How to Choose the Best Northern Lights Tour in Tromso? (2024) | Guide to Lofoten

How to Choose the Best Northern Lights TourS in TromsO?

This practical and in-depth guide will help you discover the best northern lights tours in Tromso. We believe that no “one-size-fits-all” tour is best for everybody, so we discuss various aspects such as group size, price, type of vehicle, etc.

The northern lights have fascinated people for centuries, but only lately have tourist appraisals and marketing campaigns transformed the northern lights into travelers’ bucket list experience.

Tromsø, with a population of ca 70.000, is the biggest city in northern Norway. It is located about 350 km north of the Arctic Circle. Its location within the auroral oval and direct flight connection with Norway’s capital makes Tromsø one of the best places (or at least the most convenient places) in the world where you can see the majestic northern lights. 

Currently there are more than 100 northern lights tour providers in Tromsø, which makes it challenging to choose the best aurora hunting tour in Tromsø. 

To help you decide which provider is the right one for you, we put together this article to discuss the aspects you should consider before booking an aurora hunt in Tromso.

 At the end of the article, you will find our recommendations for 6 best northern light tours in Tromso.

🏆 Greenlander Tromsø
🏆 Wandering Owl
🏆 Arctic Photo Guide
🏆 Northern Shots
🏆 Northern Horizon

❗Do you want to know which of the Northern Lights tours are available right now? Check our Tromso winter activities availibility calender!

ABOUT US, NORTHERN LIGHTS AND TROMSØ

We spent six months living in Tromsø in 2022. During that time, I (Radka) worked for a Tromsø-based travel agency that offered Northern Lights tours, along with other excursions in Tromsø and Lofoten.

Answering inquiries about visiting Tromsø in winter, especially questions concerning the Northern Lights—whether it was which tour to book, which aurora tracking app to use, or how to interpret the weather and aurora forecast—was part of my daily routine.

I often wished I had comprehensive material to direct customers to, allowing them to delve into the subject and grasp that there are no simple answers to these questions. So here it is—the article I hoped everyone could read before booking their Northern Lights tour!

I hope you find it helpful!

Radka 💙

Tromso Northern Lights Tour Guide

Here are some content shortcuts to help you navigate this “Guide to the Best Northern Lights Tours in Tromsø. “

Table of Contents

Are Northern Lights Tours Worth The Money?

While booking a guided aurora hunting tour to see the aurora borealis in Tromso is not strictly necessary, I highly recommend it. 

I understand that some of you are not big fans of organized tours.

However, you can easily miss the aurora display if you do not know how to read the weather and aurora forecasts.

I have met many people looking at a weak aurora and thinking it is just a clouded sky. 

If you join a northern lights excursion, the guides will recognize the aurora and show you what camera settings you need to take a great picture, even if it is not visible to the naked eye. 

8 Reasons to Book a Northern Lights Tour in Tromso

1️⃣ You do not need to drive. The ice may be slippery and dangerous. Unless you have experience driving on snow and ice in the darkness, we would not recommend renting a car.

2️⃣ You do not need to follow the weather and aurora forecast. It takes time and experience to understand all the different northern lights and weather apps.

3️⃣ You do not know where to go. The guides know all the places in the surroundings of Tromsø where it is possible to park the car/minibus/bus and walk to a place with an open horizon for the best photo compositions.

4️⃣ You do not know what to look for. Sometimes, the northern lights are weak, and it is hard to tell the difference from the clouds. Your guide will know.

5️⃣ You do not know how to set up your camera. Taking pictures of northern lights is not easy. You have to have the right equipment and set the camera correctly.

6️⃣ You want to have nice pictures of yourself and the northern lights. Taking pictures of people and the northern lights is challenging. The photographer needs to use an external light source (headlamp) to lighten the person in the picture for a few seconds while the person can not move. It requires practice to get the picture right.

7️⃣ You will get warm clothes from the tour company. You will be outside for several hours while waiting for the northern lights to show up. And unless you watch them from a jacuzzi (our favorite activity), you will get cold. When going on a tour, you can skip investing money into heavy winter boots and a thick down jacket since most companies will offer you a thermal suit. Some companies also offer shoes.

8️⃣ You want to know more about the northern lights. Did you know that the Sami people used to hide when the lights were dancing in the sky?

