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When is the Best Time to Go and Visit Norway?

By: Camila
Last Updated: 02/11/2020

Planning a Scandinavian getaway and wondering about the best time to visit Norway? The truth is that this beautiful Nordic nation is a worthy travel destination year-round, so it’s hard to go wrong!

Having said that, each season has its own unique benefits. The summer is perfect for fjord cruises and self-drive tours. The winter is the ideal time to spot the northern lights and take part in winter activities.

To learn more about the best time to go to Norway, read our guide to the four seasons followed by our answers to frequently asked questions. You’ll know what to expect at each time of year, what activities are best as well as when and where to go in Norway for your ideal trip.


Contents:


view of geirangerfjord

Norway in summer

Best for enjoying the midnight sun & warm waters

June to August is a fantastic time to visit Norway if you want to take advantage of the country’s legendary midnight sun. At this time of year, the days are long and warm, and greenery stretches as far as the eye can see.

How's the weather?

While temperatures in the north (for example in Tromsø) stay low at around 11°C (52°F), temperatures in the south climb into the 20s°C (68°F +). Perfect summer temperatures to enjoy sightseeing.

Best places to visit

The warm weather, endless daylight hours, and good road conditions mean it’s a perfect time for taking on a road trip! You could leave from the capital, Oslo, and head west toward the western fjords region.

Make sure to head north to see the famous and UNESCO World Heritage-listed Geirangerfjord.

If you’re keen to venture into the real north of Norway, summer is a good time to go if you want to avoid the coldest, snowiest weather.

We especially recommend touring the Lofoten Islands, just north of the Arctic Circle. This charming archipelago is an idyllic place to enjoy nature, hike, kayak, cycle, boat and fish to your heart’s content. Just drink in the astonishing scenery under the midnight sun.



Fun activities to do

The warmer weather of the summer means the lakes warm up nicely, making them ideal for wild swimming. Even if you don’t take to the water yourself, you can still make the most of the weather by enjoying a boating or kayaking trip.

If you’re in Bergen, why not try the Mt Ulriken zipline to experience the city from a different perspective?

And if you’re a lover of birds, it’s a great time to come to Norway for birdwatching. There are interesting safaris – we can suggest the one in Honningsvåg, in the north of Norway.

Mark your calendar for these fun, summer events:

  • Riddu Riđđu, an international indigenous festival taking place in July each year in Kåfjord, 2 hours outside Tromsø in Northern Norway.
  • The Norwegian International Film Festival hosted every August in Haugesund, 2 hours outside Stavanger.
  • Midnight Sun Marathon held in Tromsø each June.
  • Norwegian Wood, one of Oslo’s best music festivals, also scheduled for June.
naeroyfjord and snowy mountains

Norway in autumn

Best for enjoying crisp nights & scenic hikes

Between September and November, Norway is transformed. The lush greens of the summer have been replaced with the fiery autumnal shades of yellow, orange and red. At this time of the year, the landscape is on the cusp of colourful foliage and the frost of first snow.

This is the perfect time of the year if you enjoy hiking, and especially if you are seeking a quieter ambience. October and November in particular see a drop in visiting travellers, meaning any crowds are smaller.

How’s the weather?

This is the time of year when the weather in Norway starts to change as the winter approaches. In Oslo, average temperatures come down to around 6°C (48°F) in October, while in the north they are only around 2°C (35°F).

Best places to visit

The cities are must-sees during this season as you have plenty of places to visit, such as museums and attractions. Making your way between Oslo and Bergen, passing by the iconic Norway in a Nutshell® journey.

Going through the country toward the west coast will be an ideal way to spot all the gorgeous landscapes, marking by the colours of autumn.

If you’re looking for a fantastic wildlife experience, make sure to head north, maybe on a Hurtigruten cruise all the way to Kirkenes. This is a good time of year to spot sea life, such as spot humpbacks and orcas in the chilly northern waters.

