The dance of the Northern Lights

Best Time for Northern Lights in Tromso (2024)

In the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights, Tromso emerges as a prime stage, captivating travelers with its celestial spectacle. Nestled amidst Norway’s rugged landscapes, Tromso is renowned as one of the premier destinations for witnessing the enchanting aurora borealis. Yet, timing is key for those eager to behold this natural wonder in all its radiant glory.

As the night sky transforms into a canvas of vibrant hues, adventurers flock to Tromso for the elusive aurora. However, understanding the optimal time to experience this breathtaking phenomenon can elevate your journey from memorable to truly magical. With its unique geographical location and climatic nuances, Tromso offers a distinct window of opportunity for witnessing the Northern Lights at their mesmerizing best. Let’s delve into the intricacies of Northern Lights Tromso Best Time for an unforgettable encounter with the celestial ballet of the aurora borealis.

I’m off to Iceland tomorrow,” I announced to my fellow hotel guests gathered in the TV room, anticipation tingling in the air as we awaited the arrival of our guide or driver. My destination was Tromso, Norway, for a Northern Lights tour tonight. As we waited, our guides busied themselves preparing steaming mugs of hot chocolate for our group.

The hostel owner responded, “You’ll soon understand why people flock to Tromsø.” His words struck me as brusque, perhaps tinged with sarcasm, but I brushed them off, focusing on the adventure ahead.

Admittedly, this wasn’t my first encounter with the Northern Lights. Just two days prior, during my initial tour in Tromsø, I had marveled at their celestial dance. However, the allure of witnessing this natural spectacle once more led me to plan my entire journey through Norway and Iceland, chasing the elusive aurora borealis.

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What are the Northern Lights?

The Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis, occur when charged particles from the Sun’s atmosphere collide with gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere. This captivating phenomenon results from interactions between the solar wind and Earth’s magnetic field, painting the sky with stunning displays of light and color.

The dance of the Northern Lights

Northern Lights Tromso Best Time

The best time to witness the Northern Lights in Tromso is winter, from late September to early April. This period aligns with the darkest nights, providing ideal conditions for the celestial spectacle to unfold against the backdrop of the Arctic sky.

Additionally, choosing nights with clear skies and minimal light pollution enhances your chances of experiencing the aurora borealis (Northern Lights) in all its luminous splendor. Planning your visit during these prime months offers the best opportunity to marvel at nature’s breathtaking light show in Tromso.

Despite the persistent rain during my October visit to Tromso, I was fortunate to witness the Northern Lights on numerous occasions. One of the remarkable aspects of Tromso is its adaptability to weather conditions. In rainfall, tour guides often extend their reach beyond Norway’s borders, leading travelers across the nearby Finnish border for optimal viewing opportunities of the aurora borealis. This flexibility ensures that visitors have every chance to behold the captivating dance of the Northern Lights, regardless of the weather in Tromso itself.

My Tour Experience

With the car loaded up with a flask brimming with hot chocolate, marshmallows, and a stash of cookies, our adventure was set to begin. Taking my usual place in the navigation seat beside the driver, I eagerly awaited the journey ahead. My guide, armed with insights from friends residing a few hours from the city center, kept a close eye on the Northern Lights’ status, relying on their updates to determine our chase route.

Embarking on this tour proved to be a wise decision, as my guide exuded a genuine passion for her craft and boasted an impressive depth of knowledge. Throughout the journey, I bombarded her with questions, each with patient and insightful answers. It was evident that she excelled as a guide and possessed a keen eye for photography. Recognizing this, I seized the opportunity to glean some photography tips from her expertise.

The dance of the Northern Lights

Apart from the options outlined, another avenue to behold the Northern Lights is by residing or visiting Norway’s quaint villages or small towns. Opting to stay at local homestays presents a distinct advantage, as these accommodations often provide unobstructed views of the celestial spectacle right from your doorstep. This intimate setting offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the ethereal beauty of the aurora borealis, creating an unforgettable experience intertwined with the charm of rural Norwegian life.

Also, Read Preikestolen Hike

First Stop: No Man’s Land

Our initial destination brought us to a remote expanse, seemingly untouched by human presence. Though the Northern Lights were not at their peak intensity, we seized the opportunity to capture some truly mesmerizing photographs. Against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, the ethereal glow of the aurora borealis took center stage, creating a scene of unparalleled beauty. It was a sight to behold, an awe-inspiring spectacle that left us spellbound.

The dance of the Northern Lights

I was insatiable to witness and photograph the Northern Lights in hues other than green. While I had already experienced the verdant glow of the aurora during my initial tour, this time, I yearned for something distinct. Call it greed or simply an unyielding thirst for novelty, but I was determined to capture the celestial phenomenon in a different light, quite literally.