  • Wondering what to pack for a winter trip to northern Norway? Have a look at our Winter Packing Guide and get a free packing check list!
Best northern lights tours in Tromso
Best northern lights tours in Tromso

Northern Lights Tours Boom In Tromsø​

Nowadays, tourists are flocking to Tromsø to see the northern lights in thousands, and February and March mark the high season in Tromsø. However, it was not always so. 

 

 

Before 2010, there was almost no winter tourism in Tromsø, and the local companies hoped not to lose too much money over the long winter. Hurtigruten sailed with almost empty ships, and the hotels tried to stay afloat by adapting to the course and conference market. The Northern Lights were only a bonus to other activities. No one had faith that it could be a product in itself.

 

 

However, with the rapid development of digital cameras, phones, and social media, it became easier to photograph the northern lights and share the images. That and a lot of clever advertising caused that the winter tourism to northern Norway took off. 

 

As a result, the season got even extended – instead of November 1, most Tromsø based companies start their northern lights tours already on September 15, or even September 1. 

Tromso or Alta for Northern Lights Watching?

Tromsø is often the first Norwegian city that comes to mind when thinking of the Northern Lights. However, Alta used to be the capital of early Northern Lights research. 

 

In 1898, Kristian Birkeland established northern lights observatories on mountain peaks outside the center of Alta and researched his way to the current understanding of the northern lights.

 

The proud history of the early Northern Lights research made Alta call itself “the city of the Northern Lights.” While Tromsø has its famous landmark in the Arctic Cathedral, Alta has built the Northern Lights Cathedral, the Northern Lights Hotel, and the Borealis Hotel.

 

Alta is an amazing place to experience the Northern Lights, and a lot of this reason is because of its stable climate. However, when BBC journalist Joanna Lumley came to Tromsø and made a fantastic Northern Lights documentary, it was pure Tromsø advertising, and Alta lost the battle for the large masses of Northern Lights tourists.

In general, Tromso and Alta provide a similar type of activities, however, being a bigger town, Tromso has much bigger selection of tour providers, accommodations, restaurants and cafes. 

So the choice is ultimately yours. Northern lights wise, you wouldn´t make a mistake visiting either of these cities. 

Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø
Arctic Cathedral in Tromsø
Northern Lights Cathedral Alta Norway
The Northern Lights Cathedral in Alta

The northern lights are visible in the Tromsø area from the end of August/beginning of September until the beginning of April.

What Are the Differences Between the Northern Lights Tours in Tromso?

In 2005, five companies sold Northern Lights products in Tromsø. Nowadays, more than 100 tour providers have northern lights tours in their portfolio, which does make it challenging to choose the best northern lights tour. 

 

However, there are few significant differences between northern light tours from different providers. For example, they all operate with the same weather and aurora forecast, and the guides from other companies share information with each. Therefore, the success between companies might be less than you think. However, some companies have more experienced guides than others, and are willing to go the extra mile to make sure you are left happy at the end of a long night! 

 

 Debunking: “Aurora Chasing” 

 

Since the aurora borealis generally extend from 80 kilometers (50 miles) to 640 kilometers (400 miles) above the Earth’s surface, you will not be chasing the northern lights but rather searching for a clear sky. So, if the weather around Tromsø doesn’t look very promising and only a few places might have a clearance in cloud coverage, you can bump into other tours that went for the same spot. 

What to Expect From a Northern Lights Tour in Tromso?

Here is what you can expect if you book basically any aurora-chasing tour in Tromsø:

 

👉 You will meet your guide and driver at the pick-up point, and they will brief you about the current aurora and weather conditions. You will also be offered to wear a warm thermal suit and winter boots unless you have your own. 

👉If you are lucky, you might see the northern lights already in Tromsø or on the way to the chosen location. 

👉If not, you will arrive at the selected area, and your guide will make a campfire and tell you stories and legends about the northern lights while you wait for them to show up.

👉On nights with challenging weather conditions, the guide will need to check other options and contact other guides to decide whether you should stay in the selected location or continue your search for better conditions.

The Guides Do Their Best!

In any case, there will be stories, perhaps a campfire, and the guides will do anything they can to find a spot where you can spot the northern lights. They will make sure that you are staying warm and having a good time while you are waiting for them. 

However, it would be best if you had the right expectations. It might be cold, there might be a lot of waiting, and it can happen that you will not see the northern lights. 

