Whale watching in Tromso provides a wonderful chance to admire and learn more about Norwegian wildlife. During the winter, the herring that come to Norway’s coastal waters to spawn attract thousands of whales, who swim through the fjords in search of their next meal.
Tromso is well known for being one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in the world, but taking a Tromso whale safari should be just as high on your to-do list as taking one of the best Northern Lights tours in Tromso. In fact, whale watching season, which lasts from November to early February, coincides with the best time to see the Northern Lights in Norway, so visiting Tromso in winter is ideal for seeing both the Northern Lights and whales.
There are a variety of Tromso whale watching tours to choose from, and all of them give you the opportunity to not only see wildlife, such as humpback whales, orcas, sea eagles, seals, and dolphins, but also explore the fjords and islands around Tromso.
In this guide, I’ll share everything you need to know about the 5 top-rated Tromso whale tours and the best time to see orcas in Tromso. If you’re ready, then let’s dive in (pun intended)!
1. The best whale safari in Tromso (the one we did)
If you want the best whale watching in Tromso, this fjord cruise and whale safari boat tour is the Tromso whale safari for you. Apart from orcas, we were lucky enough to see humpback whales and dolphins when we took this tour, which was absolutely incredible; these beautiful marine creatures are even more majestic up close.
Your catamaran cruise will depart from Tromso and take you through the fjords as your guide explains all about local history, nature, fishing, and culture. You’ll also get to see short presentations on the whales and the Arctic ecological community.
There are both indoor and outdoor viewing decks on the boat, so you can easily take photos from either or both decks. You’ll also be well taken care of on the tour, as coffee, tea, and biscuits are provided as snacks, along with thermal winter suits to keep you warm for outdoor viewing.
This tour can even be done if you visit Tromso in summer, as you’ll still be able to enjoy the fjords and other wildlife, even if you can’t see whales. No doubt why this is one of the best things to do in Tromso
- Highlights: Humpback whales, dolphins, orcas, porpoises
- Starting point: Kystens Hus., Tromso
- Duration: 7 hours
- Number of participants: 12/30/144 (depends on size of boat)
- Price: $155
2. The best Tromso whale watching fjord cruise
Explore the fjords and see Norwegian marine wildlife on this fjord cruise. The boat on this Tromso whale watching tour has a silent electric motor so it can get close to whales and orcas without being noisy and disturbing them.
You’ll cruise the fjords in search of whales and orcas, and if you spot some, the boat will stop so you can take pictures. If you get thirsty or chilled, head to the boat’s bar for a hot drink.
- Highlights: Humpback whales, orcas, porpoises
- Starting point: Clarion Hotel The Edge (one of the best hotels in Tromso)
- Duration: 8-9 hours
- Number of participants: 50
- Price: $165
3. The best Tromso silent whale watching tour
Another great option if you want to go Tromso whale watching with minimal interference in the whales’ natural environment is taking this silent tour.
In addition to having a silent electric engine, the boat on this silent whale watching tour in Tromso has both an underwater drone and hydrophone to capture the sights and sounds of the whales underwater. Your guide will also share information about local history and wildlife so you can learn more about the area.
- Highlights: Humpback whales
- Starting point: Kaigata 6, Tromso
- Duration: 7-8 hours
- Number of participants: 100
- Price: $187
4. Tromso whale tour with orca watching
Embark on one of the best Tromso tours on offer with this all-inclusive whale and seabird safari. You’ll travel from Tromso to Whale Island, where you can admire the craggy landscape and try to spot some seabirds.
On the way, the guide will tell you all about Tromso’s marine wildlife as you search for humpbacks and orcas. Take photos of any whales you see from inside the heated cabin or, if you want to brave the cold, from the open deck.
Lunch, snacks, and non-alcoholic beverages are included in the price of this tour, so you’ll stay well energized on your Tromso whale watching quest.
- Highlights: Humpback whales, orcas, seabirds
- Starting point: Scandic Ishavshotel (another great place to stay in Tromso)
- Duration: 6-7 hours
- Number of participants: 30
- Price: $201
5. Tromso orca watching tour
Join a small group of fellow whale-watchers and sail to the island of Skjervøy on this whale watching in Skjervøy tour. You’ll be outfitted with a warm flotation suit, boots, and mittens to stay warm and dry as you travel in a RIB boat.
This is a full-day Tromso orca watching tour, which will allow you ample time and opportunity to see humpback whales and orcas up close. You won’t have to worry about bringing a lunch or snacks along; sandwiches, snacks, coffee, and tea are all included in the price of the tour.
- Highlights: Humpback whales, orcas
- Starting point: Fredrik Langes gate 2, Tromso
- Duration: 12 hours
- Number of participants: 24
- Price: $219
Best time to see whales in Tromso
The best time to see orcas in Tromso and the best time to see whales in Norway are the same: from November to early February. Of course, whales and orcas are wild animals, and migration and feeding patterns can change, so it’s impossible to predict exactly when you might see them.
Still, if you want to give yourself a higher chance of seeing marine wildlife within the Tromso whale watching season, visit Tromso in winter, between November and January. Seeing whales and orcas at the beginning of February is possible but relatively uncommon, so heading to Tromso before then will give you as close to a guaranteed chance as possible of seeing cetaceans.
Tips for your Tromso whale watching tour
To help give you an idea of what to expect and how to prepare for your Tromso whale watching tour, here are a few tips you should keep in mind:
- Book your tour in advance. Whale watching season in Tromso is rather short, and tours ofter sold out quickly. If you don’t want to miss this incredible experience, book the tour you like as soon as you start planning a trip to Tromso.
- Bring a camera and have your gear ready. If you get lucky enough to spot whales, orcas, or dolphins, you’ll definitely want to commemorate the moment on film. At the very least, even if you don’t spot much wildlife, the fjords and islands are worth photographing, so remember to bring your camera and any necessary gear with you.
- If you tend to get seasick, bring medication. You will be on a boat for several hours, so if you usually get seasick on the water, take medication with you so you can actually enjoy your time. Even if you don’t usually get seasick, you might want to have some medication with you just in case, since the waters around Tromso can sometimes get a bit choppy.
- Don’t try to touch, feed, or get too close to the whales. They are wild animals, and you should respect them. This tip is pretty self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised at how many people forget to treat whales considerately in their excitement at seeing them up close. Just remember to stay calm. The wildlife is not there as your entertainment; it’s there for your respectful appreciation.
- Always book an ethical tour. As I’ve already mentioned above, whales and orcas are wild animals, so the best tours will respect this fact and try to be as unobtrusive as possible. Tromso whale watching tours have to be licensed and registered in order to operate. Ask for tours’ registration and license details so you know you’re going with a legitimate tour operator.
- It’s not guaranteed that you’ll see whales or orcas. On a Tromso whale watching tour, you’re dealing with wildlife, which is, by nature, unpredictable. Migration patterns can change, and whales might not be in the same locations as they used to be. Plus, if you take an ethical tour, they won’t chase whales, which means you’ll only see them if you happen to cross paths.
- Dress warmly, particularly in the winter. You’re going to be spending several hours on a boat exposed to the elements, so check the weather forecast and dress accordingly.
I hope you enjoyed learning about whale watching in Tromso! These graceful creatures are incredible to see up close in the wild, and I know that whichever Tromso whale tour you choose, you’ll love it.
If you have any questions about whale watching from Tromso, leave a comment and I’ll be happy to help.