Ten Ways to Survive the Norwegian Winter

Without further ado, here is your guide to your first winter in Oslo.

Learn to Love Skiing, Sledding and Other Winter Sports

During the winter, Oslo becomes a gigantic playground. We did host the Winter Olympics here, after all.

Get used to seeing people taking the metro to work with a pair of skis slung over their shoulders. Get excited about little kids in snowpants dragging miniature sleds.

Did it snow in the winter where you grew up? Then it’s time to embrace your inner child again. Or is this your first encounter with the white stuff? You’re in luck, because Norwegians love sharing their enthusiasm for winter and winter activities with newcomers. 

The Corkscrew

We know you just finished hearing us rave about winter sports. But this sled run, known in Norwegian as Korketrekkeren, fully deserves its own spot on this list.

To experience Oslo's hands-down coolest winter attraction, hop on line 1 of the metro and take it all the way to the last stop, Frognerseteren. Rent a sled for 150 NOK (15 Euros), hop aboard and begin your journey down the 2 km long hill.

Get ready for one of the wilder rides you’ve had in years. At the bottom of the hill, you can catch your breath as you wait for the metro to come and bring you to the top again so you can do it all over again.

If you're really feeling like a daredevil, you can reach speeds of 40 km/hour, but we won't judge you if you put on the brakes.

Person sledding down Korketrekkeren in sunny winter weather.

How fast would you dare to go down Korketrekkeren? Photo: OsloMet

Wrap Yourself in Wool

We have a saying in Norway that goes “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” As you know by now, winter in Oslo is meant to be enjoyed, not feared.

As you prepare to go into battle against the cold temperatures, it doesn’t hurt to have a superpower. That superpower is wool. By investing in thin, soft wool that you wear directly against your skin, you can look forward to staying warm and happy no matter what the Norwegian winter throws at you.

Wool is cheap in Norway and available everywhere—even at your neighborhood supermarket. 

Embrace Coziness

We’re not going to lie—winter in Oslo goes on a little longer than we would like. That’s why Norwegians have developed a secret weapon to fight the winter blues: making things as cozy as possible, or koselig as we say in Norwegian.

Koselig can mean candles at the breakfast or dinner table. It can mean soft, atmospheric lighting, gingerbread cookies and cute little details that make you smile and feel warm inside even though it’s cold outside. It's hard to explain, but you'll recognize koselig when you see it. And we think you’re going to like it. 

"I heart Oslo" written in the frost on a table.

I love Oslo! Photo: OsloMet

Go Outside

When the days get short and daylight scarce, getting your Vitamin D requires a little more planning. Our advice is that you put on your scarf and hat and go for a walk to your favorite café, bakery or park.

You might even want to bring your sunglasses, because even though there’s less of it, winter sunlight can be surprisingly bright, especially when it hits the snow.

Just be sure to remove those sunglasses in time to catch what is usually a beautiful sunset that will make you feel like winter isn’t so bad after all.

Exercise

It might not be the most exciting thing you do during your time in Oslo. But between discovering new neighborhoods and getting to know a new culture, we recommend you develop good routines. Exercising a few times a week should be one of them.

Whether it’s taking walks along the waterfront, biking or working out at the gym, getting your blood flowing will release endorphins and give you more energy to continue your explorations.

A gym membership is cheap—225 NOK (22 Euros) at one of the six student gyms located around the city. So, for once in your life, you have no excuse not to get in shape. 

Make That Coffee To-Go

Pack a thermos or pick one up when you get here and fill it to the brim with hot chocolate, coffee, tea, or soup before you leave home.

With something warm and yummy to focus on, you won't even notice the snow falling relentlessly as you wait for the metro to take you to class.

Find Yourself a Norwegian

All of the tips above will help take the edge off the Norwegian winter. But your best bet is to find yourself your very own Norwegian. You'll learn loads about Norwegian culture, you’ll have an easier time keeping warm, and you might even save money on rent.

Putting into practice even a few of these tips will help you conquer the Norwegian winter, instead of letting winter conquer you.

One of the small islands in the Oslo Fjord covered in snow and with the fjord ice about to break up around it.

There may not be much light in the winter, but what light we do get is often very beautiful. Photo: OsloMet

Not as Cold as You Think

We also want to let you in on a secret. Winter in Oslo actually isn’t that cold. Thanks to our location on the coast and the wonders of the Gulf Stream, average temperatures in Oslo are significantly higher than other places this far north of the equator. 

While it’s usually cold enough to snow instead of rain, most winter days are not very far below freezing. If you’re coming from places like the American Midwest, Russia or Canada, you’re going to find Oslo positively tropical. If you’re coming from the Netherlands, U.K. or Poland, you’ll probably be surprised at how many sunny days we get up here. 

No matter where you come from, making the most of winter in Oslo is all about changing your attitude and making the best of it. Norwegians have been doing it their whole lives, and internationals who have made Oslo home have been doing it for years. You can do it too.  

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