Norwegian winters are all about skiing, cosy evenings by the fire and sweet waffles with jam. With its long, dark evenings, visiting Norway in the winter could be a gloomy affair, but if you embrace the weather the Norwegian way then you’re bound to enjoy your trip.
The Scandinavian nation is still ranked as one of the world’s happiest countries – even if it has been recently bumped down to second place by Finland.
There’s a lot to love about the Norwegian winter and, if you’re Norwegian, the cold is unlikely to dampen your spirits.
The Norwegians have a saying: “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær.” In English, this translates as “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” and this sums up the Norwegian attitude to the outdoors.
Read on to discover how you can embrace the weather when you travel to Norway!
1. Find your inner hygge
Hygge is usually associated with Denmark, but it’s a concept that’s also found in Norway – and they even use the same word! If you’re exploring Norway in the winter, you might also hear the word ‘koselig’ which means cosy.
Autumn is the best time to find hygge in Norway. Before the snow falls, the normally outdoorsy Norwegians spend time at home with friends and family – getting cosy. This can mean shared dinners or simply watching movies together.
Stopping off in a cafe is a great way to warm up and the atmosphere is always welcoming. Norwegian cafes often have candles, soft lighting and serve Scandi comfort food. Bliss.
2. Go to the cabin
Even temperatures of -10 aren’t enough to keep Norwegians indoors and some even go camping in the depths of winter! A cabin is a cosier option and it’s a great place to spend time with your loved ones.
From there, you can go skiing or snow-shoeing. Or just stay indoors.
3. Eat tasty food
Like the Danes, Norwegians are very fond of cake and pastries. A skoleboller (custard bun topped with coconut) is sure to cure any winter blues.
Waffles topped with jam, cream and brunost (brown cheese which tastes like fudge) are also very popular.
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4. Put on a woolly jumper
Norwegians are known for their fabulous cosy knitwear, but they’re more than just a fashion accessory. A good jumper will help you to stay snug throughout the winter months. Proper clothing is essential if you’re going to enjoy your visit so make sure you pack the thermals too. Learn how to wear your Norwegian jumper.
If you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, it’s also worth getting some spikes to go on your boots (you can buy ones which fit over your shoes). These will stop you from falling on slippery paths!
5. Go skiing (cross-country or downhill)
Skiing is one of Norway’s favourite winter pastimes and it’s an activity for all ages. Children are taught to ski from a very early age and so it quickly becomes second nature. If downhill skiing sounds too frightening, cross-country skiing might be more appealing.
In places such as Tromsø in the Arctic Circle, you’ll find special trails marked out around the island with grooves for your skis – simply fit your skis into the tracks and off you go!
6. Watch out for the Northern Lights
The best thing to do in Norway in the winter is completely free! Step outside on a clear night and there’s a good chance that you’ll see the Northern Lights in the sky.
Many places offer Northern Lights-chasing trips for tourists, but they can’t guarantee that you’ll see them. Keep a look out in the evenings and you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of this stunning natural display.
7. Travel by boat
Travelling across Norway by land is often difficult in the north of the country, so taking a ferry along the coast can be an easier way to get from A to B. Ferry routes are subsidised by the Norwegian government, which reduces the cost.
It’s a great way to explore the coastline and the fjords too.
Photography by Sarah Orme; Dima Viunnyk on Getty Images; Alain Wong, Vincent Guth, Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash