Norway’s most popular tourist season is in the summer, but there are also many people who visit Norway to see the northern lights, experience the amazing winter, and look at the beautiful landscape covered in snow. But when exactly can you expect the first snowfall in Norway each year?
It’s obviously not possible to say for certain when the first snowfall in Norway arrives, but it’s usually sometime in October. However, snow that will stay on the ground for more than a few days are rare until mid- and late November.
The 20 year average date for the first snow that stay for more than a few days for different cities in Norway are:
- Trondheim: November 19.
- Tromsø: November 6.
- Oslo: November 20.
- Bergen: Rarely stays on the ground, but it can snow between November and March.
These dates will be a good indication as to roughly when you can expect to get the first snowfall of the year in Norway. You can never really know for sure, and some years will have snow much earlier, while others won’t really have much snow until late December or even January (in the southern part of Norway only).
The first snowfall in Norway usually melts away
When the first snowfall in Norway begins in October or early November, it’s typically below freezing in the evening and night. However, it tends to be a few degrees above freezing when the sun comes out in the middle of the day.
This results in a phenomenon when it can snow in the night, but the snow gradually disappears during the course of one or a few days.
As you can imagine, this is not really beautiful or nice, and leaves us with a slushy type of water-ice mix that gradually melts into just water.
Visit in January or February to be guaranteed snow in all of Norway
If you want to be absolutely sure to see lots of snow when visiting Norway, the best time of the year would be to visit in January or February. Both of these two months comes with a snow guarantee in most of Norway, with only the coastal towns and cities in southern and western Norway being an exception.
Pretty much everywhere else will have lots of snow cover during this time, and you can easily get to areas with enough snow cover to go skiing or do winter sports.
It won’t be the first snowfall in Norway, but it’s better to wait for the steady snowfall than try to catch the first snowfall in my opinion.
You will usually still have much snow in March, but it is also beginning to melt at this time. So while there will still be plenty of snow, you won’t be guaranteed to have the beautiful snow cover that you can find earlier in the winter.
Also read: How to walk on slippery ice in Norway.
Go to a mountain or the north of Norway to experience snow early
You can experience the Norwegian snow much earlier and a lot later than from November to March by being smart about it. Firstly, the Norwegian mountains tend to have snow much longer than the lowlands.
In fact, Norway’s highest mountain Galdhøpiggen in Jotunheimen National Park has snow cover even in June and July! And you don’t even need to go this high to experience snow if you are visiting in spring or early summer.
If you’re lucky, you can experience snow in places like Hardangervidda for most of spring. The snow stays a lot longer, and will even set much earlier.
Another option is to go further north. The farther north you are, the higher your chances of experiencing snow is. The average temperature will gradually decrease as you get further north, and the winter period is much long in Alta compared to Oslo.
Not only is there a longer snow season further north, but it’s also typically more snow. So if you are visiting Norway in October, November or March, going to a higher altitude or far north is a good choice for seeing the snow.
As an added bonus, going north will severely increase your chances of seeing the northern lights!
Check the weather forecast to prepare for the first snowfall in Norway
The Norwegian weather forecast operator yr.no tend to be pretty good at predicting when the first snowfall in Norway will arrive. It’s not like predicting snowfall is magic, just wait for the temperature to be below the freezing point and then wait for it to rain. The precipitation will come down as snowfall.
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.