If seeing the northern lights is your biggest dream and once-in-a-lifetime experience, I recommend booking tours on multiple nights. 

You are not guaranteed to see the northern lights on the organized tours.
But it will increase your chances.

How to Choose the Best Aurora Chasing Tour in Tromso?

I recommend looking into these criteria when choosing the best tromso northern lights tour. I will discuss each point a bit more in the following paragraphs.

northern lights - aurora borealis - in Tromsø, Norway
northern lights - aurora borealis - in Tromsø, Norway

Does the tours include only northern lights chasing?

 

Most people who take northern lights tours from Tromsø go for a (mini)bus tour. However, some may perceive the northern lights hunt as dull since it may involve a lot of driving in search of a clear sky or long hours of sitting by a bonfire waiting for the lights to show up. 

If that is your case, you can combine the northern lights hunt with other activities like reindeer sledding & traditional Sami dinner, snowmobiling or sailing.

 

The downside of these combinations is that you are chained to a specific location regarding dog sledding and reindeer sledding. If that particular spot has a cloudy sky on the night of your tour, you won’t be able to see the aurora. 

 

On sailing trips, the boats cover a more extensive area, but it still can’t be compared with the bus tours, where you can go all the way to Finland if needed. 

  • Do you want to know what other activities you can do in Tromsø? Where to stay or what are the best restaurants and bars? Check our Interactive Map of Tromsø!

Debunking: driving to Finland

There is a common misconception about the northern lights tours going to Finland. It is not given that you will go to Finland on your aurora borealis tour. The first option will always be some location close to Tromsø. 

It is a really long drive from Tromsø to Finland (3 hours one way), which means that out of 7 hours long tour, you would spend 6 hours driving! Therefore, Finland is always the last option when the weather forecast in the near and far surroundings of Tromsø does not look promising.

Tromsø in winter snowy weather
Even though it is cloudy and snowy in Tromsø
You can have clear skies and beautiful aurora in Finland

What Is The Group Size of your aurora borealis tour?

You can choose a private tour, a small group of up to 8 people, tours by minibusses that take up to 15 people, or tours by coaches (big buses) for up to 40 people. 

 

If being in a small group is very important to you, I recommend this Small Group Northern Lights Photography Tour in a custom-built 4×4 tour van. This tour allows you to discover remote scenery and reach more calm and peaceful places. 

 

The advantage of traveling by big bus is, of course, the price and certain comfort. The bus is heated, so you can wait for the northern lights inside the bus. Plus, there is a toilet on board the coaches, which might be handy when nature calls. 

 

On the other hand, it is challenging for those big buses to find parking spaces, so they are limited to resting areas where you often have other cars coming and flashing their lights. Moreover, you will be together with up to 40 other people, so you can´t expect much of a quiet, spiritual experience. 

Private Tour Might Not Be So Private

Mind that even though you choose a private tour, you might still end up in the same spot as a tour with two big coaches. 

Northern lights in Tromso, Norway

What Is the Price, and what does it include?

 

The price of the northern lights tour in Tromsø varies. But, of course, if you want to go on a cheap aurora borealis tour, you will need to join a big coach. So, if you are looking for a cheap yet great tour with professional photographers, I recommend this Northern Lights Photography Bus Tour.

  • The cheapest aurora borealis tours in big couch buses start at 990 NOK (97 USD, 94 EUR).
  • The minibus tours for up to 15 people cost 1650 – 2500 NOK. 

 I have a couple of friends who are professional photographers and work as guides for this company, so you can be assured of having beautiful pictures of yourself under the northern lights. 

 

However, you should always check what is included in the price of the tour. For example, in the above-mentioned tour, the photos are not included in the price, and you will have to pay extra for each image. 

Are the Guides Professional Photographers?

If you are a photographer, I imagine you would like to join a tour with guides who choose the locations with a pleasing composition so that you can get some fantastic shots of aurora. 

If you are not into photography, then having a tour guide who is a skillful photographer is even more critical so that you can get a picture of yourself and the northern lights. 

All northern lights guides are somewhat trained in photography, but some are better than others. 

 

The best photographers, in my opinion, are in Greenlander (small tours by 4WD vehicles), Wandering Owl (medium-sized tours by minibus), and Northern Shots (tours by big couches.)

Are the Guides Locals?

