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The Ultimate Tromso Norway Aurora Travel Guide: Northern Lights, Arctic Adventures, and More!

Updated: Nov 4, 2023

aurora borealis tromso arctic cathedral snow covered land

Tromso, Norway Travel Tips, Northern Lights and Things To Do


The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a natural phenomenon that has captured the attention and awe of people for centuries.

These colorful lights can be seen in many places around the world, but one of the best locations to view them is in Tromso, Norway.

northern lights tromso arctic cathedral from the water

What are the northern lights?

The northern lights are a natural light display in the Earth's sky, predominantly seen in high latitude regions.

They occur when electrically charged particles from the sun/solar activity enter the Earth's atmosphere and collide with gases such as oxygen and nitrogen.

This collision results in beautiful displays of colors ranging from green to purple, creating a mesmerizing dance across the night sky.

aurora borealis over earth atmostphere sun outerspace

Tromsø, Norway

Tromso, located in the Arctic Circle in northern Norway, is known as the "Gateway to the Arctic" and is one of the best places to view the northern lights for several reasons.

First, its location within the auroral oval makes it a prime spot for viewing these natural wonders.

The city also has a relatively mild climate compared to other areas in the region, making it more comfortable for winter activities for visitors during their stay.

It is also relatively easy to travel to in northern Europe, has a city centre and plenty of outdoor activities such as dog sledding and northern lights chase.

tromso norway map earth outerspace

A Guide to Preparing for Travel to Tromso Norway to see the Northern Lights

What is the best month to see the northern lights in Tromso?

The best time to visit is between September and March. During these months, there are long periods of darkness, creating more opportunities for viewing the northern lights.

How many days do you need in Tromso for the northern lights?

Plan for at least 3-4 days to have a good chance of seeing the northern lights. This allows for flexibility in case of cloudy weather or low aurora activity on certain nights.

When can you see northern lights in Tromso?

Northern lights can be seen when you visit Tromso on clear, dark nights when there is high aurora activity.

It's important to note that even during the recommended months, sightings are not guaranteed and can depend on weather conditions and solar activity.

suitcase winter clothes travel

When preparing for a trip to Tromso, it's important to pack warm clothing as temperatures can drop well below freezing.

This includes thermal layers, a waterproof winter jacket, gloves, a neck or face gaiter and a hat. It's also essential to have sturdy shoes with good grip for walking on potentially icy surfaces.

When traveling abroad, it's important to remember a universal power adapter and ensure you have data for your smartphone.

In Norway, cashless transactions are prevalent, so there's generally no need to exchange currency.

tromso norway main street christmas lights night

Arriving in Tromso

Upon arrival to the tromsø airport, visitors will be greeted by a charming and welcoming city. The local culture is deeply rooted in Nordic traditions, with a strong emphasis on outdoor activities such as skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.

The people of Tromso are known for their warmth and friendly nature, making it easy for tourists to feel at home.

Tromso has a range of accommodation options, from luxury hotels to cozy guesthouses.

Some hotels also offer tours specifically for viewing the northern lights, which can be a convenient option for tourists.

tablet ipad learn norwegian app notepad pencil paper clips tea

Although English is widely spoken by most Norwegians in the travel and service industry, it is considered polite to familiarize oneself with a few basic Norwegian phrases.

This not only demonstrates respect for the local culture but also allows you to better understand and appreciate local customs and traditions.

Additionally, it is important to observe certain practices such as properly disposing of garbage, utilizing public restrooms, and removing your shoes when entering homes, offices, and yachts.

happy man northern lights cruise tromso norway

Northern Lights Tour in Tromso

Tromso is known as one of the best places in the world to view and experience the mesmerizing phenomenon of the northern lights.

To fully experience this natural wonder, many tourists opt for a bus tour for northern lights chasing / aurora hunting amongst the dark skies.

Witnessing the northern lights are an amazing spectacle so choosing the best northern lights tours specifically designed for viewing and photographing the aurora are a bucket list item for many.

