December in Norway is a mesmerizing blend of ethereal landscapes, vibrant festivities, and deep-rooted traditions. As the country is enveloped in a pristine white blanket of snow, the Northern Lights paint the skies with their surreal glow, making it a dream destination for many.
From bustling Christmas markets in cities to the serene silence of its vast wilderness, Norway in December offers a unique Nordic winter experience, promising memories that will linger long after the snow has melted.
Whether you're an adventurer seeking the thrill of winter sports or a traveler looking to immerse in the festive spirit, Norway in this month beckons with its enchanting allure.
Is December a Good Time to Visit Norway?
December in Norway is often described as a winter wonderland, offering a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and festive celebrations. As the country is draped in a blanket of snow, the landscapes transform into picturesque scenes straight out of a fairy tale. The cities and towns come alive with Christmas markets, twinkling lights, and a palpable festive spirit.
If you're looking to experience a traditional Nordic winter, complete with snow-covered landscapes, festive celebrations, and the chance to witness the Northern Lights, December is undoubtedly a fantastic time to visit Norway.
Weather in Norway in December
December in Norway experiences temperatures from 20-30°F. Oslo has daylight for roughly 5-6 hours, whereas Tromsø, further north, witnesses a month-long polar night with no sunrises or sunsets.
On the other hand, Tromsø, situated further north, witnesses the enigmatic phenomenon of the polar night, where the sun remains absent throughout December.
Can You See Northern Lights in Norway in December?
Absolutely! December is one of the prime months for Northern Lights viewing. The extended hours of darkness, especially in places like Tromsø, provide ample opportunities to witness this natural spectacle. Clear, cold nights enhance the chances of seeing the auroras dance across the sky, making it a must-visit time for enthusiasts.
Things to Do in Norway in December
Skiing in Lillehammer
Lillehammer, globally recognized for hosting the 1994 Winter Olympics, is a haven for skiing aficionados. The town boasts a rich sporting legacy and offers a range of slopes catering to both beginners and seasoned skiers.
With well-maintained facilities, professional instructors, and a backdrop of snow-clad mountains, Lillehammer promises an unparalleled skiing experience. Moreover, the après-ski scene is vibrant, with cozy lodges and cafes where one can unwind after an exhilarating day on the slopes.
The reindeer safari is not just an adventure but a deep dive into the indigenous Sami culture of Norway. As you journey across the vast, snow-covered plains, led by majestic reindeer, you'll get a glimpse of the traditional Sami way of life.
These safaris often include staying in traditional tents called 'lavvu', where travelers can enjoy Sami tales, songs, and cuisine. It's a serene experience, with the landscape's tranquility only interrupted by the soft crunch of snow underfoot and the gentle breath of the reindeer.
Christmas Markets in Oslo
Oslo, the capital of Norway, transforms into a winter wonderland during December. The heart of this festive spirit is the city's Christmas markets. Illuminated stalls line the streets, offering everything from handcrafted ornaments to warm, spiced wine.
The aroma of roasted nuts fills the air, and the sound of carolers adds to the ambiance. It's a delightful experience, walking through these markets, feeling the warmth of the season, and picking up unique gifts for loved ones.
For those seeking a serene and unique winter activity, ice fishing in Norway's frozen lakes is a must-try. Armed with a fishing rod and a drill to make a hole in the ice, anglers sit patiently, waiting for a catch.
The experience is meditative, with the vast expanse of the frozen lake and the silence of the surroundings providing a peaceful backdrop. And the joy of catching a fish in these conditions? Absolutely unparalleled.
Dog sledding is an exhilarating way to explore Norway's winter landscapes. Led by a team of energetic huskies, sleds glide over the snow, offering travelers a unique perspective of the countryside.
The bond between the musher and the dogs is palpable, and the excitement of the huskies is infectious. As the sled moves through the serene landscapes, the only sounds are the sled's runners on the snow and the huskies' rhythmic breathing.
Visit the Ice Hotel in Alta
Alta's Ice Hotel, made entirely of snow and ice, offers a lodging experience like no other. From the intricately carved ice sculptures to the ice bar, every detail is meticulously crafted. The rooms, with their ice beds covered in reindeer hides, provide a cozy sleeping environment despite the chilly surroundings. And the highlight? The hotel offers a perfect vantage point for witnessing the mesmerizing Northern Lights.