The dance of the Northern Lights

Second Stop: River

Our journey led us to our final destination by the river, where the Northern Lights displayed their full splendor. As the aurora danced across the night sky with unparalleled intensity, I was treated to a spectacle unlike any other. My most cherished moment came when the lights seemed to move in harmony, resembling keys on a piano, their rapid motion leaving me in awe. Despite my best efforts, I could not capture the breathtaking show through the lens of my camera. Yet, at that moment, I realized that some experiences are best savored with the naked eye, their memory forever in the depths of one’s mind.

The sheer magnificence of the Northern Lights, a testament to the wonders of nature, overwhelmed me to the core. It was a scene of divine creation, a reminder of the beauty surrounding us. Until that night, I had doubted the possibility of witnessing the aurora borealis with my own eyes, but now, I stood humbled by its majestic presence.

While the lights eventually waned in intensity, I continued to capture their fading glow through long exposure shots. Meanwhile, the comforting warmth of hot chocolate and toasted marshmallows around the crackling campfire perfectly accompanies this extraordinary experience. Indeed, it was a night to remember, where nature’s spectacle intertwined seamlessly with moments of simple, heartfelt joy.

Also, Read Sverd i Fjell, Swords in Rock

The Best and Most Memorable Experience:

On one of Tromsø’s bitterly cold nights, I yearned for better preparation against Norway’s harsh winters. As part of a tour group, we huddled around a crackling bonfire beside the bay, the rhythmic sound of waves lapping gently against the shore, adding to the tranquil atmosphere. Savoring the warmth of hot chocolate and the sweetness of roasting pink marshmallows over the flames, we gazed upward to witness the ethereal dance of the Northern Lights painting the sky above.

This wasn’t a scene plucked from the pages of a fairy tale or scripted for a romantic movie—it was a moment from my journey in Tromsø, a tangible reality infused with magic.

Some experiences defy description, transcending the limitations of language to capture their true essence. This was undoubtedly one of those moments, a testament to the profound beauty and wonder of the natural world.

On a different note, another remarkable adventure awaits in Norway: visiting the Puffins at Runde Island. With their endearing antics, these delightful birds are among the planet’s most adorable creatures and are well worth the trip for any nature enthusiast seeking an unforgettable encounter.

The dance of the Northern Lights

Despite Tromsø’s cold, wet, and dark conditions, it delivered exactly what I had hoped for. Amidst these challenging odds, I was fortunate to witness the awe-inspiring beauty of nature, an experience that will forever remain etched in my heart. Additionally, Tromsø is one of the premier destinations for exploring the majestic fjords. Embarking on a Tromso boat tour offers an unparalleled opportunity to immerse oneself in the breathtaking scenery and rugged landscapes that define Norway’s iconic fjords.

The dance of the Northern Lights

Camera Settings to Capture the Northern Lights

I had long believed that witnessing the Northern or Southern lights with the naked eye was a rare feat, reserved mainly for the lens of a camera. However, I couldn’t have been more mistaken. In Tromsø, my misconception was shattered as I gazed upon the celestial spectacle firsthand, unaided by technology. Yet, while the naked eye can marvel at the natural wonder, the vibrant hues and intricate details truly come to life when captured through the lens of a camera, adding an extra layer of depth and brilliance to the experience.

The dance of the Northern Lights

To capture the mesmerizing Northern Lights, you must equip yourself with the right tools and techniques. First and foremost, you’ll need a sturdy tripod to keep your camera steady, especially during long exposure shots. Set your camera to Manual mode for complete control over your settings.

Here’s a tried and tested configuration to get you started:

  • ISO: 1600
  • F stop: Opt for the lowest possible value to allow more light into the camera
  • Shutter speed: Aim for around 20 seconds to capture the delicate movements of the aurora

Before aiming your camera at the sky, ensuring proper focus is crucial. Start by zooming out and focusing on a distant light source. Once focused, point your camera towards the Northern Lights without adjusting the lens. This method helps maintain sharpness and clarity in your images.

Consider using a remote shutter release or setting a 2-second delay on your camera to minimise camera shake and ensure crisp shots. This prevents any disturbances during the capture process, allowing you to preserve the ethereal beauty of the lights with precision.

Refer to a comprehensive Aurora photography guide for more in-depth guidance on capturing the Northern Lights. Happy shooting!

Tour Details

The hostel where I lodged also facilitated Northern Lights chasing tours. Guests could conveniently book these tours during check-in. Here are the pertinent details of the hostel:

Where to Stay in Tromso?

