Best time to visit the Norwegian fjords

Few places in Europe are quite as epic as the Norwegian fjords. 

Spurring into the coast of Norway, they delve through the sub-Arctic terrain, protected by high cliffs on both sides. 

But when is the best time to visit this stunning corner of Northern Europe? 

It depends. If you’re into long, sunny days and plenty of time for the great outdoors, visit in summer. For wildflowers in bloom, springs the time to go. For winter sports and frosty landscapes, try winter or for fewer crowds but not too cold temperatures, autumn (fall) is the time to go. 

Let’s break it down a bit more!

Visiting the Norwegian fjords in winter: a good idea?

View of the fjord by Fjaerland, standing at the corner of the water with snowy mountains on either side. There's a girl standing in front of the fence wearing a yellow snowsuit.

Winter in Norway. It’s cold, bitterly so in many destinations, and lasts several months. 

Its icy grip envelops the landscape in snow and reduces daylight hours significantly. 

You’ll notice this especially if you’re venturing above the Arctic Circle (to fjords around Tromso). 

While some areas may become less accessible, I adore winter in the Norwegian fjords. 

Not only are there far fewer crowds, but the snow-covered landscapes can be incredibly alluring!

There’s also great skiing close to many fjord destinations.

Voss is just a quick train ride from Bergen (the capital of the fjords) and Fajerland is close to the glacier Jostedalsbreen (the owner of a local business told me “you can’t be here if you don’t like the snow” when I visited one February!). If you’re in northern Norway, the Lyngen Alps are ideal for downhill and cross country skiing. 

The Northern Lights aren’t spotted as much in Southern Norway, the further north you go, the higher chance you have of seeing them (especially in December and January).

Things to do on the Norway fjords in winter

The city of Tromso, with the Arctic church in the foreground and a mountain in the background
  • Embark on a fjord cruise from Flåm, where you can witness the serene beauty of snow-covered cliffs and frozen waterfalls.
  • Enjoy downhill skiing at Stranda Ski Resort, known for its stunning views over Storfjord and its proximity to Geirangerfjord.
  • Experience dog sledging near Tromsø, offering a unique way to explore the fjords’ landscapes.
  • Go ice fishing in Hardangerfjord, where the winter months offer a peaceful fishing experience amidst spectacular scenery.
  • Trek on a guided snowshoe hike in Aurlandsdalen, known for its dramatic and snowy landscapes during winter.
  • Visit the Nærøyfjord area for winter kayaking, providing a tranquil and unique perspective of the fjords.
  • Relax in a cozy cabin in Sognefjord, immersing yourself in the tranquility of the fjords with local hospitality.
  • Engage in cross-country skiing along the trails of Jostedalsbreen National Park, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding fjords.

Where to stay in the Norway fjords in winter: Hotel Ullensvang in Hardangerfjord

Hotel Ullensvang, located directly by the Hardangerfjord is one of the dreamiest places to stay in the Norwegian fjords. 

In winter, this hotel is ideal because it provides indoor comforts like a heated swimming pool and spa – it’s perfect for relaxing!

The hotel’s location also offers easy access to winter activities like skiing at nearby resorts and ice-fishing in the fjord.

Norway fjords in Spring: the prime time?

View of Bergen at from Mount Floyen

As spring dawns in the Norwegian fjords, the landscape transforms and renews. 

The melting snow swells rivers and waterfalls and wildflowers start appearing. 

The water, often still and mirror-like, reflects the brightening skies and the budding greenery on the slopes. 

This period is quieter than the busy summer months – so you can take in the fjord’s epic nature in solitude! 

In small towns and villages along the fjords, like those dotting the Sognefjord, life picks up pace. 

Fishermen prepare their boats for the season, and local markets start bustling with activity. There’s no better way to take in Norwegian culture, first-hand! 

Want to spot some Norwegian wildlife? As the ice retreats, various animals, including seals and birds, return to the coastal areas. 

Boat tours during this time offer chances to see marine life in its natural habitat, a quieter and less intrusive experience than in the crowded summer months.

For hikers and outdoor enthusiasts, spring is a prime time to explore. 