You can see the northern lights from the end of August/beginning of September until the beginning of April. Therefore, being a northern lights guide is a seasonal job, and you will find few locals who would do that for a living. Most of the guides in the big travel agencies in Tromsø are foreigners. 

 

If it is important for you to have a local guide, I can recommend Gunnar from Guide Gunnar, or Vidar from Creative Vacations. 

What do The reviews say? 

I always recommend checking the tour reviews and sorting them from the lowest to know what people were unhappy about. For example, sometimes people leave a negative review because they did not see the northern lights on the tour – which is irrelevant. However, it is helpful to learn how the company deals with other problems like overbooking the tour, cancellations due to bad weather, etc.

Debunking: Cancellation Because of Bad Weather

When I worked for a travel agency in Tromsø, many guests asked if the tour would be canceled when it was windy/cloudy/stormy in Tromsø. 

Tromsø is such a popular location for northern lights watching because there are different microclimates in the surroundings of the city. It is possible to find a clear sky within a 1-3 hour drive from Tromsø, even though the weather does not look very promising in the city.

Do not give up your hopes when the forecast for Tromsø doesn’t show a clear sky. Our guides had many successful hunts on the days when the guests were doubtful. The tours will get canceled/rescheduled only in the case of extremely bad/hazardous weather.

The tours will get canceled/rescheduled only in the case of extremely bad/hazardous weather.

The Best Aurora Hunting Tours in Tromso

 Wandering Owl

Wandering Owl is a small local business that organizes all-year guided tours in the Tromsø area. Their guides are professional photographers and trained nature guides, providing guests with memorable encounters in the wilderness. Wandering Owl’s main aim is for guests to experience the peaceful countryside around the Norwegian city of Tromsø every season of the year.

Wandering Owl: Small-Group Aurora Hunt Tour With Citizen Science

“Set out from Tromso on a hunting tour of the Northern Lights. Join a small group and a guide traversing the nearby countryside and even into Finland to catch a glimpse of the majestic Aurora Borealis. After finding the right setting, gather around a campfire, warm up with some soup, and await the spectacular light show. Your guide will also offer tips for photographing the Northern Lights and take some photos that they’ll later share as souvenirs.”

what makes northern lights chasing with wandering owl special?

During your time in the wilderness, you can actively participate in Wandering Owl´s Citizen science projects. You’ll collect data that will be used to protect the precious Arctic tundra. 

Following data collection, the gathered information is transferred to Wandering Owl´s research partners’ database and used in Responsible Tourism Project that focuses on protection of the local tundra. 

GROUP SIZE

8 - 15 pax (Minimum of 4 adults to confirm the tour)

PRICE

from 2480 NOK/pax

DURATION

5-8 hours

PHOTOS INCLUDED

Yes, in web-sized resolution.

VEHICLE

15 Person Minibus

Chiraag Tolani
Chiraag Tolani
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Bart and Vitek from Wandering Owl were quite awesome - despite some inclement weather (one or two roads may have been closed to snow) - they were able to take us to a sheltered valley where we were protected from the wind, where we were able to see the majesty of the Northern Lights unfold, while protected from the winds that we encountered in other places! These guys went the extra mile for our group, and provided us with a good dinner of soup (I'll admit, I went with the vegan lentil option - I just couldn't bring myself to have the reindeer soup), great conversation and amazing hot chocolate! If you're heading out for a night tour in Tromsø, Wandering Owl is definitely a great company to take you there.

*I deliberately chose a review from customers who were facing challenging weather conditions. Check more reviews on TripAdvisor. 

Best northern lights tours in Tromso: Chasing northern lights with Wandering Owl

Greenlander Tromsø

Greenlander is a family run company that offers tours with minivans and 4×4 vehicles. They specialise in small groups with a maximum of eight people per group. One of their strengths is a strong focus on photography, so you’ll get plenty of attention and tips on how to capture the best possible photos of the Aurora Borealis.

Northern Lights Adventure with Greenlander

“Embark on an adventurous Northern Lights chase aboard a Mercedes Benz Minivan. With a professional photographer as a guide and a small group of up to 8 persons, you’ll get plenty of attention and tips on capturing the best possible photos of the Aurora Borealis. Hotel pickup and drop-off in Tromso are included for convenience, as well as all thermal gear and a portion of homemade soup to keep warm.”

