The best way to see the northern lights is simply to make sure you stay as much as possible outside at night (all wrapped up of course).
Dog sledding is really good fun, and gives you the chance to get away from most of the light pollution in town.
Hiring some cross country skis and venturing out into the free lit slopes on the island is another cheap and fun activity.
If you are really set on the northern lights, and don't have much time, a guided northern lights hunt with someone like Guide Gunnar is a good option. They will take you out of town, and even go as far as the Finnish border with you to find the lights.
Otherwise - the best thing is to allow for more than one or two days- a week or longer obviously increases your chances.
Another good idea is to go on one of the many northern lights cruises. Onboard, the captain will let you know over the loudspeaker if there is northern lights activity - which means you don't have to stay outside in the cold all evening :)
Here's a good overview of what northern lights packages are available: http://iglobetrotter.com/norway/northern-lights/northern-lights-holidays
You can see the striking architecture of the Artic Cathedral from across the river
We strolled across the bridge from the town centre, braving the icy roads and wind. We were lucky enough to catch some of the choral rehearsal for the festival of lights
If you're lucky enough to be in Tromso during January, as we were, you get the chance to see the sunrise and sunset within a few hours. Great for taking photos, as the light changes every few minutes.
Here's a few shots taken from around the town centre.
This is great museum to visit. To start with the building itself is interesting as it looks as though it is falling down, although it's supposed represent ice floes that have been pressed up on land by the rough seas of the Arctic.
Inside there is a cinema which shows you a great view of the landscape of the Tundra. Also there is a tundra walkthrough
There are also four seals, which are kept here for scientific research reason, although this sounds worse than it is. The seals put on a show with thier handlers.
Give yourself a few hours in here
The Polar Museum is housed in a restored wharfside warehouse from the 1830s. In a picturesque maritime setting of old houses with the 1789 Skansen complex next door, the Polar Museum is a pearl of old Tromsø. The museum contains exhibits about our proud Arctic history, both trapping and polar expeditions.
I have spent not more than two hours to walk from the centre of the city to the cable car, use it to the top and going back to the hotel. The Trip over the Bridge was nice and the houses are beautiful in July, surrounded by flowers and green trees. If you will be lucky enough and the sky will be clear the view over the city is great.
If the weather is bad you can find your inspiration with the local Mack... I haven't been so lucky as you will see in the photos below.
Unfortunately i couldnt do this but maybe one day i will be back one summer and if so i would definitely do this! ie taking the cable car 420 metres up Mt Storsteinen for panoramic views of the area.
I couldnt do during my winter visit as it opens only April to September with the added bonus of being open until 1 am on clear nights during the midnight sun ie 20 May to 20 August.
Take bus No 26 from Stortorget harbour.
Take note of the amazing architecture and design that is the Tromso library!!! and its ?similarities with the Sydney Opera House and Arctic cathedral!?
Also the building across the road from the modernist Town Hall is quite contemporary too.
The beautiful Town Hall - or Radhus.
Walking along one of the main streets that was recommended for seeing lovely old wooden building, Storgata Street, i came across not only beautiful old buildings but beautiful modern buildings!
Very impressed by the striking architecture and designs around Tromso!
The city centre has many wooden period buildings and i took opportunity to see as many as i could around the city centre, particularly up the street Storgata, before it got dark
- and particularly the 1861 cathedral, Tromso Domkirke, which is one of Norway's largest wooden cathedrals.
As my Lonely Planet guidebook for Scandanavia recommended i wandered up Storgata to see old wooden buildings around the old city centre -
In addition to the Domkirke, one of Norways largest wooden church, there were several interesting and rather lovely churches each of different denominations that i came across.
Had to take lots of care though as the roads and footpaths were very icey! and the light was going - making the most of it till the end!
Tromsoy, which is the site of the first settlement of Tromso, is an island between the large island of Kvaloy and the mainland which is linked by the 1 km bridge over and tunnel under the strait to the mainland.
Unlike many towns north of here from Lyngen up to the east of Kirkenes, which were torched by the retreating German Army, the old town centre is still fairly intact with numerous old buildings giving character and quaintness.
And as already shown buildings that have been replaced have been replaced with very dynamic architectural designs which i think show just how lively and dynamic this municipality is!
Very interesting how design seems to be so incorporated into the lifestyles of the people up here - or is the Norwegians in general!
Lovely architecture with both old and new buildings - and when i diverted off the main street to a street uphill when i saw some more interesting buildings in that direction i came across yet another statue of someone - waist deep in snow so i dont know who he represents.
Back at the Domkirke theres an interesting mother with child statue, and of course Roald Amundsens representation and the rather interesting fisherman in his boat down at the small bay of the old city centre!
Tromso Domkirke, the 1861 Cathedral of Tromso is one of Norway's largest wooden churches.
I thought it was rather beautiful and glad that the sun came out and was shining on it and around it after getting off at the harbour in the shadow of nearby buildings and hurrying up towards the town centre to see the wooden period buildings that i had read abounded around the old city centre.
It was sadly locked though so i could only make the most of seeing it from the outside - in contrast to the beauty of the main building itself it had quite an ugly door with padlock keeping it locked!
So i managed to get quite a number of photos of this lovely wooden church covered in rather striking patterns and designs - in between also the brief snow and sleet falls!
This changeable weather and early sunsets and therefore short days is all part of being up in the Arctic - some very beautiful scenes but the daylight hours esp for photo taking are all too short...!
I walked over the one kilometre in length bridge that takes you from the island of Tromsoy, which was the first settlement of Tromso and where the Hirtigruten Coastal Voyage boats stop and depart again from and so where i started my sightseeing of Tromso from, in the freezing temperature and the dark that it was by then at 5pm in the February winter and headed over the bridge to see the Arctic cathedral!
This modern church building that also looks something like the Sydney Opera House (a popular design here in Norway?! as not the first building ive seen up this way that looks like the Sydney Opera house!) was built symbolising the arctic darkness and the northern lights.
It certainly is a prominent landmark and can be seen from quite a far, and it actually looks it best from a distance. Its just visible in my photos taken at 'dusk' (230in the afternoon!) from the boat as the houses of Tromso became visible.
There were numerous people making their way down the slippery snow and ice covered paths and road crossings to the cathedral - there was a church service about to commence so i unfortunately could not visit it as a tourist and get photos of Europe's largest glass mosaic, measuring 140 square metres!, that is in this church (but as a tourist i could, as we professional travellers do!, take opportunity to find my way in to use the toilets which was becoming a matter of urgency with my long trek and the cold winter air?!)