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A football field on an island in Lofoten with snow-clad mountains in the horizon
Iconic Norway.
Photo: Grim Berge / Sven-Erik Knoff / Natural Light Earth

Winter in Norway

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

In winter, much of Norway usually transforms into a snow-clad paradise. That means ideal opportunities for exciting activities in the snowy landscape. Skiing has a special place in Norwegian culture and history. During the winter season, people of all ages head to ski resorts, forests, and mountains to enjoy powdery snow, slick 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 vistas 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.

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 usually lower and might reach 10-20 degrees below zero Celsius. A few places can even experience an extremely frigid minus 40 degrees Celcius!

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. 

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.

Get the latest weather forecast

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Weather forecast from Yr, delivered by the Norwegian Meteorological Institute and the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK). Download Yr’s free weather app for iOS or Android.

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 might 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.

How to dress for winter weather

Winters in Norway can be very cold, even though they are occasionally also mild. Dressing for outdoor activities therefore depends on what you are doing and where you are doing it.

Dress warmly and in layers. Use wool rather than cotton or polyester, 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 in coastal areas, where 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. 

Also remember that the wind chill factor will make you feel much colder than the actual temperature would otherwise indicate. This effect increases as the wind speed increases. 

Don’t forget that winter is the best time of year to learn 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!

Seasonal food and drink

Most people think of seafood such as prawns, langoustine, blue mussels, scallop, and lobster as summer delicacies, but the fact is that they are actually in season in winter, when quality and flavour is at its highest.

Fresh fish is also at its best in the winter. Many restaurants in Norway offer cod, halibut, salmon, and trout of the highest quality at this time. The end of January also marks the start of the “skrei” season, when the Arctic cod migrates from the Barents Sea to the slightly warmer waters around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn. 

Dishes based on fish, mutton, pork, or deer are popular Christmas food and can be found at many restaurants in the run-up to the holiday season. Some traditional Norwegian dishes you should sample, if you are feeling adventurous, are smalahove (sheep’s head), lutefisk (cod soaked in lye) and pinnekjøtt (dried, salted and steamed sheep ribs).

Skiing in Norway

Snow conditions

Get the latest update on snow conditions and weather reports from ski resorts.

Things to do in Norway in winter

Christmas in Norway

Our other three seasons

Take advantage of top offers

See our selection of companies that work hard to make you happy all through your trip.

More winter activities

There is no need to wait until you’re here to find out what you’d like to do. Filter your search and check out the offers below.

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