10 Days in Norway: Winter

Acclimatize for two days, visiting Oslo’s museums, spas, and the city ski resort—before heading to Lillehammer for two days of serious ski action. From there, a 15-hour train ride to Bodø brings you into perpetual night. Spend two days hiking, snowshoeing, fishing, and skiing before going by bus, plane, or boat to Tromsø, a surprisingly happening city in Norway’s far north. Watch for the northern lights until it’s time to fly back to Oslo.

Sjøgata 21, 9008 Tromsø, Norway
But bring a change of underwear (or two), as “the night” in Tromsø lasts from November 21 until January 21, with the short dawn bringing stunning light conditions. Despite the dark, the town is alive with festivals and cultural events, with an even livelier nightlife than during the rest of the year. After the sun returns, you’ll have a few hours of daylight to enjoy downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowboarding. A high latitude means there’ll be snow until May. Tromsø is also considered the best place on the planet to view the northern lights, which tend to come between 6 pm and 1 am from November to March.
Jernbanetorget 2, 2609 Lillehammer, Norway
The few episodes of the Netflix show Lilyhammer didn’t prepare me for my visit to the actual town of Lillehammer itself. With its bricked pedestrian mall filled with boutiques and other high-end shops, the town seemed more like a nordic Boulder, Colorado, outpost than something toward which a mafia wise guy acclimated to a New York state of mind would gravitate. But that’s television for you. Though my time in town was brief, I could see the charm of the town that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics. Strolling the hilly residential area above the main drag on a dark midwinter evening, I came across dozens of locals commuting with ski-poles and mountain bikes tricked out with studded ice tires, seemingly unperturbed by the layer of ice on the town’s every horizontal surface. On the main drag, I visited pastry shops and sipped steaming coffee next to a small creek. I dallied too long to make it to either the Norwegian Olympic Museum or the Lillehammer Art Museum, but there’ll always be another trip.
More From AFAR