Index


Introduction



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, as well as 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, and is often affected by weather fronts coming from the Atlantic Ocean, so much so that clouds, rain, and wind dominate throughout the year.

Bergen

During winter, the temperature remains slightly above freezing (0 °C or 32 °F) in the southern part; for example, Bergen, the second largest city of 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 rises by a few degrees, and this happens in Bergen and in other towns located not directly on the ocean coast, but inside a fjord.
Here are the average temperatures in Bergen.
Bergen - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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, 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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1901501701151051301501902852702602352250
Prec.(in)7.55.96.74.54.15.15.97.511.210.610.29.388.6
Days211719171716181923242222235

In Bergen and on the west coast, the sun is almost never seen from November to January, and despite the length of the days, it shines quite rarely even in summer, as cloudy skies prevail. Here are the average sunshine hours per day in Bergen.
Bergen - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours123566553210

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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Temp (°C)76668111415131198
Temp (°F)454343434652575955524846

Moving towards the north along the coast, 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, precipitation is still frequent along the coast, 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 as well) in summer.

Trondheim

For example, the city of Trondheim, located inside a large and deep fjord that opens into the western coast, has an average temperature ranging from -2 °C (28.5 °F) in January to 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. Here are the average temperatures in Trondheim
Trondheim - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)806555455070909090807580875
Prec.(in)3.12.62.21.822.83.53.53.53.133.134.4
Days141312101112121414141314153

The north coast



The north coast of Norway 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, which 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 goes from -2 °C to -6 °C (28 °F to 21 °F) from the west to the east.

North Cape


At the North Cape, the winter is longer than in Oslo, but the temperatures of the coldest months (January and February) are similar. However, the northern coast is close enough to the Pole to be reached by polar winds, which can be furious, especially in winter and spring.
North Cape - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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 a daily 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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)9575656040404550608580100795
Prec.(in)3.732.62.41.61.61.822.43.33.13.931.3
Days18151514111091014181719170

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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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 in 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 as we have seen, on the ocean coast, at the North Cape, it is just -4 °C (25 °F).

Tromsø

South-west of the North Cape, we find Tromsø, which is not exactly on the oceanic coast but inside a small fjord. That's why 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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)110957065555580851101351001101080
Prec.(in)4.33.72.82.62.22.23.13.34.35.33.94.342.5
Days151311121110131315181416160

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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours014577753200

The south coast



On the south-east coast of Norway, in the Skagerrak strait which separates the country from Denmark, the influence of the ocean is not as high as on 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, in this area, the weather in summer can be pleasant, and you can even hope to see a bit of sunshine.

Kristiansand

Here are the average temperatures of Kristiansand.
Kristiansand - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)1208085608575901201401651651151300
Prec.(in)4.73.13.32.43.333.54.75.56.56.54.551.2
Days191516121412131718192019194

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

Lapland

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 when the temperature rises above freezing even at night, the vegetation explodes, and the days are very long. Sometimes it can even get hot, in fact, the daytime temperature can reach 30 °C (86 °F), while nigths remain cool or even cold.

Karasjok

Here are the average temperatures of Karasjok, in the Finnmark county, which is considered as the capital of Lapland. Here, the temperature dropped to -51 °C (-60 °F) in January 1999.
Karasjok - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Prec.(mm)201515152540706040352015365
Prec.(in)0.80.60.60.611.62.82.41.61.40.80.614.4
Days6555681111987687

In Karasjok, the sun is hardly ever seen in winter (also because from December to mid-January it does not even rise), while it appears quite rarely in summer as well, despite the length of the days (it never sets from May 20 to July 25).
Karasjok - Sunshine
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours014656642200

Sognefjord

Baltic climate



The south-eastern part of Norway has a Baltic (i.e. slightly continental) climate: winters are cold, with temperatures a few degrees below freezing and frequent snowfall. During winter, mild air masses from the Atlantic ocean can sometimes penetrate here as well, and rain may fall instead of snow. 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 and well distributed throughout the year, with a maximum between summer and autumn and a minimum in spring.

Oslo

Like other cities of Norway, Oslo, the capital, is located in a fjord, more than 80 kilometers (50 miles) deep. Here are the average temperatures.
Oslo - Average temperatures
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Hours134678875321

The sea in the Oslo fjord reaches 17 °C (63 °F) in July and August, so it is still cold, but less than on the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Norwegian Sea.
Oslo - Sea temperature
MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
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 coasts and in mountainous areas, and even cold along the northern coast. In inland areas, in Oslo and along the southern coast, temperatures are generally mild, but a sweater for the evening is still advisable. 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 midwinter, 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 in summer, and reaches 15 °C (59 °F) in August at Bergen, and only 11 °C (52 °F) at Tromsø: with these temperatures, it takes a lot of courage to swim in the sea! 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 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 a windbreaker and a raincoat for the wind and the rain, especially along the coast and for a ferry trip in the fjords.
For the northern islands (Jan Mayen, Svalbard): bring warm clothing, a down jacket, a hat, gloves, a windbreaker, a raincoat.

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