If you are on a solo trip, joining a small group guided tour in the tromsø region is recommended for your polar adventures.

There are several tours available that offer unique experiences, such as snowshoeing, reindeer sleigh rides and a luxury spa cruise under the aurora borealis.

Most tours provide transport from Tromso city center to prime viewing locations away from light pollution.

It is important to note that no tour can guarantee seeing the northern lights, as it is a natural phenomenon that cannot be controlled. Be sure to check the weather forecast for the best viewing opportunities with clear skies.

aurora borealis cruise how tub woman takes photo

There are several tour companies that specialize in providing unforgettable northern lights tours by land and sea.

These companies offer a range of exciting experiences and services, tailored to create the perfect adventure for anyone seeking to witness the breathtaking beauty of the aurora borealis.

From guided expeditions to remote locations, to luxurious accommodations with panoramic views, these tour companies ensure a truly immersive and awe-inspiring encounter with one of nature's most mesmerizing phenomena.

taking photo of northern lights from a boat

During a northern lights tour, you can expect to be taken to the best viewing locations in Tromso and its surrounding areas.

These locations are carefully chosen based on weather conditions and aurora forecasting, increasing your chances of witnessing the magical dance of the northern lights.

aurora borealis forest snow campfire night

Although witnessing the northern lights is undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, it is important to remember that we are guests in nature's home.

When booking a tour, make sure to choose an eco-friendly company that prioritizes responsible and sustainable practices.

This could include using energy efficient modes of transportation, minimizing waste and practicing leave-no-trace principles during outdoor activities.

By choosing an environmentally conscious tour company, you can not only enjoy the beauty of the aurora borealis but also contribute to preserving the local environment for future generations.

polar light cruise happy man and woman winter clothes

One of the best ways to ensure a memorable and enjoyable northern lights tour is by reading reviews and recommendations from previous travelers.

This can give you an insight into the quality of services provided by different tour companies, as well as tips and advice on what to expect during your trip.

Additionally, some tour companies offer packages that include visits to popular attractions in the area, such as dog sledding or whale watching, making it important to research various options before booking your tour.

reading reviews on smart phone coffee

Tips for planning a northern lights tour

If you are planning to go on a northern lights tour, here are some tips to help maximize your chances of seeing this spectacular natural phenomenon:

Choose the right time

The best time to see the northern lights is during the winter months from September to March, when nights are longer and darker.

Additionally, aim for clear and cold nights with minimal cloud cover.

Check the aurora forecast

Before booking a tour, make sure to check the aurora forecast to determine if there is a high probability of seeing the lights that night.

This will increase your chances of witnessing a stunning display.

Dress appropriately

It can get very cold at night, especially in the Arctic where most northern lights tours take place.

Be sure to dress in layers and wear warm, waterproof clothing to stay comfortable during your tour.

4 people watching the aurora borealis at night

Tips for capturing photos of the northern lights

Capturing the northern lights in photographs is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it's essential to be prepared to make the most out of this experience.

Here are some tips for capturing stunning photos of the aurora borealis.

northern lights winter snow photographer tripod

Bring a tripod

A sturdy tripod is essential for capturing sharp and stable images, as the long exposure times required for photographing the northern lights can result in blurry photos when hand-held.

Use manual mode

Shooting in manual mode gives you full control over your camera settings, allowing you to adjust aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to achieve the best quality photos.

Use a wide-angle lens

A wide-angle lens is ideal for capturing the expansive and dynamic nature of the northern lights. It also allows you to include more of the landscape in your photos.

Experiment with different shutter speeds

While there is no one "correct" shutter speed for photographing the northern lights, it's worth experimenting with various settings to achieve different effects. Generally, a longer exposure time will result in brighter and more vibrant images.

Use your smart phone camera

These days, newer smart phone cameras are capable of capturing stunning photos of the magnificent northern lights, showcasing their vibrant colors and mesmerizing patterns.

