Sitting far above the Arctic circle, Tromsø – which often calls itself “the capital of the north” – is a pulsating city with a diverse array of attractions. There’s something for everyone here – so if you are wanting things to do in Tromso with kids, you can guarantee that you’ll find plenty of wonderful things to do.
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Where to Stay in Tromsø
Tromsø is only a small city, but it’s spread over two islands and the mainland, so there are accommodations in a few different places!
- Thon Hotel Polar is centrally located and has family rooms, along with an excellent buffet breakfast.
- Radisson Blu Hotel, Tromsø in the city center, with several options for families of 4 or more.
- Scandic Ishavshotel is another centrally located option on the harbor. It has a free breakfast and family room that sleeps 4.
- Tromso Ice Domes are perfect if you’re looking for an opportunity to stay in an ice hotel in Norway. The hotel is open December through March, but there are other things to do the rest of the year, including snowmobiling and visiting reindeer.
Top 10 Things to Do in Tromsø Norway with Kids
Tromsø with kids could include exploring local landmarks and learning about the unique architecture, exploring the Arctic landscape by climbing into a husky sleigh, or feeding reindeer at a husky camp.
We’ve put together the best things to do in Tromsø with kids, so whether you’re planning a family trip to Norway in winter or summer (the two best times of year to be in the Arctic!), you’ll be inspired by this list!
1. Explore Tromso’s landmarks
Tromsø is dotted with unique landmarks and modern architecture, and if you have older kids, they’ll love the futuristic buildings! Here are a few to look out for:
- Arctic Cathedral: While this building is in fact a church, it’s called the “Arctic Cathedral” because it is so striking and imposing. It’s triangular in shape and has large walls made of windows, which allows as much natural light in as possible in the dark winter months.
- Tromsø Library: This building is renowned for its arched ceilings and huge windows.
- Polaria: Polaria is a fantastic spot to visit as a standalone attraction, but it’s worth admiring the architecture from the outside as well. The building resembles collapsing dominoes, although you wouldn’t think it at all from the outside!
Also, spend some time walking around Tromsø harbor, taking in the unique atmosphere and looking out for boats of all shapes and sizes.
2. Go husky sledding over the Arctic landscape
Taking place in the countryside outside Tromsø (transportation is included in the tour), you’ll experience a whirl of adventure as you climb into the sled and let the huskies pull you on a snow-covered route around the Arctic countryside.
It’s a must-do for any adventurous kids, and it’s equally as fun for the grown-ups! After the sledding experience, you’ll warm up by a fire with a hot chocolate.
3. Have an AR experience at the Troll Museum
There are a few museums in Tromsø, but the best for kids is probably the Troll Museum. Trolls are a part of Norwegian culture and have been connected to local mythology for centuries.
At the Troll Museum, not only can you learn about this mythology, but it’s also possible to make the images and statues come to life by using augmented reality goggles!
Other museums in town include the Polar Museum, which details exhibitions from northern Norway to the Arctic and North Pole, and the Tromsø Museum which is a full exploration of the city’s fascinating history.
However, I’d definitely recommend the Troll Museum as the best museum in Tromso for families.
4. Summit in the Storsteinen Cable Car
Climb to great heights in the Fjellheisen Cable Car up the Storsteinen mountain. It’s a must-do for any family who loves exciting attractions! The cable car climbs to 421 meters (1381 feet) above sea level, offering breathtaking views over the city center and its surrounding mountains.
As well as enjoying the view, your family can look for plant life – as the soil is calcium-rich, it’s the growing place for a few unusual plant species including the Arctic sandwort.
It’s arguably the best place in the city to enjoy the midnight sun in June – or you can look out for the northern lights from the top if you’re here in the winter season!
The cable car closes in poor weather – and it’s not worth visiting in cloudy conditions, as you won’t be able to enjoy the view at all! So, if you’re in town for a few days, schedule your cable car ride for the clearest day.
5. Educate yourself on a Sami culture tour
The Sami people populate northern Scandinavia. They’re the native group that has lived and worked off the land for thousands of years, using reindeer as transport and food.
Sami-led tours offer an insightful look into this fascinating culture and depart from Tromsø every evening. They drive 45 minutes out of the city to a local Sami camp.
Older kids will love feeding the reindeer. However, be careful while doing so, as they can be quite boisterous and younger children might find them a bit scary!
After feeding the reindeer, you’ll head into the camp to learn about Sami culture. This is invaluable and a fantastic learning experience for young travelers.
Your Sami guide will detail all you need to know about Sami weddings, families, and give you some fun facts about reindeer in Tromsø.
It’s one of the best things to do in Tromsø with teenagers and any inquisitive kids!
6. Enjoy whale watching
Another fabulous activity that will amaze the whole family is whale watching!
