Norway is a Nordic country, but it is affected by the Gulf Stream, so its climate is not as cold as you might think, especially along the west coast. However, the country is very extended in latitude, and it has a rugged coastline, plateaus and mountain ranges, so there are different climates to be taken into account.
The ocean, whose surface temperature remains a few degrees above freezing even in winter, tempers the winter weather, while it remains cool in summer, so it reduces the annual temperature range along the coast. On the contrary, in the interior the influence of the sea is far less evident, and this happens also because in Norway there are almost no plains, so the mountain ranges hinder the penetration of mild currents coming from the sea.
The following map shows the climate zones in Norway.

Norway climate zones

The west coast

The west coast has a cool and wet climate, characterized by the frequent passage of weather fronts over the area, so much so that clouds, rain and wind dominate throughout the year.


During winter, the temperature remains slightly above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F) in the southern part; for example, Bergen, the second largest city in the country, has an average temperature in January and February around 2 °C (35.5 °F). Precipitation does not always occur in the form of snow, but it often occurs in the form of a continuous and cold drizzle.
The sea, which in winter makes the air milder, during summer cools down the air, to the point that the maximum temperatures along the west coast in July and August are around 15 °C (59 °F) and the minimum temperatures around 10 °C (50 °F). However, if you move a few kilometers (or miles) inland, you can experience an increase in daytime temperatures, which can rise by a few degrees, and this happens in Bergen and other towns located not directly on the ocean coast, but inside a fjord.
Here are the average temperatures in Bergen.
Bergen - Average temperatures
Min (°C)0-11371012129731
Max (°C)446914171817141175
Min (°F)323034374550545448453734
Max (°F)393943485763646357524541

Precipitation is quite common along the western slope. In the southern area, it is also abundant: in Bergen the average annual precipitation is about 2,200 millimeters (87 inches), but in cities located at the foot of the hills it can exceed 3,000 mm (118 in).
Here is the average precipitation in Bergen.
Bergen - Average precipitation

In Bergen and on the west coast, the sun, which is almost never seen from November to January, despite the length of the days rarely shines even in summer, as cloudy skies prevail.
Bergen - Sunshine

The temperature of the sea near Bergen is cold, but it's mild for the latitude, as we can see from the following table.
Bergen - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)76668111415131198
Temp (°F)454343434652575955524846

Moving to the north, the winter temperature gradually decreases, but the average daily temperature reaches the freezing point only around the 65th parallel, just below the Arctic Circle. It's remarkable that the Lofoten and Vesteralen Islands can sometimes experience rain instead of snow even in winter, though they are located above the Arctic Circle. Continuing to the north, the winter temperature goes down to a few degrees below freezing, and snow is frequent even along the coast, but at this point we enter in the climate area of the northern coast (as shown in the map above).
North of Bergen, along the coast, precipitation is still frequent, but it is less abundant, and drops below 1,000 mm (40 in) on the coast to the north of Trondheim, although it can still reach 2,000 mm (79 in) on the slopes near the coast, where there are hills directly exposed to the westerly winds.
The fjords of Norway, which we have already mentioned, have different microclimates depending on shape and size, and also on slope exposure, but generally, as you penetrate inland, they are less rainy throughout the year, and more continental, that is, colder in winter and warmer and sunnier in summer.


For example, the city of Trondheim, located inside a large and deep fjord that opens into the western coast, has an average temperature of -2 °C (28.5 °F) in January, and of 15 °C (59 °F) in July, and therefore it can be included in the continental climate zone, while in Kristiansund, on the west coast and at the same latitude, the average ranges from 1 °C (34 °F) in January to 13 °C (55.5 °F) in July.
Trondheim - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-5-5-2158111073-1-4
Max (°C)12481316191814942
Min (°F)232328344146525045373025
Max (°F)343639465561666457483936

In Trondheim, about 875 mm (34.5 in) of rain or snow fall per year; the wettest seasons are summer and autumn. Here is average precipitation.
Trondheim - Average precipitation

The north coast

The north coast is a bit colder than the western one, and has a subpolar oceanic climate, although a branch of the Gulf Stream arrives here as well. The result is that the open sea does not freeze even at these latitude, and this does not happen anywhere else in the world.
The average winter temperatures, however, are below freezing, and tend to decrease as we move towards the east: the average in January and February ranges from -2 °C to -6 °C (28 °F to 21 °F), from the west to the east.

