🐋 The 3 Best Norway Whale Watching Tours From Tromsø [2024 Reviews]

You know, I feel like Norway is often underrated in terms of just how beautiful and exciting it can be. While it’s known around the world for its maritime history and linked Viking presence, it has some truly striking natural landscapes.

I didn’t know that it was one of the top whale-watching locations in the world, with frequent sightings of sperm whales, humpbacks and orcas throughout the entire year!

I’ve put together the 3 top Norway whale watching tours from Tromsø that will leave you full of awe and waiting impatiently for the next opportunity to partake in one! Let’s dive right in!

Best Norway Whale Watching Tours From Tromsø

Silent Whale Watching From TromsøPolar Whale Safari From TromsøWhale & Arctic Wildlife Safari
editors choice
Location:Brim Explorer Tromsø, Kaigata 6, 9008 TromsøFront Pier, Killengreens gate 7-11, 9008 TromsøStrandgata 9, 9008 Tromsø
Start:8:00 AM8:00 AM8:30 AM
Duration:8 to 9 hours8 hours5 to 7 hours
Includes:Guide, restroom on board, wifi on boardGuide, Snacks, Beverages, LunchCoffee and/or tea, guide, presentations about whales and their habitat

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking


Quick Answer: The 3 Best Norway Whale Watching Tours from Tromsø For 2024

  1. Silent Whale Watching From Tromsø
  2. Polar Whale Safari From Tromsø
  3. Whale & Arctic Wildlife Safari

Tromsø Whale Watching Tour Reviews

1. Silent Whale Watching From Tromsø

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 8 to 9 hours
  • Departure: Brim Explorer Tromsø, Kaigata 6, 9008 Tromsø
  • Departure Time: 8:00 AM
  • Includes: Guide, restroom on board, wifi on board

Something that I’ve learned over my years of whale-watching around the world is that it’s important to create the most minimal disturbance to the natural environment as possible.

Whales are highly sensory, and have an incredible sense of hearing that they essentially rely on to survive. With the Silent Whale Watching from Tromsø Tour, you can rest easy knowing that they place the whales’ health and safety (as well as your own) above everything else.

This tour leaves around 8 in the morning, which is the ideal time to maximize the entire day (as it is a full 8 hours). It was clear from the very beginning that the captain and crew are highly professional and knowledgeable about the animals and their natural environment.

When we first met with them, they gave us a good idea of what to expect throughout the day as well as a safety briefing.

The vessel does have a restroom and wifi on board so you will always be able to stay in contact with others on shore or back home, and can share media of the tour in real time.

The guides did a fantastic job at explaining the different facts and history to us throughout, which definitely enriched the experience. The vessel has a silent hybrid-electric engine which doesn’t disturb the whales, which was very important to me.

The boat also includes 2 indoor saloons with fully panoramic windows for unobstructed viewing when the weather isn’t ideal, along with 3 outdoor decks which is best for spotting these majestic beauties.

They even served us a delicious meal, which was very welcome after being on board for the entire day! Just keep in mind that it could get a bit intense out there, as the boat rocked quite a bit!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


2. Polar Whale Safari From Tromsø

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Departure: Front Pier, Killengreens gate 7-11, 9008 Tromsø
  • Departure Time: 8:00 AM
  • Includes: Guide, Snacks, Beverages, Lunch

Wow, this next tour was such an educational experience, I felt like I was on some kind of Natural Geographic show or something!

The Polar Whale Safari from Tromsø tour is a full-fledged experience taking you through the varied types of native marine life to the area.

The expert guides there to guide you are passionate and excited to show you everything they know about these beautiful creatures while keeping them undisturbed.

The meetup point was nice and convenient, as it was located right in the center of Tromsø. We met here with our guides, and then went to board our sightseeing boat which was equally fun as it was impressive!

The vessel comes with a heated cabin as well as an open deck on top, so fair warning, you could get wet from the bumpy ride between the fjords if you stay up on the deck!

I’m not sure if it’s the same every time, but they gave us some tasty tomato soup as a snack, along with hot drinks to keep us warm. As we cruised along to find whales, our guides offered fascinating commentary about the animals and the sea, itself.

