The best time to visit Norway depends on what you wish to experience. The variety of events, adventures and wildlife viewing opportunities definitely shift with the seasons here. While the winters are cold and dark, that doesn’t stop Norwegians from hitting the ski slopes, slipping on their snowshoes or grabbing their fishing poles for some ice fishing under the northern lights. The summers are bustling but are ideal for outdoor adventures that take advantage of the never-setting sun. Spring and fall also throw in their own nature-inspired surprises. No matter what time of year you visit, this Scandinavian country does not disappoint!
Weather in Norway
Spring (March to May)
As in most places, spring weather in Norway is slightly hard to predict. In general, though, you can expect the days to stretch longer and the temperatures to grow steadily warmer, usually hovering in the 30s and 40s. During a Norwegian spring, there’s an equal chance of waking up to a fresh coat of snow and opening your eyes to find a warm, sunny day!
Summer (June to August)
The summer months in Norway are famous for the midnight sun. (During June and July, the sun literally never sets.) Average temperatures depend on where you are. The north hangs around 46 to 61 degrees, while the south is usually between 55 and 72 degrees.
Fall (September to November)
Like spring, fall in Norway is a bit of a mixed bag. Lingering summerlike days occasionally fill the forecast, but so do windy, rain-filled hints of the winter soon to come. All in all, expect crisp autumn air and average temperatures in the 40s to 50s.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Norway is (unsurprisingly) quite cold. The country’s interior sees the coldest temperatures (sometimes as low as 40 below), and the coastline hovers around the freezing point. Expect long nights and short days, especially above the Arctic Circle.
This rare long-haired creature is one of the planet’s oldest mammals. To see a musk ox, you’ll have to visit Norway’s Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park. They frequently can be found grazing here, especially during June to September.
Whales frequent Norway’s Vesterålen coast each summer. The most common whale to make an appearance is the sperm whale, but pilot whales, minke whales, humpbacks and killer whales aren’t uncommon either.
Birds (Puffins, Cormorants, Kittiwakes, Guillemots, Sea Eagles and More)
Norway is a bird watcher’s paradise. The best bird-watching spots are in the mountainous areas and along the coastline, while northern Norway is home to Europe’s largest population of white-tailed eagles.
Red King Crab
This monster of a crab can be found off the coast of Finnmark in the Barents Sea. Some king crabs measure as long as six and a half feet from claw to claw and can weigh up to 33 pounds. They’re as intriguing to look at as they are to eat!
Backroads Pro Tip
For the freshest red king crab, head to Kirkenes. In this town, riverboats can be hired to take you out to the open ocean to catch your own. They’ll then prepare and cook your daily catch right in front of you.
This natural phenomenon occurs during Norway’s summer or late spring months. North of the Arctic Circle, the sun literally never sets for weeks at a time. The best place to experience the Norwegian midnight sun is at the North Cape (Nordkapp).
Norway also experiences the opposite of the midnight sun—polar nights. During this phenomenon, 24 hours of darkness befall Norway’s northern regions for a few weeks of the year. The cities of Hammerfest and Tromso in northern Norway are both great places to experience a textbook polar night.
Your best chance of spotting the northern lights in Norway is along the North Cape in Tromso. (The long polar nights here make for great viewing conditions.) It’s possible to spot the lights as far south as Trondheim, but it’s rarer in these areas.
Chances are your trip to Norway will align with at least one of its more than 900 annual festivals. Here are a few to consider attending:
Norway’s National Day
Norway’s National Day is one of the biggest celebrations of the year. It’s a day full of parades, marching bands, traditional costumes and ice cream. It takes place on May 17, and it commemorates the day Norway’s constitution was signed in 1814.
Nordlysfestivalen (Northern Lights Festival)
Taking place at the end of January, the Northern Lights Festival is a celebration of music in every form, and it’s enjoyed both indoors and out in the city of Tromsø. The music doesn’t stop for 10 straight days.
Riddu Riđđu Festival
The Riddu Riđđu Festival pays homage to the Sami, an indigenous people of northern Scandinavia. Their vibrant culture is celebrated every July in northern Troms with films, music, literature and performances.
Norway’s high season falls during the summer from June to August so it can get busy in this outdoor playground of a country. If you don’t mind sharing trails and sidewalks with others, then the high season is actually one of the best times of year to visit thanks to the warmer weather and the chance to experience Norway’s midnight sun. For even fewer crowds, the winter is a great option, especially if your top priority is to indulge in Norway’s plethora of winter sports.
Almost as soon as winter transitions to spring, the hiking trails are flooded with locals anxious to reclaim their walking paths. While the summer months deliver the longest days, spring and autumn bring their own hiking treats, from fields in bloom to landscapes tinged with red, orange and yellow.
Due to its mix of topography and bike-friendly infrastructure, Norway is quickly becoming one of Europe’s top biking destinations. As with hiking, the best time to take advantage of Norway’s scenic and varied terrain is during the summer (from June to August).
From traditional alpine to cross-country, this nation offers plenty of skiing opportunities! Norway’s high-altitude ski resorts are open nearly year round, and if you head up to the glaciers, you might even find a skiable run or two in the summer months as well.
Backroads Pro Tip
Outdoor activities in Norway are full of tradition and ritual. For example, peek inside the daypack of a Norwegian, and you’ll likely find a few oranges, a thermos filled to the brim with hot chocolate or black currant toddy (in the winter months) and a packed lunch (mapakke, as it’s known locally).
Travel to Norway with Backroads
Backroads offers numerous ways to experience the very best of Norway on our award-winning active travel adventures. Explore this country in the best and most genuine way possible—away from the crowds, buses and tourist hot spots. We hope you'll join us! Check out our full list of Norway adventures here.