Tromso in the fall with foliage colors

The Best Time to Visit Tromso: Broken Down by Season [Weather, Activities + More]

From midnight sun and never-ending daylight to Northern lights and snow-coated landscapes, Tromso is a unique destination that feels like many different places at once as it changes drastically with the seasons.

From the endless summer sunshine to the spectacular beauty of the few hours of winter light you get each day during the polar night, Tromso is magical any time you visit.

Depending on the kind of trip you want, each season in Tromso offers unique advantages and disadvantages.

Winter is Tromso’s busiest season, as people specifically tend to flock here for all the unique winter activities: chasing the Northern lights, meeting Sámi reindeer herders, visiting the Tromso Ice Domes, going dog sledding, etc.

Aurora over the city of Tromso as seen from above with green and purple lights
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But spring and fall (brief though they may be) and summer with its midnight sun are also great times of year to visit Tromso, so don’t turn your nose up at a visit outside the winter season.

This post will go over what you can expect during the different seasons in Tromso, including what the daylight hours are like, what temperatures you can expect, what activities are at their peak, and any special festivals or events occurring.

Hopefully, it’ll encourage you to plan a trip to Tromso – at any time of year!

Winter (November – March)

Pastel colors of Tromso in the early morning light in winter with faint sunrise light and snow covered houses

Winter is the peak period for travel in Tromso, hands down, as people flock from around the world to live out their Arctic dreams.

Throughout the winter season, the Northern Lights are a huge draw for travelers.

You’ll find that minibus Northern lights tours operate virtually every evening, as they will drive as far as needed to escape any bad weather and give you the best chance of seeing the Northern lights.

In my personal experience, that meant driving all the way over to Finland on one particularly cloudy night!

Winter sports are also a big draw here, with cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing being favorite activities of locals and visitors alike.

November

the arctic cathedral with snowy landscape around it while visiting tromso in the winter
  • Average Temperature: Around -2°C (28°F)
  • Low Temperature: Can drop to -5°C (23°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Occasionally rises to 2°C (36°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Approximately 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches)

November is a great month to visit Tromso in winter, with a few caveats.

Number one, while you have a chance of snow in Tromso in November, it typically hasn’t snowed enough to get a full snowpack that you need for various winter sporting activities.

For example, dog sledding companies usually won’t start to offer tours until December, and places like the Tromso Ice Domes aren’t quite constructed yet.

November is definitely the harbinger of the Polar Night, which lasts about six weeks in Tromso, when the sun does not rise above the horizon at all during that period.

This prelude to the Northern lights is seen in a dramatic transition in just 30 days, dropping from about 6 hours of light a day to about 2 by the end of November.

Around the start of November, you see sunrise around 8:30 AM and sunset around 2:30 PM, but by the end of the month, that narrows down to sunrise around 11:30 AM and sunset around 1:30 PM (yes, really!).

orca in pale light with birds around in tromso in  november light

November in Tromso is the beginning of whale watching season, so this is the prime time to go on a whale watching cruise, where you can see orcas and humpback whales.

Note that these whales don’t visit the inner fjord of Tromso anymore, but rather the waters near Skjervoy.

The waters can be really rough, so I recommend a tour that brings you to Skjervoy by car rather than by boat, like this whale watching tour in a RIB boat.

RIB boats are quieter and less disruptive to the whales, so you’re also going to have a better, more natural and ethical experience with this kind of whale watching tour.

In November, there usually isn’t enough snowfall for activities like dog sledding and snowmobiling to run consistently, so other activities like Arctic fishing, aurora chasing, and horseback riding are the way to go.

December

Christmas lights and decorations in the city center of Tromso in December with dark sky behind it in twilight during the polar night
  • Average Temperature: Around -4°C (25°F)
  • Low Temperature: Often falls to -8°C (18°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Typically stays below 0°C (32°F), occasionally reaching 1°C (34°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Roughly 30 to 70 cm (12 to 28 inches)

December in Tromsø continues sinking into a period of deep darkness as the city is enveloped by the polar night.

