Lofoten beach in Norway

© Bård Løken – www.nordnorge.com

Why summertime in Norway is simply magical

With vibrant festivals, exceptional beaches, once-in-a-lifetime outdoor adventures and round-the-clock sunshine, Norway’s appeal goes far beyond its wintry charms

March 2023

By Liz Darke

For many people, Norway’s association with snow-swept landscapes, winter sports and chasing the Northern Lights means the Nordic country is seen primarily as a winter holiday destination.

But to ignore Norway in summertime is to miss out on picture-perfect beaches, buzzing festivals and a natural phenomenon that gives the Northern Lights a run for their money. And, of course, the coffee and cinnamon buns taste that bit more delicious in the sunshine.

Sold on a Norwegian adventure? Here are some of our favourite reasons to visit this breathtaking country in the summer months…

A Midsummer bonfire in Norway

A bonfire in celebration of Midsummer © C. Yuki /Foap – VisitNorway.com

Join the party at a festival

One of Norway’s biggest festivals is the celebration of the summer solstice, known as Midsummer. Marked annually throughout the country on 23rd June, it is tradition to light huge bonfires, as these are believed to keep the land fertile and ward off evil spirits. The largest of these fires usually take place in the port town of Ålesund, which set a record for the tallest man-made bonfire in 2016, towering more than 155 feet high. You can catch Midsummer in all its fiery glory in beautiful Honningsvåg, one of Europe’s most northerly towns, our Land of the Midnight Sun and Summer Solstice itinerary.

In addition to Midsummer events, numerous music festivals take place in summer. Canal Street festival, which predominantly focuses on blues and jazz, is held in Arendal during July, while Oslo Jazz Festival and pop and rock festival Øya take over the Norwegian capital in August.

Marvel at the midnight sun

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon in which the sun doesn’t set at the end of each day and, instead, offers 24 hours of sunlight. The phenomenon, which happens due to the Earth rotating at a tilted axis relative to the sun, occurs every summer in areas located north of the Arctic Circle and south of the Antarctic Circle. This includes northern parts of Norway, such as the archipelago of Svalbard – one of the world’s northernmost inhabited locations – where the sun doesn’t set between 20th April and 22th August. Experience this natural marvel on our Land of the Midnight Sun itinerary in August.

Lofoten beach in Norway

The stunning beach at Ramberg in Lofoten come summertime © CH – VisitNorway.com

Discover show-stopping beaches

Though it may be surprising, golden sands and azure waters are very much on the agenda in Norway – if you know where to look. Head to Mjelle Beach in Bodø for powdery sands surrounded by epic cliffs, or make a beeline for Telegrafbukta in Tromsø, which is a great city beach that laps up the extended daylight in summer months, thanks to its northerly location. Alternatively, Skagsanden on the Lofoten Islands is famous for its black sands and otherworldly beauty.

Spot summer wildlife

Norway is a dream for wildlife enthusiasts at any time of year, but summer is the best season to seek out some of the country’s most fascinating creatures. These include the walrus, which can be spotted on safaris running from May to August in Svalbard. As for marine mammals, the Norwegian coast is great for whale watching, particularly around the Vesterålen archipelago in the north, where you can see sperm whales, humpback whales and even killer whales.

Back on land, seek out rare musk oxen in Dovrefjell and reindeer in Tromsø, among other areas, or turn to the skies for a bird safari shore excursion around Stappen Island, available from the port of Honningsvåg. Birdwatchers should see puffins, sea eagles, cormorants, guillemots among other species.

Briksdal Glacier in Norway in summer

Hike your way to dazzling Briksdal Glacier © Øyvind Heen – fjords.com

Take a hike

Higher temperatures and more daylight mean it’s time to get outside and take advantage of Norway’s 20,000-plus kilometres of well-marked hiking trails. Whichever you follow, you’re almost guaranteed to wander through all kinds of unforgettable Norwegian scenery – from fjords and lakes to wildflower meadows and forests. You can combine walking with some pedal power on a bike-and-hike shore excursion in Skjolden or hike out to the majestic (and rather mighty) Briksdal glacier, which is accessible on a shore excursion from Olden.

Hit the water

While the land offers plenty of adventure, summer is a wonderful time to explore Norway’s extensive rivers, lakes and fjords. An aquatic adventure here can be as relaxing or active as you like, with gentle boating trips, paddleboarding and windsurfing all available. Kayaking is also popular and there’s no better place to try it than on Næroyfjord, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2005. You can paddle around the fjord’s waterfalls while taking in the surrounding mountain scenery on a Princess kayaking shore excursion.

Strawberries hand-picked in Norway

Pick berries on farms and in the wild during Norway's summer months © Visit Drøbak & Oscarsborg

Sample local, seasonal food

With the warmer months comes an array of delicious, home-grown food in Norway. Though eaten all year round here, potato salad (made with pickles, pickle brine and dill) is especially popular in summer when new potatoes are in season. Various berries and fruits become ripe for the picking, including bilberries (part of the same family as blueberries), gloriously sweet strawberries and cherries, and cloudberries – all of which make great toppings for rømmegrøt, a rich, sour cream porridge commonly served at Midsummer.

Excited to explore Norway?

See our Norway cruise itineraries at princess.com

Discover more Norway holiday inspiration

About the Author

Liz Darke

Liz Darke

Liz is the editor of Journey. She's a seasoned journalist, who specialises in travel, food and lifestyle. Always on the hunt for a hit of sunshine and fantastic regional cuisine, she's heading to Barcelona, Puglia in southern Italy and Mexico next. Oh, and bring on the local wine, too!