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 into the 80s. 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 -13 F) but warmer summers.
In spring, the snow melts, there's a lot of sunlight and temperatures quickly rise, usually in May. Come summer, high temperatures are usually in the high 60s to low 70s but can rise into the mid-80s, even farther north. Weather in Norway is best between May and September when it's usually mild and clear. July tends to be warmest. Winter can be bitterly cold, even into April. Temperatures can dip to below 20 F. If you love snow activities and don't mind the cold temperatures, you'll find the most snow between December and April.
Polar Lights and Midnight Sun
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.
What to Pack
When you're thinking about packing, keep in mind the season you plan on visiting Norway. In the summer, it is in the low 70s, so jeans, T-shirts, and a light sweatshirt or jacket will do with scarves for the brisk nighttime. In the winter, however, 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, dog sledding, etc.) that would require boots, mittens, hats, and more.
Before you hop off to Norway, there are a few important things to keep in mind.
- 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 sights and attractions will be open, you will see some crowds.
- May and September are great months 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.
- 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.
January and February are dark and the coldest months, so if you're heading to one of the ski areas in Norway, pick March.
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.
To learn more about if visiting Norway, check out our guide on the best time to visit.