Tromsø was voted the third best Christmas city in the world, before Travel and Leisure realized that the Norwegian city is the most festive of them all to celebrate Christmas in. Why’s that?

Originally, it was said by the aforementioned US travel magazine that cities on either side of the US-Mexico border could compare with Tromsø. But while these locations are relatively snow-poor, Tromsø almost always experiences a white Christmas.

The opposite happens less than every ten years on average. No wonder we’re still on CNN’s top-ten list of the world’s best winter destinations. And even during Christmas, both statistics and newspaper reports show that the city is filled with tourists.

However, it’s not just the snow that excites everyone and everything in search of Christmas cheer.

 

 A Living Sea of Lights

When you live in a region known for darkness, the enthusiasm for the small amount of light that remains is often great. That’s why both the Northern Lights and other colorful phenomena, such as “the blue hour”, are praised.

Tromsø also has strong traditions with lighting candles in graveyards. When King Olav V died, a specific tradition of honoring the dead arose again. Outside the royal castle, the Norwegian people grouped together to create “a sea of lights” outside of the castle. A magnificent display of thousands of mourners standing together holding candles. While the rest of the country rediscovered this tradition, Tromsø has always lit candles for their deceased.

A sea of lights in Oslo.
Source: tk.no

This custom has been strongly linked to Catholicism, and was suppressed heavily by the Protestants for centuries. However, coming on the heels of the First World War, it was revitalized to commemorate the victims. From there it also took the trip to Norway, and northwards, where darkness and snow create unique scenery for the tradition. While staying at Tromsø Lodge & Camping you’ll find that there is a cemetery close by, and you are welcome to visit and see how we honor our loved ones.

 

The Concert Cathedral

In the dark and cold days of winter, the residents of Tromsø are also known to seek light and warmth in several ways that also bring yuletide cheer. The Arctic Cathedral, known for its special acoustics and unique architectural structure, fills with Christmas music. In 2019, no less than 17 winter holiday concerts were held in the Tromsdalen church, and this year you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy both Christmas and New Year’s concerts.

The Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø during sunset and the blue hour.
Source: iTromsø

 

Christmas artists from all over the world gather together to offer good cheer and music in Tromsø. While the Tromsø Cathedral, the Culture House and other concert venues are used for these occasions, none are nearly as popular as the Arctic Cathedral in Tromsdalen.

 

Christmas Street in People’s Hearts

The Christmas street heritage is also strong in the Arctic city of Tromsø. When the decades-old decorations of festive red hearts had to be replaced in 2017, close to 5,000 people took part in the vote on what the new look for Storgata should be. Despite the fact that an EU directive demanded the replacement of the prior decor, the old hearts were re-purposed. This, together with ever-increasing efforts from the trading stand, has helped to decorate the Christmas town of Tromsø.

The city streets of Tromsø, adorned with Christmas decorations.

The annual lighting of the Christmas tree at Stortorget is also popular with locals and tourists alike, and it is a spectacular sight when the spruce tree is flown there by helicopter.

 


Do you want to experience Norwegian Christmas? Book a cabin at Tromsø Lodge & Camping.


Christmas Parties Before and Now

“Julebord”, literally meaning “Christmas table”, is a traditional Scandinavian feast that has roots well over a thousand years back in time. Both Roman and Norse cultures were interwoven into the customs of the church, and while the church removed the parts deemed distasteful, some traditions remain today. An example would be the placement of an apple in the mouth of a pig.

The Christmas feasts as we know them today, are festive parties for colleagues and others organized, are a post-war phenomenon.

Also read: Winter Activities in Tromsø!

Who knows if Tromsø has any specific distinctive julebord traditions that no other city has, but the local newspaper in 1972 did stumble upon an interesting fact; thousands of Tromsø residents had spent in total more than one million kroner on julebord! The price per guest is usually NOK 25 and 90, so there were strong reactions when it was known the city’s chairmanship allocated NOK 120 per person for Christmas feasts. Even in the restaurant industry, some people reacted to the fact that “such gluttony had taken over”.

Maybe we saw the early signs of why Tromsø was mentioned a few years later as the country’s nightlife city number one. Today you can do everything from booking catering in a rented lavvu in the heart of Tromsdalen, to arranging big shows to spice up buffets and feasts in all forms at the big hotels.

 

Christmas Fairs

There are Christmas markets in and around the city, where there is a wide variety of local crafts, crafts and traditional food. Åsgårdmessa is probably the oldest, as it has been around for 55 years. And it is by far the biggest. Every year, dozens of small-scale manufacturers compete for space, where they are required to sell only home-made products.

Christmas market at Stortorget in Tromsø.
Source: iTromsø

Christmas Food – Gold and Grandiosa

The thought that the frozen pizza Grandiosa is the favorite for Christmas dinner is a myth that has spread around Norway for about 30 years now. The truth is that ribs and “pinnekjøtt”, lamb or mutton ribs, still top the charts.

While traditions remain strong through centuries, they aren’t immune to outside influence and subtle changes. For some, the changes may not be greater than replacing the sticks with potatoes, or having beer instead of water in the steak pan. For others, the Christmas menu changes much more, for example to incorporate vegetarian options.

Also read: Traditional Cuisine in Norway: What to Expect

In the fishery-built Northern Norway capital, the meat traditions are very highly regarded. Every year, you’ll find meat from Tromsø in the yearly competition “Norwegian Championship in Meat Products”, and usually it’s the Christmas food that gets gold and other medals. This year, H Mydland AS won in both categories of lamb ribs, but also lamb roll and lamb leg from several of the city’s meat producers have had great success over the years.

