For more than two months, Tromsø enjoys the Midnight Sun. At least in good weather. What do you do to maximize that experience? Here are some tips.
Tromsø enjoys the Midnight Sun from about the 18th of May to the 25th of July, meaning the city is bathed in sunlight for more than two months. The coastal climate of the city ensures entertaining weather, though, but often the clouds lift in the evening, and the Midnight Sun fights its way through the clouds somewhere above the mountain tops of the Island of Ringvassøya.
Downtown, the Midnight Sun fights with the shadows
Storgata, the main drag of Tromsø, is actually in the shadows at Midnight. A steep hillside blocks the sun from shining on most of the city centre. At about 2am, though, the sun shines directly into the main street. Bar hoppers are thus blinded for a moment when they leave their watering hole.
The Midnight Sun is five minutes away
However, you don’t need to go far. The jetty Nordjetéen juts into the Tromsø Sound, and allows you free views towards the north. You can also go to the area around the Scandic Ishavshotel, directly on the Sound. Nothing is easier than going onto the Tromsø Bridge. Once there, the Arctic Cathedral on the Mainland side is bathed in Midnight sunshine. It really is minutes away from the Main Street.
Nothing beats the Midnight Sun from the Cable Car
Mount Storsteinen, at 421 metres/1382ft altitude, overlooks the city, the island of Tromsø, the iconic Tromsø bridge with the Arctic Cathedral at the end. In summer, the cable car runs all the way to 1am, allowing you to experience it.
Do an easy Midnight Sun hike
To savour this literally gold moment, you could go for a hike. The following trails are relatively easy to do.
- The Cable Car mountain, Fløya, is easy to reach by new paved path Sherpatrappa (The Sherpa steps, since they were made by the Sherpa people from Nepal). Walkable from town.
- Ørnfløya near the fishing village of Sommarøy offers fabulous views to the cliff island of Håja. You need a car, unless you spend the night in Sommarøy.
- Mount Movikhammaren is found in the northern end of town, and offers lovely views over Tromsø and the waterways around. Take a city bus to the starting point, and split a taxi to town if returning past midnight (which is …frankly… the point)
- Kjølen is a big mountain on Kvaløya Island, some 700 metres high. From here you see both the city afar and the Atlantic on the other side, as well as the towering Kvaløya peaks. Public transport and taxi is possible with some planning, otherwise a bike is a good idea.
If you only have ONE summer night in Tromsø, this is your plan
Not everybody can spend weeks in Tromsø, immersing with the locals and climbing all nearby mountains. If you have only one night to do it, we have a plan for you.
1. Cross the bridge for a concert
At around 22:30 you walk across the Tromsø Bridge from the centre to the Arctic Cathedral. The fitter ones do it in 10 minutes, but half an hour is plenty for photographs and settling into the church.
2. Listen to the Midnight Sun Concert
At 11pm the Midnight Sun Concert starts, with varied Norwegian and Northern music performed by professional musicians. As the organ plays, you can look up and see the shadows of the organ pipes against the golden light of the near-midnight sun on the walls.
3. Go up with the cable car
At 11:30pm, at the end of the concert, you walk the 10 minutes up to the cable car station and go up. Theoretically, they go up every half hour, but on a good day they run all the time. Spend nearly an hour at the Mount Storsteinen, walking the paths and looking at Tromsø from all angles. Buy an ice cream in the café and relax!
4. Witness the Midnight Sun
At about 00:45, the sun reaches its lowest point. You make sure you have found a good photo angle, and you document that you have seen the Midnight Sun in Tromsø. At 01:00 you take the last cable car down. It’s a good half an hours’ walk to town, or you can call a taxi (Number +47 03011 or +47 02045).
Practical about the Midnight Sun in Tromsø
The sun is above the horizon at Midnight from the 18th of May to the 25th of July
No, if a mountain, a hill or a tall building blocks your way, you cannot see the Midnight Sun. Make sure you have a free view to the north.
The midnight moment is when the sun reaches its lowest point. Keep daylight saving time in mind and remember that time zones are a man-made thing. Tromsø is in the eastern part of the Central European time zone, meaning that midnight is somewhat earlier than at 1am. According to www.timeandate.no, Midnight in Tromsø is at 00:40am on the 18th of May, and at the 25th of July, the lowest point is at 00:50. Just for the record; you cannot visually see that the sun has reached its lowest point. You just have to know.
Tromsø is found 350 km/200 miles north of the Arctic circle, and is thus has aircondition on full steam all summer (..ehem..). Early in the Midnight Sun period, temperatures can drop nearly to freezing point at night, Make sure you have woollen long johns, mittens and a woollen hat. Towards the end of the Midnight Sun period, we sometimes enjoy a heatwave from Russia. Then we can wear shorts and t-shirts all evening. To sum it up; be ready for anything.
The Tromsø climate comes with no guarantee. Rain and cloudy weather are part of the northern summer, but we do have daylight all the time. Maybe you see the Midnight Sun the next night, or somewhere else in the north on your onward travel. You might also want to consider going to the inner parts of the Lyngenfjord area if the weather is consistently bad.