The Best Times to Visit Norway for Northern Lights Viewing, Fjord Cruising, and More

Here are the best times to visit Norway, according to travel experts.

<p>Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure</p>

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

Norway is a year-round destination known for its breathtaking fjords, dazzling northern lights, and robust Viking history. "Norway is so long and diverse, and each part of the country has its own seasonality," Torunn Tronsvang, founder of travel company Up Norway, tells Travel + Leisure. "The best time to savor Norway's diverse climates depends on travelers' preferences."

Generally speaking, summers are mild with long daylight hours, providing ample opportunity for outdoor adventures like hiking and biking. And winters might be cold and dark, but they’re ideal for northern lights viewing — plus, there's no better time to spend indoors at museums and cultural institutions. Here's a breakdown of the main tourist seasons in Norway:

  • High Season: June to August and December

  • Shoulder Seasons: September to October and April to May

  • Low Season: November and January to March

Choosing the best time of year to visit Norway depends on what you want to do during your visit — read on to find out more.

Torunn Tronsvang is the founder of Up Norway, a travel company that plans trips to the Scandinavian country.

Matthew Valentine is the head of sales for the U.S. and several other countries at Havila Voyages, a Norwegian cruise line.

<p>Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure</p>

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

Best Times to Visit for Smaller Crowds

Nobody wants to travel with crowds, but they do typically coincide with the best time of year to visit a destination, often in terms of weather, but also in terms of school holidays. In Norway, the peak seasons are summer and the holiday break in December, so you'll likely want to avoid these periods if you're looking to visit when there are smaller crowds. "The spring and autumn periods are slightly quieter than summer and holiday peaks, but Norway is just as mesmerizing and filled with nature and features to explore," says Matthew Valentine, head of U.S. sales at Havila Voyages, a Norwegian cruise line.

If you are visiting in peak season, consider heading off the beaten track to avoid crowds. With some 150,000 square miles of land in Norway, it shouldn't be too hard to find some personal space. "For an untouched gem, explore the untamed Varanger Peninsula, where solitude meets stunning landscapes throughout the year," says Tronsvang.

<p>Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure</p>

Taylor McIntyre/Travel + Leisure

Best Times to Visit for Good Weather

“Good” is quite a subjective term when it comes to weather. "Many people would argue that it depends on what you consider the best weather and what kind of adventure or experience you are looking to enjoy," says Valentine.

Since it can rain or snow throughout the year, good weather in Norway typically refers to temperature — and most commonly, people consider good weather to be warm weather. "The warmest weather is in the height of summer, which is a perfect time for hiking, exploring, and rigid inflatable boat (RIB) adventures along the stunning Norwegian coastline," says Valentine. Tronsvang is particularly partial to June weather. "June, with its perpetual daylight and blooming landscapes, offers a mild and radiant summer experience," she says.

All that said, if you want to enjoy wintry activities that require snow, such as skiing and snowmobiling, the best weather will be found in the winter months — but you'll definitely need to bundle up.

<p>Lara D'Agostino/Travel + Leisure</p>

Lara D'Agostino/Travel + Leisure

Best Times to Visit for Lower Prices

"For optimum value, steer clear of Christmas holidays and the bustling June to August period," says Tronsvang. If you visit Norway in early autumn, which is the more affordable shoulder season, you'll still benefit from warmer temperatures — and have a chance to see the northern lights, which can be seen as early as September and as late as March. But the low season of November and the post-holiday period are the cheapest times to visit. "Notably, November, though considered off-peak, boasts a unique charm with its magical play of light and is a haven for food enthusiasts seeking an authentic local experience," says Tronsvang.

Keep an eye on the exchange rate between U.S. dollars (USD) and Norwegian kroner (NOK) to help maximize your savings. "Travelers can capitalize on favorable conditions regarding the current USD to NOK exchange rate, which is at a great spot now," says Tronsvang (as of December 2023).

<p>Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure</p>

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

Best Times to Visit for the Northern Lights

Norway is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights, given its northern location on the globe. Though the northern lights technically occur year-round, you need darkness to see them. And in Norway, darkness isn't always guaranteed. Much of the country experiences extremely long daylight hours in the summer, limiting aurora viewing opportunities.

"Without a doubt, October through to March is the best time to visit if you want to see the northern lights," says Valentine. "In fact, we are so confident that the lights will make an appearance during our 11-night round-trip voyage during this period, that we offer a ‘Northern Lights Promise’’ If the lights don’t show, we will offer you a free six- or seven-night cruise the following winter."

There are also ample ways to go northern lights hunting inland, from dog sledding excursions out into the wilderness to overnight stays in glass igloos.

Related: Northern Lights, Explained: What They Are and How to See Them

<p>Lara D'Agostino/Travel + Leisure</p>

Lara D'Agostino/Travel + Leisure

Worst Times to Visit

It sounds cliché, but there truly is no bad time to visit Norway, as each month of the year provides its own perks. For instance, visiting in the "low" season might mean you're dealing with colder weather, but you get the benefit of fewer crowds and cheaper rates (and northern lights). "The Norwegians have a saying that ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing!’ says Valentine. Conversely, for some travelers, peak season might actually be the worst time to visit Norway. This is when you'll experience the largest crowds and the highest rates — not ideal for solitude-seekers who are looking for a good deal.

To ensure you're visiting Norway at the best time, really think about what kinds of activities you're looking to do. If you want to see the northern lights, for example, summer would be the worst time to visit, since they're usually not visible then.

For more Travel & Leisure news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on Travel & Leisure.