15 BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORWAY IN WINTER (OCTOBER – APRIL)

Norway is a winter wonderland with snow-capped mountains, frozen lakes, and charming cities covered in snow. While many travelers choose to visit Norway during the summer, the winter offers unique beauty and activities. From skiing in the mountains to witnessing the Northern Lights, there are many incredible things to do in Norway during the winter.

Let’s look at the best activities you can do in Norway in winter and where and when you can do them!

Table of Contents

#1 See the Northern Lights

Norway is one of the best places in the world to see the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The best time to see the Northern Lights in Norway is from early September to early April when the nights are long and dark. However, the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and visibility is dependent on several factors, including solar activity and cloud cover.

If you want to see the northern lights, you will have to travel to northern Norway, above the Arctic circle. While seeing the northern lights in southern Norway is still possible, you would have to be extremely lucky. One of the most popular destinations is Tromsø, also known as the “Gateway to the Arctic,” where there are numerous providers organizing northern lights tours. Other popular destinations for Northern Lights viewing include Alta, Lofoten, and Svalbard.

You can download a Northern Lights app to try and spot the show yourself or sign up for an Aurora Borealis safari and let your guide take you to the places where you’ll have the best chance.

 

Recommended Northern Lights Tours in Norway

ALTA: Small-Group Guided Northern Lights Tour

LOFOTEN: Aurora Jäger – Northern Lights Hunter (Svolvær)

TROMSØ: Northern Lights Tour

TROMSØ: Small Group Aurora Hunt Tour With Citizen Science

 

Have we seen the northern lights?
Yes, many times. Northern lights are the main reason why we moved to northern Norway. For a long time, we could not decide if we would rather live in western Norway close to the fjords or in northern Norway. However, when we first came to Lofoten, we fell in love, and we immediately felt like Lofoten was our home. The winters up in the north can be hard, but the nights when the sky is clear, there is no wind, and the northern lights are dancing above your head make it worth it.

 

 

#2 Go dog sledding

Norway is home to some of the world’s best dog sledding adventures, with plenty of opportunities to take a ride through the snow-covered wilderness.

Dog sledding is available in many parts of Norway, but the best locations are typically in the country’s northern parts. Some popular locations for dog sledding include Tromsø, Alta, and Svalbard. 

Dog sledding is typically available from November/December to April when there is enough snow for the dogs to pull the sleds.

 

Our Tips for Dog Sledding Tours in Norway

TROMSØ: Husky Sled Self-Drive with Traditional Lunch

TROMSØ: Guided Husky Sledding with Traditional Lunch

SVALBARD: Dog Sledding in Longyearbyen

GEILO: Dog Sledding in Hardangervidda

 

Is dog sledding ethical?

In Norway, dog sledding is a highly regulated industry, and there are strict guidelines in place to ensure the welfare of the dogs. The Norwegian Animal Welfare Act also prohibits the mistreatment of animals in any form. However, it’s important to research the dog sledding company you’re considering to ensure they are reputable and treat their dogs well.

 

Have we done dog sledding?
No. For a long time, I avoided any touristic activities involving animals. However, after living in the Arctic for a while, I am no longer so strict about it. This winter (2023), we were planning to join a dog sledding tour in Lofoten, but unfortunately, there was no snow in February, so the tour was canceled. Sadly, it was our last chance to try dog sledding in Lofoten since the lady who ran the tour moved away from Lofoten. Perhaps we will take a trip to Tromsø next winter. Or Svalbard! I love Svalbard in winter and would not mind returning there!

 

 

#3 Go on a whale-watching tour

Winter is a great time for whale watching in Norway, with the whale watching season typically running from the beginning of November until the end of January. During this time, the waters off the coast of northern Norway are home to several species of whales, including humpback whales, killer whales, and fin whales.

The main location for winter whale watching is an island called Skjervøy, located about 4 hour’s drive northeast of Tromsø. There are several tour operators both in Tromsø and in Skjervøy that offer whale-watching tours.

