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Times to Visit Scandinavia?

Hello everyone,

I am a single woman tentatively planning to visit Scandinavia this year. I have two time frames that would work best for me, and I was curious about feedback?

  • Mid-August
  • Late December-early January.

Now one source of info said Scandinavia, in particular Norway, that around Christmas time everything shuts down: unless you have family, there is nothing to do.

So my questions are:

  1. Is one time frame better than the other?
  2. Anything else I should consider?

Thanks in advance. :)

Posted by
21086 posts

What kind of trip do you plan? I wouldn't dream of going to Scandinavia in the winter, but if you're into cross-country skiing and value holiday lights more than you hate cold weather, perhaps it would be right for you.

There's no way to predict the precise weather you will encounter at any time of year, but one thing you can take to the bank is that the days will be massively shorter in December than in August. The Wikipedia entries for most cities have a handy Climate chart. It usually includes monthly average hours of sunshine. Here's what I found for Stockholm:

December: 33 hours (for the month!)
January: 44 hours
August: 235 hours

If you're interested in more details about what sort of weather you could expect at either time, check out timeanddate.com, which provides actual, historical, day-by-day weather statistics going back about ten years. Here's Stockholm for December 2021:

https://www.timeanddate.com/weather/sweden/stockholm/historic?month=12&year=2021

As someone who loves museums but also spends a great deal of time walking around outdoors, enjoying the architecture, I would have no difficulty with this decision, but YMMV.

It's possible lodging rates would be substantially lower in the major cities in the winter, though I don't know that for a fact. You could check some rates on booking.com and probably figure that out pretty easily. Norway is by far the highest-cost country, so take a look at Oslo and Bergen as well as Stockholm and Copenhagen.

Posted by
2 posts

@acraven Thank you for the reply, that is helpful. :)

Mainly I was looking at these two time frames because I work at a university, and and our job gives us off 10 days for Christmas (outside of ETA). So that is one reason I was thinking of visiting in the winter. The other reason is I am considering applying to graduate programs in Scandinavia, and I figured I might as well see the countries during the dark season. But that might just be me.

Posted by
3225 posts

As someone who actually lives in Scandinavia, I'd say that coming here in the winter is not a bad idea. It can be a wonderful experience. But a summer trip and a winter trip will be very different and it sort of depends on what you are looking for.

And yes, moste things shut down around Christmas so don't expect to find many restaurants and shops open on Christmas eve and Christmas day.