10 Reasons to Visit Norway When It's Cold
Melissa Klurman

10 Hot Reasons to Visit Norway in the Winter

By Melissa Klurman
"Norwegians," the saying goes, "are born with skis on their feet." In other words, this is a country that knows a thing or two about how to enjoy the winter months.

Whether that means sledding or skiing, racing a snowmobile over a frozen lake, spotting snowcapped fjords from the Hurtigruten ferry, or watching for the Northern Lights with a steaming cup of coffee and a skillingsboller (warm cinnamon roll), Norwegians are experts at embracing the cold.

Curious about what makes Norway a perfect snow-covered getaway? Here are 10 not-so-chilly reasons that winter is the best time to visit the country of fjords.
Norway's winter landscapes
Melissa Klurman
Photographing Stunning Frozen Landscapes
Snow capped fjords. Fields of sparkling ice. Reindeer! For scenery that truly takes your breath away, the snowy peaks and passages of Norway are unsurpassed.
Urban Skiing and Sledding in Oslo
Oslo Tourism
Urban Skiing and Sledding
Sure, lots of winter resorts offer downhill skiing, and you can do that in Norway, too. But urban skiing through downtown? In Oslo, cross-country skiers can traverse scenic spots such as the roof of the opera house and the ramparts of Askershus Fortress. Best of all, winter sports enthusiasts can use the Number 1 trolley as a modern chair lift for toboggans. Buy a full day pass, head up to the top of the tram route, rent your toboggan from one of the convenient kiosks, slide down to the city, then take the tram back up again. You'll never want to sled on a regular hill again.
Play Like a Kid in the Snow
Kelly Kelly
Playing Like a Kid in the Snow
Norwegians are serious about skiing, but they also know how to just have fun in the snow. Try out a kick sled, a sledge, ice skates, or old-fashioned sled at snow resorts around the country. And don't miss a chance to learn how to use a stand-up sleigh, which is still a mode of easy transportation in northern Norway when winter takes hold.
Winter Spectator Sports in Norway
Northern Norway Tourism
Witnessing New Winter Sports
Tired of talking about basketball and football? Spend time in northern Norway in winter, and sports conversations will invariably turn to the annual Finnmarksløpet instead. What’s that? Only the longest dogsled race in Norway, looping from Alta to Kirkenes and back, 1,000km (646 miles) across the Finnmark tundra. The 1,500 barely controlled huskies that comprise 150 teams barrel across the snow-covered terrain, making for a huge draw in March when it takes place—it's even on national television.

Not All of Norway is Cold in Winter
Melissa Klurman
Not All of Norway is Cold
This may come as a surprise (it was to us): Not all of Norway is below freezing in the winter. In fact, the scenic coastal port towns such as Bergen, Ålesund, and Trondheim are actually relatively mild, thanks to the warm air current of the jet stream which swoops straight up the coast. Temperatures are more like those in New York City, in the 30s to 50s, than frigid Siberia or Greenland with whom it shares the same latitutde. Of course, the Gulf Stream can bring a cold front occasionally, but it's nowhere near the cold that hovers over the more Arctic northern portions of the country where the winter temps dip down below zero Fahrenheit with regularity.
King Crab Safari
Northern Norway Tourism
Stuffing Yourself on King Crab
“Beware, There Be Monsters!” Although the Viking maps of old couldn’t have been referring to the massive King Crab that currently live in the waters of northern Norway (they didn’t arrive until the 1970s), the prehistoric-looking crustaceans certainly look like monsters from the deep. Looks can be deceiving though; these giant crabs yield incredibly sweet meat. Their prime season coincides with the icy months. Don a snow suit and sign up for a King Crab Safari to see them pulled from deep beneath the ice; then get ready to feast as they're steamed fresh and served in portions large enough for a Viking.
Sleep in a snow hotel
Kirkenes Ice Hotel
Sleeping on a Bed of Ice
Looking for an adventure even when you're asleep? Try spending a night on ice at Kirkenes Ice Hotel or the Sorrisnivia Igloo Hotel. Both are sculpted out of snow and ice every year and offer a unique way to spend a winter's night. At both, an evening begins with drinks in an ice bar, a hot dinner, and concluces with an overnight in a snowy cavern where you can snuggle up in a mummy sack while you sleep (or at least try to) in the extreme temperatures.
Dogsledding in Norway
Norway Tourism
Mushing on a Dog Sled
So you don’t ski? Or even sled? Let the huskies do the work. In northern Norway, you can hop on a low-slung wood sled pulled by friendly dogs. At Trømso's remote Wilderness Centre, 300 dogs excitedly herald your arrival with barks and happy cries. They’re harnessed in teams of eight and pull two-passenger sleds across the snowy hills and plains. It’s a unique way to get close to nature in the glittering terrain.
Snowmobiling in Norway
Norway Tourism
The Adrenaline Rush of Snowmobiling
Do motorized thrills rev your engine? How about snowmobiling in Lapland? With open snow fields for miles, this is a prime location for amped-up snow bikes. For even more adventure, night trips for tourists zip across the frozen landscape at speeds around 30 to 40mph, with no other humans in sight. Turn off your motor and it’s just you, remote tundra, and the northern sky filled with bright-glowing stars and (hopefully) the swirling ribbons of the Northern Lights.
Northern Lights in Norway
Trygve Nygård/North Norway Tourism
Spotting the Northern Lights
If you’re traveling to Norway in winter, you probably have one goal in mind: finding the dancing lights of the Aurora Borealis. The best place to catch the light show produced by the electrically charged ionic particles is in the coldest corner of the country, above the Arctic Circle. The further you venture from city lights and air pollution, and the clearer the night, the greater your chances of seeing them. Having a chance to experience this glowing natural phenomenon is reason enough to visit Norway in winter.