They even pointed out sea birds, and we got to see the impressive Sea Eagle, with a massive wingspan! While whale sightings can obviously never be guaranteed, we saw plenty of orcas that day and I know that the vast majority of tours do have whale sightings.

The scenery itself is breathtaking, and I highly recommend spending some time down in the saloon or lounge, which also features large windows for prime viewing. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I got to learn and see a ton!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


3. Whale & Arctic Wildlife Safari

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 5 to 7 hours
  • Departure: Strandgata 9, 9008 Tromsø
  • Departure Time: 8:30 AM
  • Includes: Coffee and/or tea, safety briefing, English-speaking guide, Local history, nature, and culture, Short presentations about whales and their habitat

This next tour is slightly shorter than the others, but still packs in a ton of adventure and education from a firsthand perspective.

The Whale & Arctic Wildlife Safari Tour will let you see humpback whales, orcas and many more different types of native sea life while learning all about them in an immersive way!

The expert guides are there to ensure everyone is safe and comfortable, while having a great time out in the Arctic wilderness! The tour starts out in the center of Tromsø, where your guide will take you and the rest of your group to board the vessel for the day.

The duration of the tour will vary, depending exactly on where the whales are – I’ve heard of some people going a few hours out to see them but it just depends. This area is where the herring are, which is what the whales feed on and where they understandably gather.

Once the captain and crew finds a pod of whales, you’ll usually spend anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half just observing and taking photos and videos.

As we watched on, the hosts regaled us with intriguing, educational commentary about them and what they’re doing. They’re also quite entertaining so it never feels like they’re droning on or allow for even a second of boredom.

I can honestly say that this was one of the best things I ever did in Tromsø, from the friendly crew and guides, to the whales, and the natural landscapes surrounding us.

I was slightly worried about the comfort of the boat and getting seasick, but I found everything very accommodating and comfy. If you’re hesitating, take it from me – do this tour!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience


Norway Travel Guide

Norway is a land of sublime mountains, glacier-carved valleys, majestic fjords, sparkling waterfalls, and colorful villages.

It’s no surprise that many visitors come specially to admire the beautiful scenery. But Norway also boasts a rich cultural history that offers plenty for visitors to see and do.

What you personally plan to do in Norway is your choice. However, it is in your best interest to do the research before you go.

This guide was written to help prepare you for your journey to this fascinating land because we want you to have the best vacation possible.

Airports & Entry

It is possible to reach Oslo by ferry from Copenhagen or by train, bus, or car from Stockholm. However, most visitors to Norway come by airplane and land at Oslo Gardermoen Airport.

Rarely will you find so many facilities inside a transportation hub. The single terminal building at Oslo Airport is compact, quiet, clean, and offers adequate seating for waiting passengers.

The airport is open 24 hours, and that includes some food outlets. Economy passengers can purchase an airport lounge pass for additional comfort during a long stopover.

The airport designers considered all your possible needs. Across from Gate A4, you will find an ecumenical chapel for your religious needs. Between Gates C5 and C6, there is a designated Work Zone for passengers who need individual desks and power outlets to work during their stay.

The free Wi-Fi is accessed by connecting to the “AIRPORT” network and selecting “free” on the login page. If you have kids, there are multiple Children’s Play Areas throughout the terminal. Strollers are available for your use, and there are specific Breastfeeding Corners for young babies.

20 restaurants and a range of shops are found throughout the terminal, including a pharmacy for your medical needs and the largest duty-free shop in Europe.

The Information Desk is found in the Arrivals Area. And if you really want to spoil yourself and have the time to spare, the airport spa and saloon offers express 20-minute pedicures and manicures for both women and men.

The airport is 29 miles from Oslo city center, but the train station offers convenient express services into the city that take only 20 minutes with trains every 10 minutes.

You can also take trains directly from the airport station to other parts of the country. 70% of airport passengers utilize public transport rather than hiring a car or jumping in a taxi.

When you book your hotel room, ask about airport shuttle services. Many offer a courtesy shuttle service for guests. If you prefer to drive yourself from the airport, 5 major car rental companies have desks in the Arrivals Hall near the railway station.

The airport is only 3.7 miles from European Route E6 to go north or south and 1.2 miles from E16 to go east or west.

