When choosing the best time to go to Norway, you need to decide what kind of holiday you want. Do you want to experience the Northern Lights in all its glory? Or hike through epic landscapes?
Once you’re prepared for the weather and plan ahead, you can have the perfect vacation. Here’s our guide to deciding when to travel to Norway.
High Season: mid-June to mid-August
Best time to visit Norway for hiking and outdoor activities
As you might expect, accommodation and transport often booked out in advance during Norway’s short high season – plan your itinerary carefully and be prepared for crowds. However, accommodation prices are generally cheaper during high season (except in tourist hotspots like Lofoten), making it a great time to travel for budget travelers.
There are no guarantees with the weather in Norway. Although these are the hottest months and it is often warm and sunny, spells of rain and cold can happen so be prepared.
Shoulder Season: May - mid-June, mid-August to September
Best time to visit Norway’s fjords
With fewer visitors and temperatures generally still mild, this can be a popular time to travel. However, accommodation prices can be high, except on weekends. If you’re planning to attend one of the many festivals, book accommodation well in advance.
Low Season: October to April
Best time to visit Norway for Northern Lights
Be prepared for the possibility of bitterly cold weather anytime between October and April. In much of Norway, attractions may be closed and you’ll have short hours of daylight. However, if you’re watching your wallet, seasonal accommodation deals are often available.
The possibility of seeing the Northern Lights means the seasons can be flipped in the far north where you might find steeper accommodation prices.
Here's a monthly guide to what you can expect during the year in Norway. All events are subject to change.
Despite bitterly cold temperatures, January is a popular time for snowmobiling, dog-sledding and seeing the Northern Lights. By the end of January, the sun has returned to much of mainland Norway.
Key events: Northern Lights Festival
Generally Norway's coldest month, February is ideal for viewing the Northern Lights, joining winter activities and experiencing two celebrations that capture the spirit of the Norwegian winter. Booking ahead is recommended, especially in northern Norway.
Key events: Polar Jazz festival, Sami Week, Rørosmartnan
Days are lengthening as Norway awakes from its reluctant slumber with a full program of festivals (celebrating either winter's end or traditional Norwegian activities). It's one of the most popular months for visiting Svalbard. Easter among the indigenous Sami people in Kautokeino sees celebrations to mark the end of the polar night, with weddings, reindeer racing, the Sami Grand Prix (actually a yoik – a rhythmic-poem contest) and other traditional events.
Key events: Sami Easter, Sunfest, Finnmarksløpet
April has surprisingly few festivals of note and represents something of a breathing space between the end-of-winter celebrations and action-packed Norwegian summers. The weather is improving and few tourists are around. Birders will want to be close to Runde in April as an estimated 100,000 breeding pairs of puffins arrive to nest and don't leave until late July.
Key events: Stavanger Vinfest, Nidaros Blues Festival
Norway has a real spring in its step: the weather's warming up, Norway's renowned music festivals get underway and tourists have yet to arrive in great numbers.
Key events: Constitution Day, Bergen International Festival, Alta Blues & Soul Festival, Codstock
The main tourist season begins in earnest and it's always worth booking ahead for accommodation. Some of Norway's best festivals take place and the weather can be mild and clear, although poor weather is possible. June is the best month for whale-watching in Vesterålen and birdwatching in Varanger.
Key events: Viking Festival, Middle Ages Festival, Midnight Sun Marathon, Norwegian Wood
July is the peak tourist season throughout most of Norway, with the year's best weather and cheapest prices for hotels. Tourist sights can be crowded and we strongly recommend advance reservations for accommodation.
Key events: Mountain Festival, St Olav Festival, Trænafestivalen, Moldejazz
August is the scene of music festivals across all genres. The weather should be fine and cheaper high-season prices continue, although in some cases only until the middle of the month. Book ahead.
Key events: Rauma Rock, Notodden Blues Festival, Norwegian International Film Festival, Øya Festival
The crowds have largely disappeared, but so have most of the cheaper summer deals; in some areas, many hotels and restaurants actually close down. In short, it's a quieter but often more expensive time to visit.
Key events: Dyrsku'n Festival, Nordic Light Photo Festival
Summer is a distant memory and by the end of October, the months-long polar night begins in Svalbard. Temperatures have begun to drop and business travelers far outnumber those traveling for pleasure.
Key events: Bergen International Film Festival, UKA, Dark Season Blues
A quiet month for tourism in Norway with the winter chill starting to bite and the daylight hours getting shorter but many winter activities still yet to begin. November is usually the month when whales begin arriving in the waters around Tromsø.
Winter is very much underway with a Christmas–New Year peak season for travelers looking to spend their Christmas holidays in the north – advance bookings are required. Most winter activities are in full swing.
You may also like:
Oslo to Bergen: Europe's best train journey?
Discover the secret to the Lofoten Islands' beauty
Will this self-driving ferry in Norway revolutionize public transport?