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“Every Saturday, at 9 a.m., I have only one thing in mind..."

Under ice water in Bjørvika, Oslo .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan
Under ice water in Bjørvika .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan

"It gives me so much energy!"

Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Ever since 2015, Anne Kristin Møller has been hooked on ice bathing. It has become her regular ritual every single Saturday morning.

It's no doubt a frosty experience.
Why does she love it so much?

Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

ICE BATHING

A fun and freezing adventure

FLYT Bathing installations .
Photo: Dag Jenssen / Visitnorway.com
FLYT Bathing installations .
Photo: Dag Jenssen / Visitnorway.com

A quick search on "ice bathing" on social media makes it seem like this freezing activity is the only thing Norwegians do these days. And that's actually not so far from the truth. In recent years, ice bathing has become a very popular trend in Norway. But why do so many choose to freeze voluntarily? Do they actually enjoy it, or do they just want to look tough?

Anne Kristin Møller would be the right person to answer that. She has been an eager ice bather since 2015. Having recently publishing a book about ice bathing, it's safe to call her an expert on the subject.

"Every Saturday at 9 a.m., I prepare myself mentally and get very focused. I am going down to get new energy," she says about the weekly ritual she has had for the past seven years.

Anne Kristin Møller ice bathing in Bjørvika
Anne Kristin Møller ice bathing in Bjørvika.
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

A hobby for everyone

For Anne Kristin, it all started back in 2015 when she was one of 320 people that took part in an event to set a new Norwegian ice bathing record at Tjuvholmen in Oslo. She describes it as a "very refreshing experience" that got her hooked – this was to be her new hobby.

"The rush you feel in your body and the contrast of going from cold to warm is an absolutely fantastic experience. It gives me great joy in life, and is good for both body and soul. At the same time, it makes me very focused." 

Anne Kristin thinks that might be the main reason people love it so much. Experiencing nature that way is also very special, she adds.

"I always get so surprised at how beautiful the nature is, showing itself from a new side every time. There is an incredible silence at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings, when almost nobody else is outside yet. It feels like receiving a gift when you walk towards the bathing jetty, and it's easy to get euphoric."

Check out Møller's top ice bathing spots!

“It gives me great joy in life, and is good for body and soul.”

Anne Kristin Møller ice bathing in Bjørvika .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Anne Kristin Møller ice bathing in Bjørvika, Oslo .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

According to Psykologisk.no, there are many health benefits associated with ice bathing. For example, it can reduce stress and fatigue.

Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

You can also experience an enormous sense of accomplishment. It's a rush that instantly makes you feel truly present in the moment.

This is caused by the hormones adrenaline and noradrenaline, which the brain secretes to cope with the cold shock.

Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

“Ice bathing is an outdoor social activity that gives everyone involved a real kick.”

 

The ice bathing club, Morsy, taking a bath in Bergen .
Photo: Isbadeklubb Morsy / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
The ice bathing club, Morsy, taking a bath in Bergen .
Photo: Isbadeklubb Morsy / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

It's fun no matter if you're a beginner or more experienced. Too much ice? Gather your friends and make a hole in the ice before bathing!

Crushing ice before bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Crushing ice before bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Being in the cold water makes the perfect conditions for mindfulness, and can also be a way to challenge yourself.

How long will you last?

Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

A good tip is to bring something hot to drink right after your ice bath. Hot water bottles can also be used to heat up your cold fingers.

Serving hot tea after ice bathing in the Oslofjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Hot drinks after ice bathing .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

And of course, having access to a hot sauna is a real luxury. Invite your friends and rent one for a day!

Friends sitting in Sauna at Oslo Badstuforening .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Friends sitting in sauna .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Maverix

More and more stylish saunas have been popping up all over Norway recently, many of which are floating on the fjords.

In Oslo, you can book private sauna sessions or join a drop-in at Bademaschinen, Oslofjord Spa, Salt or KOK, among others.

Ice bathing at Oslo Badstuforening .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing at Oslo Badstuforening .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Ice bathing boom

With the rising interest in ice bathing, new ice bathing clubs have appeared throughout Norway. There are now over 100 different clubs from the south to the north.

"There was a survey that said that 1 in 5 Norwegians plan to go ice bathing this winter. That's around 1 million people. There can never be too much ice bathing. I think we need to get out of our comfort zone and challenge the forces of nature," says Anne Kristin enthusiastically.

She also points out that it's a great way to make new friends or find local guides in the places you visit.

"There is an ice bathing club almost everywhere in the country, and it's easy to find them. Just google 'ice bathing' and the name of the place you are visiting, or look for Facebook groups. In most places, you can join a guest bath, or join the club in time."

