Deciding what to pack for a trip to Norway, especially Northern Norway, can be a challenge. After living in Tromsø for most of my life, I know how fast the weather can shift here in the Arctic. Within just a few minutes, the sun can turn to snow, the wind conditions can become crazy, and the temperature can drop by 5-10 degrees in an instant.
Northern Norway is a popular place for outdoor tours and activities. Most people come to Tromsø and the Lofoten Islands to be outdoors and watch the Northern Lights, hike in the mountains, go on a fjord cruise, or try dog sledding. Even though the weather might be sunny and warm when you set out on your outdoor adventure, you should always be prepared for the weather to change.
So in this article I have put together two packing lists for Northern Norway, one for winter and one for summer, with clothes, boots, and gear that should prepare you for almost anything Norway can throw at you.
The Ultimate Northern Norway Packing List
Packing for the Arctic requires a different set of clothes and shoes than a trip to a city further south in central Europe. Here it can be really cold even in summer!
Actually, the only months where the temperature has never been below zero degrees Celsius in Tromsø are July (record low 0,7 °C/ 33,3 °F) and August (record low 1,1 °C/ 34 °F), which says it all.
Below is my packing lists for women and men, winter and summer, including what shoes, gear, and gadgets you should bring to Northern Norway. Hopefully, this will make packing for your trip to Northern Norway a little easier! ♥
What To Pack For Northern Norway In Winter
Winter in arctic Norway usually starts in October when the temperature drops below zero degrees and typically lasts until May.
The coldest months in Norway are January and February. Tromsø’s average temperature during these months is -3,5 °C (25,7 °F), which is actually the same as Oslo’s despite Tromso being located much further north. This is thanks to the Gulf Stream that brings warm sea currents north and keeps temperatures up here livable. However, it can get quite a bit colder and the lowest temperature ever recorded in Tromso is −18.4 °C (−1.1 °F).
However, if you drive inland from the coast it can get an awful lot colder and temperatures can often drop to below- 30 °C.
If you’re going on organized tours then most of the time thermal suits and boots will be provided for you. Make sure to check before you book your tours though. Also, you should wear wool underwear, wool lining, wool, socks, wool gloves, and a hat underneath the thermal suit.
However, if you’re planning on doing any exploring on your own and even just walking around sightseeing in cities like Tromso then warm clothes are essential. You don’t need a full-on Thermo suit but make sure to bring clothes that are warm and windproof.
Make sure to check the weather forecast before going to Norther Norway and especially in the morning each day before heading out on adventures. Norwegians are highly focused on the weather. In fact, it is pretty much all we talk about when doing small talk. 🙂 There is a reason why Norway’s number one most used app is the weather forecast yr.no.
Below is my complete packing list for a trip to Northern Norway. It is divided into two parts, a winter packing list, and a summer packing list.
Winter Packing List For A Trip To Northern Norway
My best tip is to dress in layers; that way, you can easily take off or add a layer depending on how the weather changes during the day. It is also the warmest way to dress.
You might notice a recurring theme in this packing list and that is wool and down. 🙂 Clothes made of wool and down are what you need to stay warm in Norway.
Winter Base Layer – Wool Underwear, Wool Socks, Wool shirt, Wool Tights
In wintertime, the base layer is the most important as this is the main isolating layer that keeps you warm.
The base layer should consist of wool since wool is antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and keeps you warm even if it gets wet. I personally prefer merino wool since it does not itch but any wool will do.
- Underwear of merino wool
- Wool bra
- Wool socks
- Long underpants/ long johns of wool
- Long-sleeved shirts of wool
- Bikini/ swimsuit (just in case you feel like soaking in an outdoor hot tub/ Jacuzzi)
- Boxers of merino wool
- Wool socks
- Long underpants/ long johns of wool
- Long-sleeved shirts of wool
- Swimming Trunks (for the hot tub)
Winter Mid Layer – Wool Sweaters, Fleece, Warm Hat & Gloves
I have to admit I am somewhat of a knitted wool sweater fanatic. I can’t get enough of them 🙂 But it is for a good reason, they are super practical for northern Norway. On a chilly summer evening, or a fall day they work really well as an outer layer, and in the winter you can use them beneath your winter jacket.