Throughout December, you’ll see the sun remaining just below the horizon but never quite breaking above it: this creates a brief period of twilight around noon, but it never truly breaks into what we would classify as daylight.

At its darkest days, this twilight lasts for just about 2 hours, providing some pastel light that eventually becomes just a dim, blue light casting a beautiful glow over the landscape.

By mid-December, Tromsø is enveloped in 24 hours of darkness save for the little glimmers of twilight, and this unique Arctic phenomenon lasts until early January.

Without sunrise or sunset, there’s a surreal timelessness to each day, as night and day merge into a continuous nocturnal experience, illuminated only by the moon, and, if lucky, the magnificent Northern Lights!

The lit-up Triangular architecture of the Tromso Arctic Cathedral against a mountain backdrop in the snow in winter.

There are many events to celebrate the Polar Night and the holiday season, including Christmas concerts at the Tromso Arctic Cathedral that shouldn’t be missed!

Don’t miss the Christmas Market stalls set up around town, with the center of activity being in Stortorget, the main square in Tromso where the city’s official Christmas tree is illuminated each year.

There are other market stalls around town, particularly around Prostneset (the port area), where there’s also a festive Ferris wheel that is set up each holiday season.

In terms of activities, you can visit the Tromso Ice Domes starting on December 20 each year, when it’s finished its annual reconstruction.

Whale watching season is still going strong, reaching its peak in December, so that’s a must-do activity if you’re visiting Tromso in December.

By now, there is often enough snow on the ground for popular winter itinerary activities like dog sledding and reindeer sledding, so tour operators will begin these activities as long as weather conditions allow.

January

view of the tromso northern lights in the winter with green streaks in the sky
  • Average Temperature: About -4°C (25°F)
  • Low Temperature: Commonly plunges to -10°C (14°F), especially during cold snaps
  • High Temperature: Rarely exceeds 0°C (32°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Around 40 to 80 cm (16 to 31 inches), making it one of the snowiest months

January in Tromsø is a period of gradual brightening from the deep darkness of the Polar Night.

The beginning of the month, there’s still no actual sunrise, and you’ll see darkness throughout almost the entirety of the day.

Like in December, around midday, Tromsø experiences a few hours of twilight, a soft, blue-hued light that brings a glimmer of the returning sun.

As January progresses, this twilight phase slowly extends, and by the end of the month, sunrises start to occur again, giving you about 2 to 3 hours of daylight.

At the end of January, the sun rises around 11:00 AM and sets near 1:30 PM, marking the gradual return of daylight and moving forward, setting a chain in motion that’ll culminate with the Midnight Sun in the summer.

January is also the period for many festivals, including the Tromso International Film Festival, which runs from January 15 through January 21 in the 2024 season.

In terms of activities, this is definitely prime dog-sledding and reindeer sledding season, as there is almost always enough snow on the ground during this time of year for tours to run safely.

This is also the last month of whale watching season, so it’s a great time to visit Tromso if whales are a priority.

February

very snowy landscape in tromso in the winter with lots of snow accumulation on the buildings in the center of town
  • Average Temperature: Close to -4°C (25°F)
  • Low Temperature: Can drop to -9°C (16°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Sometimes climbs to 1°C (34°F) or 2°C (36°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Typically 30 to 60 cm (12 to 24 inches)

February in Tromsø sees the city emerge further from the depths of the Polar Night, with a noticeable increase in daylight.

The month begins with the sun rising around 9:00 AM and setting close to 3:00 PM, offering approximately 6 hours of daylight.

Later in the month, as February progresses, the days in Tromsø grow rapidly longer, ending with about 8 hours of daylight, with the sun rising near 7:00 AM and setting around 3:00 PM.