Smart phone camera tips for capturing northern lights include:

-Switch to the night mode setting for better exposure and low light capabilities. You can also try adjusting the shutter speed or increasing the ISO to capture more details.

-Turn off flash and HDR mode to avoid overexposure.

-Use a tripod or stabilize your phone for steady shots.

-Adjust ISO, shutter speed, and focus manually if possible.

While waiting for the northern lights to appear, experiment with different compositions and angles.

Try incorporating interesting foreground elements such as trees, buildings, or people into your photos to add depth and perspective.

Be patient

While it's tempting to continuously click photos in the hopes of getting the perfect shot, sometimes all it takes is a little patience to capture that one breathtaking image.

Enjoy the experience and take breaks between shooting to fully appreciate the beauty of the northern lights.

millenial taking photo of northern lights on smartphone yellow hat winter jacket

Tromso Attractions Beyond the Northern Lights

Aside from the amazing northern lights, Tromso offers a plethora of attractions and activities for tourists to enjoy. Here are some must-visit places and things to do in Tromso:

Tromso Arctic Cathedral

This stunning cathedral, also known as Ishavskatedralen, is one of the city's most iconic landmarks.

Its unique modern architecture and beautiful stained glass windows make it a must-visit for tourists.

The Polarmuseet

This museum showcases the history of Tromso as a base for Arctic exploration. Visitors can learn about the fascinating world of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen, who spent his entire life on groundbreaking expeditions to the polar regions both to the south pole and the north pole.

Immerse yourself in history as you visit a meticulously recreated cabin, providing a glimpse into the challenges and triumphs of Amundsen's remarkable journeys.

Step back in time and experience the thrill of adventure as you uncover the secrets of exploration.

Arctic-Alpine Botanic Garden

Located on the slopes of Mount Storsteinen, this botanical garden boasts over 1,500 plant species from different Arctic regions.

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding is a traditional mode of transportation in the Arctic and is still widely practiced today. It involves being pulled by a team of strong huskies through the snowy landscapes.

Experience the thrill of being pulled by a pack of huskies through the snowy landscape. This is a popular activity during winter in Tromso.

Tromsø offers various dog sledding tours ranging from short trips to longer expeditions. You can choose between just riding as a passenger or learning how to drive your own sled with a pack of huskies.

This activity allows you to fully immerse yourself in the winter wilderness and witness the beautiful scenery while gliding through the snow. It's also a great opportunity to interact with the friendly and energetic huskies.

Tromso Wilderness Centre

For those interested in learning more about the indigenous Sami culture, a visit to the Tromso Wilderness Centre is a must. Here, you can learn about their traditional way of life and even try reindeer sledding.

dog sledding tromso norway winter snow mountain

The Northern Lights Planetarium

If you want to learn more about the science and folklore behind the northern lights, this planetarium at the Science Centre of Northern Norway features spectacular 360° films as well as interactive exhibitions on themes such as climate and weather, the sky above us, and energy and environment in the North.


The Arctic Museum of Norway show cases the regions spectacular Nature and Stories of Northern People.

It is a great place for people to learn more about Sami culture and the indigenous people of Arctic Norway.

Shopping at Storgata

This pedestrian shopping street is lined with quaint boutiques, souvenir shops, and traditional Norwegian restaurants.

It's the perfect place to pick up some unique souvenirs from local businesses such as Snarby for wool sweaters, Sweet Heart for candies, and Husfliden for traditional handcrafts.

woman holding norwegian wool sweaters

Skansen Historic Ship Museum

This open-air museum showcases traditional Norwegian boats and vessels from different eras.

Visitors can learn about the history of these ships and even take a boat tour around Tromso's harbor.

Local cuisine and dining options


The best seafood restaurant in town is a must-visit for seafood lovers. It offers a variety of carefully crafted fresh, locally caught fish and shellfish dishes.

Bardus Bistro and Bar

Located in an old wooden house, this bistro offers a mix of Northern Norwegian and international dishes using local ingredients such as moose and king crab.

