May is one of the most beautiful months in Norway, and this is the first time that nature really wakes up after a long winter sleep. The month’s not really that popular for tourists who are visiting Norway, but it’s actually a pretty good time to fulfill your dream of visiting Norway, so let’s take a look at what May in Norway is like, and what you can do in Norway in May.
One of the biggest things that will impact your travel to Norway in May is the weather, because it’s very unpredictable during this month. Some days may be warm and sunny, others will be cold and have rain pouring down all day long.
The biggest event in May in Norway is May 17, Norway’s national day. This will be a unique experience, but there’s also a lot more to do in Norway in May.
So without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what it’s like to travel to Norway in May, and what you can expect from your visit.
Hiking season is starting in southern Norway
The hiking season “officially” starts in May in Norway, and this is pretty much the first opportunity to go up to the mountains to reach a summit. There will still be snow on the highest peaks, so not all mountain trails are open just yet, but most lowland trails and smaller mountains are perfectly fine to visit in May.
If you’re coming to Norway to hike in May, bring good hiking equipment that can handle water. Shaded areas might still have snow, and if it’s melted, it will be super moist on the ground and you might have to cross some temporary bogs on your way to the mountain top.
I personally do a lot of hiking in May, and it’s a beautiful time to do it. The trees have finally started to get leafs, the flowers are gradually appearing, and the wildlife is starting to be more active. You will hear birds chirping all around you, and if you’re lucky you might even get a glimpse of Norway’s national bird looking for food in a stream.
Most people find it to be a bit too cold to go swimming in Norway in May, but you can do it if you think you can handle a bit of cold water. It is absolutely possible for a determined person to go for a swim, but it’s not going to be comfortable even though the air feels hot.
Don’t miss out on Norway’s national day (May 17)
Norway celebrates its national day on May 17, and this is a big party that will be a unique experience for anyone who is visiting Norway this day. It’s a public holiday, so everyone is home from work and school. Children go on a big parade, and all cities, towns and villages have their own children’s parade where we celebrate Norway.
Bigger cities will also have what is called borgertoget (citizen’s parade) where anyone can join under the banner of a club or organization they belong to.
You are free to participate in the celebration as a tourist, so take a stand by the road and cheer for the parade. You should bring a pair a nice clothes to wear, and you can buy a Norwegian flag or bring flag from your own country if you feel like it.
May 17 is a really nice day, and most people celebrate it by watching the parade, eating Norwegian hot dogs and eating ice cream. It is common for Norwegian to spend the day with their family, and the day usually starts at the local district school before being moved towards private homes to eat dinner.
What the May weather in Norway is like
The weather in southern Norway in May is very unpredictable, and one day will have plenty of rainfall, while the next one might be sunny and nice. You should pack for both scenarios, and you are likely to experience both if you stay for more than a few days.
May is known for a lot of rainfall, so bring your umbrella and waterproof spring clothing. I would advise you to bring good waterproof shoes and a waterproof jacket in addition to the umbrella.
The temperature is usually pretty OK during the day, and most people wear regular pants, a t-shirt and a sweater that can be taken on and off again as needed. You might need a thin and waterproof jacket on some days, and it’s always nice to have a thin hat to put on if it gets windy.
There’s also a pretty big different between the beginning of May and the end of this. So bring more warm clothing if you are visiting in early May compared to if you visit just before June starts.
Bring decent hiking clothes if you are planning on going in a mountain hike in Norway in May, because it might get very cold very fast if it gets windy and the sun gets covered by clouds. Many tourists underestimate how cold it can get, so have some extra clothes in your backpack whenever you leave for a hike.
The weather in northern Norway is very cold in May
Just a small warning: the weather in the northern part of Norway will still be very cold in May, and you can expect to see temperatures around 1 – 5°C on some days. There is usually some snow and a lot of rainfall, and it is considerably colder than in southern Norway at this point.
There are cheap hotels and fewer crowds in May
One of the big benefits of visiting Norway in May is that it’s a lot less crowded than in June and July, but it’s still pretty nice here at this time. The tourism season is just beginning, so most places like zoos that are only open during the summer season has just opened, but they are still not crowded. It’s the perfect opportunity to get the entire park to yourself!
Hotels, camping sites and other accommodations will usually have spare rooms, and you can often find a good deal compared to whenever you try to book a room in the middle of summer. You won’t have any trouble finding a room to stay in, even if you don’t book a room in advance.
I still advise you to book in advance though, because that will usually be cheaper than just showing up to book a room the same day.
The same goes for rental cars and other utilities that tend to be out of stock during the middle of summer. You are unlikely to have trouble finding available rental cars in May, but you might run in to trouble with this in the summer.
Parks, zoos and other outside entertainment areas also often have an off-season discount that can typically be applied in May, so it’s a bit cheaper to enter these places compared to in the middle of summer.
Norwegians are usually very friendly and outgoing in May – especially on sunny days
Many people are under the impression that Norwegians are cold towards strangers and tourists, and while that’s semi-true, it’s less so during the late spring and summer. Most Norwegians tend to be a lot more friendly and outgoing whenever it’s nice and sunny outside, and Norwegians are generally a lot more sociable from May to August.
This means that you will likely have an easier time getting in touch with people in May compared to if you visit earlier in the spring or late in the fall, and you might even find that many Norwegians are friendly and helpful if you need help.
What about visiting a waterfall, or maybe see the fjords?
May is a great time to visit the fjords of Norway or even go to see a waterfall. The melted snow will mean that the waterfalls have the maximum amount of water flow of the year, and you will absolutely be taken aback by the beautiful waterfalls in Norway.
One of the best-known waterfalls is Vøringsfossen, as seen in the photo below. It’s well worth a stop in May!
The fjords are absolutely beautiful in May, and it’s usually possible to hike along the fjords already since most of the snow will have melted by May. You might experience green or even light blue fjord water in May, due to algae or glacial water coloring the fjord.
It’s not too late to go skiing!
Even though May is generally very warm and nice, it’s still possible to go on a ski trip, especially during the first half of May. You will need to either go pretty far north in Norway (like north of Tromsø), or high up in the mountains, but it’s absolutely possible if you want to try skiing in Norway.