Choosing suitable accommodation in Tromso can significantly enhance your experience in this Arctic city. Here are some recommendations for where to stay in Tromso:

  1. City Center: Staying in the heart of Tromso puts you within walking distance of attractions, restaurants, and nightlife. You’ll find various accommodation options, from budget hostels to luxury hotels.
  2. Waterfront: With views overlooking the harbor and easy access to activities like boat tours and fishing excursions, waterfront hotels offer a picturesque setting for your stay in Tromso.
  3. Near Tromso University: If you prefer a quieter atmosphere, consider staying near Tromso University. This area has a more residential feel and provides opportunities for scenic walks and hikes in nearby parks.
  4. Polaria: Located near the Polaria Arctic experience center, this area offers a unique blend of cultural attractions and natural beauty. Accommodation options here range from cozy guesthouses to boutique hotels.
  5. Tromsoya Island: Tromsoya Island is home to several key landmarks, including the iconic Arctic Cathedral. Staying on the island allows you to explore these attractions at your leisure and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

Here are a few options:

  1. Clarion Hotel The Edge: Located at a prime location in the city center, this hotel offers stunning views of the harbor and mountains. It features stylish rooms, a rooftop bar, a fitness center, and conference facilities.
  2. Radisson Blu Hotel Tromso: Situated near the Tromso Cathedral, this hotel offers contemporary rooms with harbor or mountain views. Guests can enjoy amenities like a fitness center, sauna, restaurant, and bar.
  3. Scandic Ishavshotel: Located by the harbor, this hotel offers comfortable rooms with panoramic views of the Arctic Cathedral and Tromso Bridge. It features a restaurant, bar, fitness center, and meeting facilities.
  4. Ami Hotel Tromso: This boutique hotel offers luxurious rooms with modern amenities, including flat-screen TVs and minibars. It’s in the city center, close to attractions like the Polaria Arctic experience center and Tromso Cathedral.
  5. Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora: This hotel offers elegant rooms with contemporary decor and views of the city or harbor. Guests can enjoy amenities such as a sauna, fitness center, complimentary evening meal, and panoramic rooftop terrace.

How to Get to Tromso?

By Air

Tromso Airport (Tromsø lufthavn) serves domestic and international flights, providing easy access to the city. Tromso Airport is well-connected to major cities in Norway, including Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, with frequent domestic flights operated by airlines such as SAS, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Widerøe.

Tromso Airport also offers international flights to select destinations, primarily in Europe. Airlines like SAS, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Wizz Air operate seasonal and year-round routes to cities such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, and London.

From Tromso Airport, visitors can reach the city center by taxi, airport shuttle, or public bus. Taxis are readily available outside the terminal, offering a convenient but relatively more expensive option. Airport shuttles and public buses provide affordable transportation alternatives, with regular services connecting the airport to downtown Tromso and surrounding areas.

By Public Transport

  • Bus – Tromso is accessible by long-distance bus services from major cities in northern Norway, such as Narvik and Alta. Boreal Transport operates bus routes connecting Tromso to these cities and other regional destinations. Travel times and schedules vary depending on the departure location.
  • Train – Tromso does not have direct connections due to its geographical location in northern Norway. The closest train station is in Narvik, which is approximately 5-6 hours away by train from cities like Oslo or Trondheim. From Narvik, travelers can continue their journey to Tromso by bus or rental car.
  • Ferry – In the summer, travelers can reach Tromso by ferry from various ports along the Norwegian coast. The Hurtigruten coastal ferry service stops at Tromso as part of its northbound and southbound routes, providing a scenic and leisurely way to travel to the city.

Is Tromso Safe for Solo Female Travellers?

Tromso is an exceptionally safe destination for solo female travelers. As someone who journeyed to the city alone, I encountered no issues throughout my stay. However, it’s important to note that Tromso can become isolated after dark, particularly during winter when the sun sets early. While the city’s safety is reassuring, exercising caution and planning your activities accordingly is always wise, especially during evenings and darker seasons.

Closing Notes

Reflecting on the hostel owner’s remark about Tromsø, I agree. My recent experience in Iceland underscores this sentiment. Despite spending ten days in Iceland with high hopes of witnessing the Northern Lights, my aspirations were repeatedly dashed due to unfavorable weather conditions, resulting in canceled tours day after day. My entire trip would have been disappointing without the awe-inspiring display of the Northern Lights in Tromsø.

The dance of the Northern Lights

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Best Time for Northern Lights in Tromso (2024)
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    PIN for later reference – Northern Lights Tromso Best Time

    PIN for later reference - Northern Lights Tromso Best Time
    PIN for later reference – Northern Lights Tromso Best Time