November is still autumn on the calendar, but in Scandinavia, it's the beginning of the winter season, which comes early and lasts long. In the five countries in northern Europe that are generally recognized to make up Scandinavia (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, and Iceland), it’s quite dark in November— sometimes drearily so—and the countryside is often blanketed in thick snow. But tourism traffic is low in this month, which can mean big savings on airfare and hotel prices for off-season visitors.
Weather in November in Scandinavia
Winter has definitely arrived in Scandinavia by November. In many parts of the region, you'll experience winds and rainfall, which turns into snow as you go north. Passages of cold fronts produce precipitation, which is then followed by cold, clear weather with a few clouds.
The weather in Scandinavia varies by destination. For example, Copenhagen, Denmark, has a mild, temperate climate due to its location near the North and Baltic Seas. The average high temperature in Copenhagen for November is around 40 F, and rainfall measures an average of 2.5 inches. By comparison, Helsinki, Finland, experiences longer and colder winters with average high temperatures in the 30s and rainfall of about 3 inches. One advantage of traveling to Scandinavia when it's very cold may be the ability to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in the clear nighttime skies.
Packing Tips for November
Always wear layers because November can get very cold during the day and be freezing at night.
Use thicker long-sleeve shirts layered with a breathable, but warm fleece or wool sweater on top so you can easily remove the warm outer layer when you're indoors. Pack well-insulated clothing if you plan to go skiing or sledding.
Things definitely slow down in Scandinavia during the winter months, but some annual events featuring music, films, and food draw crowds regardless of the cold.
Iceland Airwaves: This music festival held in venues around downtown Reykjavik showcases new bands from Iceland and other countries over five days the first week of November. Packages are available from the U.S. and other countries that include airfare, hotels, and admission to the festival.
Film Festivals: The Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival presents over 200 films from around the world. The Stockholm International Film Festival, held over 12 days in mid-November, offers about 200 films of varied genres from 60 countries. The well-attended event typically includes seminars and meetings with actors and filmmakers.
Rakfiskfestival: The traditional Norwegian dish, rakfish, is made from salted and fermented trout; Norwegians consume tons of rakfish every year. The town of Fagerness, three hours north of Oslo, hosts this annual two-day festival that draws thousands to enjoy the salty fish, washed down with beer and aquavit.
All Saints' Day: In Sweden, All Saints' Day is a day of reflection that marks the first day of the Scandinavian winter. Most locals take the day off to visit cemeteries and place wreaths, candles, and lanterns on the graves. Families gather for large meals and attend church concerts.
St. Martin's Day: On St. Martin's Eve, November 10, Swedish families celebrate the goose with a large feast in restaurants and homes. Dinner begins with black soup made from goose blood, broth, fruit, and spices. The goose itself is stuffed with apples and prunes, then roasted slowly and served with red cabbage, roasted apples, and potatoes, all followed by apple Charlotte for dessert.