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Chasing The Northern Lights In Tromso


Modified: December 27, 2023

by Roana Dever



Have you ever dreamt of witnessing one of nature’s most mesmerizing spectacles? The ethereal dance of colors across the night sky, known as the northern lights, is a sight that leaves onlookers in awe and wonder. To experience this extraordinary natural phenomenon, look no further than Tromso, Norway.


Tromso, situated within the Arctic Circle, is renowned as one of the best places in the world to chase the northern lights. With its clear skies, pristine landscapes, and optimal location, it offers adventurers the perfect opportunity to glimpse this celestial display.


Imagine standing under a star-filled sky, with the vibrant hues of green, purple, and red swirling above you. The northern lights, also called the Aurora Borealis, are a result of solar particles colliding with the Earth’s atmosphere. Tromso’s northerly latitude, coupled with its minimal light pollution, creates an ideal environment for witnessing this breathtaking phenomenon.


Although the northern lights can be observed in other locations around the globe, Tromso offers a unique blend of adventure and natural beauty. Its snow-capped mountains, fjords, and charming coastal villages provide a stunning backdrop to the celestial show. This makes it a dream destination for photographers, nature lovers, and adventure enthusiasts.


Not only does Tromso offer the chance to witness the northern lights, but it also boasts a range of exciting winter activities. From dog sledding and snowshoeing to reindeer sleigh rides and ice fishing, there is no shortage of adventures to embark on during your stay.


Whether you are an avid nature enthusiast, a thrill-seeker, or simply seeking a magical experience, Tromso has it all. Get ready to chase your dreams and immerse yourself in the beauty and wonder of the northern lights in this enchanting Arctic city.


What are the northern lights?

The northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a natural light display that occurs in the Earth’s polar regions. They are caused by the interaction of solar particles with the Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere. The result is a stunning visual spectacle of vibrant colors dancing across the night sky.


The primary colors of the northern lights are green, pink, and purple, although variations of red, yellow, and blue can also appear. The colors are created by different gases in the Earth’s atmosphere. Green lights, the most common, are produced by oxygen molecules approximately 60 miles above the Earth’s surface. Higher in the atmosphere, at about 200 miles, red and purple lights can occur due to interactions with nitrogen molecules.


The appearance of the northern lights can vary from gentle wisps to intense, pulsating curtains of light. They can be static or dynamic, with movements similar to waves or shimmering curtains. The intensity and frequency of the northern lights depend on various factors, including solar activity, geomagnetic disturbances, and weather conditions.


The northern lights have fascinated and inspired people for centuries. Indigenous cultures often have myths and legends surrounding these celestial displays, viewing them as spiritual or supernatural phenomena. Today, they continue to captivate photographers, nature lovers, and adventure seekers who flock to locations like Tromso to witness their breathtaking beauty.


To experience the northern lights in all their glory, it’s essential to find a location with minimal light pollution and clear skies. Tromso, with its northerly latitude and relatively low light pollution, provides an optimal environment for viewing the northern lights. Chasing the northern lights in Tromso offers a unique opportunity to witness this captivating natural phenomenon in a stunning Arctic setting.


Why chase the northern lights in Tromso?

Tromso is a dream destination for those seeking to witness the northern lights up close and personal. Here are several reasons why you should consider chasing the northern lights in Tromso:

  1. Optimal location: Tromso is located within the Arctic Circle, making it one of the best places in the world for viewing the northern lights. Its high latitude increases the chances of seeing this natural phenomenon.
  2. Clear skies: Tromso is known for its relatively clear skies, increasing the visibility of the northern lights. The absence of heavy light pollution allows for a more immersive and awe-inspiring experience.
  3. Extended aurora season: Tromso’s location offers an extended aurora season, with the best chances for spotting the northern lights occurring from September to March. This gives you a wide window of opportunity to plan your trip.
  4. Scenic landscapes: Tromso’s breathtaking landscapes add to the allure of witnessing the northern lights. Snow-capped mountains, frozen fjords, and charming coastal villages provide a picturesque backdrop, enhancing the overall experience.
  5. Adventure activities: Chasing the northern lights in Tromso can be combined with a range of thrilling winter activities. From dog sledding and snowshoeing to ice fishing and reindeer sleigh rides, there are plenty of adventure options to explore during the day.
  6. Cultural experiences: Tromso is the gateway to Sami culture, the indigenous people of Scandinavia. You have the opportunity to learn about their traditional way of life, meet reindeer herders, and even try traditional Sami cuisine.
  7. Well-developed infrastructure: Tromso is a modern city with excellent infrastructure, making it convenient for travelers. It offers a range of accommodations, restaurants, and transportation options to suit all budgets and preferences.
  8. Unique winter activities: In addition to the northern lights, Tromso offers a host of unique winter activities such as whale watching, husky sledding, and snowmobile safaris. This means you can make the most of your trip and create lasting memories.

