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Surviving winter: Five tips for enjoying the cold like a true Norwegian

Frazer Norwell
Frazer Norwell - [email protected]
Surviving winter: Five tips for enjoying the cold like a true Norwegian
These tips and activities will help you learn to love the cold in Norway. Pictured is a Norwegian ice-bathing.Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Most of Norway has been blanketed in snow, so it's time to prepare for the coming winter. Here are our tips for getting through the season with a smile on your face.


One of the most challenging things about life in Norway as a foreigner can be the long, cold winters. The transition from autumn to winter can feel instant- with temperatures suddenly plummeting below freezing and the nights becoming longer and darker. 

In Oslo, the average temperature dips to -3C throughout winter. However, the presence of the Oslofjord and wind can make it feel much, much colder. Meanwhile, those in the mountains and further north can expect -20C and even -25C. 

Add this to the fact that some parts of the country get the Polar Night, meaning the sun doesn't appear for two months, or that most cities only get a few hours of sunlight a day makes winter a grim prospect in Norway

Thankfully, it doesn't have to be as bad as it sounds, and if you play your cards right, it could end up becoming your favourite season. 


1.You may need to learn how to dress again 

To get through the winter without feeling a constant bone-tingling chill, you may need to learn how to dress again. 

Norwegians occasionally remark that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes. This attitude is best applied to winter. 

Layering up would be the number one tip almost every local assumes would be second nature. So, depending on the temperature, you could have any base layers or thermals, your trousers and t-shirt, a jumper, fleece or lightweight jacket and a jacket to keep the wind off in addition to a hat, scarf and gloves. 

The benefit of layering-up is that you can add and remove layers to find that goldilocks zone.

2. Invest in wool clothing 

Norwegians take great pride in investing in expensive jackets and outdoor wear. You won't have to do this. Instead, invest in clothes with the right materials. Typically, this means wool or down. While both are expensive in their own right, it's better to make sure whatever you buy has these rather than going for the most appealing name. 

Wool socks, thermals, jumpers, and insoles for your shoes are all excellent investments. These items are readily available in some of the cheaper Norwegian clothing chains if you don't fancy splashing big cash.

3. Check a few things off your bucket list

Right. We've covered surviving the weather- now it's time to thrive. Winter in Norway provides the opportunity to do several once-in-a-lifetime activities.


First of these is the Northern Lights. Depending on how far north you live, you won't have to try hard to see them. If you live further south, there'll still be a chance to spot them too- but there are spotted in areas like Oslo much less frequently. 

If you fancy it, you can still book a trip to Tromsø to try and see them, but this is quite expensive. Instead, having access to a car and understanding how the lights work will allow you to see them practically for free. 

After that, there's dog-sledging, fjord cruises and the possibility of a white Christmas. 

These activities may not leave you feeling warm on the outside, but they'll certainly warm your insides and give you the energy to push through the rest of winter. 

4. Make the most of the daylight

This is trickier for those living so far north that they may only get a couple of hours a day or none when the Polar Night arrives. 

However, it is imperative to get a few hours when it's light to stop yourself from feeling like you're waking up to pitch black, finishing work after the sun has set, and then spending the rest of the evening in darkness. 


Setting aside a couple of hours when it's light to go for a walk or cross-country skiing can help prevent you from feeling like the darkness surrounds you. 

Additionally, there are the associated health benefits of topping up your vitamin D to keep you going throughout the winter. 

5. Stay active 

Keeping yourself active is possible during the Norwegian winter- even if you aren't into winter sports. Spotting joggers out and about in the middle of winter in Oslo is perfect evidence of this.

If you do like winter sports, then, of course, winter is your favourite time of year. However, if the money factor is putting you off (a complete set of gear for skiing could run into the thousands), there are ways around this. Plenty of volunteering organisations will rent out gear for free. Some will even hand out free equipment for keeps once or twice a year. 

Then you can always try Finn-no for second-hand bargains and see what you can beg, borrow and steal (not literally) from friends and family. 

Back to those who aren't fussed about hurtling down a slope on two wood planks at 50mph. Norway's super-active locals mean plenty of gyms and sports facilities are dotted about. The big cities will have indoor heated pitches which can be used for sports in the winter. 

Winter, therefore, offers plenty of opportunities to try something new or keep those exercise endorphins coming. 

For those really on the hunt for a quick rush, why not try an ice bath? 


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