The best way to see a city is on a bike. Doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or rainy, crowded or quiet, hot or cold. You’ll notice parts of town that you just can’t when you’re in an Uber, on foot, or in a bus. It’s a different experience entirely, and one that I wholeheartedly recommend.
Let’s talk about Tromsø. It’s a small island city in Norway well north of the Arctic Circle. It’s sunny all day in the summer and dark for most of the winter. My first impression came from a Google image search: Northern lights and Norwegians skiing behind reindeer. I was sold.
We visited in late April. Temperatures during the day were above freezing, though we were welcomed with four inches of snow our first night. The sky never really got dark. Even at midnight, the northwest horizon was still orange with the sunset. The sun promptly rose at 3:45am, though it never went far–when you stay in a room with white walls and no blinds, you tend to notice the exact time of the sunrise.
Finding an outfitter that rented bicycles was simple. A couple shops in town had fat bikes available. We ended up with a set of Salsa Mukluks and laughed about how we traveled thousands of miles just to ride bikes from a company based in our hometown. The folks at the shop sent us off with a map and directions to ski trails across the fjord from the city.
Something happened when we got to the ski trails. The further we got from the trailhead, the more people we saw enjoying the snow. We’re talking men, women, families with tiny children, dogs of all sorts (especially shiba inus, for some reason), and kids just shredding the trails who must have had families out there somewhere. Five miles from the trailhead was a picnic area that was filled with only happy people. We rode mashed-potato snow until the trail met the valley wall and had to turn around to head back to the city for beer, seafood, and further carrying on.
Wherever you go, find a way to rent a bike and explore. City, country, suburbs(?), anywhere. Bonus points for snow.