Chasing the northern lights in Tromso is a magical and unforgettable experience. The combination of its prime location, clear skies, and stunning landscapes make it one of the most sought-after destinations for witnessing the mesmerizing dance of colors in the night sky.


Best time to see the northern lights in Tromso

Tromso is blessed with a relatively long aurora season, providing ample opportunities for visitors to witness the northern lights. However, the best time to see this awe-inspiring phenomenon in Tromso is from September to March.


During these months, the night sky in Tromso is dark enough for the northern lights to be visible. September and October offer the advantage of milder weather and fewer crowds. The autumnal colors of Tromso’s landscapes add a unique charm to the northern lights experience.


The winter months of November to February are the peak season for chasing the northern lights in Tromso. The combination of longer nights and colder temperatures creates optimal conditions for witnessing this celestial spectacle. The landscape covered in a blanket of snow adds a magical touch to the experience.


March offers the last chance to see the northern lights before the arrival of spring. The days start getting longer, but the nights still provide an opportunity to view the dancing auroras. This month is ideal for those who prefer milder temperatures and want to enjoy other winter activities alongside the northern lights.


It’s important to note that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, and their appearance cannot be guaranteed. They are influenced by solar activity and geomagnetic disturbances, which are unpredictable. However, Tromso’s location within the Arctic Circle and relatively clear skies increase the likelihood of witnessing the northern lights.


When planning your trip to Tromso, it is advisable to stay for at least a few nights to maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights. This allows for flexibility in case of unfavorable weather conditions on certain nights.


Additionally, keeping an eye on the local weather forecast and aurora forecasts can be helpful in determining the best nights for viewing the northern lights. Many tour companies in Tromso offer guided northern lights tours, increasing your chances of seeing this natural wonder with the help of experienced guides who know the best spots.


Remember to dress warmly, bring a camera to capture the magical moments, and keep an open mind. While the northern lights are a magnificent sight, they are also a reminder of the beauty and unpredictability of nature.


How to get to Tromso

Despite its remote location in the Arctic, getting to Tromso is relatively straightforward, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. Whether you prefer to travel by air, sea, or land, there are several options available to reach this enchanting Arctic city.


By Air: Tromso is served by Tromso Airport (TOS), which has direct flights from various major European cities. Airlines such as SAS, Norwegian, and Wideroe offer regular scheduled flights to Tromso. The airport is located just a 10-minute drive from the city center, making it convenient for travelers.


By Sea: If you crave a more scenic and adventurous journey, consider traveling to Tromso by ferry or cruise ship. Hurtigruten, a renowned Norwegian cruise line, offers coastal voyages that stop in Tromso. These cruises provide an opportunity to enjoy the stunning Norwegian coastline and fjords before arriving in Tromso.


By Train: While there is no direct train service to Tromso, you can take a train to Narvik and then continue the journey to Tromso by bus or rental car. The train ride from Oslo to Narvik offers breathtaking views of Norway’s mountainous landscapes and is considered one of the most scenic train journeys in the world.


By Bus: Tromso is connected to various cities in Norway via a network of bus routes. Several bus companies operate routes to and from Tromso, providing a more budget-friendly option for travelers. The bus journey allows you to enjoy the picturesque scenery of Norway as you make your way to Tromso.


Once you have arrived in Tromso, getting around the city is relatively easy. The city center is compact and walkable, allowing you to explore most attractions on foot. Public transportation, including buses, is available for traveling to locations outside the city center.


Whether you choose to fly, sail, or embark on a scenic train journey, the adventure of getting to Tromso is just the beginning of the once-in-a-lifetime experience awaiting you in this Arctic wonderland.


Where to stay in Tromso

Tromso offers a wide range of accommodation options to suit every budget and preference. Whether you prefer luxury hotels, cozy guesthouses, or self-catering apartments, you’ll find the perfect place to stay in this Arctic city.


Tromso City Center: Staying in the heart of Tromso city center puts you in close proximity to the main attractions, restaurants, and shops. You’ll have easy access to the waterfront, where you can take part in activities like fjord cruises and whale watching. The city center also offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from boutique hotels to budget-friendly hostels.


Polaria / Telegrafbukta Beach: Located just a short distance from the city center, the Polaria area offers a more tranquil setting with beautiful views of the water. This area is home to the Polaria Arctic Experience Center, where you can learn about Arctic wildlife and culture. There are also a few hotels in this area that offer a peaceful retreat away from the bustling city center.


Tromsoya Island: Tromsoya Island is the largest island in the Tromso area and is connected to the city center by bridges. Stay on Tromsoya Island for a more relaxed atmosphere and stunning natural surroundings. The island is known for its hiking trails, scenic views, and the Tromso University Museum. You’ll find a mix of hotels and guesthouses on the island, providing a cozy and serene stay away from the city noise.


