10 wild northern lights tours in Tromsø, Norway

High up in the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is one of the world’s best places to watch the spectacular aurora borealis light show.

There are lots of northern lights tours to choose from in Tromso. Here are 7 of the best!

At 69ºN, the town lies right at the centre of the northern lights oval, which means that the chances of seeing the lights in Tromsø are good, even when solar activity is low.

And Tromsø’s remote location, surrounded by wilderness, means that it’s easy to escape any light pollution and get the best views of the lights.

In addition, the city is on a sheltered stretch of coast so has a relatively mild climate, making it more appealing to get out into the darkness and see the lights.

And the fact that Tromsø is northern Norway’s largest city (though still with a population of only around 60,000) means that it’s well-equipped with hotels, tours, guides and all the gear you’ll need to facilitate a great view of the lights.

When to see the lights
Do you really need a tour?
10 of the best tours
Where to stay

When to see the northern lights in Tromsø

Just like in the rest of northern Norway, the northern lights can be seen in Tromsø when it’s dark between mid-September to early April.

Your best chance is during the polar night, from approximately November 27th to January 21st.

Take a tour from Tromsø to see the northern lights
Diana Robinson (CC)

This is when the sun doesn’t rise at all and there is 24 hours of darkness a day in Tromsø.

However, assuming you want to do other things during your time in Tromsø, you’re probably better off going during the shoulder season when you’re likely to get better weather and you have long hours of darkness but also some daylight so that you can do other activities too.

Provided it’s dark, the sky is clear (look out for stars) and there’s no cloud cover, you’ve got a decent chance of seeing the northern lights in Tromsø. 

For more on what to expect, where to see the lights and how to get the best out of your northern lights experience, read our guide on seeing the northern lights in Norway.

Do you really need to join a tour?

So, can you see the northern lights in Tromsø without going on a tour? Well, the answer is yes, you can. If money is tight, you may want to try to find the northern lights yourself. 

The key is to wait until it’s a clear night without any clouds and to get as far away as possible from any lights. 

To reduce the effects of any light pollution in Tromsø itself, walk south of the city to the beach at Telegrafbukta, or head to Prestvannet lake where there are fewer lights.

Or if you have a car, drive out of the city to a quiet dark spot and wait for the lights to appear.

But, of course, unless you’re very lucky, taking a tour will make seeing the lights easier and more interesting. So here are our pros and cons of joining a tour.

The pros and cons of joining a tour

Cons

  • It’s cheaper to do it yourself.
  • You have the flexibility to spend as long, or as short, as you like searching.

Pros

  • Tours are more fun!
  • You get an expert guide who can explain all about the phenomenon.
  • An experienced, knowledgeable guide knows where to get the best views. 
  • Transport is included.
  • You can combine a northern lights tour with other fun activities, such as an evening fjord cruise or a snowmobile ride.
  • Tours are more sociable, especially if you’re travelling alone.
  • Some tours will provide a second trip for free if you don’t see the lights first time around.

Why taking a tour is a good option

So, we think one of the best ways of ensuring that you see the lights at most spectacular is to take a tour.

Experienced guides know exactly where the best spots for viewing are, and can tell you all about the spectacular phenomenon, why it happens and how the science behind it works.

10 of the best northern lights tours from Tromsø

Anyone can join a tour, but it’s particularly worthwhile if you’re travelling on your own and don’t want to be outside alone in a remote place in the dark. 

And there’s a whole bunch of northern lights tours available, from a snowmobile trip to camping in a traditional Sami tent. So here are some of our favourite fun northern lights tours from Tromsø.

Take a classic northern lights tour

This small-group minibus tour takes you wherever you need to go in search of the northern lights – sometimes even over the border to Finland! 

Tromso in Norway has a great range of northern lights tours.

After a warm bowl of soup round a campfire, your experienced guide will take you to the best spots to see the spectacular show. Snow suits are provided to keep you warm while you’re watching the lights.

And you’ll get professional photos of the phenomenon taken by your guide emailed to you after the tour – in case your own aren’t up to scratch!

Duration: The tour lasts 6–8 hours.

Meeting point: Scandic Ishavshotel, Fredrik Langes gate 2, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No, but after the tour you can be dropped off at any city centre hotel.

Hunt the lights by husky

What could be more fun than heading out into the wilderness on a sled drawn by huskies? This evening tour takes you out into the darkness by dog-sled – and you even get the chance to drive the dogs yourself.

Go on a husky-sled tour from Tromsø to see the northern lights

After the sled ride, you’ll sit round a campfire by a reindeer hunter’s tent for a hot meal under the stars. And, provided it’s a clear night, there’s a good chance you’ll see the aurora borealis too.

There are more ideas for husky tours in Tromsø in this guide.

Duration: The tour lasts 7 hours.

Meeting point: Samuel Arnesens gate, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: The tour incudes a 90-minute bus transfer from Tromsø to Camp Tamok, but it can also be booked without the transfer if you have your own transport.

Have a fun snowmobile northern lights trip

For an even more adrenaline-filled trip, you can go in search of the northern lights by snowmobile.

See the northern lights by snowmobile from Tromsø

You can take it in turns with your partner to drive the snowmobile through a snow-filled valley up to a frozen lake, before whizzing back across the icy landscape to a warming dinner by a campfire. 

And if the conditions are right, you should see the northern lights in the skies above.

Duration: The tour lasts 7 hours.

