So you’re headed to Norway and have no idea what to pack? I know how that goes.
Back in February, I quit my job and became a full time traveler. My boyfriend and I picked Norway as our first destination. Preparation was a little crazy, with the whole lifestyle overhaul thing in addition to the trip planning. But we were lucky! We knew some experts who could give us packing advice: our Airbnb hosts. And now I can pass my Norway packing tips along to all you NTS readers out there.
If you’re an Airbnb newbie, get $25 toward your first booking here. (Pssssst… If you book, we get $25, too!)
Norway is a tall country, about the height of California. And, similarly, the weather varies greatly from north to south. Specifics of what you pack will depend on several things: season, region, length of your trip, and planned activities.
Things to Consider
Season/Region — Despite what you may think, Norway isn’t always freezing and covered in snow. The weather actually varies greatly depending on season and region. Check the local weather website for Norway at yr.no, where you can find seasonal averages for the particular cities you’ll visit. (Note that the default temperature scale is Celsius for this site.) Also, changes in weather can happen quickly in Norway, especially in the mountains. You always want to be prepared for unpredictable weather.
Since the yr.no site can be a little tricky to navigate, here are weather links for a few of the major cities in Norway. Check the overview page for current weather forecasts and webcams and the statistics page for historical weather data.
- Ålesund – Overview / Statistics
- Bergen – Overview / Statistics
- Bodø – Overview / Statistics
- Drammen – Overview / Statistics
- Fredrikstad – Overview / Statistics
- Hamar – Overview / Statistics
- Kristiansand – Overview / Statistics
- Oslo – Overview / Statistics
- Sandefjord – Overview / Statistics
- Sandnes – Overview / Statistics
- Sarpsborg – Overview / Statistics
- Skien – Overview / Statistics
- Stavangar – Overview / Statistics
- Tromsø – Overview / Statistics
- Trondheim – Overview / Statistics
If you’re visiting the lower coastal area of Norway, you’re in for warmer temperatures than the rest of the country (from the southern tip on up near Trondheim). Precipitation levels (rain) are high in this area, though, so you’ll need to pack water resistant materials to stay comfortable outdoors. Look at maps of the current high/low temperatures and precipitation on Accuweather to get a feel for weather trends throughout the country.
Trip Length — If you’re headed out on a long trip (7+ days), plan to do a little laundry during your trip to make packing easier. Dryers basically don’t exist in Europe, so this advice goes for almost any European country: pack lightweight, quick-dry materials. They’re easier to pack, easy to wash by hand, and the drying time will be significantly shorter than with non-quick-dry items.
Activities — Norway is an active country, and being outdoors is the best way to enjoy it. Hopefully you’ll be planning to get outside during your stay. You’ll want to pack comfortable, moisture-wicking activewear and dress in layers to stay comfortable as your body temperature or the outdoor conditions change.
Despite your specific Norwegian destination, pack these items:
- Hat — Make sure it covers your ears.
- Scarf — Think big, chunky, knit scarf. The longer the better.
Wrap your scarf around and around and around and leave very little tail to look like a true Norwegian.
- Gloves or Mittens — Mittens will keep your hands warmer.
My ski mittens worked just fine.
- Comfortable Shoes/Boots — Waterproof is best so you don’t need to tiptoe around puddles or slushy snow.
For women, I highly recommend these boots for Norway.
- Wool Socks — Keep the toes warm. I like Smartwool socks.
I have a pair of lightweight and cushion crew socks by Smartwool. This combo is great for double layering when necessary.
- Coat or shell — Waterproof and windproof, again, will be best.
Pack your ski jacket, if you’ve got one. That’s what we did!
- Insulation layer — This is especially important if you’ve only got a shell for a top layer.
I wore my North Face Thermoball every day in Norway, and on cold or wet days I added my ski jacket on top.
- Umbrella — Skip this if you’ve got a waterproof coat with a hood.
- Emergency poncho — If your coat’s not waterproof and you’re generally planning to stay out of the rain, bring one of these and carry it with you — just in case.
They’re less than $1 each and easily fit in your purse. Nothing like being cold AND wet.
- Sweater — A warm one. Wool is best.
- Waterproof pants — Not absolutely essential, but a really good idea, especially if you know rain’s in the forecast.
I bought these, and often wore them over jeans. Even when it wasn’t raining, these kept me much warmer and kept the wind out, too.
Sample Packing List
See what we packed for our trip to Norway here. We were good to go for all activities except our sailing trip, when our awesome Airbnb hosts geared us up to stay warm when they took us sailing on their wooden sailboat.
A Truly Norwegian Souvenir
If you splurge on one souvenir in this pricey northern European country, grab one of their famous double-wool layer sweaters.
This article was handcrafted for you from my 3-day Airbnb home in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Hope you enjoyed it!
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
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I am learning so much from your websites about traveling light. My husband and I are thinking about traveling Europe next summer. My question is, how do you pack for a place like Norway with all those big, thick items and then go somewhere like Italy or Greece 3 weeks later? All while staying with just a carry-on?
Hey Arielle! Thanks for reading! If you’re traveling in summertime, the small size of the clothes you’ll need for a warm destination will offset those you need for the wintery one.
If you haven’t already, you can take a look at what we packed for our 3-month spring trip that included Norway, Germany and Italy.
One light-packing trick for me was investing in some really awesome lightweight and versatile cold weather gear. My North Face Thermoball jacket is one of my favorites. It packs up into its own pocket, so it doesn’t take up much room at all! It comes in really pretty colors, too — I picked teal. For more color options, Patagonia has a similar jacket (I actually ALMOST chose their red-orange jacket over my North Face when I was shopping for my jacket at REI).
My packable rain pants have also been EXTREMELY useful both abroad and at home. I’ve found them especially useful for hiking and riding a bike in light rain. Those are pretty darn affordable and they pack up nice and small — no folding required, you can just stuff them in and somehow they don’t get wrinkly.
The last super simple thing to do to save on packing space is to simply wear your bulkiest stuff on your flights. I wore my winter boots on the flight and used the arms of my winter coat to tie it around the handle of my carry-on for while I was in the airport and then just put it on when it was boarding time. Super easy!
I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. Have a FABULOUS time in Europe next summer!