All You Need To Know To Book A Tromsø Northern Lights Tour

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Are you traveling to Tromso and want to see the Northern Lights? Then you have probably already realized that there are many ways to see the Northern Lights in Tromso. I have lived in Tromso all my life, and in this article, I will tell you the best places to see the northern lights in Tromso both on your own and by joining a tour.

We’ll cover the many different types of northern lights tours available and what to expect if you go on a Tromso Northern Lights tour. Finally, we’ll reveal which tours we think are the best and tell you some cool facts about this magical light show and what causes it. 

It is cold, the clock is ticking towards midnight, and we are standing on a frozen lake in the middle of nowhere in a remote valley outside of Tromso city in Northern Norway. All evening we have been out chasing the Northern Lights.

It is so cold that the snow squeaks under our feet as we walk, and when we breathe out, vapor streams out of our mouths – the temperature has just dropped to a rather chilly minus seventeen degrees Celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit).

We are far away from the city with its lights and houses, surrounded by complete darkness — no lights except the faint glow from the camera screen. I have seldom felt this close to nature before, excited and hopeful….will the Northern Lights show up this evening?!

And yes, it does to its fullest! We are lucky this evening and get to witness nature’s most impressive fireworks – the magical Northern Lights in all its colors!

Northern Lights Tromso Norway
Northern Lights in Tromso – Nature’s spectacular firework!

In this Tromso Northern Lights guide, we give you all about this spectacular natural phenomenon and the best ways to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø.

What Are The Best Northern Lights Tours In Tromso?

Over the years, our readers have taken a lot of northern lights tours in Tromso, and the tours below consistently get excellent feedback. You can check the current prices and read more reviews before booking by clicking the links.

From Tromso: Aurora Borealis Tour

♦ Duration: 6 hours
♦ Time: 19:00/ 7 pm – 01:00 am

Northern Lights in Ersfjord, Tromso.
Northern Lights at Ersfjord in Tromso

This Northern Lights Tour by bus is one of Tromso’s best Northern Lights tours. Two experienced Northern Lights guides will guide you to the best places to see the Aurora depending on the weather and aurora activity. You get hot drinks, warm thermal clothes/suits, a hat, gloves, boots, and a tripod for your mobile phone or camera. You will be pick-up at Scandic Ishavshotel in downtown Tromso and dropped off at your hotel after the tour.

The professional northern lights guides will take you to the mountains, fjords, and valleys outside of Tromso. The guides will help you take stunning northern lights photos during the trip.
Click here for the latest prices on the Tromso Aurora Borealis Tour

4×4 Small-Group Northern Lights Photography Tour

♦ Duration: 6 hours
♦ Time: 17:30/ 5:30 pm – 23:30/ 00:30 am. In March & April they head out a little later to get the darkness
♦ Season: September, October, November, December, January, February, March & April

On this small group (max eight people) Northern Lights Photography Tour, professional guides will teach and help you take the perfect Northern Lights shots with your camera or phone. You also get to borrow a tripod for your camera. The guides will email you professional northern lights photos taken from your tour when the tour is over.

During the tour, you will be served warm homemade soup in front of the campfire. You will not freeze as you get to rent warm and comfortable thermal suits, as well as hand and foot warmers. Your guide will pick you up and drop you off afterward at your accommodation in Tromso.
Click here for the latest prices on the Small-Group Northern Lights Photography Tour

Unique Northern Lights Tours In Tromso

Not all northern lights tours go by minivan, and you have many options in Tromso. There are dog sledding trips, fjord cruises, sailing trips, snowshoeing, reindeer, and snowmobile northern lights tours.

These types of tours are a great way to experience the northern lights. You’re doing a fun activity while hopefully seeing the aurora.

The only downside is that these tours typically don’t cover the same large area as a minivan tour. So your chances of seeing the northern lights are not quite as high. But even if you should be unlucky and do not see the northern lights, you have had a fun and exciting experience.

Northern Lights Cuisine Cruise by Electric Catamaran

♦ Duration: 3,5 hours
♦ Time: 19:00/ 7 pm – 22:30/ 10:30 pm
♦ Season: October, November, December, January, February & March

On this Northern Lights cruise, you will head out to the sea and fjords surrounding Tromsø on the brand new silent electric catamaran Brim Explorer. The catamaran has a fantastic warm and cozy lounge with big floor-to-roof windows so that you can enjoy a 360-degree view of the Northern Lights and the Arctic landscape from inside. You can, of course, also enjoy the Northern Lights from the deck.

Silent electric ship Brim in Tromso
The new electric ship Brim Explorer does Northern Lights tours including a delicious dinner

You will be served a delicious Arctic local dinner made from fresh and local ingredients, including dessert. The professional guides on board will tell you about the surrounding landscape and point out highlights along the way. They will also launch an underwater drone with lights so that you can see what’s underneath the sea as well. Maybe you’ll spot a whale or seal?
Click here for information and the latest prices on the Silent Northern Lights Cusine Cruise

Northern Lights Dog Sledding Tour With Dinner

♦ Duration: 4 hours
♦ Time: 18:45/ 6:45 pm – 23:00/ 11 pm
♦ Season: November, December, January, February & March (when there is snow)

If you like dogs and want to try out dog sledding, then this Northern Lights Dog Sledding Tour, where you get to combine dog sledding with watching the Northern Lights, is perfect!

Dog sledding Tromso Norway
Us on a dog sledding day tour in Tromso in January. It was too early in the day to see the Northern Lights but tours also run in the evening.

Dog sledding is great fun, and I highly recommend it! It’s hard to match the feeling of slowly gliding through the stunning Arctic nature surrounded by mountains and fjords while the Northern Lights dance above your head. All you hear is the sound of the dogs. It is a memory for life!