The waters around Tromsø are rich with marine life; here, you’ll find gentle giants like orcas and humpback whales along with seals, puffins, and otters. Whale season generally runs from November to January, but you can see other animals throughout the year.
Boat tours depart Tromsø harbor throughout whale season to look out for creatures in the sea.
In the summer months, instead of doing a sea life-focused cruise, you could instead sail to one of the nearby islands and take a cycle trip around it.
7. Visit Polaria and see the seals
Another fantastic animal activity in Tromsø is Polaria, a museum devoted to the Arctic landscapes and northern waters. Due to its proximity to the North Pole, Tromsø’s geology is quickly changing.
Not only does Polaria give families a chance to see some adorable animals – there’s an underwater tunnel that you can walk through and see seals swimming above. It’s also a chance to educate your whole family about the dangers that face the Arctic waters.
You’ll learn about the impacts of plastic pollution and climate change on the Arctic waters, along with information about historical voyages to the North Pole and other places in the Arctic.
8. Take a snowshoeing tour
There are plenty of snowsports – such as skiing and snowmobiling – to try around Tromsø, and the most kid-friendly is probably snowshoeing!
As it involves walking in deep snow, snowshoeing is less intense than skiing or other snow sports. You’ll strap the snowshoes to your feet and hike up hills to gorgeous viewpoints over snowy landscapes, perhaps even sledding back down! Tours are generally suitable for kids aged over six.
Of course, snowshoeing is only available in the winter months, but if you’re visiting Tromsø in the warmer season, you can enjoy hiking without snow – some of the surrounding landscapes are more accessible in the warmer months too!
9. Take a fjord cruise
Head out onto the craggy fjords directly from Tromsø harbor. Destinations further south, like Bergen, are typically more renowned for their dramatic fjord scenery – but there are beautiful fjords to navigate by boat as far north as Tromsø too!
Fjord cruises leave year-round, and include sightseeing with a knowledgeable guide and hot drinks and snacks. Most boats consist of an outdoor viewing area and a warmer indoor area – perfect if the weather’s a little chilly!
10. Dine at the world’s northernmost Hard Rock Cafe
The Hard Rock Cafe is a family-friendly restaurant wherever you are in the world, with an extensive kid’s menu, including lots of reliable staples like burgers and pasta dishes.
However, the reason that the Hard Rock Cafe makes it to this things to do in Tromsø list is because it’s the northernmost in the world!
A must visit restaurant for anyone who’s a fan of a superlative, here you can sip on their classic milkshakes and enjoy their traditional rock memorabilia.
Another option is the world’s northernmost Burger King which is located on the main street of Tromso. (The world’s northernmost brewery is also located in Tromsø but it’s not a family-friendly attraction!).
Tips for visiting Tromsø with kids
Here are some things to consider if you’re visiting Tromsø with kids!
Consider taking a Northern Lights Tour in Tromsø
Tromsø is known as one of the best places in Europe to see the northern lights; but if you’re visiting with children, carefully consider whether they’ll enjoy a northern lights tour. Typically, they last several hours and can include five or six hours in a vehicle – plus, they sometimes don’t end until 2 a.m.!
Northern Lights season is in the winter when it can be very cold in the Arctic; the weather inland (where the tours journey to) is usually a lot colder than in Tromsø itself. Plus, it’s never guaranteed that you’ll see them whatever the weather.
However, if you’re traveling with teenagers, they might enjoy the adventure of chasing the northern lights!
Northern Light Tours from Tromso
- Northern Lights Chase by Boat with Get Your Guide
- Northern Lights Tour with Free Professional Photos with Get Your Guide
- Aurora Borealis Small Group Tour with Get Your Guide
- Aurora Hunting Tour with Professional Photos with Viator
- Northern Lights Big Bus Chase with Viator
What to Pack for a Trip to Tromsø
The weather in Tromsø can be unpredictable to say the least, so make sure that you pack plenty of layers, including waterproof clothes and snow gear if you’re visiting in winter.
This is especially important if you’re traveling as a family – make sure you have plenty of all-weather gear for everyone!
With a plethora of attractions, scenic Arctic landscapes, and a fun vibe in the city center, there’s plenty for all ages to enjoy in wonderful Tromsø.
It’s ideal for families with adventurous kids, as there are plenty of outdoor activities throughout the seasons.
However, if the weather’s not so kind (it’s always unpredictable this far north!), there are plenty of kid-friendly attractions in the city center too, including Polaria and the Troll Museum.
Whatever the weather, you’ll find plenty to fuel your wanderlust in Tromsø!
About the author: Claire is a Europe winter travel expert; she spends November to March each year traveling around the continent, finding the best places to visit throughout the cooler months. She then writes it all up on her travel blog, Europe in winter!