May is an ideal time to visit Norway as it marks the beginning of the shoulder season meaning you can strike the perfect balance of favorable weather conditions and fewer tourists. It’s an ideal time to explore the stunning landscapes of Norway without the crowds and allows you to fully immerse yourself in the country's natural beauty. Let’s also not forget about May 17th - the largest public celebration in all of the Nordics.
Here’s our guide to 6 places and things you should do in May in Norway, ending with our photographer and friend, Marcus Valeur’s insider tips to the May 17th celebrations in Bergen.
While the winter season may be winding down, the higher altitude areas and ski resorts still offer ample snow coverage for skiers. Way up north, you may even be lucky to find cold, fresh snow, and further down south, the legendary summer skiing will keep you going until late in the evening.
Around Tromsø in early May, you can still be lucky to find cold snow, long days, and more stable spring weather. If you're going yearly in May, you really should try a "Sail to Ski" trip out from Tromsø or ski around Lyngen. The scenery will blow your mind and make you forget all the altitude you'll need to ski tour up. We suggest reaching out to Lyngen Lodge for great accommodation or Pukka Travel for an unforgettable sail-to-ski experience.
Further down south and in mid-May, the summer skiing starts with the road opening to Fonna. Driving there on a winding small road with snow walls way above your car is fascinating, and the skiing is slushy and exactly like it should be in May. Fun fact: This is where we shot the Markus Kleveland campaign back in 2020.
Another great activity you can enjoy in May is surfing. Norway's rugged coastline boasts incredible waves, and this lesser-known surf destination offers thrilling experiences for surf enthusiasts. May is not the best month for big waves with high energy, but this gives you a perfect opportunity to learn or just play around on smaller, smoother waves rolling consistently in from the Atlantic. From Lofoten to Stavanger, you can find several surf schools and rental shops that cater to both beginners and experienced surfers. Catching a wave against the backdrop of majestic fjords is an unforgettable experience that will leave you in awe.
The best chance to get consistent swell in May is around Lofoten, with Unstad being the main spot. This time of year, you'll experience fewer crowds but with the same pristine beaches, framed by majestic mountains and picturesque fjords, providing a breathtaking backdrop for your surfing experience. Reach out to Unstad Arctic Surf to arrange your full trip with both accommodation and a surf school.
Another magical place to surf is the brand's birthplace, Hoddevik. It was here in May 2011 that our two founders met while surfing, resting from glacier skiing. Located on the picturesque west coast of Norway, it is a hidden gem for surf enthusiasts seeking a unique and unforgettable experience. Surfing in Hoddevik in May offers incredible waves, pristine beaches, and a serene coastal environment. When it comes to accommodations, Hoddevik's small town does not offer much, but it is enough to cater to surfers' needs. Our main recommendation here is Lapoint Surf Camps House close by the beach.
It might be a stretch calling the 17th May parade a hike, but it's probably one of the most memorable hikes you can do in Norway in May before all the trails further north dry up from the snow.
One of the most vibrant and cherished celebrations in Norway is the 17th May, also known as Norwegian Constitution Day. People often flock to Oslo for this occasion, as there's no denying that the capital city offers a memorable experience. However, when talking to colleagues, friends, and locals, many share tips that point towards Bergen. As our photographer friend Marcus Valeur once said, "Oslo may have its charm for 364 days, but on May 17th, Bergen is unbeatable. The people of Bergen take the 17th VERY seriously." The streets of Bergen come alive with Norwegian flags, and both locals and visitors gather to celebrate the nation's independence and unity with one of the largest parades in the country. The highlight of the day is just that specific parade that winds its way through the city, featuring traditional costumes, lively music, and an infectious excitement among Norwegians.
If you're a fan of exploring on foot and prefer to avoid the crowds, May presents a fantastic opportunity to embark on some incredible hikes before the masses arrive. One hike that truly stands out is Trolltunga. Nestled amidst awe-inspiring landscapes, this jaw-dropping cliff formation treats you to breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding fjords and mountains. While the hike can be challenging and a bit wet in early May, the reward of standing on the edge of Trolltunga, suspended high above the vast Norwegian landscapes, is simply awe-inspiring. Don't forget to pack light as you’ll need to gain quite some elevation from the parking lot.