This tour starts at 18:45 (6:45 pm) when a bus picks you up at the Radisson Blu Hotel in downtown Tromso and drives you to Tromso Wilderness Center on Kvaloya, a 20-min drive.  Here they have a camp of 300 friendly huskies. Once you get to the Husky camp, you get to put on a warm and comfortable thermal suit and warm winter boots. So you will not be cold. You will also get to borrow headlamps.

Then it’s off to a one-hour thrilling dog sledding ride (4 km) through a stunning landscape of mountains and fjords, where you will hopefully get to see lots and lots of Northern Lights. You will be guided by experienced dog mushing guides all the way, so you don’t need any dog sledding experience to do this tour.

You can also choose not to drive/ mush the dogs yourself but sit in the sled. This is especially suitable for young children and those with mobility problems, or if you want a more relaxed tour and focus on taking photos.

After the dog sledding, you can cuddle with the furry and friendly huskies. The husky pups are so cute! ♥ Then it’s time for something to eat, and inside the big warm Lavvo (Sami-inspired tent), there is a campfire and a hot meal of Bacalao (stockfish in tomato sauce, vegetarian options as well). The total time for this dog sledding tour is approximately four hours (including transport and dinner), 18:45 (6:45 pm) – 23:00 (11 pm).
Click here for more information and the latest prices on the Dog Sledding Northern Lights Tour

Northern Lights Reindeer Feeding & Sledding Tour

♦ Duration: 6 hours
♦ Time: 18:45/ 6:45 pm – 1 am
♦ Season: December, January, February & March (when there is snow)

If you dream of meeting real and friendly reindeer, where you get to feed them, cuddle, and go reindeer sledding, then you have to dream no more – this Northern Lights Reindeer Feeding and Sledding Tour is it!

This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and if you are lucky, you even get to see the fantastic Northern Lights while cuddling or sledding with the reindeer.

At the reindeer camp, you will be served a traditional Sami meal called Bidos (a reindeer meat soup), or you can choose a fish soup or vegetable soup. You get to sit inside a Lavvo (Sami tent) around a warm and cozy bonfire.

You will meet and learn about the Sami people – the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Russia. The Sami guide will tell you about their culture of herding reindeers and will perform a Joik, a traditional Sami folk song. It is a terrific experience! They will pick you up at the Scandic Ishavshotel in downtown Tromso at 18:45, and you are back around midnight.
Click here for more information and the latest prices on the Northern Lights Reindeer Tour

Northern Lights Fjord Sailing Tour

♦ Duration: 3 hours
♦ Time: 21:30/ 9:30 pm – 00:30 am
♦ Season: September, October, November, December, January, February & March

This Northern Lights Fjord Sailing Tour combines a fjord cruise with watching the Northern Lights.

On this tour, you will sail through the beautiful fjord and mountain landscape that surrounds Tromso on a luxurious catamaran sailboat. You get to sit inside the warm and cozy boat and watch the Northern Lights flashing over the sky outside, or you can walk onto the deck outside to see it even better. Up to you.

You get served snacks, coffee, and tea on board the cozy sailboat.

The catamaran sailboat is anchored right by the Scandic Ishavshotel in downtown Tromso. The fjord trip takes about three to four hours, and along the way, you will be served hot drinks and snacks. The experienced guide and skipper will tell you all about the Northern Lights and the fjords and mountain landscape that you sail through. You get to wear warm and comfortable safety suits and can sit outside or inside and watch the Northern Lights and the beautiful Arctic nature.

The departure is at 21:30 (9:30 pm), and you arrive back in Tromso at 01:30 am.
Click here for more information and the latest prices on the Northern Lights Sailing Tour

Northern Lights Hiking Tour

♦ Duration: 7 hours
♦ Time: 16:45/ 4:45 pm – 00:00/ midnight
♦ Season: September, October, November, December, January, February & March

If you are seeking a real Arctic adventure where you get to experience the Arctic wilderness, then you should join this Northern Lights Hiking Tour.

A hike is one of the best ways to experience the stunning mountain and fjord landscape of Tromso and see the Northern Lights in a dark and remote area. It is an unforgettable wilderness experience!

Best Northern Lights Tour in Tromso Norway
Espen enjoying the Northern Lights on a hiking trip in Tromso

On this tour, you go on a hiking trip (2 km in flat and easy terrain) through the beautiful mountain and fjord landscape of Tamok Valley outside of Tromso city. After the hike, you are served a delicious dinner in a Sami tent (called Lavvu) where you get to warm up around the bonfire while the guide tells funny and interesting stories about the Northern Lights. You are provided with everything you need on this hiking trip – an insulated suit, warm hiking boots, gloves, headwear, and a headlamp.

The whole tour takes about seven hours, including bus transport (75 min), a guided hiking trip, and dinner.
Click here for information and the latest prices on the Northern Lights Snowshoeing Tour

Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour

♦ Duration: 7 hours
♦ Time: 16:45/ 4:45 pm-midnight
♦ Season: December, January, February & March (when there is snow)

If you have a need for speed and want to watch the Northern Lights at the same time, then a Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour is the one for you!

On this tour, you will go on a fun and thrilling snowmobile adventure trip through the valley Tamokdalen right outside of Tromso city (a 75-min drive from Tromso).

Northern Lights Snowmobile tour in Tromso
Go on a thrilling snowmobile tour through the winter landscape in Tamokdalen Valley

The valley Tamokdalen is inland, and here the chances are higher of getting a clear sky and some spectacular Northern Lights than in Tromso. Here the weather is drier and more stable than in Tromso which is on the coast. Plus there are hardly any houses or artificial lighting in Tamokdalen, making this the perfect place to watch the Northern Lights!

