It’s that time of year again when people are starting to think about planning a trip for their winter holiday. Have you ever seen the Northern Lights? If not, then you’ll want to put Tromsø on your list of places to visit! With its stunning landscapes and dark skies, Tromso is one of the best places in the world to view the aurora borealis. Check out this post for all you need to know about visiting Tromso, Northern Lights photo spots and Northern Lights tours in 2022/23. Happy travels!
Aurora Borealis: Northern Lights
Stunning. Mysterious. Incredible. Its on everyone’s bucket list. The Northern Lights are one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in the worlds. Every year, people from all over the globe flock to the Norway, Sweden and Finland to experience it firsthand.
Often called the Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights is made up of solar particles wqhich interact with the atmosphere and Earth’s magnetic field. These particles are attracted to the magnetism of the North Pole, causing the air to glow. They create an ever-moving curtain of color that dances and weaves in a majestic green and sometimes red over the Arctic circles.
The solar wind is constantly changing, which means that the northern lights are also constantly changing. Scientists are still studying the northern lights to try to understand all of their complexities. It lights up the dark nights and can be one of the most hypnotic sights you are ever likely to see.
Adventurers seeking the northern lights should take an excursion to Norway. It is one of the world’s most beautiful places to experience arguably nature’s coolest event. Keep in mind that the further north you go, the easier it will be to see them. So if you’re really desperate to see them, head up to Swedish Lapland!
Maximise your chances of seeing the Northern Lights
Your chances of seeing the northern lights are never 100%. Indeed many tourists have spent a whole holiday season trying to see the aurora but leave disappointed. Mainly it comes down to a few key indicators.
Essentially an aurora forecast similar to a weather forecast – The Kp index is a measure of geomagnetic activity and is used to predict the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. A higher Kp index indicates greater activity, which means that there is a higher chance to catch the northern lights.
When there is more geomagnetic activity, there are more particles in the atmosphere. Aurora activity is dictated by the sun’s 11-year solar cycle, so your best chance of seeing them is during a solar maximum. These occur at the peak of the solar cycle – every 11 years or so, but they’re not exactly predictable – the last one peaked in 2014, but aurora activity has been high for the last few years.
So in order to give yourselves the best chance to see the northern lights, be sure to check the Kp index before you head out!
The weather plays a big role in whether or not you’ll be able to see the northern lights. Cloud cover is the most obvious one. If it’s a cloudy night, you won’t be able to see them. If you’re north of the arctic circle like northern Norway you will tend to have a period of high pressure if you factor enough time into your trip.
This creates an atmosphere with very little cloud cover as its unsuitable for clouds but perfect for solar activity. A common mistake is to allow only a night or two for Northern Lights viewing, be sure to prioritise your trip to view the northern lights – it is not to be missed!
Even if it’s clear skies in the night and the aurora forecast is great, the reason Tromso is one the best places to see the Northern Lights is due to light pollution. If you’re in an area with bright lights your chances of seeing the aurora diminish greatly.
High light pollution overpowers the delicate glow, even at night. Dark nights and dark skies provide the ideal back drop to spot the Northern Lights. The more rural the village or further away from land – such as the Lofoten islands – the better chance you have of experiencing low light pollution and thus successful aurora hunting.
All of these factors – the weather, solar activity, and light pollution – play a role in whether or not you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights. But even if you’re in the right place at the right time, you might not see the Northern Lights.
Time of the Year
Lastly is the most critical, the Northern Lights are synonomous with winter. Cold weather is pivotal and a must in order to have a chance to spot the Northern Lights. In general, aurora activity and solar wind are highest, and thus the Aurora Borealis is more visible, from September to April, with the peak season being December to February. This is because in the Northern Hemisphere, the charged particles are more prevalent when the Earth is tilted away from the Sun, and the nights are longer with obviously much more dark skies.
It’s an elusive creature the aurora borealis, often appearing as a faint glimmer on the horizon or disappearing behind clouds. If you really want to see them, you’ll have to be patient – and keep your eyes peeled to the sky. Follow these tips to help you catch the Northern Lights!
Why is Tromsø the best place to see the Northern Lights?
Tromso is forecasted to have some of the best conditions for Aurora hunting in years, thanks to a perfect storm of solar activity heading towards a solar maximum and favorable weather patterns should lead to lots of dark skies this winter. Still not convinced? Here’s why Tromsø is regarded every winter as one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in either Norway, Sweden and Finland.
First of all, Tromsø is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights. The city is located just north of the arctic circle, at the heart of the Aurora Oval. This is where solar activity is at its peak and the dark skies are perfect for nature’s grandest light show. You’re as close to guaranteed to see them here than anywhere else. Not only are there dark nights, but the sky is very often very clear. This makes it ideal for photographers and stargazers alike.
Secondly, Tromsø is a great base for exploring the surrounding area. There are plenty of activities and excursions to keep you busy during the day, and at night you can relax in one of the many bars and restaurants. Given aurora hunting will often take you to the outskirts of the arctic circle, or even the North Pole if your brave enough, its a rarity to come across somewhere with enough activity to match the solar activity!
Thirdly, Tromsø is very easy to get to by plane or ferry. Despite its remote location in northern Norway, there are flights from Oslo, and several other major European Cities. And the airport is only a short drive from the city centre, and there is even an airport shuttle bus if you’re not driving. Its surprising how simple it is to plan a foreign excursion or holiday trip to somewhere so far north. Once your in the city, you will find that getting around is easy. The compact city center can be easily explored on foot, and there is an extensive public transportation network for getting further afield.
Tromsø one of Norway’s Best-Kept Secrets
Once you arrive in Tromso, you will be greeted by a friendly local community and a wealth of activities to enjoy. Whether you want to go dog sledding or northern lights viewing, Tromso is the perfect place to experience all that Norway has to offer.
