A detailed guide to help you find the best time to visit Lofoten Islands, depending on your budget, travel style and personal preferences.
When Is The Best Time To Visit Lofoten Islands?
Planning on visiting Lofoten Islands in arctic Norway, but have no idea when to go?
Well, the good news is that Lofoten is an incredible experience in any weather and in all seasons, so you can’t really pick the wrong time. Deciding what’s the best time to visit Lofoten Islands depends on what kind of experience you want for yourself and what qualities you value the most when traveling. Such as crowds, budget, travel style, what nature experiences you prefer, and other personal preferences.
The bad news? Deciding when to visit Lofoten Islands can be difficult, especially if you’re an “I want to experience it all at once” type of traveler, as every season has its clear pros and cons. For instance, its impossible to experience both northern lights and the midnight sun in one Lofoten trip. (Buuut that just means you have the perfect excuse to go back, right?).
Hopefully I can help make your decision at least a little bit easier by sorting out the pros and cons below – season by season!
Summer In Lofoten (June – August)
Why Summer In Lofoten Is Amazing
The most popular time to visit Lofoten is undoubtedly during summer. The summer months are high season in this part of the country, and Lofoten is a beloved summer destination among both domestic and international visitors, particularly between mid June and mid August. This is the time of the year when the weather conditions are usually on their best behavior, which is great for hanging out at one of the amazing beaches, camping, hiking, fishing, and other outdoor activities in Lofoten.
The best thing about visiting in summer is the magical and bucket list worthy midnight sun! Between May 26 and July 17 you get 24 hours of daylight in Lofoten, which gives you extra time to experience the wonderful nature without ever needing a head lamp. I swear, nothing can truly compare with hiking up a mountain in Lofoten in the midnight sun.. After July 17 it gets gradually darker until fall, so late July and August are still great times to visit if you crave those longer days on your trip to the north.
There is always a lot of things going on in Lofoten during high season, and pretty much every single restaurant, accommodation, museum, tours and attractions will be available in the summer months. (Which unfortunately is not the case for the other three seasons – but more on that later on).
The Downside Of Summer In Lofoten
The biggest con of visiting Lofoten in summer? The huge crowds. Now, this isn’t necessarily an issue – it all depends on what kind of trip you’re envisioning for yourself. Just make sure you’re prepared for longer lines and schedule in more time for activities you want to do. High season also means higher prices for accommodation and car rentals so remember to book early if you can. Not only will it be easier on your wallet, you might also risk ending up with no bed to sleep in and no car to drive if you snooze. Also beware that you won’t be able to see northern lights during summer in Lofoten.
Also Read: A Complete Guide To Lofoten
Fall In Lofoten (August – October)
Why Fall In Lofoten Is Amazing
Fall in northern Norway is a pretty short affair that last from approximately late August to the beginning or middle of October. By visiting Lofoten during fall you’ll get to experience the beautiful archipelago with less crowds than in summer, which for many travelers is a relief compared to visiting Lofoten in the middle of July (myself included). If you’re lucky you may get to experience the amazing clear fall weather we sometimes get up here, and combined with the stunning fall colors Lofoten is quite the sight.
If you’re super lucky, you may even get to experience the northern lights! The chances of seeing northern lights in Lofoten are actually pretty good in late September and October. If its important for you to experience the midnight sun, however, you should visit Lofoten prior to fall as the midnight sun technically leaves Lofoten on July 17th. The nights are still pretty long in the weeks following, though, which creates the most incredible light conditions and sunsets during fall.
You may also find that both flights, accommodation and car rental is a little cheaper than in the summer months, which is great if you’re on a tight budget.
The Downside Of Fall In Lofoten
Since fall counts as low season in Lofoten you should keep in mind that some restaurants, museums, tours and other attractions may be unavailable. So research all of the must-do things on your itinerary before booking a trip to Lofoten in fall.
You should also know that your chances of getting bad weather during your Lofoten trip are higher in fall compared to the summer months, and if you’re unlucky it can rain a lot, especially in late September and October. You might even get to experience a true arctic fall storm, which is way more cozy than it sounds (unless you’re on a boat, that really sucks). If that happens, just put on some wool socks, make some hot chocolate and enjoy it by the fireplace (if you have one) in your rorbu and listen to the storm outside.. pure Norway bliss.
