Skis, snowboards and Christmas fairs are all well and good, but Norway has more to offer this season.
Published: 7 December 2018
Winter is upon us. To many, this means strapping on a snowboard or a pair of skis and heading out to mountains and forests in search of adventure. However, there are plenty of other ways to get up, close and personal with the frozen Norwegian nature. Here are five suggestions for you:
Get ready to wander off from all the people, the houses and the lights, into that dark polar night, for a unique overnight experience.
Inside the Longyearbreen glacier, Svalbard Wildlife Expeditions are offering icy sleepovers – provided you're willing to strap on a pair of snowshoes and go for a walk.
According to science site Gemini, the caves in the glacier are formed by meltwater eating through the ice for years, with the surface freezing shut.
At the bottom of the glacier, you can find plants frozen into the ice that date back one millennium, and the nearby areas outside the glacier are known to contain leafy fossils from the Cretaceous Period, 40 to 60 million years ago.
After a night time stroll up the mountain to take in the view, a subterranean night of cool sleep awaits down in one of the caves. That is, of course, after eating a well prepared fireside supper.
This is something like a wintertime ritual for kids in Finnmark, the northernmost part of Norway:
As soon as the ice on the lake is thick enough, dig out the oversized drills, carve some vertical tunnels until they reach the water below, drop the line of a tiny plastic ice fishing rod into the hole, then wave it around a bit, fingers crossed.
Whether on school excursions or weekends outings with their parents, generations have waited patiently beside these tiny portals into the cold water below.
This is slow work, best enjoyed sat comfortably on a sturdy seating pad, warm cocoa in hand, a thermos full of sausages and a bar of chocolate.
A sudden tug on the line might snap you out of your calm, your heart beating in sync with the tail of the tiny fish down below. If you do manage to pull it out of the ice, clean out guts and bones, wrap it in aliminium foil and roast it over an open bonfire for a culinary treat.
If you need equipment or guidance, get in touch with Neiden Fjellstue or one of the many other travel companies currently offering rentals and assistance.
And remember, tying a rapala knot on your fishing line will make the movements of your lure that much more tempting for the fish.
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Spending the night in Namsskogan Family Park may deprive you of at least some of your eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. But then again, that is sort of the point. Pay a visit to the park's predator camp, and there's a high probability that you'll be woken up in the middle of the frosty night by the howls of wolves.
A series of huts have been built right next to the park's various predator enclosures, allowing guests to experience the animals as safety permits, the only real separation being metal wire fences.
The animals can often be lured out to the edge of their enclosures with meaty treats, so chances of getting to study them up close are high – even though the wolves aren't too fond of people. No petting.
Bringing a camera is recommended, however – the park is ripe with photo opportunities – and when sleep does come, it's in the comfort of a sleeping bag laid out on a warm reindeer pelt.
The Stegastein viewpoint is not so much an outdoor activity as it is a state of being. The timber clad curve of concrete shooting out from the mountainside, 650 meters above the Aurland fjord, is a sight to behold.
Step out toward the edge (relax – there's a glass fence) and breathe deep in the face of one of the more majestic views this country has to offer. And that's saying something.
Norway' longest, deepest fjord is a spectacular wonder of nature in any season, and in its winter clothes it's the perfect holiday memory – and a popular site for
Architects Todd Saunders and Tommei Wilhelmsen have told CNN that they felt it imperative to give visitors the sense of stepping out from the mountainside.
«We wanted people to come out into the air.»
Do keep an eye out for the tilted concrete block sticking out of the ground near Stegastein. It houses the toilet facilities, is designed by architect Lars Berge, and won the 2015 Most Beautiful Toilet award from Design Curial Magazine.
Stegastein is located by the highway, open to anyone traveling along Snow Road, the part of the National Tourist Road that runs from Aurland to Lærdal. During the day, there is also a bus shuttling visitors between Flåm and the outlook.
On one hand, temperatures in Norway's capital have fallen well below freezing, the breeze being especially chilly in and around the Oslofjord.
On the other hand, stepping into a hot sauna seldom feels better than on a cold winter's day.
Perfect conditions, then, for a visit to anyone of the three next-level sauna offerings that have popped up along the fjord lately.
Near Vippetangen, the art project SALT has constructed one of the world's largest saunas – Árdna. A steaming auditorium with activities ranging from sweating, DJ sets, poets, lectures and a fully stocked bar serving cocktails and snacks.
Near Árdna, you will also find the more traditional Naustet, as well as the Barrel saunas – two enormous aquavit barrels converted into saunas.
Leave the mainland, and you can warm up inside one of the charming little sauna boats roaming the fjord. KOK Oslo is running their boat from the Langkaia dock, across from the Oslo Opera House, while Sorenga sauna- and swimmingclub have two floating saunas located down by the Opera House beach.
On either of these waterborne saunas, a refreshing dip between the ice flakes in the fjord is right outside the door – and the hasty retreat into the heat is but a short climb back up the ladder.