There are also regular coach services between the airport and Oslo city center. Outside the Arrivals Hall is a taxi rank. Stop at the Taxi Information Desk in the Arrivals Hall first so they can explain the fixed rates.

Planning Tips

With so many beautiful things to see and interesting things to do in Norway, I’m sure you’ll have a great time. And to help you do just that, here are 5 tips to help you make the most of your visit.

Tip #1: If you want to see the waterfalls, go in spring or summer

It snows a lot during winter in Norway. Atop the mountains and high places, the snow doesn’t begin to melt until spring. That means that through the spring and into summer, a vast amount of meltwater rushes down from those high places creating seasonal waterfalls throughout the nation, especially alongside some of the fjords.

Tip #2: Check out the SolarHam website

If you’re enthusiastic about seeing the Northern Lights, check out the SolarHam website. There you’ll find a 3-day geomagnetic forecast and a satellite map that shows the current position of the Aurora Borealis. That’s essential information for seeking the best time and place to view this amazing natural phenomenon.

It’s easiest to see the Northern Lights from September through March, when the nights are at their darkest, but avoid new moons. You won’t see the Northern Lights in Northern Norway in summer because the nights are far too short.

Tip #3: Take your time to enjoy all the attractions of Norway

Norway is an amazing country, with a long and interesting history and stunning scenery. Even if your only intention is to cruise on the fjords or to see the Northern Lights, there are other attractions that you would enjoy.

It would be a shame to visit Norway and miss seeing some of the world-famous art in Oslo, the winding railroad between Bergen and Oslo, or the Viking ships that have survived over 1,200 years.

Tip #4: Book in advance

Norway is a small country with a vast number of visitors. Don’t miss out on essential train tickets, the better hotel rooms, or specific tours you really want to take. Book in advance to ensure you get what you want before it’s fully booked.

Many tours offer refunds within a certain time frame, so check when you book. It is possible you will take little risk when booking your tour if you can simply cancel it 24 hours before it begins should you change your mind.

Tip #5: Plan road journeys in advance and with great care

The roads in Norway aren’t like the roads in other countries. With 24-hours darkness during midwinter in the far north, ice on the higher roads, winding mountain routes, and loose moose on the road, delays are always possible. When planning a long road journey, consider local conditions.

Research the route and the specific conditions of the road at the time of year when you visit. Also, keep your eye on the weather forecast for that period.

Remember that some inland, northern, and high ground roads are regularly blocked by high snowfall during winter. Check road reports regularly and allow time for unexpected delays in your journey.

Restaurants & Eating Out

Because this small nation possesses so much coastline with so many fjords, a lot of traditional dishes focus on seafood. Also, with long, dark winters, preservation was especially important in the pre-refrigeration era.

That means that pickled, dried, and salted fish can be found on traditional menus in every region.

Pickled herring is a favorite at breakfast buffets. It is often eaten on rye bread and dressed in a variety of sauces. Lutefisk is another form of preserved fish. A common variety of lutefisk is dried cod cured using a lye solution. Lutefisk is a somewhat acquired taste.

Smoked or cured salmon is found in most Norwegian restaurants or hotel buffets. And an everyday meal in Norway is fiskeboller, which is balls of white fish blended with flour, eggs, and milk.

Reindeer is a popular meat in Norway, and you’ll find it on the menu in many restaurants. It may come in the form of fillets, meatballs, or sausages. If you’ve eaten venison, you’ll probably expect it to have a gamey, beef-like taste, but it doesn’t.

It’s more tender than venison, has a milder but salty taste, and comes with a slight metallic tang. Reindeer heart is a traditional delicacy.

You may see a lot of “hotdogs” around Norway. They probably aren’t. The Norwegians have their own version of hotdogs called pølse, which are made using a different process. You’ll often find pølse wrapped in bacon and served in a bread bun much like a hotdog. Sometimes pølse are made from reindeer meat.

A thin potato pancake called lefse is popular at breakfast time. It is made from potato, eggs, butter, and sugar, and it’s served with cinnamon or jam.

You’ll often find lefse in cafes and coffee shops. Another item popular on the breakfast table is brunost, or brown cheese. It is made using a different process to other cheeses and is often served in thin slivers atop toast.

