Museum building in Muségata from 1894

Learn about the history of Tromsø

There are many ways to learn about Tromsø’s past:

Elverhøy church was originally erected in the city centre in 1803 and later restored and moved to its present-day location on the top of Tromsø island.  

Hella and the Stone Age carvings at Skavberget: Hella is approximately 30 kilometres from Tromsø city centre and is known as a unique recreational area with picturesque rocks facing Rystraumen. Hella is a cultural-historical gem and an important recreational area for Tromsø residents. Several historical buildings from Tromsø were moved to the site and placed in a street aptly called ‘Tromsøgata’. The Stone Age rock carvings at Skavberg are a short distance from Hella. The carvings were discovered in 1950 and it is estimated that some of the carvings date from as early as 7,000 B.C.

The Catholic Church in Tromsø was built in 1861, the same year as Tromsø Cathedral. The church survived the city fire in 1969 with only some water damage. It was in the Catholic bishop’s official residence, which overlooks the Main Market Square, that Pope John Paul II spent the night during his visit to Tromsø in June 1989. 

Mack Brewery was founded by Ludwig Mack in 1877. Ølhallen pub opened in 1928 which meant that the local men now had their sanctuary, a bustling environment enjoyed by fishermen, trappers, farmers and townspeople. Ølhallen is Tromsø's oldest pub and it is possible to take an extensive tour of Mack's historical premises.

The Arctic University Museum of Norway (Tromsø Museum) - A number of exhibitions offer an insight into northern Norwegian history and nature, from exciting wildlife and the earth's own history to the stories of Sami culture, Stone Age people and the Vikings in the north. They have a rich collection of art from northern Norwegian churches and a Northern Lights section. 

Perspektivet Museum, Folkeparken and Straumen Gård - Challenging exhibitions on historical and contemporary themes and contributions to alternative perspectives on culture and society. Perspektivet museum is housed in a listed patrician house from 1838. The museum also owns two open-air facilities: Folkeparken is located at the southern tip of Tromsøya, while Straumen Gård is in Straumsbukta on Kvaløya, about 35 kilometres from Tromsø city centre. Straumen farm consists of ten buildings, most of which date from around the middle of the 19th century.

The Polar Museum in Tromsø relates stories related to the history of Tromsø city and the Arctic, trappers such as Henry Rudi and Wanny Woldstad, the expeditions of Roald Amundsen and Fridtjof Nansen and the cultural history of Svalbard.

Skansen and the old wooden buildings along the quay - Skansen was probably built between 1000 and 1200 A.D. The Festningsvollen (fort embankment) is the best preserved of its type in Norway. The oldest house on Skansen was built between 1789-1793 and is the oldest documented house in the city centre. Skansen had a customs office and residence for the customs office before Tromsø was given city status in 1794.

Tromsø is the northernmost city whose buildings were not destroyed by the bombing and burning during World War II. The city therefore still has a good collection of older wooden houses in the city centre dating from 1789.

Tromsø Cathedral is located right in the heart of Tromsø city centre. The church was erected in 1861 and is Norway's only Protestant cathedral built in wood.

Verdensteatret is northern Europe's oldest cinema that is still in operation. The cinema was originally built for silent film screenings and the cinema was opened on 4th June 1916.

Go on a boat trip with Hermes II, a beautifully restored wooden boat from 1917. Experience beautiful surroundings, peace and tranquility at sea as well as the exciting history of this unique wooden boat.

Join a historical City Walk with Tromsø Budget Tours with a focus on the city's centuries-long history.