North Cape

At the North Cape, in winter the temperatures are similar to those of Oslo, even though here the winter is longer. The northern coast is close enough to the Pole to be subject to polar winds, which can be furious, especially in winter and spring.
North Cape - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-6-6-4-2258852-2-4
Max (°C)-2-2-11591312951-1
Min (°F)212125283641464641362825
Max (°F)282830344148555448413430

In summer, July and August, which have an average temperature around 10 °C (50 °F), are the mildest and also the quietest months, with the lowest risk of wind. Near the Arctic Circle, you can see the midnight sun around the summer solstice (21 June), and for a period much longer as you head north. At the North Cape, the sun never sets from mid-May to late July.
At the North Cape, precipitation amounts to about 800 mm (31.5 in) per year. Summer is the least rainy season, although there are still 9/10 days with rainfall per month. Here is the average precipitation.
North Cape - Average precipitation

The following table shows the sea temperature near the North Cape: as we mentioned, the sea does not freeze even in winter.
North Cape - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)5444579109766
Temp (°F)413939394145485048454343

On the north coast too, within the fjords there's a decrease in the winter temperatures (to the point that in the deepest fjords the sea can freeze during winter) and an increase in the summer temperatures; in fact, this phenomenon is even more pronounced here than on the west coast. For example, in Lakselv, located in the southern part of a fjord, more than 120 kilometers (75 miles) away from the ocean coast, the average in January is -10 °C (14 °F), while to the north, on the ocean coast, it is just -4 °C (25 °F).


Further to the south-west we find Tromsø, which is not exactly on the oceanic coast but inside a small fjord, so the winter temperature is similar to that of the North Cape, although the city is located more to the south. In summer, however, the temperature is a bit higher (although it is still very cool). Here are the average temperatures.
Tromso - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-6-6-5-2269851-3-5
Max (°C)-1-104813161410510
Min (°F)212123283643484641342723
Max (°F)303032394655615750413432

Precipitation in Tromsø amounts to 1,080 mm (42.5 in) per year.
Tromso - Average precipitation

The sun in Tromsø never sets from May 21st to July 21st, while it never rises from November 28th to January 14th. The sun is not seen very often even in summer: in June, the sunniest month, the sun shines on average for 7 hours and a half per day, which, compared to the 24 hours available, is equivalent to about 30% of the time.
Tromso - Sunshine

The south coast

On the south-east coast of Norway, in the Skagerrak strait that separates the country from Denmark, the influence of the ocean is not as high as in the west coast. Therefore, this coast is not as humid and rainy as the area of Bergen, in addition it is a bit colder in winter, when the average temperatures are just below freezing, and warmer in summer, when highs are around 20 °C (68 °F). So, here the weather in summer can be pleasant, and you can even hope to see a bit of sunshine.


Here are the average temperatures of Kristiansand.
Kristiansand - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-5-5-21691110850-3
Max (°C)124914192019161163
Min (°F)232328344348525046413227
Max (°F)343639485766686661524337

Precipitation in Kristiansand amounts to 1,300 mm (51 in) per year, so it is quite abundant, but it's still much lower than in Bergen.
Kristiansand - Average precipitation

Inland areas

The interior of Norway has a continental climate, with cold, snowy winters and mild summers. Typically, the interior is covered with hills and mountains, and the temperature decreases with altitude, until at high elevation we find a mountain climate. The snowline in Norway is quite low, about 1,500 meters (5,000 feet).
In the center-east of Norway, on the border with Sweden, ie the northern part of Hedmark and in the eastern part of Sør-Trøndelag, the climate has very marked continental characteristics. This happens both because of the distance from the sea and of the position on the eastern side. In addition, since this area is occupied by a plateau, between 500 and 1,000 meters (1,600 and 3,300 feet) above sea level, there is the influence of the altitude. Here, during winter the temperature can drop below -40 °C (-40 °F).


The coldest area of the country is the Norwegian part of Lapland, which corresponds to the southern part of the Finnmark County. Here the winter is really frigid, in fact the temperature can drop to -50 °C (-58 °F) in the worst moments. Summer is short but intense: in the three months, during which the temperature rises above freezing even at night, the vegetation explodes, and the days are very long. Sometimes it can even get hot, and the daytime temperature can reach 30 °C (86 °F), while nigths remain cool or even cold.