GROUP SIZE

Max 8

PRICE

from 2400 NOK/pax

DURATION

6-9 hours

PHOTOS INCLUDED

Yes.

VEHICLE

4x4 Mercedes Benz Minivan

Vicente Alonso Iglesias
Vicente Alonso Iglesias
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If you want to see the lights, this is your guide and tour. Best Northern Lights hunter for granted. I do not know how Markus did it, but if he tells me before the tour we would be able to see the lights that night I would say, impossible, no way, because the weather was very cloudy, windy and snowing. He drove us for a couple of hours trying to find some clear skies with stable activity, but the weather was pretty bad, but his ten years in the business paid off, he found a clear sky spot from nowhere, and within 2 minutes out of the mini_van the dancing lights just showed up for at least 30 minutes, absolutely incredible, no words to express that feeling.

*I deliberately chose a review from customers who were facing challenging weather conditions. Check more reviews on TripAdvisor. 

Northern Horizon

Northern Horizon is a company born from a passion for nature and the wilderness. They offer northern lights tours in medium-sized groups for up to 15 persons in a minibus, as well as all-year-round Arctic Nature Sightseeing Tours to Tromsø´s neighboring island Kvaløya. The guides in Northern Horizon are passionate photographers and professional pictures are included in the price of the tour.

Northern Horizon: Northern Lights Tour 

“Take in the dreamy beauty of the northern lights as you sip hot chocolate and enjoy sausages over a cozy bonfire. Your guides lead your small group to the clearest viewing spots and take professional photos to be shared with you by email. They also provide thermal suits, hats, mittens, and heat packs to keep you warm and comfortable.”

GROUP SIZE

15 pax

PRICE

from 2300 NOK/pax

DURATION

6-9 hours

PHOTOS INCLUDED

Yes.

VEHICLE

15 Person Minibus

Ming Chu W
Ming Chu W
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We had no hope of seeing the Northern Lights after arriving in Tromso on a cruise to heavy clouds and rain/sleet. Not to mention low KP index, but Team Northern Horizon got us on one of their cruise special tour, promising to get us back to ship before departure and Max our guide, keeping his eyes to the sky was able to find the opening we needed and OMG! We ended up with photos and a viewing experience our friends are all envious of!!! Thanks!!!

*I deliberately chose a review from customers who were facing challenging weather conditions. Check more reviews on TripAdvisor. 

Arctic Photo Guide

As the smallest tour operator in Tromsø, Nico’s passion for the Arctic and its unique phenomena, like the Aurora, shines through. With years of experience working for top-rated northern lights tour providers in Tromso, he brings expertise and a personal touch to every tour of his newly founded company: Arctic Photo Guide.

Nico, a professional landscape photographer, offers the smallest group tours with a maximum of 6 guests, ensuring an intimate and immersive experience. 

Equipped with ice crampons, snowshoes, walking sticks, and thermal suits, Arctic Photo Guide’s tours take you off the beaten path to the most scenic spots, away from crowded areas.

Experience the beauty and magic of the North, thanks to Nico’s contagious passion for the Northern Lights and Arctic landscapes. Don’t miss this opportunity for an active tour that stands out from the rest!

Northern Light Tours with Arctic Photo Guide
Arctic Photo Guide: Northern Lights Expedition

Starting with a capable 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser off-road vehicle, you will venture to the best areas to chase the dancing northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. This is an active outdoor tour, unlike any other regular Northern Lights tour!

Once off the roads, you will embark on short and easy walks, exploring deeper into the backcountry, reaching the wildest landscapes, pristine fjords, frozen lakes, and the best spots that the Arctic has to offer, away from crowded places where everyone else stops!

Whether the ground is covered in ice or snow, you will be provided with the necessary equipment to fully enjoy this activity: ice crampons, snowshoes, walking/snow poles, thermal suits, as well as feet and hand warmers.

Do you have a camera and would like to learn how to use it for night photography? Nico, your guide, will teach you that and provide you with a professional tripod. Didn’t bring a camera with you? No worries, Nico will take photos for you!

Warm up with a bowl of soup in front of a bonfire (if conditions allow), along with cookies and hot drinks to keep you warm in the wild.

what makes northern lights chasing with Arctic Photo Guide Special?

Arctic Photo Guide offers intimate group tours of a maximum of 6 guests, providing grip equipment like ice crampons and snowshoes, along with walking sticks and thermal suits. 

