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Weather & Climate

Intro

Norway is a long elongated country. In the summer It can be 30°C in Oslo and 5° C in the far north. Other times the Arctic can be warmer than the South – nothing is predictable and you should come prepared for all types of weather conditions. Nevertheless, what is certain is the gulf stream plays an important role in keeping temperatures up. Indeed, areas like Lofoten have the highest global average temperature for their latitude making the Norwegian Arctic region one of the most accessible by bike. 

On this page, the best I can do is give you ‘general’ views as I break the country into six climate regions. Certainly, some areas have more sunshine than others and when the weather is wet in one area it might be the complete opposite in another. What is the best month to visit is like asking how long is a piece of string? It all depends on what routes you plan to ride and what the weather gods decide. Therefore, we look at the advantages and disadvantages of each month which I hope gives you a better understanding of what to expect. Lastly, we give you the facts worth knowing that you can rest assured won’t change like the weather!

A calm and pleasant evening by a fjord

Sea temperatures in the North will be chilly all year round but very refreshing to dip into! On the south coast expect swimmable temperatures in July & August.

Drying clothes after a day of rainy conditions

Regional Climates

South East (Oslo, Lillehammer, Kristiansand): This is certainly the warmest and most stable area of the country, especially on the south coast between Mandal and Oslo. Temperatures can reach well over 25 degrees Celsius and Norway’s highest temperatures are often found slightly inland towards Setesdal, Hallingdal, and Telemark. Along the coast, the breeze makes it pleasant to cycle on warm sunny days.

South West (Stavanger, Bergen, Ålesund): The weather can start to change and vary as you hit the southern part of the Scandinavian mountain range. Closer to the west coast the weather may be more predictable but likely wetter with some months 50% of the days will have precipitation. Fjord Norway can have two days of gloriously warm weather followed by 2 days of rain, mist, and much cooler temperatures. Some areas of the coast at times can be very windy but the mountains will provide good shelter in places. 

Interior (high mountains & plateaus): Expect four seasons in one day! On unsettled days the clouds will be moving fast above you with short but intense downpours possible. Five minutes later you may have wonderful outbreaks of sunshine. Strong gusts of winds channeling through the valleys are also common. Ten kilometers can be a world of difference here. At sea level around the Inner fjords, the weather can be calm and settled. As you climb over the mountains it can change rapidly. Even snow can occur in July on the high mountain passes. On the other side again you may find it settled and dry! 

The Inland East (North Østlandet & Trønlelag): In the lowland areas the climate can be more settled and warm in the summer months. However, large areas lie over 600 meters above sea level. At these high altitudes, It can be very cold in the morning, and weather patterns can change quickly on unsettled days. 

The North (Brønnøysund, Lofoten, Tromsø): The coastline and islands that follow the main cycling route greatly benefit from the gulf stream and you can experience days of really warm weather which are pretty magical to experience. However, within just 24 hours temperatures can drop dramatically and you may wonder what hit you. In general, temperatures are well above normal for this latitude but waves of low pressure coming from the North Atlantic can bring batches of precipitation, mist, and challenging conditions. You shouldn’t cycle to the Arctic expecting Mediterranean weather but when it does occur you are in paradise!

Finnmark (The Far North): A this point you are literally on the edge of the known world. If the weather turns bad you must be prepared and have the right gear. I have been caught out here with inadequate gloves and lost all feeling in my hands going over a mountain pass. You should only cycle here if, one, you’re heading to or from Nordkapp, or, two, are an experienced adventure cyclist looking for something wild, remote, and different. The Arctic tundra is a wide-open area of fragile vegetation. The winds can be extremely powerful and there is little shelter on long stretches of certain routes. Temperatures can jump up and down like a yo-yo and when it’s raining heavily you should seek shelter and wait for it to settle down. If you’re lucky enough to experience high pressure that brings settled and calm weather you will experience a very special and unique ride.

Heading into the storm. An unsettled day on the west coast towards Bergen.

The inner fjords can offer shelter and calm weather conditions. Camping by them is a must!

When the mist covers the mountains it gives a mythical quality to your ride.

Months & Seasons

April: It will still be very cold throughout much of the country but temperatures during the day can be pleasant enough to cycle without too many layers. You are limited to only the lowland and coastal areas. Gravel roads will be limited to riding and many still covered in snow and ice. The vegetation can be lacking life and the trees will still be mainly bare. Camping at night will be very cold and many campsites won’t be open yet. April has reasonably low rainfall for the west coast so cycling there could be an enjoyable journey if well prepared.

