Tromso Norway Northern Lights: Why You Must Take this Organized Tour to See Them

One of the best ways to experience the magic of Aurora Borealis is to take an organized Tromso Norway Northern Lights tour. It’s essential to sign up for the tour we recommend to see them and because otherwise you could miss them! And that would be a shame, knowing that “seeing the Northern Lights” is a key reason so many visitors flock to Tromso during winter.

It’s hard to know the value of an organized tour before you get to Tromso and understand the rugged landscape, ice and snow, and darkness winter brings. All these things together mean you need an expert guide who has years of experience with the land and “chasing” the lights. But we hope to shed light (no pun intended) on the subject for you because any investment in the experience becomes priceless once you see them.

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Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with an organized tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle, chasing the lights! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

Tromso Norway, Northern Lights

Tromso is a wonderful place to see the Northern Lights because it is in the Arctic Circle in Norway. Tromso is at a latitude of 69º and receives 24 hours of daylight during summer. Conversely, it experiences 24 hours of darkness in December through part of January. This is the time of year that it’s ideal to see the Northern Lights.

There has to be darkness to see them, which means that winter is the perfect time. And they are spectacular in Tromso if you can find them, which is why we recommend this organized tour (because finding them usually take skill and experience.)

Tromso Trip Planning and the Northern Lights

We arrived in Tromso from Oslo via a two-hour flight excited for the days that lay ahead. (We were in Oslo to explore the city and neighboring town of Asker.)

Our four nights and four full days there were purposeful. We knew there was a lot to see and do in the area. But the main reason we stayed four nights was to maximize our chances of seeing the Northern Lights. If we didn’t see them the first night we had three more chances. If we didn’t see them the second night we had two more chances, etc.

And as someone who saw them without Dan a few years before we met – and was careful to manifest seeing them together as a travel goal between us – it was a dream coming to life to be there about to embark on our tour. We wanted to maximize our chances to see them, hence the multiple days.

There’s a cost associated with trip planning in Tromso. (That’s actually the case wherever you go in Norway, though Tromso’s organized tours require a bit more deep diving in your wallet.) It’s a wealthy country so costs seem a bit elevated, especially when a lot of tour companies in Tromso are seasonal and make the bulk of their funds half the year when tourism is at its peak. Thus, prices rise.

Nature abounds in Norway and Norwegian really value the outdoors. Yes, it’s free to experience the country’s beauty in terms of camping, cross country skiing (if you bring skis), and the like. Yet there are certain things that require hiring guides or joining a tour if you want the best experience possible.

“Chasing” the Northern Lights is one of those things.

Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with an organized tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle, chasing the lights! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

Why Book a Tromso Northern Lights Tour? 

We have taken a few organized tours to see the Northern Lights in Tromso. There’s so much you get with a tour you won’t get on your own:

  1. Area expertise: a guide who knows the area and how “the lights” work. This includes knowing Tromo’s geography, local roads and highways and key websites to track Aurora Borealis activity.
  2. Safety: Driving conditions in Tromso can be dangerous. Sure, it’s possible to rent a car in Norway and try to find the Northern Lights yourself. But the cost of a rental car isn’t cheap and once you add a fuel expense into the equation why not just hire a guide and ENJOY the process rather than worry about navigation and driving safety? The roads can be incredibly icy and DARK. It’s very common for it to start snowing during winter in Tromso and for there to be white-out visibility conditions. When you hire a guide you don’t have to fret about any of those factors. They’re experienced with the climate and know how to navigate more safely than you do.
  3. Endurance: Their GOAL is for you to see the Northern Lights, which equals customer satisfaction. They’re not going to take your money and laugh their way to the bank. No. They’re there for you and everyone’s common goal: to see the Aurora Borealis.
  4. Hassle free: All that time you could be enjoying your trip or working on your own small business (like us) or {fill in the blank} is time you don’t have to spend planning a Northern Lights hunt. Because the tour guide does it for you in every regard.
  5. Warmth: One of the things I really valued was thermal suits. We had layers upon layers of clothing to see the Northern Lights in Tromso in February. Guess what? You’ll still be really cold! The right tour company will provide thermal suits you’re welcome to wear for extra warmth. They help immensely. See the suits we are wearing in the photo below.
Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with an organized tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle, chasing the lights! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

The Perks of a Northern Lights Tour in Tromso with Arctic Breeze

The BEST tour I’ve taken – of multiple organized tours over the course of two visits to Tromso – was Arctic Breeze. Brynjar (pronounced Bryn-yar) is a local guide; he was born and raised in Tromso. He’s an outdoorsman who explores the territory in his free time, giving him an edge over others. He knew the area so well and was willing to go the extra mile for us (literally and figuratively).