 

Christmas Jazz and Old Favourites

Between the family get togethers and visiting friends, the residents of Tromsø find time to indulge in the city’s rich cultural life. The Christmas jazz and Viseklubben’s “Romjulsspelt med bokna musikk” are built on several years of dedication, and every year these concerts are sold out long before Christmas. It’s not unusual to see favourites Christmas artists of years past during these events.

 

The Tromsdalen Mountain Fireworks

A spectacular end to Christmas is set each year with what must be the world’s most stylish mountain fireworks. Each New Year’s Eve, 30-40 volunteers set up and shoot top-quality Chinese fireworks from the plateau at the summit of Fjellheisen. The mountain fireworks has its roots all the way back to 1946, and won the Tromsø municipality’s honorary award in 2017. It’s an incredible sight that you can’t miss. We recommend seeing it from the area around the Arctic Cathedral or suitable places in and around Tromsø city center.

 

Tromsdalen mountain fireworks at the year change to 2018.
Source: UiT, Twitter

 

Tromsø Lodge & Camping welcome you to Tromsø and wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

The leaves are changing colors, the air is getting chilly and the nights are becoming darker and longer. Fall season is the food season in Tromsø. Fresh cloudberries, tender game-meat and wild mushrooms is on the menu in Norwegian households, and has been for centuries.

 

Norway has long traditions within food. From strong flavors in reindeer and moose with wild mushrooms, to sweet temptations in colorful berries and silky-smooth cream, put together by old traditions from the century-old survival community of old Norway. Not to forget the amazing fish and shellfish courses originating from long coastlines and fjords, with fresh commodities just a few hundred meters from town. Us Norwegians still eat traditional food that have existed for several centuries for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That must mean we have done something right once upon a time?

 

What characterizes Norwegian food?

The Norwegian geography gives our county a wide spectrum of traditional food, characterized by smoked or cured meats, and other flavors built upon the preservation of our food. Just a few decades back, Norway used to be a very poor country. Manual labor within agriculture, hunting and fishing was our main source of diet. This, combined with long and rough winters, made us reliant on food preservation, because we simply couldn’t get a hold of fresh ingredients half of the year. That is how we got dishes such as “smalahove” (cured head of lamb), dryfish and gravlax.

 

Fish, fish and more fish

With one of the world’s longest coastal lines, the Norwegian courses are heavily influenced by the fruit of the ocean. Traditional fish dishes were often accompanied with boiled potatoes or vegetables. To conserve the fish, we developed and used several interesting conservational methods. Dryfish, cured salmon, “rakfisk”, salted fish – if it could make the fish meat last longer, it could be made into a dish. Several Norwegian party dishes with fish are still made with these special conservation methods. In more modern times, fish is still a key ingredient at the Norwegian dinner table, but we might eat sushi more often than rakfisk. Norway is actually the reason my sushi now contains salmalax!

Salmon with sour cream and cucumber served at Tromsø Lodge and Camping. Photo.

 

Hunting and game-meat

Game-meat and sheep is a hugely important part of the Norwegian cooking as well. This also stems from the time where we hunted our own food. A lot of Norwegians are still hunters, and more than 500 000 people are registered in the Norwegian hunting register. Many Norwegians hunt their own food for dinner during the approved hunting seasons. Reindeer and grouse are the most popular game-meat in Northern Norway, but further south people are hunting more elk, venison and deer. Game-meat can be used in a variety of ways. Have you tried the reindeer burger with lingonberry jam – a specialty here in Tromsø?

 

What do we eat in 2019?

In more modern times we fortunately don’t have to worry about where to get our food, even with the temperature at -10°C and snowstorming. All Norwegian kitchens have a fridge or a freezer, and our grocery stores import commodities from all over the world. We have become a more globalized society, with increasingly more impulses, information and access to other food cultures from all over the world. The pizza came to Norway around 1970. In 2018 alone we bought 50 million frozen pizzas – divided by a population of 5,25 million gives a lot of pizzas per person! Even though the traditional cooking, consisting of meatballs, cured meat and potatoes never will fade out, us Norwegians are more and more inspired by food habits from all over. Now we are making new traditions – the Friday taco is a dearly beloved dish for most Norwegian families.

 

TNS Gallup have made a list of ten dishes tourists have to try once they reach Norway:

1.  Pinnekjøtt (“stick-meat”)

This is the most common Christmas dish among Norwegians living on the west side of the country! The dish consists of salted rib-meat from sheep, mashed turnips, sausage and boiled potatoes, and is a Christmas classic.

Traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner. Photo.
Image crecit: Toro.

2. Spekemat (cured meat)

Salted and cured meat from various animals, often served with flatbread and porridge from sour cream. This is the perfect summery snack for a lot of Norwegians!

 

3. Kjøttkaker i brun saus (meatballs in gravy)

The dish consists of larger balls made out of minced, spiced meat, gravy, boiled potatoes and carrots, and lingonberry jam. This is often a huge favorite amongs Norwegian children.

 

4. Fårikal (“sheep-in-cabbage”)

This is a stew consisting of sheep meat, cabbage and whole peppercorns. The dish is traditionally made by putting everything a large pot, and cooking it for a long time.

 

5. Dark bread with brunost (brown cheese)

Sliced, open faced sandwiches are a common dish for both breakfast and lunch in Norway. We are particularly proud of our brown cheese, which is a sweet, caramel-y cheese that tastes wonderful with freshly baked dark bread.

 

6. Rømmegrøt (sour cream-porridge)

Often combined with the “spekemat”! This is a type of porridge made out of sour cream, served with sugar, cinnamon and a dollop of butter.

