With mild weather, this is a wonderful time to visit the more than 1,000 fjords as nature comes to life with the blossoming of flowers, bright greenery, and energized waterfalls creating a warm, happy buzz as the country gears up for the high season. Southern coastal areas of Norway's fjords usually have the highest temperatures. For instance, Flåm, a village along the Sognefjord, sees average highs in 60° F (lows of 44°) in May.
The fjords situated north of the Arctic Circle, however, are a bit more fickle. You may experience changing seasons from winter to spring (or vice versa) in just a few hours. Case in point: Tromsø sees average highs of 48° F (lows 37°) in May. No matter which area of the fjords are on your bucket list, come prepared with layers, a waterproof jacket, and comfortable walking shoes with a solid grip for all sorts of terrain.
Learn more about May weather in Norway here.
Crowds & Costs
May is one of the best months for visiting Norway’s fjords for decent hotel rates and airfares. In fact, this month is arguably the most pleasant and picturesque, and you aren’t like to run into as many fellow travelers—especially compared to June during a slew of festivals celebrating the longest day of the year.
Where to Go
May is truly a sweet spot in Norway’s fjords with more freedom to enjoy the scenery. That means lighter traffic on the roads, fewer crowds at UNESCO-listed attractions and popular hikes, and better availability of historic hotels in the fjord-side villages.
You can choose a quick, yet classic journey between Oslo and Bergen with a ferry ride on the Sognefjord, or slow down the pace and venture further into lesser-known fjords with a self-guided road trip. A fun detour from the Geirangerfjord is the famous Trollstigen Road, a masterpiece in engineering and Norway’s most visited tourist road. In fact, May is a great time for a self-drive tour with long daylight hours and few tourists clogging the roads. Here's a guide to the Top Road Trips in Norway.
For longer trips, set sail on a Hurtigruten cruise and see the majestic west coast with shore excursions in places that are harder to get to, like the Lofoten Islands.
What to Do
You can take advantage of the plentiful cultural and outdoor recreational activities in the fjords this time of year. For instance, UNESCO World Heritage Sites range from city neighborhoods in Bergen to wooden stave churches from the 13th century to popular fjords like the Naeroyfjord—a narrow passageway with tiny farms clinging to the steep mountainsides.
As for getting out on the water, choose between many ferry and fjord cruise options, or rent a kayak with a guided tour. You can also go whale watching or fishing for cod (there's also a cod fest, per below). If photography is your passion, drive around the charming fishing villages in the Lofoten Islands to see the traditional red rorbuer huts speckled along the dramatic coastline.
Meanwhile, the fjords are loaded with trails and national parks. This is a great time to accomplish mega-popular and challenging treks like Pulpit Rock and Troll's Tongue before the masses. For more, read our guide to Norway's Best Day Hikes.
Events in May
Constitution Day. Each year on May 17th, this national holiday honors Norway's independence with the signing of the Norwegian Constitution in 1814. Celebrations take place all over the country for all ages, including parades, parties, festive wear, concerts, and vendors.
Bergen International Festival (Bergen Festspill). Starting in late May, this two-week world-class music event—one of the largest in Scandinavia—features classical, ballet, opera, and theater from Norway and around the world at different venues around Bergen.
Stavanger Jazz Festival. Close to Bergen is another international music festival—this one, though, is held over five days in early May and features jazz musicians.
Codstock Celebration. In mid-May, head to the town of Henningsvær in the Lofoten Islands for three days of local cod and live music before the summer crowds arrive.
Traveling to Norway in May? Check out these great itineraries.
Explore Bergen, Fjords & Waterfalls. This picturesque five-day itinerary kicks off in Bergen, the country's 2nd largest city, complete with a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll have plenty of time to explore the streets and surrounding mountains on your own and with a local guide. From here, take two day-trips involving a scenic train ride, a ferry through the longest fjord in Norway, and a fjord cruise to nearby waterfalls—all while returning to Bergen each night to enjoy its restaurants and nightlife.
Norway Scenic Road Trip. Starting and ending in Oslo, this wide loop covers a staggering variety of landscapes where'll you drive through three of Norway's official scenic routes. First, make your way to a former Olympic village and two national parks loaded with wildlife, then head west for hiking and boating in the fjords. Stay two nights in the art nouveau city of Ålesund before you swing back around towards Jotunheimen National Park. Finish in the alpine village of Lom with one of the best restaurants and bakeries in Norway.