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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Scandinavia in 2023

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Scandinavia in 2023

If you’ve always dreamed of visiting Oslo because of its pleasant summer temperatures, the ABBA Museum in Sweden, or experiencing the Danish hygge firsthand, we’ll help you plan the Scandinavian trip of a lifetime!

We cover the best time to visit Scandinavia, some FAQs, why you should bother visiting Scandinavia in the first place, and many other burning pieces of information, so without further ado, let’s get stuck in!

Why You Should Visit Scandinavia in 2023

Two people walking along a brick street in the middle of buildings by a river in Stockholm for a piece on the best time to visit Scandinavia

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – AUGUST 24, 2022: Street in Gamla Stan (old town), summer season/Yegorovnick/Shutterstock

Scandinavia’s beauty is found in its contrasts — from cosmopolitan cities such as Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm with world-class dining venues and sophisticated infrastructure to iconic, snow-swept forests and fjords that make you fall in love with nature time and time again.

We suggest visiting Nærøyfjord, Sognefjord, and Hardangerfjord in Norway, as they’re some of the biggest fjords. Once you see the fjords, you’ll never look at nature the same way again.

But Scandinavia takes the meaning of pretty landscapes to the next level in more hospitable surroundings as well. Just visit the Swedish archipelagos, and you’ll see what we mean.

The Gothenburg and Stockholm archipelagos are world-famous ones, but you’re bound to have a great time regardless of which one you choose. Take a kayak, go on a hike, or choose a comfortable spot (or restaurant) and simply unwind — the choice is yours.

Then, there are the Northern Lights. Many people pick Norway or Sweden for the Northern Lights experience, but neighboring Finland is another awesome option as well.

When it gets quite chilly, the Scandinavians have a solution for that too — engage in an authentic sauna experience. While you can visit a sauna in (almost) any place in the world, no one quite does it the way Scandinavians do it. And no one quite loves it as they do too!

On the whole, Scandinavia abounds with beautiful sights and attractions at every turn — and there’s no reason not to visit this modern European fairy tale of a region.

Overall Best Time to Visit Scandinavia

Gorgeous yellow and brown house on the ocean in North Jutland for a piece on the overall best time to visit Scandinavia


The overall best time to visit Scandinavia is in summer, that is, in June, July, and August.

With the extended daylight hours and the sun setting well into the evening, stable weather, and green landscapes, summer in Scandinavia is a real treat, both for locals and visitors alike.

As school’s out sometime in June, July and August are at the height of the tourist season — the days are long, and the tourist lines longer. That said, crowds in Scandinavia translate into dynamic roads and group fun and not extreme congestion or long, frustrating queues.

Foodies can enjoy fresh local fruit, such as Swedish or Danish strawberries; adventurers should hit the trails or go canoeing; cyclists rent bikes; tourists who go by the book opt for city tours or castle tours in Denmark.

In short, everyone’s happy with what they’re doing! Those on the lookout for more entertainment plan their trips around popular music festivals such as the Oslo Jazz Festival, Smukfest, or Flow Festival.

Then, there are some popular beaches, such as Rømø Beach, Denmark, probably the most famous Scandinavian beach. However, as this is Scandinavia, although summer’s in full swing, swimming is still only for the bravest of souls.

Cheapest Time to Visit Scandinavia

You might find it ironic to see the words “cheap” and “Scandinavia” in a single sentence, let alone read a whole segment with them. We get it — no matter what deals you look for or what accommodation you choose, visiting Scandinavia can never be a cheap undertaking.

However, certain periods of the year allow for cheaper travel than usual, and if you’re a budget-conscious traveler, that may be just what you’re looking for.

Namely, the absolute cheapest time to plan a trip to Scandinavia is early to mid-February. It’s when you stand a chance to score nice airfare deals, find affordable accommodation, and even “share” your stay with fewer crowds.

Least Busy Time to Visit Scandinavia

Blue electric tram driving down the tracks along the river in Vastra Gotaland County during the overall least busy time to visit Scandinavia


The least busy time to visit Scandinavia is in the countries’ shoulder months, or May and September. These months are ideal for those who not only wish to see fewer crowds but also enjoy some pleasant weather without going in the peak season.

May says goodbye to the chilly March and April, and September is the last enjoyable month before October, and November’s harshness reminds everyone that winter’s coming.

May and September are perfect for travelers eager to capture people-free photos of otherwise crowded locations. You also get to experience natural Scandinavian wonders in solitude and admire the iconic fjords in Norway without desperately trying to get a nice view.

You can also take advantage of these months by visiting Sweden’s capital and spend your time exploring Swedish history and culture.

Or you could opt for Denmark’s capital, where you can marvel at the canals lined with vivid houses and streets that look as though they’re straight out of a fairy tale.

Worst Time to Visit Scandinavia

While Scandinavia is a year-round destination, we believe going in winter is the worst time because of the harsh climate and low temperatures — especially if you’re used to milder winter conditions in your country of origin.

More specifically, we suggest avoiding the December–March period, as the weather’s absolutely unbearable. The days are short; the nights are long. There’s wind, snow, rain, and cold — you name it, Scandinavian winter’s got it!

