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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” also 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, and during this fresh white season, people of all ages head to ski resorts, forests, and mountains to enjoy slick slopes and groomed tracks.

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 that reflect in the water? Winter is also a great time to experience some of the world’s most beautiful train journeys in peace. And in November and December, you can visit charming Christmas markets all around the country.

The weather and temperatures vary a lot in this long country. Along the coast temperatures usually stay around zero degrees Celsius. Inland, the temperatures are usually lower and might reach minus ten to minus twenty degrees. A few places you can even experience a chilling minus forty degrees!

Winter nights are long in all of Norway, and from the middle of November until the end of January, the sun doesn’t rise at all in parts of Northern Norway. However, the northern lights might dance above your head. They are most commonly seen in the north, but can on rare occasions be spotted all over Norway. October to March are the best months if you want to see 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

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 conditions may vary quite a lot. Around Oslo, snowfall is common and the average temperatures are just below zero.

The lower inland areas of Finnmark, Troms, Trøndelag, and Eastern Norway can have very cold winters with lots of snow. The inland areas of Northern Norway have an Arctic type of climate with snow, strong winds, and severe frost.

The coastal areas of Fjord Norway and Southern Norway enjoy a milder climate. But large parts of the region is still snowy and cold, and that means good skiing conditions, especially in the mountains.

How to dress for winter weather

Winters in Norway can be very cold, even if they aren’t always. How to dress for outdoor activities thus 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 the 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 temperature actually says, and this effect will get worse the stronger the wind. If you’re wet, hypothermia and frostbite may not be far away – unless you are well prepared and dressed.

And don’t forget that winter is the best time of year to learn the noble art of kos, with lots of candles and a warming crackle from the fireplace.

Seasonal food and drink

Most people prefer to think of seafood such as prawns, langoustine, blue mussels, scallop, and lobster as summer delicacies, but the fact is that the season is really in wintertime, when quality and flavour is at its highest.

Fresh fish is also at its best in the winter, and 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 is migrating from the Barents Sea to the slightly warmer waters around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn. Read more about Norwegian seafood

Dishes based on fish, mutton, pork, or deer is popular Christmas food and can be found at many restaurants in the run-up to the holiday season. Some traditional Norwegian dishes you should try 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

Our other three seasons

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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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