11 Ideas for Fabulous Winter Holidays in Norway
Are you planning a winter trip to Norway? This beautiful Scandinavian country is even more fun to explore during the wintertime, and the variety of activities you can try is absolutely mind-blowing. There are many ways how you can make fabulous winter holidays in Norway, and we are going to explore some of the most exciting ways to spend your winter vacation in this country.
Despite the common misconception, it isn’t that cold in Norway during the winter season. Yes, you must dress warm, but the Gulf Stream makes the climate much milder. If you are planning to make a road trip, bear in mind that certain roads might be closed during this season. And, as a bonus, you can expect somewhat lower prices in southern Norway. Though, regardless of where you are planning to go, it’s advised to book early. And now, let’s get to the fun part!
Enjoy the Festive Atmosphere in Oslo
Regardless of what are your plans for the winter holidays in Norway, visiting Oslo during the Christmas time must be on your bucket list. During this period, decorated, bright Christmas markets start to emerge all over the city, turning the Norwegian capital into a city from a fairy tale. Various festive activities, delicious sweets and handmade crafts sold at the markets, hot glogg served everywhere, and sparkling decorations create a perfect holiday atmosphere for locals and visitors alike.
One particular place you shouldn’t miss is Jul i Vinterland, the main Christmas market in the city that is usually open from mid-November to January 1. Located right in the heart of Oslo, this market is a perfect venue to experience a genuine Christmas vibe in the Norwegian capital. The market has it all: countless stands with gifts and toys, food stalls serving delicious food and warm drinks, free Christmas activities, and concerts.
Another important event in the city at this time is the Annual Christmas Fair at Norskfolkemuseum, which takes place over the course of just two weekends and features over a hundred old-fashioned stalls. This is the place where you can buy Christmas decorations, homemade crafts, gifts for your friends and family, Christmas specialties, and delicious foods.
When you visit a Christmas market in Oslo, don’t miss your chance to try glogg, a traditional Norwegian drink and a bestselling item at Christmas markets. Other popular foods at Norwegian Christmas markets include Pepperkake and roasted almonds, chocolate, all types of sausages (including moose sausages), and churros. If you are looking for gifts or souvenirs, check out the knitwear, reindeer skins, wooden craftwork, and Christmas decorations sold at the market. And, of course, don’t forget about troll figurines!
Besides, you can learn more about Norwegian Christmas in our guide to Christmas traditions in Norway.
Chase the Northern Lights
Turn your winter trip to Norway into an exciting Nordic adventure and chase aurora borealis, the magnificent show of nature in the Arctic sky. One of the things that make this experience so special is that you can never predict where and when the Northern Lights will appear, which makes the hunt even more exciting!
Tromsø is one of the best destinations for viewing the Northern Lights in Norway. This city, known as the capital of the north, is a starting point for almost any winterly adventure in this country. The city has the necessary infrastructure, and the landscapes around Tromsø are absolutely stunning, as towering mountains alternate with vast snowy plains.
It is worth noting that there are different combinations of the Northern Lights tours. Some include a professional class in photography, while other tours combine it with snowmobiling or dog sledding. Besides, these tours vary in their duration as well – some of them are multi-day tours, which means that you have a better chance of catching the aurora lights.
If you would like to learn more about aurora borealis, you can read our tips on chasing the Northern Lights in Norway. Besides, you can discover what are the best places for viewing aurora borealis in Scandinavia.
Undertake Exciting Activities in Tromsø
The Northern Lights do not excite you that much, but you still want to explore the northern city of Tromsø? That’s a great idea! It’s not only that Tromsø is a fantastic city that is worth to be explored by travelers, but also because of the sheer number of various activities you can try in this area.
Visiting a reindeer farm and trying reindeer sledding is one way to spice up your winter holidays in Norway. Or, if you wish to make new four-legged friends, you may visit a husky farm and embark on a dog sledding adventure. In case you wish to get another sort of adrenaline rush, try snowmobiling! In a snowmobile, you can be either a driver or just a passenger, who can relax and enjoy views of the vast snowy plains.
And, naturally, Tromsø is a perfect destination for cross-country skiing – you can learn to ski here even if you are completely a beginner. Snowshoeing is another popular way to explore nature in this area, and you can even hike in the mountains near the city. After all, Arctic fjord cruises are another exciting activity to consider.
In case you wish to learn more about all the exciting activities to do in Tromsø in winter, you can read our detailed guide on that matter.
Make a Fabulous Winter Trip to Lofoten
Lofoten, an archipelago of astonishing beauty in western Norway, attracts travelers all year round. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Lofoten Islands have a much milder climate despite being in the high latitude, making it an ideal destination for remarkable winter holidays in Norway. But it’s not just the dreamlike beaches that attract thousands and thousands of visitors; this place has so much more to offer!
Are you looking to catch the Northern Lights? Lofoten Islands (together with Tromsø) are one of the most popular destinations for chasing aurora borealis. Besides, you can order a combined tour with snowmobiling or dog sledding, which will give you a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Or you can couple the aurora borealis chase with a photography tour and learn how to take better photos of the Northern Lights. After all, Lofoten has quite a few lodges in picturesque places that are perfectly suitable for viewing the aurora lights!
Thanks to the mild climate in Lofoten, this destination is perfectly suitable for kayaking and surfing even in winter. Or you can learn about the traditions of local fishermen that go back hundreds and hundreds of years and try some deep-sea fishing in one of the most picturesque places in the world.
