10 of the best whale watching tours in Tromsø, Norway

Whales are some of the most sophisticated and majestic animals on the planet. Seeing these magnificent mammals up close is a genuinely thrilling experience – and a highlight of any trip to Norway.

A whale watching trip is a highlight of any visit to Tromsø in Norway

High up in northern Norway, Tromsø is one of the country’s best places for whale watching, and the perfect place to base yourself if you want to see whales in the wild.

Read on to find out all you need to know about whale-watching and check out some of our favourite whale-watching tours in Tromsø.

Why is Tromsø such a good place for whale watching?

Located in Norway’s island-speckled northeast, Tromsø is the region’s best-developed hub for winter tourism, with great access to the very best whale watching spots.

The natural environment around Tromsø is really stunning, with tall mountains giving way to cold, clear seas, making it the perfect place for a once-in-a-lifetime whale watching experience.

There are loads of trips available from the city itself, from whale watching in a RIB boat from Tromsø to ‘silent’ whale watching on a hybrid electric catamaran.

Most tours leave from the central harbour (Tromsø havn) which is picturesque and within easy walking distance of the most popular downtown hotels.

High up in the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is also an interesting city to spend some time and has a wide range of other activities that you can do, such as snowmobile tours and dog sledding.

When is the best time to go whale watching in Tromsø?

So, what months can you see whales in Tromsø? Well, the best time to go whale watching in Tromsø is during the official whale watching season, which runs from the end of October to late January or early February.

Outside of these months, it’s still possible to see whales and other amazing marine life on a tour from Tromsø, but you’re definitely not guaranteed a sighting.

What months are whales most active?

Although there is a chance of seeing whales in the waters around Tromsø outside of the main season, there is definitely more activity in the winter months.

So, we’ve compiled a handy month-by-month chart to help you find the best time for spotting whales in Tromsø.

MonthChances of seeing whales
JanuaryHigh chance
FebruaryModerate chance
MarchModerate chance
AprilModerate chance
MayLow chance
JuneLow chance
JulyLow chance
AugustLow chance
SeptemberModerate chance
OctoberModerate chance
NovemberHigh chance
DecemberHigh chance

When is the best time to see orcas in Tromsø?

The same peak whale watching season also applies to orcas, or killer whales – you’re most likely to see orcas in Tromsø from late October to late January. 

However, it’s also possible to spot orca pods in the waters from the end of May until September. Your chances of sighting them will depend on the feeding patterns and weather conditions which change from year to year.

Can you see whales in Tromsø in March?

If you’re not around for the official whale watching season, it’s still possible to see whales in Tromsø in March. Humpback whales can be spotted in coastal waters near Tromsø until the end of March, especially near the fjords.

Will I get a refund if I don’t see whales?

There’s no guarantee that you will see whales on any whale-watching trip, but the crew are very experienced and in touch with other boats at sea to give you the best chance of spotting wildlife.

Tromso in Norway is a great place to take a whale safari

However, most companies will only give a full refund if the company itself has to cancel the tour due to poor weather conditions.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to factor in staying a few days in Tromsø, so that if conditions aren’t good when you first arrive, you have time to wait and take a later trip.

Is whale watching in Tromsø worth it?

Of course, whale watching tours aren’t cheap anywhere in the world, but if you’ve got your heart set on this amazing bucket-list adventure, then Tromsø is a good place to do it.

There are plenty of tours available that vary in duration from about seven hours to a full-day, or even overnight, trip. And prices are relatively reasonable, starting at around £125 per person for a seven-hour whale safari by catamaran.

And if you don’t believe us, just look at the reviews that these tours get. With an average of 4.4–4.8 stars out of five across about 1000 reviews, most people are really happy with their whale watching experience.

Where is the best place to see whales in Norway?

Clearly, Tromsø is up there with the best places to see whales, but there are other towns in Norway where you can take a whale safari.

For more on other destinations in Norway where you can see whales, check out our ultimate guide to whale watching in Norway.

Our picks: the best whale watching tours in Tromsø

Here are our top picks for the best whale watching tours from Tromsø.

Chill out out on a catamaran cruise

Cruise through the majestic Arctic scenery on this classic whale watching tour and get close to some of the most majestic marine mammals in their natural habitat, with the potential of seeing orcas, humpback whales, harbour porpoises and more.

