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Friday, 21 December 2012

Tromsø, Norway

The city of Tromsø lies in the Land of the Midnight Sun.  It is the northernmost university city in the world.  At a latitude above 69 degrees north, this north Norwegian city is well within the Arctic Circle.  During the summer months, the sun doesn't set for around 2 months.  Conversely, on the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, the sun will not have been seen since late November.  It will be a couple of weeks into 2013 before Tromsø is next touched by direct sunlight.

Although Tromsø is the second largest settlement in the Arctic (the largest is Murmansk in Russia), it is a relatively small city with around 60,000 inhabitants.  Most of the city, including the centre, is on the island of Tromsøya.  Outlying parts of the city are on the mainland to the east, or on the island of Kvaløya to the west.  Road bridges connect these areas to Tromsøya.



The city's transport network is provided by buses.  Most of the buses are standard, two-axle single-deck vehicles with two sets of doors.

























 










Where higher capacity is required, this is provided by longer three-axle vehicles.











 
Tickets can be bought on the bus or in advance from a number of outlets in the city.  A flat fare of 40 NOK applies within Tromsø if you pay the driver, or 30 NOK for tickets bought in advance, clearly encouraging passengers to buy from sales points away from the bus.  When I visited Tromsø in 2010, a single ticket allowed unlimited transfers for up to 75 minutes.  Full information about Tromsø's bus services is available in Norwegian only on the Tromskortet website.  The Visit Tromsø website includes a useful summary in English.
In addition to the bus services, Tromsø has a cable car.  This carries tourists to a viewpoint high above the city.

Although it usually operates all year round, the cable car is currently closed for maintenance, and not expected to reopen until May 2013.








Heading out of Tromsø, local buses also operate to nearby settlements on land, while ferries provide links to communities on the nearby islands.





Tromsø is not served by rail - the nearest station, Narvik, is a 4-hour journey by coach.  Coaches provide longer distance links over land across northern Norway, while the famous Hurtigruten coastal ferry calls at Tromsø on its spectacular, once-daily voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes, close to Norway's border with Russia.  The northbound voyage docks in Tromsø for 4 hours during the afternoon while the southbound vessel is in port around midnight.  The end-to-end journey from Bergen to Kirkenes takes 5½ days.

The image below shows the northbound voyage leaving Tromsø.  In the background is the Arctic Cathedral, one of Tromsø's most recognisable landmarks, built in 1965.

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