Not surprisingly, February is one of the coldest months of Norway's calendar year where temperatures range within the 20-30 degree Fahrenheit range—especially if you're in Oslo, central Norway, or anywhere in the north. Though it's still as cold as January, days get noticeably longer in February: Oslo receives about 8-9 hours of daylight, while Tromsø above the Arctic Circle receives between 6-9 hours.
If you're visiting Norway's west coast, the warm waters of the Gulf Stream tend to create a milder, rainier climate than other parts of the world at the same latitude. Because of this, temperatures on the west tend to be less bitter, though you should expect good snow conditions and skiing in the nearby mountains. A good rule of thumb: be prepared for sudden changes in weather and keep a laid-back attitude.
Crowds & Costs
February is still considered offseason for much of Norway even if it is one of the busiest ski months of the year. Daylight hours are still short (though not as short as December and January), making this a slower time to travel in Norway, and flights as well hotels will be at their cheapest levels (with the exception of ski resorts and ice hotels). February's dark winter month still grants relaxed, uncrowded environs and cozy hotels that glow with candlelight and roaring fires.
Where to Go
Norway is a country that knows how to make the best of its winter season, and every region has something to offer for those who are willing to bundle up and go with the flow. Most travelers will either start or end their trip with a few days in Oslo—the fastest-growing capital in Europe with top-notch museums, sophisticated culture, and New Nordic restaurants. Other urban hubs worth considering include Trondheim in central Norway, as well as the architecturally historic cities of Bergen and Ålesund on the milder west coast with easy access to stunning fjords.
For snowsports and resort vibes, head to the mountains, particularly Geilo and the region between Oslo and Bergen. For more peace and quiet, consider small towns like the UNESCO-listed village of Røros, and continue all the way north to Tromsø and Alta where you can experience Sami culture and have more opportunities for spotting the Northern Lights.
Here are the top 10 regions to visit in Norway. Due to snow conditions, traveling around the country this time of year will likely involve short flights, 4x4 rentals, or super jeep transfers.
What to Do
February's improving daylight hours making this a solid month for enjoying a number of winter activities and day-trips, as well as unique outdoor festivals (see below) that rely on natural light. If you have your heart set on the seeing the Aurora borealis, fret not—February is well-known for colorful sightings, especially north, before the spring season begins.
Norway's alpine and Nordic ski slopes tend to receive their biggest crowds in February due to some of the best snow conditions (check out the Ultimate Guide to Ski Touring in Norway). You can also take part in snowmobiling, sleigh riding, dog and reindeer sledding, winter fishing, and even surfing and snorkeling thanks to the Gulf Stream's warm waters. Photographers will relish in the sunrises and sunsets that winter brings. And because this is still low-season, gourmands will have a better chance of snagging reservations in the country's best restaurants (here are some suggestions for what and where to eat). Culture buffs will relish in Norway's centuries-old wooden architecture and Viking history.
Events in February
Ice Music Festival. Set amongst the remote, snowy mountains of Finse, the team behind this unique (and growing) musical event have created a winter setting made of ice, including stages and instruments!
Kristiansund Opera Festival. This annual festival in the small town of Kristiansund features a slew of classical, opera, and ballet performances, as well as art exhibitions and other cultural events.
Birken Skifestival. The country that invented slalom celebrates every winter (usually February) with the Birken festival in Rena. The traditional event follows the same route that a group of skiers took during Norway’s civil war back in 1200 in order to carry the young prince Haakon Haakonsøn to safety. Participants today are still required to wear a backpack that as a symbol of carrying the weight of that child.
Polar Jazz Festival. Taking place in the town of Svalbard since 1998, this celebration of music and light is known as the northernmost jazz festival in the world. Although jazz is at its core, they also feature artists across a variety of genres from blues to rock.
Sami Week. Taking place during the week of Sami National Day, this February festival includes the national reindeer racing championship, where Sami lead a reindeer sprint along Tromsø's main street. There are also various cultural events throughout the week like Sami exhibitions, markets, seminars, and concerts.
Traveling to Norway in February? Check out these great itineraries.
Norway's Winter Wonderland Tour. Expect uninterrupted white vistas and Northern Lights sightings when you travel by train, coastal steamer, and rental car on this two-week winter adventure in Norway's Arctic. The trip starts in Tromsø, 'Paris of the North'—your base for several snow activities. Then set sail on the Hurtigruten to explore the Lofoten Islands before continuing (by sea) towards the city of Trondheim, a UNESCO-listed village called Røros, and finally a night in Oslo—Europe's fastest-growing capital.
Northern Norway's Arctic Adventure. In less than a week, experience snow-covered scenery and the Northern Lights with this photogenic road-trip through the Lofoten Islands. The trip begins with a car ferry from Bodø, where you'll drive across the coastline at your own pace and explore some of Norway's oldest and most colorful fishing towns hugging the shore with traditional red rorbu (fishermen's huts). Conclude the adventure with an overnight coastal steamer to Tromsø for a slice of Northern Norway's biggest city.