Ok so you’re in Tromso, you want to see the northern and you don’t know where to go. That’s normal, you’re not the only one to have this question. After months and months spent in Tromso during the past years, I now know where to go according to the weather forecast, I have my favorite places, and some very efficient.
Because to see the northern lights, you need to have a place with a wide view, correctly oriented. Don’t chose a too narrow place, otherwise you may not see everything.
Orientation is important! The widest the best to enjoy the lights. You should have west and north, east is a good plus. South only for strong auroras.
So, here is my list of the 10 best places to see the northern lights around Tromso! Some of them are in the beautiful Kvaloya island. And below some good advices to chase the lights.
This is my favorite place around Tromso. A magnificent fjord, perfectly located, ultra photogenic, with a lot of possibilities. But yeah, I know, i’ve just told you not to go in a narrow fjord. Even if it’s a really impressive fjord, Grotfjord is not narrow. Its mountains are really beautiful, lots of nice peaks. Facing north, it’s great to see the lights coming.
So my advice would see to go by the sea, directly in the fjord (there are some paths do go down at the bottom of the fjord). But the nice thing is that you also have great viewpoints on all sides of the fjord! And also before, for example above the Grotfjord village.
That’s a classic one. Kattfjordvatnet is a lake located in a beautiful valley on the way to Sommaroy. Not far from Tromso, this is more than a viewpoint. You literally have maybe 10 places to stop to see the lights. Because the lake is huge, very long, close to the road, with a lot of park lots for 10km, you won’t have any difficulty to park here. The lake is facing beautiful mountains, and during winter it’s totally frozen, so this is a huuuuge playground !
There are two problems. The first one is that this place is popular among the northern lights tours, as it’s not far from Tromso and you have a wide view. But honestly, this is by far big enough for everybody. Second issue, when the cars go by the road, some lights can enlighten the mountains. So if you’re doing timelapses, that’s not the best place !
Not far from Sommaroy, there is a nice beach. Well ok, there are a lot of crystal clear beaches in that area. But Sandvika has a lot of advantages ! First, it’s facing north, with a very wide view in all the directions. Views are nice, some mountains. This is not as beautiful as Grotfjord, as impressive, but much wider !
The good thing is that there are usually not so many people there. It’s a bit windy (yeah, that’s Sommaroy), but honestly that’s ok. And sometimes you can see reindeers on that beach, the icy on the cake!
That mountain is one of the most famous in Norway. And the good thing is that’s a very nice place to enjoy the northern lights ! This is facing north west, the view is quite wide, the mountain is really photogenic. And there is not a lot of people coming here.
You can have a lot of different views from the mountain, by the river or not, so there are many possibilities. You also have south, the only bad thing is east, as there is a huge mountain just there.
5. The road to Skulsfjord
A very wide view, buuut very windy ! On Kvaloya (again) if you take the road to Skulsfjord, just before the tunnel you’ll find a perfect place to enjoy the lights, with a view west-north oriented. But other directions are good too ! This is a nice view over Vengsoya.
So if you can handle the wind, honestly that place is made for your !
Maybe not the most spectacular place, but one of the most efficient. The road to Kvaloyvagen provides a really good and wide view to enjoy the lights. From a beach, you’ll have a view over east-north-west, with the mountains as a foreground.
Just go right before the tunnel to Ringvassoya and drive for 5 minutes, just after the small fisherman cabins, there are many places to go by the sea. Even after, closer to Kvaloyvagen, you’ll also find some other nice places.
A place i’ve discovered not a long time ago. Because the weather is often better east of Ringvassoya, this place is one of the most popular, even if it’s a bit far from Tromso (1h30). But you have a very wide view, there is room for everybody, but that’s kind of windy.
So this place could save you if it’s cloudy over Tromso, as it’s often different here. I’d just say the only issue is, more than the tours, you are at the end of the Ringvassoya island. So if the weather is not good, then you have to drive a long time to go back to another place.