Trails that were impassable in winter open up, leading to vantage points like the Pulpit Rock.

The moderate temperatures make hiking pleasant, and the longer daylight hours provide ample time!

Moreover, spring in the fjords is a photographer’s delight. The interplay of light and landscape, especially during the golden hours of dawn and dusk, offers moments of breathtaking beauty – just don’t forget your camera! 

Things to do in the Norway Fjords in Spring

  • Explore the blossoming orchards in Hardangerfjord, where the fruit trees are in full bloom against the backdrop of the fjords.
  • Take a kayaking tour in Nærøyfjord, with the spring thaw making the waters ideal for paddling.
  • Hike the famous Trolltunga trail starting from Skjeggedal, offering spectacular views of Ringedalsvatnet lake and the awakening nature.
  • Visit the bird cliffs of Runde, where thousands of seabirds return to nest.
  • Experience the Flåm Railway, where spring brings new life to the landscapes along this scenic train journey.

Take a road trip around the fjords in Spring!

Spring is arguably the best time for a road trip around the Norwegian fjords. 

As the landscape shakes off its winter slumber, the roads open up to reveal the full splendour of Norway’s natural beauty. 

The melting snow feeds magnificent waterfalls that are at their most dramatic in spring, and the blooming flora paints the countryside in vibrant colours. 

The weather is mild, and the longer days provide ample daylight for leisurely drives.

The traffic is lighter compared to the summer months, too. 

Consider hiring a car while you’re exploring Norway. This gives you the freedom to craft your own itinerary, stop where you wish, and truly immerse yourself in the magic of the fjords. Check out Auto Europe to find the perfect vehicle for your fjord adventure this spring!

Best place to stay in the fjords in Spring: Walaker Hotel in Sognefjord

Established in 1690, Walaker Hotel in Solvorn, a village in Sognefjord, is the oldest family-run hotel in Norway. 

In spring, the hotel is surrounded by blooming orchards and offers spectacular fjord views.

With a friendly welcome, historical rooms, period decor and great food, this is a fantastic base!

Norwegian fjords in Summer: late nights and milder weather

Panoramic birds eye view of Bergen's coastline and the fjord

Summer in the Norwegian fjords is a season of endless light and vibrant life. 

As the region basks in the near-constant daylight of the midnight sun (particularly in the north) the fjords and their surroundings are abuzz with life. 

The fjords themselves, under the summer sun, are a spectacular sight. 

Kayaking and boat tours are particularly popular – or you could even go swimming! 

The surrounding landscapes come alive in summer. Hiking trails, like those in Jotunheimen National Park, are at their best. 

The long days allow for extended treks and the mild weather makes for comfortable journeys through the countryside.

In the far north, in places like the Lofoten Islands the midnight sun provides 24 hours of daylight. 

Fishing villages, with their iconic red cabins, are bustling with activity, and the surrounding waters are prime for fishing trips.

Wildlife watching is another highlight of the Norwegian summer. Boat trips to see whales, dolphins, and seabirds are popular (and you won’t freeze out on the water!). The lush greenery also attracts a variety of birds.

Things to do in the Norway fjords in summer

  • Enjoy midnight sun hiking in Lofoten, where the sun never sets and the fjords are bathed in continuous daylight.
  • Go whale watching near Tromsø, with summer being a prime time to spot these majestic creatures.
  • Take a RIB boat tour of Geirangerfjord, experiencing the fjords’ grandeur with towering waterfalls and steep cliffs.
  • Visit historic stave churches in Sognefjord, like the Urnes Stave Church, surrounded by lush summer greenery.
  • Discover the hidden beaches and coves around Hjørundfjord by boat, perfect for swimming and sunbathing.

Where to stay in the Norway fjords in Summer: The Juvet Landscape Hotel in Geirangerfjord

The Juvet Landscape Hotel boasts a unique, modern retreat in the midst of Norway’s spectacular natural scenery.

In summer, its location is ideal for experiencing long days under the midnight sun and exploring the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord. 

Each room is designed to immerse guests in the surrounding landscape, with floor-to-ceiling windows that bring the outside in, perfect for the lush summer season!