Airport Area: If you prefer convenience and want to be close to the airport, staying in the area surrounding Tromso Airport is a good option. There are several hotels near the airport that offer complimentary airport shuttle services, making your arrival and departure hassle-free. While this area is further away from the city center, it can be a convenient choice if you have early or late flights.


When choosing your accommodation, consider the amenities and services that are important to you. Some hotels in Tromso offer northern lights wake-up calls, saunas, and on-site restaurants serving local delicacies. Others provide outdoor equipment for rent, such as snowshoes and winter clothing, allowing you to fully enjoy your Arctic adventure.


Regardless of where you choose to stay in Tromso, the city’s charm, natural beauty, and proximity to the northern lights will make your stay an unforgettable experience.


Chasing the northern lights: Best spots in Tromso

Tromso, nestled within the Arctic Circle and surrounded by pristine landscapes, offers numerous spots for chasing the northern lights. Here are some of the best locations in and around Tromso to maximize your chances of witnessing this breathtaking natural phenomenon:

  1. Tromso Island: The city center of Tromso, located on Tromsoya Island, provides easy access to the waterfront, which offers unobstructed views of the northern skies. Stroll along the harbor promenade or find a cozy spot by the water to watch the auroras dance above the city lights.
  2. Kvaloya Island: Just west of Tromsoya Island, Kvaloya Island is known for its dramatic landscapes and secluded spots for aurora viewing. The beaches of Sommaroy and Ersfjord are popular locations, offering a picturesque setting to capture the northern lights.
  3. Tromso Wilderness Center: Located about 25 minutes outside of Tromso, the Tromso Wilderness Center offers guided northern lights tours in a prime viewing area. The advantage of visiting this center is their expertise in finding the best spots based on weather conditions and aurora forecasts.
  4. Lyngen Alps: If you’re up for an adventure, head southeast from Tromso to the Lyngen Alps. This mountainous region provides a stunning backdrop for the northern lights. Find a cozy cabin or join a guided tour to explore the wilderness and witness the auroras in all their glory.
  5. Svalbard: For those seeking an Arctic expedition, consider traveling to Svalbard, an archipelago located north of mainland Norway. Svalbard offers a unique opportunity to see the northern lights in an isolated and otherworldly setting.
  6. Remote Villages: Surrounding Tromso are small, remote villages such as Skibotn and Kafjord that provide little to no light pollution. These villages offer a peaceful and undisturbed environment to observe the auroras and truly immerse yourself in the Arctic wilderness.

It’s important to remember that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon influenced by various factors. It’s best to check the aurora forecasts, stay up to date with weather conditions, and be prepared to be flexible with your plans. Joining a guided northern lights tour can also increase your chances of seeing the auroras, as the guides have the local knowledge and experience to find the best viewing spots.


So, grab your camera, bundle up in warm clothing, and venture out into the arctic night in Tromso. The beauty and magic of the northern lights await you in these incredible locations.


What to pack for chasing the northern lights

When preparing for a trip to Tromso to chase the northern lights, it’s crucial to pack the right essentials to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Here are some essential items to include in your packing list:

  1. Warm Clothing: Tromso is located in the Arctic, so be prepared for cold temperatures. Layering is key to staying warm, so pack thermals, fleece jackets, waterproof and windproof outerwear, hats, gloves, and warm socks. It’s better to pack more warm clothing than you think you’ll need, as temperatures can drop significantly at night.
  2. Winter Accessories: Don’t forget to pack a good quality insulated winter hat, scarf, and mittens or gloves. These accessories will protect you from the cold and wind, allowing you to stay outside and enjoy the auroras without discomfort.
  3. Winter Boots: Invest in a sturdy pair of insulated and waterproof boots to keep your feet warm and dry. Look for boots with good traction to navigate snowy and icy terrain with ease. Consider wearing thicker socks or thermal insoles for added warmth.
  4. Camera and Tripod: Capture the magical moments of the northern lights with a DSLR camera and a tripod. A camera with manual settings will allow you to adjust your exposure and capture the true colors and beauty of the auroras. Don’t forget to bring extra batteries and memory cards.
  5. Headlamp or Flashlight: A headlamp or flashlight is essential for navigating in the dark, whether you’re setting up your camera equipment or exploring the surroundings. It’s also handy when you need a bit of extra light while adjusting your clothing or equipment.
  6. Portable Power Bank: To keep your electronic devices charged during long nights of aurora hunting, pack a portable power bank. This will ensure that you can capture photos or communicate with others without the worry of your battery dying.
  7. Hand Warmers: Pack some disposable hand warmers to keep your hands warm during prolonged periods outside. These small packets generate heat and can be slipped into pockets or gloves to provide instant warmth.
  8. Aurora Forecast Apps: Download smartphone apps or check websites that provide real-time aurora forecasts. These apps can help you track the aurora activity and determine the best times for viewing the northern lights.
  9. Personal Care Essentials: Don’t forget to pack your regular toiletries, sunscreen (yes, even in winter), lip balm, and moisturizer. The chilly weather can be harsh on your skin, so it’s important to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the elements.

