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Frequently asked questions

  • How do I book a tour?

    The best way to book a tour is by doing it online, here. Alternatively, you can go to the tourist information centre - Visit Tromsø, or to any of our hotel partners in the city: Clarion Hotel The Edge, Clarion Collection Hotel Aurora, Clarion Collection Hotel With, Quality Hotel Saga, Comfort Hotel Xpress Tromsø or Tromsø Camping.

  • Can I book the tour after I arrive to Tromsø?

    Yes, we often take late bookings. The last chance to book a tour is 2 hours before departure.

  • When is the last chance to book a tour?

    The last chance to book a tour is 2 hours before departure.

  • When is the pick-up time?

    10 minutes before departure.

    Northern Lights tours: 19:20
    Fjord tour: 10:50
    Snowshoeing tour: 10:50

  • What is the pick-up location?

    Starts outside the Tromsø Tourist Information Office, here: https://goo.gl/5Brlgp

  • Can you pick me up at my hotel/hostel/Airbnb?

    No, not unless you book a private tour, then we can agree on a different pick-up location. The normal pick up location is outside the Tromsø Tourist Information Office, here: https://goo.gl/5Brlgp

  • How long does the tour last?

    Northern Lights tours normally last around 5 hours, but sometimes we come in a little earlier and sometimes a little later, depending on the weather conditions and Northern Lights activity.

    Fjord tours last 4.5 hours.
    Snowshoeing tours last 3 hours.

  • What is included in your tour?

    Please read about the specifics of each tour here.

  • Where do you search for the Northern Lights?

    Wherever the weather is the best that night. We follow the weather forecast closely, contact our friends that live around Troms County to get the very best idea of the current weather and stay flexible in terms of our choice of location. Sometimes we head west to Kvaløya, sometimes east towards Skibotn and the Finnish border. If necessary, we drive almost 2.5 hours one way from Tromsø in search of the lights.

  • Do you find the Northern Lights all the time?

    Almost always. Of course the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, so we never know when they come out to play, and therefore we cannot guarantee anything, but with patience and the knowledge of where to go, we see them almost always.

  • If we haven’t seen any Northern Lights by the end of the tour, do you stay out longer?

    Yes, sometimes we stay an extra 30-60 minutes if the weather seems to be improving or if the Northern Lights forecast is positive, but our guides evaluate this on a case by case basis.

  • How cold does it get in Tromsø during winter?

    The average temperature in winter (October to March) ranges from +4.0°C to -5.0°C. January is normally the coldest, and temperature can drop to -15°C or a bit lower. Tromsø is located close to the coast and, due to the warm current called the Gulf Stream, it is mild here compared to places elsewhere at a similar latitude.

  • Do you provide warm clothes on your tour?

    On our Northern Lights chase in small group and Private Northern Lights chase we provide a thermal suit and winter boots to wear over your shoes. You should still bring your own warm clothes to wear under the thermal suit, a hat, gloves, scarf and suitable shoes (no high heels for example).

  • What kind of clothes should I bring?

    Warm, wind and waterproof. A hat, gloves, a scarf and good winter boots. Thermal underwear and woollen socks could also come in handy.

  • Do you take photographs on your tours?

    Yes. We try to take as many as possible, both landscape photos and portraits of our guests with the Northern Lights in the background.

  • When do you publish the photos?

    As soon as possible, normally the day after the tour. Sometimes we’re extremely busy so please be patient. We will publish the photos on our Facebook page as soon as we get a chance. Here: https://www.facebook.com/northernlightstromso.no

  • Where do you publish the photos?

    On our Facebook page, here: https://www.facebook.com/northernlightstromso.no/
    We write the date of the tour in the description, so look for that.

    If you go on a Small group tour or Private tour with us, we can send you the photos in high resolution if you send us a message on Facebook or email to info@northernlightstromso.no. Please state the date and type of tour.

  • If I don’t see the Northern Lights, can I come back the next evening for free?

    No, we don’t offer that service. Remember, as the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, it might take you 2 or 3 nights to see them, although most nights we get lucky. It’s like fishing, you never know when you will catch one.

  • Can I still see the Northern Lights if the weather is bad in Tromsø?

    Yes, often. Sometimes the weather is bad in Tromsø city, but very good just 30 minutes drive away. Let us worry about finding the best weather conditions.

  • What happens if you cancel a tour?

    It might happen a few times over a whole winter that the weather is bad all over the Tromsø area and we consider it either dangerous or pointless to go chase the Northern Lights. In those cases, we will let you know via sms/email and offer you to come on a tour the day after or get a full refund.