These tours typically involve traveling by big boats (from Tromsø) or RIB (rigid inflatable boat from Skjervøy) to areas where whales are known to feed and play.

Outside of the winter season, you can go whale watching from Andenes in Vesterålen archipelago.

 

Recommended Whale-Watching Tours in Norway

TROMSØ: Whale Watching Tour by Hybrid-Electric Catamaran

TROMSØ: Whale Watching in Magic Skjervoy on a RIB boat

 

Is Whale Watching ethical?

Whale watching in Norway is generally considered to be an ethical and sustainable activity. The Norwegian government has strict regulations to protect whale populations, and tour operators must follow these regulations. However, choosing a reputable tour operator that follows ethical and sustainable practices is important, such as keeping a safe distance from the whales and avoiding disturbing their natural behavior.

 

Have we done whale watching?
Yes. We went whale watching in Skjervøy in November 2020 and had a great time! After moving to Tromsø in 2022, we went on another trip, but since it was at the very end of the season (the last day), we did not see any whales. It was still a lovely trip, though and we loved seeing the surroundings of Tromsø from a boat.

Are you looking for activities in Lofoten, Tromsø, Oslo or Alta?

#4 Experience Sami culture

Visiting a reindeer farm and experiencing Sami culture in Norway can be an incredibly unique and memorable experience. The Sami people are the indigenous people of Norway, Sweden, Finland, and parts of Russia. They have a rich cultural heritage and a unique way of life that revolves, among others, around reindeer herding. By visiting a reindeer farm, you can learn about Sami traditions, their way of life, and their relationship with the land.

Moreover, you can see reindeer up close safely (for the reindeer) and learn about their behavior and habitat. Last but not least, by choosing to visit reindeer farms owned and operated by Sami families, you support local communities and sustainable tourism in Norway.

The reindeer farms are usually opened from November to April, primarily to protect reindeer from the predators and effects of climate change by enclosing them in one area and feeding them.

During the summer, the reindeer graze in the mountain pastures.

 

Recommended Reindeer Farms in Norway

TROMSØ: Whale Watching Tour by Hybrid-Electric Catamaran

TROMSØ: Whale Watching in Magic Skjervoy on a RIB boat

 

Have we visited a reindeer farm?
Yes. We went to Tromsø Arctic Reindeer in February 2022 and loved interacting with the reindeer and listening to the Sami storytelling. I hope we will visit the reindeer farm again the next time we are in Tromsø.

 

 

#5 Try cross-country skiing

Cross-country skiing is THE most popular winter activity among Norwegians and a great way to experience the natural beauty of Norway. Norway is known for its picturesque winter landscapes, including snow-covered forests, steep mountains, and frozen lakes. By cross-country skiing, you can explore these landscapes at a leisurely pace and enjoy the fresh air and tranquility of the outdoors.

Cross-country skiing is an activity that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels. It’s a low-impact exercise that works out your entire body and a great way to stay active during the winter months.

There are many destinations throughout Norway that offer cross-country skiing opportunities. Several of the country’s most visited cross-country destinations are located in the mountain areas of Eastern Norway.

For example, Sjusjøen is a small village located about 20 km east of Lillehammer. It’s known for its extensive network of cross-country ski trails, which cover more than 350 km of groomed tracks. Some other popular locations are the Gudbrandsdalen or Hallingdal valleys. Several ski destinations in Norway have courses and beginner lessons for both adults and children.

The best time to go cross-country skiing in Norway is from late December to early April when the snow is plentiful and the weather is cold enough to maintain the snow.

However, depending on the weather conditions, some areas may have shorter or longer ski seasons. Our favorite time to go on longer cross-country skiing trips is around Easter, when the weather gets warmer, and there is plenty of sunlight during the day.

 

Try Cross-country Skiing in Norway

TROMSØ: Beginners Guided Backcountry Cross-Country Skiing

TROMSØ: Whale Watching in Magic Skjervoy on a RIB boat

 

Have we Done It?

