Tromsø northernlights guide: when and where to experience the aurora

The Phenomenon of Northern Lights in Tromsø

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are a spectacular natural light display predominantly seen in high-latitude regions, around the Arctic and Antarctic. Tromsø, Norway, is one of those privileged locations where the geomagnetic activity of the Earth and solar wind particles conjure up this mesmerizing phenomenon in the sky.

Understanding the Aurora Seasons in Tromsø

In Tromsø, the aurora season extends from late September to early April. This period provides the required darkness as the auroras are best observed at night away from the interfering city light pollution. During these months, the sky becomes a canvas for what can only be described as one of nature’s most stunning art exhibitions.

Optimal Viewing Times: When to Watch for the Aurora

The potential to witness the aurora borealis in Tromsø increases between 6 PM and midnight. However, auroras can occur at any time during the dark hours, so patience and flexibility in your schedule are key to increasing your chances of a sighting. Historical data suggest that the equinox months of September and March often have higher geomagnetic activity, which can lead to more frequent and intense displays.

Best Locations Around Tromsø for Northern Lights Viewing

While the aurora can be visible throughout Tromsø, there are specific locations known for offering a better viewing experience due to reduced light pollution and clear horizon lines. These locations include:

  • Ersfjordbotn – A quiet fjord that offers a serene backdrop for the lights.
  • Kvaløya – The neighboring island west of Tromsø with several spots like Sommarøy that provide a great vantage point.
  • Tromsø Wilderness Center – Located on the outskirts of the city, this center is an ideal aurora watching location combined with an outdoor experience.

Additionally, local tour operators often arrange “Northern Lights Chases,” where guides find the best real-time viewing spots based on current weather and solar activity.

Photographing the Northern Lights: Tips and Tricks

Capturing the northern lights requires some preparation. Here are some tips for amateur and experienced photographers alike:

  • Use a tripod to stabilize your camera for long exposure shots.
  • Employ a camera that allows for manual setting adjustments like ISO, aperture, and shutter speed.
  • Bring extra batteries, as the cold can deplete them quickly.

Photography workshops in Tromsø often focus on aurora photography, providing you with knowledge and techniques to capture this natural wonder.

Preparations for Your Aurora Adventure

A successful northern lights excursion is more than just timing and location; it’s also about preparation. Here’s a checklist for your aurora adventure:

  • Dress warmly in layers to withstand the arctic temperatures.
  • Keep an eye on the aurora forecast and weather conditions.
  • Consider guided tours that offer expertise and local knowledge.
  • Have patience and manage your expectations – the aurora is elusive and unpredictable.

Local tourism offices and online resources provide detailed aurora forecasts to aid adventurers in planning their excursions.

Understanding The Science Behind The Auroras

For those who yearn to delve deeper into the origin and mechanics of the aurora borealis, Tromsø is home to facilities like the Northern Lights Planetarium. Here, visitors can educate themselves on the solar wind particles’ interactions with Earth’s magnetosphere, giving rise to the lights.

Combining Your Northern Lights Experience with Tromsø’s Attractions

While the pursuit of the northern lights might be your main objective, Tromsø offers a wide range of winter activities that can complement your trip. From dog sledding and reindeer sleigh rides to visiting the iconic Arctic Cathedral and exploring local Sami culture, Tromsø is more than just a viewing spot; it’s a destination with a rich tapestry of nature, culture, and history.


Witnessing the aurora borealis is a bucket-list experience for many, and Tromsø presents one of the world’s best stages for this celestial dance. Whether you find yourself gazing up at the night sky from a remote fjord or combining your search with the various cultural experiences that Tromsø offers, the northern lights are a sight that is not easily forgotten. With the right preparation, timing, and a bit of luck, the aurora borealis will unveil its wonder to you in the arctic city of Tromsø.