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The Best Time To Visit Norway (A Local’s Month-by-Month Breakdown)

by Lisa Stentvedt
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I’m often asked by my readers about the best time to visit Norway, which is always a hard question to answer; because I consider Norway to be a year-round destination (and so do most locals you ask). However, it is possible to figure out the best time to go to Norway, depending on what you are after!

Norway is like a dream destination for everyone. Call me biased, but I’m pretty sure anyone who visits Norway is going to fall in love with it, no matter what time of year. To visitors, Norway means majestic fjords, historic towns, beautiful country-sides, steep glaciers and jagged peaks. To me, it’s all of that, and home.

Each season in Norway has its unique attributes, and so what the best month to visit Norway is changes accordingly. However, I have tried my best to break it down for you in this post, to help you decide when to travel to Norway.

There’s a different ‘best time of the year to visit Norway’ for indulging in different activities like skiing, hiking, fishing, cruising the fjords, chasing Northern lights; for witnessing the beauty of nature like spring blossom, autumn fall, glittering snow etc. So, firstly you have to be clear what exactly you want to do and see in Norway.

To help with this, check out my guide to what Norway is famous for, to give you an idea of where you want to go (and what you need to know before you go).

Best time to visit Norway, blue skies in Hardanger
Want to know the best time to visit Norway? Keep reading!

What is the best time to visit Norway?

The best time to go to Norway varies with the activities you are hoping to do during your trip, and what you want to get out of your Norway vacation. In short, three things will affect your decision: the light, weather and tourist influx. All of these differ throughout the year in Norway.

Norway is located quite far north on the map, and so you can expect pretty big seasonal changes in daylight. This will 100% affect the time of year you should visit Norway.

This means that if you visit in the winter months, the majority of the day is spent in darkness with little to no natural light. Some places don’t even see the sun for months on end. Even further south, this is true, and at my parent’s house in Aurland, we spend about 3 months with no sunshine hitting our house.

On the other side, however, visiting Norway in May, June or July, will result in long days and hardly any dark at all. If you go up north, to destinations such as Alta or Tromsø, you can enjoy the midnight sun shining 24 hours a day!

The next thing that changes depending on the time of year you head to Norway is the weather. In the winter and autumn months, you can expect rainy, snowy and even windy days to be a part of your trip. Whilst in the summer the weather is more stable, and usually sunny (all though it is never guaranteed).

My favourite website for Norway’s weather forecast is Pent.no, because it compares the weather forecast from two other sites. Usually, the weather ends up being something in between the two forecasts.

Finally, the number of tourists and visitors to Norway can affect your trip. If you are bothered by masses of people, longer wait times and hoards of tourists everywhere you go – you might want to avoid visiting in the summer months.

All these things (tourist influx, weather, and daylight) I have included in my month-by-month breakdown below! Hopefully this will give you a definitive answer as to the best time to travel to Norway for you and your family.

If you have 10 days to spend in Norway, don’t miss this 10-day Norway itinerary I’ve created!

The Best Month to Visit Norway: Month-by-month Breakdown

Below I have split the best time to visit Norway into different months with details on the activities to do in those times and the kind of weather to expect.

That way, you can read the whole post and decide for yourself what is the best month to visit Norway, based on which of these sections most align with what you hope to do on your trip!

Visiting Norway in January and February

Best months for: Skiing, spotting Northern lights, snowmobiling, snowboarding, sleigh riding, dog and reindeer sledding, ice fishing, experiencing Sami culture

Tourist influx: Lowest

Weather information:

  • Rainfall: 35 to 50 mm
  • Average temperature: -6 to 0 degree Celsius
  • Season: White winter (Coldest)
  • Daylight: 6 to 8 hours in Oslo; Sun does not rise in Tromsø in January but you could enjoy 5 to 6 hours of daylight in February

January and February are the coldest months of the year in Norway. The tourist influx in the country during these months is pretty low owing to the harsh and chilly winters.

However, this is probably the best time of year to visit Norway for travellers who are interested in snow dependent activities, a relaxed ski retreat, or in seeing the Northern lights.

Especially Northern Norway is primarily a winter destination, with unique activities such as reindeer sledding, staying in an Igloo Hotel and going whale watching.