Here’s exactly what we admired about a tour with Arctic Breeze:

  1. He honestly managed our expectations. Brynjar started the tour in Tromso’s city center where we were picked up at the Skansen Hotel. He asked, “Who has seen the lights before?” and continued to manage our expectations of the lights. He mentioned it’s NOT how photos make the lights seem, with bright glowing green orbs and rainbows of light. (Which is absolutely true.) He said it was colorful but not a photoshopped live version of tourist photos.
  2. Brynjar talked about the KP index and explained a bit about how he’d be looking at it throughout the night.
  3. He explained we weren’t chasing the lights – we were chasing good weather! (This was such an “ah ha!” moment for us.)
  4. Brynjar is a genuine guy. He’d rather cancel a tour on a hopeless night than needlessly chase good weather and have disappointed customers.
  5. He thought of the EXPERIENCE as a whole and where it’d be cool to see the lights and have the area to ourselves. Remember there are a lot of tourists (probably hundreds) trying to do the same thing you are: see the Northern Lights. He was mindful to find places others weren’t going (remember: he knows the area REALLY well) and also places that provided picturesque backgrounds. We absolutely loved that he specifically took us to a place with water so we could capture the reflection of the lights in the sky on the fjord.
  6. He takes photos of you with the lights and sends them to you after the tour. This was cool to have and it’s especially beneficial if you’re not sure how to take photos of yourself so you’re actually in them in dark conditions.
  7. He helps you understand your camera and coaches you on settings. He even has tripods for your camera and phone if you need to borrow them.
  8. Brynjar built a fire on the beach. This was key to keeping our toes thawed that night!
  9. We had a small group. We can’t imagine going on a coach bus, or anything larger than the 10 to 12 passenger van Arctic Breeze has, for two reasons: 1) HOW would they maneuver through the roads and turn in darkness?! Eek, scary! And 2) If you were on a big group tour any chance of having an intimate experience and personalized attention for your Northern Lights tour would go out the door.
  10. You get Brynjar as a guide (or his son, Oscar) when you sign up for an Arctic Breeze tour. With bigger tour companies you book the tour not knowing who your guide will be. There’s nothing like reading TripAdvisor reviews and hoping you get a guide who is great and experience but not really knowing. It’s a crap shoot with big tour companies. The variable just isn’t worth it. Why not go with Arctic Breeze and know you’ll get Brynjar?

Brynjar had such a calming, caring nature. We really enjoyed that about him as well!

Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with an organized tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle, chasing the lights! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

The Season for Northern Lights

September or October through April is a great time to see the Northern Lights in Tromso. These fall to winter months provide the best experience, so we hear, and from first-hand participation, we think February is the ultimate month to join in on the fun.

Brynjar joked that February may be rumored to be the best time to see the lights but he’s fond of seeing them in September when the temperatures are “warm enough” to view them in a t-shirt. (We replied perhaps he was brave enough for a t-shirt in September in Tromso because he’s native to this Arctic Circle city, but not us Americans!

My blood is less thick, as they say, but we understood his point: it is significantly warmer in late summer or fall.)

  • February average temperatures are 26º Fahrenheit (about -3º Celsius)
  • September average temperatures are 46º Fahrenheit (about 8º Celsius)

We really love Tromso in the winter because there are so many things to do and see there spanning many winter tours and beautiful scenery, covered in snow. February is rumored to be the time for the most stable weather in the area, thus why we went during February.

I’ve also visited in January when there was an additional chance of catching the end of whale watching season.

February is when the Sami culture is celebrated with a week of Sami celebrations, giving us another reason to consider a winter trip.

Our Experience with Arctic Breeze

Driving to See the Lights

We set off from the hotel pick-up point on a drive to the fjord, as Brynjar suggested, for optimal viewing in terms of the mountain, water, and beach. It was such a cool spot and we were so grateful for his forethought.

The drive took about thirty to forty minutes or so. We stayed there for what felt like an hour and a half to two hours (time flies when you’re watching the lights – the last thing on our mind was looking at our watches).