You don’t have to know anything about snowmobiles or how to ride a snowmobile to join this tour. Your friendly and welcoming English-speaking snowmobile guide will teach you everything you need to know to safely ride a snowmobile. You will get everything you need, a warm and comfortable insulated bodysuit, winter boots, gloves, headwear, and a headlamp.

After 2-3 hours of snowmobile ride (30 km), you will be served a delicious hot meal and coffee inside a cozy lavvu (Sami tent) with a bonfire. The perfect ending to a great evening out in the wilderness with (hopefully) lots of Northern Lights.

This evening snowmobile tour includes transport from and back to Tromso by bus, where the bus ride in itself is a guided sightseeing trip of the beautiful Tromso area. They will pick you up in downtown Tromso at 16:45 (4:45 pm), and you will be back at 23:45 (11:45 pm).

If you like some speed and action and want to see the unspoiled wilderness of mountains, fjord, and valleys topped with spectacular Northern Lights, then you will have the time of your life on this tour!
Click here for the latest prices on the Northern Lights Snowmobile Tour (choose the Evening excursion)

What To Consider When Choosing A Tromso Northern Lights Tour

There are a lot of Northern Lights Tour to choose from in Tromso. While it’s cool to have lots of options, it can also make it a bit challenging to pick the right one. Which tour is best for you depends on how you want to see the Northern Lights and if you want to combine it with some activities.

Chasing Northern Lights in Tromso Norway
Northern Lights at Kattfjordvatnet on Kvaloya (Whale Island) just outside of Tromso city

The classic Northern Lights tours are done either by large bus or by minivan. The large bus tours are generally a little cheaper since the tour groups are much larger. But the small group tours offer more for the money, including photos, warm clothes, a bonfire to warm yourself on, etc. So we recommend going with a small group tour if you can.

Most Northern Lights tours start from downtown Tromso where the tour company picks you up. On the small group tours, warm clothes and thermal boots are usually provided for you, although you should wear warm underwear, a hat, and mittens/gloves. See our post on what to pack for northern Norway for more tips on what clothes to bring.

The exact duration of the tour varies but most last 6 or 7 hours, which might seem like a long time, but gives you the best chance of seeing the northern lights.

The best tours include a light meal, a bonfire, and a photographer that will help you take your own northern lights photos as well as take photos of you and your friends.

What Are The Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, also called Aurora Borealis, is a natural light phenomenon that can be seen in the northern hemisphere. It is most potent above the Arctic Circle (60-degree latitude) like in Northern Norway and Tromso, our hometown.

The Northern Lights can take many shapes and colors, and they can move fast or be more static. It commonly appears as glowing bands of light across the night sky and can sometimes form a “curtain”. Green is usually the most dominant color, but it can also appear with a mix of blue, pink, and even red.

Spectacular Northern Lights in Norway
Northern Lights can move incredibly fast, almost like it’s dancing!

It was named Aurora Borealis by Galileo as far back as 1619 after Aurora – the Roman goddess of dawn, and Boreas – the Greek name for the north wind.

The Northern Lights occur when solar wind packed with charged particles comes into Earth’s magnetosphere and crash into the upper atmosphere, where their energy create dancing, colorful waves of light that flashes across the sky.

How To See The Northern Lights In Tromso

The first thing you need to decide is whether you want to go chasing the northern lights on your own or join a Northern Lights tour.

If you have a car and feel comfortable driving in arctic conditions, then going on the chase on your own can be a fantastic experience. You can read more about our recommended places to see the Northern Lights on your own further down in this article.

You can, at rare times, see the northern lights from downtown Tromso or by, for instance, taking the cable car up the nearby Fløya mountain. But it requires perfect conditions with a clear dark sky and strong northern light activity, and those days don’t happen very often.

Nortern lights above Tromso
Northern lights above Tromso. The photo is shot from Fløya mountain.

So for most people, I would recommend going on a Northern Lights Tour to give yourself the best chance of seeing it, especially if you are only in Tromso for a few days.

The northern lights tour guides are highly skilled and experienced in reading the weather forecast and the Northern Lights forecast. They know the area very well and will go where it is most likely that the Northern Lights will appear on that specific day.

The guides really chase the Northern Lights and will drive you all over Northern Norway and sometimes across the border to Finland and Sweden to show you the Northern Lights. In short, joining a tour will dramatically increase your chances of seeing them.

By the way, I know many people dream of seeing the aurora and come to Tromso just for that. But Tromso has a lot more to offer, and there are many great reasons to visit Tromso in winter besides the Northern Lights. We have a very comprehensive Tromso guide with tips on sights, activities, restaurants, festivals, and lots more, so check that out if you wonder what else Tromso has to offer.

If you’re still undecided on where to stay in Tromso, have a look at our guide to the best Tromso accommodations and hotels.

Tromso city in winter
Tromso city at daytime during the months of Polar Night (mid-November to mid-January)

What Do The Northern Lights Look Like?

The Northern Lights often appear as a diffuse glow in the sky or as “curtains” in the east-west direction, being shaped by Earth’s magnetic field.

Northern Lights can sometimes look like curtains blowing in the wind
Northern Lights can sometimes look like curtains blowing in the wind

Most of the Northern Lights are produced between 90 and 150 km above the ground and reach out to more than 1000 km.