Norway fjords in Autumn/ Fall: Changing colours and cosy nights 

Traditional Norwegian buildings sitting against the fjord, with trees in the background

Autumn in the Norwegian fjords is a season of vivid transformation and quiet beauty. 

As the days shorten and the air cools, the landscapes around the fjords undergo a striking change, displaying a palette of fiery reds, oranges, and yellows.

This time of year, with fewer tourists, means you can really take in the fjord’s grandeur. 

The water is often still, reflecting the colourful forests and clear, crisp skies.

In the surrounding forests and mountains, autumn is a hiker’s delight. 

Trails like those in the area around Geirangerfjord become less crowded. The cooler temperatures are ideal for exploring, and the forests are alive with the sounds of wildlife preparing for winter.

Autumn is also the season of harvest, and this is keenly felt in the fjord regions. 

Towns and villages, such as those in Sognefjord, celebrate the bounty with markets and festivals. 

These gatherings are not just about the harvest but are also a celebration of Norwegian culinary traditions – don’t miss freshly picked apples, cider, and various game dishes.

For photography enthusiasts and nature lovers, autumn in the fjords is a dream. 

The low-angled sunlight creates a soft, golden glow, especially during the morning and evening hours.

The northern lights start to make their appearance again, especially in the northern fjords – although chasing them isn’t quite as freezing as the winter months!

Things to do in the fjords in Autumn

  • Witness the autumn colours in Aurlandsfjord, where the landscapes turn into a palette of red, orange, and yellow hues.
  • Enjoy fishing in Hordaland, as autumn is an excellent time for catching a variety of fish in the fjords.
  • Take a hiking tour in Jotunheimen National Park, with fewer crowds and stunning fall scenery.
  • Explore Bergen’s cultural scene during the Bergen International Film Festival.
  • Experience apple harvesting in Ulvik, part of Hardangerfjord, known for its fruitful orchards and local apple cider production.

Where to stay in the Norwegian fjords in Autumn: Storfjord Hotel in Sunnmøre Alps

Overlooking the Storfjord and the Sunnmøre Alps, the Storfjord Hotel is a luxury boutique hotel made from local timber.

In autumn, the hotel offers a cosy, intimate experience with its warm interiors and stunning views of the fjord amid the changing foliage. 

Its location makes it a great starting point for autumn hikes and exploring the nearby fjords and villages during the harvest season.

So, when’s the best time to visit the Norwegian fjords?

Each season brings something new to the Norway fjords – it’s down to personal experience! 

I love the peacefulness and solitude of winter, but many prefer summer due to the range of activities on offer. 

Here’s the best time of year for different travel styles. 

Best time for nature

Late Spring to Early Summer (May to June)

This period is ideal for experiencing the awakening of nature, with blooming flowers, especially in the orchards of Hardangerfjord, and the waterfalls at their most powerful due to the melting snow.

Best Time for adventure

Summer (June to August)

The long days under the midnight sun offer extended hours for outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking, and exploring the fjords. The weather is also warmer and more table!

Best Time for Northern Lights

November to January

During these months, the nights are at their longest and darkest, increasing the chances of witnessing the Northern Lights. 

Locations above the Arctic Circle, such as Tromsø, are particularly well-suited for this spectacular natural display during these months. (You can see the Northern Lights in Bergen and the more southern fjords, but it’s a rarity). 

Best time for snowsports

January to March

This period is optimal for snowsports like skiing and snowboarding. The snow conditions are usually at their best, as the snow takes a while to settle but sticks around for a while once it’s fallen. 

Best Time for Culture

Late Summer to Early Autumn (August to September)

This is a great time to experience local festivals and cultural events, as well as to enjoy the local harvest.

The weather is still pleasant, but largely the tourist crowds have diminished!

Are you ready to visit the Norwegian fjords? 

The best time to visit the fjords in Norway really varies depending on personal preference, but hopefull, this article’s helped you work out what trip you want – and what season you visit! But whatever time of year you choose, you’ll adore the Norway fjords – their beauty transcends seasons!