Read this next: How to shoot the northern lights with an iPhone

If you wish to make the most of the magical winters of Norway, head north towards the Arctic Circle, specifically the Northern lights belt, where the entire landscape is covered with thick snow, the fjords are frosted and the northern lights dance in colourful formations across the sky.

Best places to visit: This is the best time to visit Norway to explore Oslo, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, Tromsø, Svalbard, Alta and the Lofoten Islands.

Events or Festivals: Northern lights festival, Tromsø International film festival, Ice music festival), Polar jazz festival, Sami week

Pricing: Air fare and hotel tariffs are at their lowest in January and February, so travelling during these months will definitely make for a cheaper trip.

Best time to go to norway, winter in Lofoten blue skies snow
January and February is the best time to go to Norway for winter activities.

Visiting Norway in March and April

Best months to visit Norway for: Hiking, cruising the western fjords (the Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord), kayaking, skiing (northern Norway)

Tourist influx: Low

Weather:

  • Rainfall: 40 to 45 mm
  • Average temperature: -1 to 10 degree Celsius
  • Season: Mixed (Late-winter and early-spring)
  • Daylight: 8 to 13 hours in Oslo, 10 to 14 hours in Tromso

March and April are some of the best months to visit Norway for travellers who want to make the most of both the winter and spring seasons.

The winter snow slowly starts to melt by mid to late March and most bodies of water are filled with fresh water. Numerous waterfalls are boosted in April by melting waters and summer activities slowly open up allowing tourists to cruise the fjords. The waterfalls during these months (and moving into the next) are quite spectacular.

March is the end of Northern lights season as Norwegians welcome an Easter holiday break and head to the mountains to ski. The Jotunheimen National Park hiking season begins in April and you should not miss out on hitting the beautiful trails before the peak season crowd comes in.

Head this way for the best hikes in Norway.

Best places to visit: Bergen, Trondheim, Røros, Ålesund and the Lofoten Islands (to spot the Northern lights).

Events or Festivals: Holmenkollen ski festival, Winter chamber music festival (Røros), Narvik winter festival, Birkebeiner race, Holy week.

Pricing: Airfare and hotel tariffs are still cheap as the tourist influx has just started picking up.

best time to travel to Norway, sunset in Lofoten

Visiting Norway in May and June (the best time to visit Norway)

Best for: Road-trips, hiking, cruising fjords, trekking, island hopping, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing

Tourist influx: High

Weather:

  • Rainfall: 50 to 65 mm
  • Average temperature: 6 to 18 degree Celsius
  • Season: Spring
  • Daylight: 16-17 hours in Oslo, sun hardly sets in Tromso

As the daylight time increases and spring season sets in, carpets of wildflowers add colour to the Norwegian landscape. Hence, these months are considered to be the best time to visit Norway to go hiking.

If you head above the Arctic circle, you’ll be able to enjoy the Midnight sun during these months, one of the things Norway is most famous for

May and June are also the best months to visit Norway to cruise the fjords, with fjord cruises on the Hardangerfjord, Nærøyfjord, Geirangerfjord and even from Bergen opening for bookings.

As the weather starts getting pleasant (or as pleasant as it can get in Norway), you can indulge in several outdoor activities like hiking and trekking where you can see flowers, greenery and stunning views as far as the eye can see.

You could also plan a road trip on the very popular Trollstigen Road near Ålesund, as most of these popular tourist routes open around May (several of them are closed in the winter due to heavy snowfall).

Top tip: Always check the Norwegian road directory website before heading out on a road trip in Norway, to stay up to date on any closures and road works.

Best places to visit: Some of the best places to visit in Norway are Oslo, Ålesund, Bergen, Tromsø, the Lofoten Islands, Svalbard (to spot polar bears and the midnight sun) and Flåm.

Events or Festivals: Constitution day (the 17th of May), Bergen international festival, Tromsø’s midnight sun marathon, North cape march, Færder sailing race, Norwegian wood festival

Pricing: Airfare and hotel tariffs are high as the prime shoulder season sets in. Advance booking is advisable and travel within the country (such as trains) can sell out.

best time of year to visit norway, hardanger rib boat blue sky

Visiting Norway in July and August (the most popular months)

Best for: Road trips, hiking, fjord cruises, trekking, island hopping, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, surfing, snorkelling, photography

Tourist influx: Highest

Weather:

  • Rainfall: 80 to 90 mm
  • Average temperature: 10 to 20 degree Celsius
  • Season: Summer
  • Daylight: 16-19 hours in Oslo, sun hardly sets in Tromso

If you are someone who is not a fan of cold weather and snow, then July and August months would be the best time of the year to visit Norway for you. It is as warm as it gets, and the days are long and bright.