Northern Lights come in many different colors:

  • Red
    The red color of the Northern Lights comes from atomic oxygen that emits at 630 nanometers (red) at the highest altitudes. Red is not so common as green, as our eyes can’t see red very well unless there is intense solar activity.
  • Green
    Green is the most common color of the Northern Light. When molecular nitrogen collides with an oxygen atom, energy is transferred, which radiates it away at the green wavelength (557,7 nm).
  • Blue
    At even lower altitudes molecular nitrogen and ionized molecular nitrogen creates visible light emission in the form of red and blue (428 nanometers). Blue and purple only show up at the highest levels of solar activity and is not as common as green.
  • Ultraviolet and Infrared
    Ultraviolet and infrared lights are also part of many Northern Lights. Ultraviolet auroras have also been seen on Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn.
  • Yellow and Pink
    Shades of yellow and pink are can also appear in the Northern Lights. These are a mix of red and green or blue. Other shades of red, as well as orange, may be seen on rare occasions. Yellow/ greenish is most common.
Northern Lights colours
Northern Lights come in many colors – red, green, blue, yellow, and pink

Here is an excellent film explaining the Northern Lights:

What Makes Tromso A Great Place To See The Northern Lights?

To see the Northern Lights, you have to head up north above the Arctic Circle, at least north of 60 degrees. Tromso is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights because it is located at latitude 69,6 degrees north.

Northern Lights Tromso City
Northern Lights above Tromso city

Tromso also sits right in the middle of the Northern Lights Oval – the area with the highest probability of seeing the Northern Lights. The Northern Lights Oval is centered around 65 degrees North, and its width is about 10 degrees but it expands when the solar activity is intense.

Northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, Siberia, Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and Iceland are the only places in the world where you can see Northern Lights. Many of these places are however too remote and uninhabited, and impossible or very difficult to visit.

Tromso is the perfect place to travel to for the Northern Lights because it is a big city (largest in Northern Norway, with more than 70 000 inhabitants), with lots of hotels and other accommodation options and plenty of things to do besides seeing the Northern Lights. You can, for instance, go dog sledding, kayaking, visit museums, mountain hikes, skiing, reindeer sledding, fishing, sailing, and whale safari.

Tromso has become very popular with Northern Lights hunters over the past few years, and it was British actress Joanna Lumley that started it all when she visited Tromso in 2008. Her chase of the Northern Lights, gorgeously filmed by the BBC, has been watched by millions:

The airlines SAS and Norwegian have more than 15 flights from Oslo to Tromso daily, and the city is only a ten-minute drive from the airport. Due to the Gulf Stream, Tromso has a fairly mild climate, at least compared to other places this far north.

All this makes Tromso one of the best places to see the northern lights in the world.

Where Can You See The Northern Lights In Tromso?

Northern Lights in Kvaenangen, Norway
The Northern Lights are most visible in remote areas

While you can get lucky and see the northern lights in downtown Tromso, it is best to head out of town to more remote areas with as little artificial lighting as possible.

Here you can see the Northern Lights in their full glory and at their strongest. Darkness is your friend when it comes to admiring the Northern Lights. The sky has to be clear and not covered with clouds. The darker it is, the better, so a full moon is usually not ideal.

You’re chances of seeing the northern lights is best if you join a northern light tour, but it can be fun to go chasing the northern lights on your own. It is easiest done by car, since there, unfortunately, aren’t that many buses that take you out of the city to remote areas. Therefore I recommend that you rent a car in Tromso.

One of the best places to see the northern lights is to drive out of the city to Kvaloya Island/ Whale Island, which is connected to Tromso city by a bridge.

How To See The Northern Lights on Your Own

The map above: Our favorite places to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø (on your own – by car, or by bus/ walking). 

These are, in my opinion, the best places to see Northern Lights in Tromso on your own with a car:

  • The Lake Kattfjordvatnet (on Kvaloya)
    Located at Kattfjordeidet on Kvaloya/ Whale Island, this beautiful freshwater lake is surrounded by tall peaky mountains.
    We, locals, call this area called the “Chamonix” of the Arctic, named after the well-known mountain area in the French Alps. It is very popular among mountain skiers and hikers. The landscape here is wild and spectacular and my favorite in Tromso.
    On your way to or from Kattfjordvatnet, you should stop by our favorite cafe and supermarket, Eide Handel. Eide Handel is a big grocery store/ local supermarket with a great restaurant that sells local goods, snacks, and souvenirs. Eide Handel is open until 23:00 (11 pm) each weekday and until 22:00 (10 pm) on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
    Click here (Google Maps) for the driving route from Tromso center to Kattfjordvatnet (a 30 minutes drive)
Best place to see Northern Lights in Tromso Norway
The best place to see Northern Lights in Tromso, in my opinion, is Kattfjordvatnet Lake on Kvaloya.
  • Ersfjord (on Kvaloya)
    Ersfjord is a beautiful and peaceful fjord on Kvaloya/ Whale Island. The fjord is relatively narrow, surrounded by spectacular mountains on each side, making it a  great place to take Northern Lights photos. Ersfjord is one of the most popular places to take pictures of the Northern Lights in Tromso.
    While you are in Ersfjord, I recommend that you visit the lovely and cozy cafe Bryggejentene. Try their delicious homemade cakes together with a hot cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Bryggejentene also sells clothes and other stuff. It is a great place to shop for gifts to bring back home. Opening hours of Bryggejentene cafe and shop: 11-16 (4 pm) on weekdays, 11-17 (5 pm) on Saturdays, closed on Sundays.
    Click here (Google Maps) for the driving route from Tromso center to Ersfjord (a 30 minutes drive)
Northern Lights Ersfjord Tromso
Northern Lights at Ersfjord outside Tromso

Can You See The Northern Lights Without A Car?

