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5 Things To Do In Norway Instead Of Skiing

Bad skier in Norway

If you can't ski or you simply don't enjoy it, don't despair! There's still plenty of things you can do in Norway to get out and about.

If you've ever been to Norway – or been involved in a conversation about Norway – you probably know that Norwegians love skiing.

A national obsession

Skiing isn't just a winter sport in Norway, although the Norwegians always do extremely well in the Winter Olympics. If there's snow on the ground, Norwegians will ski on it. In winter, they'll go skiing on the weekends, and some may even ski to work.

Around Easter, when the snow in the cities has either melted away or turned into sludge, they'll flock to the mountains for “påskeski” (Easter skiing). Even in the summer, there's always some really dedicated Norwegians flying around on roller skis.

The Norwegian bond with skiing starts early. A common expression in Norway is “født med ski på beina” (born with skis on one's feet). It exists for a reason: I've seen small children who can't even walk yet be strapped into skis or be pulled in a “pulk” (sled) behind a skiing parent.

Learning to ski as a non-Norwegian

It makes sense then that whenever I hear advice from Norwegians and non-Norwegians about how to integrate and make friends in Norway, “go skiing” is mentioned a lot. However, there are a couple of reasons why going skiing may not be as simple as it sounds:

a) You live in Oslo, which is currently on track for the warmest winter on record, and there's barely a snowflake to be seen, let alone ski on.

b) You're like me and can't and/or don't particularly want to ski.

Read more: Cross-country skiing for beginners

Luckily, skiing is not the only way to a Norwegian's heart. Socialising in Norway can be very challenging, particularly as a foreigner, but the best way to make friends is through shared activities and experiences in general… not just skiing.

So, if you want to get out and socialise but skiing isn't an option, here are five things you can do instead:

1. Swing dancing

There are several types of swing dances to choose from that are taught in Norway. I’ve been dancing Lindy Hop for about a year now, and it’s still the highlight of my week.

Not only is the swing dancing community incredibly welcoming and diverse, but it’s also part of a larger global community, so you never have to worry about making friends again, even if you leave Norway.

Pros:

  • You can’t help but meet people as you have to change partners every two minutes or so
  • It’s fantastic exercise
  • You don’t have to be cold to do it (in fact, in my experience, the opposite tends to be the true instead – bring lots of water and an extra t-shirt)

Cons:

  • You’ll never be able to listen to big band music and not start dancing ever again

Why not check out:

2. Knitting

Whenever I think of the women in my partner’s family in the north of Norway, I always picture them with a cup of coffee next to them, a bag of yarn by their feet, and a cigarette balancing on their lip as they knit furiously. But knitting isn’t just for older women above the arctic circle.

A Norwegian woman wearing knitted hat and mittens

I have several friends my age in Oslo who are avid knitters and will even bring their knitting on the t-bane or to cafés. While it can be an individual activity, there are also lots of knitting events and workshops where people of all ages and genders gather to knit and learn new tricks and patterns.

Pros:

  • You get new friends, a new skill, and a really warm pair of socks
  • You’ll never have to worry about buying Christmas presents again

Cons:

  • You’ll need to find somewhere to put all that yarn that you can’t stop buying

Why not check out: 

3. Coding

The IT industry is thriving in Norway right now – not just in terms of job opportunities, but also as a social activity.

In the UK, none of my friends have anything to do with IT, while around 75% of my social circle in Norway work in tech. Whether you’re interested in learning coding or you already work in tech, there’s an event for you.

Pros:

  • An activity that is excellent for your employability as well as your social life

Cons:

  • Be prepared to become the automatic tech support for your family when you go home for Christmas

Why not check out:

4. Gaming

Much like coding and tech, gaming is now fully mainstream. Naturally, there is a big overlap between the two, but you don’t have to understand tech to enjoy gaming. I may not have initially realised that python was a coding language as well as a type of snake, but that doesn’t stop me from spending my Saturday evenings living vicariously through my Sims!

While there are large-scale events (including The Gathering, which is the second biggest LAN party in the world), smaller LAN parties at someone's apartment are also common. After all, nothing says “Please be friends” like giving out your WiFi password.

Pros:

  • There’s such a wide variety of games that you will find something that you enjoy
  • You don’t have to worry about awkward conversation

Cons:

  • Possibly losing entire days to that one quest on Skyrim, as time passes a lot quicker in the game world

Why not check out:

5. Homebrewing

I’m a teetotaller myself, so it was only after I heard several people mention that they were thinking of starting homebrewing that I even realised that there is a strong homebrewing culture in Norway.

Beer sampler plate

Not only is homebrewing significantly cheaper than buying a beer (apparently the cheapest pilsner in Norway is about 5 euros per litre, whereas brewing your own costs around 1 euro per litre), but it’s also a lot easier to get started than you may think, with plenty of classes, an official Norwegian association for homebrewers, Facebook groups, etc.

Read more: All About Norwegian Beer

Pros:

  • You get a great beer for cheap and the satisfaction of knowing you made it
  • You won’t have to re-mortgage your house just for a drink with your friends

Cons:

  • Having to endure hipster jokes from anyone outside of Norway and Sweden that you talk to about homebrewing

Why not check out: 

Honourable mentions

If none of these suggestions float your boat, you can always try:

Frivillig.no – where you can find a variety of opportunities for volunteering in your area. Find something that makes you good, contributes to society and introduces you to new people!

Meetup.com – where you can find lots of different groups for a whole spectrum of interests or even create your own group: you never know, maybe someone else also likes that very specific thing you do!

Do any of these activities interest you? Is there another society or club that you’re a part of in Norway? Let us know in the comments!

In the meantime, if you liked this post why not share it on Pinterest so others can find it too? We've got a pin for that:

A bad Norwegian skier

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About the Author: Jess Scott

Jess is a native Brit who lives and works in Oslo as a translator (from NO/SE/DA into EN), proofreader and copy editor. Much like Norwegians, she loves black coffee. Unlike Norwegians, she hates skiing. She is also technically a qualified viking, with a BA in Viking Studies, although there was a lot more reading and a lot less pillaging than she had expected. If you're interested in hiring her services - or are just really curious about what a Viking Studies degree involves - you can reach her on LinkedIn.

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