There is a range of outdoor activities that you can indulge in considering the endless daylight hours and the warmer temperatures. You can explore the fjords, spot the prominent Midnight sun, hike to Pulpit rock, pick berries, bike, trail, and trek. Try to squeeze in the Sami culture celebration in Norway during these months if you are visiting the north.

This time of the year is perfect for road-trip planning across Norway, and especially a drive through Trollstigen Road (all though it is busy, so make sure to plan for plenty of time and drive within your limits).

A trip to the Lofoten islands is ideal to experience water activities like kayaking, boating, fishing, surfing and snorkelling, in addition to some incredible hikes. July and August are also the best time to visit Norway to spot the migratory birds flocking the coastline.

Top tip: hit the road and get off-the-beaten path to avoid crowds. The western fjords in particular are incredibly busy these months.

Best places to visit: This is the best time of the year to visit Norway in its entirety, however, the Lofoten islands, Stavanger, Vesterålen, Finnmark, Svalbard, Trondheim are major picks. The fjords are, as mentioned, the #1 destination during the summer months.

Events or Festivals: Gladmat (Scandinavia’s largest food festival), Riddu Riddu festival, Arctic sea kayak race, Bergen beer festival, Oslo jazz festival

Pricing: Airfare and hotel tariffs are expensive throughout Norway. Advance booking is recommended.

best season to visit norway, leaves by nordfjord sunny day

Visiting Norway in September and October (the best time to go, in my opinion)

Best for: Island hopping, cruising fjords, hiking, trekking, fishing, mountain biking, photography

Tourist influx: Fairly low

Weather:

  • Rainfall: 80 to 90 mm
  • Average temperature: 5 to 15 degree Celsius
  • Season: Autumn/ Fall
  • Daylight: 11 to 14 hours in Oslo as well as Tromso

In the autumn season (September and October), the locals often go one weekend trips before winter sets in, whereas the tourist crowd slowly recedes.

September is my favourite month of the year, and also my top tip for the best time to visit Norway.

The coastal areas remain warmer than the inner parts of the country. September and October are the best months to visit Norway for those looking to stay away from the tourist crowd, save some money and yet enjoy the perks of the beauty that the country has to offer.

The colours of the summer are still there, opening hours and activities are still running the same schedules as in June-August, and there are (slightly) less tourists than the high season.

As autumn approaches in the end of September, the beautiful colours start to show up and the landscape gets covered with hues of orange, red and yellow, ideal for photography.

The mountain hikes are the prettiest during these months with trees shedding colourful leaves and vistas are covered in sparkling frost towards the end of October.

The outdoor activities slowly start closing up by October, though the fjords can still be explored. By October end, you could again plan to voyage towards the northern parts of Norway to chase the Aurora borealis.

Read next: how to take photos of the Northern Lights with just a GoPro

Best places to visit: This is the best time to visit Norway to explore Oslo, Bergen, Kirkenes, Lillehammer, Bergen, Flåm, Ålesund, Geiranger, Trondheim, Tromsø, Lofoten islands and more

Events or Festivals: Bergen food festival, Nordic light photo festival, Insomnia festival, Lillehammer jazz festival, BIFF (Bergen International Film Festival)

Pricing: Airfare and hotel tariffs are affordable owing to the scaling down of tourist season.

best time of year to go to norway, view from ulriken, bergen

Visiting Norway in November and December

Best months for: Chasing Northern lights, skiing, snowboarding, experiencing Sami culture, spotting whales and orcas, kick-sledding, dog sledding, reindeer safaris, rock art, Christmas/holidays

Tourist influx: Low; slightly higher during Christmas and New year

Weather:

  • Rainfall: 55 to 70 mm
  • Average temperature: -5 to 5 degree Celsius
  • Season: Dark Winter (Cold)
  • Daylight: 6-8 hours in Oslo, sun barely rises in Tromso

While the tourist season has pretty much declined, festivities sets in for the Christmas and New year. Despite the chilling cold, the celebrations bring in warmth and cheer.

