Last Updated on January 12, 2019 by

It comes as a surprise to many that winter might just be the best time to visit the Norwegian capital, Oslo. Here are just some of the awesome things to do in Oslo on your winter break.

things to do in olso - winter break

My first visit to Oslo was almost eight years ago. I fell in love with the edgy yet down-to-earth capital of Norway and have made it a point to return every other year.

These days, it’s still as edgy and down-to-earth, but even more vibrant than before. It’s relatively small for a capital city but at the same time, it’s got this international culture. Best of all, it’s surrounded by hills and slopes that are a favorite among the outdoor-loving Norwegians. 

For this winter break in Oslo, we dropped in for our fifth visit to show Baby Kaleya one of our favourite cities in the world. In my opinion, winter is the best time to visit Oslo, which comes as a surprise to many considering how cold it can get. To understand what I mean, check out my list of things you can do on a winter break in Oslo. You wouldn’t want to visit any other time!

things to do in oslo - winter break

1. Go Sledding on the Slopes

Our absolute favorite winter activity in Oslo is sledding at Korketrekkeren, Oslo’s most popular toboggan run.  Translated to mean “the cork screw”, Korketrekkeren is a two-kilometer zigzag sled run that winds its way through the hills overlooking Oslo. It’s free for public use, all you need to do is rent a sled and you’re off! A non-stop ride takes 8-10 minutes. It’s plenty of fun swishing down the slope past pine forests with views of the fjords beneath.

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Best of all, this run is actually accessible by metro and it’s just a 15-minute ride from downtown. Catch the metro to Frognerseteren, the last station on Line 1. From there the entrance to the sled run is literally just steps away. Once you sled to the bottom of the hill, you can take the metro from Midtstuen station back to the top and go again! Korketrekkeren is open when there is enough snow in the area. You can get webcam and updated information (in Norwegian) at akerforeningen.no.

things to do in oslo - winter break

2. Explore the Christmas Markets

Every winter from November through to December, Oslo gets decked out in a festive mood to prepare for Christmas. The city buzzes with lots of energy and the streets are lit up with whimsical fairytale lights. Right in the centre of Oslo, you’ll also find a few Christmas markets for both adults and children alike – with festive food and drinks, Christmas delicacies, Christmas decorations and arts and crafts on offer.

Our favorite Christmas market in town is at Studenterlunden Park, right outside the National Theater. Rows upon rows of stalls surround the ice skating rink in the center of the square, with a fun fair nearby to add to the atmosphere. There’s also another one at Oslo’s central square, Youngstorget, where you’ll easily spend hours browsing through its stands and tents, getting into the Christmas spirit!

The best one in Oslo has to be the Christmas market at the Norwegian Folk Museum, where you get to experience Christmas as how it’s been celebrated in Norway for centuries. With 100 old-fashioned wooden stalls with homemade crafts and foods, as well as horse drawn sledges and Santa’s workshop, this is the place you’d want to go if you want to busk in the Christmas atmosphere.

things to do in oslo - winter break

3. Visit the Oslo Opera House

Best seen in winter when surrounded by white snow, the Oslo Opera House is a brand new landmark in town. It sports an-all-white angular exterior. I think it resembles a giant iceberg rising from the waters of Oslo Fjord. It’s worth checking out the opera house just to admire the striking architecture itself. The roof of the building angles to ground level, creating a large plaza where you can walk up to and enjoy a panorama of the city.

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The opera house also features several arts projects in its architecture. The most notable is the glass sculpture that stands in the waters of the fjord adjacent to the building. Known as She Lies, the sculpture is made of stainless steel and glass but actually floats on the water moving in response to tides and wind to create an ever-changing face to viewers.

4. Learn History at the Viking Museum

For first-time visitors, I highly recommend making a visit to the Viking  Ship Museum. This will help you to gain some insights to the Viking history of Norway. This museum is particularly impressive as it houses three original Viking ships that date back more than 1000 years old. Of the three ships, the most famous of all is the completely whole Oseberg ship. This one was excavated from the largest known ship burial in the world. In addition, there are also artifacts from the Viking Age, including sledges, beds, wood carvings that have been dug out from the ship burials. Besides, it’s always nice to have somewhere to keep warm during a cold winter’s day!

things to do in oslo - winter break

Where to stay:

The best place to stay in the city is around the National Theater area close to Karls Johan Gate. This is the main artery of the city. This time round, we stayed at the Thon Hotel Slottsparken located in a quiet corner right next to the Royal Palace. It’s just a five-minute walk from the heart of the city. The aparthotel has 253 rooms, most of which are apartments with their own kitchenette. Since we were traveling with our baby, having a separate room for the baby and a kitchenette (to prepare her milk etc) was perfect for us. Check the latest prices here.

If you’re heading for a winter break in Oslo, be sure to let us know. We’ll be happy to share more tips and recommendations!

Disclaimer: Our stay at Thon Hotel Slottsparken was made possible by Visit Oslo. But we paid for the rest of the trip (and previous trips) to Oslo ourselves. As usual, all opinions expressed above are our own.

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