Norway’s natural beauty makes it a highly sought after vacation destination, with many towns sitting in the shadow of towering mountains that loom over pristine fjords. While its reputation for magnificence draws many travelers during the summer, tourists tend to shy away from visiting in the winter; probably something to do with the snow and its border with the Arctic Circle. However, with the proper layering strategy, Norway can be just as fantastic in the winter — visitors will love the low tourist traffic, soft sounds of snow falling, and the winter wonderland-esque scenery. Check out our favorite cities in Norway to visit this winter.
Sometimes perceived as Norway’s second city, Bergen is a favorite amongst tourists as its history provides ample museum options and architecture to gaze at, while its university population lends itself to great nightlife and energy. Be sure to visit Bryggen, Bergen’s old wharf, home to traditional wooden commercial buildings that are now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Skudeneshavn makes a name for itself through its extremely well maintained old town. The grouping of about 150 wooden houses is striking as they are all painted stark white, seemingly glowing in the low winter sun or camouflaging themselves in a snowstorm.
Oslo, the capital and largest city in Norway, is an obvious choice. Oslo is a fascinating city to walk around as it blends the traditional Norwegian symbiosis with nature while also integrating the modern architecture seen in progressive Scandinavian countries.
Happy to boast its nicknames “Paris of the North” and “Gateway to the Arctic”, Tromsø is known for its location above the Arctic Circle. Tromsø makes this list easily, as in winter it is the best city to visit to see the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis light show. Done correctly, Tromsø and seeing the Northern Lights can be a true luxury travel experience to add to your bucket list
Always ready for a close-up, Trondheim’s streets, waterways, and buildings are some of the most attractive in Northern Europe. Soaked in history, visitors are welcomed to visit the most northern Gothic cathedral in Europe, ancient fortresses, and colorful waterfront. Those ready to brave the cold will also have access to outdoor activities like skiing.
Home to many of the iconic images of the Lofoten Islands, Reine is tiny but gorgeous. Much of the shoreline is speckled with bright red wooden buildings with grasses growing from the roofs.
Rising above Stavanger is Preikestolen, a sharp natural edifice that shoots out from a mountaintop to give heart-racing views of the fjords below. Usually jam-packed with tourists, thanks to geotagging and a newfound popularity on Instagram, the viewpoint will be untouched by the boots of casual tourists in the winter.
Hey, don’t be embarrassed if you got excited just now when you found out the place in Frozen is real. We get it. So if you wanna build a snowman, check out Arendal this winter. The city center is an attractive area, on the water, with many old structures and a couple of prominent churches.
Located at the head of the Geirangerfjord in central Norway, Geiranger is not exactly a cosmopolitan destination but for those eager to see sheer cliffs, snow-dusted forests, and waterfalls fighting against freezing conditions, Geiranger is the place to be.
The aerial view of Fredrikstad reveals that the city center was constructed as a fortified stronghold surrounded by moats that flow in a star shape. Inside the city, visitors can wander the cobblestone alleyways to the vibrant central market that sells local foods and crafts.
A port town sitting at the edge of a complex archipelago that would make cartographers dizzy, Ålesund has the advantage of tremendous views throughout town. The town itself is largely constructed in an Art Nouveau style. Families can enjoy visiting the Atlantic Sea-Park, an aquarium with unusual cold-water species on display, and the Sunnmore Museum that showcases old boats.
It is very possible this town will be inaccessible in winter. Located on the northern island of Svalbard, Longyearbyen is actually the northernmost settlement (with a permanent population of 1,000+) of any kind in the world. It’ll take a hardened tourist to visit here in the winter but those who do so will be rewarded with that “edge of the world” feeling.
If traveling in the colder months is your thing, take a look at these Five Cozy Holiday Getaways.
Another seaside spot, Kristiansand is Norway’s fifth largest city and is located in the south, so it may punish visitors a little less for a wintertime break. The Kilden Performing Arts Center is a strikingly modern marvel at the sea’s edge, Odderoya is a good place for a hike at the edge of town, and Fiskebrygga is a beautiful place to buy the catch of the day off a fisherman returning from the cold waters.
A tiny, isolated town in the far north, Henningsvaer in the winter turns into a frozen series of cozy wooden homes with warm light illuminating through their windows to cut through the near consistent darkness. Henningsvaer is also home to what many believe is the coolest football field in the world.
Bored of beautiful towns resting at the backwaters of fjords? Us neither. Flåm is unique and often praised for its railroad. The Flåm Railway, or Flåmsbana, is reveled by some people to be the most beautiful train ride that anyone can take anywhere. It certainly won’t be hard not to picture yourself aboard the Polar Express in winter.