Oh yes. I have many stories from the beginning of our relationship when Ivar tried to persuade me that cross-country skiing is the best. On our very first winter trip together, he took me to Rondane national park, where we slept in a tent at -26 degrees Celsius. And that actually was not the worst part of the trip. 

Our gas stove broke, so we could not melt any snow to get drinking water. Even that was not the worst part of the trip. 

We checked the weather forecast for avalanche danger, and when we found out that there was none, we confidently embarked on the trip. It turned out that there was no avalanche danger because there was almost no snow, and we were half-pulling, half-carrying our heavy sled for three days. 

Anyway, do not get discouraged by this story, cross-country skiing is actually fun. However, if you have never done it, start with an easy trip on flat terrain before you attempt a multi-day trip with a heavy sled on no snow.

 

 

#6 Visit an ice hotel

Norway is home to several ice hotels, which tourists can visit or even spend the night in rooms made entirely of ice and snow.

One of Norway’s most popular ice hotels is the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta, northern Norway. The hotel is built every year using ice from the nearby Alta River, and it features 30 rooms, a bar, a restaurant, and even a chapel where couples can get married. The hotel’s interior is beautifully decorated with ice sculptures and intricate lighting, and guests sleep on cozy reindeer skins in thermal sleeping bags.

In addition to the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel, there are other ice hotels in Norway that you can visit, such as the Ice Hotel in Tamok Valley close to Tromsø, the Snowhotel Kirkenes, or Icehotel 365 in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, which is located just across the border from Norway.

The best time to visit an ice hotel in Norway is typically from December to April when the temperatures are low enough to keep the ice and snow structures intact. In addition to the ice hotels, you can participate in activities like snowmobiling, dog-sledding, and ice fishing.

 

Ice Hotels in Norway

✨ Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta

✨ Ice Hotel in Tamok Valley close to Tromsø

✨ Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta

✨ Icehotel 365 in Jukkasjärvi

 

Have we Visited an Ice hotel?
No, but I really want to do it. I would love to spend a night in an ice hotel, but it is crazily expensive. However, the day visit is within our budget, so I hope we will do it one day. My big dream is to visit the ice hotel in Kirkenes and go on a King Crab Safari.

Are you at the planning stage of your trip to Norway?

#7 Go Ski Touring

Ski touring, also known as randonee skiing, is a fantastic way to explore Norway’s stunning mountains and landscapes in the winter. This popular outdoor activity allows you to ski off-piste and away from the crowds, offering a more peaceful and immersive skiing experience.

Some of Norway’s best places to go ski touring include Sogndal, Jotunheimen, Sunnmøre, the Lyngen Alps, Senja, and the eastern part of Lofoten. These areas offer a range of terrain for different skill levels, from gentle slopes to more challenging peaks.

Ski touring in Norway can be done between late December and early May, depending on the location and the weather conditions. It’s important to check the avalanche risk before embarking on any ski touring adventure and to be well-prepared with the necessary equipment, such as avalanche safety gear.

Going on a ski touring trip with a guide can be a smart and safe choice. A local guide will help you navigate the terrain and ensure that you stay safe throughout your trip. They can assess the avalanche risk, choose appropriate routes, and help you avoid dangerous areas. This can be especially important in unfamiliar terrain or areas with a high avalanche risk.

 

Have we done Ski touring?

Yes. Ivar loves skiing and has his own ski touring equipment. In 2023 we lived right at the foot of Mt Ryten, so he managed to squeeze in a few short trips up there before work. I broke my leg skiing when I was a kid, and since then, I have been scared of falling, so ski touring is not really my thing. I once rented ski touring equipment in Tromsø, and we went up to Lille Blåmann in Tromsø. It was a beautiful sunny day with a lot of fresh snow, and I had a great time going up the mountain. Going down was a bigger challenge, but still, I have fond memories of the trip and would not mind trying some easy mountain in easy conditions again.

