Spring has arrived. May is especially a wonderful time to visit Norway as nature comes to life with the blossoming of flowers, roaring streams and waterfalls, and baby animals galore. The fresh scent in the air and long daylight hours create a happy buzz around Norway as temperatures creep into the 60s Fahrenheit during the day.
Keep in mind that above the Arctic Circle, spring weather arrives later than in the rest of the country, so depending on where you travel, you could experience sudden weather changes in just a few hours. Don’t forget to pack warm layers for chilly mornings and evenings, a waterproof jacket, and comfortable walking shoes with good grip for all sorts of terrain.
Crowds & Costs
May is prime shoulder season in Norway. This is the best time to go for decent hotel rates and airfares while the weather is nice for outdoor activities and sightseeing. In fact, this time of year is arguably the most picturesque, and you aren’t like to run into as many fellow travelers—especially compared to June during the summer solstice.
Where to Go
May is a great time to explore Norway's best-loved gems before the peak crowds. Most travelers will either start or end their trip with a few days in the capital of Oslo—the fastest-growing capital in Europe. A classic route from here is the famous Flåm Railway, where'll get gorgeous scenery as you make your way through the central mountains. Once in Flåm, you can ferry through the Sognefjord (Norway's longest fjord) to Bergen and explore its UNESCO World Heritage site, chic boutiques, and traditional restaurants.
While on the west coast, consider a trip on the iconic Hurtigruten coastal ferry, which travels between Bergen and Kirkenes in the Arctic Circle. For a shorter coastal journey, stop in Ålesund, a beautiful city that received an art nouveau makeover after a devastating fire a century ago. From here, ferry through the Geirangerfjord, known for rushing waterfalls in the spring months. Here's the Ultimate Guide to Norway's Fjords for more.
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.
What to Do
With the warmer weather, there are many things to do in Norway. Explore the cities like Oslo, Trondheim, Bergen, Ålesund, and Tromsø for Norway's best museums, sculpture parks, restaurants, and cultural attractions, not to mention the start of summer festival season (see below). To get into the countryside on a more relaxed road trip, you can explore fjordside villages and wooden stave churches all over southern and central Norway.
For more active types, central Norway's well-maintained trails and national parks start welcoming trekkers. Jotunheimen National Park offers 60 glaciers and 275 summits, and close proximity to the fjords for those who want to hit the trails before the summer crowds. This is also 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. 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 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.
Traveling to Norway in May? Check out these great itineraries.
Explore Bergen, Fjords & Waterfalls. Start off in Bergen, the country's 2nd largest city (complete with a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and 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.
Norway's Ultimate 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.