Here are the average temperatures of Karasjok, in the Finnmark county, considered as the capital of Lapland. Here the temperature dropped to -51 °C (-60 °F) in January 1999.
Karasjok - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-23-22-17-9-15862-5-14-21
Max (°C)-12-10-41715181592-5-10
Min (°F)-9-81163041464336237-6
Max (°F)101425344559645948362314

In this area, precipitation is much scarcer than in the rest of Norway, both because of the distance from the sea and because of the cold, in fact it does not reach 400 mm (16 in) per year. However, in summer, when temperatures rise, precipitation, which in this season occurs in the form of rain, becomes more abundant. Here is average precipitation in Karasjok.
Karasjok - Average precipitation

In Karasjok, the sun, which in winter is hardly ever seen (also because from December to mid-January it does not even rise), in summer it rarely appears, despite the length of the days (from May 20 to July 25 it never sets).
Karasjok - Sunshine


Baltic climate

The south-eastern part of Norway has a Baltic (slightly continental) climate: winters are cold, with temperatures a few degrees below freezing in the winter months, and frequent snowfall. During winter, mild air masses from the Atlantic ocean can sometimes penetrate even here, and rain may fall instead of snow, while on other occasions, cold spells due to air masses coming from Russia are possible, so much so that the temperature can drop to around -25 °C (-13 °F). The average temperature hovers around freezing in late November and early March, while it's mild in the three summer months (June, July and August), with highs around 20/22 °C (68/72 °F). Rainfall is moderate, but well distributed throughout the year, with a maximum between summer and autumn and a minimum in spring.


Like other cities of the country, Oslo, the capital, is located in a fjord, more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) deep. Here are the average temperatures.
Oslo - Average temperatures
Min (°C)-5-5-22711131284-1-5
Max (°C)004101620222116940
Min (°F)232328364552555446393023
Max (°F)323239506168727061483932

The sun in Oslo is rarely seen from November to January, while from May to August it shines for a little less than half the time (compared to the length of the days).
Oslo - Sunshine

The sea temperature in the Oslo fjord reaches 17 °C (63 °F) in July and August.
Oslo - Sea temperature
Temp (°C)544610141717151296
Temp (°F)413939435057636359544843

Northern islands

Finally, there are the northern islands.

The island of Jan Mayen, situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, has a subarctic climate.

Further to the north, we find the Svalbard archipelago, which is the northernmost part of Norway and is colder in winter.

Best Time

The best time to go to Norway is the summer, from June to August. Temperatures are very cool along the coast and in mountainous areas, and even cold along the northern coast. Sometimes it can even be a bit hot during the day, while nights remain cool. In Lapland, temperatures are a bit more variable, so it can get hot during the day, but also cold at night.
In Norway, there is a fair amount of rainy days even in summer, especially along the western coast. June is a bit cooler than July and August, but it is (relatively) drier and sunnier, and has longer days, with the white nights in the south and the midnight sun in the north.
Being that the temperature is higher and the days are longer than in the previous months, the month of March can be recommended for a ski holiday.
On the northern islands, temperatures are definitely low even in summer, but at least they are above freezing, albeit slightly.
As we mentioned, the ocean, which has a surface temperature of 5/6 °C (41/43 °F) in winter, remains cool during the summer, and reaches 15 °C (59 °F) in August at Bergen, and only 11 °C (52 °F) at Tromsø: with these temperatures, sea bathing takes a lot of courage! It goes a bit better in the Skagerrak strait and near Oslo, where the water temperature reaches 17 °C (63 °F) in July and August.

What to pack

In winter: for Oslo and for the inland and northern areas, bring very warm clothes, synthetic thermal long underwear, a fleece, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, a scarf. For the west coast, bring a sweater, a down jacket, a hat, a raincoat or umbrella.
In summer: bring spring/autumn clothes, being ready to add or remove the outer layer, a T-shirt, but also long pants, a sweatshirt or sweater; a jacket, a raincoat or umbrella.
It can be a useful to bring windbreaker and raincoat for the wind and the rain, especially along the coast and for a ferry trip in the fjords. In inland areas, in Oslo and along the southern coast, temperatures are generally mild, but a sweater for the evening is still advisable.
For the northern islands (Jan Mayen, Svalbard): bring warm clothing, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, windbreaker, a raincoat.

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