February is a great time to visit Tromso because of its Sámi Week, which runs from February 5 through 11 in 2024.

Events related to Sámi Week include various craft workshops, an Arctic winter market, a Sámi language course, concerts, and even reindeer races!

Unfortunately, by February whale watching season in Tromso is over, as the whales have left the Skjervoy waters by now, so focus on land adventures.

If you really want to go out to sea, this is a great time to do a wildlife and bird fjord safari cruise instead.

March

landscape in tromso with the reindeer near a sami tent called a lavvu with snowy background
  • Average Temperature: Approximately -3°C (27°F)
  • Low Temperature: Often falls to -7°C (19°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: May rise to 2°C (36°F) or 3°C (37°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Around 30 to 50 cm (12 to 20 inches)

March in Tromsø is when it really starts to feel like winter is almost over.

Finally, it’s time for relatively longer days — at the start, picture the sun rising around 7:00 AM and setting close to 5:00 PM, providing approximately 10 hours of daylight.

As March progresses, the days grow longer at a rapid pace, until the month comes to a close with around 13 hours of daylight.

That means sunrise is around 5:30 AM and sunset is around 6:00 PM — not bad for winter light!

This tends to be the last month for snow-based winter activities like dog sledding, snowmobiling, reindeer sledding, etc. so if those activities are a big draw for your Tromso trip, I’d plan it before April!

Spring (April – May)

A light dusting of snowfall that is starting to fade as the season in Tromso shifts from winter to spring, with light on the mountains in the distance which are still covered in snow.

Spring in Tromso is a funny concept — it’s more of a continuation of winter that gets progressively brighter and brighter.

There’s typically still snow throughout spring, though it becomes more and more sporadic, and the snowpack melts so that winter activities are no longer on the docket.

The days get faster at a rapid pace, so even though it feels quite cold still, the days will actually be rather long.

April

Leaves growing back on the tree after a period of dormancy in the winter in Tromso, signaling the new season, also grass growing downtown on a Tromso city center street
  • Average Temperature: Around 0°C (32°F)
  • Low Temperature: Typically drops to around -3°C (27°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Often reaches 3°C (37°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Approximately 10 to 30 cm (about 4 to 12 inches). Snowfall decreases significantly compared to the winter months, though occasional snow showers can still occur.

In April, the transition between polar night and the midnight sun is in full effect!

The sun rises around 5:30 AM and sets around 6 PM at the beginning of the month — but by the end of the month, the sun starts to rise around 3 AM (yes, really!) and set at 10 PM.

It’s quite wild because it’ll often still be cold in April, with temperatures close to freezing, but there is so much daylight!

Since snowfall is so sporadic and the accumulated snow has usually melted by now, common activities are things like horseback riding, fjord cruises, and hikes.

May

Clear skies and snowless landscape in April in Tromso
  • Average Temperature: About 4°C (39°F)
  • Low Temperature: Can fall to around 1°C (34°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Regularly climbs to 7°C (45°F) or higher
  • Average Snowfall: Less than 10 cm (about 4 inches). Many days are snow-free as the season transitions into the Arctic summer

By the end of May, you’ll be in midnight sun mode, since the never-ending day of summer begins on May 20th.

Summer (June – August)

June

The midnight sun in Tromso with people gathering to watch the sun settle on the horizon but never go all the way down during the peak summer season
  • Average Temperature: Around 10°C (50°F)
  • Low Temperature: Generally falls to about 7°C (45°F)
  • High Temperature: Often reaches 13°C (55°F) or higher on warmer days

For the entire month of June, the sun never sets in Tromso, which is a quite a unique experience for travelers!

Another fun reason to visit Tromso in June is for the Midnight Sun Marathon, which occurs after the summer solstice each year.

For 2024, the Midnight Sun Marathon is scheduled for June 22, 2024 — and so that you get the full ‘midnight sun’ effect, the race starts at 8:30 PM, meaning most people who do the race will finish around midnight!