Fun activities to do

The crisp weather of the autumn means it is a great time for those who love hiking and always seek an interesting viewpoint. That includes the hike up to the famous Pulpit Rock, or even Trolltunga.

We obviously couldn’t mention Norwegian autumn without mentioning that this is the start of the season to for spotting the northern lights in Norway. From October, you could participate in aurora borealis tours, by bus, dog sled or even snowmobile!

Mark your calendar for these autumnal events:

northern lights above lofoten

Norway in winter

Best for enjoying the northern lights & winter sports

Norway’s winter is magical! While these months may be cold and dark, the beauty of the landscapes more than makes up for it. The country is draped in thick snow, and the fjords are transformed into mystical ice realms.

If you’re looking for the best time to travel to Norway to witness a snowy wonderland, this is it.

Some roads are closed over the winter months, but you can enjoy cruises and train journeys all year long. While not as popular as the summer, it’s still a great time of year to get a different perspective with the snow-capped mountains and dark skies.

You may be lucky enough to spot some colourful dancing lights in the sky as well!

How’s the weather?

Temperatures fall to an average of -3 or -4°C (25°F) in both the capital and the north. By the coast, however, which enjoys a more temperature climate, it stays around 2°C (35°F).

Best places to visit

Make sure to head north! Within the Arctic Circle, you’ll be able to enjoy the true meaning of winter.

One of the key draws of a winter trip to Norway is of course the northern lights. And the best location to have a chance to spot them is in Northern Norway.

In fact, there is a zone called the “Northern Lights Belt”, situated from 65 to 72 degrees north, which is known to have more auroral frequency and intensity. The closer you are to it, the better your odds are!

Both the city of Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands fall directly within this area, so we highly recommend these destinations. You could also take on a northern cruise to the North Cape and Kirkenes. 



Fun activities to do

Winter may be the ‘off-season’ in some places, but in Norway you’ll find plenty to do! And we don’t mean just looking out the train window at the gorgeous mountains above, or searching for the northern lights.

In the winter months, you’ll be able to enjoy a host of unique activities, from reindeer sledding to dog sledding adventures. You could learn more about Sami culture, stay at the Snow Hotel, or even chase the northern lights by snowmobile.

Near Oslo, we also recommend visiting the Holmenkollen Ski Museum and Tower. The museum is the oldest of its kind in the world and showcases more than 4,000 years of skiing history. You could also head up to the observation deck at the top of the jump tower for views of Oslo.

Another great place to experience the true north is in Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago located closer to the North Pole. It is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas and is famous for its number of polar bears.

Mark your calendar for these winter events:

  • Ice Music Festival, a glacial event happening every February in the alpine resort town of Geilo.
  • Northern Lights Festival, a 10-day music festival held in Tromsø every January.
  • Rørosmartnan held in February and considered the largest winter festival in the country.
windy road of trollstigen

Norway in spring

Best for enjoying flora and bird watching

March, April and May are beautiful months to visit Norway. As the winter snows melt, the rivers, lakes and waterfalls swell with fresh water and life. Snow-draped landscapes fade away and are replaced with swathes of lush green.

How’s the weather?

From April to May the weather rises between 0 and 11°C (32-52°F) in Oslo, and up to, on average, 4°C (39°F). As this is a changeable season, you never know as it may inch a bit higher or lower.

Best places to visit

You’ll definitely enjoy the fjords in the spring! The western fjords are gorgeous all year long, but in the spring, the landscape transforms from wintry to luxuriant.

We recommend taking the Hurtigruten Norwegian Coastal Voyage from Trondheim down to Bergen, admiring the coast along the way. At this time of year, loads of summery activities reopen their doors and you may be able to take advantage of that.

Fun activities to do

Boosted by the meltwaters, the waterfalls of Norway are at their most formidable during spring. We recommend booking a kayak or rib boat tour at Geirangerfjord to get close to the stunning Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil waterfalls.

One of Norway’s biggest attractions at this time of year is also the spring blossom. By May, the flowers are in full bloom across the country and on a sunny day, the scenery can be out of this world.