Yes, there are absolutely some places close to downtown Tromso where you may be able to see the northern lights. The northern lights do need to be fairly intense to be visible from these places, and your chances of seeing the northern lights are better further out of the city. However, if you do get lucky then the sight of the aurora flashing above Tromso city is pretty magical.

These are the best places to see the Northern Lights close to Tromso center without a car (you can walk, take the bus, or a taxi there):

  • Tromso Cable Car
    Take the Cable Car in Tromsdalen up to the Floya Mountain (for more details read our post on The Best Things To Do In Tromso).
    See Google Maps for the walking route from Tromso center to the Cable Car (or take the bus or a taxi)
  • Prestvannet
    Prestvannet is a lake just above the downtown of Tromso (a 30 min walk uphill, or take the bus or a taxi).
    See Google Maps for the walking route to Lake Presvannet
  • Telegrafbukta Beach
    Tromso city’s only beach just south of downtown Tromso with a great view of the fjords and mountains (a 40 min walk, or take the bus or a taxi).
    See Google Maps for a walking route from Tromso center to Telegrafbukta Beach.
  • Kaldfjord on Kvaloya
    Take bus no. 42 to the last bus stop, “Eidkjosen” (a 30 min bus ride one way from downtown Tromso), and walk around the fjord Kaldfjord.
    See Google Maps for the bus driving route.
    Have a coffee, tea, or hot chocolate and something to eat at the cafe at Eide Handel in Kaldfjord (just next to the bus stop “Eidkjosen”). Eide Handel is a fantastic big grocery store/ local supermarket with a great cafe that sells local goods, snacks, and souvenirs. Eide Handel is open until 23:00 (11 pm) each weekday and until 22:00 (10 pm) on Saturdays. It is closed on Sundays.
  • Ersfjord on Kvaloya
    Ersfjord is a beautiful fjord surrounded by steep mountains. Take bus no. 425 to Ersfjord (a 40 min bus ride one way, or take a taxi) and walk around Ersfjord.
    See Google Maps for the bus driving route.
    Stop by the lovely and cozy cafe Bryggejentene located in Ersfjord. Try their delicious carrot cake and chocolate brownie, together with a cup of tea, coffee, or hot chocolate. Bryggejentene also sells clothes and other stuff. It is a great place to shop for gifts to bring back home! Opening hours of Bryggejentene cafe and shop: 11-16 (4 pm) on weekdays, 11-17 (5 pm) on Saturdays, closed on Sundays.

Bring your camera and tripod, warm clothes, something to eat, and some hot coffee, tea, or chocolate. Cross your fingers and hope that the Northern Lights will show up! 🙂 And the more days you have, the more likely you are to get lucky and see nature’s most spectacular light show.

Northern Lights In Norway
Northern Lights at our family cabin in the mountains of Kvaenangen in Norway

When Can You See The Northern Lights In Tromso?

In Tromso, you can see Northern Lights from mid-September until mid-April.

The best months to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø are from mid-November to the end of January as during these months the sun does not rise above the horizon at all. This is called the Polar Night and is the perfect period to watch the Northern Lights as the nights are long.

We’re often asked if the northern lights happen every day and sadly it does not. Northern Lights appear in the evenings, often between 19 and 2 o’clock at night (between 7 pm and 2 am). But you never know for sure when or where it will show up, which makes the Northern Light hunting even more exciting. When you finally see it, you feel blessed and privileged and treasure it even more.

Since the Northern Lights occur when solar wind hits the Earth’s atmosphere, there are periods and years when the Northern Lights are more likely to appear. Massive geomagnetic storms are most common during the peak of the eleven-year sunspot cycle or during the three years after the peak.

There are several web pages and apps where you can check the probability of northern lights. We like this one:

Northern Lights Norway
Northern Lights are dancing above our mountain cabin in Kvænangen in northern Norway. If you look you look close, you can even see our Siberian Husky dog Varga

There are several space weather services out there, which forecast the Northern Lights. Some of best known are:

Pink Northern Lights
Pink Northern Lights

There are also several great apps that you can use to predict the Northern Lights, like for instance this: Northern Lights forecast that you can download to your phone:
– Android:
– iPhone:


I hope you get to experience the northern lights for yourself. It truly is a spectacular sight.

But if you are in Tromso, have tried everything, and still couldn’t see it, the Northern Lights movie “Experience the Aurora” at the Science Center is the next best thing. The film is excellent, and there are shows daily. An absolute must-see if you are visiting Tromso, even if you get to see the real thing or not.

Where To Stay In Tromso

Norway, in general, is quite expensive when it comes to accommodation and dining, and Tromso is no exception. Tromso is a small city with a compact downtown, so everything is within a short walking distance. Here are our favorite hotels in Tromsø, at different price ranges.

Also, check out our complete guide to our favorite Tromso areas and hotels.


Clarion Collection Hotel With
Hotel With, as it is known locally, has the perfect location right by Tromso Harbour with a beautiful view over the sea and over to the Arctic Cathedral, the Tromso Bridge, Tromsdalstinden mountain, and Fjellheisen. You are right in the middle of everything if you choose to stay at this hotel, very close to all the city's restaurants and shops.

Clarion Hotel With Tromso

An extra plus with this hotel is that you get free coffee/tea and Norwegian waffles with sour cream, jam, and brown cheese (Espen`s favorite!) in the afternoon (from 15 to 18 o`clock) and a free meal in the evening (from 18 to 21 o`clock). This makes this hotel a good value for your money as eating out is expensive. A friend of mine from my class at the University used to work here during the weekends, and the staff here is well trained and provides good service and help to the guests.
Click here for the latest prices

Clarion Hotel Aurora Tromso
Clarion Hotel

Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora
Next door to Hotel With is its sister hotel Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora. This hotel also has free waffles in the afternoon and an evening meal included in the price. The extra plus of this hotel is the rooftop jacuzzi and sauna! Here you can relax in the evenings and watch the northern lights from the hot tub. Sounds pretty sweet if you ask me!
Click here for the latest prices

The Edge Hotel
The new "star" when it comes to hotels in Tromso is, however, The Edge. It is brand new and has an excellent bar and restaurant which is also very popular among the locals in Tromso.

