Optimal Season to Travel to Norway
If you are considering traveling to Norway, the first thing to consider is what kind of vacation you want. Do you want to catch sight of the spectacular Northern Lights or explore stunning landscapes on foot?
Once you are ready to face the weather and plan ahead, you can have the perfect getaway. Here is our comprehensive guide to help you decide when to travel to Norway.
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High Season: Mid-June to Mid-August
Best time to visit Norway for hiking and outdoor activities
During Norway's short high season, which typically lasts from mid-June to mid-August, accommodation and transport fill up quickly. So, it's vital to plan your itinerary carefully and be prepared for crowds. However, accommodation prices are generally cheaper during this period, except in tourist hotspots like Lofoten, making it a great time to travel for budget-conscious travelers. The weather is often warm and sunny, but spells of rain and cold can occur, so it is essential to pack accordingly.
Shoulder Season: May to Mid-June, Mid-August to September
Best time to visit Norway's fjords
During the shoulder season, which lasts from May to mid-June and from mid-August to September, there are fewer visitors, and temperatures are generally mild. However, accommodation prices tend to be high, particularly on weekends. Suppose you plan on attending one of the many festivals held in Norway during this time. In that case, it's best to book your accommodation well in advance. This period is a perfect time to visit Norway's fjords, providing you with a chance to beat the crowds.
Low Season: October to April
Best time to visit Norway for Northern Lights
The low season in Norway lasts from October to April and can bring brutally cold weather. Many attractions may close during this period, and daylight hours are relatively short in most parts of Norway. However, if you're on a tight budget, seasonal accommodation deals are often available. The Northern Lights are visible during this time, making it an excellent opportunity to catch this awe-inspiring natural phenomenon. Please note, in the far north of Norway, accommodation charges tend to be higher during the northern lights season.
Below is a monthly guide to highlight what you can expect during your stay in Norway. Do keep in mind that some events may be subject to change.
The Northern Lights is one of Norway's biggest tourist attractions. Image credit: Tsuguliev/Shutterstock
January is a popular time for snowmobiling, dog-sledding, and sightseeing the Northern Lights, despite the bitterly cold temperatures. The sun starts to return to much of mainland Norway at the end of January. Key events: Northern Lights Festival.
February is Norway's coldest month, making it an ideal time for viewing the Northern Lights, experiencing winter activities, and partaking in two winter celebrations typical of Norwegian culture. It's best to book ahead, particularly if you plan on visiting Northern Norway. Key events: Polar Jazz Festival, Sami Week, Rørosmartnan.
In February, northern Norway takes part in a week-long Saami cultural celebration that includes the unique activity of reindeer racing. As March comes around, Norway awakens from its winter slumber and starts gearing up for a slew of festivals that either mark the end of the winter season or showcase traditional Norwegian practices. Svalbard becomes one of the most frequented destinations during this time of the year. In Kautokeino, indigenous Sami people celebrate Easter with weddings, reindeer racing, and the Sami Grand Prix - a yoik contest featuring rhythmic poetry and other age-old customs.
April provides a calm break between the festivities of winter's end and Norway's bustling summer months. The weather gradually improves and tourists remain scarce. Fans of bird-watching can observe an estimated 100,000 breeding pairs of puffins in the Runde area from April to late July. Stavanger Vinfest and Nidaros Blues Festival come up as the key events of this month.
May marks the start of Norway's lively music festival season and mild weather makes it an ideal time to visit. Tourists are yet to arrive in great numbers. Five significant events, including Constitution Day and Alta Blues & Soul Festival, occur during this month.
June announces the commencement of the main tourist season and accommodations need to be reserved beforehand. Some of Norway’s grandest festivals are held during this month and the weather is mostly pleasant, although occasional bouts of unfavorable conditions may occur. Whale-watching in Vesterålen and bird-watching in Varanger become popular activities at this time. Viking Festival, Middle Ages Festival, and Norwegian Wood mesmerize visitors with their unique charm.
July sees the highest volume of tourists in Norway, lured by the best weather of the year and reasonable hotel prices. The crowds can be overwhelming, so advance bookings for accommodation are highly recommended. Four major festivals mark this month.
August is the month of music festivals, covering broad genres. The nice weather continues and high-season prices still remain light on the pocket. However, the high-season prices may only continue until the middle of the month in certain cases, and booking ahead is essential.
September is a relatively quiet month in Norway. The bulk of the crowd has dispersed and prices begin to rise. In fact, in some regions, hotels and restaurants shut down during this month. Two major events jot down this month.
In October, summer is a distant memory with dropping temperatures and polar nights beginning by month-end in Svalbard. Business travelers outnumber those who travel for pleasure. Bergen International Film Festival, UKA, and Dark Season Blues are the noteworthy events of the month.
November brings winter and its own enchantments to Norway.
As the winter chill takes hold and the daylight hours dwindle, November brings a quieter season for tourism in Norway. However, there are still plenty of winter activities waiting to begin. This month marks the anticipated arrival of whales in the waters surrounding Tromsø, a spectacle not to be missed.
Looking ahead to December, the winter season is in full swing, with a peak in Christmas and New Year's travel. Adventurous travelers seeking a holiday in the north should plan ahead and make advance bookings.
For those looking for more travel inspiration, check out these three articles: "Europe's Best Train Journey" covering the Oslo to Bergen route, the beauty of the Lofoten Islands, and the innovative self-driving ferry in Norway that might revolutionize public transport.
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