Although the weather’s dreary, Scandinavia doesn’t go into winter hibernation; on the contrary — at times, it feels like winter sports enthusiasts and the festive atmosphere around Christmas make it even livelier (and lovelier)!

There are many exciting opportunities for winter activities, such as skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and ice-driving on frozen lakes, to name a few.

If you aren’t into winter recreational activities, you can always find warmth at some of the local Christmas markets and festive decorations.

Things to Consider

View from a train looking outside in Norway to help answer when is the best time to go to Scandinavia

Intreegue Photography/Shutterstock

When taking a trip to Scandinavia, there are several things you need to keep in mind for a memorable journey. Here’s what you need to take into account:

  • Scandinavians speak excellent English, so you’ll have no problem navigating the countries, asking for help, or simply interacting with most locals.
  • Scandinavians have a card-over-cash policy, so make sure to keep this in mind when planning your Scandinavian budget.
  • Bring clothes for all sorts of weather regardless of when you go. More about that in a minute, but the Scandinavian climate can be highly unpredictable.
  • If you’re a US citizen traveling to a Scandinavian country, you can stay up to 90 days without a visa.
  • Scandinavians are often dubbed “cold” or unapproachable. Here’s the thing: while Scandinavian countries may not have the initial warmth other nationalities, such as the Spanish or Portuguese, seem to exhibit, they’re very polite and willing to help if you ask nicely. They respect others’ personal space, especially in public, and if they don’t know you, don’t expect them to start random conversations or engage in small talk.
  • If you’re traveling from one country to another, you have an extensive system of buses, trains, ferries, and flights at your disposal. While all options are solid, train rides are arguably the most scenic. You might even score some deals with the Eurail Scandinavia Pass. Of course, you can always rent a car too.
  • Road conditions are top-notch, and the overall infrastructure in Scandinavia is something other countries aspire to achieve. However, do keep an eye on the ever-changing weather in winter, as road conditions can change quickly in such circumstances. 
  • The same applies to the healthcare system, so whatever happens, you’re in good hands.
  • Most Scandinavian cities provide city passes, such as the Copenhagen Card, which include discounts on museums, landmarks, shopping, food, and transportation.
  • In Scandinavia, tipping is usually done by rounding up the bill, which usually translates into 5–10% of the bill.

Frequently Asked Questions

Ripe cloudberry growing out of the ground during the worst time to visit Scandinavia, the gloomy season


What is traditional Scandinavian food?

Traditional Scandinavian cuisine is made of a wide range of simplistic yet classic flavors. Most Scandinavian dishes are produced via cooking techniques such as drying, preserving, salting, smoking, or pickling.

These techniques stem from Viking times, so the tradition continues. When it comes to some specific Scandinavian foods you must try on your trip, here are some suggestions:

  • Cloudberries
  • Elk
  • Lutefisk
  • Crayfish
  • Reindeer
  • Gravlax
  • Svartsoppa
  • Princess cake
  • Lingonberries

What are some fun facts about Scandinavia?

Here are some fun facts about Scandinavia:

  • Norway, Sweden, and Denmark used to be part of a union known as the Kalmar Union.
  • All three countries have the so-called Nordic cross as part of their flags.
  • The term “Scandinavia” dates back to the 18th century.
  • The entire region is hooked on coffee.
  • Scandinavia is often referred to as the world’s happiest region.
  • Sweden has the biggest population.
  • The Danish monarchy is one of the oldest in the entire world.
  • Norway is home to the world’s largest road tunnel, the Lærdal Tunnel.  
  • All Scandinavian languages are based on Old Norse.

Is it safe to live in Scandinavia?

Woman in a white shirt and black jeans riding a bike down the stone streets of Odense in Denmark during the best time to go to Scandinavia


Scandinavian countries are some of the safest countries to live in, not only in Europe but worldwide too. So, yes, living in Scandinavia is very much safe. That said, showing common sense and basic precautions is recommended, as with any other place in the world.

This means being wary of pickpockets and looking after your bike, as such petty crime might occur from time to time, and neither locals nor tourists are immune to it.

Also, be aware of your belongings in places such as metros, pedestrian zones, trains, people-packed shopping malls, and so on. Carry only what you need with you — leave valuables and travel documents in a safe place.

What natural disasters occur in Scandinavia?

Given the Scandinavian weather patterns, the main natural disasters in the region include flooding, landslides, and, apart from Denmark, snow avalanches. Parts of Norway are prone to some seismic activity.

Is there a universal Scandinavian language?

There is no universal language, as all Scandinavian countries have their official national languages — Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish. That said, the languages are closely related, which means people can understand each other without a lot of effort.

What currency is used in Scandinavia?

Each country uses its own currency. Norway has the Norwegian Krone (NOK), Denmark has Danish Krone (DKK), and Sweden has the Swedish Krona (SEK).

Is visiting Scandinavia expensive?