This unique annual marathon attracts runners from around the world who want to run underneath the surreal Arctic sun — and those who want to cheer them on!

This is a great time for other outdoor activities, like hiking with huskies from local husky farms, or helping with puppy training sessions.

July

Beautiful blue water connecting two sides of Tromso with a bridge and cloudy sky on a summer day
  • Average Temperature: Approximately 12°C (54°F)
  • Low Temperature: Usually around 9°C (48°F)
  • High Temperature: Can climb to 15°C (59°F) or more, making it one of the warmest months in Tromsø

Midnight sun isn’t over quite yet!

The sun won’t actually set until July 20th, so for most of the month, you can still enjoy the unique experience of a never-ending summer day in the north.

By the end of July, you’re getting sunsets and sunrises, and about 3 hours of ‘night’ per day, though it never really gets dark since those times are taken up by dusk, dawn, and twilight colors.

This is prime hiking season, so it’s a good time to explore the landscapes of Tromso and its gorgeous surrounding areas.

August

Beautiful clear waters in Sommaroy near Tromso with the fishing village behind you
  • Average Temperature: About 11°C (52°F)
  • Low Temperature: Drops to around 8°C (46°F)
  • High Temperature: Generally reaches around 14°C (57°F)

This is the best time for hiking, mountain biking, and kayaking the fjords by boat.

There are also summer events, like the Tromsø Jazzfest, which runs from August 8 to 11 in 2024.

In the summer, you can also visit the beaches around Tromso, like in Sommaroy, a charming fishing village, about 50 minutes by car.

It won’t really be sunbathing weather, but you can certainly take an icy dip!

There are limited buses available to visit Sommaroy on weekdays, but a car will give you a lot more freedom.

Fall (September – October)

Yellow trees signaling the coming season of fall and eventually winter in Tromso with the arctic cathedral architecture at the other end of the bridge, an icon of the city

Like spring, fall in Tromso is brief but beautiful, as the nature of the midnight sun and polar night cycles mean the days change at an accelerated rate.

To give you an idea, on September 1st the sunrise is at 5 AM and sunset is at 8:30 PM.

But by the end of October, the sunrise is at 8 AM and the sun sets before 3 PM!

This dramatic shift means that fall is quite accelerated, and you experience the peak of fall foliage in September rather than October like most of the world.

By October, there is already sometimes even heavy snowfall!

September

Yellow trees and green grass at the beginning of the fall foliage season in Tromso with red, blue, and white houses in the distance and fjords
  • Average Temperature: Around 7°C (45°F)
  • Low Temperature: Typically falls to about 4°C (39°F)
  • High Temperature: Often reaches 10°C (50°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Snow begins to make a rare appearance, particularly towards the end of the month, but it’s not yet a common occurrence.

In September, daylight begins to decrease rapidly as the city gears up again for the polar night.

The bonus of this is that the darker nights mean that Northern lights viewing season has started again, though of course, the more limited night time near the beginning of September means that there won’t be too many sightings.

The landscape is ablaze with beautiful fall colors at this time, making it a perfect time to visit for hikers and nature-loving photographers.

October

northern lights making an appearance over the city of tromso at night with lights on all over the city at night
  • Average Temperature: Approximately 2°C (36°F)
  • Low Temperature: Can drop to around -1°C (30°F) or lower
  • High Temperature: Usually rises to about 5°C (41°F)
  • Average Snowfall: Snow can slowly become more frequent as October progresses, but it’s not guaranteed

October is the last month before Tromso properly transforms into a winter wonderland again, and it straddles the line between fall and winter beautifully.

Nights are longer now, meaning this is a great season for aurora watching without it being super cold like it will be in a few months.

There’s still enough daylight to do some fun daytime activities, like husky hikes, but it’s typically pretty windy and cold so water-based activities like kayaking usually aren’t as fun this time of year.

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