As part of our ongoing series of guest posts, we’re delighted to introduce to you all to Audrey Camp @audreycamp. Audrey is an American expat living in Oslo, Norway and here she talks about her favourite things to do in the winter.
Suffice it to say, if you’re not “outdoorsy,” winter life in Norway can be a little restricting. The dangers of ice and inconveniences of snow could easily keep the best of us trapped in a bed-to-desk-to-couch-to-bed rotation for four or five straight months. Now, well into my second winter living in Oslo, I feel qualified to recommend a few fun activities to keep resident expats and visitors alike from going stir-crazy.
Cross-country skiing in Norway is a wintertime rite. Ski tracks are maintained all winter long, and many trails begin within city limits. The best place for beginners to practice is Frognerparken, both because it’s flat and because the hundreds of sculptures in the park, all by Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland, look especially haunting in the snow. There are several places to rent equipment in Oslo.
If you’re a competent skier already, it might be fun to try out the tracks at night. Popular lighted trails (lysløper) can be found at Frognerseteren and Sognsvann. (This is not recommended for beginners like me!) Further aflung, you can take one of the most beautiful train rides in the world out to Geilo, where you can attend the Geilo Ice Music Festival each February.
Downhill Skiing at Tryvann
For those who desire something a little faster, downhill skiing is available at Oslo’s Vinterpark at Tryvann, only 20 minutes from the city center. Take the Number 1 metro to Voksenkollen; it’s a short walk from there, but a shuttle bus also runs to and from the park from the station. Skis are available to rent.
Don’t forget to stick around for the traditional “afterski,” a party for all the invigorated, beer-thirsty skiers.
Dining at Frognerseteren
Get outside the bustle of the main city with a visit to the Frognerseteren, the “high summer pasture” above Oslo. Even (perhaps especially) in the winter, this is a real treat. The architecture of the main building is reminiscent of the prows of Viking ships. It houses two eateries, one is a restaurant that is bit more expensive and the other is a café. Of the two, I prefer the café. The service is cafeteria-style, which makes for a quicker dining experience. You can choose from a very traditional Norwegian menu, including everything from rømmegrøt (sour cream porridge) to meatballs and creamed cabbage.
Weather-permitting, take your trays onto the terrace where, on sunny days, the view of Oslo and the Oslofjord is spectacular. The café has a wonderful selection of pastries and baked goods, too. My favorite is their quiche.
Frognerseteren’s location is also a trailhead. From the restaurant there are lots of well-marked, easy trails downhill, to be hiked in summertime and cross-country skied in the winter. Take the Number 1 Metro to the end of the line and follow a short path downhill to an imposing wooden building. You’ll be surrounded by skiers and sledders most days, so watch where you step. Check their website for opening hours.
Tobogganing at Korketrekkeren
This long, steep sled run isn’t for the faint of heart. Korketrekkeren begins at Frognerseteren (described above), and runs 2,000 meters, dropping 255 meters in elevation along the way. It ends at the Midstuen station, where you can catch the metro back to the top and do it all over again. With the wind in your face, enjoy incredible vistas above Oslo along the way down. Sleds are available to rent next to the Frognerseteren restaurants, and they’ll throw in the helmet for free!
Take a Day Trip to Bærums Verk (Bus: 30-45 minutes)
Originally a center of ironworks in Norway, the town of Bærums Verk is a unique tourist destination today. The old foundry still exists, but people now visit for the many boutique stores and dining options. Local artisans, wood carvers and smiths, sell their crafts in shops year-round. In the wintertime, Bærums Verk transforms for the Christmas season. Children can hitch a ride in a sleigh drawn by reindeer, and the traditional glowing paper stars hanging in homes all over Oslo are on sale here, so you may take a bit of the Scandinavian holidays home with you!
About the author
Audrey Camp is a freelance writer and American expat living in Oslo, Norway. Audrey's essays have appeared in a variety of literary journals, and her personal blog, The Girl Behind the Red Door, has become popular with expats across the globe. When Audrey isn’t reading or writing, she and her husband enjoy rock climbing, hiking, and cross-country skiing in Norway's vibrant countryside.