October in Scandinavia: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Weather is mild, and summer crowds are gone

Scandinavia in October

Ashley Nicole deLeon / © TripSavvy 2018 

Summer is high season for travel to Scandinavia, so traveling to this region in the fall lets you take advantage of lower prices on flights and accommodations that are common at this time of year. The weather in Copenhagen and across Scandinavia in October is cool and pleasant so you can still make the most of sightseeing and outdoor activities. It's an all-around ideal time to visit as long as you don't mind a bit of chill in the air now and then.

Another bonus: The leaves are putting on their fall dress, and you'll catch highlights if you travel in the early part of October.

Scandinavian Weather in October

Winters in Scandinavia are cold, but in October, the average high temperature in Copenhagen is 54 F, with the temperature dropping to 45 F at night. A bit further north, in Stockholm, afternoon highs average 50 F, with lows of 41 F. Afternoon highs in Helsinki in October average 46 F, with lows around 37 F.  In Oslo, afternoon highs top out at 50 F on average, with nighttime lows falling to 39 F. Average afternoon highs in Reykjavik are 43 F, with nighttime lows at 36 F. Throughout the region, it is cool but not cold, with some variation north to south. Bear in mind that as the month progresses, the temperatures head downward.

Precipitation varies across the region in October, and you could experience a cool and wet day anytime in the month, but in all the countries rain is on a decline from summertime highs.

During October, the days start to dramatically shorten across Scandinavia; at the beginning of the month in Stockholm, for example, you'll experience nearly 12 hours of daylight; by the end of the month, the sun will be up a bit less than nine hours. Also note that Daylight Saving Time ends on the last Sunday of October, just as it does in the United States.

What to Pack

When packing for a trip to Scandinavia in October, the smart money is on bringing lots of layered outfits because it can be relatively mild during the day and chilly at night. Light long-sleeved shirts layered with a warm fleece or wool sweater on top are good options. Take along a pashmina, easy-to-pack cashmere wrap, or long scarf to wrap around your neck when you need a bit more warmth. A leather jacket or blazer is a good top layer over a shirt and a sweater. Take jeans (denim and black) or other long medium-weight pants. Black jeans can be dressed up for dinner or a club if you pack a dressier top and shoes (women) or a sports jacket, dress shirt, and proper shoes (men). Pack with an eye to multiple uses and stick to one color scheme so you can switch off layers as needed. Take comfortable low-heeled or flat ankle boots for all the walking you'll do. They look chic with everything and make your feet happy. Throw a collapsible umbrella in your bag, just in case you catch a day of rain.

October Events in Scandinavia

In addition to glorious fall foliage, there is much to do and see in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, and Iceland in October. Here are a few attractions to put on your itinerary if you plan to visit the Scandinavian countries in mid-autumn.

  • Aurora Borealis: The aurora borealis, also called the Northern Lights, is mainly associated with dark winter nights. But this natural phenomenon is visible year-round. The ideal times for viewing the Northern Lights are from September through April from 11 p.m. to 2 am. The further south in Scandinavia you go, the shorter the aurora borealis season is.
  • Baltic Herring Market, Helsinki: This is the oldest traditional festival in Helsinki; it dates back to 1743. It celebrates the return home of fishermen from the Baltic Sea. Salted herring is a featured delicacy at the Baltic Herring Market, and woolen clothing made from island sheep is sold along with other traditional foods and items. The market is held in early October. 
  • Iceland Airwaves, Reykjavik: This annual festival celebrating Icelandic and international new music debuted in 1999 in an airplane hanger at Reykjavik Airport. Celebrated over five days in October or November, Iceland Airwaves has grown to become one of the biggest new music festivals in the world. If it's in early November when you plan to go to Scandinavia, it might be worth extending your trip.
  • MIX Copenhagen LGBT Film Festival: One of the oldest LGBT film festivals in the world, the MIX Copenhagen festival screens dozens of features, documentaries, and short films every year, drawing crowds of 10,000 people. It's traditionally held during the last week of October. 
  • Bergen International Film Festival, Norway: The Bergen International Film Festival has been held annually in Bergen, Norway, since 2000. It is Norway's biggest film festival, with more than 100 films shown at theaters around Bergen. This festival draws upwards of 50,000 visitors to Bergen. 
  • Stockholm Open Tennis Tournament: Founded by Swedish tennis star Sven Davidson in 1969, the Stockholm Open attracts premier professional and amateur male tennis players from around the globe. It's held in the Kungliga Tennishallen and draws more than 40,000 visitors annually.

October Travel Tips

Despite the fact that the summer crowds have gone from Scandinavia by October, it's still a good idea to book your hotel well in advance, along with flights. But you can be a bit more relaxed when you get there about restaurant reservations, and you will likely not encounter long lines or wait times at museums. Your main point of concern centers on the weather.

  • Take advantage of warm and sunny days to dine alfresco, do sightseeing that requires a lot of walking, or engage in outdoor activities.
  • Plan an itinerary that includes several long stops inside, like museums, that are impervious to the weather.
  • Check the weather forecast when you get there for all the days you plan to stay and plan your itinerary around that.
  • Acquaint yourself with various modes of transportation and store the apps on your phone so that if you get caught out somewhere in a downpour while on a walking trip, you know how to find transportation quickly.