 

 

#8 Drive a snowmobile

Snowmobiling in Norway is a thrilling and exciting way to explore the country’s stunning winter landscape. However, it is much more regulated than in neighboring Sweden, where many ski resorts and larger towns up north of Sweden arrange snowmobile tours and rentals, with or without guides.

Snowmobile trips in Norway are mainly offered on Svalbard (Spitsbergen) and in Finnmark and North Troms counties. The flat terrain of Finnmark is ideal for fast driving, while the slopes of Troms require more technical handling. In Svalbard, you can join some quite long excursions in extremely varied terrain. Snowmobiling season in Norway typically runs from December through April, depending on the location and weather conditions.

To legally drive a snowmobile in Norway (and on Svalbard), you must hold a valid driver’s license for a car and be at least 18 years old. Driving a snowmobile in Norway comes with certain regulations and restrictions. For example, you are only allowed to drive on marked snowmobile trails and designated areas. We recommend going with a licensed tour operator or guide who can ensure that you are driving safely and responsibly.

 

Have we tried snowmobiling?

Yes. When I studied in Svalbard, we used snowmobiles on our field trips. I have never joined a guided tour, but I have rented a snowmobile a couple of times when I had friends visiting. Together we went to Barentsburg, Isfjord Radio, or to the eastern coast of Svalbard, where we saw polar bears. As far as I know, renting a snowmobile is only possible in Svalbard. On the mainland, you always have to join a guided tour. I would recommend doing that anyway if you do not have any experience driving a snowmobile. 

 

 

#9 Try snowshoeing

Snowshoeing is a fun and accessible winter activity for those looking to explore Norway’s snowy landscapes at a slower pace than skiing or snowmobiling. Unlike ski touring, which requires special equipment and training, snowshoeing only requires a pair of snowshoes and warm clothing. You do not need any special skills either – If you know how to walk, you know how to snowshoe, and while hiking is a popular summer activity in Norway, snowshoeing offers a unique way to experience the country’s winter wonderland.

The best time for snowshoeing in Norway is from December to April, when there is usually plenty of snow.

One of the most popular snowshoe trips in the whole of Norway is the guided winter snowshoe trip to Trolltunga. Trolltunga is a famous cliff in Norway that hangs 700 meters above the lake Ringedalsvatnet and is known for its stunning views and breathtaking scenery. During the summer, Trolltunga is one of the most popular hiking trails in Norway, and there can be a long line of people waiting to get a picture on the famous cliff. Joining a guided winter snowshoe hike is a sure way to avoid crowds. Keep in mind that it is a long and exhausting trip that will take 8-12 hours.

Some other popular locations for snowshoeing, where you can join guided tours or rent the snowshoes and explore on your are Tromsø, Senja, and the Lofoten Islands. These areas offer a range of trails, from easy to challenging, with stunning panoramic views of snow-capped peaks, frozen lakes, and forests.

 

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#10 Catch and taste a king crab

The king crab is a relatively new species to Norway. In Norway, it was initially referred to as the “Kamchatka Crab,” named after the Siberian peninsula on the eastern coast. In the 1960s, Soviet biologists introduced the crabs into the Murmansk Fjord. The crab adapted and thrived in the area, and the crab population has continued to spread westward, with colonies now found off the coasts of West Finnmark and Troms. The largest and densest king crab colonies are eastward from the North Cape.

Kirkenes, located in the far northeast of Norway, is the most popular destination for King Crab safaris. From there, you can embark on an exciting adventure on the Barents Sea, where you will be taken to the crab-rich areas by boat. Once there, you can catch king crabs, which can weigh up to 15 kg, using special crab pots.

Even though the main season is from October to January, when the crab shells contain the most meat, you can go king crab fishing the whole year round. During the summer, you can join professional fishermen onboard a high-speed RIB boat and assist them in pulling crab pots from the sea. 

