I'm currently in the process of planning a trip to Europe with some friends in March 2016. We are stopping first in Iceland for a few days and the heading over to the continent. Since we are flying Icelandair our options for final destinations are limited, as they only fly to certain cities that time of the year. Our original destination was going to be England, but one of my travel companions has been there multiple times and suggested we go to Scandinavia instead. I'm usually willing to go most anywhere but I'm hesitant to go to Norway and Sweden in March. From the research I've done, it will still be quite cold and dark, with some sites not even open. I would like to push for us to go to Belgium and the Netherlands instead. I'm hoping someone can give me some insight on what it might be like to travel in Scandinavia in March. Any tips or suggestions would be appreciated!
...it will still be quite cold and dark....
March is a glass half full vs half empty month in terms of daylight. By March 18 Oslo will have more than 12 hours of daylight in a day and start to feel very spring like. Easter week will be very busy with Norwegians traveling to and from the mountains. Oslo will be pretty deserted from Thursday before Easter into Monday after Easter.
We visited Iceland (via Icelandair) for a week last Easter (early April), and while some things there, too, were "not open" or "not running" yet for the year, or had more limited hours than they'd have in the summer, there was still plenty to keep us occupied. Not sure when in March you're considering, but by the 2nd week of April, it was still light at 8:15 PM, even if everything wasn't open. Actually, the restaurants tended to close by 9PM, so you don't necessarily want to be out too late if you want dinner.
We're considering Norway this late March/early April, and are aware some things (like, basically, every surviving stave church in the country) won't be open then. But, if the sky is clear at night, this is your chance to see the Northern Lights, which summer visitors will only be able to imagine.
Not that Belgium or the Netherlands will be exactly balmy in March, either.
I've been to Norway in March many many times. I go to visit family and my dad really likes to cross-country ski, so we go up and stay at a hotel called Rustad in the mountains above Lillehammer for cross-country skiing.
I would agree with you that somewhere warmer might be a better choice for that time of year. I think August is best personally.
While some sites may be closed it really depends on what you want to see. I don't think all of the museums will be closed, but they might have limited hours. For example, I don't think the ferry runs to the Viking Ship museum in the winter, but there is a bus that goes there, which would also work.
March can be spring-like here in Seattle, but it's definitely can still be winter in Iceland and Norway much later. Be prepared that you'll probably want a knit hat, gloves and a good winter jacket before you walk out the doors at the airport in Iceland or Norway.
Also here in the USA we have a tendency to do a really good job salting the sidewalks. They don't do that very much in Scandinavia, so I recommend the shoe chains they sell at REI. Somehow Scandinavians can walk like normal on sidewalks covered in refrozen ice.
Thanks for the responses everyone! I think we have decided on Denmark and the Netherlands. I know the weather will not be "balmy" in either of these locations but we are ok with that. I just wanted to make sure we weren't going somewhere that it would most likely still be full on winter. I really appreciate the advice!
I'll be in Copenhagen at the end of January. Normal mean temperature will be 0.5C. You'll be 2C warmer (2.5C):
You will also have more daylight in March:
January 30 Sunrise: 8:09 AM Sunset: 4:37 PM
March 18 Sunrise: 6:17 AM Sunset: 6:19 PM