Full Steam

Located in an old fisherman's wharf, Full Steam is a restaurant and museum in one where you hear, feel, see, smell and taste part of the local fishing history.


For a taste of traditional Norwegian cuisine, head to this cozy restaurant that serves up dishes like reindeer stew and grilled salmon.

Tromso Mathallen

This food hall showcases the best of local produce, with vendors selling everything from fresh fish to reindeer meat. It's a great place to sample a variety of Norwegian foods in one location.

Frø cafe and bakery

For a quick snack or coffee break, stop by this charming cafe for some freshly baked goods and a cup of locally roasted coffee. They also offer vegan and gluten-free options.

norwegian seafood dish fine dining

Local bars and pubs

Ølhallen Mack Brewery Pub

This historic brewery has been operating since 1877 and now has its own pub where you can try their famous Arctic beers while snacking on Norwegian tapas-style dishes.

Blå Rock Cafe

Located in an old warehouse by the harbor, this rock-themed bar serves up great cocktails and live music on weekends.


This quirky bar and music venue hosts live concerts by local and international artists, as well as regular DJ nights. It's a favorite among university students for its laid-back atmosphere and diverse music offerings.

Tromsø Mikrobryggeri & Balthazar Vinbar

This microbrewery and wine bar offers a wide selection of craft beers, wines, and cocktails.

Rorbua Pub

This traditional Norwegian pub is known for its lively atmosphere and oversized beer mugs. They also have a variety of snacks and hearty dishes to pair with your drinks.


Situated in a former courthouse, this trendy bar has a cozy and welcoming atmosphere. They offer a variety of beers and imaginative cocktails, as well as tasty bites to share.

Bastard Bar

With its eclectic decor and grungy vibe, this bar is the perfect spot for a casual night out. They offer live music shows, a rotating selection of craft beers and an impressive whiskey list.

Fun Pub

As the name suggests, this popular pub is all about having a good time. They have a wide range of beers and spirits, as well as fun events like quiz nights and karaoke.

Huken Brygg

This cozy gastropub restaurant and lounge bar has a fireplace to keep you warm during the long winter nights. They offer a great selection of local and imported beers, as well as traditional Norwegian dishes.

Sky bar

Perched on the 11th floor of a hotel, this rooftop bar offers stunning views of Tromsø and its surrounding mountains. They have an extensive selection of cocktails and wines, as well as a small bites menu for those enjoying the view.

man in suit at bar cheers cocktail

Outdoor activities in Tromsø

Tromsø also offers a wide range of outdoor activities for nature lovers. Here are some must-try options.

Sami reindeer experience

Learn about the indigenous Sami culture by taking a reindeer sledding tour through the beautiful Arctic landscape. You'll also get to visit a traditional Sami camp and enjoy a warm meal around the campfire.

reindeer in snow tromso norway big antlers

Fjord cruises

Immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring beauty of Tromsø's fjords and the enchanting surrounding islands on a truly unforgettable boat trip through the breathtaking Norwegian fjords.

As you embark on this relaxing journey, you'll be treated to panoramic views that will leave you spellbound.

Gaze in wonder as the majestic fjords unfold before your eyes, revealing their towering cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and serene turquoise waters.

With each passing moment, you'll have the opportunity to spot and marvel at the diverse wildlife that call these fjords home, including graceful seals, majestic whales, and a myriad of vibrant seabirds.

Capture the essence of this captivating experience as you create lasting memories amidst the pristine natural beauty of Tromsø's fjords.

Embark on this extraordinary adventure and let your senses come alive as you connect with the untouched wonders of nature.

Don't miss the opportunity to witness this truly mesmerizing spectacle. Join us on this remarkable boat trip through the Norwegian fjords and let the magic of Tromsø's natural wonders unfold before your eyes.

couple on a fjord cruise in tromso norway

Tromsø alpinpark

For the more adventurous, head to Tromsø Alpinpark for some skiing or snowboarding. With a variety of slopes and trails, this park is suitable for all levels.