These trips not only provide a thrilling experience of catching crabs, but also offer some marine sightseeing where you may even catch a glimpse of porpoises playing in the waters. The RIB boat allows for a fast and efficient way to navigate the waters and reach the crab-rich areas. In winter, you have the opportunity to participate in a snowmobile tour on the frozen fjord, where you will retrieve crab pots from beneath the ice.

The red king crab is not a native species to the Barents Sea and has a destructive impact on the benthic fauna. It has therefore been blacklisted in Norway, and the authorities aim to prevent the species from spreading further along the coast towards the west. It’s important to note that fishing for king crab is regulated in Norway to ensure the sustainability of the crab population. Tourists are not permitted to take part directly in catching king crab, but a certain quota has been allocated to the tourist fishing industry in Finnmark.

 

Have we Done it?

Not yet. But it has long been on our wish list!

Do you need inspiration for how to get dressed in Norway in winter?

#11 Go Fishing

Although most people plan their vacation to Norway for the summer, if you want the biggest fish, you should visit Norway in the winter. Head to Northern Norway, specifically to the stunning Lofoten Islands, between January and April to take part in the famous cod (skrei) fishing. 

Skrei comes to Lofoten from the Barents Sea to spawn, and this annual migration is a natural wonder that helped to build Norway as a nation. The stockfish trade played a significant role in the Norwegian economy for centuries, and it was the country’s most important export item since the Viking times until the discovery of oil in the North Sea in the late 1960s.

Lofoten is also known for hosting the world championship in Skrei fishing, where fishers from around the world gather to compete. The championship takes place in March, and participants must use traditional fishing methods, such as hand lines, to catch as many fish as possible. The event attracts a large crowd, and it is a great opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of the area while enjoying some world-class fishing.

 

Have we Done it?

Yes! We went fishing with Go2Lofoten in Svolvær at the beginning of April 2023, and it was an amazing trip. It was a beautiful sunny day with lots of snow on the mountains and a calm sea. The captain was friendly, funny, and knowledgeable, and it felt like a fishing trip combined with sightseeing. We learned a lot about fishing and the lives of fishermen in Lofoten, and when Radka caught a nice cod, it was the cherry on top of the cake. 

 

 

#12 Explore Ice Caves

In Norway, ice cave exploration is most commonly done in the region of Svalbard. Here, you can take guided tours to explore blue ice caves that have formed within glaciers. These caves are often accessed by snowmobile or dog sled, adding to the adventure of the experience. If you get lucky, you might even spot polar bears!

Visiting Svalbard in winter can be a truly unique and adventurous experience since Svalbard is one of the closest locations to the North Pole that is accessible to tourists. Svalbard is located in the Arctic Ocean, and in winter, the island is transformed into a frozen wonderland with snow and ice covering the landscape. 

One of the main attractions in Svalbard during winter is the Northern Lights, which can often be seen dancing in the sky on clear nights. Another popular activity is dog sledding, where you can mush your own team of huskies through the snow-covered terrain.

 

Have we Visited Ice Caves in Norway?

Yes! The ice cave at Larsbreen Glacier was a frequent goal of our trips when I lived on Svalbard. That cave was special because you had to climb a rope ladder to get down, and then you found yourself in a labyrinth of small corridors under the glacier. 

In 2017 we went with Ivar to Iceland, where we visited an ice cave and were so disappointed. Even though we bought a “small group experience,” all tour operators entered the same cave. We just took a peek inside and turned around as it was filled with people, and felt very claustrophobic despite the relatively big size of the cave. 

The cave on Svalbard was a completely different story, and I wish to come back to Svalbard in winter and see it again or even explore some more caves further away from Longyearbyen. 

 

 

#13 Go Sledding

Sledding is a fun and exciting winter activity requiring no special skills or expensive equipment. In Norway, there are many great places to try tobogganing, and it’s a great alternative to skiing for those who want to enjoy the winter landscape. The activity involves sliding down a slope on a sled, often at high speeds, which can be an exhilarating experience. It’s also a great activity for families and groups of friends to enjoy together.

