Resembling slabs of iceberg tumbling up against the shoreline, Polaria sits on the Tromsø quayside a short walk from the cruise port. It is built in similar style to the Arctic Cathedral, which sits across the water on the mainland in Tromsdalen. Polaria is the brainchild of Norwegian architectural practice JAF and opened in 1998 as the first aquarium within the Arctic Circle. Aimed largely at educating folks on life in high-north Norway, the center has a wrap-around, 3-D screen showing movies that swoosh giddily through the Arctic wilderness and highlight the magical displays of the Northern Lights – both cleverly set to rock music—as well as interactive exhibits and informative displays highlighting the effects of global warming on the Arctic ice cap. The aquarium specializes in fish found in northern latitudes, including char, salmon and vast snow crabs, but the undoubted highlights of a visit to Polaria are the comical bearded seals splashing around in their icy cold pool; their antics during feeding sessions at 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. daily are a joy to behold.
Polaria is located at Hjalmar Johansensgate 12 and is open daily from May 18 to August 31 from 10 a.m to 7 p.m. It is also open September 1 through May 17 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adults admission costs NOK120, while seniors enter for NOK85, students for NOK70 and children for NOK60. A family ticket costs NOK280.