People walking down the stone street in Stockholm in the winter, the worst time to visit Scandinavia

Stockholm-Sweden – November 2020: View on Swedish flags at almost empty, very popular street in the Old Town, Västerlånggatan, in time of pandemic outbreak of coronavirus. Selected focus/Elzbieta Krzysztof/Shutterstock

We’re going to be straightforward with you — Scandinavia is expensive regardless of how many airfare deals you come across or how many accommodation options you consider. It’s a trip that’s going to be pricey but well worth it.

That said, how expensive you’ll find these countries once you’re there also depends on your country of origin, so do factor that in when you plan your Scandinavian getaway.

If you travel to Sweden…

Here’s what your expenses may look like:

  • If you’re a solo traveler, you’ll need $848 for a three-day trip; if you’re traveling as a couple, set aside $1441; and if you’re a family of four, plan around $1865.
  • Hotels in the city center range from $290 to $725 ($363 per night on average); Airbnb rentals cost around $91 per night for the whole apartment.
  • You should set aside $87 per day per person for expenses related to public transportation and eating at local restaurants.

If you decide to visit Norway…

Here’s how much money you should expect to spend:

  • The average price for a three-day getaway to Norway costs $1014 for solo travelers, $1724 for couples, and $2232 for a family of four.
  • Accommodation in hotels in the city center range between $278-$696, whereas Airbnb rentals charge around $87 per night for the whole apartment.
  • Budget $108 per day per person for transportation and local restaurant expenses.

Finally, if you go to Denmark…

Your budget should look like this:

  • If you go on a three-day trip to Denmark, plan $976 if you’re traveling solo, $1660 if you’re going with a partner, and $2148 for a family of four.
  • Hotel prices in the city center range from $259 to $648 ($324 per night on average), and Airbnb rentals charge around $81 per night for the whole apartment.
  • Set aside $113 per day per person for transportation purposes and expenses at local restaurants.

Finally, please note that these are only approximate figures and may change over time.

Should I visit Norway, Denmark, or Sweden?

We suggest visiting all three, but it all depends on your travel expectations. For instance, if you’re looking for stunning natural landscapes, pick Norway and enjoy the out-of-this-world fjords.

In case you’re more into historical landmarks such as the Tivoli Gardens or The Little Mermaid, put Denmark on your list.

And if you want to see as much as you can in a short period of time, opt for Sweden and combine urban city life with stunning natural environments.

How long do you need to see Scandinavia?

Neat view of the harbor in Oslo pictured during the overall best time to visit with boats floating on the water and flowers on either side of the canal

Volkova Olena-358/Shutterstock

This is a very difficult question to answer because each traveler’s itinerary will be different. It all depends on how long you wish to stay in Scandinavia, but more importantly, how much you can afford to do so.

For instance, if you’re just planning on spending time in the capital cities (Copenhagen, Oslo, and Stockholm), plan at least nine days.

If you hope to see nearby areas, such as the fjords in Norway’s Bergen or Gothenburg in Sweden, you need at least two weeks. Also, if you’re into outdoor activities, you may wish to spend a few days in nature, so factor that in when you plan your itinerary.

How do you dress for Scandinavian summer?

The key to dressing suitably for Scandinavian summers is to dress in layers. This means wearing short sleeves but always wearing a long-sleeved jacket or a sweater with you. In the evenings, you may not even need the short sleeves at all, as the weather gets quite chilly.

When the days are really hot, dresses, skirts, and shorts are just fine, although carrying a lightweight jacket won’t hurt (especially if you’re used to “normal,” that is, hot summers in other parts of the world).

Also, leggings will suffice on chillier days. Walking shoes/hiking shoes (the former is non-negotiable, the latter applies to hiking enthusiasts) and raincoats are worth having with you too.

So, When Should You Visit Scandinavia?

In our guide, we covered quite a bit of information in regards to organizing the perfect Scandinavian getaway, so let’s quickly go through the most important.

  • The most desirable time to visit Scandinavia is in summer, or in the June–August period. It’s ideal for those with a one-season-fits-all kind of expectations — be it nice weather, or an abundance of outdoor activities, summer has it and allows for it.
  • If you’re a budget traveler but still want to experience Scandinavia and all its glory, consider visiting in September. This is the month when you can take advantage of attractive airplane ticket prices and affordable accommodation (if Scandinavia is ever affordable).
  • The least busy time to visit Scandinavia is in the countries’ shoulder months, or May and September. While shoulder months lack summer’s buzzing vibes, they offer minimal crowds and agreeable weather (at least most of the time, as you can never be sure with these countries).
  • The absolute worst time to find yourself in any Scandinavian country is during winter, in the December–March period. It’s brass monkey weather, blankets of snow cover the streets and landmarks, but Scadinavia’s magnetism is still as radiant as ever. So even if you do end up visiting in winter, you’re bound to be thrilled with everything you do/see. As the Scandinavian saying goes, “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.”

All in all, the best time to visit Scandinavia depends on the weather you find enjoyable and what you hope to get out of your trip.

We’re here to tell you that with Scandinavia having so much to offer, you’re going to have a blast regardless of when you end up going. So what are you waiting for — experience all the region has to offer today!