One of Norway’s best places to go tobogganing is in Lillehammer, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. The Toboggan Run in Olympiaparken is a popular attraction in the area and offers a thrilling ride down a 1,000-meter-long track. The run is suitable for all ages and is open throughout winter, usually from December to April.

Some other popular locations to enjoy sledding are Dagali Fjellpark and Skarslia Ski Resort, near Geilo, or the ski resorts in Beitostlølen and Hemsedal.

If you are visiting Oslo in winter, and there is enough snow, you should add Korketrekken to your bucket list! Korketrekken is a famous toboggan run in Oslo, and it is a popular destination for locals and tourists alike. The run starts at Frognerseteren, a popular recreational area and metro stop in Oslo, and winds down a steep hill for 2 kilometers, ending at Midtstuen metro station. The track is open to anyone with a sled, and there is no entrance fee. Sleds can be rented at Frognerseteren or brought from home.

 

Have we Tried Tobogganing in Norway?

Yes! In winter 2021, I worked for Dagali Fjellpark, where you can rent sleds and enjoy their toboggan run. It was so much fun, and I loved it way more than skiing. 

You hook the sled on the T-lift that pulls you up the hill. There are separate ski pistes for skiing and sledding, so you do not have to be afraid that you will crash into someone. And then you just enjoy sledding down a nearly 2 km long prepared track that ends at the lower station of the ski lift, where you hook the sled to the T-lift again and continue having fun!

 

 

#14 Take a Train Ride Through Winter Landscape

Taking a train ride through Norway’s winter landscape can be an unforgettable experience that offers stunning views and a unique perspective of the country’s winter wonderland. While driving can also be a good option, train travel allows you to relax and enjoy the scenery without worrying about road conditions. Plus, you can also access areas that may not be reachable by car.

If you’re seeking an authentic and natural experience in Norway, winter is the perfect time to visit the Flåm area and do Norway in a Nutshell tour. 

Norway in a Nutshell is a popular tour package that typically includes a combination of train, bus, and boat rides, as well as a visit to some of the most iconic attractions in the country, such as the Flåm Railway and the UNESCO-listed fjords Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. The tour is popular among tourists because it offers a convenient way to explore multiple destinations quickly, all while taking in the breathtaking scenery that Norway is known for. Despite the popular attraction of the Norwegian fjords, the wintertime offers a sense of tranquility and solitude as the crowds dissipate.

You can plan to make Norway in a Nutshell trip into several days of winter adventures, stopping in Geilo, Flåm, Voss, and Bergen.

Geilo is a popular winter destination in Norway, known for its excellent skiing opportunities and winter activities. Geilo belongs to one of the biggest ski centers in the country, catering to all levels of skiing and snowboarding abilities. There are ski schools, rentals, and guided tours available. If skiing is not your thing, you can try dog sledding, horseback riding, driving a snowmobile, or sledding in the nearby Skarslia or Dagali Fjellpark.

Voss is home to two of the biggest ski resorts in Fjord Norway – Voss Resort and Myrkdalen, offering a combined 70 kilometers of slopes for skiers of all levels. With 20 ski lifts, there is plenty of terrain to explore, including exciting off-piste areas and dedicated skiing areas for children. If skiing is not your thing, you can still soak in the breathtaking winter scenery by embarking on a guided snowshoe hike or a dog sledding adventure!

 

Have we Done it?

No. We have a car, so we usually go for a road trip since it is often cheaper than train tickets. However, not everyone is comfortable driving on ice and snow, and I think exploring Norway in winter by train is great! The areas covered by Norway in a Nutshell experience are pretty all year round, but if I had to choose, I would go in winter to avoid the crowds. 

 

 

#15 Celebrate Christmas and New Year’s Eve

A few options may interest you if you’re looking for a snowy New Year’s Eve celebration in Norway.

