There’s a saying in Norway that people are born with skis on their feet. While not all Norwegians are Olympic-level skiers, winter sports are an essential aspect of Norwegian culture. With all of those snow-capped mountains, deep fjords, and the dazzling night sky, it’s no surprise.
In truth, some of the most unusual winter activities in Norway are unrelated to skiing. There is so much to do in Norway, from northern lights excursions to dog sledding and even sleeping in a snow hotel.
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You may visit and see the country’s icy splendor for yourself between October and March. We’ve produced a list of what to do in Norway in winter for inspiration and to help you plan your vacation.
1. Cross the Northern Lights off your to-do list.
Winter is the most significant time to visit Norway to observe the aurora borealis. At this time of year, daylight hours are pretty restricted in Northern Norway, located within the Arctic Circle. You may even encounter arctic nights in which the sun does not rise at all.
You’ll have the dark sky. You need to see the northern lights because of the seasonal gloom.
You should go north to Tromsø, located smack in the center of the “Northern Lights Belt.” In the Northern Hemisphere, this location has the best latitude for watching the auroras.
The Lofoten Islands, a magnificent, mountainous Norwegian archipelago, is another fantastic site to search for the dancing lights.
2. Look out your train window at the icy sceneries.
If you’re planning a vacation to Norway in the winter, it’s a great time to use public transportation. Sit back and enjoy the vistas of snow-covered mountains, icy fjords, and colorful woods.
Norway in a Nutshell® trip is one of the most popular and beautiful railway rides in the country. It has been called one of the greatest train lines in the world! In the winter, it’s even more beautiful with a coating of snow on top.
This route will take you from Oslo to Bergen (or vice versa), incorporating rail, bus, and ferry travel. Climb mountains on the Flåm Railway and cruise through Aurlandsfjord and other picturesque fjords. Between Gudvangen and Bergen, you’ll also pass through picturesque villages.
Along the trip, you’ll see breathtaking waterfalls, snow-capped summits, and tranquil fjords. You could even see some of the local fauna.
Come during the summer if you’d prefer to take the wheel and stop at the places you desire along the road. The roads are more accessible at this time of year, and you may take advantage of additional daylight hours.
3. Assume you’re a polar explorer.
Norway has a long history of polar expeditions, producing renowned explorers like Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen. Nansen was the first person to penetrate the interior of Greenland on cross-country skis. Amundsen was the first person to reach the South Pole.
While you may not be feeling quite so daring, Norway is a beautiful spot to channel your inner pioneer. Many noteworthy twentieth-century expeditions were centered in Tromsø, Norway, rightly termed “The Gateway to the Arctic.” You might visit the following places in this section of Norway:
SLEDDING WITH DOGS
You may go on a dog sledding excursion like Amundsen. Meet the excited squad of huskies that will lead the way and settle in for a thrilling journey. Some trips even give you the chance to drive the dog sled.
Maybe you want to go for a walk in the snow? This is a beautiful way to experience the crunch of snow under your feet and the sharp Arctic air. You’ll appreciate your hot beverage after this enjoyable trip.
Alternatively, you may try your hand at driving a snowmobile along the snowy paths. If you visit Northern Norway or Svalbard, you might take part in an exciting guided adventure. View the Arctic scenery from a new angle.
4. Take a Hurtigruten cruise in the Arctic seas.
Did you know that you can sail the craggy Norwegian coast even in the dead of winter?
Hurtigruten’s popular coastal cruises run all year, from Bergen in the southwest to Kirkenes at the northern end of the route. It contains several magnificent ports of call along the way, including the North Cape (Nordkapp), the Lofoten Islands, and Lesund.
The hop-on, hop-off way of travel is what makes Hurtigruten cruises so appealing. As a result, you may choose which piece of the trip you want to sail and visit.
Nordic visitors may customize excursions based on their preferences. Make your dream itinerary by combining all of your favorite elements. That may be a one- or two-night cruise combined with an overland adventure like picturesque Norway in a Nutshell® railway tour.
5. Visit the west coast.
You should visit Norway’s rugged west coast in both the summer and winter. The spectacular west fjords, such as Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, are the primary draws.
Admire them from high vantage points or take a boat to see them from the ocean. You may marvel at the cold waterfalls and huge cliffsides this way.