You can have experiences that will remember for a long time. For Anne Kristin, one of the most special moments was when she took a dip in the Arctic waters off Svalbard.

Anne Kristin Møller swimming in front of the Nordenskiöld glacier, Svalbard
Anne Kristin Møller swimming in front of the Nordenskiöld glacier, on Svalbard.
Photo: Dan Celius / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

"When I was working on my book, I wanted to bathe in a place that was not so close to the city, so I sailed on M/S Polargirl to Nordenskiöldbreen in Billefjorden, a four-hour boat ride from Longyearbyen. Bathing between the ice floes was my most exotic ice bath ever, in many ways. Just a few days later, polar bears were spotted in the exact same spot where we had been."

Ice bears swimming by the Nordenskiöld glacier at Svalbard
Ice bears swimming by the Nordenskiöld glacier at Svalbard.
Photo: Dan Celius / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

...might be wise to stick to the safer bathing jetties in town!

Not sure how to start?

Don't worry, that's totally normal.  Anne Kristin has some good advice on how to gradually get comfortable with the cold water shock and become a regular ice bather.

"The easiest way to start is to not stop bathing when the summer is over. Then you will get a natural transition from warmer water to cold water, and your body will adapt to the cold water more easily," she says. 

She also recommends finding a friend that wants to take part in the same hobby.

"It's nice to have a regular bathing day and a friend who wants to join you. Both because you have more fun together, but also because of safety reasons."

See Anne Kristin's five best tips on how make your ice bathing experience as smooth as possible below.

5 tips for a better ice bathing experience

1. Never stop swimming when summer is over, to slowly get used to the colder water.

2. Practice with ice-cold water when you shower, or have a cold foot bath before bedtime as often as possible.

3. Bring a hat, gloves and socks to wear when you are bathing. And remember: you don't need to dip your head underwater.

4. Bring something hot to drink right after, or a tub you can fill with hot water to warm the feet (just make sure the temperature is not too high).

5. Look for a place with a dock ladder for swimming, so you can go down into the water slowly, and get back up again quickly, if you need to. Take a deep breath! 

And remember: always swim with others, in case of an emergency! 

Warming cold feet after icebathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Warming cold feet after icebathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Since 2015, Anne Kristin has never travelled anywhere without her swimsuit. She has visited lots of bathing places in Norway during the last seven years.

We asked her to pick her top five favourite spots.

Anne Kristin Møller bathing at Oslo Badstuforening .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Anne Kristin Møller bathing at Oslo Badstuforening .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Svalbard

"The ultimate place is Svalbard.
The Arctic climate provides some of the most pristine and untouched nature we have in Norway. You can ice bathe all year round there too."

"You can also either be adventurous and go for an ice bath in the wild (beware of the bears), or do it more comfortably at the floating sauna SvalBad in the Arctic waters of Longyearbyen Harbour."

Ice bathing at Svalbard .
Photo: Dan Celius / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
Ice bathing at Svalbard .
Photo: Dan Celius / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

Tromsø

"Two reasons: there, you find one of Norway's biggest and oldest ice bathing clubs, Ishud ("Ice skin"). They are still recruiting new members and arrange free tours for both tourists and locals to a popular bathing spot called Telegrafbukta in Tromsø in Northern Norway."

"The other reason is the architect-designed, award-winning sauna Pust, worth a visit in its own, in downtown Tromsø."

The ice bathing club, Ishud, takes a bath in Telegrafbukta every Friday all year around .
Photo: Bjørn Tore Sørensen / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
The ice bathing club, Ishud, takes a bath in Telegrafbukta every Friday all year around .
Photo: Bjørn Tore Sørensen / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

Bodø

"One of the most beautiful places I know in Norway is Bodø, also in Northern Norway. It has fantastic beaches, almost like in the Mediterranean. They also have a very keen ice bathing group, Bodø Penguins, that meets almost every day for a swim in Kvalvika, close to the city."

Ice bathing in Bodø .
Photo: Janne Schuitema, Bodø Pinguins / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
Ice bathing in Bodø .
Photo: Janne Schuitema, Bodø Pinguins / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

Åfjord

"Åfjord in Trøndelag has its own ice bathing festival, Vinterbadefestivalen, featuring swimming sessions and lectures, and parties in the evenings at Stoksund and Kuringen, and at Hosnasand, on Stokkøya island. The closest hotels, Kuringen Bryggehotell and Stokkøya Strandhotell, have spa and sauna facilities. There's even a wonderful little beach nearby them."