In May, when the nicer weather has usually settled in, some roads reopen and one of our favourites is the Trollstigen Road near Ålesund. You could make sure to drive it on a road trip, or to book an optional excursion to go experience it.

Mark your calendar for these spring events:

  • Stavanger Vinfest, a food and wine festival held in April.
  • Constitution Day on 17 May, celebrated all over the country.
  • Bergen International Festival beginning in late May.

Best time to visit for…

If you’re wondering when the best time of year to visit Norway is for a specific location or activity, read below. We share our insider knowledge to help you plan your best possible trip.

Best time to visit Svalbard, Norway

Another great place to experience the true north is in Svalbard – a Norwegian archipelago located closer to the North Pole. It is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited areas and is famous for its number of polar bears.

If you’re keen to fly north, we recommend going between February and September. That is because in the depth of winter, the region experiences a polar night and therefore the sun doesn’t rise at all from the horizon.

To get the most of this trip, you may want to be able to admire the glittering icebergs, frozen tundra and maybe even spot the elusive white bear. From February, you get a better balance of darkness, to spot the northern lights, and daylight, to go on excursions.



people standing on pulpit rock

Best time to travel to the Norway fjords

The Norwegian fjords are amongst the most beautiful in the world. It is no wonder that the West Norwegian Fjords, Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, are listed as one of Norway’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Picture tranquil waters, thundering waterfalls, and sheer mountain faces.

To see the fjords in all their glory, the summer is a great period for a visit. At this time, you could go kayaking along a fjord to take it all in from a different perspective. You could even try dipping your toes or going wild swimming.

But there are benefits to the other seasons too. Come in spring to see the waterfalls running with even more power thanks to the snow and ice melting. In winter, you may get a view of snow-capped mountains and frosted waterfalls as you sail through the Norway fjords.



Best time to visit Norway for the weather

What is the best weather for you?

As mentioned previously, the warmest weather of the year is definitely during the summer. At this time, you’ll enjoy sunny days in the south, either for a city break in Oslo or to take on a fun excursion to the fjords.

Or maybe what you prefer is colder days with crisp air and plenty of snow to enjoy fun activities? Then come in winter.

If you like mild weather, you’ll probably prefer the shoulder seasons. In April, May and September, you’ll enjoy weather in Norway that is perfect for hiking or exploring. With plenty of daylight to do so at your heart’s content!

man hiking by fjord

When is the best time to visit Oslo, Norway

Oslo, the formidable capital city of Norway, is the ideal Nordic destination for a city break or as a gateway to discovering more of the country.

To see Oslo at your own pace we recommend visiting in the months just before or after the summer. This way you’ll enjoy all the top attractions with, hopefully, less crowds. This time of year is the best of both worlds.

Spend your days visiting Oslo’s top landmarks, such as Akershus Fortress and the Royal Palace, which may have more availability at that time of year. Later, walk along Aker Brygge, the old waterfront, and enjoy al fresco dining in the bright and cool evening.

Visit Oslo in early winter for another fantastic experience. At this time, you could visit the charming Christmas markets and enjoy sightseeing under fairy lights. A trip to Norway’s capital city is a great way to get into the festive spirit.



Best time to visit Tromsø, Norway

Tromsø is a great year-round destination. Especially so if you’re looking for stunning scenery and don’t mind a cooler day out.

Visit Tromsø between October and April to enjoy a winter wonderland and to experience a polar night. This phenomenon, where the sun doesn’t rise at all, happens from late November until mid-January.

Another bonus of visiting in winter is the city’s location, straight into the “Northern Lights Belt”. This means you may be able to admire them from the city itself.

From Tromsø you could also journey across the northern coast of Norway, to the North Cape and all the way to Kirkenes. This is an amazing winter journey along the Arctic Circle.