What to Do
The city is home to a variety of museums and galleries, as well as a lively nightlife scene. There are also plenty of opportunities to go hiking and skiing in the surrounding area. Dog sledding, snowmobiling, whale watching, and reindeer safaris are just a few of the popular excursions available. Of course, no trip to Tromso would be complete without experiencing some traditional Norwegian culture. Be sure to sample some delicious seafood dishes and talk with locals about their way of life!
Tromsø is also an incredibly beautiful city in its own right. Surrounded by mountains and fjords, Tromsø is unsurprisingly picturesque. Venture out during the day to explore all that this city has to offer, and then return at night for a front-row seat to one of nature’s most incredible shows!
Where to stay
The good news is that there are plenty of great places to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø . From cosy mountain cabins to ice hotels, here are some of the best places to stay if you want to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø.
1. The Mountain Cabins at Storsteinen
If you want to be surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty while you search for the Northern Lights, then you’ll want to stay at one of the mountain cabins at Storsteinen.
These cosy cabins offer stunning views of Tromso and the surrounding mountains, making them the perfect place to relax after a long day of exploring. And, of course, they’re also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights.
2. The Radisson Blu Hotel
If you’re looking for a luxurious place to stay while you’re in town, then look no further than The Radisson Blu Hotel. This elegant hotel offers stunning views of both Tromso and the surrounding mountains, making it the perfect place to relax and soak up the stunning scenery. Plus, with its convenient location near many of Tromso’s popular attractions, you’ll have no trouble filling your days with fun activities.
And when night falls, you can head up to The Radisson Blu’s rooftop bar for a front row seat to one of nature’s most spectacular light shows.
3. The Rica Ishavshotel
Our personal favourite! If you prefer your accommodations with a side of history, then you’ll want to check into The Rica Ishavshotel. This historic hotel was once a warehouse used by Arctic explorers in the 1800s, and today it has been converted into a stylish and modern hotel that retains its old-world charm.
Located right on the waterfront, The Rica Ishavshotel offers sweeping views of Tromso harbour and is just a short walk from many of the city’s best shops and restaurants. And, thanks to its central location, it’s one of the best places in town for spotting those elusive Northern Lights.
4. Ice Hotel!
And if you’re feeling adventurous and want a unique story to bring home, why not make it a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience by staying in an ice hotel? That’s right – there are several hotels made entirely out of ice and snow located in and around Tromso! These unique accommodations are sure to add an extra element of fun and excitement to your trip.
Where to be for the northern lights
There are a few different spots around Tromso where you’ll have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. One popular spot is atop Mount Floyen, which can be reached via a short funicular ride from central Tromso.
Another option is going on a cable car ride up Mount Storsteinen, which offers stunning views of both the city and surrounding countryside.
And finally, if you want to get even closer to nature, you can go on a dog sledding tour or take a snowmobile out onto one of the nearby glaciers.
Tromso Northern Lights Tours
There are many different companies that offer a Northern Lights tour in Tromso, but there are only a few that we would recommend. Here are our top three picks for the best Northern Lights tours in Tromso.
Aurora Tour Northern Lights Tours
If you want to experience a Northern Lights tour in true Scandinavian style, then the Aurora Tour is the tour for you. Their tours are small and intimate, so as to avoid it feeling too touristy.
They serve food and drink around a bonfire, and provide everything you will need when you view the Northern Lights to make it an unforgettable experience.
Polar Northern Light Chase
Polar Expeditions is a another great choice for a Northern Lights tour if you’re looking for an authentic experience. You’ll get personal attention from professional, experienced aurora hunters throughout the tour.
They are dedicated to the chase, you’ll be given opportunities all along the way for photos, and they will even venture as far out as the borders of Sweden and Finland if need to hunt down the Aurora Borealis.
They also offer a range of different add-ons, such as husky sledding and snowmobiling, so you can make your tour even more special.
Chasing Lights Northern Lights Tour
Chasing Lights offer tailered itineraries so you can find exactly what fits your need. If you’re on a budget but still want an amazing experience, the 3-Nights Tromsø On a Budget Itinerary is one of the best value tours we’ve come across, even the dog sledding is included!
Or if its a romantic getaway you’re going for then we highly recommend their 6-Night Aurora Lovers’ Holiday tour. You’re guarenteed mutliple chases to view the Northern Lights and incredibly, if you are lucky to catch a Northern Lights viewing on your first couple, you’re free to cancel the remaining chases and get your money back.
The tour still provides an amazing holiday with day trips and dining options a plenty. With all their itineraries we have yet to find a company as committed to the flexible and tailored to you tag they claim to provide.
Different Types of Tours
Some of our favourite Northern Lights tours can be categorized by its function which may suit a more specific trip if thats what your planning.
1. The Classic Northern Lights Tour
This tour is perfect for those who want to experience the northern lights in all their glory. These tours takes you outside of the city so that you can get away from light pollution and see the aurora borealis in all its beauty. You’ll also have plenty of opportunities to take photographs in some of the best places to see the Northern Lights..
2. The Photography Tour
Photography tours are ideal for photographers who want to get that perfect shot of the northern lights. The tour takes you to some of the best vantage points in Tromso and gives you tips on how to capture the northern lights on camera.
3. The Adventurous’ Tour
For those thrill-seekers among us, these tours are for when you want to add a little bit of excitement to your aurora viewing. Popular tours includes husky sledding, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling through the wilderness so that you can really feel like you’re in the heart of nature.
If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, there’s no better time than 2022/23. Tromsø is forecasted to have some of the best conditions for Aurora viewing in years, thanks to a perfect storm of solar activity and favorable weather patterns. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable trip!