Are you traveling to Norway and wondering what to wear during your stay? In Norway we got strong seasons, and quite shifting weather throughout the year. However, as a born and bred Norwegian I’ll give you some tips in this article for what you should put in your suitcase.
If you need help planning your trip to Norway, check out my Tour Planning page.
In Norway there is no bad weather
Yep, that’s right, there is no bad weather, only bad clothing. That is actually an old saying here in Norway, and says a lot about the mentality of the people and how we dress for any weather occasion.
Norway has a varied climate with significant differences in weather patterns depending on the region and time of year. Overall, Norway’s weather can be unpredictable, and it’s essential to wear the right clothes to not be cold or get soaked.
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Weather by the regions
Norway is a long country with different regions having quite different climates. Here’s a short overview:
Coastal areas of Norway
Norway’s coastal areas (south and east) have a maritime climate, with mild temperatures throughout the year. Winters are relatively mild, while summers are cool with occasional heatwaves. Rainfall is common throughout the year.
Inland areas of Norway
Inland areas of Norway have a continental climate, with greater temperature extremes than the coast. Winters can be cold and snowy, while summers are warm and pleasant.
Northern regions of Norway
Northern Norway experiences an Arctic climate, with long, cold winters and short, cool summers. This is where you can experience the midnight sun in the summer, and the northern lights in the winter.
Western mountains & Fjord Country
The western mountains of Norway are among the wettest areas in Europe, with heavy precipitation throughout the year. Summers are cool, and winters are cold with significant snowfall up in the mountains, but wet and humid at sea level. The sun does show up occasionally though, and makes for some warm pleasant days in summer.
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The Seasons in Norway
Norway is a country of four distinct seasons: summer, fall, winter and spring. However, the weather can overlap quite a bit from one season to another. Meaning you can have a warm sunny day in late October, but at the same time you can get snow in late May.
Winter (December to February)
Winter in Norway can be quite cold, especially in the inland and northern regions. Expect below freezing temperatures. In winter, the average temperature in Norway is -6.8 degrees Celsius (20F), but the local conditions may vary quite a lot.
Spring (March to May)
Spring in Norway is characterized by changing weather patterns, and its a time of year when you can have four seasons in one day. In other words: be prepared for everything.
At the start of spring in around March, the temperature in Norway ranges from -4°C (24F) to 4°C (40F), reaching between 6°C (42F) to 16°C (60F) at the end of spring in May.
Summer (June to August)
Summer in Norway is generally mild, and sometimes wet, with temperatures ranging from 10-25°C (50-77°F).
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn in Norway is characterized by cooler temperatures, a lot of wind, and a sudden change between sun and rain. Fall temperatures can vary a lot, from freezing cold to sunny and warm.
What to pack for Norway?
So now that we know a bit about the different regions and seasons we can start looking into what you should actually pack for your Norwegian adventure.
However, before I start listing items there is one Norwegian word you need to know: Allværsjakke (all weather jacket). This is a familiar “jacket concept” for Norwegians. A jacket that can be used in all kinds of weather, typically a skalljakke (shell jacket) that can withstand snow, wind, rain or whatever the weather gods throw at you, and at the same times it breathes and let humidity out.
Good examples of an allværsjakke (all weather jacket)
Marmot Minimalist Jacket
North Face Antora
If you are visiting Norway during colder weather periods you’ll need a mid-layer under the all weather jacket. I would prefer a thin down/synthetic jacket which is lightweight and easy to pack. Here’s a few suggestions:
Men’s Lightweight mid-layer jacket
Women’s Lightweight mid-layer jacket
Summer packing list
Pack lightweight, breathable clothing like t-shirts, shorts, and dresses that can be easily layered if needed. A waterproof jacket (thin all weather jacket) or poncho is still essential, as summer rain can be common. A lightweight insulating jacket can be smart in case it gets cool in the mornings or evenings.
