Norwegian winters are refreshingly beautiful, and there is so much to experience in our elongated country. In Norway there’s a saying that people are born with skis on their feet. While perhaps not all Norwegians are Olympic-level skiers, winter activities are an important part of the culture. It’s no wonder with all those snow-capped mountains, deep fjords, and twinkling night skies. In fact, some of the most unique things to do in Norway in winter aren’t related to skiing. What about experiencing the breathtaking aurora borealis, dog sledding or reindeer herding, overnight stay at an ice hotel or fast-paced snow kiting? When Norway gets cold and dressed in white, the country changes into an adventurous winter world. We have collected the 10 most unique and real Norwegian winter experiences across the country that you can enjoy throughout the winter.
1. Horse Sleigh Rides
Horse sleigh rides are a popular tourist attraction throughout Norway and are often scheduled in the late afternoons or early evenings when the dusk settles. It is winter evening, and the snow is glistening in the moonlight. Sit warm and comfortably, snuggle under the pleasant sheepskin and enjoy the adventurous horse sleigh rides. Is there anything more magical than the sound of bells when strong trampling horses pull you through the beautiful snow-covered winter landscape and the starry sky glitters as much as the snow? You can experience sleigh rides in several places in Norway, where the areas around Røros, Lillehammer and Trysil are recommended.
2. Dog sledding in Northern Norway
Dog sledding in Norway through empty white snow plains is an unforgettable experience. You will experience the interaction between man and dog, where the only thing that breaks the silence is the breath of the polar dogs and the sled that whizzes away on the white plains. Enjoy the winter sun and the beautiful white covered landscape while the dogs pull you with great enthusiasm. Dog sledding gives you a real kick, and it is strongly recommended to experience this in the northern parts of Norway. Go dog sledding in Tromsø, Tana, Karasjok, and Kirkenes for an adventurous winter experience. Many trips end in a campfire-heated lavvo, with good conversation and hot drinks around the fire.
4. Traditional reindeer herding in Kautokeino
Reindeer herding is a practice traditionally undertaken by the Sami people, who have been doing it since the 17th century. In Kautokeino you can experience the Sami culture and get an insight into traditional reindeer herding as it has been run for many generations. Stay overnight in a lavvo under the northern lights, try reindeer sledding, learn to throw a lasso, and enjoy good food around the campfire. Kautokeino still has the lowest winter temperatures in the country, and it has been measured all the way down to -50 degrees. Dress well, you will find a lot of snow and ice wherever you go! Kautokeino is also known for its many original winter activities, such as mini golf on ice rinks and ice bars.
When you sit still and are out in the cold, it is important to dress according to the weather conditions. Good and warm traditional wool sweaters made of 100% Norwegian wool are the perfect garment to wear to keep warm. Read more about Norwegian quality brands here.
5. Experience the northern lights at Svalbard
The archipelago of Svalbard lies halfway between Norway and the North Pole, in the middle of the Arctic Ocean. Here, you can explore pristine arctic wilderness and distinctive wildlife in a landscape that is both rugged and fragile. When winter arrives, Svalbard and Longyearbyen are excellent destinations to experience the northern lights dance across the sky, as well as the beauty of the limitless, starry sky as there isn’t a lot of light pollution. During the coldest months there is no daylight at Svalbard. It is so dark that the northern lights can occur during the day, and is the only inhabited place on the planet where you can experience aurora borealis regardless of what time it is. You can experience the northern lights from October to March, and the cold and beautiful winter at Svalbard is a must for anyone who wants an adventurous winter experience. The classic Svalbard landscape has a formidable appeal that is difficult to describe. It is so unique, deserted, and so incredibly beautiful. Maybe you are lucky enough to see the northern lights already from the plane window?
6. Storm watching, Kalvåg
Experience Norway’s spectacular winter storms in Kalvåg, a small town on the island of Frøya. Wind and weather have shaped the beautiful landscape for thousands of years and is a popular storm watching destination. From a safe distance you can feel the wind and watch the wild and extreme weather hit the island. Knutholmen in Kalvåg is an exceptional accommodation where you can experience cabins on cliffs and enjoy the raw unfiltered nature of Norway. By the extent of the majestic mountains, you will experience delicious food, wonderful nature, hospitality, tranquility, and relaxation.
7. Overnight at Icehotel, Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel
The Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel in Alta is one of the world’s most famous ice hotels. Everything in the hotel is built of snow and ice, from the bed you sleep on to the glasses you drink from. Wrap yourself in warm reindeer skin and crawl into a cozy ice bed! The hotel maintains a constant temperature between -4 and -7 degrees, and you sleep on warm and soft reindeer skin in very warm sleeping bags. Experience magical nights and wander through hand-crafted ice sculptures. A real winter wonderland! The hotel has 2 restaurants, an ice cream parlor, a sauna, and an outdoor hot tub. A truly romantic Nordic experience is sitting outside in -25 degrees with a cold drink while watching the northern lights dance across the sky.
Nothing feels better than wrapping yourself in a warm and soft jacket when the thermometer gets below zero. Thick, beautiful down jackets are the perfect outerwear in winter, and you will stay warm and stylish in all your winter activities. Read more about this essential winter garment here.
8. Beautiful cross-country skiing destinations
Get your skis and poles and set course for new adventurous tracks! Norway is a cross-country skiing paradise, with snow-covered forests, sparkling plains, and breathtaking mountains. Large parts of the most visited destinations for cross-country skiing. are located in Eastern Norway and in the central mountain areas, with several beautiful, groomed trails. If you want a workout, or a slow-paced trip with hot cocoa and snacks in your backpack, the country’s great cross-country skiing destinations have something for every pace. Prep your skis, dress well, and enjoy Norway’s cross-country adventure.
9. Action-packed snow kiting
Norway’s majestic snow-covered mountains and plateaus make the country perfect for snow kiting. Ride the wind through a beautiful snow-covered landscape and enjoy the feeling of speed and excitement in Norway’s beautiful mountain areas. Experience fantastic nature and action-packed activity at its best. Courses and guided tours are offered in several places in the country, whether you are a beginner or a driven kiter. Hold on and join the fun in an exciting terrain with stable winds in beautiful nature from south to north.
10. Toboggan runs in Norway
In search of speed and excitement? Try out one of Norway’s many snow-covered toboggan runs! Get on your toboggan and rush down the sparkling slopes, where fun and laughter are a guarantee. The corkscrew (Korketrekkeren) in Oslo is a good alternative. The length of the corkscrew is 2000 meters, and the drop is 255 meters. The trip takes approx. 8-10 minutes – without stopping along the way. Or are you tough enough to try out one of the world’s fastest toboggan runs in Lillehammer? This is called bobsleigh and is an extreme version of sledding. The speed can reach up to 120 kilometers per hour!
11. Sun, powder snow and mountains
Norway has countless alpine slopes to frolic in, and there are facilities for all levels. Go to the mountain with friends, family or girlfriend, no matter what you are looking for you are guaranteed to find something that suits you and your preferences. In total, there are over 200 small and large ski resorts in Norway. Choose from the largest and most popular slopes such as Trysil, Hafjell, or Hemsedal. Here you will find slopes for both old and young thrill seekers.
Even if you are on the move and the winter weather is showing off its best and sunny side, it is important to dress well. The three-layer principle is a good rule to follow, regardless of activity level. Choose wool underwear and wool garments as the baselayer, so that you keep warm and comfortable even if the temperature is low and cold.