 

7. Ribbe (ribs)

Another Christmas classic! The rib meat is from pig, and is served amongs many Norwegians during Christmas time, along with boiled potatoes, sauerkraut, red cabbage, lingonberry jam and flatbread.

 

8. Lutefisk (“lye-fish”)

The lutefisk is a special Norwegian dish based on old traditions. It’s made out of cod that has been presoaked in water, put in lye, and then boiled to give a gelatinous consistency. The dish is often served with potatoes and bacon.

Tradisjonell norsk lutefisk.
Image credit: Aperitif.

9. Pizza Grandiosa

Norway is one of the countries with the highest consumption of frozen pizza in the whole world! The Grandiosa is a brand that came to Norway in the 80’s, and is a classic cheese-and-ham-pizza loved by an entire nation.

 

10. Smalahove (sheep head)

This is maybe the most special dish on the list, and consists of a whole or half sheep head that has been roasted and cured. The meat in itself is salty, and actually kind of good, but only the luckiest person around the table get the delicacy of the smalahove – the eye!

 


 

This has been a rough explanation of what we actually eat in Norway. Here at Tromsø Lodge & Camping, we serve traditional Norwegian cooking every day, and change our menu seasonally. That way you can always be assured you get to try some of our local dishes, right here at our camp!

 

See the menu here!


 

Camping is a lot of fun! The sounds of nature, the fresh wind to your face, and the enjoyment of peaceful surroundings without the hustle and bustle of the city – few things are better. In order to keep enjoying the nature like we do now, we have to take care of it. That’s why we want to give you ten tips on environmentally friendly camping, in order for your hike to leave as few imprints as possible.

 

1. Leave the camping site looking as nice as when you found it

You have found the perfect clearing in the woods. The ground is flat and perfect for setting up a tent, the trees are shining in the sun, and there’s woods and nature as far as the eye can see. You look around you, and the terrain is scattered with old aluminum boxes and plastic bags. Not only is littering unsightly, it’s dangerous for the wildlife and nature’s ecosystem. Always keep in mind the “packed up-packed down”-principle before leaving the camping grounds and take everything you brought with you back home.

 

2. “Green cleaning”

The concept of “Green cleaning” is all about washing yourself and your equipment with eco-friendly soap. “Green” soaps contain natural ingredients that don’t emit hazardous chemicals into the ecosystems of the forest, and they’re great for cleaning and washing your body with a better consciousness.

 

3. Ditch the disposable equipment!

Instead of using money on cutlery and kitchenware which’ll be thrown away after a single use, bring knives, forks and whatever else you’ll need from home. Not only will you be saving money; you’ll avoid using unnecessary plastic equipment. There are a lot of eco-friendly alternatives for everything you would need!

 

4. Make and pack your own lunch

Here you have yet another win-win tip! By making your own packed meals, you’ll save money on pre-packaged solutions and you’ll save the environment by avoiding all the packaging that often follow with “fast and easy” meals. The best part is that you get to be as creative as you want with your food – as long as it fits in a lunchbox, of course.

 

Packed lunch box. Image.
The beauty of packing your own food is that you can be as fancy or plain as you please!

5. Don’t seek or try to contact the wild animals

The synergy of the nature is fragile. Avoid feeding or disturbing the wild animals, as they can get dependent on humans for survival and lose their natural instincts. This also applies for photography. If you can’t photograph the reindeer or grouse at a safe distance, leave it be – let the wild animals live in peace.

 

6. Plan well and keep out of protected areas

Protected areas are dedicated to keeping some of Norway’s most significant ecosystems. We are lucky to have camping places surrounded by stunning nature and paths that make it possible to enjoy them in their entirety. When you stray away from the path, you risk destroying plants and disturbing the wildlife in that area. Keep yourself and the surroundings safe by staying on-path, and only set up camp in designated areas.

 

Not familiar with which areas are protected? Check out this link! (Only in Norwegian)

 

7. Solar energy – not batteries

Some of the first things novice campers often notice is how much darker secluded areas are at night. You can hoard up on AA-batteries for your headlights and flashlights, but it’s even better if you invest in a solution powered by solar panels. You can also find chargers powered by the sun. That way you can keep your phones and GPS alive over time. If you, on the other hand, are camping in Tromsø in the winter, we recommend that you stack up on enough batteries. That way you’ll not be dependent on the sun for electricity – it’s completely gone between November and January after all.

 

8. Fish and cook with care

Catching and shacking your own food can be a huge part of the fun while camping. There are however some places where fishing is illegal. Always remember to check out the legality of fishing in the area you’re in, which species you are allowed to haul in, and if you need a permit (a “fiskeløyve”). Prepare your meal on a stove instead of an open fire, especially if the climate is hot and dry, as campfires constitute a greater risk to the forest.

 

9. Use, rent, repair!

Of course it’s tempting to have top-notch equipment on a hike, but that’s not necessarily the eco-friendliest alternative. Unless the location is particularly demanding, you really don’t need the best of the best. Use what you’ve got! And if you don’t have everything you need, you’ll find several places to rent equipment in the city. There’s also a lot of good options for buying used, e.g. the Facebook Marketplace – that way you won’t have to buy a brand new tent for a one-night-trip.

 

10. If you are buying something new – buy it green!

There are a lot of eco-friendly alternatives within the camping world. There is a steady increase in environmentally friendly equipment in both physical stores and online, as more and more customers are interested in the sustainability of their products. This includes BPA-free products and products that use recycled materials in their production.

 


 

These are just some of the actions you can take to minimize the impact of your camping trip on the amazing Norwegian wilderness. In the end it’s important to remember the age-old expression: “Take only pictures – leave only footprints”.