- Lightweight waterproof jacket or raincoat
- Sweater or cardigan for layering
- T-shirts or tops for warmer days
- Long-sleeved shirt for cooler evenings
- Jeans or trousers
- Shorts or skirts (depending on personal preference)
- Comfortable walking shoes or sneakers
- Waterproof boots for hiking or exploring wet areas
- Hat or cap for sun protection
- Swimsuit (if you plan on enjoying sauna, swimming or visiting beaches)
- Socks and underwear
- Light scarf or shawl
- Umbrella or compact travel umbrella (for unexpected showers)
- Backpack or daypack for carrying essentials during day trips
Winter packing list
When traveling to Norway during winter, it’s important you pack appropriately to stay warm and comfortable in the cold temperatures. Here’s a list of essential items you should consider packing:
- Thermal base layers
- Norwegians love to wear merino wool right on the skin. Synthetic can also work, but it won’t be as warm.
- A warm down jacket.
- One which will not take up too much space in your suitcase.
- Windproof and waterproof outer layers: Norway’s winter weather can be windy and snowy, so pack a windproof and waterproof outer shell “all weather jacket” to protect yourself from the elements.
- Sweaters and fleece jackets: Pack a warm sweater or fleece jacket to layer under your outerwear for added insulation. Potentially a warm wool sweater can replace the down jacket if you have a hard shell jacket on top.
- Insulated footwear: Bring waterproof and insulated boots that will keep your feet warm and dry. Good traction is important to navigate icy surfaces.
- Hats, scarves, and gloves
- Woolen socks: Invest in woolen socks to keep your feet warm.
- Winter accessories: Don’t forget to bring sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of snow and a lip balm to prevent chapping.
It’s worth noting that this is a general packing list, and you should adjust it based on the specific activities and duration of your trip.
Spring and Fall packing list
When you travel to Norway during spring and fall you can take advantage of combining items from the two lists above. For early spring and late fall many of the items in the winter packing list will work well. For late spring and early fall you can use many of the same clothes from the summer list.
Here are some essential items to consider for spring & fall:
1. Breathable clothes that you can layer: Long-sleeved shirts, T-shirts, sweaters, and a light jacket.
2. Waterproof Outerwear: A waterproof and windproof jacket or raincoat. Consider a jacket with a hood to protect yourself from the elements. See “all weather jacket” above.
3. Warm Clothing: In spring or fall, temperatures in Norway can be cool, especially in the evenings and mornings. Pack a few warm items such as a fleece jacket, a lightweight down jacket, or a sweater to keep you comfortable.
4. Pants and Jeans: Bring a mix of lightweight pants, jeans, and comfortable trousers. They can be layered with thermal leggings for added warmth if needed.
5. Comfortable Footwear: Plan to do a fair amount of walking and exploring, so pack comfortable, sturdy shoes or boots. Make sure they are waterproof and suitable for various terrains.
6. Accessories: Don’t forget to pack a hat, gloves, and a scarf to protect yourself from the cold during chilly evenings. Sunglasses are also essential, especially if you visit during spring when the sun can be bright.
7. Swimwear: If you plan to enjoy sauna or swim in a freezing fjord 🙂
Remember to check the specific weather forecast for your destination in Norway before packing, as conditions can vary across the country. This will help you tailor your clothing choices to the expected weather during your trip.
Packing for city life
Many who travel to Norway are not just spending time in the outdoors, but also in the cities. Perhaps you’re going to a theater show, seeing a play at the Opera House in Oslo and you might be planning to try out some fancy restaurants and bars. In such case it can be smart to pack a few items that will make you look properly dressed among the locals.
How to dress up in Norway?
Norwegians like to dress up a bit when they go out. It does not mean you need to wear a full suit at a theatre play, but it can be nice to put on a pair of nice pants and a button shirt.
When going to a restaurant it’s generally advisable to dress smart-casual or slightly formal, same would go for a cocktail bar. But if you go to a regular bar or a concert there is no dress code at all. Remember, smart-casual dressing allows for some flexibility and personal style expression.
Still in doubt? Think about what you would wear in your own country to dress nicely, and you probably have the answer as to what to bring.
When do Norwegians wear a suit or a formal dress?
There are a few occasions when Norwegians dress quite formal, and you would be smart to do the same. These occasions are:
- Weddings, baptisms and funerals
- New Years Eve
- Christmas Eve
- During the Christmas season when going to a restaurant to eat Christmas food
- 17th of May – National Day
I hope this article was of some help to you, and make sure to share it with anyone you might think be interested.
If you need help planning your trip to Norway, check out my Tour Planning page.
Thanks for reading!