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Best Northern Lights Tour in Tromsø You Won’t Want To Miss

by Michele
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Tromso Northern Lights Tour
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Wondering what the best Northern Lights tour in Tromsø is? I’ve found it!  From getting professional photos of you with the Aurora, a hot meal by the campfire, expert guides, and epic landscapes, this tour is an absolute must. Here’s everything you need to know to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø.

Simply put, Tromsø in Norway is the very best place to see the Northern lights. To further increase my chances of seeing the lights, I booked three tours for two reasons. First, you never know what the weather conditions will be and secondly, the amount of aurora activity also varies. Fortunately, for me, I saw them on all three consecutive nights. But, it was during the second night that I saw one of the most magical dancing Northern Northern displays I could ever imagine.  After a total of six tours with the same company (over two trips), I can honestly say this is the best Tromsø Northern Lights tour.  

What’s included in this Northern Lights Tour in Tromsø:

Use the links to jump around to find the information you need.

Best Tromso Northern Lights Tour 2019

Going to Tromsø? Check out definitive Tromsø City Guide

Why is it called ‘Aurora’?

Best Tromso Northern Lights TourThe northern lights are just one of several naturally occurring astronomical phenomena called polar lights (aurora polaris) which can be found in both the northern and southern hemispheres.

In 1619, Galileo named the Northern Lights aurora borealis. Aurora from Latin meaning the Roman goddess of dawn and Borealis meaning northern, thus Dawn of the North. In the Antarctic around the South Pole, the lights are known as aurora australis or Dawn of the South.

How are Auroras formed?

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis swirlI can’t explain it any better, so I’ll leave it to the experts on this one.

An aurora forms when charged particles emitted from the sun during a solar flare penetrate the earth’s magnetic shield and collide with atoms and molecules in our atmosphere. These collisions result in countless little bursts of light, called photons (light), which make up the aurora.

Collisions with oxygen produce red and green auroras, while nitrogen produces the pink and purple colours. This reaction encircles the polar regions of the earth and occurs at an altitude of 40-400 miles (65-650 km) in a zone called the “Auroral Oval.”


The aurora appears in the polar areas because the magnetic field is less powerful, and cannot protect the Earth from the solar flare.

Auroras seen within the arctic circle may appear directly overhead, but from farther away they illuminate the poleward horizon. They can appear in red, green, and occasionally blue, and can sometimes resemble fire. In fact, the Roman Emperor Tiberius sent firefighters to a city that appeared to be on fire from a distance, when in fact it was actually against a backdrop of a red aurora.

For a more detailed explanation and without the scientific jargon, watch this animation.

Where do Auroras occur?

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis bright greenThe northern lights can be seen from Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Russia. While the southern lights can only be seen from Australia and New Zealand.

Aurora’s can occur at any time of the day, but we can’t see them with the naked eye unless it’s dark. Therefore, it is generally advised to visit these destinations during the winter months.

Interestingly, the Earth isn’t the only planet to have auroras. They have also been observed on other planets that have a magnetic field, such as Jupiter, Saturn, and more recently Mars.

An aurora’s strength is measured using the Kp index system. Starting from 0 (very weak) to 9 (being a major geomagnetic storm with strong auroras visible), the Kp number tells us how strong an aurora needs to be for it to be visible in any part of the world. For example, in Tromsø, Norway, the aurora is visible with a Kp of 0, but in France and Northern Spain, a Kp of 9 is needed. In the southern hemisphere, a Kp of 5 is needed to see the aurora australis and that’s from the most southerly point of New Zealand and Australia’s island state Tasmania. It is no wonder that Tromsø is a top destination for tourist wanting to experience the northern lights.

Where can you see the Northern Lights?

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis and shooting star

What could be more magical than seeing a shooting star too!

For most people travelling from within Europe, Tromsø is the best place to see the aurora activity. Not only does Tromsø offer the best possible chance to see the northern lights, there are so many other great activities on offer including whale watching, dog sledding, Reindeer and Sami Culture Experience, Arctic Fjord Road Trip, and hiking.

Being in the right location doesn’t automatically guarantee that you will see aurora activity. There are three important factors that any aurora chaser must know. Firstly, you need to get out of the city centre. Any artificial light will significantly reduce your chances of seeing an aurora.

Secondly, you need an almost cloudless sky. High cloud, which as you can imagine, sits high overhead doesn’t create too much of a hindrance as most aurora’s are powerful enough to shine through it. However, low cloud is the worst kind. This thicker cloud sits lower in the sky and carries rain and snow which renders seeing an aurora almost impossible.

Lastly, but most importantly, there has to be aurora activity. The peak hours of aurora activity are between 11 pm and 2 am, however, anytime it’s dark there is hope. Sightings of northern lights have been recorded as early as 8 pm and as late as 8 am.

When is the best time to see the Northern Lights?

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis across the sky

The best time to see the Northern Lights is during the winter months because you need dark skies to see them. The best time is to see the Northern Lights is from December until March. 

Now, let’s plan your northern lights tour, shall we?

What is the Best Tromso Northern Lights Tour?

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis portraitTo ensure you have the best northern lights experience, you should book a northern lights tour.

Wondering which tour company you should tour with? To account for all the factors mentioned above, it’s best to leave it to a trusted tour company. While researching for my trip to Tromsø I had heard that not all northern lights tour companies were diligent and thorough in their research of aurora activity and weather forecasts. I chose Chasing Lights after a friend gave a great recommendation from her experience with them.

What’s included in the Northern Lights tour in Tromsø?