Norway can be an expensive holiday destination, and a common misconception is that you HAVE TO spend a lot of money to enjoy your trip. Do you know what? That is completely wrong! We are going to show you a variety of activities you can experience for free (or close to free) in the city of Tromsø – the Paris of the North.

The Sherpa-stairsskog med steintrapp

This is a hike starting in Tromsdalen, on the mainland part of Tromsø (a quick 20-minute walk from here at Tromsø Lodge & Camping!). The stairs were fully built by the Sherpa people of Nepal in 2017 and provides an amazing hike up towards Tromsø Cable Car (Fjellheisen) and Fløya. At the beginning of the hike you’re surrounded by birch trees until you reach the tree line. From there and onwards you get a view covering the whole island of Tromsø, and at the top of the mountain you’ll see genuine north-Norwegian nature as far as the eye can reach! Should the Sherpa trip not be enough, there’s possible to walk onwards to the top of the Fløya mountain after you’ve reached Fjellheisen and the nearby café.

Mountain Hiking

There’s also a lot of other free hikes in Tromsø. The Norwegian Trekking Association has markings along most of Tromsø’s hikes, and the easiest paths can be walked without much effort. Rødtind (470 MASL), Brosmetinden (525 MASL) and Nattmålsfjellet (297 MASL) are some of the mountains that have easy-to-follow hikes for everyone.

It is important to remember that the mountains in Tromsø are covered in snow for a long time, and you have to be cautious about avalanches. Check out this link provided by Varsom for a full overview of the safe and unsafe paths along the year: http://www.varsom.no/en/avalanche-bulletins/forecast/Tromsø/

Telegrafbukta

A short walk away from Tromsø city center lies the famous park Telegrafbukta. Here you’ll find beaches, a playground, fire pits and an elongated dock overlooking the ocean. This is the perfect place to enjoy a day outside with friends and family for grilling, swimming or a small picnic. Are you tough enough to swim in the ocean? The dock is perfectly placed if you want to swan dive into the chilly, northern sea water!

The botanical garden

Right next to the university of Tromsø you can find a beautiful garden with arctic plants from all around the world. The flowering season start in the beginning of May and lasts until the snow falls in October. The garden is not fenced in and is free for all visitors 24 hours a day. In the middle of the garden lies a cozy café that sells Norwegian waffles and pies – if you don’t mind spending a little money during your visit.

Museums and galleries

The city center of Tromsø is abound with museums and galleries, and a lot of them are free! Galleri NORD, Galleri Brevik and Krane Galleri are three of the most popular ones and contains exhibitions from a lot of local artists. Perspektivet Museum, where you can learn about the history of Tromsø, is the only museum with a free entry. On the other hand, a combo ticket for both Tromsø Museum and Polarmuseet costs only 80 NOK (roughly 9 dollars or 9 Euros)!

City walktromsø bibliotek

There’s a lot to explore along the streets of Tromsø. The city is full of historical buildings and landmarks. Tromsø Municipality has even made an overview of all the old buildings in the city center (https://www.tromso.kommune.no/tromsoe-bykart-fra-1931.5128709-274454.html)! If architecture is more your forte, there’s a lot of cool buildings to look at, for example Kystens Hus, the library and Polarmuseet. In addition to this, the city has a lot of hidden treasures scattered around. Can you find the 371 kg stone Eidis Hansen carried from the shoreline 200 years ago, allegedly because he was refused to buy booze from one of the local grocers?

Winter activities

The summer isn’t the only time when you can enjoy freebies in Tromsø. Sledding and playing in the snow is fun for kids and adults alike, and the park Charlottenlund at Tromsøya is open and free for all to visit. Here you’ll find long sledding hills, ice skating-rigs and ski runs to enjoy – as long as the weather allows you to. There’s a lot of nice cross-country ski runs to use in the winter, and one of the nicer ones starts right outside of us! Ski- and winter equipment can be rented for free at Turbo in the library building in town, so you have no excuses for not playing in the snow next winter!

Your Tromsø-cation does not have to be expensive. You can have a cozy time under the midnight sun in Telegrafbukta in the summer time, or watch the northern lights after hiking up Fløya via the Sherpa stairs in the winter. And the best part? Both experiences are completely free.

«17. of May we are so fond of, fun we will have from morn til eve!»

 

This is the first stanza in one of the most famous and dearest of our 17. May songs. This is the day when we celebrate the Norwegian liberation from Sweden, marking the day when the Norwegian constitution was signed at Eidsvoll in 1814. Norwegians all over the world mark May 17., and here in Norway we have very special traditions around the celebration. Who can celebrate the Constitution Day without ice cream, Vienna sausages, children’s parades and the Russ?

 

The parades

A parade of Norwegians in bunads. Photo.
Wikipedia.

The bunad shirt is ironed, the silver is polished, and the Norwegian flag is raised at dawn. Now we are ready for a full day of fun. A large part of the day is spent watching the parade going through the city centers in step with band music. Be it a children’s train, a Russ train or a folk train – Norwegians of all ages and with every possible interest have a place to walk in the 17th May parade. Here we get the opportunity to march around our city, and proudly show off both ourselves and what we are doing. The elementary schools usually make homemade banners for each grade in the children’s parade, and all kinds of unions, associations, and clubs makes their own show in the folk parade. You can’t help but smile and feel a sense of warm pride when you see how much life is created in the streets on the 17th of May.

 

 

 

The food

Who can eat the most ice cream and sausages on May 17th? Forget wise dietary advice – Vienna sausages, ice cream, and cotton candy is a normal diet for any Norwegian on the national day. Among the children, it is impressive to boast that one has been allowed to eat FOUR entire ice cream cones on May 17., regardless of how nauseous one really feels. The day is not called “barnas dag”, the children’s day, for no reason. On the other hand, it is very difficult to clean ketchup stains from the Vienna sausages off the bunad shirt afterwards, so be careful!

