The best time to visit Norway

Updated: 11th June 2019

Norway fjords - Best time to visit
The summer months are the best time to visit Norway's fjords

Seasons and Weather

Situated on the same latitude as Alaska and much of Siberia, Norway experiences four distinct seasons, each with their own character and benefits for visiting. Thanks to the warm air currents of the Gulf Stream, temperatures are actually a lot more pleasant than you might imagine with the bitterly cold conditions further north of the country.

What's summer like in Norway?

Summer is high season in Norway with mostly warm temperatures between June and August though many places experience their highest rainfall at this time of year so cloudy skies are likely. Norway's latitude means that daylight hours during the summer can be as long as 18 hours - perfect for making the most of the great outdoors.

What's autumn like in Norway?

The forests and countryside turns beautiful shades of red and orange when autumn arrives in September with wild fruit at their most ripe and crab at its prime. Not only does this make autumn a fantastic time for keen photographers to visit Norway but foodies will also find plenty of appeal at this time of year. The weather is generally mild and clear though coastal destinations still experience a fair bit of rain.

What's winter like in Norway?

Temperatures drop considerably in November, which heralds the start of Norway's winter, a season that can feel extremely long with the lack of daylight hours and bitterly cold conditions. Snow blankets much of the north between mid-November and March though it rarely settles along the southern coastal towns and cities. In some places, snow can last until May while other places receive no snow at all - it really does vary across the length of the country. At this time of year Norway transforms into a winter wonderland with excellent skiing, dog-sledging, ice fishing and snowmobiling opportunities. Prices are low though services reduced so extra planning is required if visiting during this time.

What's spring like in Norway?

The rising temperatures of spring usually grace Norway around April when the snow begins to melt, flowers begin to bloom and the days grow longer. It's a beautiful time to visit with verdant landscapes, swollen waterfalls and flowering orchards. It can still be very cold in parts of the country and at this time of year it's particularly windy.

Thinking of visiting Norway? Download a copy of our Europe brochure for inspiration.

Climate | Oslo

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C-4-4-327111313940-4
Temp Max °C0251016202222161041
Rainfall (mm)554137616472879383978246

Climate | Tromso

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp Min °C-17-17-14-9-24872-3-11-16
Temp Max °C-8-7-41612161492-4-7
Rainfall (mm)584340343149744734403652

Upcoming events

To help plan your visit to Norway, here's an overview of the festivals and events taking place over the next year. This is by no means an exhaustive list so if you're thinking of heading to Norway outside of these dates and want to know what's on, check out the Norwegian Tourism website for more suggestions.

2019:

Dates TBC - Norwegian Wood (Oslo)

2020

February 7th-9th - Ice Music Festival (Geilo)
February 18th-22nd - Rorosmartnan (Roros)
March 6th-8th - Holmenkollen Ski Festival (Oslo)
April 9th-12th - Inferno (Oslo)
June 20th- Midnight Sun Marathon (Tromso)
July 8th- Riddu Riddu (Olmmáivággi)

There's also a number of national holidays in Norway and on these dates many businesses and some tourist sites will close for the day so plan your visit accordingly.

Northern Lights over Lofoten Islands in Norway - Best Time To Visit
The Northern Lights decorate the sky above the Lofoten Islands

Best time to see the Northern Lights in Norway

There's a chance of seeing the Northern Lights anytime between late-September and mid-April when daylight hours are minimal and the dark night's sky provides the perfect backdrop for the celestial display. Dry weather is best when it comes to seeing the Northern Lights and activity tends to be highest in the months of October and March.

Ice Music Festival Norway - photo credit official Ice Music Fesival website
A performer at Norway's Ice Music Festival. Photo courtesy of Emile Holba.

Festivals and Events

Norway is a land of wonders, from its natural phenomena of the Northern lights, midnight sun and fjords to its cultural exports including rakfisk (rotten fish) and black metal. Making the most of its varying climate, Norway celebrates everything it has to offer in spectacular style, whether the country is blanketed in snow or bathed in endless sunshine.

What is the Ice Music Festival?

The unique Ice Music Festival is one of the most astonishing events in the world. There might not be anything unusual about a bunch of musicians coming together and performing in front of an audience. However, this is a festival with a twist and that twist is ice. The stage and performing areas are entirely made of ice as are all of the instruments. Ever seen a man play a guitar made of ice? Well, this is your chance.

What is Rorosmartnan?

In 1853 it was decided that there would be a yearly market in Roros and what a wonderful decision that was. The UNESCO World Heritage town sees tens of thousands of visitors every year as it is transformed into a hub of activity. Dance halls, bars and restaurants heave in the evenings after attendees have spent the day ogling the wares of over 250 exhibitors. As people are carried through the street on horse-pulled sledges, Rorosmartnan is the ultimate winter wonderland.

What is the Holmenkollen Ski Festival?

Embracing its snowy nature, every year Oslo hosts a ski festival at the Holmenkollen arena. The festival consists of a number of exciting events and competitions, including cross-country and jumping. Not only will festival-goers have the chance to marvel at the talent that is being displayed throughout the weekend but they also have the opportunity to camp out in the forest. There are also a range of activities for young children.

What is Inferno Festival?

It might surprise you to know that Norway is famous for more than just its fjords. When it comes to music, this picturesque country is a pioneer for a genre called black metal, an extreme version of metal that embraces Satan and the darker side of life. Every year, fans from around the world flock to Oslo to watch this niche event and mingle with other black-clad headbangers. In addition to the Inferno festival, there is also a conference, which puts on Q&A sessions, workshops and instrument clinics.

What is Norwegian Wood?

Arguably Norway’s number one music event of the year, Norwegian Wood is a huge open-air rock festival that sees thousands of attendees every year standing on the hill in front of the stage singing along to their favourite tunes. Former performers include the late and great David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Lou Reed. Aside from the main stage, there are two smaller stages, which give smaller, less well-known bands the chance to show off their talent to a huge audience.

What is Riddu Riddu?

This festival is a promotion of Sami culture and encourages Sami people from all over Scandinavia to come together and embrace their roots. The event provides a platform not just for Samis to exchange ideas and intermingle, but also for non-indigenous people to learn about Sami culture. Riddu Riddu encompasses a number of workshops as well as art exhibitions, music performances and film screenings. There is also a youth program and children’s festival.

When is the Midnight Sun Marathon?

The Midnight Sun Marathon takes place in Tromso in June, roughly 200 miles north of the Arctic Circle, where the sun doesn’t set at all for a stretch of about 9 weeks throughout the summer months. This race is certainly an experience and has, by far, one of the most scenic routes in the world. The night before the race, there is a pasta party where runners can load up on carbs before the event. Kick off is usually around 20:30 and there is also a half marathon and 10km race for those who don’t want to run quite so far.

Want to know more about Norway? Check out our latest blog posts

See Also

Check out our handy Travel Guide resources to help plan your trip to Norway:

Best Places to Visit - our top five destinations in Norway
Tourist Visas - all you need to know about visas for Norway
Top Travel Tips - useful info on money, health, food and more