Explore the Viking Ship Museum
Oslo's Viking Ship Museum is a treasure trove for history enthusiasts. Housing well-preserved Viking ships and artifacts, the museum provides insights into the seafaring prowess and daily life of the Vikings.
The intricately carved Oseberg ship and the artifacts unearthed from Viking burial mounds are particularly noteworthy. A visit here is a journey back in time, offering a glimpse of Norway's rich maritime legacy.
Attend the St. Lucia Day Celebration
St. Lucia Day, celebrated on December 13th, is a festival of lights that heralds the Christmas season in Norway. Young girls, dressed in white gowns with red sashes and wearing a crown of candles, lead processions through towns and villages, singing traditional songs.
The celebration is a blend of Christian and ancient Norse traditions and is a heartwarming spectacle of hope and light during the dark winter days.
Snowshoeing in the Mountains
Snowshoeing offers an adventurous way to explore Norway's winter landscapes. Strapping on traditional snowshoes, travelers can trek through snow-covered forests, climb hills, and traverse frozen lakes. It's a workout, but the panoramic views of the winter wonderland make every step worth it.
Whether you're a novice or an experienced trekker, snowshoeing in Norway promises a memorable adventure.
Traveling through Norway in winter aboard a caravan from Campervan Norway is an experience like no other. The freedom to chart your own course, stopping at picturesque spots, and experiencing the winter in Norway at your own pace is unparalleled.
With a campervan, every road becomes a scenic route, every stop a potential adventure, ensuring you capture the essence of Norway's winter splendor.
Norwegian Cuisine in December
December in Norway is not just about the scenic beauty; it's also a culinary delight. The month sees a surge in traditional dishes that have been part of Norwegian Christmas traditions for centuries. Rakfisk, fermented fish, is a delicacy enjoyed by many during this season.
Another popular dish is Pinnekjøtt, salted and dried lamb ribs that are later rehydrated and steamed. For those with a sweet tooth, Kransekake, a tower of almond-based pastry rings, is a must-try. Dining in Norway during December offers a unique blend of flavors, making it a gastronomic journey as much as a visual one.
Winter Festivals and Celebrations
December is a month of festivities in Norway. Beyond the well-known Christmas and New Year celebrations, there are numerous local festivals that light up the winter darkness. The Tromsø International Film Festival is a major event, drawing cinema enthusiasts from around the world.
For music lovers, the Nordlysfestivalen or Northern Lights Festival in Tromsø offers a mix of jazz, classical, and contemporary music. These festivals, set against the backdrop of snow-clad landscapes and the Northern Lights, provide a cultural immersion into Norway's vibrant arts scene.
While the cold might deter some animals, Norway's wildlife is very much active during December. The seas off the coast of Tromsø become a playground for orca and humpback whales. Organized boat tours offer travelers a chance to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.
On land, the snowy landscapes are home to animals like moose, reindeer, and the elusive Arctic fox. Guided wildlife safaris can be a thrilling addition to your Norwegian winter adventure.
Traditional Norwegian Crafts
December is a great time to explore Norway's rich tradition of handicrafts. Markets and stores are filled with hand-made goods, perfect for souvenirs.
From intricately designed Norwegian sweaters to handcrafted wooden utensils and Sami jewelry, there's a wide array of artisanal products that reflect Norway's cultural heritage. These crafts, often made using centuries-old techniques, offer a tangible connection to Norway's past.
How to Plan Your Trip to Norway in December?
When planning a December trip to Norway, prioritize your interests. If the Northern Lights are on your bucket list, head north. For skiing, places like Lillehammer and Trysil are ideal. Always pack warm clothing, as the temperatures can be quite chilly.
Remember, while the days are shorter, the festive spirit in December is unparalleled, with Christmas markets and New Year celebrations lighting up the cities. And if you're looking for flexibility in your travels, consider renting a campervan, allowing you to explore the snowy terrains at your leisure.
December in Norway offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and festive celebrations. Whether you're chasing the Northern Lights, skiing down snowy slopes, or simply soaking in the 'julekos' (Christmas coziness), Norway in December promises an unforgettable experience.
So, pack your warmest clothes, and embark on a winter adventure in this Nordic wonderland. And remember, for a flexible and comfortable journey, Campervan Norway is always at your service. Safe travels!