Preparing For My First Scandinavian Winter

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Wondering how to prepare for your first winter season in Scandinavia? Me too. Here's what I'm thinking and what I plan to buy.

Since arriving in Norway in May I've been stunned at how nice the weather has been. Yes there's been some rainy days, but overall it's been an impressive summer, with many days touching 30C and the warm weather lasting long into the evenings.

Northern Norway winter landscape.

But now August is drawing to a close, things are changing. It's starting to get dark at 8.30, not 11.30. Cool crisp mornings are replacing bright sunny ones. I'm seeing ski jackets and warm sweaters in shop windows. Yes folks, winter is on its way, and fast.

Friends in Oslo have given me some idea of what to expect, but I know it's still going to be a hard adjustment.

Colder temperatures

Oslo is not the coldest part of Scandinavia. But even so, yr.no informs me I can expect a much chillier winter season than I am used to.

According to the website, I can expect temperatures below freezing from about late October through to late March, with it being permanently below zero during December and most of January and February. The coldest it reached in Oslo last year was -19.3C on 22nd December – Happy Yule!

Oslo waterfront in the winter.

I'm more used to hot temperatures, not that I especially like them. In Death Valley it reached 48C, while a vacation in Gran Canaria topped 40C.

I'm not saying I coped particularly well but at least I have that experience. Bar the odd few days in Britain I can't say I've ever experienced long periods of cold. But hell, when in Rome…

Embracing the winter

So I plan on embracing the winter as much as I can. First things first, that involves getting the right clothing. I'm sadly lacking at the moment as I didn't need much winter clothing back in England.

I want to invest in a good-looking, quality winter sweater from Dale of Norway and some decent waterproof winter boots, with rubber soles so I don't slip over on the steep bridge on the way to work.

I know that's inevitable, but I have to do my best to limit the chances…

A cross-country skier in the Norwegian countryside
Cross-country skiing.

My main ambition this winter is to take part in winter sports for the first time in my life. Dave has offered to teach me the basics of skiing at Voksenkollen in December. I'd rather make a tit of myself in front of a friend rather than an instructor!

I've also been taken by the idea of hurtling down a hill on a sledge in the name of fun. They do say that “Norwegian” and “doing f*cking idiotic things in the snow in the name of fun” go hand in hand. I may regret saying this come December, but roll on the winter!

After the first winter

UPDATE: So, my first winter has come and gone. How was it? Well, I'd say it was both better and worse than I'd expected.

What surprised me most was how I dealt with the cold temperatures. My first Scandinavian winter turned out to be significantly colder than average. Yet with the right clothes and a sensible schedule, it wasn't too bad.

What I didn't cope so well with was the light. Or to be more precise, the lack of daylight. The shorter days of December and January took a lot of adjustment.

About David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

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5 thoughts on “Preparing For My First Scandinavian Winter”

  1. shoe spikes are the way forward to stop (limit) falling over on ice. Tried and tested!!
    Warmth is best obtained by layers of clothes, rather than 1 ‘big’ layer. I wouldn’t bother with Dale jumper – very expensive and you can get pretty much as good quality for far less.
    Invest in good gloves and hat. (And when walking don’t keep your hands in your pockets – if/when you do fall over, you need your arms and hands ‘free’).
    Oh, and metal grates can be VERY slippy!!!

  2. Brodder (the shoe spikes) are definitely the thing to get – I went through 2 pairs of the spiral type last winter. I still took little steps and was amazed at the Norwegians striding past me – I think they learn very early to walk on the slippy stuff.
    If you do want a Norwegian style jumper – check out Freetex or UFF – 2nd hand handmade ones are available there.
    I now have several hats and gloves – so I can colour coordinate 🙂

  3. It’s not quite winter yet is it!? It is so long and cold and dark I can’t start to think about it just yet (allthough I just bought a warm winter jacket)… Like the other comments said, remember layers of wool, so called “super undertøy”, and a nice warm hat and scarfe! Oh, and proper warm boots/shoes is a must!


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