What about those without children? Among students and groups of friends it is common to start the day with a 17th of May breakfast. Young adults gather early in the morning and eat an extra nice breakfast together – preferably combined with some champagne or a mimosa. The champagne breakfast, as it is called, usually ends with a large pavlova cake before the group goes out to the city center to enjoy the national day.

 

 

The Russ

A group of blue and red Russ. Photo.
Wikipedia.

Before Norwegians graduate from upper secondary school, we celebrate Russetida, the Russ time. Here we buy a van or bus with friends, and party (almost) non-stop for a month before it all ends in a big Russ parade on May 17th. It is very easy to recognize the Russ – all go in matching overalls or pants in red, black or blue, and many wear parkas with their Russ logo. Most vans or buses buy or make their own logo with their Russ name, and those most excited commission a song to represent their group with. At most, the Russ can spend tens of thousands of dollars on the Russ time! During the celebration we drive around in our cars, gather with more Russ, and a couple of weekends in the year we go on national Russ meetings to party with other Russ from the rest of Norway. One thing is certainly true – it is the longest party most Norwegians will experience during their lifetime.

 

 

The bunad

The Norwegian national outfit is called bunad. There are dresses for the ladies, and suits for men, and they look different depending on which part of the country you come from. During the Constitution Day, you can see quite a few different types of bunad, and you can ask any Norwegian and they will happily tell you which region the dress is from. The costumes are based on Norwegian fashion from the 18th century and are often beautifully embroidered with elements from Old Norwegian tradition and Norwegian nature. On the other hand, there is a great disadvantage with the bunads; Most are made of wool and can get quite warm and itchy during the May 17. celebration – but that doesn’t stop us from wearing them!

 

 

May 17. abroad?

It is not only here in Norway that Norwegians celebrate the Constitution Day. The Norwegians who live abroad, or have Norwegian roots, share the same enthusiasm for the national day. Especially Norwegian embassies, churches, student organizations and other Norwegian institutions organize local celebrations in different cities. In Stockholm, Sweden, the May 17. celebration has become an annual tradition, and tens of thousands of Norwegians and Swedes gather and celebrate together. There are also May 17. programs in other cities, including Gothenburg, Luleå and Lund. Norwegian-Americans usually celebrate the day with Viking helmets, cowboy hats, Norwegian flags and homemade costumes in the Bay Ridge area of ​​Brooklyn, New York, on the Sunday closest to May 17. Similarly, Seattle, Washington has celebrated May 17. since 1889, and other major celebrations are held in locations such as London, Singapore, Florida, and Canada each year.

 

May 17. is thus a great day with many traditions. From the first celebration with the first children’s parade that was arranged in Oslo in the mid-1800s, to the present day with ice cream cones and sausages all over the country – Norwegians always have, and always will, love the national day. For us, May 17. is much more than just a day. It represents everything Norwegian, the free and the proud country we live in. If the sun shines through the birch trees, children’s laughter sounds from the center square, and the school choir plays in the distance, few are happier than us.

 


 

Did you know?

When a large crowd welcomed the steamship “Constitution” on May 17., 1829, with much cheering and singing, the authorities became nervous.

Henrik Wergeland, who, according to stories, came riding through Stortorget with a naked woman, was central to the street battles that have later been called “The Battle of the Square”. The peaceful crowd was chased away by cavalry and infantry, and this provoked strong opposition, which in turn led to a breakthrough for the May 17. celebration.

 

Sausages are a natural part of the national day for many. Nortura estimates that 20 million sausages are sold during the May 17. week, which accounts for just under four sausages per capita in the kingdom. In Eastern Norway, the Vienna sausages are the most popular, while in the rest of the country the grill sausages are the favorite.

 

Most of us eat between 5 and 10 times as much ice cream as we would otherwise on a regular spring day. And the better the weather is, the more ice cream we eat. How many liters of ice cream is consumed by Norwegians on this day is a well-kept secret among the ice cream makers, but Kroneis, “Crown Ice”, seems to be the favorite among young and old.

Norwegians love Easter so much that we are the country with the longest Easter holiday in the entire world – and not without reason. But what makes the Norwegian Easter so amazing?

Give a Norwegian skiing trips on the mountains, a distinguishable tanning line of their sunglasses, and a good crime novel, and you will have built a strong foundation for a perfect Easter celebration. The Easter in Norway is a week where mostly everything else except for quality time with the family and the cabin life is put away for the benefit of work and the stress of everyday life. Just ask any person from or living in Norway – the Easter holiday is the time for “kos”. The day starts with skiing and “Kvikklunsj”, with a planned break for “påskenøtter”, and ends with a thrilling “påskekrim” in front of the fireplace at the cabin.

 

«Hytta» (The Cabin)

In order to bring out the coziest of the cozy in the atmosphere, you should definitely spend your Easter at a “hytte” (English: cabin). Us Norwegian love to hide away from the stress of the city in the Easter, and if we stay at a cabin, we get just the perfect distance that we need. It’s even better if the cabin is close to the skiing tracks, has a sun-facing wall, and that the fireplace stays nice and warm. The cabin is the linchpin for Norwegian families in the Easter holidays. This is the place where we warm up after a chilly skiing trip, solve Easter crimes together, and scare ourselves with crime stories in the evenings. The cabin is truly the core of the Easter feeling.

 

Skiing (and “Kvikklunsj”)

A Norwegian chocolate bar, "Kvikklunsj", lying serenely in the snow. Photo.
Source: Wikipedia.

