Updated: Oct 9
When the temperatures are getting below zero and the snow covers the streets, one thing is clear: winter is here and that means we have to get ready for another six months of a whole different life full of unique Christmas atmosphere, thick sweaters and awesome winter activities! If you are the lucky winter traveller who is looking for some insider tips for the cold days in the capital of the North, keep reading! In this post, we will present you the most amazing activities to enjoy in Oslo during the winter months, as well as an insider tip from a local about how to better survive the fierce temperatures.
1. Taste a gløgg in one of Oslo's Christmas Markets
Since the mid-November until the end of December, the main attention definitely belongs to the Christmas Markets. And this is definitely something that you can't miss! Besides a wonderful Christmas atmosphere, the markets offer you a variety of the best (not only) traditional products aside with tasty food and warming drinks. While looking for an original gift for your loved ones, don't forget to stop by for a cup of gløgg (mulled wine, also available in non-alcoholic version) Norwegian Christmas food.
Need some insider tip? Stop by in Karl Johann to get a bite of some traditional Norwegian products, such as dried reindeer or smoked whale in Ost og Sånt, or book our City Highlights and Christmas Markets Walking Tour and get an introduction into the Norwegian Christmas history, customs and beliefs, as well as the stories of some of the traditional products.
2. Have fun on a 2.5 km long sledging route
Where is all the fun in the snow? Just a few minutes subway ride from the city centre, in the Holmenkollen area. Besides an amazing Winter Park that offers many possibilities for skiing and snowboarding (including several U-ramps and adrenaline boosters), the area hosts a two and a half kilometres long sledging route! The route was built in 1952 as a bobsleigh toboggan for the winter Olympics. Today it's one of the most popular activities for enjoying the fun in the snow among friends, families, couples of all generations. How does it work? You can either rent a sledge or take your own and enjoy the experience yourself or you can join our Sledging in Holmenkollen ultimate experience where we will take care of all the necessary equipment and tell you a bit more about Norwegians and winter sports before hitting the toboggan for 1.5 hours!
3. Get warm in sauna that is floating on Oslofjord
Getting some extra heat in a sauna is definitely a good idea during the winter season in general. It is not only a great way how to get rid of the frost under your nails, but it is also super healthy and with the right people even super fun! And well, in case of the floating saunas in Oslo, it is a once-in-a-life experience! There are several floating saunas in Oslo and all of them offer an exceptional view to some of the most famous highlights. If you are up for some extra heat with beautiful surroundings and a cold shower in Oslofjord, check out the Kok sauna or Sørenga Badstuflåte that are located close to the Opera House, or our favourite and brand new floating sauna in Aker Brygge from Green Boats! Just don't forget, for pretty obvious reasons (yes, we don't want to cause somebody a heartache), you need to wear your swimsuit in Norwegian floating saunas!
4. Try a once-in-a-life experience -----> the fjord ice skating
Well, first of all, we have to note that is an experience that requires good preparations and definitely some skating skills. There are currently no official guided fjord ice skating experiences around Oslo so the only way how to try some fjord ice skating is to rent some skates and hit the fjord yourself. If you are skilled enough to try the fjord skating, you can do so in the Oslofjord around Sandvika which is around 15 minutes from Oslo by train. The fjord in that area is regularly checked by the Ice surveillance service who marks a safe circular trail (about 8-9 kilometres) on the ice with spruce bushes. The outer area where the ice inspector checks are marked with white wooden pins hung with ratchet straps and should be good to go. However, you should always make sure the ice is safe by calling their info line: 800 81 818 (from Norway).
If you are not a fan of fjord ice skating, you have plenty of other possibilities in and around Oslo. You can either use some of the official skating areas in the city centre, such as the Spikkersupa in the middle of Karl Johan Street where you can also rent skates for about 120-150 NOK per day. Or you can travel a bit to one of Oslo's beautiful forest lake areas to get a true nature experience. But again, please check the ice quality before you go. You can get the information for example: here. Good skating!
5. Taste the traditional winter food from Norwegian countryside, the Smalahove
Every cuisine has a dish that attracts special attention. In Norway, Smalahove would definitely be on top of the list (probably right next to lutefisk, gammalost and rakfisk). Smalahove is a traditional winter dish from West of Norway, usually served before Christmas. And as the name suggests (smale = one word for sheep, hove = head), this popular dish is, in fact, a sheep head. The head can be boiled, smoked or baked, usually together with the tongue and eyes which are supposed to be eaten first. Even though Smalahove is becoming more popular these days with the development of foodie culture and foodie tourism, it is originally a food of poor people and farmers. And if you are looking for a truly sustainable, authentic and interesting foodie experience, this is definitely a way to go!
And the secret tip for staying warm during the winter season in Oslo is...
Ooops, we tricked you a bit here because of course there is no magical way how to stay warm for the whole day outside in Oslo during the winter that you would not already know (like the good old Norwegian advice to dress according to the weather conditions). But we still have great advice for you: If you are in Norway, do what locals do because they know why they do it! Get yourself a nice thermos, fill it with your favourite tea and go skiing in the woods! There are some amazing things that you can enjoy only in winter. So embrace it! Don't sit at home and come to visit us to have some fun in snow and ice together!