Looking out the window this morning, it was suddenly very clear—winter really is on its way! Whether you grew up in a place with cold winters, or if this is the first time you’ve seen snow, anticipating the next several months this close to the Arctic Circle can be daunting. Luckily, Norwegians are pros at handling wintertime and were happy to share some tips with me.
Dress for the Occasion
The Norwegians have a saying you’ll probably be hearing a lot of soon: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” And it’s true. Having the proper clothing can help you stay warm and cheerful no matter how cold it is outside. Make sure you have:
- A thin base layer (also known as super-underwear or ullundertøy) to go under all your clothes on the coldest days. Wool is the best option as it breathes and stays warm even when wet.
- Sweaters in various thicknesses. Again, wool is best and fleece is also a good option. Just avoid cotton.
- A warm, waterproof coat with a hood.
- A warm hat, scarf and gloves. Wool is best for your hat and scarf and your gloves should be waterproof.
- Heavy socks and wool insoles for your shoes (these make a huge difference!)
- Warm, waterproof boots with good tread to avoid slipping on icy streets
It’s time to get familiar with the Norwegian concept of koselig. With the power of this single word, Norwegians transform the cold and darkness of winter into a time of warmth, reflection, togetherness and good cheer. It’s a bit difficult to define, but with practice you’ll catch on. Candles are koselig, as is baking, sitting in front of a fire, drinking hot chocolate or gløgg (mulled wine), snuggling under a warm blanket or enjoying a leisurely dinner with friends. And you don’t have to stay home to be koselig. Cafes around the city also embrace the concept by lighting candles and offering guests blankets and sheep skins to snuggle into as they enjoy their coffee.
Experience the outdoors
Norwegians don’t see winter as an excuse to stay inside and neither should you! Get out and experience the beauty of Oslo in the wintertime.
- Try your hand at downhill skiing at Oslo Winter Park. Its 18 slopes and 11 lifts are just 40 minutes from the city center via T-Bane Line 1. Lessons are available for all levels, so no excuses! More info HERE.
- Even better, earn some Norwegian street cred by learning to cross-country ski. Then practice your new skills on one of the countless ski trails in the forests surrounding Oslo.
- For thrill-seekers, try sledding down Korketrekkeren, Oslo’s most popular hill. Take the T-Bane to Frognerseteren and rent a toboggan (100-150 nok per day). Then slide down the twisting two-kilometer route to Midstuen. From there, hop back on the T-Bane for another go!
- Or, lace up a pair of ice skates and try out your moves at the Spikersuppa Rink in the Jul i Vinterland Christmas market near the National Theater. For a bit more elbow room, head over to Frogner Stadion for access to their Olympic-size outdoor ice rink.
Fortify with tran
Winter’s lack of sunlight can take its toll on both your physical and mental health. Some of the best cures are already mentioned above: getting outside and enjoying some physical activity (while wearing proper clothing) and embracing the season’s sense of coziness together with friends.
Even so, your body might need an extra boost and that’s where tran (cod liver oil) comes in. Consuming tran is the best way for your body to adsorb vitamin D without being exposed to sunlight. And it’s also rich in vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, which support your mood and immune system. Most Norwegians have been taking a spoonful of the traditional liquid form of this supplement their whole lives. And while it can take a little getting used to, the health benefits are very much worth it. For the best taste, try Møller’s lemon flavor, or experiment with capsules if you find them easier to get down. Finding it is easy—virtually every Norwegian supermarket or pharmacy carries at least one kind of tran.
Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, Norwegian winter!