If you linger for dessert, you’ll love Norwegian waffles. They are heart-shaped, thinner than Belgian waffles, and are topped with jam or brunost.

Or perhaps you’d prefer a little fruit. In summer, berries are abundant across Norway. The most sought after is cloudberry.

Cloudberry isn’t grown commercially, so it must be foraged from the wilderness before it can be served in restaurants and cafes around Oslo.

Nightlife & Entertainment

With a population descended from Vikings, it’s no surprise to discover that the nightlife in Norway is wild. In every region, you’ll find electrifying nightclubs in the larger settlements and crowded bars everywhere.

The 4 places most identified with an active club scene and nightlife are Oslo, Bergen, Tromsø, and Stavanger.

Because Oslo is the capital, the most populous city, hosts the main university, and is the location of many of the main tourist attractions, most of the nightclubs are found there.

Lawo is a popular venue for the younger set in the nation’s capital, where the DJs spin the popular club hits. There the youth of Norway dance until they drop and drink themselves toward Valhalla. A more mature but still lively venue is Café Mono.

There you can listen to live music from a wide range of musical styles while you enjoy food and drink.

To the west, Bergen boasts a buzzing nightlife. Vaskeriet is a venue with a somewhat schizophrenic personality. Before 10 pm, it is a quiet cocktail bar, but after that, it turns into an infamous local hotspot with frequent themed events and guest DJs.

In the north, the Bardus Bar in Tromsø attempts to emulate the bistros of Southern Europe but with a strong hint of Norwegian culture and tradition.

It is especially renowned for its fine dining and lively atmosphere. And over in Stavanger, the Bar Bache is a great place to socialize through the long, long winter nights with relatively affordable drinks.

Getting Around

How you decide to get around Norway largely depends upon your timescale, your budget, and what you want to see.

If you want to go places fast, domestic flights are your best option. There are 52 public airports in Norway, an astounding number for a nation with only 5 million citizens.

SAS Scandinavian Airlines operates regular services to larger towns throughout the country. Some of the local airlines offer special pass tickets for travelers who intend to fly frequently within Norway for a specific period.

However, if you fly, you will miss a lot of spectacular scenery, and it may be more expensive than other means of transport.

Norway has a well-developed railway network with more than 1,900 miles of tracks. Many routes pass through beautiful valleys, curve around mountains, and offer panoramic views of the valleys and fjords.

The Bergen Railway is especially popular with tourists, running between Bergen and Oslo across Europe’s highest mountain plateau. Trains are slower than airplanes, but you will see much more, and they are generally more affordable than other means of transport.

If you want complete freedom, and you want to see every nook and cranny Norway has to offer, then hiring a car is your best option.

You will be able to drive along the famous National Travel Routes and stop anywhere you wish for photo opportunities and to enjoy local attractions. However, there are two problems with hiring a car in Norway.

First, navigating winding mountain roads, with blind corners, icy conditions, and in the dark is not for everybody. Second, car hire is expensive in Norway, so you’ll probably find the train cheaper.

If you decide to hire a car, please remember that the laws and conditions are different in Norway. In particular:

  • Headlights must be on 24/7 and seatbelts must be worn
  • You must not use your cellphone by hand while driving
  • Check whether you’re getting an automatic or manual transmission when you book
  • There are lots of speed cameras, and the fines are high
  • Norway has super strict DUI laws — don’t drink and drive
  • Moose on the road are inevitable
  • Gas stations are widely spaced

Accommodations

Every year, tourists flock to Norway to visit its unique cultural and natural attractions, which means there is a wide range of hotels and other places to stay.

However, the attractions are often far apart from each other, requiring a long journey between each. For this reason, when planning a visit to Norway, think carefully about where you need to stay and for how long.

Don’t plan to spend every night of a two-week vacation in Oslo, because you’ll miss out on many natural attractions.

Similarly, don’t plan to spend every night in a hotel in the Arctic north, because you’ll miss out on the many historical and cultural attractions in the south of the country. Plan ahead and book accommodation near each place you plan to visit.

When you’ve chosen where and when you want to stay, you still must choose what kind of accommodation. The many hotels and hostels can be broken into three kinds: convenient, historic, and scenic.

