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Summers in Norway – celebrating light, life and the great outdoors

The complete guide to Norwegian summer

What is summer in Norway like? Unveil the allure of Icelandic summers, where locals savour the extended days and milder temperatures. This engaging guide will provide you with an insider’s perspective on Icelanders’ favourite summer pastimes, enabling you to experience the season like a local.
Summer in Norway guide

When does summer arrive in Norway, and what can you expect from the weather?

Summer in Norway usually begins in late May or early June and lasts until August. During this time, you can expect pleasant weather with average temperatures ranging between 13°C and 25°C (55°F to 77°F), depending on the region.

Southern Norway, including cities like Oslo and Kristiansand, tends to have warmer summers, while the northern regions, such as Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands, experience cooler temperatures. The coastal areas enjoy milder weather due to the Gulf Stream, while the inland regions can get quite warm during the day. Keep in mind that the weather can be unpredictable, so be prepared for occasional rain showers or cooler days by dressing in layers and packing a lightweight waterproof jacket.

Norway’s national day Suttende Mai guide
Norway’s national day Suttende Mai guide

How do Norwegians celebrate traditional summer events and festivals?

Norwegians love to celebrate their heritage and culture during the summer months, embracing outdoor gatherings and festive events. National Day – Syttende Mai – on May 17th is one of the most significant celebrations, commemorating the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814. You’ll see people dressed in traditional folk costumes called bunad attending parades, waving flags and enjoying festive gatherings with friends and family. Many locals also attend concerts, children’s events and indulge in traditional Norwegian dishes during the day.

Midsummer – Sankthansaften – is another popular event that welcomes the warm season and pays tribute to the long days. Traditional festivities include lighting bonfires by the sea, lakes or fjords, which symbolize the triumph of light over darkness. Norwegians often gather with friends and family to sing, dance and feast on seasonal foods, such as grilled fish, fresh berries and homemade cakes.

Summer in Norway guide

What are the most popular outdoor activities for locals during Norwegian summers?

Norwegians have a deep-rooted culture of outdoor living, encapsulated in the term friluftsliv. This concept, literally translated as free-air life, is a way of life in Norway, emphasizing a strong connection to nature.

During the summer months, Norwegians eagerly engage in the age-old tradition of gå på tur. The phrase essentially means to go on a trip or a journey and is often used to describe a leisurely hike or walk in nature. It’s about more than just physical activity – it’s about appreciating the beauty of the natural world, often enjoyed with a packed lunch or a simple picnic. From the tranquil coastal paths to the exhilarating mountain trails, gå på tur can range from a casual stroll in a local park to a challenging hike through Norway’s stunning landscapes. Popular hiking destinations include Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a towering cliff over the Lysefjord that offers panoramic views, Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue), a remarkable rock formation extending out over the Ringedalsvatnet lake, and Besseggen, a dramatic mountain ridge that presents a thrilling hiking experience.

Camping is a cherished pastime, with locals setting up tents or staying in cabins to enjoy the beauty of nature. Many Norwegians opt for glamping (glamorous camping) in luxurious tents or cosy cabins, providing a comfortable experience while still being close to nature.

Fishing is deeply ingrained in Norwegian culture, with countless lakes, rivers and coastal areas providing ample opportunities to catch a variety of fish, such as salmon, trout and cod. Locals enjoy both freshwater and saltwater fishing, making it a popular pastime throughout the summer months.

Cycling and mountain biking are other beloved outdoor activities. Norway’s diverse terrain offers fantastic biking opportunities for all skill levels, from leisurely rides along the fjords to adrenaline-pumping mountain trails. The famous Rallarvegen, a scenic route that takes you through lush valleys, dramatic mountains and past the iconic Flåm Railway, is a popular choice for cyclists.

Water enthusiasts often engage in kayaking, sailing and stand-up paddleboarding, taking advantage of Norway’s stunning coastline and countless lakes and fjords. Paddling through the tranquil waters offers a unique perspective on the landscape and allows you to get up close and personal with nature.

Summer in Norway guide

What is Norway’s hytte culture?