Tromso Northern Lights TourWhile it costs more, my preference was to go with a smaller group for a more intimate experience. This option also includes borrowing toasty thermal suits and boots. They may not be very flattering but they certainly keep you warm in the sub-zero weather. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is included plus a lovely hot meal around a bonfire under a starry sky.

Travellers with cameras can borrow tripods and get tips on which settings to use to best capture the lights. If your camera lacks the required gusto, then you can rely on the tour guide who takes professional quality digital photos throughout the evening and sends them to you afterwards along with a detailed itinerary of all the places you visit.

Chasing Lights offer both small-group tours on a minibus (up to 14 guests) and big bus tours (up to 50 guests), catering to all budgets and needs. Both tours, aka chases, last between 6 to 10 hours depending on the weather conditions and aurora activity.

Pro tip: There is even a discount for subsequent chases!

Check out my complete guide on what to wear and pack for a winter trip.

Essential Tromso Northern Lights Tour Information (2019)

MiniBus Chase

Price (per person)

  • Adult (4+) – 1800, 1700 and 1500 NOK (First, second and subsequent chases)
  • Child (0-3) – 900, 850 and 750 NOK (First, second and subsequent chases)


Pick up at Chasing Lights’ shop and drop off at any hotels in the city center.

Group size

Up to 14 guests (Plus a driver and a guide)

Time and duration

Start between 17:30 to 18:30, end between 00:00 to 04:00 (Between 6 to 10 hours, depending on the weather condition, etc)


  • Transport in minibus
  • Winter suit and snow boots
  • A warm meal and hot drinks
  • Pictures of the Northern Lights and you
  • Manfrotto tripods (support up to 1.5 kg)
  • Free WiFi on board

Check available dates and book your Minibus Chase here

Big Bus Chase

Price (per person)

  • Adult (13+) – 950 and 850 NOK (First and subsequent chases)
  • Child (0-12) – 500 NOK (All chases)


Pick up and drop off at Chasing Lights’ shop at Storgata 64.

Group size

Up to 50 guests plus a driver and 1 to 2 guides, depending on the group size.

Time and duration

Start at 17:45, end between 00:00 to 04:00 (Between 6 to 10 hours, depending on the weather condition, etc)


  • Same expert tour guides and photographers from the small group chase
  • On-board restroom
  • Snacks and hot beverage
  • Photography tips and advice from our photographers
  • Digital photos taken by our photographer sent to you after the chase

Check available dates and book your Big Bus Chase here

Going to Norway? Get my free Norwegian travel phrase guide here

What it’s like to see the Northern Lights

On my very first Northern Lights tour, I was twice lucky. Not only did I see them, but they were dancing too! An almost tornado-like shaped funnel of green light appeared from the east. It quickly changed form directly overhead and met up with the lights emerging in the west. For a few brief minutes, a massive arc of dancing green lights spanned across the dark starry sky. The moment intensified when a rare occurrence of pink began to line the arc, ricocheting back and forth while the brightness intensified, forming swirls directly above. As quickly as they appeared connected in unison, the lights separated, weakened, and disappeared.

I’m not embarrassed to admit that watching this awe-inspiring phenomenon actually brought a tear to my eye. There’s something very powerful in watching how the lights form, shift, and change. Everyone on the tour was gasping with excitement and awe while jumping and pointing and repeating the words “Wow, look over there!”.

As mentioned earlier, I booked three nights of consecutive tours (on both trips to Tromsø) to allow for any bad weather or lack of Aurora activity. Each night I saw familiar faces from the previous night’s tour. This made the trip even more special because we formed friendships because we had shared such magical experiences together.

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis streaks in the skyWith any guided tour, it’s the guide that makes the trip special. I’ve done six Northern Lights tours with Chasing Lights with 5 different guides. All equally professional, fun, and knowledgable guides who also happen to be excellent photographers.

Tromso Northern Lights Tour - Aurora Borealis and camp fire

Have a midnight snack with the aurora borealis by a camp fire

Tromsø Hotel Recommendations

Best Things to do in Tromso in Winter - Accommodation

Spacious room at Enter City Hotel

Best Things to do in Tromso in Winter - Hotel Room Kitchenette

Having a kitchen is a great money-saver

During my first trip to Tromsø, I stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel Tromsø. On my second trip, I stayed the entire week at Enter City Tromsø Hotel. I chose it for its convenient and central location, its lower-than-average price, and because it had a kitchenette. Since Norway can get quite expensive, having the ability to cook and prepare meals and snacks is a huge money-saver.

Rooms aren’t serviced daily, but you can take new towels, toiletries, fresh linen, and toilet paper as you need them. The rooms are large, modern, spacious and the bathroom tiles are heated. Each room has a TV, free Wi-FI, fridge, cutlery, crockery, kettle, and a toaster (available on request).

Another option is to stay next door at Scandic Ishavshotel where most rooms have views over the harbour.

Alternatively, there are lots of great Airbnb options starting for as little as USD$80 per night. If it’s your first time get US$65 OFF here or get £50 OFF your first stay here, when you sign up using my unique reader referral link.

After you’ve visited Norway in winter, be sure to come back in the summer. Head to coastal towns like Stavanger and go hiking along the fjords for some of the best views in the world.

Top Things to do in Tromsø in Winter – Watch the vlog!

Going to Norway? Get my free Norwegian travel phrase guide here

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Best Northern Lights Tour in Tromso Norway

Best Northern Lights Tour in Tromso Norway

Got more time? Take a Day Trip!

Check out my other Norway posts

Aurora Hunter / Aurora Service /  Wikipedia / Library of Congress / Science Kids

Over to you!

Got a question about the Northern Lights, the tour, or Tromsø? Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.

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