Seeing the northern lights are among the top reasons for tourists to visit Norway during the winter season, and several thousand international tourists visit northern Norway to see the aurora borealis every single year.
While you can technically see the northern lights in all of Norway, certain places are far better than others, and visiting the best spots will increase your odds of actually seeing the aurora. So what’s the best place to see the northern lights in Norway?
The best place to see the northern lights in Norway is in Tromsø. This city is right in the middle of the aurora belt, giving the optimal conditions for the aurora borealis. The surrounding areas 200 kilometers north and south of Tromsø are also great for seeing the northern lights.
We’re going to be looking closer at both Tromsø and the other great options for where to see the northern lights in Norway in this article. You are going to be left with plenty of different amazing aurora options, including some absolutely spectacular places!
1) Tromsø: Norway’s aurora paradise
Tromsø is the #1 destination for tourists who are coming to Norway to experience the aurora borealis, and the city is known as the capital of northern Norway (unofficially that is).
Not only is Tromsø dead in the middle of the aurora belt, but it’s also a big city that is very, very familiar with northern lights tourism.
This means that you’re going to have an easy time finding an aurora guide to take you out of the city to find the best spots to actually see the northern lights.
You don’t strictly need a guide to see the northern lights in Tromsø, but I definitely recommend going out of the main city center to see it. This is because the light pollution from inside the city will make the aurora look much weaker than it really is.
The most popular place to view the aurora in Tromsø is from Fjellheisen. This is a viewing deck at mount Fløya, and it’s very popular with northern lights tourists.
You can reach Fjellheisen by gondola or shuttle bus, so there’s no need to hike for multiple hours in the snow!
2) Observing the aurora in spectacular Lofoten
Lofoten is one of Norway’s biggest tourist destinations during the summer season, but it’s also an incredible place to visit in the winter to see the northern lights. This huge island archipelago is filled with small, cozy towns and villages that have traditionally been fishing villages, and it’s a really nice and relaxed atmosphere in the entire region.
It’s generally very easy to get a bit away from the main villages to reduce the light pollution, so Lofoten is a great option if you want to experience the northern lights in a beautiful setting.
One of the most amazing thing about seeing the northern lights in Lofoten is the fact that it’s reflected in the ocean, giving you an incredible sight!
3) Seeing the northern lights from the North Cape (Nordkapp)
Nordkapp, also known as The North Cape, is the northernmost tip of mainland Norway, so it’s obviously a popular destination for tourists who want to experience the northern lights.
When you’re at Nordkapp, there’s nothing north of you for hundreds of miles, and it’s a perfect place to see the aurora borealis!
I would probably not say that Nordkapp is the best place to see the aurora, because of potential for fog, but it’s on the list because it’s a spectacular place to see it if you are able to. It’s just something special about seeing the northern lights at the very northernmost point on the perfect nights!
PS. make sure you don’t pay to enter Nordkapp! It’s a kind of tourist trap where you get tricked into paying an entrance fee to enter the area, but this is actually voluntary, and only for those who want to visit the museum.
Bodø is one of the largest cities is northern Norway, and a popular tourist destination due to it’s large size, proximity to Lofoten, and convenient ease of access.
You will find that Bodø is right in the aurora belt, and you can see incredible northern lights there if you’re lucky. Just like in Tromsø, you will want to get a bit out of the main city center to reduce the light pollution, but there are lots of different options near the city.
One of the most popular places to go to see the aurora in Bodø is Rønvikfjellet, a short hike (or bus ride) from Bodø city center.
Narvik is a middle-sized city that can provide tourists with an incredible view of the northern lights on cloudless nights. Narvik has never really been all that popular with tourists, so it’s an ideal city to visit if you want a more authentic Norway aurora experience with a higher proportion of locals.
There are multiple mountains nearby where you can see the northern lights in all its glory!
If you want to get into to “real” northern Norway, then Alta’s the city to go to. This is by far the largest city in the Finnmark region of Norway, and it’s a popular destination for tourists during both winter and summer seasons.
Alta offer a lot of tourist attractions, including plenty of guided aurora borealis tours:
If you’re visiting the former region Finnmark, then Alta is likely going to be the first place you’re visiting, and it’s a great place to see the northern lights.
Kirkenes is another city in the “real” north, but this town is much further east than Alta. One of the unique things about Kirkenes is that it’s only 15 minutes away from the Norwegian-Russian border!
This is obviously a tourist attraction in itself, but tensions on the border are higher than ever due to the aggressive war in Ukraine.
Despite this, Kirkenes is a good place to see the northern lights, and it’s a great place to visit as a tourist. There are plenty of tourist attractions, and incredible amounts of untouched wilderness on all sides of the city.
Svalbard is a Norwegian-owned island that lies far away from mainland Norway. It’s a very popular destination for tourists who are looking for an adventure type of holiday, or for people who want a true arctic experience.
Some of the unique things about visiting Svalbard is the presence of polar bears, it’s own set of local rules and regulations, and a society that is completely cut off from the rest of Norway.
There’s only a single Norwegian city on Svalbard called Longyearbyen, and visiting it is truly something special.
You would probably think that Svalbard is the best place to see the northern lights in Norway since it’s much farther north than mainland Norway, but this is actually not true.
Svalbard lies a bit too far north to be in the aurora belt, so while it’s pretty good for seeing the northern lights, it’s not as good as Tromsø or Bodø.
I often say that Vesterålen is one of the best alternatives to Lofoten for all things, and seeing the northern lights is just as good in Vesterålen as it is in Lofoten.
This means a good chance for a spectacular view if you’re lucky with the weather, and the bonus of having the aurora reflect in the ocean to give that incredible photo opportunity.
Senja is a large island outside of Tromsø, and it’s the perfect destination for nature lovers who are in to hiking and skiing. If you are comfortable hiking in remote wilderness to see the aurora borealis, then Senja is the perfect choice for you!
Senja is not a total wilderness though, and there are small villages all along the coast on the island that you can use as a base for your aurora adventure.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.