The traditional Norwegian cabin life, known as hytte culture, is a quintessential summer experience. Renting a hytte for a relaxing summer getaway allows you to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and immerse yourself in the tranquillity of nature. These cabins, which can range from rustic and cosy to luxurious and modern, are often situated in picturesque locations such as mountains, forests or by the water. Norwegians take great pride in their hytte culture and enjoy spending time with family and friends, cooking, playing games and exploring the surrounding area.

Summer in Norway guide

What is the Norwegian coastline like in summer?

Norway’s breathtaking coastline, stretching over 25,000 kilometres (15,534 miles), offers a unique perspective on the country’s beauty. Discover scenic coastal views, charming fishing villages and vibrant cities from the water. The famous Hurtigruten coastal cruise, which sails from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north, is an excellent way to experience the coastal landscape. Alternatively, you can rent a smaller boat or join a guided tour to explore the fjords, islands and remote areas at your own pace. Boating enthusiasts can also enjoy sailing, deep-sea fishing and wildlife watching, with opportunities to spot whales, dolphins and seals.

Summer in Norway guide
Summer in Norway guide

What are the best summer foods and drinks to try in Norway?

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in Norway’s delicious seasonal cuisine, with an abundance of fresh seafood, berries and vegetables. Locals often enjoy open-faced sandwiches with smoked salmon or shrimp, fish soups and dishes featuring freshly caught fish such as cod, mackerel and halibut. Grilled fish or meat, often enjoyed at barbecues, is another popular summer food. Summer is also the peak season for strawberries, raspberries and blueberries, which are frequently used in desserts or enjoyed on their own. Additionally, cloudberries, a unique Norwegian berry, can be found in jams and desserts during the summer months.

In addition to these delightful food options, traditional Norwegian drinks like saft (fruit cordial), locally brewed beers and the famous Aquavit, a flavoured spirit typically enjoyed during festive occasions, are also popular during the summer months. For a non-alcoholic option, you can try solbærtoddy, a warm blackcurrant drink often served during summer evenings.

Ålesund Møre og Romsdal Norway travel design guide

What are the top geographic locations to visit during the summer months?

In Southern Norway – Sørlandet – you’ll find charming coastal towns, picturesque archipelagos, and white sandy beaches perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Western Norway – Vestlandet – is home to some of the country’s most iconic fjords, such as Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, as well as picturesque cities like Bergen and Ålesund, known for their colourful wooden houses and rich cultural heritage.

Central Norway – Trøndelag – boasts the historic city of Trondheim, with its impressive Nidaros Cathedral, and the stunning coastal landscapes of the Helgeland coast.

Northern Norway, with the regions Troms og Finnland and Nordland, is a land of contrasts, with the majestic Lofoten and Vesterålen Islands offering dramatic mountain peaks, picturesque fishing villages and abundant wildlife. The region is also home to Tromsø, the largest city in the Arctic Circle, and the Sámi people, whose rich culture and traditions can be experienced in towns such as Karasjok and Kautokeino.

Trollstigen Møre og Romsdal Norway scenic route roadtrip
Trollstigen Møre og Romsdal Norway scenic route roadtrip

What unforgettable road trips and scenic drives can you embark on in Norway?

Norway is a country blessed with awe-inspiring landscapes and majestic vistas, and one of the best ways to experience its natural beauty is by embarking on a road trip or scenic drive. While driving in Norway can indeed be a slower affair due to winding roads and strict speed limits, this allows for a more relaxed pace to fully take in the breathtaking surroundings. With well-maintained roads and an extensive network of national tourist routes, Norway is a haven for driving enthusiasts and adventure seekers who appreciate the journey just as much as the destination.

The Atlantic Ocean Road – Atlanterhavsveien – is a famous 8.3-kilometre stretch that weaves through the picturesque coastal landscape, connecting several small islands via eight bridges. This iconic route offers breathtaking views of the ocean and is a must-visit for any road trip enthusiast.

Trollstigen, also known as the Troll’s Ladder, is another famous route located in Western Norway. This winding mountain road features 11 hairpin bends and a steep incline, providing adrenaline-pumping thrills along with stunning views of the surrounding mountains, waterfalls, and valleys.

In addition to popular routes like the Atlantic Ocean Road and Trollstigen, Norway has plenty of other scenic drives and hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Read the full article on Norway’s most spectacular drives you have to see to believe.

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