8. Breivikeidet valley
One of the coldest place around Tromso, if not the coldest. It’s often 10 minus than the other places around Tromso. But colder means drier sky, and then less clouds. That’s why I like that valley, there is a kind of micro climate there and surroundings are beautiful. Beautiful mountains, wide views, views over the Lyngen Alps, or even further at Nakkevatnet. Honestly, this valley provides a lot of possibilities, even if there are not a lot of park places on the main road. But you’ll easily find the perfect place !
9. Telegrafbukta beach
Maybe you’re in Tromso and don’t have a car to escape the city lights. Then, here is a solution for you. Telegrafbukta is a beach south of Tromso, around 40min walk from city center. There, the light pollution is lower and this may be the only place to see the northern lights in the city with good conditions.
You’ll have a wide view, with some street lights over Kvaloya, maybe some other people, but honestly that’s really not that bad 🙂
Another great place if you don’t have a car. Fjellheisen is the top of Tromso’s cable car. It offers a great view over the city, the mountains, and of course you can easily see the northern lights. There are many possibilities, from the small coffee shop, the platform or by walking outside.
Even if there is possibilities to go down by foot, that’s very slippery during winter so be careful with the timetable not to miss the last one !
Ok it’s not around Tromso, even not in Norway. But Kilpisjärvi is a very good alternative when it’s cloudy in Tromso area. As the border between Norway and Finland is materialized by mountains, the weather is often different. This is finnish Lapland so it’s much colder, but the weather is in general very good.
Even if in Kilpisjärvi there is only one main road, you can find some possibilities around it, in the small roads or in the big car parks. Surroundings are not as beautiful as in Norway, more flat, but this is really a good alternative.
Some advices to find a perfect place
The best places are the ones you find by yourself. That being said, here are some advices to help you to find good places. But don’t forget that you first MUST be under a clear sky, without clouds.
- Check the weather forecast. Apps and websites like Yr.no but I mostly use Ventusky and its cloud coverage. You must find clear sky, first. Be careful, the weather forecast changes everytime !
- Avoid the light pollution. This is why you should escape from Tromso, but not only. You also take in account the street lights
- You must have a wide view, ideally with east-north-west if you can. For your first northern lights, don’t go to too narrow places, as the idea is to see them. After you can try some more aesthetic and narrow places.
- Be right on time ! easy to say as we don’t know when they come. But be ready at 7:30pm during winter, before if you can, but not after 8pm, you could miss a big part of the show. So you need to know where to go, sometimes it takes 1h to be in place.
- Have some warm clothes. It’s colder by night, autumn or winter, but don’t forget you will not move, you’ll be in the cold, feet in the snow, and with probably some wind. Having warm clothes, boots, gloves, and more, is really important
- Know how to take photos of the northern lights, be prepared before the lights come. Find how to use the night mode in your cellphone if you use it, how to do the focus with your came, that kind of stuff
- But, mostly, drive and check during the day to find the good places, so that you won’t have any bad surprise when you check during the night
The best tours to see the northern lights in Tromso
If you want to book a tour to see the northern lights, that can be a good idea. I explain everything in that article. There are several reasons to book a tour, and all of them are good ones :
- you don’t drive
- you want to optimize the chances to see the northern lights
- you don’t know how to do, so I would advice to book at the very beginning and then go by yourself
- you prefer to let specialists chasing the lights for you, and that’s a very good reason as the guides are in general very good ones !
So here are 4 very good companies, with excellent guides, you can book with them without any doubt. These are small groups, and they will try their best to make you see the lights in good conditions (from 120 to 180$) :
But as the best tours are very quickly full, I will also recommend these ones :
And if you have a short budget or everything is full, you can experience the northern lights bus! More people, less expensive, better than nothing 🙂
As I previously said, the best places to enjoy the northern lights are the ones you find. Of course I enjoy the ones i just gave you, but everytime I go there, I love driving in the area to find new places, according to the weather, which is the most important criteria.
So when you discover Tromso area during the day, don’t hesitate to search for places, to ask yourself if that place could be a good one. Don’t forget to check if there are city lights and street lights, that kind of recommendation.
But if you check the weather and go to one of the places above, you will surely spend an incredible night under the northern lights 🙂
Don’t forget there are many other activities in Tromso. I gathered them in this article, but the main ones are dog sledding and whale watching.