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

Oslo, Norway in September

Morten Falch Sortland / Getty Images

Scandinavian weather in September tends to be cool and a little damp, but that shouldn't deter travelers from planning a trip during the shoulder season. The dreary weather adds to the area's cozy charm (hygge, as they call it in Denmark) and the cost of accommodation and transportation is generally much lower than during the summer. Even though the brief spell of sunshine has passed come September, there's still plenty for a visitor to see and do, such as attend a harvest festival, celebrate a remote Oktoberfest, and admire the changing leaves.

Scandinavia Weather in September

Scandinavia's average daily temperatures during the first month of fall are generally between 60 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit (16 and 18 degrees Celsius), with nighttime lows dipping into the mid-40s Fahrenheit (below 10 degrees Celsius) in much of the region. The further north you get (Tromsø, Norway, for instance), the more likely you are to see the Northern Lights and the colder it becomes.

  • Bergen, Norway: 57 F (14 C) / 49 F (9 C)
  • Oslo, Norway: 61 F (16 C) / 45 F (7 C)
  • Tromsø, Norway: 51 F (11 C) / 42 F (6 C)
  • Stockholm, Sweden: 59 F (15 C) / 48 F (9 C)
  • Copenhagen, Denmark: 63 F (17 C) / 50 F (10 C)

It rains about 15 days out of the month in most areas of Scandinavia, though more northern parts of the region get closer to 20 days, and the total accumulation of rainfall per country is around 2.2 inches (55 millimeters). As you get closer to winter, the sunlight gets more scarce. In mid-September, Oslo gets about 12 hours of light per day.

What to Pack

In general, you should pack a variety of warm- and cold-weather clothing that you can layer according to the temperature. Bring long-sleeved shirts, light sweaters, long pants, warm socks, comfortable shoes, and maybe even a heavy coat if you plan to visit the more northern parts of the region. Additionally, the weather can be rainy in early fall, so pack your waterproof jackets and shoes. If visiting the north, be sure to pack winter gear.

September Events in Scandinavia

Don't let the chance of rain or cold weather dissuade you from visiting in September; this time of year is high season for Scandinavian events. From celebrations of Danish culture in Denmark to Oktoberfests cropping up across the region, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden host a variety of festivities for all interests.

  • Aarhus Festival (Denmark): Since 1965, the city of Aarhus has hosted this 10-day festival centered around Danish culture. Dance, films, exhibitions, art, food, and kids' activities are among the offerings, along with classical music, rock, and jazz. Every year, the Aarhus Festival features a different theme that informs the more than 1,000 performances and exhibitions. In 2020, the event has been canceled.
  • Göteborg Book Fair (Sweden): The Göteborg Book Fair started in 1985 as a trade fair for librarians and teachers but is now the largest literary event of any Nordic country. One of its main draws is the seminar program that features Nobel laureates, scholars, scientists, politicians, and authors. Every year, it attracts more than 800 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors to Göteborg. In 2020, the event will be held virtually as a free digital streaming service from September 24 to 27.
  • Kivik Apple Market (Sweden): The town of Kivik in southern Sweden is the largest supplier of apples in the country, so in 1988, the town started the Kivik Apple Market to celebrate the harvest. Along with apple tastings, dishes, and drinks made from the fruit, this festival also showcases "apple art." 2020's Apple Market has been canceled.
  • ULTIMA Contemporary Music Festival (Norway): Started in 1991, the ULTIMA Contemporary Music Festival in the Oslo area offers concerts, opera, dance and theater performances, and more contemporary art displays over 10 days. It will take place from September 10 to 19, 2020, with reduced seating capacity. To prevent crowds outside the venues, all tickets will be sold online.
  • Oktoberfest: There are several Oktoberfest events in September in the Scandinavian countries. The capital city of Sweden would normally be holding its Beer & Whisky Festival, known locally as Stockholm Oktoberfest, but in 2020, it's been pushed back to November. Oktoberfests in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway, have been canceled.

September Travel Tips

  • Early September is much rainier than later in the month. Check the weather before your trip and each day before you set out to see whether you'll need to bring rain gear out with you.
  • Despite tourism crowd sizes shrinking this month, you may still want to book your airfare and accommodations well in advance to make sure you get your preferred travel dates.
  • Fortunately, prices get lower this time of year, and you will likely find discounts at popular hotels and restaurants aimed at attracting more tourists during the low season.
  • It's best to download maps of your destinations before you leave the U.S. as internet connections may be hard to come by in more remote areas.
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