Picture this: the snow that fell through the winter has made a perfect powdery finish which sparkles with white over the mountains. The sun is sharp, but warms just hot enough for you to enjoy a cup of steaming hot cocoa by the cabin wall. The ski runs are freshly prepared, and your cross-country skis are freshly oiled with Blå Swix. This is the fairytale the Easter is all about. A popular saying in Norway reads “Norwegian are born with skis on their feet”, but around Easter time it seems like they are born with a Kvikklunsj bar (a milk chocolate-covered wafer chocolate) and oranges as well. Chocolate is such a big part of our Easter celebration that in the holiday and the following weeks, grocery stores sees a 30% increase in chocolate sales! There are few things better than a long skiing trip in the mountains while the sun shines hot, as long as you remember to memorize “Fjellvettreglene” (the Norwegian mountain code), and especially number 8 (“There’s no shame in turning back on time”).

 

 

 

“Påskenøttene”

Quizzes and the Norwegian Easter goes together hand in hand. Norwegians have gathered around the TV since the early 80’s to watch “Påskenøttene”. Påskenøttene is a highly popular family show on NRK (The Norwegian Broadcasting Cooperation), and consists of questions and riddles where you can win a prize for the correct answer at the end – usually a tiny radio. If you however don’t have access to a TV, you can find an assortment of magazines dedicated to Easter quizzes. If not, you will most likely find an old book of quizzes from 2010 at the cabin. One thing is for sure; Norwegians love to compete in everything, especially with our families. Just remember to brush of any old knowledge of Eurovision 2008 or the royal family of England, and you will be good to go for your next Easter quiz in the cabin.

 

“Påskekrimmen”

Påskekrimmen is also a huge part of the Norwegian Easter traditions. An Easter without a good crime novel or TV-series is not a proper Easter. It’s dark outside, the wind howls through the walls, and the trees are so covered in snow you can’t distinguish if the figure you see through your windows actually from the woods or something completely different. Spending your holiday at the cabin gives you a perfect crime-y atmosphere thorough the evening for a whole night of finding out who the real killer is. There’s not without reason that Scandinavian Noir has become a widely known book genre, so authors such as Jo Nesbø, Karin Fossum and Jørn Lier Horst gives you the basis of a real thrill in the holidays. However, if this happens to be too scary for your liking, you can just buy a carton of milk from Tine, and solve the mystery comic that’s on the back of the packet every Easter.

A pane from Tine's Påskekrim cartoon of 2019. Illustration.
Can you solve Tine’s “påskekrim”? Read it here.

If an Easter with skiing trips in glistening snow, tons of chocolate, and family joy at the cabin soundstempting to you, few other things probably do. The Easter traditions of the Norwegian people is amongst our highest valued tradition around the year – and for a good reason. We have a whole week’s worth of vacation where we don’t have to think about anything other than which ski oil is best or whether or not we remembered to pack the oranges for our trips – and we know how to appreciate it.

 

 

 

 


Would you like to spend your Easter like us Norwegians do? Get your booking for the cozy cabins here at Tromsø Lodge and Camping down below.


 

 

 

Did you know?

In total, Norwegians consume around 16 million bars of Kvikklunsj in a year, and one third of that is eaten at Easter time. Nidar, a popular Norwegian chocolate producer, make around 30 million chocolate covered figurines in the Easter. Only 5 million people live in Norway – didn’t we say we love our chocolate?

Eggs are a big part of the Norwegian diet thorough Easter. During the Easter holiday, we eat double the amount of eggs compared to any average week of the year. “How much egg can Norwegians actually eat during a week?”, you may ask. We eat around 150 000 kg (or 30 000 pounds)!

Grilling hot dogs on a stick over a bonfire is a huge part of the skiing trip. During the Easter week we eat around 250 million hot dogs! That’s 130 000 kg (26 000 pounds) of hot dogs roasted over an open fire in the mountains.

This blog post is written by our friends over at Tromsø Outdoor

 

Cross country skiing and snowshoeing: A way of commuting, a workout, a way of life, a tradition, a national sport. And of course, our favourite way to spend time close to the nature in the wintery world.


An ancient tradition

It is believed that snowshoeing and skiing were first practised in middle Asia about 4000 to 6000 years ago. Skiing found its beginnings in Scandinavian countries as much as 5000 years ago. It was predominant in Northern Europe, while people migrating east and into North America mastered the skills of snowshoeing rather than skiing.

The word “ski” comes from the Old Norse word skíð/skīth which means stick of wood. Skis were used to commute, hunt, collect taxes (sources from the 10th century mention that the king would send tax collectors out on skis) and conquer new land. The Norwegian Roald Amundsen was the first man in history to reach the South Pole on skis! Another Norwegian, Fridtjof Nansen, led the team that completed the first crossing of the Greenland interior in 1888.

Roald Amundsen. Photo from Store Norske Leksikon

Because of this, we like to brag that all Norwegians are born with skis on their feet!

Regardless of whether that true or not, cross-­country skiing definitely has a special place in Norwegian culture and history. There is no doubt that it is our national sport, and one of favourite winter activities.

 

While the most famous areas for cross country skiing in Norway are located in the central parts of the country, Tromsø and our northern Norway region has long and snowy winters. With prepared trails close to pristine wild areas, we have fabulous opportunities to practice or try cross country skiing.


Trying cross country skiing

If you have never tried cross country skiing before, the best idea is to join a short lesson with a ski instructor. This way you will learn how to put the skis on, take them off, fall, get up, find balance, walk and run with the skis first on flat terrain and then even in hilly terrain. Tromsø provides natural beauty as well as a scenic and relaxed environment for your first-time adventure on skis.

