Why is Tromsø one of the best places to see the Northern Lights?
The city of Tromsø lies around 69° northern latitude and therefore in the middle of the Aurora belt, which maximizes your chances of seeing the Northern Lights. If the sky is clear, the Aurora can be seen almost every night between September and early April.
On our Northern Lights chases we have the possibility to cross into different nearby climate zones. This often gives us good chances to find clear sky, even if the sky above Tromsø is cloudy.
Tromsø also offers an international airport, a variety of hotels, museums, restaurants and is surrounded by amazing nature. The gulf stream keeps the city fairly warm throughout the Norwegian winter.
What’s the difference between booking a package and only booking the tours?
If you book a package we will take care of your accommodation, all tours you’d like to join and include a unique flexible itinerary, where we will choose the best nights for you to go out to chase the Northern Lights. For example, if you stay 5 nights and book 3 Northern Lights chases as part of a package, we will reserve seats for you for all 5 nights and choose the nights that we believe have the highest chances of catching the Northern Lights, according to detailed weather reports and satellite images, something that is usually only possible to predict a few hours before going out each night. If you only book the tours you will have to specify the dates in advance and take care of accommodation yourself.
Besides that the tours itself are exactly the same.
What do you provide on your tours?
We provide personal pick-up and drop-off at all hotels and most private addresses on Tromsøya, a one-piece winter suit and boots in your sizes to keep you warm, Manfrotto tripods for photography, a warm expedition meal and hot drinks. We also take professional pictures that we share with all of our guests after the trip, including portraits of the Aurora and you!
What is the group size and what kind of cars do you use?
On our minibus-tours we take a total of 12 guests (+guide and driver). We use a Mercedes Benz Sprinter with an isle in the middle. These kind of cars provide comfort even during long chases to Finland or Sweden and allow everyone to use it for getting dressed or to rest. By using minibuses we are most flexible and the small group size guarantees a personal experience. We will help you to set up your camera. Warm winter gear, food, drinks, tripods and pictures of the Aurora and you are included.
What are the temperatures like?
Temperatures not only depend on the time you visit but often even more on the area we go to. The temperatures in and around Tromsø can sometimes be 30˚C warmer than the temperatures in Finland or Sweden, countries we regularly visit on our chase for clear sky. Therefore it’s impossible to say in advance what the temperatures are going to be like.
September and October are by far the warmest months of the Aurora season. Preparing for the extreme is not necessary and the temperatures are usually between 0-10˚C (32-50˚F). Especially September can be a pleasant month for outdoor activities, during the day it can sometimes be as warm as 20˚C (68˚F). Wind and rain, however, should always be taken into consideration. In late October we expect the first light snow.
November and December are the first winter months and now the temperatures start to drop. Especially when leaving Tromsø and the coast behind the temperatures can go below freezing. Once the temperatures are below 0˚C every precipitation turns into snow. Since it then sometimes gets warmer again, there may also be rain, mud and ice. In December we have to be prepared for temperatures similar to the ones in January and February.
January and February are usually the coldest months of the season. While Tromsø rarely gets colder than -15˚C (5˚F), places in nearby Finland and Sweden can easily get down to -30˚C (-22˚F) or colder. While you should make some preparations yourself we provide most of the gear to keep you warm. This is the time to mention that we have not yet lost anyone on our chases!
March and April are still winter months. The snow stays and the temperatures can be below or above freezing and we therefore have to be prepared for both rain and snow. Even though the Aurora season is coming to an end by April, Tromsø can be cold and chilly until June.
How do I have to dress?
We can’t tell you precisely what and how much to wear, since everybody feels the cold differently. While we had guests in February posing for pictures wearing only a t-shirt (before getting back into their winter gear, of course) others are more sensitive and need the warmest equipment possible to feel comfortable.
Generally we recommend wearing woolen underwear, ideally made of merino wool. If you are especially sensitive to the cold and visit us during one of the colder months, you should consider wearing several layers. Besides that woolen socks, one or several layers, are a must-have, just like a hat and gloves or mittens. Mittens keep your fingers warmer than gloves.
If you’re a photographer you can wear a thin pair of gloves as a base layer and mittens on top of that, which you can then easily take off once you need to adjust your camera, without getting your fingers too cold.
Please don’t wear cotton, which gets moist and will make you freeze.
On top of your woolen layers you should wear warm pants and a jacket that are comfortable enough to wear while exploring the city. We provide warm winter suits on our Northern Lights chases. You would take off thick layers of clothes before wearing the suits, so please don’t overdress. Also, please remember that our cars are warm and a long part of each chase may be spent driving, therefore you should always have the possibility to take something off to avoid sweating.
When should I visit?
Since we need darkness at night to see the Northern Lights the best time to come is between mid September and end of March. With an extra bit of luck that time frame can be extended to end of August to mid April, but your chances will then be lower because of the short night time hours. It’s not possible to see the Northern Lights in Tromsø during the summer, because the sun then shines 24 hours a day, a phenomenon called the Midnight Sun.
Besides choosing a period that offers enough darkness at night, the chances are practically the same. While some websites may tell you that certain months have better weather and others have stronger activity, these are just statistics that cannot tell you how it’s actually going to work out for you. What has a greater impact on your chances is spending enough time in Tromsø and joining several chases.
Will there be toilet stops?
On most occasions there will be several possibilities for toilet stops. If we go to Finland, for example, we will make at least two toilet stops with the possibility of more if needed. On rare occasions, however, there may be none available, as our first priority is finding clear sky, which often leads us away from civilization. Then we will have to use the nature as a toilet, something that humans have done for thousands of years and still works fine. Going to the toilet in nature is something that is less scary than you might imagine, even for the ladies and even in the cold.
How do I get to Tromsø?
The fastest way to get to Tromsø is by airplane. Tromsø airport is served by daily flights from Oslo with Norwegian Air Shuttle (www.norwegian.com) and Scandinavian Airlines (www.fly-sas.com). The flight time is 1h 55mins. Have a good flight!