Wool sweaters are really warm and I use them almost every day, especially during the winter. You can find wool sweaters in different types of wool, thick or thin wool, and they look quite stylish too.
A fleece jacket or sweater is an alternative. But be aware that most fleece clothes are made of polyester which is 100% plastic (the same material used to make plastic bottles). So when fleece gets wet, it loses its insulation and will not keep you warm anymore.
There are, however, some fleece clothes on the market where they have added wool to the fabric, which is a much better alternative to bring for a trip to Northern Norway. So check what the fleece is made of before buying it and packing it.
I’d also recommend bringing a warm hat/ beanie and a pair of warm gloves or mittens, preferable windproof and water-resistance. My favorites are mittens as they are warmer than gloves.
A buff or a scarf is also well worth packing, preferably made of some wool, cashmere, or angora.
- Buff/ scarf
- Beanie/ hat
- Mittens (or gloves)
- Fleece jacket
- Wool sweater/ jacket (I have one from Fjellreven, see the picture above. It’s really warm and comfortable, and looks good too)
Winter Outer Layer – Down Jacket, Shell Jacket & Windproof Pants
In the winter I tend to alternate between my shell jacket and my down jacket depending on the weather and what activities I’m planing. And I always bring my down jacket in my backpack, perfect to add for that extra mid-layer under my gore-tex shell jacket.
If you are planning on doing some hiking, skiing, and activities where you’ll get warm and sweaty then I’d recommend bringing a shell jacket that you can easily take on and off. It should be windproof and water-resistant, so a Gore-Tex shell jacket is ideal. For trips in the mountains during winter you’ll also want some windproof pants.
However, if you’ll mostly be doing some light walking, sightseeing, and northern light watching where you’ll be standing still a lot then a warm down jacket will be the best choice.
- Winter pants – wind and waterproof (gore-tex)
- Down jacket
- Waterproof, windproof jacket (gore-tex)
Winter Shoes – Boots and Shoe Spikes
A good set of winter boots is a real must-have in the artic during winter. Your feet can easily get really cold walking around in ice and snow, so a good pair of boots is perhaps the most important thing to pack. The boots should be warm and waterproof as even in winter we can get days with wet weather (very common in Tromso in January/ February).
Shoe spikes are also a handy thing to pack (although you can buy them in all Norwegian sporting goods stores). They will keep you from slipping on the icy streets that we get a lot of during winter. The kind that is pictured below is very easy to put and remove for when you want to visit shops and museums etc. They’re not really suited to mountain hiking but are perfect for city sightseeing.
- Waterproof hiking winter boots
- Casual comfortable winter shoes
- Shoe spikes
Gear To Bring For A Winter Trip To Northern Norway
- Headlamp – The days are short in the artic and a headlamp comes in very handy outside of the city centers
- Battery pack (cell phone batteries and camera batteries will empty quicker in cold weather
- Hand warmers
- Tripod – Essential if you’re planning to take pictures of the northern lights
Obviously, there are a lot of things that you should bring regardless of whether it is winter or summertime. See the ‘Always Bring’ list further down in this article for more tips on that.
What To Pack For Northern Norway in Summer
The warmest months in Northern Norway are June, July, and August.
These months are, however, still reasonably cool with considerable variations from year to year. For example, the mean temperature in Tromsø in July is 12,4 °C (54,3 °F). However, in July 1972, Tromso recorded its highest temperature ever at 30,2 °C (86.4 °F). So it varies a lot!
Summer Packing List For A Trip To Northern Norway
Northern Norway can be cold during the summer. So while you can leave the thickest down jacket and winter boots back home, you’ll see that the summer packing list isn’t that different from the winter one.