Note that opening hours are very limited in some areas. This is one of the reasons it’s important to be prepared and book things early when visiting Norway for Christmas.

Decorations sparkle against the dark winter, and visiting Norway in December is the perfect time of year if you want to see how Norwegians celebrate Christmas.

The Northern lights season starts again and it is the best time to visit Norway for tourists seeking to find snow and chase the Aurora borealis without the crowds of January and February. Most people catch them on a Tromsø northern lights tour.

The lakes and some fjords slowly start to freeze. The days are dark and snowy, and daylight hours tend to become few (with some areas only experiencing 1-2 hours of daylight).

You could spend time doing indoor activities like visiting museums in Oslo or testing out all the restaurants in Bergen for mouth-watering local Norwegian delicacies. Read and bookmark my packing list for winter in Norway before you go to ensure you have everything you need!  

Best places to visit in Winter: Svalbard, Kirkenes, Tromsø, Lofoten islands, Oslo, Trondheim, Rorøs, the fjords

Events or Festivals: Rakfisk festival, Rorøs Christmas market, Nobel peace prize ceremony, Christmas holidays, the Bergen gingerbread town (the largest in Europe, I believe)

Pricing: Airfare and hotel tariffs are low but tend to spike during the Christmas and New year time.

the best time to visit norway, stegastein viewing platform snow mountain tops

The Best Time of Year To Visit Norway: Activity-Focused

Below I try to break down what the best time to visit Norway is according to the activity you are planning. From hiking to exploring the fjords, you’ll find that there are different times of year that are ideal.

Best time to visit Norway fjords

In my opinion, the best time to visit Norway if you want to see the fjords is in May and June. During these months, the colors of the scenery are at their brightest, creating a breathtaking visual experience.

Additionally, this is when the waterfalls are most dramatic, cascading down from the mountains in all their glory. It is truly a sight to behold. If you’re planning a fjord cruise in Norway, these months offer the perfect conditions to fully appreciate the natural beauty of the fjords. So, mark your calendars and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

Below are some of the best fjord cruises in Norway – I always recommend booking early, as they can sell out.

Best time to visit Norway for hiking

I believe that the best time to visit Norway for hiking is during the months of August and September. During this time, you can witness the breathtaking autumn colors as they start to emerge. The snow has completely melted, making it easier to explore the beautiful landscapes.

Moreover, the temperatures during these months are quite pleasant, allowing for a comfortable hiking experience. If you are looking for some remarkable hiking trails, I highly recommend checking out Aurlandsdalen valley and Pulpit Rock.

These trails are particularly enchanting during August and September, offering stunning views and unforgettable experiences. So, grab your hiking boots and get ready to immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Norway!

pulpit rock hike, sign

The Cheapest Time to visit Norway

Norway is known for its breathtaking landscapes and unique experiences, but it’s no secret that it can be an expensive destination. However, if you’re looking to plan a budget trip to Norway, there’s a silver lining.

During the winter months, specifically in January and February, you’ll find that flights and hotels are more affordable compared to the rest of the year. This presents a great opportunity to explore Norway without breaking the bank. While it’s true that Norway’s natural beauty remains unchanged throughout the year, keep in mind that tours and restaurants don’t generally lower their prices during the winter season.

So, if you’re looking to experience Norway on a budget, visiting during the winter months is definitely a safer bet.

Read next: Oslo on a budget

Final Thoughts

Like I’ve said before, Norway is magnificent all year round. But if you ask me, my (personal) favourite months to visit Norway are February/March (for snow, ski and Northern lights) and September (for all the benefits of visiting in the high season, but with slightly less crowds and the addition of autumn colours).

Hopefully, this guide will make it easier for you to plan your trip to Norway.

Are you planning a trip to Norway? Then you’ll want to read my Norway travel guide, which covers everything from where to go and stay to how much to tip when visiting.

Head this way next:

Regardless of what time of year you end up visiting Norway, there are so many amazing things to do here. From whale watching and chasing the Northern Lights in the winter, to going on a beautiful fjord cruise in the summer – you won’t be bored.

Below, you can browse some of the best tours and activities across Norway. Make sure to make your bookings in advance, as they tend to sell out fast!

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