You’ll also discover the lovely city of Bergen, which is known as the “Gateway to the Fjords.” From the colorful waterfront Bryggen to the vistas of Mount Fløyen, Norway’s second-biggest city has something for everyone.
If you’re traveling down the coast, you may stop in Lesund, an art nouveau city, and Trondheim, a mediaeval town, on your route north.
The west coast of the United States is warmer than the rest of the country due to the Gulf Stream. This suggests that the weather will be milder. If you’re going sailing, be prepared for wind and rain.
6. Spend a stay at the Kirkenes Snow Hotel.
If you’re going to the Arctic, you may as well make the most of your time there. The lovely Snow Hotel can be found in Kirkenes, one of Norway’s northernmost cities. It is Norway’s counterpart to Sweden’s well-known Ice Hotel.
Every year in December, this unique hotel is renovated with a fresh ornamental theme. Handcrafted ice sculptures and extraordinary lighting effects are featured in each chamber. It’s a true winter paradise!
Sure, it’s a chilly -4° Celsius (25°F) inside, but the hotel’s thermal sleeping bag and extra warm gear will keep you warm and cozy.
Thirsty? Visit the hotel’s Ice Bar, where you may enjoy vodka from ice glasses. The hotel’s restaurant is designed in a lavvu, which is the traditional tent of the region’s indigenous Sami people.
There is also a husky kennel and a reindeer park at the Snow Hotel.
7. Explore Oslo’s marketplaces and sights.
The capital city is transformed into a winter wonderland with twinkling lights and powdery snow at this time of year.
From November through the end of December, the festive spirit is heightened by the numerous Christmas markets. Christmas in Winterland is the main market (Jul I Vinterland). You may buy handicrafts, sip hot beverages, and ride the enormous Ferris wheel here.
Other fairs are usually held in and around the capital and in many other cities and villages around Norway. Don’t pass up a cup of hot glgg!
Many of Oslo’s top attractions are still open between November and March. This means you’ll be able to view all of the major attractions.
8. Educate yourself about Sami culture.
The Sami are indigenous peoples of Northern Europe who live in Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. They maintain traditional lifestyles like fishing, trapping, and reindeer herding.
While visiting Norway in the winter, you might take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the country and its culture. Sami people, in particular, are concentrated in the far north of Norway.
Visit Camp Tamok in Kirkenes to witness a Sami camp and some of its activities. You may go on an exciting dog sledding excursion, feed reindeer, and even have supper in a traditional Sami tent called a lavvu.
This is also a wonderful place to see the northern lights. In the winter, this is a must-see in Norway!
9. Indulge in some of the greatest seafood you’ve ever tasted.
You’ll be hungry after spending so much time outside. Fortunately for you, fresh fish is at its peak in Norway throughout the winter.
Local cod, halibut, salmon, and trout are just a few examples of what you could find on your plate. You won’t go hungry with fresh prawns, langoustines, blue mussels, scallops, and lobster.
If you truly want to spoil yourself, the Norway travel specialists at Nordic Visitor recommend eating king crab. If you’re staying in Kirkenes, you could even join local fishermen out on the Barents Sea and help catch it yourself. You won’t find anything more flavorful.
Bon appétit! Or, as the Norwegians say, vær så god.
10. Travel to the far north to see Svalbard.
Winter is an excellent season to visit Norway and significantly to journey to Svalbard. A secluded Norwegian island north of the mainland, this is a spectacular winter paradise.
A brief trip to Svalbard will allow you to participate in winter sports while exploring an area of Europe that few people get to see. You could go snowmobiling through the snowy valleys and fjords and meet up with friendly huskies for a dog-sledding trip.
The harsh wildness of the islands also provides excellent photographic opportunities. From the spectacular glaciers to the icy terrain and frozen sea, the unspoiled nature is infinite.
You could even see some local wildlife throughout your journey. Whales, seals, reindeer, and the elusive “King of the Arctic,” the giant polar bear, are all part of this.
What do you think happened? In Norway, at this time of year, there are many more than ten things to do. Your winter vacation will be unforgettable, with so many sights to view and enjoyable activities to participate in.
Who knows, maybe you’ll have time to go skiing!