The Edge Hotel TromsoYou really should try the hamburger, it is great! The breakfast at The Edge is maybe the best in town with everything you can imagine. Located by the harbor, but further south than the hotels above, and close to the Tourist Information office.
Click here for the latest prices

City Living Hotel & Apartments

This apartment hotel has a central location on the street just above Tromso's main street Storgata. The apartments have a small kitchen, which is handy for making breakfast, lunch, or even dinner inside. That way you can save some money by shopping at one of the close-by supermarkets and cook your own food.

The hotel also has a laundry room that the guests can use for free. Very handy as dry cleaning is expensive and there are no other options in town if you want to get your clothes washed. There is, however, no daily cleaning service, but you can help yourself to coffee and clean sheets and towels whenever you want from the second floor. You can easily get here by the Airport Bus (Flybuss) from the airport.
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Amalie Hotel
This is a small budget hotel and a less expensive option than the hotels above. It has an excellent location just next to the big and more expensive Radisson Blu Hotel. An extra bonus is unlimited free coffee and tea the whole day and complimentary waffles in the afternoon. The rooms are a bit small but well equipped with kettle, tea/coffee, mini-fridge, iron, and hairdryer. You get a lot for your money. Great breakfast included in the price.
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Comfort Hotel Xpress Tromso
This is a budget hotel with a perfect location in Grønnegata, the street adjacent to the city's main street Storgata. The hotel rooms are clean, new and fresh, but a bit small. If you are out all day on tours and sightseeing, then the small rooms will not be a problem. There is no daily housekeeping service. There is no restaurant in the hotel, but it is very close to all the restaurants and cafes that Tromso has to offer. You can get a breakfast discount of 50 % (150 KR) at their sister hotel Clarion Hotel, which is well worth the money as you can eat all you want at their excellent breakfast buffet.
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Smarthotel Tromso
Another budget option with small rooms but well equipped, fresh, and modern. The hotel has an excellent location right in the middle of downtown Tromso. You get breakfast included in the price, which is fairly good. You get free coffee and tea the whole day. Great value for your money!
Click here for the latest prices

Renting A Car In Tromso

If you want to explore the areas outside the city center, then a rental car is a great option in Tromso. It's easiest to book the car online before you travel and then pick it up your car at the airport when you arrive. Tromso Airport has cars from several international car rental agencies such as Avis, Hertz, Sixt, Europcar, and Budget.

Click here for the latest prices and to see the available cars to rent in Tromso

There you go, a list of the best Tromso Northern Lights tours and the best places to see the Northern Lights in Tromso on your own. Good luck with chasing the Northern Lights!

The first time you see the Northern Lights, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and something truly unique and memorable!

Make sure to read our other Tromso articles:

What To Do In Tromso

Where To Stay In Tromso

7 Easy Hikes With Spectacular Views In Tromso

Call Of The Wild – Dog Sledding In Tromso

What To Pack For A Trip To Tromso


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Have you seen Northern or Southern Lights, and if so where? If you have not, is this on your bucket list? Please leave a comment in the comment area below, thanks!

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About The Writer Maria Wulff Hauglann

Maria is a Norwegian travel nerd who has explored more than thirty countries on four continents. She holds a master's degree in Computer Science, as well as an MBA. In 2014 while on a year-long trip across South East- Asia, Maria co-founded the travel blog Nerd Nomads to help others get out and explore the world. In 2018 she left her day job permanently for a life of full-time travel. See our about page for more about Maria.


  1. What a superb article and great photos! We never see anything like that here in Southern California. Makes me want to head out to Norway and experience it for myself!

    • Thanks a million James! You should definitely head up north and come visit us in Norway! The season is almost over now, but the northern lights will return next year…. 🙂


  2. Wow! I would love to see the Northern lights some day, but since I avoid winter destinations, it will never happen. Thanks for sharing these fabulous photos and information. I am so glad you got such an amazing night. I have been to Norway, but we enjoyed nearly 24 hours of daylight.

    • Hehe, well you can visit in September/ October. We usually don`t have snow by that time yet, and the temperatures are not so bad. Still, it`s dark enough so that you can see the northern lights.

      But I agree, the Midnight Sun shining 24/7 is not so bad either…. 🙂

  3. Excellent guide, especially the DIY part! The lake looks incredibly scenic for an aurora photography setting. I did manage to catch aurora when I went to Norway’s Lofoten Islands. Sooo beautiful and a great setting too with its steep mountains rising from fjords. =)

    • Hi Andrew,

      Thank you so much! Tromso and it`s surrounding areas are awesome for Northern Lights watching and photography.

      So happy to hear that you saw the northern lights in Lofoten! It is such a great place, both summer and winter, we have been there several times.


  4. Hi Maria, I enjoyed your article on the Northern Lights! My husband and I used to live in Anchorage, AK and saw them frequently in the winter, usually just the green lights. Oddly enough, the only time we have seen red and pink was in Kentucky! It must have been a particularly good storm.

    I lived in Mandal, Norway many years ago. I didn’t see the Northern Lights there. It would be wonderful to visit your country again and go to Tromso!

    • Hi Peggy,

      Thank you so much! So happy to hear that you liked my article! The green northern lights are most common here in Tromso too.

