Best Arctic

Picture of Tromsø from Fjellheisen cable car in winter

How cold is it really in Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic?

Are you thinking of coming to Tromsø but wondering how cold it really is? 

If so, this article will provide a few answers.

Here in the Arctic, we have long and dark winters and short, cool summers. However, you might be surprised by the weather in Tromsø.

World map with line showing the 69th parallel north
World map showing the 69th parallel north. It is a circle of latitude that is 69 degrees north of the Earth’s equatorial plane.

Where is Tromsø located? 

Tromsø is situated at latitude 69 °N, which 350 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. The city is located at the same latitude as some of the coldest habitable places on earth. However, the effect of the Gulf Stream current and the closeness to the sea makes life in Tromsø more comfortable than places in Alaska, Finnish Lapland or Murmansk, Russia. The average low temperature in these places in the middle of winter is around −14 °C (7 °F). However, the temperatures in these places can often drop below −20 °C (−4 °F). This is significantly colder than what we are used to here in Tromsø.

 

This graph shows the annual average temperatures in Tromsø. The data is from Climate-Data.org

Does it get really cold in Tromsø?

In comparison, the temperatures in Tromsø are relatively mild in winter, considering the latitude. On the coldest nights of the year, the temperature can drop to -14 °C (7 °F). The record low temperature in Tromsø was -20 °C (or -4 °F), which was recorded in February 1985 and January 1987. There is no need to worry. The daily average temperature in Tromsø during winter ranges from -5°C up to 0°C. Although the impressive mountains surrounding Tromsø largely protect the city from the harshest winds, you may still experience the odd gust or two. As people in the Nordic countries say, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes!

If you’re visiting Tromsø in the winter, you should consider buying ice grippers – also known as Nordic grips – to attach under your shoes. These flexible spiked devices are easy to attach and make it easier to walk on the ice. Heating cables have been installed under some of the pavements in downtown Tromsø, which melt the snow and ice.  

Tromsø norway harbour
Tromsø’s harbour (Hermes II)

Tromsø’s harbour is ice-free all year round, which is a major advantage when it comes to commerce and shipping. This has been a major factor in the city’s expansion over the years. If you are brave, you could try the traditional Norwegian activity of swimming in the sea. This is very refreshing as the water temperature never gets above 5°C! Although it might sound crazy, many Scandinavians swear by cold water swimming to boost their morale in the winter.

How much snow does Tromsø get? 

Tromsø’s location is very favourable for snowfall, which is quite frequent during the winter months. The highest depth of snow is usually seen in April. In April 2019, the snow reached an impressive height of 150 cm (60 inches), while in April 1997 it reached a staggering 240 cm (95 inches). This snow provides the perfect playground for anyone looking for fun winter activities. If you are bored, you can make a snowman and share your creation on social media!

Please tag us @best.arctic so we can see it!

People and children going downhill on a plastic sleigh
People and children going downhill on a plastic sleigh

Anyone keen for a sledding adventure in the Arctic?

There is usually in Tromsø between from late October until early May, so we recommend bring suitable footwear. Don’t worry, you can still enjoy outdoor activities regardless of the weather. The temperatures are milder during the warmer months, from May to September, but don’t expect Mediterranean weather in the Arctic!

There is no better way to end this article than by reflecting on the Norwegian expression: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

To make sure that you don’t forget anything, you can also read this article on What to pack and to wear when travelling to Northern Norway

Enjoy your stay in the Arctic!

How cold is it really in Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic?

How cold is it really in Tromsø, the Gateway to the Arctic?

Are you thinking of coming to Tromsø but wondering how cold it really is?  If so, this article will provide a few answers. Here in the Arctic, we have long and dark winters and short, cool summers. However, you might be surprised by the weather in Tromsø. Where is Tromsø located?  Tromsø is situated at latitude […]

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