In summer, visit Tromsø and the nearby Lofoten Islands, to experience the polar opposite (pun intended!). From mid-May until late July, the sun doesn’t set at all. This is called the midnight sun. You could go hiking and enjoying the natural landscape at midnight if you wanted to.

view of tromso in the snow

Best time to visit Ålesund, Norway

The charming port town of Ålesund is one of Norway’s most visited cities. This is in part thanks to its beautiful setting along a cluster of islands in the western fjords.

But it has also become a popular stop as part of the Norwegian Coastal Voyage. If you’re cruising your way up or down the country, you could add a stopover in Ålesund. And it is definitely worth the visit!

We recommend travelling here in summer for the best experience and to enjoy all the activities available. These include angling, sailing, hiking, and kayaking, among others.

From Ålesund, you can sail to the nearby Geirangerfjord. You could also spend your days hiking to local viewpoints. Summer is the ideal time to walk up Mount Aksla and enjoy the panoramic views of the archipelago and the peaks of the Sunnmøre Alps.



Best time to visit Norway, Sweden and Denmark

Are you looking for a grand tour of Scandinavia? This Northern European region, composed of Sweden and Denmark as well as Norway, is another fantastic place to visit come winter or summer.

This is because the local climate makes it easy to travel between the countries throughout the year. In fact, even in winter the capital cities, Oslo, Stockholm, and Denmark, enjoy mild weather above freezing.

However, what we recommend is visiting during the shoulder months of May and September. This is because the hotspots of Norway, Sweden and Denmark can be very busy at the height of summer.

During the period just before and just after the summer, you enjoy nice weather and plenty of daylight but with fewer crowds. At popular locations, such as the capitals, Norwegian fjords and top hiking spots, you’ll enjoy having more time and space to yourself.



northern lights above tromso

Best time to visit Norway for the northern lights

The northern lights, or aurora borealis, are at their best during the winter season. This means you should visit Norway between October and March.

From late September, the days become shorter making it easier to witness the auroras in the night sky. Indeed, you need darkness, good solar activity, and low light pollution to be able to admire them.

For this reason, journey into Northern Norway to spot the northern lights, all the way inside the Arctic Circle. There are a few prime locations for spotting the northern lights in Norway, and they are:

  • Tromsø
  • Kirkenes
  • The Lofoten Islands
  • North Cape (Nordkapp)
  • Svalbard

Learn more about the best places and times to visit Norway for the northern lights with our detailed guide.



Best time to visit Norway and Iceland

To combine both these stunning countries into one epic Nordic trip, we recommend visiting in summer.

At this time of year you will benefit from longer days to make the most of your exploration. Journey from Oslo all the way to Reykjavík, passing by highlights such as the Norwegian fjords and with the possibility to tour all around Iceland.

You could even discover more of Scandinavia. Start your tour in Stockholm, passing by Copenhagen before taking on Norway and Iceland.

Popular sights can be busy at this time of year, so you could try planning your tour for early or late summer if you want a quieter holiday.

And if you would rather come during the winter, fear not, it is also possible! In fact, this season has some bonus points of its own too. You’ll be able to admire the glittering frost over amazing Norwegian and Icelandic waterfalls.

This is also the time of year to travel to the Nordics if you want to catch sight of the northern lights. As the darkness sets in, from late September, it becomes easier to see them dancing in the night sky.



Best time of year to visit Bergen, Norway

Bergen is another Norwegian city that can be visited all year long. As it is one of the rainiest cities in Europe, we do recommend the summer and its shoulder months for the best weather.

If you visit in winter, fear not. There is plenty to do to fill your time in case of bad weather. This includes the 900-year-old Bergen Cathedral and one of Norway’s oldest fortress, Bergenhus Fortress. There are also many museums like the Bryggens Museum, the KODE Art Museum, and the Hanseatic Museum.

But really Bergen is known as the gateway to the fjords and is an excellent outdoor destination. In summer, you could hike up one (or more!) of the seven mountains. You could also participate in fun activities like taking the zipline across Mount Ulriken.

