø parties. The main town of Troms county – by far the largest in northern Norway – is lively with cultural bashes, buskers, an animated street scene, a midnight-sun marathon, a respected university, the hallowed Mack Brewery – and more pubs per capita than any other Norwegian town. Its corona of snow-topped peaks provides arresting scenery, excellent hiking in summer and great skiing and dog-sledding in winter.
Many Tromsø landmarks claim northernmost titles, including the university, cathedral, brewery (not technically – but read on), botanic garden and even the most boreal Burger King. Although the city lies almost 400km north of the Arctic Circle, its climate is pleasantly moderated by the Gulf Stream. The long winter darkness is offset by round-the-clock activity during the perpetually bright days of summer.
Tromsø received its municipal charter in 1794, when the city was developing as a trading centre, but its history goes way back to the 13th century, when the first local church was built. In more recent times, the city became a launching point for polar expeditions, and thanks to that distinction, it’s nicknamed ‘Gateway to the Arctic’ (more appropriate than ‘Paris of the North’, as suggested by an apparently myopic visitor in the early 1900s).
Tromsø, a city in northern Norway, is a major cultural hub above the Arctic Circle. It’s famed as a viewing point for colorful Northern Lights that sometime light up the nighttime sky. The city’s historic center, on the island of Tromsø, is distinguished by its centuries-old wooden houses. The 1965 Arctic Cathedral, with its distinctive peaked roof and soaring stained-glass windows, dominates the skyline.
Gibraltar – Top of the World Arctic Circle © Monika Newbound