This is the best way to have an Arctic northern lights adventure

  • Dance of light

    Tromsø, Norway sparkles with the northern lights many a winter night. Located 200 miles above the Arctic Circle, Tromsø lies directly beneath the auroral oval, a ring above Earth's geomagnetic north pole where the northern lights are most active.

    Photo courtesy of Ole C. Salomonsen/Arctic Light Photo

  • It's not super cold

    Tromsø's Arctic location boasts a surprisingly temperate climate, thanks to warming by the passing Gulf Stream. Average winter temperatures run 21 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit – quite comfortable as long as you bundle up.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Experience a lively city

    Tromsø is a lively university town with convenient flight connections to its international airport. There are plenty of activities to fill a week, the minimum time to allow since some nights aurora will be hidden by clouds, and other nights the northern lights won't show at all. 

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Lights out

    The northern lights shine brightest in dark skies away from city lights. More than 70 Tromsø outfitters take visitors outside the city to dark settings, and some take you to special places where lagoons and mountains act as scenic backdrops. 

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Aurora chasing

    Aurora safari by mini-bus is one way to hunt the northern lights. The most successful tours use weather data from this region's microclimates, and then drive to areas where clouds don't mask the aurora.

    Photo courtesy of Konrad Konieczny/

  • Warm huts

    The northern lights may brighten skies for just a few minutes or they may dance all night. Staying warm for long hours is solved by Destination Tromsø's campfire-warmed huts inspired by lavvu huts of Northern Norway's indigenous Sami people.

    Photo courtesy of Destination Tromsø

  • Sail to see the aurora

    Sailing Tromsø's fjord with Pukka Travels gives aurora hunters a warm place to shelter. Overnight sails add daylight views of stunning fjords and mountain scenery.

    Photo courtesy of Dennis Stever for Pukka Travels

  • The coziest view

    The ultimate aurora-watching occurs from your own bed. A custom-designed trip with Off the Map Travel tucks you into this Tromsø bed-with-a-view.

    Photo courtesy of Off the Map Travel

  • Cascading color

    The northern lights typically undulate with green streaks and animated green swirls, thrilling many Tromsø visitors from September through March. But it's rare, though not impossible, to see a full-spectrum aurora of red, green, blue and violet.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Aurora alive

    Everyone gets a stunning view of the northern lights in "Extreme Auroras," shown at the planetarium of the Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Filmed over six years by Tromsø photographer Ole Salomonsen, the show is a fantasia of animated color; you might also catch "Extreme Auroras" at a planetarium near you.

    Photo courtesy of Ole C. Salomonsen/Arctic Light Photo

  • Mush on

    Arctic Tromsø is fascinating with or without northern lights. Riding with sled dogs is a popular tour, and you may even get to cuddle puppies.

    Photo courtesy of Max Lander/Pukka Travels

  • Go for a sleigh ride

    A popular Tromsø tour includes a ride on a reindeer-drawn sleigh while visiting Norway's reindeer-herding Sami people. 

    Photo courtesy of Baard Loeken/

  • Snow play

    Winter sports are a Tromsø passion and visitors can join guided tours for ice fishing, skiing, kite skiing, snowshoeing and cross country skiing. You can also rent equipment and head out on your own, perhaps catching the northern lights as you cross country ski on free lighted trails.

    Photo courtesy of

  • Whale of a sail

    Tromsø's coastal location is prime for whale-watching in the North Sea. An adventuresome tour on a ribbed inflatable boat (RIB), seen here, may get close to giant orcas and humpbacks, but whale watching from a larger vessel is another option.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Chill at an ice hotel

    Visit Tromsø Ice Domes for an icy drink, or spend the night in your own ice-walled room. Guests pop in and out of the ice hotel all night to check for the northern lights.  

    Photo courtesy of Tromsø Ice Domes

  • Arctic spirits

    Aurora Spirit distillery could bring out your inner Viking as you sample gin, vodka and aquavit made with local herbs, berries and melting glacier water. Tales of Viking imbibing habits may inspire hoisting your cup in hearty toasts.

    Photo courtesy of Gareth Hutton/Adventure By Design

  • Cool architecture

    Tromsø's Arctic Cathedral is among Tromsø's architecturally pleasing sites including the aquarium Polaria and Tromsø's stunning glass-front library. Arctic Cathedral offers frequent crowd-pleasing musical concerts.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Get your kicks

    Tromsø is a sophisticated city of bistros, pubs, coffee bars, upscale dining and stores packed with outdoor gear and Norwegian design. Festivals such as Insomnia Festival (electronic music) enliven winter months. 

    Photo courtesy of Konrad Konieczny/

  • Snow big deal

    Yes, it snows in Tromsø, but giant snow plows get to work and keep roads clear. Rental cars wear grippy snow tires, making it easy to get around, whether staying in one of many hotels or in a vacation rental on Kvaløya island across Tromsø Bridge.

    Photo courtesy of Anne Chalfant

  • Aurora magic

    The dance of the aurora is magical, a vision to last a lifetime. Should someone get down on a knee to propose marriage, as this man did, the magic will live forever in both minds and hearts.

    Photo courtesy of Max Lander/Pukka Travels