 

Do not be surprised that you will meet local people of all ages while on the trails! Tromsø is located on an island and adjacent peninsula right by the sea, with trails of various difficulty. It is the perfect destination for everybody wanting to enjoy time in nature. Typically, local people who see you learning to ski will stop to give you good tips and encourage you to practice. However, make sure you stay on the right side of the trail and do not get in the way of people working out! There is hardly any bigger crime in Norway than blocking a good, freshly groomed ski trail.

 

After a good introduction from a guide you will know the basics and will be ready to head out to continue practicing your newly gained skills. You may even dare to challenge yourself with some small hills.

Newbies should start with easier, groomed trails on the top of Tromsøya island or in Tromsdalen Valley (trails start by Tromsø Lodge and Camping, respectively). For more advanced skiers kilometres of trails in the mountains on the Mainland and on Kvaløya are waiting to be explored. You can also try your skills and go outside of the prepared trails. We recommend that you seek local advice on which destination might suit you best, particularly to ensure you don’t find yourself in avalanche terrain.

Finding the trails

This website provides current information about all cross country ski trails in Norway. It also have information about when they were groomed the last time (in hours and days). For Tromsø, look here.

You can rent skis locally and get great tips for your adventure on the spot. Usually you are within short walk distance of the closest trails (between 5 and 30 minutes depending on your location). Once you know all the trails in your area you can reach several new destinations with local buses.

 

When to go

The best time for cross country skiing is usually from the middle of January to the middle of April when the snow is good. The days are starting to get longer, and the northern lights keep us company during night ski runs. However, skiing can be possible at any time with favourable ski conditions – typically from the beginning of November until beginning/mid-May.

 

What to wear

To be well prepared to ski, bring some wind and waterproof clothes in layers. It is easy to get really warm when you ski – so a small backpack with water, some snacks or light food is a good idea to bring. Also, bring good gloves or mittens, a hat and fatty cream to protect your face from the cold and wind. If you come in February or later, when the sun is back, sunglasses and sunscreen are a must. It is also worth checking the weather forecast; the best conditions for skiing are right after a snowfall when the trails are freshly groomed.

 

And don’t to forget: bring your camera! Trails will lead you through spruce and birch forests, open lookouts and secluded valleys! Take home not only new skills, but also some great memories!

 

Maybe you want to try snowshoeing?

If you feel that skiing is too much for you, you may want to first start with snowshoeing. This activity does not need require any special skills and is perfect for everybody who would like to experience snow for the first time or does not feel like skiing yet.

 

Vi sees på tur!


Visit Tromsø Outdoor in Sjøgata 14!


Information about the activity


 

Winter is coming… How many times have you heard that one the last couple of years? Not enough, if you ask us. Because we can’t wait!

September is over, and the fall has brought us colours only the magical post-summer can bring. Trees has gone from green to leaves of yellow, red, and orange. The nights are darker, but the skies are illuminated by the ever-mysterious veil of the Northern Lights. During the day, the dusk rain puts an alluring filter on our view that no photo app can copy.

The fall is a beautiful and spellbinding time in the north – but soon it’s time to express a wistful goodbye, and once again welcome the winter.

 

Activity Bonanza!

As I am looking out the window, snowflakes descend from the sky, but melt once they hit the ground. Even though the thermometer teased us with dropping below zero last week, it’s going to be a while until the snow dominates our landscapes. However, not all winter activities require snow – and some of them have already begun!

 

Chase the Northern Lights

You may have heard of it, and you might have it on your bucket list (you are most definitely not alone). Some of you have even told us that it is your biggest dream in life, and we have no doubt why: Witnessing the Northern Light is an extraordinary, wonderful, and enchanted experience.

When the green Lady Aurora dances in the sky, you can’t help but stare.

It does not come as a surprise that both Vikings and the Sami people had close connections with the phenomenon. The Vikings considered the light to be dancing virgins waiting for them in Valhalla, and in Sami tradition it represents a supernatural power in which our ancestors live. If you want to read more about the history and science behind the Northern Light (and some bonus tips for how to find it) – read our earlier blog post about it here.

 

Visit the giants of the sea

In November, the whale watching companies start doing their trips from Tromsø. Join them and get an experience for life!

A couple years ago, the sea right outside Tromsø was boiling with whales. Giant and humble Humpbacks hunt their herring together with playful and incredibly intelligent Orcas. The feeling of communicating with these astonishing animals is inexpressible – you must be there to understand!

Last year the whales moved a little bit north from Tromsø, and it’s difficult to predict where they will pop up this year. However, our professional partners know exactly what they are doing, and will do what they can to bring you to this mesmerizing experience.

 

 

 

 

When in Rome Tromsø

It’s said that Norwegians are born with skis on their feet. Whether that’s true or not, we do love skiing! Cross-country skiing is one of our favourite activities, and it’s very easy to learn. When snow falls, we’ll set you up with some guides and equipment – so you get to experience snow in the most local way there is. If you rather want to go snowshoeing, you are welcome to join and learn how to walk as a literal bigfoot!

When you’ve become a true Norwegian, we invite you to take a historical step into our culture.

Dog power has been used for hunting and travel for four thousand years. Be part of history, and experience a real arctic adventure when driving your own team of dogs at the edge of Tromsø. You will get help from a guide that will help you to become a real “musher”.

Reindeer sledding is the oldest known form for transportation in the north, and is a very central part of the Sami culture. The Sami are the indigenous people of the North, and experiencing a reindeer sled tour with a visit to the Sami camp is a perfect way to get to know their culture.