May: On average May is one of the driest months around the coast, Norway turns green and temperatures start to slowly and steadily rise. On rare occasions, summer can come early which happened in 2017 when early and mid-May was incredible. In general, expect the night to be cold and camping above 300-400m will require a winter sleeping bag. Most of the mountain roads don’t open until mid to late May making planning a route difficult away from the lowland areas. May can be a great time to cycle the west coast as conditions are usually drier than during peak summer. Expect the roads to be quieter too but not all tourist facilities will be open. If you’re planning on cycling gravel roads you will be limited. Both Rallarvegen and Mjølkevegen don’t open until later in the season. You will have opportunities near the coast but expect snow on some tracks and pushing your bike a few hundred meters through melting snow is possible. If you decide to cycle any of the main roads through the mountains expect very cold conditions and plenty of snow on the side of the roads.

June: The start of summer is either a hit or miss. Some years Norway seems to miss the summer memo and temperatures don’t rise as much as you would like in early June. Other years there is an explosion of warm weather and all the city parks fill up with young people drinking and enjoying the freedoms summer offers. 90% of the mountain roads are open by June and if you’re lucky you’ll experience the famous snow walls on some of the passes. Lakes and the sea will still be cold to swim in but manageable! Campsites are in full swing and night temperatures increase. Sadly, some gravel roads over mountainous areas will still be closed and only open later in the month or into July (There are exceptions – see route pages). June is still considered early in the season, roads won’t be too busy, and booking accommodation at short notice shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s a good time to be in Lofoten as it’s quieter than in July and early August. Expect the temperature to be increasing throughout the month. Mid-summer is 21st June and thus daylight is at its max during June.

July: On average, this is the warmest and busiest month all over the country. Unfortunately, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to the weather. The July of 2021 was very good and I experienced many warm sunny days in the mountains. On the other hand, July 2022 was considered one of the coldest and wettest Julys on record and I limited my camping and booked roof accommodation on several occasions. On the good days, temperatures can be high and nature will look lush, green, and stunningly beautiful. The famous Rallarvegen gravel route starts to open but snow is still usually present on certain parts. Expect transport and accommodation venues to be at their max capacity and thus booking at least a few days in advance is recommended.

August: Early August temperature will be similar to July and the tourist season will still be very busy. However, by mid-August most Norwegians are back at work, road traffic reduces, and campsites start to quieten down. In the north, summer officially finishes mid-August and temperatures can start to drop. In the warmer south, August is a great time for the mountain gravel roads. All snow has gone and on sunny days it will be the paradise you dreamt about. In August the nights start to close in but you will still get more daylight than in any other European country. Warm temperatures can continue through the month but in some years there is a significant difference as you reach the backend of the month.

September: This can be one of the best months for cycling. The autumn colors can be magical and the light is very unique. I’ve had some of the best days on my bike in autumn but you must be prepared for much colder conditions and if the weather turns bad it will be difficult cycling in the cold and rain. In 2019 it snowed on the high mountain passes early in the month and some roads were closed for a short period. In 2022 an Indian summer swept through Norway and made it perfect conditions for bikepacking. Furthermore, Traffic is low and accommodation is easy to book with little notice. Many campsites and cabins will start to close in September so for remote routes, you should check to see what is still open. Daylight in the south drops from 14hr to 11.5 by the end of the month. Some mountain roads may start to close in late September and it can be below zero (C) at night in the highlands.

October: The temperatures will dramatically drop in the mountains and snowfall will probably occur. Mountain roads start to close and the days draw in. It can rain a lot in October and personally, it’s a month where day rides from a base are best to do. Bikepacking/touring is not recommended but is still possible. 

Winter: November, December, and January are very dark, cold, and wet months. If you want a winter wonderland trip try February when the lighter days start to come back and snow is compact and fun to cycle on with studded tires. Temperatures can be well below -10oC out of the cities but also milder in places. You should be very experienced to embark on a winter bikepacking trip!

Lush and green as Norway enters July.

Lakes in forest areas will be pleasant to swim in during peak summer Mountain lakes and fjords may be chilly due to glacier run off.

An E-bike Winter Bikepacking Trip near Tromsø in the North, Feb 2022.

The Facts

Prevailing Winds: South westerly which means heading up the coast or towards the east will offer more tailwind when cycling.

Average Sea Temperatures: see here: https://www.seatemperature.org/europe/norway/

Average Temperatures and Rainfall per month

This is a good website that gives detail on all major cities in Norway from the south to the north: https://www.climatestotravel.com/climate/norway

Road opening dates:

The Bible of Weather Forcasts: https://www.yr.no/en Download YR app for the most accurate forecasts while cycling: https://apps.apple.com/no/app/yr-no/id490989206

Daylight Hours / Sunrise & Sunset: https://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/norway

Midnight Sun: The sun doesn’t set between 20 April and 22 August above the Arctic Circle.

Further info

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