Sleep in the world’s largest gingerbread house, experience a fairytale-like white Christmas with cheerful markets – and visit Father Christmas himself. These are some of the best places to go to if you want to celebrate Christmas in Norway.
From mid-November, you can visit the large Christmas market Winter Wonderland at the main street Karl Johan. Shop Christmas gifts from the market stalls, have a warm cup of “gløgg” (the Scandinavian version of mulled wine), take a ride in the Ferris wheel, or strap on a pair of ice skates. There is also a popular Christmas market at Youngstoget, as well as smaller markets around Oslo.
The most unique Christmas fair, however, takes place at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History at Bygdøy during the first two weekends of December. Experience traditional Christmas in different eras, browse the market stalls, attend Christmas decoration workshops, and enjoy the festive entertainment.
To get a proper taste of a Norwegian Christmas, you can try traditional Christmas dishes at many local restaurants – just remember to book a table in advance.
And if you have the time, you won’t regret taking the bus to idyllic Drøbak. Not only is there a lovely Christmas market – it has a Christmas shop that is open all year round.
The narrow alleys of the old Hanseatic city Bergen is a wonderful setting when you want to get into the Christmas spirit. You’ll find a big Christmas market at Festplassen, with a Ferris wheel and merry-go-rounds. The city is also home to the world’s largest gingerbread town. Watch as they switch on the lights at the top of the city mountain Fløien, and round off the evening with a Christmas concert.
In addition to Christmas shopping, you should pay a visit to the art museum KODE, the famous aquarium, and some of the other exciting attractions in town. You can easily combine a visit to Bergen with a journey to Flåm, either with the Flåm Line or on a fjord sightseeing cruise.
If you’re dreaming of a snow-covered winter wonderland, Lillehammer is a sure thing. The quaint city by Lake Mjøsa is located about an hour and a half from Oslo Airport with the train.
Experience how Christmas was celebrated in various eras, such as the Middle Ages, at the Maihaugen open-air museum – which is extra festive during the first weekend of Advent when they host a Christmas market.
A visit to the artists and craftsmen at the creative hub Fabrikken is definitely a must, and you should stop by Lillehammer Art Museum, too. Afterwards, you can go hunting for Christmas gifts in the festively decorated streets.
If you want to get active in the snow, combine your trip to Lillehammer with a day or two in the nearby ski resorts Hafjell and Kvitfjell, usually open from November. You might also be brave enough to try the bob and luge track that was used during the 1994 Winter Olympics – and if not, you can take the chair lift to the top of the Lysegårdsbakkene ski jumping facilities for a fantastic view.
Are you ready for a Christmas experience – under the northern lights? In the beautiful city of Henningsvær in Lofoten, the pre-Christmas fun starts at the beginning of November. This authentic fishing village has many quaint niche shops, and the local artists have mastered the skills of glassblowing, candle making, and wool hat design.
Even though the village is quite small, you’ll find several art museums here, too, including the KaviarFactory and Galleri Lofotens Hus. And why not digest the artsy impressions together with a tasty treat at a café, pub or restaurant? Just note that some places are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Take a selfie with one of the blue kicksleds that have been equipped with wheels – perfect in mild temperatures – and spend a night in one of the fishermen’s cabins by the seaside. If you want to get out of the city, a day trip to the Lofotr Viking Museum at Borg will ensure a lot of fun. Or perhaps you want to visit the charming villages of Svolvær or Kabelvåg, with museums, aquariums, and galleries?
The closest airport and Hurtigruten port are in Svolvær, and from there you can take a bus to Henningsvær.
If you’re looking for that nostalgic feeling, charming Røros has precisely what you need. The old mining town with small timber houses is on the UNESCO world heritage list and perfect when you want to avoid the pre-Christmas rush of the bigger cities. Here are lots of niche stores and talented craftsmen who sell their work.
Røros take a lot of pride in their food, so don’t be surprised to see reindeer, Arctic char, and craft beers on the menu.
To really get into the Christmas spirit, you should pay a visit to the Christmas market during the second weekend of Advent, and to the Røros Church for a magical Christmas concert. You can also join a guided tour through the city or try dog sledding.
A trip to Røros can be combined with an unforgettable Christmas concert in the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. You can easily get to both destinations by train or plane.
In the south of Norway, you’ll find several towns that go above and beyond to create the perfect Christmas. Take the train (or fly) to Kristiansand and stroll around the Christmas market at the public square. Watch a fantastic light show projected onto the cathedral – which also puts on several Christmas concerts – and taste the traditional Christmas cookie “kageman” before you twirl around the ice rink.
Both Egersund near Stavanger and Tønsberg by the Oslofjord are other cities that regularly appear on lists of Norway’s best Christmas towns. In Fredrikstad on the eastern coast of the Oslofjord, the Gamlebyen old town creates an enchanting atmosphere for the pre-Christmas celebrations, with festive music, niche shops, and Christmas markets.
Do you want to meet the real Norwegian Santa? Take the train towards Røros and hop off at Tynset to visit the mountain village Savalen. Nissegata (Santa’s lane) has charming hotels – or you can sleep in the world’s largest gingerbread house!
Mrs. Santa in Nissehuset (Santa’s house) has a gift-wrapping machine, a fairy tale throne and, of course, a post office. Nissehuset is open throughout the year, even during the various holidays, but the most magical time to visit is obviously during the beautiful winter months.
After a day filled with fun in the snow, you can re-heat in the spa and swimming pool at Savalen Fjellhotel. In the weeks leading up to Christmas, the town arranges fun holiday activities during the weekends. And once the new year is here, Santa invites Santas from around the world to compete in the annual winter games.
A million twinkling lights are lit in Kongeparken amusement park near Stavanger all through December. Many different activities, workshops, and jolly shows will get you into that festive mood, and Santa will obviously be here! Many of the park’s attractions are open as well.
A visit to Kongeparken can be combined with Christmas shopping in the cities Stavanger and Sandnes, which you can get to by train, bus, and plane.
Still searching for a unique way to celebrate Christmas? Every year, thousands of people spend the holidays onboard one of the Norwegian coastal express Hurtigruten’s ships. The coast is magical during winter, with snow-covered mountain tops and crisp fresh air. In Northern Norway, you’re likely to see the northern lights dance across the sky.
On Christmas Eve, all the ships are docked, so you can attend a Christmas service in the local church if you want to. Later in the day, the ships’ restaurants serve traditional Norwegian Christmas dinner, with local ingredients from the regions you’ve sailed through. And don’t worry – Santa knows the route, so he won’t have any trouble finding you and your little ones.
16 November– 30 December
(Closed 24 and 25 December)
Winter Wonderland in Spikersuppa, Oslo
The designers’ own Christmas market at DOGA, Oslo
30 November–1 December
Maihaugen’s Christmas market, Lillehammer
30 November–1 December and 7–8 December
Norsk Folkemuseum’s annual Christmas fair, Oslo
Christmas market in Røros
28 November–22 December
Bergen Christmas market
Christmas market in Trondheim
28 November–8 December
Christmas market Haugesund
1 November–22 December
Pre-Christmas fun in Henningsvær, Lofoten
Christmas market in Egersund
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Read up on everything Norwegians do and eat before and during the holiday season.