Norway sits inside the Polar Circle and kisses the Arctic Ocean: needless to say; winter is a long season. Cities and countrysides are draped in snow, while Norwegian homes, restaurants, cabins and hotels light up landscapes with a sea of warm glows. Whether you’re heading out for some snow-based action or cosying up to a roaring fire, these are just a few reasons to visit Norway in the winter months.
1. A show in the sky
For a true Arctic wonderland experience, stay in a cabin. Svinøya Rorbuer is a Rorbu resort with a hotel and authentic Rorbu cabins to spend the night in. It’s located in the northern harbour of Svolvær, the capital of Lofoten, with dramatic views of the twinkling sea on one side and rugged mountains to the other. And, of course, the vast beauty of the Aurora.
2. Magical glittering snow
Want a unique place to stay during your visit? Head to Energihotellet. The intimate design hotel is not a typical building: showcasing Functionalist-Brutalist architecture that was designed as part of a Norsk Hydro power plant. It’s location is just as unique – located in Nesflaten in the southern reaches of Fjord Norway, midway between scenic locations such as Trolltunga (the Troll’s Tongue) and Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock).
3. Winter sports galore
Snow-fuelled action is rife in wintry Norway: there’s snow-shoeing, ice hockey, horse riding, sleigh rides and even dog-sledding to take your pick from. Cross country skiing is one of the most popular pastimes here, thanks to the country’s multitude of snowy slopes and vast landscapes. Try the 14 different slopes of Oslo’s biggest ski centre, Oslo Winter Park; which is also one of the largest terrain parks in Norway. It’s only 20 minutes from the city centre itself, so be sure to refuel at one of the city’s finest restaurants, Gamle Raadhus – Oslo’s first town hall which now serves seasonal Norwegian cuisine.
4. Seasonal cuisine
For serious fine dining, head to Kvikne’s Hotel. Not only does it serve excellent fish, seafood and meat dishes, but Kvikne’s location in Balestrand is a perfect spot to experience some of the most popular attractions in the country, including the Flaam Railway, the glacier museum in Fjærland, Norwegian Stave Churches, and the new spectacular spaceship-like viewpoint on National Tourist Route Gaularfjellet (Gaular Mountain).
5. Hygge spirit
The dark days may put some travellers off visiting Norway, but it’s this that actually makes it one of the cosiest places on Earth. The concept of ‘koselig’, which loosely translates as ‘cosy’, is used to describe many Norwegian comforts; from a roaring fire to a home-cooked meal.
Erzscheidergården in Røros is seriously koselig: an intimate family-run hotel that embodies the soul of the mining town (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) where it’s located. Step out of the cold and into the comfort of beautiful, timber bedrooms with sheepskin throws and warm lamps – all inspired by the nature, culture and people of Røros.