 

🎡  Christmas Holidays in Tromsø

One option is to head to Tromsø, known as the “Gateway to the Arctic” and a popular destination for viewing the Northern Lights. Tromsø is located in northern Norway, so there’s a good chance you’ll have a white, snowy New Year’s Eve here. You can join in on the local celebrations, which usually include fireworks and concerts, and there are plenty of opportunities for winter activities like dog sledding or visiting a reindeer farm.

 

🎄  Christmas and New Year’s Eve in Lillehammer

Another option is Lillehammer, which is a great destination for winter sports enthusiasts and those seeking a snowy Christmas holiday. Located in the eastern part of Norway, Lillehammer is known for its ski resorts and outdoor activities. The city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994 and has since developed world-class skiing facilities. You can enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowboarding, and other outdoor sports activities in Lillehammer.

In addition to skiing, Maihaugen in Lillehammer is a popular destination for visitors during the Christmas season. The open-air museum features historic buildings and exhibits that showcase the Christmas traditions of Norway throughout the centuries. Various events and activities, such as traditional Christmas markets and concerts, are also offered during the holiday season, making it a festive experience for visitors. Lillehammer is also home to Hunderfossen Winter Park, which offers a variety of family-friendly winter activities, including ice skating, sledding, and a snow hotel.

 

❄️  Winter Wonderland Christmas in Røros

Røros is a charming small town in central Norway known for its well-preserved wooden buildings and mining history. If you are looking to spend Christmas in a place that feels like a winter wonderland, Røros is an excellent choice. The town usually receives plenty of snow during winter, and the snowy streets and roofs add to the festive atmosphere.

In addition to the beautiful surroundings, Røros is famous for its Christmas market, one of the most popular in Norway. The market is in the town’s historic center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and features vendors selling everything from handmade crafts to traditional Norwegian food and drink. The market takes place the first week of December each year, and it is a great place to get into the holiday spirit and pick up some unique gifts.

 

🍪  Gingerbread Town in Bergen

Bergen is the second biggest city in Norway. It is located on the southwestern coast, and it’s a popular destination for visitors throughout the year. However, during the Christmas season, the entire city is decorated with festive lights and decorations. One of the Bergen Christmas experience highlights is the “Pepperkakebyen,” which translates to “Gingerbread Town.” This is the largest gingerbread exhibition in the world, and it features hundreds of intricately decorated gingerbread houses made by local residents, schools, and organizations.

In addition to the Pepperkakebyen, Bergen has a bustling Christmas market where local handicrafts, food, and drinks can be found. The streets are filled with the sounds of Christmas carols, and there’s a joyful atmosphere throughout the city. And, of course, there’s always the chance of snow, which adds an extra touch of magic to the festive atmosphere. Bergen is a delightful destination for a Christmas holiday, and the Pepperkakebyen is a must-see attraction that will delight visitors of all ages.

 

🎁  Christmas Markets in Oslo

Celebrating Christmas in Oslo is a magical experience that will leave you with unforgettable memories. The city is adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations during the holiday season, creating a cozy and enchanting atmosphere.

One of the must-visit places during Christmas in Oslo is the Christmas market in Spikersuppa, which is located in the heart of the city. Here, you can wander around the market stalls and indulge in traditional Norwegian treats such as gløgg (mulled wine). The market also features a skating rink and Ferris wheel that offers a unique view of the city and its winter wonderland atmosphere during the holiday season.

The Christmas Market at the Folk Museum in Oslo is a popular and traditional event that takes place every year during the first two weekends in December. The Christmas Market features over 100 stalls selling traditional Norwegian handicrafts, gifts, food, and drinks. The whole museum is decorated in line with various customs and eras, allowing you to experience anything from Christmas Eve in a fancy merchant’s home in 1769 to the home of a rural Norwegian family in 1959.

 

Have we Celebrated Christmas in Norway?

Yes and no. While I usually travel home to the Czech Republic for Christmas, Ivar celebrates Christmas in Oslo with his family. But I love to spend a couple of days before Christmas Eve in Oslo, visiting the Christmas market and soaking up the festive atmosphere. If I could dream of spending a magical Christmas in Norway, I would love to rent a cabin close to Røros and enjoy the snow and tranquility of winter in the rural part of Norway!