You also won’t want to miss hiking or taking the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen. You’ll get some amazing views of the city below and access to some fun walking trails.

boat sailing along geirangerfjord

Best time to visit Norway on a cruise

You can cruise Norway’s magnificent and diverse coast anytime of the year. We do however recommend the summertime for the best experience.

Between May and September, you’ll enjoy long days, ideal for sightseeing. That’s true from the boat or on excursion stops on the mainland. Take photos in the midnight sun and pack more in your day.

In winter, you may enjoy the smaller crowds, but days are much shorter, and you may find the sea is a bit rougher. The one bonus of a winter cruise is the chance to admire the northern lights in the dark sky.

A cruise is, in fact, excellent for spotting the auroras as you’ll be away from city light pollution.



Best time to go to Norway for hiking

Do you have dreams of standing proudly atop Trolltunga or Pulpit Rock?

You may have seen the stunning scenic photos of people standing by the cliff edge, with calm fjords below and rocky mountains in the distance. And maybe you’ve also seen the photos of crowded hiking paths and queues to take those iconic shots.

For this reason, we recommend the shoulder seasons, late spring and autumn, for your tour of Norway. These quieter times of year are fantastic to experience the mountains in a bit more peace.

And in fact, autumn may be the best time as you’ll find more paths accessible at this time compared to spring.



Best time to visit Norway for the midnight sun

The midnight sun is an incredible phenomenon whereas the sun does not set over the horizon. It occurs in the north of Northern Europe during the summer.

For example, Tromsø and Svolvær, located inside the Arctic Circle, experience the midnight sun between mid-May and late July. You’ll want to visit the northern parts of Norway (or neighbouring Sweden and Finland) at this time to witness it.

Imagine hiking or sitting by the Norwegian Sea admiring the scenery while basking in the light of the sun in the middle of the night.

Just make sure to bring an eye mask to help you sleep!

light of sun on svolvaer in lofoten

Best time to visit Norway for whale watching

Every year, whales pop up along the Norwegian coast. For this reason, it’s a good location to go on a wildlife cruise to spot them up close.

These gentle giants of the sea are most commonly seen along the Vesterålen coast, just north of the Lofoten Islands. Make sure to go there in summertime for your best chances and more varied sightings.

You could spot sperm whales, but also pilot whales, minke whales, humpback whales, dolphins, and killer whales.

For the best whale-watching experience in Northern Europe, we recommend heading to North Iceland instead. Indeed, Húsavík is considered the capital of whale watching. Trips are available all year long, but summer is the best time.

You may be able to spot dolphins, minke whales, humpback whales as well as some sperm whales and maybe the elusive blue whale.

Learn more about whale watching in Iceland with our detailed guide.

What to pack for a trip to Norway

As you can tell, the weather in Norway should never be an obstacle! We recommend being ready for everything and you’ll be able to enjoy all your planned activities.

For all seasons, we recommend bringing along layers so you can be flexible depending on the day's temperature. We especially suggest bringing a waterproof jacket and comfortable walking or hiking shoes.

Even in the summer it’s best to have a pair of light gloves, a hat and a scarf handy. And a sleeping mask to help with the light nights of summer.

In the winter, make sure to pack some warm layers (preferably woollen) along with an insulated coat.

And don’t forget your camera to snap away at all the gorgeous landscapes!



Norway is an exceptional destination that can be enjoyed all year long. We hope this post convinced you of that!

When you’re ready to book your dream Norway holiday, take a look at our most popular Norway packages. And if you’re still not sure, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our travel consultants via live chat, toll-free numbers or contact form.

They know the region inside out and can help you by answering any queries you may still have, or to give you more recommendations. And don’t forget, our itineraries can be tailored for you, so you can always ask if you have a special request.

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Post by: Camila

 Camila grew up between the French Canadian and Chilean cultures, before moving to Scotland in 2012. When she’s not travelling or writing about travels, Camila loves to read, run, and puzzle. Her favourite destinations have been Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Estonia and South Africa. 

Find Camila on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.