If you prefer to venture into the mountains, this beautiful archipelago features many scenic trekking routes that you can explore. And instead of walking these routes, you can try snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. After all, don’t miss your chance to drop in the Magic Ice Bar in Svolvær, which features many ice sculptures related to the Viking and fishermen’s history and offers an absolutely unique experience.
By the way, you can learn more about traveling to the Lofoten islands in our article.
Become a Polar Explorer in Faraway Svalbard
In Norway, winter holidays can easily become a truly remote experience. Svalbard, an archipelago in the Arctic Circle, is one of the world’s northernmost territories and is a part of Norway. It’s this isolated, remote locale where you can satisfy your inner urge for adventures.
Svalbard has some interesting (and, indeed, northernmost) bars, out-and-outer places (such as an abandoned Soviet village), and beautiful scenery. But it’s the wildlife that you absolutely should explore in this remote wilderness! Don’t miss your chance to observe reindeer, whales, seals, and, of course, the fearsome polar bears in the wild. If you are up for a truly adventurous winter trip in Norway, consider coming to Svalbard!
Cruise the Freezing Waters of the Fjords
Any winter trip to Norway wouldn’t be complete without a majestic fjord cruise. There are 2- or 3-hour long fjord cruises starting from Oslo, Bergen, and Tromsø as well as multi-day fjord journeys. Even though the variety of cruises is somewhat meager than in summer, there are still plenty of nautical adventures to choose from.
But the king of all cruises in winter is, of course, Hurtigruten. The famous cruise line dates back to 1893 and runs along the western coast of Norway, operating year-round. What makes this fjord line special is its hop-on hop-off concept, which means that you can get aboard and get off the ship at any point of the route. Some of the most notable ports of call along the route include Bergen, Ålesund, the Lofoten Islands, and North Cape (Nordkapp).
In our blog, you can read more about Hurtigruten cruises, too.
Learn About Sami Traditions
The Sami people, the indigenous inhabitants of Northern Europe, have a unique culture and they worked hard to preserve their traditions and lifestyle. Of course, modernization has brought many changes into their lives, but many Sami people still stick to their traditional activities, such as herding reindeer, fishing, and trapping.
Seize this opportunity and visit a Sami camp in Northern Norway, where you can learn more about their culture and witness how these people uphold their traditions. During your visit, you will get a chance to relish delicious Sami meals in a lavvu, a traditional Sami tent, and take part in some exciting activities, such as reindeer or dog sledding!
Become an Avid Skier
If you would like to try skiing, there is, perhaps, no better country than Norway for that. And in case you are already an experienced skier, then a winter trip to Norway is likely to turn into a fabulous adventure for you!
Norway has it all: world-class facilities for skiing, an absolutely astonishing number of trails for cross-country skiing, mountainous terrain that is perfect for alpine skiing, and a deep-rooted culture of skiing among Norwegians. All in all, skiing is one of the best ways to spend your winter holidays in Norway. You should just decide about the resort, the type of skiing, and where to rent gear – we have covered it in other articles on our blog (find the links in the paragraph below).
In our blog, you can learn about cross-country skiing in Norway in detail. Besides, we explore what are the best locations for both cross-country and alpine skiing in Norway in this article.
Have a Shot at Fishing in the Norwegian Waters
Norway is a perfect destination for a fishing trip all year round. But from January to April, you get a fantastic chance to try skrei fishing, or the fishing of migrating Atlantic cod. During this season, skrei (Atlantic cod) comes back to the Norwegian coast for spawning, which creates perfect conditions for fishing.
There are multiple places where skrei fishing is popular, but Svolvær, a fishing village in Lofoten (the one we have already mentioned above), beats all of them. Here, you can stay in a fisherman’s house (rorbu) and embark on a guided fishing trip for the ultimate experience. Coupled with scenic views and untouched nature in Lofoten, this will most definitely turn out to be the perfect winter holidays in Norway.
If you want to learn more about fishing in Norway, check out our blog!
Have Fun Spending Time Indoors
The weather is nasty and you don’t feel like going out? Have a great time exploring the indoor experiences in the Norwegian capital! In addition to Oslo’s vibrant nightlife and seemingly countless nightclubs, this cozy city invites you to explore its outstanding cultural sites.
Visit a concert in the modern Oslo Opera House or appreciate the beautiful frescoes on the walls of Oslo City Hall. If you are an adventurer, learn about the legendary Norwegian expeditions at the Fram and Kon-Tiki museums. After all, it would be unpardonable not to mention the newly reopened MUNCH and the National Museum, which can deservedly be named among the best museums in Scandinavia.
You can learn more about these attractions in our article about 10 reasons to visit Oslo.
Relish Delicious Norwegian Food
Norway is famous for its top-notch seafood, and winter is the season when the Norwegian fish and seafood taste best! During this period, fresh fish is at its best and you can satisfy your cravings in any part of the country – from fish markets in Bergen and Tromsø to Michelin restaurants in the Norwegian capital. Besides, don’t miss your chance to taste delicious prawns and king crab straight in a Norwegian fish market!
Visiting Norway around Christmas time? In that case, have fun wandering around the Christmas markets and exploring all the delicious treats sold there. And, naturally, who would leave a Norwegian Christmas market without a glass of glogg?
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