Orcas at the surface of the water with a flock of seagulls flying with a pink sky in the background

Animals in Arctic Norway

Northern Norway is ideal for both land and sea safaris to spot fascinating fauna. From whales and dolphins to huskies and eagles, wildlife in this part of the country is both diverse and awe-inspiring.

Visiting the parts of Norway that are above the Arctic circle will be unforgettable. You can gaze upon the midnight sun in the summer and the northern lights in the winter. You can marvel at the wild nature and the fascinating Sami culture. You can hike, explore fjords, kayak… and because of the area’s unique climate and environment, you can come across some of the most beautiful wildlife in its natural habitat – both on land and sea.

Make sure to have your cameras at the ready because you never know when you might catch sight of these magnificent creatures below!

Sperm whales

These majestic mammals have sadly been hunted down so much during the past (their sperm oil was used on everything from oil lamps to candles) that they are now a threatened species worldwide. So catching a glimpse of one will truly be a special experience to remember! 

In Tromsø, sperm whales can be found all year round — especially the fjords outside Tromsø are something of a hotspot for them.

Whale spotted from on board a boat from Brim Explorer in Tromsø
Photo: Brim Explorer


Don’t let the fact that they’re also called “killer whales” scare you off. These black and white whales actually belong to the dolphin family and they’re quite social — and not a threat to humans. They can be up to 8 meters (26 ft)  long and weigh up to 5000 kilos (11023 lb). 

Orcas mainly migrate into the waters around Northern Norway in the fall and wintertime. They may also occur in the summer months, but at this time more sporadically.

Humpback whales

More whales, you say? Well, yes, in the Northern Norway waters you can also spot humpback whales in the summer. The animals with the distinctive shape who are famous for their complex song, love spending their winters in the West Indies, but migrate every summer to the cool waters of Arctic Norway.

Humpback baby in arctic waters


Friendly, cute and unbelievably smart, dolphins are always a joy to spot during a marine safari. If you spot one there is a chance that you are seeing white-beaked dolphins — they are very curious around humans, so they might even approach you!

A large group of dolphins swimming in the arctic fjords of Tromsø
Photo: Brim Explorer


Apart from the many decorative reindeer all around Tromsø, you can spot the real thing near the University, as well as at Kvaløya island. Reindeer herding is also an intrinsic part of Sami culture, so if you visit a traditional Sami village, you’ll have the chance to interact with these beautiful animals. You can even hand-feed them (they love carrots and apples) or go on a sleigh-ride with them.

A reindeer standing on a field with a pink sky in the background
Photo: Ina-Cristine Helljesen

Elg (moose)

Don’t get confused with the elks found in America. Elgs, as is their Norwegian name, are actually moose, and you can find them in large populations in many parts of Norway. Some places you may spot them while you hike or bike near mountains and in the arctic forests — but you should also be careful and slow down if you spot a “moose” warning sign while you drive! 

They are also common across eastern Lofoten. In fact, on the island of Lille Molla, east of Svolvær, you find they country’s largest concentration of moos in relation to surface area.

Moose in Andøya in Northern Norway
Photo: Ismaele Tortella | Visit Norway


The seal population is thriving. These cute, curious animals can often be spotted close to harbors, popping their heads up from the water or even resting at the waterfront… We hope you have your camera fully charged! 

In Lofoten they are quite common and can be seen from the outermost areas of Røst and all the way to Risvær and Svellingsøyene islands. The most widespread species of seals are common seals and grey seals.

Norwegian gray seal lying on the rock at the water's edge and scouting
Photo: Marten Bril | Visit Vesteralen


Are there more adorable animals in the world than huskies?

These blue-eyed cuties have been bred in the Arctic Norway for millennia, both for sled-riding and companionship. The super active doggos can be found in many wilderness centers and dog breeding grounds in many parts of Northern Norway — you really shouldn’t miss the opportunity to spend some time with them!

Dog racing at Finnmarksløpet
Photo: Konrad Konieczny | nordnorge.com


If you’ve never seen these beautiful seabirds with the colorful beaks, you’ll be delighted. Although puffins steer clear of populated areas, they frequent the fjords and the islands of Arctic Norway. They particularly love cragged cliffs overlooking the waters, so keep your eyes peeled! Although the largest puffin colony in Norway is located on the island of Røst close to Lofoten, they also frequent places like Kvaløya close to Tromsø and Vesterålen.

Fun fact: a puffin’s beak changes color during the year.

A single puffin sitting on a rock at Runde bird island
Photo: Ina-Cristine Helljesen


Frequently spotted around Kvaløya (one hour away from Tromsø) and the nearby landscapes, these seabirds are members of the auk family. And yes, you’re right, they do look a bit like penguins! Guillemots are also black and white, love standing straight. They even bounce a bit from time to time — which can result in some adorable, impromptu videos.

Guillemots on cliff in arctic Norway
Photo: Marten Bril | Visit Vesteralen


Unfortunately it’s very rare to spot these majestic animals out in the wild: the wolf population in Norway has decreased severely throughout the years, but there are small wolf packs living in several animal parks around the Tromsø area, some of which even offer the opportunity to socialize with the animals under supervision.

two wolves standing in a snowy forest in Norway

White-tail eagles

Can you imagine having wings that can open up to a span of 2.5 meters? White-tail eagles, also known as sea eagles, are the largest birds of prey in all of northern Europe, sporting the widest wingspan. These awe-inspiring birds actually frequent Norway more than any other country, so you’re quite likely to spot them during a boat trip in the fjords around Lofoten. Make sure to set your camera to the panoramic setting and be ready to move it fast! Did you know White-tailed eagle has the largest wingspan of any eagle?

White tailed eagle flying in Trollfjorden in Lofoten
Photo: Carl Filip Olsson