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I'll spend a few days ( a weekend ) in Tromsø ( Norway ) at the beginning of March 2014. I know from this question that public transport will not help me to watch Aurora Borealis ( Northern Lights ) so I'm looking for a guided tour. A (mini)bus which takes me to a good spot and also takes me back.

It seems to me that quite a few tour operator offers Aurora Borealis tours. Which one should I choose? I'm looking for a short trip (couple hours), not for an overnight trip.

Is it necessary to book the trip in advance? I don't want to miss the opportunity to watch Aurora Borealis, but if book it now and the whether is terrible I loose my money.

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What exactly do you mean by a full day trip in March? It won't be dark before 18-ish or so, so the choice is rather between something lasting a couple of hours, or an overnight trip. –  gerrit Feb 4 at 18:18
    
Thx for the comment, I've edited the question. I'm looking for a short trip, not for an overnight trip. –  asalamon74 Feb 4 at 19:05

2 Answers 2

It's probably too late for the OP, but for future visitors this may help.

When we visited Tromsø in February 2013 we simply rented a car and drove outside the city to see the Aurora. We were completely at our own leisure. Their is a tunnel on Kvaloya island, west of Tromsoya just a few kilometers (turn south when you get to Kvaloya), and there is a parking lot (just a patch of ice) on the south side of the road just before the tunnel. This is a terrific place to witness the Aurora! It is relatively far from lights and has mountains only up to about 30 degrees on the north side and maybe 10 degrees on the south side.

The truth is, if you are out when the weather is clear and the Aurora are active, almost every place outside the city will suffice. We stopped many times in "emergency bays" on the side of the road to stop and see what the Aurora we doing when they started getting active.

Another great place to see the Aurora is just outside the town of Ersfjord. You can drive to the end of the southernmost street in that town, shuffle quietly past the last house, and set up camp in the snow on the mountainside overlooking the fjord. When the Aurora come out strong here, despite the lights of the town, the whole mountain range on the opposite (north) side of the fjord glows green with the reflection of the Aurora. I hope that I never forget that night!

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You should probably book in advance, but more than 2–3 days is not needed unless you want an overnight trip.

There are two aspects regarding booking tours in advance:

  1. Tours might be fully booked
  2. Tours might only go if there are enough people

The anwer depends on the kind of tour. Tours vary from an extended taxi ride to a dark corner, to overnight tours spending the night in a cabin in the wild. If your aim is just to see the aurora borealis, you should be able to find a simple tour some 2-3 days in advance (close enough to consider the weather forecast). But if you want to spice it up with other experiences — a night in a cabin in the wild is an experience even if there won't be any aurora — then booking it longer in advance is recommended. You're describing that you're looking for a full day trip. But, aurora trips are at night and night doesn't start so early in March, so I'm not quite sure what you mean by that.

Another aspect is: how essential is the tour to your vacation? Last time I was in Tromsø, we went solely to do a winter whale safari, and we booked a long time in advance. But if you're just travelling around and considering aurora watching as one out of several activities, you can take a higher risk.

Disclosure: I was living in Kiruna (Sweden) 2008-2013, roughly 350-ish km from Tromsø, and Kiruna has comparable aurora tours for tourists. I also visited Tromsø on perhaps 6 occasions or so during this time, although I did not participate in any guided aurora tours (because I don't need a guide to see the aurora).

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