  • What happens if I cancel my booking?

    We will offer you a full refund providing you cancel your tour in advance.

Facts about the Northern Lights

  • When can I see the Northern Lights?

    In Tromsø we see the Northern Lights from end of August to beginning of April. The only thing we need is darkness, and during summer we don’t have dark nights and therefore we can’t see the Northern Lights. We operate our tours from end of September until end of March, when the nights are long enough.

  • What causes the Northern Lights?

    In short, when charged particles from a solar flare hit the Earth’s atmosphere, the collision results in many small bursts of light, called photons, and they make up the Northern Lights. If you want the longer version, join our tour and we’ll tell you more.

  • What is the best time of year/best time of night to see the Northern Lights?

    Statistically, the best months are September and March, but because the Northern Lights are caused by solar activity, which has little to do with Earth’s rotation or orbit, we can see Northern Lights in autumn, winter and early spring, at 4pm or 4am or anytime in between, just as long as it’s dark enough. You can find out the time of sunset and sunrise in Tromsø here: http://www.timeanddate.com/sun/norway/tromso?month=1

  • What are the best webpages to check the Northern Lights activity?
  • How do the Northern Lights happen?

    In short, when charged particles from a solar flare hit Earth‘s atmosphere, the collision results in many small bursts of light, called photons, and they make up the Northern Lights. If you want the longer version, join our tour and we’ll tell you more.

  • What myths evolved around the Northern Lights?

    Many. If you join our tour, we‘ll tell you about them.

  • Are the Northern Lights harmful to humans in any way?

    No, but the solar storms that cause them can and have disrupted radio signals and caused power outages in history. Such large storms are extremely rare.

Photographing the Northern Lights

  • What kind of camera do I need?

    A DSLR with full manual mode and a lens with manual focus option is the best. Many compact cameras can also do what‘s necessary, but what you need to be able to do is to set:

    1. Shutter speed
    2. Aperture/F-number
    3. ISO
    4. Manual focus.

    You also need a tripod. If you don‘t have a tripod or can‘t bring your own, you can rent one from us for a small fee. Please, book it online to reserve it.

  • Can I use my smartphone/tablet to photograph the Northern Lights?

    Yes, but the results vary and is seldom good. You need to get an application that allows a longer exposure, and the Northern Lights have to be stronger than average for the phone/tablet camera to pick anything up. You also need a tripod or something else to hold your device steady while you shoot.

  • Do I need a tripod?

    Yes – when you take photos of the Northern Lights you use a long exposure, so a tripod is essential for your photos to be clear, but not shaken and blurry. If you don‘t have a tripod or can‘t bring your own, you can rent one from us for a small fee. Please, book it online to reserve it.

  • Can I use a Gopro to photograph the Northern Lights?

    If your GoPro or any other action camera allows for high ISO and long shutter speed (minimum 2 seconds) you should be able to use it. We’ve seen some of our guests get decent results. Remember a tripod or something else to keep the camera steady.

  • What camera settings do you recommend?

    There are essentially just 4 things you need to set in order to get a good photo of the Northern Lights. You might need to tweak the settings a bit according to the strength of the Northern Lights and whether you have strong moonlight on your foreground, but let’s start with Aperture and Focus, which will not change.

    1. Aperture: Often indicated with an f-number. Set it to the lowest value possible. Very often 3.5.

    2. Focus: Set it to manual and on infinity (∞). If you don’t find that anywhere, focus on something far away (further than 5 meters away) – for example some electric lights in the distance.

    3. ISO: Light sensitivity of the camera sensor. The higher the number, the more sensitive it is. The higher the number, the lower quality/more noise you will get. If your photos turn out too dark, try increasing your ISO or use a longer shutter speed. If too bright, lower the ISO or use a shorter shutter speed. Start out with 800-1250 ISO and work your way up or down from there.

    4. Shutter speed: How long you let light fall on the camera sensor. The longer it is, the brighter the photo. If your photos turn out too dark, try a longer shutter speed or increase your ISO. If too bright, use a shorter shutter speed or lower the ISO. Start with 5-10 seconds (indicated with “ sign - for example 5”) and work your way up or down from there. If you use a shutter speed longer than 15”, you will see star trails forming, due to the long shutter speed.

  • Should I use a flash?

    No, not unless you’re taking a photo of a person with the Northern Lights in the background. Otherwise it’s best for your photo, your battery and your fellow Northern Lights chasers for you to turn your flash off.

2017 (c) Northern Lights Tromsø AS
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