Winter In Lofoten (November – March)
Why Winter In Lofoten Is Amazing
Visiting Lofoten during winter is a different, yet beautiful experience. Between the months of November and March – sometimes longer – you get to enjoy the magical sight of snow covered trees and mountain tops while exploring the adorable fisherman villages Lofoten has to offer. Since hiking isn’t an option (without snowshoes) you should spend your your days cross country skiing or ice fishing instead, and your nights hunting for northern lights. Sounds magical, right? It is!
And do you know what the very best part about winter in Lofoten is? The lack of crowds! If you love off-the-beaten-path way of travel, or just truly dislike other human beings, you should definitely visit Lofoten in the winter. And although it looks super cold, Lofoten has a coastal climate which means it doesn’t get that cold (thank you Mexico Gulf). And as a bonus – you’ll find that both flights, accommodation, car rental and tours/activities are significantly cheaper than during high season.
Visiting Lofoten in winter is also great for people who love ski touring, as there are a great selection of breathtaking summits to conquer. Inexperienced people should however never embark on such an adventure without proper training and a guide. Avalanches are not uncommon up here due to our mild winters.
The Downsides Of Winter In Lofoten
I’m not gonna lie, it gets pretty dark up here during winter, especially between December and February. But that’s not necessarily a negative thing as long as you take advantage of the few hours of daylight you get each day. Heck, I even hear some visitors find it exotic! Those dark afternoons are perfect for bonfires by the shore or curling up in front of the fireplace in a rorbu.
Beware that some restaurants and attractions may be closed as its off season, so don’t forget to research your itinerary favorites before booking. I also highly recommend not visiting Lofoten, or rural Norway in general, during Christmas or Easter. Norwegians take their holidays seriously and during these holidays you’ll come to find that pretty much everything is closed. You’ll barely see people as everyone will be at home with their families eating pinnekjøtt, ribbe or lutefisk and drinking gløgg or aquavit until their pants burst due to high pressure.
If you’re planning on driving your way through Lofoten, I know that some of you will be worried about driving in this part of Norway in winter.. I will admit it can be challenging at times, even more so if you’re not used to winter driving in general, but if you’re careful and take precautions you should be perfectly fine! Read more about winter driving in Lofoten here.
Spring In Lofoten (March – May)
Why Spring In Lofoten Is Amazing
Visiting in spring is a lovely opportunity to experience Lofoten with more daylight than in the winter months, but without the huge influx of tourists one can expect in summer. Which is great for those of you who want to escape the crowds, or those who want to save some money on traveling in the low season without compromising the sunlight.
In March and April you can see northern lights if you’re lucky, before the beautiful midnight sun season begins in May. Hiking without snowshoes or skis can be possible in spring if the weather and snow conditions allow it. Many peaks will be covered in snow until midsummer, however, and avalanches are not uncommon – so do research or ask an experienced local before heading out on a hike.
The Downsides Of Spring In Lofoten
Keep in mind that the weather in Lofoten is very unpredictable in Spring, and the temperatures vary each year. In this part of the country it can literally go from one meter of snow (or wet snow that ruins all of your cute shoes), to instant “summer” temperatures over the span of a few days in Spring. And the worst part is that this process can happen in March or it can happen in late June, there is just no way of knowing. Check the forecast before you go and pack accordingly. Also keep in mind that the forecast change quickly, so don’t get too disappointed if it predicts a lot of rain or snow. And beware that since Spring is prior to high season in Lofoten, there might be restaurants and attractions that haven’t opened yet.
My Opinion: The Best Time To Visit Lofoten Islands
That was a lot of information and a looot of pros and cons, right? Now, to sum it all up for you I thought the best time to visit Lofoten Islands according to me. Based on my personal experience visiting Lofoten countless times aaand growing up across the Vestfjorden fjord in Bodø.
Lofoten In September
My favorite time in northern Norway in general is fall. In late August or September your chances of clear weather are decent without the crowds being enormous. The nights are still lighter despite the midnight sun being gone, which is perfect for hiking. Incredible lighting conditions, stunning fall colors, and good odds of northern lights. Can be cheaper than during high season.
Lofoten In June
If you visit Lofoten in early June you’ll get the upsides of summer season without the huge crowds, including experiencing the midnight sun. Decent chance of good weather, but it might still be cold, especially at night, so bring thermals and warm layers if you’re planning on spending some time outdoors. Can be cheaper than during high season.
Lofoten In March Or April
Winter in Lofoten can be a beautiful experience. Visit in March or April for the best odds of enjoying the snow covered region with clear skies. You also get more daylight than between December and February, and the odds of seeing northern lights is decent. Will be a lot cheaper than during high season.
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