Remember to pack and dress in layers, so you can adjust your clothing depending on the temperature and activity level. It’s also a good idea to check with your tour provider if any specific equipment or clothing is recommended for the activities you plan to participate in.


With the right gear and preparation, you’ll be ready to venture out into the Arctic wilderness and chase the northern lights in comfort and style.


Tips for viewing the northern lights

When it comes to viewing the northern lights, it’s helpful to keep a few key tips in mind to enhance your chances of witnessing this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Here are some tips to maximize your northern lights experience:

  1. Check the aurora forecasts: Keep an eye on the aurora forecasts to stay informed about the predicted intensity and activity levels of the northern lights. Plan your outings accordingly and look for nights with higher activity for the best viewing opportunities.
  2. Find dark and clear skies: Light pollution can dim the visibility of the northern lights, so venture away from areas with excessive city lights. Seek out locations with clear skies, such as open fields or coastal areas, to maximize your chances of seeing the auroras.
  3. Patience is key: Viewing the northern lights can be a waiting game. Sometimes, the auroras appear in short bursts, while other times, they may be more prolonged. Be prepared to spend time outside, as the auroras might appear when you least expect it. Stay patient and enjoy the starry sky while waiting for the show.
  4. Be flexible with your plans: Weather conditions can change quickly, so be prepared to adjust your plans accordingly. If the forecast looks unpromising for one night, consider rescheduling or exploring other activities until better conditions prevail.
  5. Take a guided tour: Joining a guided tour with experienced aurora guides can significantly increase your chances of seeing the northern lights. They have local knowledge of the best viewing spots, keep an eye on the forecast, and are adept at adjusting plans to maximize aurora sightings.
  6. Capture the moment: Don’t forget to bring your camera and tripod to capture the beauty of the northern lights. Familiarize yourself with manual camera settings beforehand to adjust exposure, shutter speed, and ISO settings for the best aurora photos. Experiment with long exposures to capture the vibrant colors and movement of the auroras.
  7. Keep warm and dress appropriately: Dress in warm layers to protect yourself from the cold Arctic temperatures. Keep in mind that winter nights can be quite chilly, so wear thermal base layers, a down jacket, insulated pants, a hat, gloves, and warm socks. Don’t forget to wear proper footwear, such as insulated boots, to keep your feet warm and dry.
  8. Stay away from light pollution: Light pollution can hinder aurora visibility, so try to position yourself away from artificial light sources. If you’re in a city, head to the outskirts or find a dark area without streetlights to get a clearer view of the northern lights.
  9. Enjoy the experience: While capturing photos is a wonderful way to remember the moment, don’t forget to take a moment to simply enjoy the spectacle of the northern lights. Take a break from your camera and take in the beauty of the auroras with your own eyes, allowing yourself to be captivated by nature’s light show.

Remember that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, and their appearance can vary. Be open to the unpredictability and wonder of nature, and savor the experience of witnessing this extraordinary display.



Chasing the northern lights in Tromso is a dream for nature enthusiasts, adventure seekers, and anyone captivated by the beauty of the night sky. With its optimal location, clear skies, and stunning landscapes, Tromso offers the perfect setting to witness the awe-inspiring northern lights.


From the vibrant colors dancing above Tromsoya Island to the secluded spots in the surrounding wilderness, there are plenty of places to catch a glimpse of this celestial spectacle. The extended aurora season, spanning from September to March, provides ample time to plan your visit and increase your chances of seeing the northern lights.


When preparing for your trip, pack warm clothing, a camera and tripod, and other essential items to ensure that you’re comfortable during your aurora hunting adventures. Keep a close eye on aurora forecasts, be patient, and be open to adjusting plans based on weather conditions. Joining a guided tour can also enhance your experience and increase your chances of witnessing the northern lights.


However, remember that the northern lights are a natural phenomenon, and their appearance cannot be guaranteed. Embrace the unpredictability of nature and appreciate the beauty of Tromso’s landscapes and winter activities even if you don’t catch a glimpse of the auroras.


Whether you’re mesmerized by the dancing lights, dazzled by the scenic landscapes, or enthralled by the cultural experiences, a trip to Tromso to chase the northern lights promises to be an unforgettable adventure. So, bundle up, embrace the Arctic winter, and get ready to be enchanted by the mesmerizing beauty of the northern lights in Tromso.