When to travel to Norway: weather and seasons
Many people expect Norway’s climate to be bitterly cold, but although it occupies almost the same degrees of latitude as Alaska, Norway has a much warmer climate thanks to the Norwegian Current (the northeastern extension of the Gulf Stream). Despite its northerly location, the climate in Norway is temperate, resulting from the warming effects of the Gulf Stream flowing along its coast.
A variable climate geographically
Norway’s climate varies considerably from coastal to inland areas. This is really important to note. The coastal regions have a climate with relatively mild winters (7 to -4°C) and cool summers (12 to 20°C). The interior highlands have an Arctic type of climate in winter (-10 to -15°C) with snow, strong winds and severe frosts, but during fine summer spells the daytime temperatures can rise above 30°C (86°F) with long hours of sunshine.
The regions to the east of the mountains (including Oslo) have a more continental climate with less precipitation, and enjoy more sunshine and usually warmer summers; precipitation is highest in summer and early autumn (often heavy showers not lasting long) while winter and spring tend to be driest inland.
Western Norway has a marine climate, with comparatively cool summers, mild winters, and nearly 90 inches (2,250 mm) of mean annual precipitation. That’s wet! Gales,rain and cloud are likely along the west coast, particularly in winter, and the rainfall is frequent and heavy.
Spring is the season when the temperature differences between the southern and northern part of the country is largest; this is also the time of year when daytime and night time temperatures differ the most. The warmest temperature ever recorded in Norway is 35°C. The coldest temperature ever recorded is -51°C. Oslo’s average yearly temperature ranges from about 5°C (41°F) in January to 28°C (82°F) in July. March, April and early May are the wet spring months when roads are buckled due to thaws and refreezes; through this period the temperature slowly lifts from about 4°C to 16°C.
Summer in Norway is defined as the period in the year with a 24-hour average temperature of at least 10 °C; by this definition summer starts May 12 in Oslo and Bergen, and June 11 in Bardufoss. Newly-arrived foreign travelers in Norway are advised to bring warm clothing, especially during the summer.
Summer tourism is focused on climate-dependent outdoor activities, including mountain hiking, fishing, rafting, and traveling to view fjords and glaciers. In summertime – the season of the midnight sun – Oslo has average temperatures in the low to mid 20s°C, while the midnight sun lit north has a pleasant hiking temperature of around 20°C.
The Land of the Midnight Sun
The northern third portion of Norway is known as “The Land of the Midnight Sun”, because this portion of Norway lies above the Arctic Circle where the sun shines for a whole 24 hours during summer, from the middle of May to July. There is continuous daylight at midsummer, and twilight all day during winter. Even as far south as Trondheim there is no "real" night during June and July.
During summer, when the sea winds from the west are cooler, they cool down the coast more than the inland. Therefore, the inland valleys of the southeast are the warmest during the summer, and more rain falls along the coastline than the inland. The lowland area around Oslo is actually the driest and warmest part of the country in summer. Inland vallys and the innermost fjord areas have less wind and see the warmest summer days; the Oslofjord lowland is warmest with July 24hr average of 17 °C, but even Alta at 70°N has a July average of 13.
During autumn the land areas lose more heat than the sea, and eventually the coastal areas have the highest temperatures. October is the time for autumn rains as temperatures dip below 10°C, then continue slipping towards zero. Up north, except on the coast, it’s a different story, with sub-zero temperatures reigning for months and many roads shut over winter due to long-term snow.
Winter in Norway: a serious business but a great time to visit!
Winter in Norway can be a serious business. When it comes to the normal temperatures in winter, there are two main features to note: firstly, the average temperatures in the winter months are above freezing all along the coast from Lista (Vest-Agder) to the Lofoten area (Nordland). The islands in southern Lofoten, to the north of the Arctic Circle in North Norway, are the most northerly locations in the world where all winter months have mean temperatures above 0 °C.
Secondly, the lower inland areas, both in the southern and northern part of Norway, have very low average temperatures in winter. The Finnmark Plateau is the coldest area with mean monthly temperatures around -15 °C. The lowest temperature ever measured in Norway is -51,4 °C, recorded on January 1st 1886 at Karasjok on the Finnmark Plateau. Because of very low winter temperatures and high summer temperatures, the Finnmark Plateau has the largest recorded difference between the highest and lowest temperature recorded.
Areas in Norway located north of the Arctic Circle may have summer midnight sun but they have corresponding winter darkness, the length of both depending on the latitude. The winter darkness is not totally dark on the mainland; there is twilight for a few hours around noon in Tromsø, but in Longyearbyen there is near total darkness in the midst of the dark period.
Climate in Norway (Oslo)
Fahrenheit and centigrade, inches and millimetres, average values.
|Average High |
|Average Low |
|Average Monthly Precipitation (Inches)||4.3||4.4||2.7||2.5||1.5||0.8||0.2||0.2||1.0||3.1||4.5||4.3||2.5|
|Average High |
|Average Low |
|Average Monthly Precipitation (mm)||110.0||111.0||69.0||64.0||39.0||21.0||5.0||6.0||26.0||80.0||114.0||108.0||62.75|
|Average Relative Humidity (%)||80.0||78.0||71.0||69.0||66.0||66.0||63.0||61.0||67.0||72.0||77.0||79.0||70.75|
Our other Norway pages:
Useful facts, dates and links to help you plan your tour of Norway