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Reader question: Is the sea in Norway warm enough for swimming in summer?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
Reader question: Is the sea in Norway warm enough for swimming in summer?
Photo by Ruben Mostad on Unsplash

As summer grips Norway with its (somewhat) warm embrace, we ask is the sea warm enough to go for a swim?


Norway's jaw-droppingly stunning coastline and fjords are the envy of the world, and many people have a swim in the fjord on their bucket lists.

After all, it is a unique experience, somewhat akin to seeing the Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun.

But can you really go for a swim in the sea in the summer, considering the fact that Norway's coastal waters - especially in the north and in the fjords - tend to be quite cold?

Or should you only opt for smaller lakes, organised swimming spots such as city beaches, and pools?

Can you go for a swim in the sea in the summer?

To put it shortly: you can go for a swim in the sea in Norway in the summer, and a lot of people do, especially in the south and east of the country.

Many - if not most - coastal towns in southern and western Norway have organised bathing spots, which tend to be full of locals as soon as June comes around.

Southern Norway, in particular, is seen as the domestic go-to summer destination, with a number of popular coastal towns such as Mandal or Risør.

Depending on the year, the bathing season can extend all the way to the end of August.  

You'll still likely find the water temperature to be a bit chilly, though, even at the height of summer - with a range between 15 and 21 degrees Celsius being quite common in the south and east of the country.


Young Norwegians in particular enjoy the relatively milder water temperatures in some of the coastal areas in the summer, so you can expect city beaches to be bustling with energy, chatter, and the sounds of water splashing.


Risør, a popular summer destination in southern Norway. Photo by Aleksander Bergersen on Unsplash

A dip in the fjord: Cold, but not impossible

It is also possible to swim in the fjords in Norway in the summer months, especially if you're not located in the country's northern regions.

People are free to swim in the Norwegian fjords, as there are no restrictions or legal hurdles in place.

Just know that swimming in the fjords can be a chilling experience at best and a freezing challenge at worst.

The fjords will usually be colder than bodies of fresh water or the sea, even in the summer, as they tend to be very deep. Furthermore, in western Norway, the melting of ice and the inflow of cool water from rivers can lead to the formation of a cool water layer.

However, some smaller parts of the fjord can warm up nicely late in the summer.


When is the best time to enjoy a dip in the fjord?

Norway's summer months, particularly from June to August, offer the most favourable weather for all outdoor activities – including fjord-dipping.

Many people consider July to be the best month, as it usually has the warmest weather, and the water temperatures tend to be warmer, too.

As a general rule of thumb, Norway's southern regions tend to have higher temperatures than the northern parts of the country.

So, if you can make it happen, the ideal time would be mid or late July, while the ideal place would be as south in the country as possible (the famous Lysefjord and Hardangerfjord fjords are both excellent options).

Just remember that the water can still be chilly, so some people prefer wearing wetsuits – there's no shame in making sure you feel comfortable.

Norway's beaches

When you think of beaches, Norway might not be the first destination that comes to mind. However, the country has many beaches which are very popular with tourists – despite not fitting the notion of what one might expect from a beachgoing experience, at least in terms of temperatures.

From north to south and east to west, you'll find a number of stunning beaches.

Some might be a great pick for long walks (such as Orrestranda Beach, Norway's longest sandy beach situated along the Jæren coastline in southwestern Norway), while others are popular among sunbathers (Munkholmen Beach, located on a small islet close to the city of Trondheim in central Norway, is a favourite among both locals and tourists – and you'll find the site buzzing with activity throughout the summer).

Lastly, some of Norway's beaches are venerated due to their raw beauty. Skagsanden Beach in Norway's Lofoten Islands (see below) is a favourite among Instagram aficionados and photographers.

Photo by Johny Goerend on Unsplash

Norway's beaches go beyond mere sunbathing spots; they reveal a world of untouched natural beauty and offer a distinctive coastal escapade.

The allure of these shores might just entice you to trade the typical Mediterranean summer vacation for a refreshing stay in a cooler yet utterly captivating climate.

You can find a map with most of the beaches in Norway on the website of the Visit Norway state-funded travel guide.

Swimming in the sea vs swimming in lakes and rivers

During the summer swimming season, the water temperature in the sea tends to be between 15 and 22 degrees Celsius, and coastal towns and beaches in Norway attract a steady stream of both locals and tourists who want to take a dip in the sea between June and August and enjoy the country's stunning natural surroundings.


You aren't limited to the sea, though. You can also go for a dip in rivers or lakes. Smaller lakes are particularly popular, as the water there can reach up to 25 degrees Celsius at times.

According to the European Environment Agency, Norway has a total of 455,000 lakes, and most of them are small ones – so you'll be spoiled for choice even if you want to find a secluded lake far from busy towns and the crowds.

A word of warning – as you venture into the mountains, be aware that some lakes may have freezing water due to ice melt.

Moreover, when it comes to rivers, be cautious about their currents, especially in the larger ones. Strong currents can pose dangers to swimmers, so it's crucial to be vigilant and take necessary precautions.

Keep in mind that, as a general rule, rivers tend to be colder than lakes. If you plan to swim in either, be prepared for the difference in water temperatures.


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