Summer Base Layer – Underwear, shirts, socks
- Underwear – I love underwear made of merino wool as it is antimicrobial, moisture-wicking, odor-resistant, and keeps you warm even if they get wet
- Socks – Socks should also be made of wool (especially for hiking)
- Long underpants/ long johns (perfect to put on in the evenings when sitting outside enjoying the midnight sun)
- Long-sleeved shirts (I have this from Kari Traa as you see on the picture above, and love the design and quality)
- Short-sleeved shirts
- Bikini/ swimsuit (just in case it gets warm in Tromso, or for the hot tub)
- Wool/ microfiber socks
- Long underpants/ long johns
- Long-sleeved shirts
- Short-sleeved shirts
- Bathing shorts (in case you want to do a dip in the polar sea or go hot tubbing)
Summer Mid Layer – Fleece Jacket or Light Down Jacket
On top of the base layer, you should add a middle layer (or have this in your day backpack to put on later). The mid-layer should consist of a fleece sweater, a wool sweater, and/ or a thin, light-down jacket. A buff/ scarf, headband, and gloves should also be in your day backpack in case of bad weather.
- Fleece jacket
- Light thin down jacket
- Buff/ scarf
- Gloves with touchscreen fabric
Summer Outer Layer – All-Weather Jacket and Pants
You should also pack a waterproof and windproof jacket, and make sure to bring it with you in your daypack in case the weather changes.
- Tights (perfect to use for hiking trips if the weather is nice, and under the dress, skirt, and shorts if the weather is semi-good)
- Hiking pants (I have this one from Fjellreven in blue and love it! You can see it in the picture above)
- Waterproof jacket (gore-tex)
For shoes during the summer, you basically need two pairs, a waterproof pair for hiking in the mountains and a comfortable pair for sightseeing.
- Hiking boots (with gore-tex)
- Casual comfortable shoes or sneakers
Casual City Clothes
A Tromso trip is, however, not all about being out in nature. For instance, Tromso is the biggest city in Northern Norway and has a vibrant cafe, bar, and restaurant scene. So bring some chic and casual clothes to wear in the city as well.
- Casual city pants
- Shorts (in case of warm and sunny weather…)
Gear To Bring For A Summer Trip To Northern Norway
- Sunglasses – The sun shines all day and night most of the summer above the arctic circle so don’t forget the sunglasses
- Sunscreen (if your trip is during March-August)
- Mosquito repellent (if you are going in the mosquito season June – August)
Don’t Forget To Bring This For Your Northern Norway Trip
This is what I’d recommend bringing regardless of the time of year you intend to visit Northern Norway.
- Small day-backpack (20-40 l)
- Travel documents
- Driving license (if you are planning on renting a car). You might need an extra international driving license in Norway, especially if your driving license is not from an EU country. Check the rules for driving licenses in Norway here.
- Passport, wallet (with a backup credit card)
- Water bottle (the tap water is safe to drink in Norway and tastes delicious)
Gear & Electronics
- Binoculars (for spotting arctic animals like eagles, reindeers, elk, and whales)
- Camera/ Phone
- Extra memory card
- Europe power adapters
There you go! I hope this gave you some ideas and inspiration of what to pack for a trip to Northern Norway, especially Tromsø and Lofoten! 🙂
⇒ For more travel inspiration and tips on Northern Norway, check out our articles about
- Where To Stay In Tromsø, Norway – Our Favorite Areas & Hotels
- What To Do In Tromsø – A Complete Tromsø Guide
- All You Need To Know To See The Northern Lights In Tromsø
- Dog Sledding In Tromsø
- 7 Easy Hikes With Spectacular Views In Tromsø
- The Ultimate Road Trip Adventure To Lofoten Islands (Norway) – 10 Day Lofoten Itinerary
- The Ultimate Guide To Svolvær (The Capital Of Lofoten) – What To Do In Svolvaer
- DIY Walking Tour Of The Idyllic Svinøya Island (In Svolvær, Lofoten)
- Why You Should Do A Trollfjord Cruise (By Silent Electric Ship) When Visiting Lofoten
- Top 7 Things To Do In Kabelvåg (Lofoten) – Kabelvåg Travel Guide
- The Ultimate Guide To Henningsvær (Lofoten’s Hippest Village) – What To Do In Henningsvaer
- A Complete Guide To Lofotr (Lofoten’s Viking Museum) – Ready For The Vikings?
- The Ultimate Guide To Reine (Lofoten’s Most Scenic Village) – What To Do In Reine
- Travel Guide To Lofoten’s Best-Preserved Fishing Village, Å
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