Norway is a popular tourist destination year-round, thanks to its gorgeous green fjords in the summer and the northern lights in the winter. The weather in Norway is warmer than might be expected considering how far north it is. This is due to the warmth of the Gulf Stream, which results in a temperate climate for much of the country.
This Scandinavian country has a climate that easily fluctuates from year to year, especially in its most northern parts, which are located at the edge of the global temperate zone. In the northern areas, summer temperatures can reach above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), while winters are dark and have more snow than other parts of the country. In the coastal and inland regions, the climate varies considerably. The coastal areas have a climate with cooler summers. Winters are relatively moderate and rainy with little snow or frost. Inland areas (like Oslo) have a continental climate with colder winters (think minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit, or 25 below zero Celsius) but warmer summers.
Weather in Norway is best between May and September when it's usually mild and clear.
Polar Lights and Midnight Sun in Norway
An interesting phenomenon in Norway (and other parts of Scandinavia) is the seasonal change in the length of day and night. In midwinter, daylight lasts five to six hours in southern Norway while darkness prevails in the north. Those dark days and nights are called Polar Nights.
In midsummer, daylight takes over, and there is no night darkness during June and July, even as far south as Trondheim. This stretch of time, called Midnight Sun, means you'll get very long days in southern Norway or even sunshine around the clock in northern Norway.
Major Cities in Norway
Oslo experiences warm summers and cold winters, but due to the oceanic influence, winters are warmer than you might expect. The city receives a significant amount of rainfall throughout the year with an average of 30 inches. January is typically the coldest month, with three out of four days recording temperatures below freezing.
Bergen is set in a temperate oceanic climate, with abundant rainfall, averaging more than 85 inches per year. Temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius) in the summer months and average around 36 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) during the winter.
Trondheim, situated in central Norway, has an oceanic climate with plenty of snowfall from November through March. The average summertime temperature rarely exceeds 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), with an average high temperature just above freezing during the winter months. There are 14 days of winter that have at least 10 inches of snow on the ground.
Tromsø has a subarctic climate, thanks to extremely short summers and winters that are cold and accumulate a lot of snowfall. In 1997, the city set a record with 95 inches of snow on the ground at the weather recording station. Summers are cool and sometimes rainy, with average high temperatures around 60 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius).
Spring in Norway
In spring, the snow melts, there's a lot of sunlight and temperatures quickly rise, usually in May. Southern Norway starts to see warmer temperatures as early as April and daylight also starts to increase. May, in particular, is a good time to visit as temperatures are warm enough to enjoy time outside, but it's not overly crowded with tourists.
What to pack: Packing for a spring trip to Norway can be tricky. Snow might still blanket many parts of the country, but in the south temperatures are warming up. In general, you'll still want plenty of warm clothes—sweaters, jeans, waterproof shoes—as well as a waterproof jacket or anorak.
Summer in Norway
Come summer, high temperatures in Norway are usually in the high 60s to low 70s Fahrenheit (20 to 22 degrees Celsius), but can rise into the mid-80s Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius), even farther north. The best time to go to Norway is early summer, especially in the months of June and July. This is also Norway's peak tourist season, so while all the sights and attractions will be open, you will see some crowds. July tends to be warmest.
What to pack: In the summer, jeans and T-shirts are appropriate during the day. At night, pack a light sweatshirt or jacket, along with a scarf.
Fall in Norway
For travelers, the quietest (and likely cheapest) month in Norway is October. The summer is over, but the ski season hasn't started yet. October can be cold and many outdoor attractions have begun to close, though. September is also a great month to visit as it's shoulder season—you'll find lower rates, and the weather in Norway will still be mild enough for outdoor activities and sightseeing.
What to pack: In the fall, the weather transitions so you can expect variable weather and, toward the end of the season, cold weather. Pack for layers that you can remove during the day if it warms up. A waterproof jacket should be your preferred outer layer. Walking and hiking shoes for sightseeing and hiking are important.
Winter in Norway
Winter in Norway can be bitterly cold, even into April. Temperatures are regularly below freezing and many parts of the country are blanketed in snow. If you love snow activities and don't mind the cold temperatures, you'll find the most snow between December and April. January and February are dark and the coldest months, so if you're heading to one of the ski areas in Norway, pick March.
What to pack: In the winter, prepare to bring many thick layers and a waterproof windbreaker or snow jacket—especially if you plan on doing any outdoor activities (like glacier walks, snowshoeing, and dog sledding) that would require boots, mittens, hats, and more.
Northern Lights in Norway
If you want to see the Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis), it's best to go to Northern Norway between October and March. Prime locations are the coasts of the Norwegian counties of Tromsø, Norway (near the North Cape). This destination provides a long, dark viewing season since it is located beyond the Arctic Circle (especially during polar nights, when there is no sunlight). The next-best location to see the northern lights is the Norwegian town Bodø.