These are just some of the activities we recommend while visiting Tromsø during the winter. Check out our activity-page to see more, and read about the ones you are more curious of.

Welcome to the Winter Wonderland!

Hiking: A tradition over 200 years

Norwegians have always felt close to the many mountains stretching through the entire country. We have been hunting, fishing, farming and extracting iron. It was not until breaking from Denmark about 200 years ago the need to experience the nature itself sprung out. The romantic era reached Norway, and people went hiking in fjords and mountains, in love with their country. It became so popular, a group of men formed The Norwegian Trekking Association (NTA) in 1868 to facilitate the hiking experiences. NTA built 16 cabins in the mountains during the first 50 years.

After a while, more and more people also wanted to experience the snow covered mountains in winter. This was very much inspired by Norwegian explorer Fridjof Nansen’s expeditions on skis. The popularity caused NTA to keep the cabins open at winter.

Hikers at Røisheim in the 1800’s. Photo from NTA

A Hideout During WWII

During the war, NTA doubled their numbers. Hiking was regarded as a protest to the occupation to so many people that the nazi government had to censor NTA’s lectures about mountains and hiking.

When the war was over, the activity in the mountains exploded. The Tourist Association of Stavanger began their book about the front in the mountain with these words (translated from Norwegian):

“It was the mountain who helped us during the occupation. It was never as nice to meet fellow Norwegians up there during these years. We have never seen our country, Mother Norway, as we do now”

– We got our hiking culture, we learned to know our country, concluded Aftenposten

 

Skiing to a mountain top in 1950. Photo from Aftenposten, by: Jan Stage/Scanpix

A City Surrounded by Mountains

Tromsø is blessed with mountains and nature right outside the doorstep. It will not take you more than a couple of minutes from you leave your house until you’ve already started climbing the mountain. This closeness is for many the reason they live here, and for many the reason to visit – both summer and winter.

The last years, hiking in the mountains has become more and more popular among visitors – and for a lot of them it’s the first time exploring the mountains. If you are looking for a hike that is both easy and provides fantastic views – check out this list by Nerd Nomads.

 

If you want a more challenging trip, we recommend having a look at this blog, by “Kugo” – a local enthusiast (Heads up: The blog is in Norwegian). Kugo’s goal is to be the first one to reach all mountains in Troms county that summits over 1000 meters over sea level. There are 666 of them!

Regardless if you are experienced or not, it is very important to know your own limits, and plan according to the weather.

The New National Sport

Mountain top tours during the winter is also getting more and more popular. Many will probably point out that this is nothing new, but during the last years the sport has spread very wide.

With the right equipment you can ski to the mountain top, where you detach your skins and slalom your way down – feeling free as never before. No one will tell you how fast to go, and you immerse yourself in the never dissapointing surroundings. Regardless if you are on your first or your 100th trip, you will feel a closeness to the nature that can’t be described.

As during the summer, Tromsø is also spoiled with endless mountains to go skiing on during the winter. The closest one only a couple of minutes away from the city. The area has both short and long tours, there will always be something suited for your experience level. In addition, we have snow in the mountains for a very long time – allowing you to go mountain top touring even in May.

If you are staying at Tromsø Lodge & Camping, you are placed right between beautiful mountains, and everything is facilitated for your wish to go touring before relaxing in your own private cabin.

 

At Finlandsfjellet on Kvaløya you will have a good view of Tromsø on your way down

If you are going mountain top touring, you have to prepare well. Especially in terms of the avalanche risk, as you have to be 100 % sure you are safe. Have a look at the Avalanche forecast, and ask local enthusiasts if you are unsure of the risk. The correct equipment could also be the difference between a good and a fantastic trip. If you need any help or tips, ask our receptionists – they are always prepared to help you get the best experience possible.

 

We hope that you get to experience what Tromsø has to offer, and we would love to hear your stories from hiking in the area. And remember, prepare – and be safe.

After a long discussion we have finally made a list of our favourite Norwegian candy. Some of them are more traditional and some are rather new inventions. All of these can be bought at the local grocery store.

Smash!

Salted corn kernels covered in chocolate. In our opinion it is a perfect combination of sweet and salty. If you ask the younger generation some of them will refer to themselves as “Smash-addicts”. It is also said that it is impossible to only eat one.

Lefse

This is one of the most traditional Norwegian pastries. There are many different types of Lefse, some are sweet and some are not. The one pictured below is soft and made with wheat flour, in between the layers there is butter, sugar and cinnamon. In Lise’s opinion the square ones, called “Klenning”, is the best. Of course, if you have the luxury of buying them fresh from the local bakery – do so.

 

Freia chocolate

We’re very proud of our milk chocolate here in Norway, and we feel that you just have to taste it. Freias slogan is “A little piece of Norway” and it is quite suitable. The 200 gram chocolate plate comes in endless variations, just visit the store an check it out.

 

Sørlandschips

Thick potato slices with peel, super crispy and extremely tasty. All of us here at the reception love it, and we’re pretty sure you’ll love it too!

 

Kvikk Lunsj

This is the Norwegian outdoor chocolate, we always take it with us when we’re out hiking. We have had it since 1937 and are extremely proud of it. It is four crispy biscuit bars covered in chocolate. It might look similar to KitKat, but we promise you it is so much better!

 

 

We hope you like our favourites and enjoy your stay here at Tromsø Lodge & Camping.

Best wishes from
Lise, Siri and Erlend at the Reception

Book accommodation

We welcome you to a pleasant stay here at Tromsø Lodge & Camping. We do everything we can to help you get a pleasant stay.

We look forward to your visit.

Come chat with us at the reception or give us a call or an email if there are any questions.