Nicknamed the Gateway to the Arctic, Tromsø sits over 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle and is an increasingly visited destination in summer and winter. Popular activities include dog sledding, snowmobiling in the countryside, taking a coastal voyage and hunting for the Northern Lights.
But any visit must include a trip in the cable car, enjoyed by over 120,000 people annually. Transported up Mount Storsteinen,
1,300ft above the city, you reach a mountaintop vantage point from which you can see far beyond Tromsø to a myriad of craggy snow-capped peaks, while to the east the Lyngen Alps form the spine of a vastly glaciated peninsula.
To appreciate the history of this northern outpost, visit the Polar Museum. Housed in the 19th-century former Customs House on the quayside, its displays contain intriguing accounts of courageous explorers and expeditions.
Many visitors hope to catch a glimpse of the aurora borealis, which can dance across the cold night sky any time from September to March. Being situated in the middle of the ‘Northern Lights Oval’ means this area offers the highest probability of spotting the Lights. Meanwhile in summer, the Midnight Sun shines from 20 May to 20 July.
As it’s surrounded by steep mountains and beautiful fjords, you don’t have to travel far to appreciate the area’s nature. Drive less than an hour and you can admire sea eagles, seals and even humpback whales and orcas.
Despite its northerly location, Tromsø enjoys a milder coastal climate than other destinations at the same latitude due to the Gulf Stream warm-water current. Even midwinter is relatively mild for this latitude, with temperatures averaging
-4°C (so still pack plenty of warm clothing and hats), increasing to an average of 15°C in summer.
Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283; kirkerholidays. com) offers three nights’ b&b, based on two sharing, at the waterfront Clarion Collection Hotel, from £598pp. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow, private transfers and services of the Kirker concierge.