Planning a trip to Tromsø and wondering what to pack? Considering the remote location of Northern Norway, it's a good idea to discover what to expect in all seasons.
Tromsø is a popular travel destination for people from all over the world hoping to see the northern lights, explore the Arctic landscape or enjoy the midnight sun.
One question many travellers have is about the weather. Just how cold will it be in the winter? Does the midnight sun mean it will be warm in the summer? Should I bring my sun cream or my thick winter coat?
The answer, of course, is that it depends. In this article we'll take a look at the most likely weather you can expect depending on when you visit Tromsø. Just remember though, weather does vary!
The climate in Tromsø
The city and immediate area around Tromsø has what's known as a boreal climate. Summers are short, but winter temperatures are only just cold enough to qualify.
However, Tromsø experiences a different precipitation pattern and a lack of permafrost compared with other places at a similar latitude. Tromsø sits at 69.4 degrees north, yet has elements of an oceanic climate too.
This is especially notable in the winter. The ice-free Norwegian Sea and western winds bring milder area ashore. This moderates temperatures in Tromsø and they are much milder than is typical for the latitude.
Outside the city, large areas are at higher altitude and above the treeline with an alpine tundra climate.
Tromsø weather: season by season
The weather this far north is partly influenced by the behaviour of the sun. During the height of the summer, the sun never sets in Tromsø, a time known as the midnight sun.
In the winter, the opposite happens. For a few weeks either side of late December, the sun doesn't rise. While it's not completely dark, this time is known as the polar night.
Autumn and early winter: Let's start with the dark time of year. From September to December, the weather is generally defined by the highest precipitation of the year.
Earlier in the season this falls as rain, but it can fall as snow at any time. In a typical year, October is the wettest month with precipitation expected on 17-18 days.
Temperatures also rapidly fall during this period, from an average of 7.8C
(46F) in September to below freezing by December.
Late winter (Jan-Mar): After Christmas, the days gradually start to get longer. While the light returns, the temperatures drop. Expect temperatures of around −3.3C (26.1F) on a typical day.
Precipitation remains especially as snow, although there are less days with precipitation compared to the late autumn. This generally means somewhat clearer skies, increasing the chances of a northern lights sighting.
March-June: Once the spring equinox passes, the days get lighter quickly. May is notably warmer than April. While the days are lighter and the temperatures milder, precipitation is still relatively common.
June-Aug: The lightest month of the year, June is also the driest month in a typical year. However, you can still expect rainfall during June and relatively cool average temperatures.
July and August are the warmest months with average daily temperatures of around 12.3C (54.1F). However, there will likely be spells of much warmer weather, well into the 20's.
What should I wear in Tromsø?
There is significant uncertainty about the weather in Tromsø, and all of Northern Norway. Even when the forecast is good, a rain shower would never be a surprise.
The concept of layering is an important one to bear in mind when packing for a trip to the north. Even at the height of summer, take a warm sweater and a windproof outer layer, especially if you plan on hiking in the mountains.