Ice bathing in Åfjord .
Photo: Vinterbadefestival Åfjord / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
Ice bathing in Åfjord .
Photo: Vinterbadefestival Åfjord / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

Karmøy

"The beautiful island Karmøy, on the west coast of Norway, is popular in the summer and known for its SILK Literature and Culture Festival in the wintertime. But apart from that, the place has been pretty quiet in winter. However, with a new bathing jetty and a sauna that looks like a lighthouse, people now flock there to swim year round."

The city bath in Skudeneshavn, Karmøy .
Photo: Audun Mjølhus / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt
The city bath in Skudeneshavn, Karmøy .
Photo: Audun Mjølhus / BOKEN Isbading Norge rundt

In addition to these, there are thousands of spots on the long Norwegian coastline and in Norway's many lakes, just waiting to be explored.

Are you up for the challenge?

Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway
Ice bathing in the Oslo fjord .
Photo: Finn-Erik Rognan / Visit Norway

Check out the Norwegian saunas

Discover the cool saunas in Norway and find out where you want to go.

Saunas in Norway
Heit Sørfjorden Sauna offers a steaming sauna and a fresh bath in the fjord! Enjoy the view of the fjord, mountains, and glaciers from the… Read more
Heit Sørfjorden Sauna
Customised wood-fired sauna by the lake Hestehagedammen with view of the lake. Enjoy the peace and the heat and pamper yourself to an unforgettable… Read more
Grønsand Forest Sauna
Experience raw and stunning nature and scenery throug a bath in the arctic sea in combination with sauna. Read more
LyngenTourist - Arctic Swimming & Sauna
At the lake Kvitåvatn at destination Gausta, two floating saunas are situated, with a beautiful view towards Gaustatoppen. Read more
Floating saunas at Gausta
Enjoy the revitalizing combination of a steaming sauna and a refreshing bath in the sea all year round! Read more
Varm i Vollen - floating sauna
The bathhouse in Farsund dates back all the way to the 1870's. Read more
Farsund Badehus Public bath house
Welcome to a sauna experience with us at Hurdalsjøen Hotell! With us, saunas are part of the daily routine for our guests - whether you are… Read more
Saunas at Hurdalsjøen Hotel
Welcome to the costal pearl of Son, just 40 minutes south of Oslo and our floating sauna! Read more
Son Spa - sauna rafts
At almost 1000 metres above sea level you can enjoy outdoor swimming all year round! Read more
Ilsetra | Outdoor pool and sauna
Enjoy the lake Mjøsa from the sauna raft KOK Read more
KOK Mjøsa
One of Scandinavia's largest wellness centre and spa opened December 4th. at Kolbotn, just outside Oslo city centre. Read more
The Well Spa
Saunas with a view really are something special and on the island of Træna on the Helgeland coast there are two of them. The island is situated 33… Read more
Saunas on Træna
Lille Dronningen. Combine the SPA experience with a dip in the sea and sea views. The bath house on the pier provides the opportunity for a relaxing… Read more
Lille Dronningen - Bath house and sauna
Muscles feel less sore, and stress disappears after a dip in the Fjærlandsfjord and a visit to the sauna Dampen. Read more
Dampen Sauna Fjærland
Sauna Boats Telemark. Rent the floating sauna boat, LEO, at Bakkestranda in Skien. Enjoy a relaxing moment and a little everyday luxury. Read more
Sauna Boats Telemark "Leo"
The floating sauna, Melvin, in Porsgrunn. Luxurious sauna with hot shower, refrigerator, dressing room and stereo. Accommodates 15 people. Read more
Sauna Boats Telemark Melvin
Enjoy a steaming hot sauna experience in urban and scenic surroundings. Views of mountains, the bay and new architecture. Read more
Heit Bergen Sauna
A floating village for sauna lovers, bathers and sea swimmers. Read more
Havet Arena
Fabulous sauna and bathing facility at Langkaia, open for drop-in every day Read more
"Bademaschinen" sauna raft
Sauna and icebathing only 1 hour from Oslo. Refreshing and fun! Read more
FLYT Sauna and icebathing - Close to Oslo
Jaameren sauna Our traditional wood-fired sauna is an experience everyone should indulge in after a day at sea or just as the end of an eventful day… Read more
Icebath and floating sauna in Bugøynes
Our sauna collection in Varanger is guaranteed to warm you deeply and completely – all the way to your bones. Enjoy long, intense rounds of deep… Read more
Cold as ice and hot as hell. We recommend icebath and sauna experience in Varanger
Stave Hot Pools is surrounded by the wild and spectaular beauty of Andøya's west coast and offers visitors the unforgettable adventure of soaking in… Read more
Stave Hot Pools
Nomadic art project overlooking Oslo's famous Opera House On the edge of the jetty facing the Opera, you can both swim in the fjord and use the saunas… Read more
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