Take a catamaran from Tromsø in Norway to see the whales

A friendly expert guide will be on hand to ask all your questions about the creatures you encounter, and even the local way of living.

See whales in peace on this eco-friendly tour

The number one choice for those who want to tread lightly, this silent whale watching tour in Tromsø takes place on a boat with a silent electric engine.

This means you’ll be able to see humpbacks and orcas without causing any disturbance to the beautiful creatures.

The boat also features amazing drone and microphone technology so you can see images and hear sounds of the whales while they are underwater too.

Get your thrills on an exciting RIB speedboat whale watching tour

This whale watching tour includes a bus journey to the town of Skjervøy, around 90km northeast of Tromsø, where you’ll embark on an exhilarating RIB speedboat tour.

Skip along the water and see orcas and humpback whales in their natural habitat.

A whale watching RIB ride from Tromsø in Norway is the most thrilling way to see whales

A knowledgeable guide will accompany you, while hot drinks and a packed lunch are also provided.

Watch whales and wildlife on a water safari

Friendly guides will help you to spot a variety of creatures on this comfortable wildlife cruise, including feeding whales, porpoises, sea eagles, cormorants, and more.

The Tromsø whale and wildlife water safari takes you through the grand scenery of the fjords and the open sea, and includes snacks and hot drinks to keep you warm.

Spot whales and see the northern lights on this overnight tour

Departing from Tromsø, this tour combines two amazing bucket-list experiences – whale watching and seeing the northern lights

See whales and the northern light on a whale safari from Tromsø in Norway.

This amazing two-day northern lights and whale watching adventure involves exploring the magnificent fjords around Skjervøy on a sailing yacht.

There’s plenty of opportunity to see whales during the day, when your experienced skipper can sail you to the best sighting spots.

Then you’ll stay overnight in a comfortable cabin on the yacht, so you can experience the incredible aurora borealis with no light pollution around.

All meals and accommodation are included in this tour so you can focus completely on the spectacular views. 

Look out for whales on this land-based Kvaløya Island wildlife tour

Worried about sea sickness? On this arctic nature tour you’ll have a good chance of seeing orcas and humpback whales in the fjords from the safety of steady ground.

Go on a wildlife safari from Tromsø in Norway to look out for whales and reindeer.

The expert tour guides will take you to the best locations and help you to spot other native wildlife, such as eagles, moose and reindeer. Souvenir photos are included so you’ll never forget this magical experience.

Take a private whale safari by RIB

For the ultimate exclusive tour, why not charter this private RIB for your group or family? 

This super-fast boat comes with two pilots to maximise the chances of spotting whales, and has a heated cabin to keep you warm while you view the wildlife.

All fuel, thermal suits and a light meal are included on this luxury whale watching experience.

Experience Norway’s stunning culture and wildlife on this small-group driving tour

Departing from Tromsø, this wild guided tour will take you around fjords, beautiful villages and the rugged Norwegian landscape in search of whales, reindeer, seals and more.

You don't even need a boat to see whales in Tromsø in Norway

A maximum of 14 participants on each excursion means that the tour will feel close-knit and familiar, with an expert guide to answer all your questions and give you the best chance of viewing the wildlife.

Take a RIB tour in the Kvaenangen Fjord 

At some times of the year, you’ll need to go further afield to see whales, so this tour heads out into the Kvaenangen Fjord in search of orcas and humpback whales. 

The tour includes a bus from Tromsø to Skjervøy, where you’ll pick up a RIB for a fantastic two-and-a-half-hour trip on the beautiful Kvaenangen Fjord.

Lunch and floatation suits are included too.

Enjoy a luxury three-night whale watching and dog sledding tour

And if you’re really splashing out, this glamorous three-day yacht trip includes bucket-list experiences by the bucket-load!

It includes two days of whale watching, a chance to drive a husky-sled, a northern lights cruise plus a comfortable cabin on board a luxury yacht and all meals.

There’s even a hot tub on deck, so you may be lucky and see whales or the northern lights from the comfort of a warm bath!

See also:
10 of the best dog sledding tours in Tromsø
7 wild northern lights tours in Tromsø, Norway
Whale watching in Norway: when, where and how

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