Each of the four seasons in Norway has its own personality, and there are few places in the world where the variation in climate is more striking. If you are really lucky, you can experience all four seasons on the same day.
Due to the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream, Norway has a much milder climate than other places in the world located at the same latitude, such as Siberia, Greenland and Alaska. This lends most of the southern regions and the coast a temperate climate with cold winters and plenty of snow, and relatively dry and comfortably warm summers, meaning it is truly a place of four seasons. If you can’t decide which time of the year to plan your journey, read Hurtigruten’s season guide below, with the on-board activities, the waters sailed in, restaurant menus and shore excursions changing come spring, summer, autumn or winter.
Season: March to May
Springtime is Norway’s scenery at it’s most spectacular. As Mother Nature wakes up from her long winter sleep, the fruit trees begin to bloom in the fjords, the migratory birds that fled in the cooler months return to nest (so birdwatchers be sure to pack your binoculars and keep your eyes peeled for white-tailed eagles, gyrfalcons, Atlantic puffins and Arctic sea ducks), the melting snow means waterfalls start thundering at full force and the streets become abuzz with activity as the locals emerge to make the most of the longer days and warmer weather. If fresh produce is your idea of heaven, farmers markets start to crop up all over the country come March, alongside a number of fantastic food festivals.
- Melting water means powerful and majestic waterfalls
- Longer days give you more time to see and experience the white wonderland in the north (March and April are also the best months for snow north of the Arctic Circle)
- Prime time for ice and sea fishing, as well as diving (the water starts to get warmer but still retains the crystal-clear visibility characterised by winter)
- There is still a chance of seeing the Northern Lights
Season: June to August
Through the summer months, visitors can experience a very special phenomenon: the glorious Midnight Sun. The days are long and balmy, and if you head north of the Arctic Circle, they never end (with the sun hanging just above the horizon throughout the night). This is also the ideal time of year to enjoy all the active pursuits on offer, with adventure tourism in Norway being very much at the forefront, from world-class hiking and white water rafting to cycling and caving. Water temperatures in the sea and the many inland and forest lakes usually reach 18 degrees or higher, making swimming a popular pastime.
- Long or never-ending days means plenty of time for activities
- Exciting outdoors excursions in stunning sceneries
- Lush landscapes and mild temperatures
- All the man-made attractions are open and public transport services are more frequent
Season: September to November
As the days grow shorter and the air crisper, the landscapes of Norway transform with the warm colours of autumn. If you prefer to do your exploring in relative peace, this is a great time to discover the coastline as the summer crowd disperses yet the weather remains pleasant, and mid- or low-season rates begin to come into effect, so there are good-value deals aplenty. What’s more, this is the season for cultural pursuits – think art exhibitions, literature festivals and intimate concerts at clubs and bars – and the Norwegian concept of “kos” (the kind of instant happiness you get when you feel safe, warm, and good together) is more pronounced than ever come fall.
- Sail into enchanting fjords like Trollfjord and Hjørundfjord
- Crystal-clear crisp air, and chances to see Northern Lights above the Arctic Circle
- The best season for hiking
- Experience coastal Norway at its most colourful
Season: December to February
Come ‘Viking season’, most of Norway turns into a snow-clad paradise. There are many ways to enjoy this magnificent white wonderland, from cosying up next to a fire in a log cabin to a long list of winter sports (such as skiing, tobogganing, skating, ice fishing, ice climbing, dog sledding and more), but undoubtedly the most popular activity for tourists is chasing those elusive Northern Lights. After witnessing the magical light show, consider lingering longer, as whale watching opportunities abound and charming Christmas markets deck the streets during the festive season.
- Discover wild and untamed Norwegian winter scenery and snow-covered landscapes
- Explore the vast wilderness by snowmobile, dog sled or cross-country skiing
- Experience polar nights above the Arctic Circle
- The Hurtigruten Northern Lights Promise: If the Northern Lights don’t appear during your aurora season cruise, receive a six- or seven-day ‘Classic Voyage’ free of charge.
This article was produced with content supplied by Hurtigruten and is a Signature Luxury Travel & Style digital exclusive. Be the first to see more exclusive online content by subscribing to the enewsletter here.
Lead image: Hamnøy on a polar night © Piotr Krzeslak