This allows you to explore scenic spots on ice and deep snow that would be otherwise inaccessible, away from crowded parking spots. 

The northern lights tours provided by Arctic Photo Guide are the perfect choice for active travelers seeking an Arctic Nature adventure. Thanks to Nico’s 4×4 Toyota Land Cruiser, you will be able to reach the most remote locations.

GROUP SIZE

max 6 pax

PRICE

from 2150 NOK/pax

DURATION

5-9 hours

PHOTOS INCLUDED

Yes! Portraits, landscapes and group photos!

VEHICLE

4x4 Toyota Land Cruiser

JoeAndEllie
JoeAndEllie
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Our journey with Nicola was exciting and magical. It was a small group and everyone got along very well, despite some at times amusing language barriers. The first 2.5 to 3 hours or so were spent chasing gaps in the cloud, occasionally spotting quite minimal activity. As the hours went by, Nicola kept everyone's spirits high, grabbing opportunities to take souvenir photos with the Northern Lights when the camera could detect what the human eye could not. After some food and some more chat around a campfire (some four hours into our journey) the heavens opened. We were treated to a truly marvellous display of the lights, with elements of green being visible to the naked eye. Nicola helped me to set up my camera in an optimum manner, and helped me to capture some great shots. I've also attached a couple of Nicola's photos of us, which were sent to us promptly. Overall we loved our trip out with Nicola. The group size and dynamic suited us very well, his guiding was helpful, informative and considerate, and the display was fabulous. Thank you!

*I deliberately chose a review from customers who were facing challenging weather conditions. Check more reviews on TripAdvisor. 

Northern Shots

Northern Shots is a company that offers one of the cheapest northern lights tours in Tromsø. Their tours are conducted by big coaches (buses) with a capacity of up to 48 people.

Northern Shots is known for employing guides with a strong background in photography who will teach you how to set up your camera and take pictures of the northern lights. However, additional fees apply if you want to have a photo of you and the northern lights taken by a guide.

Northern Shots: Northern Lights Photography Bus Tour

“Hunt for Northern Lights on a guided trip from Tromso. On board a comfortable bus, you can listen to your guides’ detailed explanations about the scientific phenomenon of the Aurora Borealis and all the stories surrounding it. You will also benefit from a photo workshop on the way, where you will be provided with the information needed to capture stunning shots of the Northern Lights. If you choose to, you can have a professional Aurora portrait taken by the photographer for a lasting memory before you return to Tromso.”

GROUP SIZE

Max 48

PRICE

from 1590 NOK/pax

DURATION

6-7 hours

PHOTOS INCLUDED

For an additional fee.

VEHICLE

Big coach (bus) with toilet and WiFi on board

Janja
Janja
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It was cloudy and snowing in Tromsø when we left and I wandered if we'll ever find a clear patch of sky. But they took us way into Finland where we saw Aurora Borealis. Shy at first, but than... spectacular! Words can't descibe it. Marek is a very kind, positive and knowledgable guide and professional photographer. He thought everybody how to set their phones or cameras. Unfortunately it is impossible to take photos with iPhone if it is older than 11 genetarion. Marek can take a photo of you that is available to buy, I just wish it was less expensive. The tour is best value for money in town in my opinion, and you get to go the second time for half price. My first tour was with a van with Cristian, who is also good guide, and the second tour was with bus. I liked that better, more comfortable, and we had a great bus driver, too. I higly recomend this tour. Ah! Don’t expect to see the lights as green as they appear on photos- that’s how cameras see them, but they are nonethless beautiful seen with naked eye.

*I deliberately chose a review from customers who were facing challenging weather conditions. Check more reviews on TripAdvisor. 

northern lights tours in tromso - aurora portrait by northern shots
Aurora Portrait by the guides at Northern Shots. Taken by IG: marekrybar.cz

Best Northern Lights Tours in Tromso Combined with Another Activity

NORTHERN LIGHTS AND HUSKIES
Northern Lights and Husky Experience with Dinner
NORTHERN LIGHTS FROM A BOAT
Hunt the northern lights from MS Polar Adventure
REINDEER & SAMI CULTURE
Reindeer Sled, Dinner & Northern Lights
FJORD CRUISE
Luxury Northern LIghts Cruise with a Hot Tub
SAILING
Northern Lights Sailing Excursion on a Catamaran
SNOWMOBILE
An Evening Snowmobile Tour at Camp Tamok

Northern Lights / Aurora Borealis FAQ ​

Tromsø is renowned for its captivating northern lights displays, the awe-inspiring Arctic landscapes, its vibrant cultural scene, and its status as the “Gateway to the Arctic.”