Meeting point: Samuel Arnesens gate, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: The tour incudes a 90-minute bus transfer from Tromsø to Camp Tamok, but it can also be booked without the transfer if you have your own transport.

Go snowshoeing to see the lights

If you fancy a calmer northern lights trips, why not try this evening snowshoeing tour?

You can see the northern lights on a snowshoe tour from Tromsø

Head up to Fjellheisen by cable car, where you’ll look down on the city from 421m above sea level. 

Here, you’ll be kitted out with snowshoes and hiking poles, before heading out onto the mountain in search of the lights.

Travelling by traditional snowshoes is a good way to enjoy the peace and quiet of the night – and, if you’re lucky, to see the lights too.

Duration: The tour lasts for three and a half hours.

Meeting point: Norwegian Travel, Sjøgata 16, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No. The tour includes a mini-bus from the meeting point to the cable car station, plus tickets on the cable car.

Chase the northern lights at sea

Board the MS Polar Adventure for an exciting northern lights chase out at sea.

See the norhern lights from the sea in Tromso, Norway.

Because there’s no light pollution at sea, there’s a good chance of seeing the lights and the boat will take you to the best place to get good views.

And if the lights don’t appear on your first trip, you’ll get another boat trip for free.

Duration: The tour lasts for three and a half hours.

Meeting point: Outside the Polar Adventures Office, Killengreens gate 7-11, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No.

Ride on a reindeer sleigh and look out for the lights

Feed the reindeer and ride on a sleigh pulled by these majestic creatures at a Sami reindeer herding camp.

Feed the reindeer and see the northern lights in Tromso.

Then settle down to a traditional Sami stew of bidos round the campfire, while your hosts tell you tales of Sami life and culture.

You can look out for the lights in the skies above, while the Sami explain their cultural significance – and maybe even sing a joik (a traditional Sami song).

Duration: The tour lasts for four and a half hours.

Meeting point: In front of the Rorbua Pub next to the Radisson Blu Hotel, Samuel Arnesens gate, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No. The tour includes a minivan transfer from the meeting point to the reindeer camp.

Perfect your pics with this northern lights photography tour

Head off into the wilderness on this tour, which is led by an experienced photographer who can help you get spectacular snaps of the lights. 

Take some fantastic pics on a northern lights photography trip.

Once you’re in a good location, you’ll set up and camp and be provided with pro tripods and headlamps to help you get the perfect picture – plus warming soup and hot drinks.

Duration: The tour lasts 6–9 hours.

Meeting point: Outside Tourist Shop Tromsø Havn, Kirkegata, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No, but after the tour you can be dropped off at any city centre hotel.

Look out for the northern lights from a hot tub

Set sail from Tromsø on a luxury yacht and look out for the lights from the warmth of a hot tub on deck.

There are only 12 people on board the yacht so you’ll get a personalised trip that includes a warming bowl of reindeer stew for dinner and, of course, a lovely soak in the hot tub.

What better to watch out for the lights as you sail around the fjord beneath the starry skies?

Duration: The tour lasts for four hours.

Meeting point: At the S/Y Stella Oceana, docked in front of the Fiskekompaniet restaurant, on Killengreens gate, 9008 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No.

Stay with the Sami and see the northern lights

This overnight trip is a great way of seeing the northern lights while learning about the traditional Sami way of life.

Stay in a traditional Sami tent and see the northern lights near Tromsø.

You’ll stay in a cosy traditional laava (a Sami tent) on the island of Kvaløya, go on a sleigh ride pulled by reindeer and eat a tasty Sami stew round the campfire. 

The Sami guides will share stories about their culture and there’s a good chance of seeing the lights in this pristine environment.

Duration: The tour lasts 17 hours approximately.

Meeting point: Radisson Blu Hotel, Sjøgata 7, 9259 Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: The tour includes transfers from the meeting point in Tromsø to the Sami camp.

Look out for the lights from an eco boat

This silent electric catamaran trip takes you out into the fjord past snowy mountains and away from the city’s light pollution to give a better chance of seeing the lights.

See the northern lights from an electric cataraman.

There are 360-degree views of the skies from its deck or you can head down into the warmth of the heated boat. You also get to enjoy a dinner of Arctic tapas made from local ingredients.

Duration: The tour lasts three to three and a half hours.

Meeting point: The pier to the side of Skarven Kro Restaurant, Kaigata 6 in Tromsø.

Free cancellation: Yes, up to 24 hours in advance

Free pick up: No.

Where to stay if you want to see the northern lights

And if you don’t want to join an organised tour, you can maximise your chances of seeing the lights by staying out of the city in a remote area where there’s no light pollution.

Here are some great options for places to stay to see the northern lights near Tromsø.

1. Tromsø Lodge & Camping

Watch the northern lights from the comfort of your own cabin near Tromsø
Tromsø Lodge & Camping

Just outside the city, these cosy self-contained wooden cabins make a great base for viewing the lights.

The cabins have large glass windows so that you can stay inside in the warm and watch the lights from the comfort of your own sofa.

2. Melishome: Aurora Observatory

In a remote spot overlooking the sea and mountains, this simple cabin has a few cheap and cheerful rooms in a beautiful location – ideal for viewing the lights. The owner runs nighttime northern lights tours, too.

3. Glass roof private loft

For great views of the lights without leaving your own living room, this lovely loft has a glass roof and private balcony.

It’s close to the facilities of the city centre, but looks out over the water and the mountains beyond.

See also:
Seeing the northern lights in Norway
Seeing the northern lights in Finland
10 of the best igloo hotels in Scandinavia

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