chasing northern lights blog post

Chasing Northern Lights and Capturing Memories in Tromsø

Tromsø, a charming town nestled within the Arctic Circle, is often revered for its breathtaking natural phenomenon. The aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. I’ve been chasing the northern lights for as long as I could remember. Yet, there’s much more to this winter wonderland than just celestial dances in the night sky. From the warmth of the locals to the culinary delights that abound, Tromsø is an experience that etches itself into the traveler’s heart.

chasing northern lights blog post

Despite its remote location, Tromsø pulsates with life and culture, defying the common misconceptions of polar isolation. With a vibrant city center that hosts a myriad of festivals, museums, and galleries throughout the year, alongside cozy cafes and eateries serving local and international cuisines, Tromsø invites visitors to taste its rich cultural tapestry. This juxtaposition of nature’s tranquility and bustling urban life makes Tromsø a unique destination, promising an array of experiences for every type of traveler.

A Journey Through Time

Tromsø has a rich history dating back to the 9th century, when it was settled by Vikings. As you walk through its streets, you’ll discover remnants of its past – from wooden houses to medieval churches. Take a trip to the Tromsø Museum to learn more about the town’s fascinating history and culture.

The exploration of Tromsø is incomplete without acknowledging its historical significance as a hunting and fishing hub, which for centuries stood as the lifeblood of the local community. The town also played a crucial role in Arctic expeditions during the 19th and early 20th centuries, serving as a launch point for adventurers and scientists drawn to the mysteries of the North. The Polar Museum, situated in the heart of Tromsø, pays homage to these daring expeditions and offers a glimpse into the harsh realities faced by polar explorers. Through exhibitions that chronicle endeavors into the unknown, visitors gain a deep appreciation for the courage and determination that defines the Arctic spirit.

Introduction to Tromso and Chasing Northern Lights

Nestled in the heart of the Arctic, Tromso is an island city renowned for its vibrant culture, scientific research, and – most famously – the Northern Lights. The sheer mention of these celestial wonders invokes a sense of mystique and wonder. A dance of greens, purples, and yellows across the night sky, the Aurora Borealis is a magnet for the curious and the romantics at heart. Tromso’s unique location, situated directly under the auroral oval, offers some of the planet’s most reliable selections of these tonal phantoms. It’s an experience that’s as enchanting as it is unpredictable.

Planning Your Trip to Tromso

Before you take off to chase the dancing lights, it’s wise to plan your trip meticulously. Timing is everything, and in Tromso, the night skies illuminate most prolifically between late September and early April. To avoid the bitter cold, pack layers that shield against the chilling Arctic winds.

Best Time to Visit Tromso for Northern Lights Viewing

The prime time for Northern Lights viewing is often touted as October to March – the period with the longest nights. December and January offer up endless night skies, but they can be the coldest, so prepare accordingly. For those who prefer milder climes, February and March are excellent alternatives.

Advice about viewing the Aurora Borealis. There’s no guarantee that you’ll see every night when you want to see them. Ask your hotel or lodging accommodations what’s the predictions for viewing. You can also check with the Tromso Visitor’s Center and book a tour while there.

Accommodation Options for Different Budgets

From cozy guesthouses to luxury hotels, Tromso offers a spectrum of accommodations to suit every pocket. For a more intimate experience and a taste of local life, consider a stay in one of Tromso’s many charming bed and breakfasts. You’ll need a place to rest your head after being out all night chasing the northern lights.

Chasing Northern Lights: Transportation Tips within Tromso

Renting a car gives travelers freedom to move, but city buses and taxi services are reliable options if you prefer not to drive in potentially icy conditions. Tromso is also one of the few Arctic cities to boast a modern, accessible public transport system that includes buses, boats, and the renowned cable car, the Fjellheisen.

Chasing the northern lights blog post

Chasing the Northern Lights

With preparation complete, it’s time to head outside the city limits to find that perfect viewing spot. Here are the highlights of the Montreal of the north and how to best experience the Northern Lights.

Aurora Borealis Viewing Spots

Local favorites include the iconic Mount Storsteinen, reachable by cable car, where you can watch the city fade under the glow of the setting sun, making way for the spectacular light show. For a more remote experience, consider a guided tour to the Lyngsalpene or the Finnmarksvidda Plateau.

Photography Tips for Capturing the Northern Lights

For avid photographers, capturing the aurora is a dream come true. Ensure stability with a tripod and use higher ISOs and wider apertures to capture the lights’ movement and intensity. A remote shutter release or self-timer helps avoid shaking the camera.

Weather Considerations and Visibility

The key to a successful viewing is, unsurprisingly, clear skies. Tromso’s weather changes rapidly, making cloud cover a constant challenge. Monitor local forecasts closely, and be ready to shift locations at a moment’s notice.

Activities in and Around Tromso

The allure of Tromso isn’t solely the Northern Lights. It’s a winter wonderland brimming with activities that cater to all tastes and groups. Chasing the northern lights can be adventure in itself. But there’s other fun around as well.

Winter Activities like Dog Sledding and Snowmobiling

For an adrenaline rush, partake in a snowmobile safari, dashing across powdery fields. Alternatively, a husky sledding adventure offers a more tranquil expedition into the silent wilderness.

Cultural Experiences in Tromso

Immerse yourself in Sami culture at the Tromso Arctic Reindeer Experience, or visit the Tromso Museum for an in-depth look into the history and traditions of the indigenous people of the region.

Family-Friendly Attractions

Traveling with little ones? Don’t miss out on the opportunity to try arctic fishing or a fjord cruise. These experiences offer not just fun for the family, but the chance to witness the breathtaking landscapes of the region.

Chasing northern lights

Budget Tips for Your Aurora Adventure

Navigating Tromso needn’t break the bank. With these budgeting tips, you can have your adventure and stick to your financial plan.

Cost-Saving Strategies for a Trip to Tromso

To cut costs, consider traveling with a group to share expenses, opt for self-catering accommodations, and book in advance. Local supermarkets offer a taste of Tromso at a fraction of the cost of dining out.

Affordable Dining Options and Local Food Experiences

For those on a budget, Tromso still offers tastes of the local cuisine. Street food vendors provide an inexpensive glimpse into Norwegian food culture, while historiske, a restored, traditional storehouse, offers a variety of cultural meals at reasonable prices.


Experiencing the Northern Lights in Tromso is a rare privilege, a dance of luminescent greens and purples in the inky black canvas of the Arctic night. But it’s not just about the lights. Tromso offers a sensory overload of experiences that combine to form an unforgettable adventure. It’s a combination of factors – from preparedness to the people you meet along the way – that defines this trip as truly magical. Ready your senses, and may the Arctic sky dance for you.

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