He built a fire that wasn’t only purposeful in helping warm us up, and provided some snacks including warm cocoa, but was so pretty and memorable sight in itself! How often can you enjoy a small bonfire on a beach in northern Norway?

After about two hours in that magnificent location on our Tromso Northern Lights tour, Brynjar suggested we move to another spot he was excited to show us.

It was not an accident we arrived just in time for the strong “show” of the evening; he was looking at his informational websites regarding the Aurora Borealis throughout the night. This allowed him to expertly predict the time the highest index of the night would reveal itself.

His prediction paid off, big time. We never would have been in that spot for the majestic “show” mother nature provided us that evening if not for the expertise provided by Brynjar on our Tromso Northern Lights tour.

Photographing The Northern Lights

He took photos of us for memories of the evening he later emailed our way and was mindful to ask if we needed help with camera settings or to borrow a tripod.

It was a big help he assisted with putting a thermal suit over our jackets and clothes too! They’re a bit difficult to put on otherwise and we were grateful they were available for extra warmth.

He was happy to explain the lights to us – what green, red, and purple were. It’s all scientific and different gases in the atmosphere at different heights too. It was great to have any questions we had answered…and I had many!

Mother Nature was Showing Off and We LOVED It

We really lucked out and saw a KP 7 show! (KP index scores range from zero, being the least activity, to a nine, being the most. The KP index is a measure of geomagnetic activity.) See the incredible image we captured, below, of the time the show was going on!

It was so overwhelmingly magical I was more focused on watching and being together with Dan, than clicking the camera remote I was holding. But I should mention the show was so strong the photo below is unedited. It’s what we saw with our naked eye and what the camera captured without any post-processing Lightroom enhancements.

Brynjar said in all the years he’s been doing this it was one of the best shows he’s seen. It was once in a lifetime for most of us, perhaps. (He mentioned he had only seen about two other shows more impressive than this – we were confident it was a lucky, fabulous evening. Our hearts were so full.)

Not only did he know the best spots to visit and how to keep the group happy, he knew when to be there. He also knew the height of activity for the night was over after the incredible time we viewed a KP 7 index and thus suggested we head home for the night. We all agreed.

In total, the tour was about five hours from pickup to drop-off.

Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with an organized tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle, chasing the lights! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

Booking Your Tour with Arctic Breeze

We encourage you to contact Arctic Breeze to book your tour as soon as you know when you’ll be in Tromso. Their small tour group size makes each spot highly prized and sought after. 😉 Please email them! Their small company is operated by Brynjar and his wife, Kaisa. It’s likely Kaisa will reply to your email inquiry directly within 24 to 48 hours. It’s also possible their son, Oscar, will be on your tour or even guiding it.

Want to know the best part? It’s so affordable! It was one of the most affordable tours we’ve researched, at just over $100 USD per person.

Between the cost and the guide, you’re getting, booking with Arctic Breeze is a no-brainer.

Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with a Tromso Northern Lights Tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle in Europe, chasing the lights in the snow! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours

BOOK Arctic Breeze for a Tromso Northern Lights Tour. You won’t be disappointed!

Please note: We thank Arctic Breeze for generously hosting us. We also may make a small commission from affiliate links in this post but all opinions are ours and we bring you genuine content with real facts, photos, thoughts and recommendations. Always.

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Tromso Norway is one of the best travel vacation destinations to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. This incredibly beautiful bucket list goal is more achievable with a Tromso Northern Lights Tour and we share info on why you must take one to be successful in your winter quest in the Arctic Circle in Europe, chasing the lights in the snow! #NorthernLights #TromsoTours #Norway #Scandinavia #AuroraBorealis #NorthernLightsTours #TromsoWinterTours
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Mikkel is co-owner and editor of Sometimes Home and Sometimes Sailing along with her husband, Dan. She is a professional photographer in addition to writing about their travel adventures to encourage and motivate others to book their next trip and explore the world.

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2 Comments

  1. Rome
    September 18, 2020 / 7:00 pm

    This is spot in. We used a guide as well to see the lights. No way the experience would’ve been even close without knowledge of the area.

    • September 18, 2020 / 7:09 pm

      Romeo! Thanks for your comment. 🙂 Glad we’re not alone in knowing it’s best to take a tour with a pro in charge!

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