Explore Tromsø's winter wonderland on a snowshoe hike through snowy forests and mountains. This activity is suitable for all fitness levels and offers stunning photo opportunities.

Tromsø Festivals and Events

Tromsø hosts several festivals throughout the year, such as the Northern Lights Festival and Arctic Arts Festival.

These festivals showcase local culture, music, art, and food. Be sure to check the festival calendar when planning your trip to Tromsø.

The Northern Lights Festival, in particular, is a must-see for music lovers. It features classical music performances by world-renowned orchestras and soloists in unique venues such as the Arctic Cathedral.

The Arctic Arts Festival celebrates the diversity of Arctic culture, with performances and exhibitions from various art forms such as music, dance, theatre, and visual arts.

The Polar Jazz Festival is another popular event, featuring international and local jazz artists in cozy venues around the city.

The Christmas tree lighting in the city center is also a festive event that should not be missed. The main street is lit up with lights and decorations, creating a magical atmosphere for all to enjoy.

tromso norway town center christmas tree winter

The Polar Night Half Marathon, held in January, is a unique experience for runners.

The race takes place in the dark of the polar night, with only headlamps and torches to light the way.

Arctic Snowshoe race, held in March, is another exciting event for outdoor enthusiasts.

This race takes place on the snowy trails of Tromsø, with different distances to choose from.

Tromsø International Film Festival is a renowned film festival that takes place in January and showcases the best of international and Nordic films.

Other notable events include the Reindeer Racing Championships, Sámi Week celebrations, and various cultural festivals celebrating indigenous Sami culture.

winter cod fishing trip tromso norway skrei

Winter Fishing

Tromsø's surrounding fjords are filled with various types of fish year round. This makes it the perfect destination for those who enjoy ice fishing or sea fishing.

Ice fishing is a popular activity during winter in Tromsø, with many tour companies offering guided trips to various locations on the frozen fjords.

You can also rent equipment and head out on your own if you prefer.

Sea fishing is another option, where you can catch larger fish such as cod, halibut, and salmon.

Many companies offer day trips or multi-day tours with experienced guides to help you navigate the waters and increase your chances of catching fish.

Aside from being a fun and exciting activity, winter fishing also provides an opportunity to experience the stunning Arctic nature and potentially catch your own meal.

Skrei fishing, in particular, is a popular activity in late March. Skrei is a type of cod that migrates to the coastal waters of Northern Norway every year to spawn and it is highly sought after for its delicious taste.

This fishing season only lasts for a few weeks, so it's recommended to book in advance if you want to participate in this unique experience.


Overall, Tromsø offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers looking to immerse themselves in Norwegian culture and nature.

With its stunning natural landscape and vibrant city life, it's no wonder why this charming Arctic town is becoming a popular tourist destination for a winter getaway.

From delicious local cuisine to exciting outdoor activities and cultural events, there's something for everyone in this vibrant city.

And of course, the magical Northern Lights are the icing on top of an already amazing trip. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready for an adventure like no other in Tromsø!

Happy travels! 🌄✨

See you soon in Tromsø!

Keep exploring, keep learning about new cultures and embrace every opportunity to travel because those are memories that will last a lifetime. Safe travels

Final Thoughts

Don't forget to pack your warmest clothes and sense of adventure.

As the saying goes, "There's no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing."

So don't let the cold deter you from experiencing all that Tromsø has to offer.

And with numerous cozy accommodations and delicious restaurants serving up warm, hearty meals, you'll be well taken care of during your stay in this Arctic wonderland.

Note: All information provided was valid at the time of writing but it is highly recommended to check current conditions and travel advisories before making any travel plans. Remember to consider factors such as weather conditions, local regulations, and any potential travel restrictions that may be in place. Stay informed and make well-informed decisions to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip.

Thank you for reading our Tromso Norway Northern Lights Travel Guide!

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