Another way to get your feet wet (or should we say frozen) is to borrow a pair of skis and ask a Norwegian colleague or friend to teach you the basics of cross-country skiing and give you pointers as you get the hang of things.
Most foreigners agree that learning to ski is easier than they had imagined. Maybe the best way of thinking about learning to ski is to recall what it was like learning to ride a bike.
A lot of it comes down to balance and practice, and once you get the hang of it, you never forget it.
Many Norwegians will jump at the chance to share this aspect of their culture with newcomers.
Nor do you have to worry about getting run over by more experienced skiers as you navigate the trails—Norwegians can spot a novice skier a mile away and will simply adjust their course and ski right past you.
Skiing is great exercise
Not yet ready to strap on a pair of skis and hit the trails? Cross-country skiing is a great way to get or stay in shape. An hour spent on the ski trails is about as effective a cardio workout as an hour spent on the treadmill.
What might be less obvious is the muscles you activate while skiing: your legs, arms and core all get a pretty serious workout.
Luckily for beginners, the trails around Oslo are mostly flat, so you won’t feel like you just completed a triathlon when you pack up your skis for the day.
You will, however, feel like you’ve met your daily exercise quota.
Forest as far as the eye can see
Say you do get the hang of this skiing thing. One of the reasons Oslo is considered such a skiing paradise is that the trails go on for kilometres on end.
There are two massive forests for you to choose from, both of which it would take days to cross on skis or on foot.
There’s even a network of cabins where you can break up your trip over a cup of hot chocolate, a bowl of soup, or a big heaping of reindeer stew (vegan or meat versions both available—this is a Nordic capital after all).
Off the grid for a night
If you make it a little deeper into the forest, you can even spend the night with a group of colleagues or friends at a cabin operated by The Norwegian Trekking Association.
Does the idea of getting completely off the grid and waking up in total isolation while still inside the city limits sound tempting?
If you’re nodding your head, you basically have two choices: learn to ski, or opt for the slower version and hike to one of these cabins once the snow melts. Both are fun, but only learning to ski truly qualifies you as a Viking.