Tromso is the largest city in Northern Norway, with a population of approximately 77,000 residents.

Polar lights (aurora polaris) are a natural phenomenon caused by high-speed electrically charged particles bombarding Earth’s atmosphere. It occurs in both the northern and southern hemispheres. In the northern hemisphere, they are sometimes referred to as aurora borealis, while in the southern hemisphere, they are called aurora australis. Auroras result from disturbances in the Earth’s magnetosphere caused by solar wind particles. 

To see the northern lights, you need the sky to be dark enough, so the aurora becomes visible, which only happens between the beginning of September and the beginning of April. However, most travel agencies run their tours from mid-September until the end of March. The peak season is February and March, when the weather is slightly more stable than in the other winter months. Moreover, the days become bright enough to enjoy lots of different activities during the day and hunt the northern lights during the night.

The Aurora Borealis manifests itself in a vast ring above the Earth’s Geomagnetic North Pole, referred to as the Auroral Oval. The auroral oval expands southwards with increasing geomagnetic activity, which allows seeing the northern lights even further south.

Tromsø’s unique location over 300 km North of the Arctic Circle and its stable mild weather enables us to observe the northern lights even on nights when the geomagnetic activity is low. Moreover, the region around Tromsø has many microclimates, meaning that the neighboring valleys or fjords can have significantly different weather conditions. 

That means that even on very cloudy nights, it is often possible to drive to a place with clear skies within a 2 – 3 hr drive.

You do not need to book a tour with a travel agency to see the northern lights. If the sky is clear and the northern lights activity is good, you can see northern lights even from the city center of Tromsø. 

However, booking a tour with an experienced guide is always better if you want to increase your chance of seeing them.

On cloudy days, the guides are excellent at reading the local weather forecast and choosing the spot with the most significant chance of a hole in the cloud cover. If the weather forecast looks dim, they might drive you all the way to Finland and back if that is the spot that promises the best chances for the night.

On top of that, you will learn a lot about the region, local legends, and the northern lights itself. The guides will also take pictures of you and the lights, which requires a bit of practice and give tips on taking great pictures with your own camera.

However, exploring on your own gives a certain satisfaction and peace that joining a tour cannot provide. If that´s what you are looking for, then you need our Interactive Map of Tromsø where we have included 48 spots around Tromsø that the professional northern lights tours are using. 

One of the best spots to watch the northern lights is from the top of the cable car that goes to Mt Fløyen. Other good locations are lake Prestvannet and Telegrafbukta beach.

Yes! On days with clear skies and good aurora activity, you can easily spot the northern lights from downtown Tromsø. However, finding a place with minimal light pollution is always better.

For the best chances of witnessing the northern lights, it’s recommended to spend a minimum of four to five days in Tromsø, as weather conditions can be variable.

The cost of a northern lights tour in Tromsø can vary significantly depending on the type of tour and its duration. Prices typically range from around 1,000 NOK to 2,500 NOK or more per person.

Booking a northern lights tour in Tromso is a straightforward process. You can make reservations through local tour operators, travel agencies, or online platforms like getyourguide or viator. The well known tour operators fill their spots quickly!

Good luck on your trip to Tromsø; we are crossing our fingers for you to see some spectacular northern lights. Let us know in the comments which northern lights tours you went for and how your experience was!

OUR METHODOLOGY

To write this article, we combed through dozens of tour operators in Tromsø to determine the best northern lights tours in Tromsø. We evaluated factors like price, group size, and mode of transportation, and we read through guest reviews of each tour to ensure each tour operator delivers on its promises. Moreover, we have several friends who work/had worked as northern lights guides in Tromsø, so we talked with them about their job and the companies they work/worked for. 

More Resources on Traveling to Tromso

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Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

MORE ABOUT US

BEST NORTHERN LIGHTS TOURS IN TROMSO: PiN IT!

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One Response

  1. We’re interested to book Tours for the Northern lights in Tromso.
    And other tours you are offering.
    We’re arriving in Tromso November 6, 2023. Departing November 11, 2023.
    Thanks

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