If you ask any avid traveller what’s on the top of their bucket list of world wonders, most would include seeing the Northern Lights. To tick this one off your bucket list, you must travel far north to Alaska, Northern Canada, Iceland, Northern Scandinavia or Russia. Visiting such extreme, isolated places can be expensive and unappealing to travellers, but then, there’s Tromsø.
We obviously are a little bias towards Tromsø as it is our home and a city we adore, but here are 6 objective reasons as to why Tromsø is the best place to visit to see the Northern Lights.
1. Amazing Location
Tromsø is located about 350km above the Arctic Circle, which is considerably far north. So far in fact, that we are only 2000km from the North Pole! But more importantly, Tromsø is located right in the middle of what we call the “Aurora Oval,” the shape that the Aurora manifests itself in around the Geomagnetic North Pole. This means that if you go too far north or too far south of this oval, your changes of seeing Auroras are smaller. We are so well located in fact, that we can see the Aurora Borealis from kp0 (the lowest index) all the way to kp6 (the highest index we normally experience).
2. Climate and Microclimates
You may think that being located at an impressive 69° North would mean an extremely cold climate. However, compared to places such as Alaska and Russian at the same latitudes, Tromsø’s climate is surprisingly mild. This is due to the coastal location benefiting from the Golf Stream of Mexico, which brings up warm currents of water which heats our coast (as well as whales, but that’s another story…). Surprisingly to most, our average temperature in winter is only -4°C.
In order to see Northern Lights, you need clear skies or gaps in the clouds. This is where Tromsø truly shines, because it is surrounded by several microclimates including coastal, fjord, mountainous and inland climates, where the weather can vary dramatically between locations. Just a short drive in any direction from Tromsø gives us the possibility to usually find clear skies, you just need to know where to look!
3. Polar Night and Darkness
Northern lights occur all year round, during the day and the night, but in order to see Northern Lights, you need what we call “Astronomical Twilight.” This occurs in Tromsø from September until the beginning of April, allowing us to see Northern lights during over half the year.
Moreover, during 2 of these months, we experience the “Polar Night” meaning that during these months, you can see Northern Lights from the early evening. I once saw them at 4pm! The most popular times to see Northern Lights, however, is between 8pm and 2am.
4. Dramatic Landscapes
Watching the Northern Lights dance across the sky is a truly magical experience, but what can make it even more impressive is watching them dance over a fjord and seeing the green lights reflect on the water, watching them swirling over a snow-covered mountain peak, or lighting up a pine forest. Tromsø is surrounded by dramatic landscapes in every direction and in just a short drive, it is easy to find a peaceful, dark place to get cosy and watch nature’s most majestic light show.
5. Endless Arctic Entertainment
But why come so far North just to see Northern Lights when Tromsø and Northern Norway have so much more to offer? From exploring the fjords, husky sledding, and skiing, Tromsø will tick off more than one of the items on your bucket list!
Tromsø is also famous for being a lively city with endless dining, shopping and cultural diversity. It also hosts a number of festivals and events all year round including Tromsø International Film Festival and a number of music festivals.
6. Connected to the World
The final reason why Tromsø is a must, is the fact that we are very well connected to the World. We have direct flights to and from many European countries as well as to Oslo International Airport. And to make things even better, the airport is only 10 minutes away from the city centre. Click here to check flights.