 

 

WHY NORWAY IS NOT AS COLD AS YOU THINK

Before moving to Norway, I had always thought visiting Norway in the winter was way too cold. Who am I kidding, I thought Norway was cold even in the summer.

But you know what?

The winters in Norway are relatively mild, especially on the western coast, because of the Gulf Stream. The Gulf Stream brings warm water from the tropics to the North Atlantic, which in turn warms the surrounding air, making the winters milder than one might expect for such a high latitude.

However, the temperatures can vary greatly depending on where you are in Norway, with the coastal areas being generally milder than the inland regions.

 

 

Winter temperatures in Norway

Winter temperatures in various regions of Norway can vary significantly.

In Western Norway, around areas like Bergen, winter temperatures generally range from about -1°C to 6°C (30°F to 43°F), with milder conditions due to the moderating influence of the Gulf Stream.

Moving to Northern Norway, in places like Tromsø and Lofoten, winters are a bit colder. Temperatures can dip between -6°C to -1°C (21°F to 30°F), and in some cases, even colder.

Eastern Norway, including Oslo and Lillehammer, experiences winter temperatures ranging from -6°C to -1°C (21°F to 30°F) on average. The inland areas of Eastern Norway can be even colder due to their continental climate, with temperatures often dropping below -10°C (14°F).

It’s important to note that inland areas, particularly those affected by the continental climate, such as Finnmark and Røros, experience much colder temperatures. In these regions, winter temperatures can plummet to -20°C (-4°F) and lower, creating a truly wintry environment.

 

Norway in winter: Daylight hours

The daylight hours vary significantly in winter, depending on location.

In Tromsø, located in northern Norway, the sun does not rise above the horizon for about two months, from late November to late January. During this time, the city experiences a polar night, and there are no daylight hours. 

From late January to late April, Tromsø has gradually increasing daylight hours, with the sun rising higher and higher above the horizon each day. By March, Tromsø has about 12 hours of daylight.

Bergen, located on the southwestern coast of Norway, has milder winters compared to Tromsø. In December, Bergen has about 6 hours of daylight, with the sun rising at around 9 am and setting at around 3:30 pm. 

In January, Bergen has about 7 hours of daylight, with the sun rising at around 9 am and setting at around 4 pm. In February, Bergen has about 9 hours of daylight, with the sun rising at around 8 am and setting at around 5 pm. In March, Bergen has about 12 hours of daylight, with the sun rising at around 7 am and setting at around 7 pm.

FAQ ABOUT VISITING NORWAY IN WINTER

Norway can get pretty cold in the winter, but with proper clothing and gear, it is definitely possible to enjoy your visit. Make sure to dress in layers, wear warm and waterproof boots, and cover your hands, head, and neck.

Yes, Norway is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in winter. The northern lights season lasts from the beginning of September to the beginning of April. 

However, it is important to keep in mind that the Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon and can never be guaranteed. Moreover, you need to have a clear sky to be able to see the northern lights.

Tromsø and the surrounding areas in Northern Norway are popular destinations for Northern Lights viewing due to their location within the Aurora Oval. To increase your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, it is best to join a guided tour.

Norway is known for its harsh winter weather conditions, with icy roads and heavy snowfalls, so it’s important to exercise caution when driving during winter. However, the Norwegian authorities are well prepared, and the main roads are regularly plowed and salted, making them generally safe to drive on.

It’s still advisable to check weather and road conditions before embarking on a trip and have suitable winter tires and driving experience in snowy conditions.

Additionally, it’s worth noting that some roads in the mountain areas, e.g., Trollstigen,  will be closed during winter.

Yes, many attractions and restaurants in Norway are open year-round, including in the winter. However, some places may have reduced hours or be closed on certain days, so it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time to avoid disappointment.

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

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Ivar and Radka Guide to Lofoten

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten.

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