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Winter in Norway

Let it snow!

Kirketaket in Åndalsnes .
Photo: Haakon Lundkvist
Kirketaket in Åndalsnes .
Photo: Haakon Lundkvist

Wintertime is fun time! Although the days are shorter, you can go skiing or try many other fun outdoor activities. In the Arctic, whale safaris and northern lights adventures await. “The Viking season” gives you an opportunity to experience the fjords without the crowds.

In winter, much of Norway transforms into a snow-clad paradise. That provides ideal opportunities for exciting activities in the snowy landscape. Skiing plays a key role in Norwegian culture and history. During winter, people of all ages head to ski resorts, forests, and mountains to enjoy powdery snow, excellent slopes, and groomed cross-country trails.

You can also do many fun activities without skis, like snowshoeing, dog sledging, and whale watching. Or maybe you want to go for a tranquil fjord cruise, where you can enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains reflected in the water?

Winter is also a great time to experience some of the world’s most beautiful train journeys, without the crowds. In November and December, you can visit charming Christmas markets all around the country.

A person snowshoeing under the northern lights in Tromsø, Northern Norway
Snowshoeing in Tromsø.
Photo: Kari Schibevaag / Visit Tromso

The northern lights

Winter nights are long throughout Norway. From the middle of November until the end of January, the sun doesn’t rise at all, or just briefly peaks out over the horizon, in most parts of Northern Norway. However, it is far from pitch dark all the time, and the snow lightens the landscape in a very poetic way. On clear days, especially in the southern part of this region, you might experience several hours of daylight and some beautiful sunset colours, while the sky to the north is a deep midnight blue. In Bodø and Lofoten, the sun only remains completely below the horizon for about a month.

If you're lucky, the northern lights might dance above your head! They are most commonly seen in the north, but can on rare occasions be spotted throughout Norway. October to March are the best months to try to catch this magical light show.

In southern Norway, you can expect between six and eight hours of daylight during the winter months.

Book your northern lights adventure with Hurtigruten or see more northern lights holiday offers.

Local weather and climate

In winter, the average temperature in Norway is -6.8 degrees Celsius, but the local conditions may vary quite a lot. Around Oslo, snowfall is common and the average winter temperatures are just below zero.

The lower inland areas of Finnmark, Troms, Trøndelag, and Eastern Norway often have very cold winters with lots of snow.

The inland areas of Northern Norway have an Arctic climate with snow and cold temperatures. However, the climate is usually much milder in coastal areas, thanks to the Gulf Stream. Strong winds occur frequently.

The coastal areas of Fjord Norway and Southern Norway also enjoy a milder climate, with temperatures around 0 degrees Celsius at sea level. However, much of the region is snowy and cold, which makes for good skiing conditions, especially in the mountains.

Winter in Norway.
Photo: Ismaele Tortella / Finn-Erik Rognan, Maverix / VisitNorway.com

Winter climate

The climate varies greatly from region to region in this long country. Along the coast, temperatures usually stay around zero degrees Celsius. Inland, the temperatures are mostly lower and might sink down to 10-20 degrees below zero Celsius. Some places can even experience an bone chilling minus 40 degrees Celsius!

How to dress for winter weather

In Norway, some winters are very cold and some are mild. Dressing for outdoor activities depends on what you are doing and where you are doing it.

Dress warmly and in layers. Use wool rather than cotton or polyester as an inner layer, and make sure you can protect yourself from getting wet and being caught in the wind. A wind and waterproof jacket will come in handy as you might experience rain. If you are not going to be very active, a thick down jacket and snow pants combined with thermal underwear will keep you nice and warm.

Remember that the wind chill factor will make you feel much colder than the actual temperature indicates. This effect increases as the wind speed increases.

Winter is the best time of year to perfect the noble art of kos, with lots of candles and a warm, crackling fireplace. And you are usually never far from a steaming, hot sauna!

Get the latest weather forecast

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Check the local weather forecast at Yr.no, delivered by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Download Yr’s free weather app for iOS or Android.

Seasonal food and drink

Fresh seafood is at its best in the winter. The end of January also marks the start of the skrei season, when the Arctic cod migrates from the Barents Sea to the warmer waters around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn.

Dishes based on fish, mutton, pork, or deer are popular Christmas foods and can be found at many restaurants in the run-up to the holiday season. If you are feeling adventurous, you should sample some traditional Norwegian dishes like smalahove (sheep’s head, it's true, honest), lutefisk (cod soaked in lye) and pinnekjøtt (dried, salted and steamed sheep ribs). Don't worry though, supermarkets are well-stocked with a variety of international foods, and you can find delicious restaurants for every taste. 

Northern Lights

Dark winter nights light up when Aurora Borealis dances across the sky.

Northern lights over Reine in Lofoten .
Photo: Alex Conu / Visitnorway.com
Northern lights over Reine in Lofoten .
Photo: Alex Conu / Visitnorway.com

Skiing

Cross-country, alpine or ski touring? Ride the wintery slopes and enjoy the view!

Alpine skiing at Strandafjellet .
Photo: Haavard Myklebust / Strandafjellet / Fjord Norway
Alpine skiing at Strandafjellet .
Photo: Haavard Myklebust / Strandafjellet / Fjord Norway

Fun things to do without skis

Try these winter activities, from dog sledding to relaxing in a steaming hot sauna!

Tobogganing at Mount Hoven in Loen .
Photo: Bård Basberg / Loen Skylift
Tobogganing at Mount Hoven in Loen .
Photo: Bård Basberg / Loen Skylift

Explore winter in Norway

How do you like to enjoy the glittering snow?

Top Christmas destinations

Get into the holiday spirit!

Santa Claus at Savalen .
Photo: Savalen
Santa Claus at Savalen .
Photo: Savalen

More seasonal adventures

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