      Wow, it must have been a pretty huge solar storm when you were able to see red/pink northern lights in Kentucky! I love to watch the northern lights whatever color it is.

      Mandal is too far south of the northern lights oval. You are always welcome to visit Tromso! So cool that you lived in Mandal, and now live in Alaska. Would love to go to Alaska and go dog sledding!


  5. Very helpful…..will be there this Tuesday ’til Friday next week so we’re crossing our fingers that one of those nights we’ll see Aurora Borealis…….

    • Great to hear that you will be visiting Tromso this week as the weather is pretty good. Clear sky and good possibility of seeing the Northern Lights! Saw plenty last night.

      Crossing my fingers too! Have a great time in Tromso!


  6. Wow! Truly a magical place. I’m a bit jealous of you right now, you gets to see this all the time. 🙂 Anyway, it was great reading this post. I would love to see the Northern lights some day.

    • Thank you so much! Seeing the northern lights is awesome, even for me who has grown up with it and see it every winter. I can never get enough of this light phenomenon. You should definitely come to Norway and see it with your own eyes.


  7. I HAVE to do this. This has to be one of the most amazing things to see in one’s lifetime.

    I went to Norway last year in Summer and checked out the Sognefjord. Bergen and Oslo were amazing, and it has been my favorite country so far out of so many I’ve visited. I hope I can go back and see the Northern Lights near Tromso. What is the “less cold” time of the year

    Also, Norwegian apple juice and strawberries should be massively exported everywhere.

    • Hi P.C.!

      Sounds like you had a great time in the southern part of Norway! Hehe, yep I agree, Norway has the best strawberries, and they are even better and sweeter in the north of Norway since the sun is up all night long (midnight sun). You must try them!

      You can only see the northern lights when it is getting dark in the evenings, from September to April. From May to August the evenings are too bright due to the midnight sun, so you cannot see the northern lights. It is “less cold” in October, March, and April, but it can still be snow at least in the mountains surrounding Tromso. It is coldest during the dark period, 21st of November – 21st of January when the sun is completely gone and never comes over the horizon.

      Hope to see you in Tromso one day! Happy travels!


  8. I got surprised when reading this article and it’s actually a fanstaic article to read and learn. Thank you so much

  9. Wow! If I ever get to see the Northern Lights, my life will be complete. Such amazing photographs.

    • Hehe, yep seeing the Northern Lights is really breathtaking and something everyone should see at least once in their life. Thank you so much for your great comment!

      Happy travels!


  10. Hi Maria;
    A beautiful blog on Tromso hiking and the Northern lights. We are traveling to Tromso from the 6th to thew 10th of December cause seeing Auroras is one of those things we´ve always dreamt to do.
    Let´s hope to be lucky!! We also want to go hiking even if days are dark during the polar night ( We hope it is not pitch black!), so your tips on places are going to be really useful. We can´t wait!!

  11. This article is FANTASTIC! I am heading out to Tromso this week and the article has given me all the information I need! Would love to go hiking but worried about renting a car and having the confidence to drive around there. Have booked a NL tour so fingers crossed we get to see them! Thank you for putting this article together.

  12. One of the biggest wish of my life to see northern lights. I wish i could see this in portarlington where i live, but its not possible. What are the best places in ireland to see northern lights?

    • The best places in the world to see the Northern Lights are Northern Norway and Iceland as they are located right below the aurora. You can, however, see the Northern Lights in Ireland too as it is located between the 52nd and 55th latitudes. From Ireland, you get to see the edge of the Aurora Borealis. The most consistent regions are the most northern of Ireland.

      Crossing my fingers that you get to see the Northern Lights one day! It is a spectacular show!


  13. Guys, this article is amazing! We are currently planning our aurora borealis experience and aren’t quite sure where to head but we are considering a DIY tour in Tromso. 😉

    Thank you for the great content and all the detailed information about how the northern lights originate.

    Safe travels!
    Julia & Berni from 🙂

    • Hi Julia and Berni,

      Thanks a million for your nice words! Awesome that you are heading to Tromso to see the Northern Lights!

      If the weather is nice with a clear sky, then it is easy to see the Northern Lights and you can see it from anywhere, even in the downtown of Tromso (if the Northern Lights are strong). But it is best to rent a car and drive a little bit out of the downtown of Tromso to escape the city lights. Kvaloya Island (meaning Whale Island) which is connected to downtown of Tromso by a bridge is an excellent area to see the Northern Lights.

      If the weather is bad, however, with cloudy weather, you can consider joining a Northern Lights tour. They really haunt the Northern Lights and will drive you around all night if that´s what it takes to see it, even to other parts of Northern Norway and to Northern Finland. They are skilled in reading the Northern Lights forecast and drive you to where the chances of seeing this natural phenomenon are best.

      Have a fantastic trip to Tromso! Crossing all my fingers and toes that you will see plenty of Northern Lights! 🙂


  14. Northern lights are very beautiful, it is suitable for visitors who want to discover new places. In the future, if I have a chance, I will travel to enjoy the beauty of northern lights.
    It’s very impressive

    • Hi,

      You should definitely put a trip to Tromso to see the spectacular Northern Lights on your bucket list. I think you will love seeing the Northern Lights!


  15. Hello Maria,

    Thank you for your article as I have been searching for place to see Northern lights in Tromso not joining tours. May I ask that when I rent a car in Tromso to visit the places out of City to see The Northern Lights, how easy is to find a parking place?


    • Hi Andrew,

      Thank you so much! So glad to hear that you find our post about seeing the Northern Lights in Tromso useful!

