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January, January. It’s not a month people typically come to Norway, and I can understand why. January in Norway is cold, dark, bleak, empty and boring. Christmas is over, the sun isn’t quite back yet, snow is beginning to fall in the warmer pats of the country, though it rains a lot. Still, though, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll see that January in Norway is charming, beautiful, and you get it all to yourself!

The Weather

Temperatures

2020 High2020 Low2020 AverageNormal AverageDeviance
Oslo+9C (21 Jan)-5.7C (11 Jan)+2.7C-4.3C+ 7C
Bergen+10.3C (8 Jan)-0.7C (10 Jan)+5.5C+1.3C+ 4.2C
Tromsø+7.1C-14.4C-1.4C-3.8C+ 2.4C
Source: yr.no

Precipitation, Snow & Wind

Wettest DayTotal PrecipitationNormalDays with PrecipitationSnow DaysHighest Wind Gust
Oslo18 Jan (27.5mm)74.9mm49mm101 (31 Jan)17.8 m/s (11 Jan)
Bergen6 Jan (67mm)466.4mm190mm29024.6 m/s (4 Jan)
Tromsø21 Jan (21.5mm)162.7mm92mm20Every day. Max. depth 36cm (28 Jan)
Source: yr.no

Sunrise/Sunset

1 Jan Sunrise/Sunset1 Jan Day Length10 Jan Sunrise/Sunset10 Jan Day Length20 Jan Sunrise/Sunset20 Jan Day Length30 Jan Sunrise/Sunset30 Jan Day Length
Oslo9:18am / 3.22pm6:03:319:11am / 3:37pm6:26:088:56am / 3:59pm7:03:128:36am / 4:24pm7:48:39
Bergen9:44am / 3:39pm5:54:299:37am / 3:55pm6:17:599:21am / 4:18pm6:56:199am / 4:43pm7:43:07
TromsøDown All Day
Civil twilight: 9:26am – 2:09pm
0Down All Day
Civil twilight: 9:09am – 2:34pm
010:40am / 1:10pm2:30:449:33am / 2:22pm4:49:01
Note: Does not include twilight hours, which does make the days feel longer, especially for Northern Norway (i.e It’s not completely dark all day). Source/For Full Statistics: https://www.timeanddate.com/sun/norway/oslo?month=1&year=2020

Note: From 27 November the sun doesn’t rise in Tromsø, but there is still a twilight sky. I’ve included numbers for the brightest of the twilights, civil twilight, but it is a little brighter for longer.

Note: The sun returns to Tromsø on the 15th of January. On that day, the sun rises at 11:25am and sets at 12:23pm, making the total daylight 58 minutes! By the end of January, there’s 5 hours of daylight.

Weather Overview

January is the middle of winter, so expect temperatures to be cold. In the cities it is more likely to be grey and rainy, while in the smaller settlements it is more likely to be snowy and rainy!

While this weather doesn’t sound appealing at first, there are these lovely days in January where the weather is so cold there are no clouds, and instead we get these gorgeous, crisp days. I love those days in January and look forward to them. Unfortunately, as you can see in the table above, this year it rained 29 of 31 days in January in Bergen. What. Why. Ergh.

Bergen at 9:40am in early January. Taken in 2020

The darkness and returning of the sun is also a lot of fun if you happen to be in Northern Norway during that period. I think there’s something special and unique about the sun not rising, so don’t let it put you off visiting. Instead of a sun, Northern Norway gets these incredible ‘twilight’ skies with pinks, blues, purples, oranges and so on. It’s lovely. If you happen to be in Northern Norway on the day the sun returns, there’s a big celebration. Just keep in mind it’s different for every city!

Bergen used to be very snowy in the winter, but I’m expecting it less and less every year. Inland and Northern Norway is very snowy, though.

Food

What’s interesting about most Norwegian restaurants is that their menus are always seasonal, so you’ll always see something different on the menu depending on what season you visit.

In January, expect a lot of Christmas classics still on the menu. This includes:

  • Pinnekjøtt: A traditional Christmas lamb dish. I wrote about it, which you can read here.
  • Lutefisk: Yes, the famous Norwegian lutefisk. A lot of people come to Norway expecting to see it on the menu all year, but it’s only really eaten around Christmas.
  • Veal
  • Lamb Ribs
  • Dried Cod

The end of January marks the start of the ‘skrei’ season, when the Arctic Cod is migrating from the Barents Sea to slightly warmer waters around Lofoten and Vesterålen to spawn.

Tourism

Not many people visit in January, which is a shame. But it’s good for you! You’ll practically get everything to yourself.

The museums and attractions have their winter hours in January, which means reduced days and hours. The major museums will be open 10am-4pm (or 11am-3pm), while the smaller ones will be open for even less hours, or only on weekends. If you love museums, this may not be the month for you. For the rest of us, the lack of museums gives us more reasons to go exploring outside!

Very few tours run in Bergen in January. Here are just some of them:

  • Norway in a Nutshell: The round trip from Bergen/Oslo runs throughout the year, so if you want to see frozen waterfalls and snowy mountains, this is a great option

Because of the low season in Bergen, hotels are quiet and tend to be a little cheaper. You won’t really run into tour groups, unless they are starting/ending a northern lights tour.

In Northern Norway, this is peak season. Expect hotels to be busy and tours to be booked well in advance, especially the northern lights ones.

Driving

January is very windy and there can be many snow storms. Most scenic roads and seasonal roads are closed. Roads in Northern Norway close with short notice due to strong winds or snow build up, and re-opening can take hours or days. In 2020, the road to North Cape in Honningsvåg was closed on multiple occasions.

Driving is not recommended unless you stay close to one city.

Events

The Tromsø Film Festival

The Tromsø International Film Festival takes place in mid-January with film screenings and talks at various locations. There’s even an outdoor cinema made of ice!