Convenient hotels are those close to the attraction you want to visit and the transport hub—airport, train station, or main road.

You can find many convenient yet relatively affordable hotels throughout the country. Sadly, few will be truly cheap. Norway is an expensive country.

An example of convenient yet affordable accommodation is Hostel St. Svithun in Stavanger, which is a basic 2-star budget hotel in a central location of this popular destination in Northern Norway.

Around Norway, you will find interesting historical hotels that originally served a completely different function, like converted boathouses and farmhouses.

A particularly fascinating hotel is Oscarsborg Castle near Oslo. This fortress was in military service for 350 years until the end of the Cold War and now serves as a resort island.

If you love photo opportunities or waking to a glorious sunrise over a fjord or sunset over a harbor, a scenic hotel is for you. A great example is the modern Clarion Hotel The Edge in Tromsø that overlooks Tromsø Sound and the Arctic Cathedral.

Weather

Although the northernmost part of the nation falls within the Arctic Circle, Norway isn’t as cold as you’d expect. In fact, the name “Norway” means “the way north”.

Norway earned its name because its northern coastline is largely free from ice through winter, making it the easiest route north during the coldest months. The Gulf Stream keeps the coastline of Northern Norway warmer than other places at the same latitude.

However, there are vast variations between the different regions of Norway. Generally, the coast receives mild winters, while the inland areas experience cold winters with lots of snow but relatively hot and dry summers.

The mountainous regions remain much colder than other areas throughout the year. The south is considered the most beautiful in summer, but the fjords in spring, when melting ice leads to spectacular waterfalls.

The far north, which falls within the Arctic Circle, experiences 24-hour darkness during midwinter and 24-hour daylight during midsummer. Tromsø is the largest Norwegian town within the Arctic Circle.

Because of the extreme differences in climate from region to region within Norway, it is essential that you research the weather forecast for your specific destinations before you make plans. If you want to see the Northern Lights, 24-hours of darkness is ideal.

But if you want to sightsee, not so much. As a guideline, during summer the average daily high and low are 550F and 460F. In winter, 350F and 270F.

Maybe you think these temperatures are too cold for outdoor fun, but the Norwegians have a famous saying: “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Bear that in mind while packing for your vacation.

Attractions

Most visitors to Norway come to explore the stunning landscape, famous for its many fjords, snow-capped mountains, and scenic waterfalls.

The coastline of Northern Norway borders the Arctic Sea, and those interested in wildlife can observe creatures adapted to the extreme cold of the far north. The north is also a great place to observe the famous Northern Lights, especially during winter months.

If you are particularly interested in the picturesque scenery of the Norwegian landscape, the fjords and coastline to the west and the mountains of Southern Norway are served by a series of 18 highways designated as National Tourist Routes.

1,150 miles of Norway’s rural roads have been upgraded and their facilities improved to ensure that they are especially tourist-friendly. So, if you’re hiring a car, get your camera ready and check out the National Tourist Routes.

If you’re interested in Norwegian culture and history, then Oslo has it all, and the best area to visit is the Bygdøy Peninsula.

On this tiny peninsula in the west of Oslo, you’ll find the most interesting cultural attractions in the city. Top on my list is the Viking Ship Museum, where you’ll find no less than 3 genuine Viking ships recovered from 9th-century burial mounds.

Many visitors will be drawn to the spectacular exhibits at the Norwegian Maritime Museum, which boasts several relatively modern ship exhibits along with relocated buildings and a collection of 40 oil paintings relating to Norway’s long relationship with the sea.

Other museums found on the peninsula include the Fram Museum of Polar Exploration, the Kon-Tiki Museum, the Norwegian Folk Museum, and the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History.

Those more drawn to art and architecture should look east toward central Oslo and visit the iconic Oslo Opera House.

This masterpiece of modern architecture not only houses the Norwegian National Opera and Ballet plus the National Opera Theater, but it also boasts a significant modern art collection, including the famous floating steel and glass sculpture She Lies.

In the same area, you will find the Munch Museum. There are few people in the western world who would not recognize Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and here is where you can see it in person along with other examples of the artist’s work.

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The Silent Whale Watching From Tromsø is our Editors Choice for the best Norway whale watching tour

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Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
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