      The places that I have listed as good DIY spots for watching the Northern Lights (Kattfjordvatnet, Ersfjord, Finnvikvannet, and Snarbyeidet), all have a parking place where you can park for free. Just switch off the lights on the car, and you can watch the Northern Lights from inside the car or just step out and stand outside the car.

      Of the four places that I have listed, only Ersfjord is a residential area with houses. In Ersfjord, you can for instance park by the school or at the cafe Bryggejentene. Or drive to the small boat harbor where we usually park, and walk down to the sea and take photos of the Northern Lights.

      Remember to bring a torchlight or headlamp as it is completely dark at all of these places so you will have trouble finding your way and walk around without a torchlight.

      Crossing my fingers that you will see plenty of Northern Lights!


  16. Hi Maria

    Thanks for the great insight in your article. I am wondering for the DIY option, how easy is the drive to each of the location?

    • Hi Adrian,

      Thank you so much! So happy to hear that you find our article on Northern Lights in Tromso useful!

      It is fairly easy to drive to each of the four places I have listed as my favorite places to see the Northern Lights:

      – Kattfjordvatnet on Kvaløya
      – Ersfjord on Kvaløya
      – Finnvikvannet on Kvaløya
      – Snarby

      Three of these places are located on the big island Kvaløya (where I live) which is connected to Tromsø by a bridge. Kvaløya is just a 10-15 min drive from downtown Tromsø. The roads are in good condition to each of these four places and they are kept cleared of snow every day. The roads to these four places are also quite broad so you can easily meet a car without having to stop or drive off the road. Just don´t expect a four-lane highway, the roads only have one lane for each driving direction. 🙂 But there is not that much traffic so you should be fine.

      The roads do, however, get narrow further out on Kvaløya. So if you want to continue driving further out on Kvaløya, to for instance the popular Sommarøy, Grøtfjord, and the mountain Brosmetind, you should drive slowly and be prepared to stop if you meet a car as some places the road is so narrow that it only fits one car.

      You should be fine driving to these four places, just be aware that the roads might be slippery due to ice and snow. There are free parking spots at all of these four places.


  17. What an amazing article, this is really helping me plan my trip to Tromso in the last week of this February…
    I’m wondering, is it a good idea to go on a solo trip from France? Will 5 days be enough?
    I don’t think I can rent a car, that in mind is getting around easy? To and from the Airport?

    I really hope you respond,

    • Hi Sagar,

      Thank you so much! So cool that you are going on a solo trip from France to Tromso at the end of February! It is a great time of the year to visit Tromso to see the Northern Lights! The sun is back (it comes above the horizon from 21st of January) so you will get some daylight during the day which is nice. It is still dark in the evenings and nights so perfect for watching Northern Lights.

      Yes, I think it is a great idea to head to Tromso on a solo trip! Tromso is a small city with only about 70 000 inhabitants and very safe with hardly any crime. And yes, I think five days is enough to see the city and its surroundings and with five days your chances of seeing the Northern Lights is pretty good.

      Tromso is a small city where most of the city, including the airport, is located on a very small island of only 21.7-square-kilometer. It takes about 10 minutes to drive from the airport to downtown Tromso where all the hotels are located. We do, however, sadly not have trains or subway/ metro in Tromso.

      You have three options getting from the airport to downtown:

      1) City Bus (cheapest since you are traveling solo):
      – Take bus no. 40 or 42 which runs from the road next to the airport (you have to go out of the airport and out to the road, just a two-minutes walk) into downtown
      – 15-20 min bus ride to downtown
      – Price one way: 33 kr = 3 Euros = 4 US$
      – Buy the bus ticket at a ticket machine at the bus stop, or download the free app “Troms Mobillett” and buy your ticket there

      2) The Airport Express Bus:
      – 10-15 min bus ride to downtown
      – Price one way: 110 kr = 15 Euros = 12 US$
      – Price return ticket: 180 kr = 17 Euros = 19 US$
      – You can buy the Airport Express Bus ticket at a machine in the arrival hall at the airport, or from the bus driver when entering the bus. Or buy the bus ticket online HERE
      – Leaves every 30 min from 07:50 until 00:15 on weekdays, from 07:55 until 21:15 on Saturdays, and from 10:55 until 00:05 on Sundays. See the time table here (from the airport to downtown)

      3) Taxi (most convenient):
      – There is a taxi stand right outside the airport (just follow the signs)
      – 10 min drive to downtown
      – Price one way: around 250 kr (up to four people) = 24 Euros = 26 US$

      As for getting around Tromso in general without renting a car, I would say that it is quite easy to go around the city by bus and walking. As for sights, you can walk to all sights that Tromso has to offer as most of them are located in and around downtown. Also to the cable car, you can easily walk or take the bus.

      If you want to head out of the city for a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights (escape the city lights), you should head to Kvaløya (connected to Tromso by a bridge) by bus no. 42. Or you can take the bus no. 425 to Ersfjord, a beautiful fjord with stunning views of mountains and the sea and the coziest cafe Bryggejentene.

      But if the weather is bad (overcast), your best chances of seeing the Northern Lights is by joining a Northern Lights tour.

      Download the free app “Troms Mobillett” to buy cheap bus tickets and the free app “Troms Reise” to see the bus schedules and which bus to take.

      Read more about what you should see and do in Tromso here

      Have a fantastic trip to Tromso in February! Crossing my fingers that you will see lots and lots of Northern Lights!


  18. We are going to Tromso next week. We are renting a car and planning to hunt for the northern lights ourselves. We have small children and not sure how they will cope on a tour.
    All these information is exactly what I was looking for. Fingers crossed we get to dance with the stars.
    Thank you so much,

    • That is awesome, Wendy! Thank you so much for commenting! Hope that you saw the Northern Lights and had a great trip to Tromso.



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