The Lofoten Islands are one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Norway, and hundreds of thousands of tourists visit this island archipelago every single year. You can visit Lofoten at any point during the year, but your experience is going it be vastly different between the seasons.
So, when exactly is the best time to visit the Lofoten Islands? Let’s take a closer look at the the different seasons in Lofoten, and the pros and cons of visiting at different times.
Pretty much all Lofoten tourists visit during the June to August summer season, with some come early in May or late in September. The summer is by far the best time to visit Lofoten, but the downside is that it will be super crowded by other tourists. It’s not advised to visit outside of summer if you want to go hiking or don’t want rain and wind.
The biggest crowds in Lofoten are found between the early June and and the end of August, and most of the popular Lofoten beaches will be pretty full of people at this time period. You will want to book your accommodations far in advance since these tend to all fill up in the summer.
Lofoten in the different seasons
Nor that we’ve covered the best season to visit Lofoten, let’s also take a look at all the other seasons, and the pros and cons of each different season.
Spring in Lofoten
Many people enjoy visiting Lofoten in spring, especially if you are OK with shifting weather and cold nights. The nice thing is that there are few people in Lofoten in the spring, so you can experience some of the amazing beaches and hikes without feeling like you are in a crowded theme park.
The spring weather is Norway is very shifty, and it can go from nice and sunny to a full spring storm in a matter of hours. Norway tend to have a lot of rainfall in the spring season, so bring proper clothing. It’s also very cold in Lofoten during the spring nights, so make sure to pack some wool to use in the mornings and evenings. There’s also a chance of snowfall for most of May!
It’s important to be aware that many of the trail hikes are either snow covered or partially filled with snow during even the late spring in April and the start of May. This means that you will need waterproof shoes and hiking gear suitable for more difficult and slippery hikes than you would in summer.
The photo below is actually a good representation of Lofoten in spring. It will have plenty of areas with no snow, but there’s still plenty of snow patches all around.
I would say that Lofoten in spring is possible for people who are a bit experienced with Norwegian nature or outdoor activities, and not really nice for families who just want a chill vacation.
Summer in Lofoten
The summer season is by far the most popular one in Lofoten, and this is when 90 % of all tourists will be at the island archipelago. And it’s not really surprising: Lofoten is absolutely amazing in the summer!
Not only is there midnight sun, but there is a high chance of warm and sunny days that are perfect for a combination of hiking the mountain trails or just chilling at the beach.
Many people are surprised to find that Lofoten can get pretty warm in the summer, and the water is warm enough for swimming in during the late summer.
The big downside to visiting in summer is that it’s super crowded in most of the popular areas and on the hike trails. You should be preparing for a lot of people wherever you go!
Lofoten used to have a big problem with people filling the beaches with tents, but the new wild camp ban in Lofoten has changed this for the better. You can actually enjoy the beaches without tip-toeing between tenting poles now.
The midnight sun is up from May 28 and July 14, so it will always be light during this time period. This is a very cool experience that I really enjoy personally, even though it feels kind of weird that it’s always daytime.
Autumn in Lofoten
If you want to avoid the biggest crowds in Lofoten, waiting until the early autumn might be a good option. The weather in September and October is highly unpredictable in Norway, with a lot more rainfall than in the summer months. However, most people have left Lofoten by this point, so you can get the best camping spots to yourself, and enjoy the trails with very few people on them.
The autumn in Lofoten is visually very different from the summer, and the green colors are changed with shades of red and brown. The highest peaks might get some snowfall, but most of the hiking trails are perfectly fine in all of autumn.
The aurora borealis returns in September, so an autumn visit to Lofoten might let you combine the incredible nature with seeing the northern lights.
The temperature can be pretty OK during the daytime, but will rapidly become cold in the nights. So bring enough clothing!
Winter in Lofoten
The winter season in Lofoten is a pretty unique experience, but there are some big disadvantages to visiting Lofoten during the winter. Firstly, you can’t really go on hikes without skis. Secondly, there is polar nights, which means that the sun never rises.
Visiting Lofoten in winter can actually be pretty cool, especially if you enjoy exploring the smaller villages in their “natural state” without all the huge crowds of tourists around.
The temperature is actually not really cold in Lofoten compared to inland Norway, but expect it to be around 0°C to -5°C for the most part. However, there’s typically a lot of wind during the winter, so it will feel colder than it actually is.
You can experience the northern lights in Lofoten at winter, and it’s actually a pretty good place to see this. The middle of the winter is the best time to visit if you want to see the aurora borealis.
The polar nights are active between December 9 and January 4, so you have about one month of this twilight like state. Some people find the polar nights to be interesting, while others just find them depressing and annoying. They will provide a very unique experience, but it’s important to be aware that you won’t ever see the sun during this period.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.