In case you read my post on the Northern Lights and you want to come to Tromso or just anywhere north of the Arctic Circle, you need to know something first. These regions experience something that is known as polar night during the winter.
So what is polar night?
Due to the angle of the earth relative to the sun, the sun will not rise above the horizon at all during the winter months in the region north of the Arctic Circle. This don’t mean that it will be completely dark all the time.
During polar night when the sun doesn’t rise above the horizon, it will be daylight from around 10am to 1pm and twilight until it becomes dark. You don’t see the sun. However, you will get to see some fantastic colours in the sky when the sun is rising or setting (if there are no clouds that is).
When does polar night start?
That all depends on where you are going to visit.
Let’s start with Tromso. From November 27th, the sun will not rise above the horizon until January 15th. However since Tromso is surrounded by several mountain ranges, we don’t get any sunlight already from November 21st and up until January 21st.
Is it depressing? Well sure! Why you ask? Well, you get up early in the morning, it’s dark. You go to work, its dark. You work all day in an office where you can’t see the outside and when you go from work, it’s either twilight or it’s already dark again.
Luckily, it doesn’t last very long. If you’re visiting Tromso after January 15th when polar night is officially over and when the sun is visible for the first time that year, you can join us locals in celebrating the sun by eating so called sun buns. I think I remember reading somewhere that they make between 30000 and 40000 sun buns just for Tromso!
It’s Norway’s northernmost island and it’s situated between Norway and the North Pole. The island itself stretches from 74 to 81 degrees north, which means the northernmost tip of the island is only 9 degrees south of the North Pole!
Svalbard’s biggest town Longyearbyen experiences polar night from as early as October 26th until February 16th! That is a long time not seeing the sun.
Another destination you might plan on visiting is Iceland.
Contrary to popular belief, Iceland does not experience a real polar night because most of the country is situated south of the Arctic Circle.
Visiting Tromso during polar night
So you want to visit Tromsø during Polar Night but you’re not really sure what to do during this dark period. Well, I got some tips for you.
Go Northern Lights hunting. I already wrote a Northern Lights post earlier and if you haven’t read it, check it out here.
See Tromso from above. If you want some stunning views of Tromso, take the cable car up the mountain on the mainland. If you take the trip during polar night, you will have a fantastic view of the city itself illuminated in all its glory.
Go whale watching. Orcas and humpback whales come to the fjords close to Tromso and it’s definitely worth paying for a tour to get out there. There are several companies that offer whale safaris and Vanessa and I did the trip not long ago with Arctic Explorer. Let me tell you, it was worth standing outside on the boat enduring the cold for over an hour to see these majestic animals.
Go and visit one of Tromso’s many different cafes. When you get tired of walking all around Tromso to see what the city has to offer, go and enjoy a hot beverage at a café and just relax.
Go and visit the museums. Tromso has a variety of museums to offer and they focus on various topics such as the Arctic, the Sámi people and even polar history and how the early explorers visited the North Pole.
So there you have it! Polar Night in Tromso and what you can do during it. Don’t worry, even though it’s dark most of the time, there’s still a lot to do.
Would you like to experience polar night one day or do you think it's too depressing?
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Simon has lived his entire life in Norway and has grown up between the Norwegian/Swedish and the Sámi way of life. He currently lives in Tromso working in a kindergarden, helping with the blog and exploring the North with Vanessa.
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My favourite post from last week was "15 Photos That Will Inspire You to Visit Valencia" by Sarah CC Bence. After my first trip to the Spanish mainland this fall, I'm determined to explore more of what Spain has to offer beyond its islands and Valencia seems utterly gorgeous. I absolutely loved Sarah's pictures and will put Valencia on my bucket list for a future sydenferie!
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