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What is the weather like in Tromsø during winter?

Tromsø, often hailed as the gateway to the Arctic, is an enchanting destination that offers something for every adventurer. This guide dives deep into Tromsø's weather, how it affects the Northern Lights' sight, and the nuances of planning a successful Tromsø expedition during the wintertime.

Tromsø's climate in winter: A closer look

Tromsø’s weather is characterized by its long, freezing winters. In winter temperatures can plunge below -12 Celsius (9°F). Despite the cold, this is the best time to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights. Please note that the information provided here is based on past weather data and may not be fully accurate for future forecasts.

Check all the northern light tours we offer here.

northern lights

The unpredictability of Tromsø's weather

Tromsø’s weather can change rapidly, with sunny conditions one day and a snowstorm the next. Being so, good weather in Tromsø will not mean that you will see great northern lights, and equally bad weather does not mean you will not see good northern lights. This variability makes it challenging to predict the visibility of the Northern Lights on any given day.

Some days will start with lots of rain or cloudy weather and will end with amazing northern light shows. Sometimes, the weather will seem great, cloudless, full moon, ice cold without rain and despite this, no northern lights will be seen, or it may also happen that you will only see them by the end of your tour.

Despite this, one can still enjoy the stunning beauty of Tromsø and its surroundings, blanketed in snow and bathed in ethereal lights.

Tromsø and the Northern Lights: A match made in heaven

Tromsø‘s location, approximately 69° latitude, places it directly under the aurora oval. This makes it a prime spot for viewing the Northern Lights. However, it’s important to remember that the intensity and visibility of the Northern Lights are influenced by several factors, not just location or the local weather.

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The inadequacy of aurora forecasts

The Kp index is often used to predict the likelihood of Northern Lights. However, this index only measures geomagnetic activity and does not indicate the color intensity or brilliance of the Northern Lights. Therefore, it’s crucial not to rely solely on the Kp index when planning your Northern Lights adventure.

Tromsø tours: Moving beyond the weather

Our Northern Lights tours from Tromsø do not let the city’s immediate weather conditions influence their itinerary. Instead, we focus on finding the ideal viewing spots, even if it means traveling up to three hours away or into another country like Finland. The guides will check the weather ahead of the tours and select the place with the higher chances of seeing the northern lights.

The impact of the Lyngen Alps

The Lyngen Alps, a mountain range in northeastern Troms county, east of the city of Tromsø (approximately 2 hours driving from Tromsø), which soar to a height of 1830 meters, play a crucial role in Tromsø’s weather.

These mountains cause the incoming clouds to rise and dispense their moisture, often feeding the region’s vast glaciers. On days with easterly winds, Tromsø experiences clearer conditions, making it ideal for Northern Lights viewing.

The dry region of Skibotn

Skibotn, a village in Storfjord Municipality in Troms og Finnmark county, located on the southeastern shore of the Lyngen fjord and shielded by the Lyngen Alps (approximately 2 hours driving from Tromsø), often enjoys clearer skies than Tromsø.

As the driest region in Norway, it is a popular destination for Northern Lights chasers. If conditions in Skibotn are not optimal, tours may venture into Finland, where the weather tends to be drier and less cloudy.

northern lights

The intricacies of aurora viewing

Witnessing the Northern Lights is a magical experience that goes beyond mere metrics. Factors like solar wind density, Earth’s magnetic field interplay, and sunspot activity all influence the appearance of the Northern Lights.

While hints of potential auroral activity can be gathered from the ACE space weather satellite, predicting the exact intensity and location remains challenging.

Cloud cover and Northern Lights viewing

Cloud cover can affect the visibility of the Northern Lights. However, not all clouds are the same. High-altitude clouds, which are often invisible, do not hinder aurora visibility. Therefore, it’s crucial to refer to detailed weather reports that distinguish between high, medium, and low clouds.

Embrace the Arctic adventure

Remember, “fortune favors the bold.” It’s those who embrace the adventure that truly witness the magic of the Northern Lights.

Don’t let low aurora forecasts or cloudy weather forecasts deter you. Instead, rely on the experienced Best Arctic guides and immerse yourself in the Arctic’s allure.

After all, as the age-old adage reminds us, “Those who dare, win.”


This guide is intended to help you plan your Northern Lights adventure in Tromsø. However, it’s important to remember that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and their visibility cannot be guaranteed. Best Arctic and its professional guides will always give you the most accurate information.

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