So, it’s always cold in Norway with snow and ice the whole year round… isn’t that true???? ….Well, No, is the answer.
But this is what we are taught in school and the media, about the harsh Norwegian Winter, the life in the far North of Norway which is in the Arctic circle, with the Sami people, reindeer, the might-night sun where it is dark for five months of the year, children going to school on skis etc.
But in reality, Norway generally has the full seasons with a warm summer, beautiful Autumn, cold winter and fresh spring. With temperatures in Summer reaching into the 30s (Celsius) and in the Winter to -20s (Celsius) (depending on where you are living) it was great to experience what the seasons should be, rather than the traditional English “grey skies” and rain for six months of the year.
I worked in the dead of the Norwegian Winter… outside!!! and it was about -15 (Celsius) each day, so I experienced that first hand. On the other hand, I also swam in the Oslo fjord in the Summer and it was gorgeously warm, so you can see both sides of the coin.
My first Norwegian Winter was beautiful to behold with snow covering the trees and houses, like a typical Christmas card photo. I remember sitting inside next to a warm log fire and watch the snow come down, was so relaxing. The change from this to the warm vibrant Summer was spectacular. I am only used to six months of solid grey skies and rain in the UK and the odd warm day in Summer so seeing the seasons like this was amazing.
But, lets focus on the Norwegian Winter for now, as that’s all most people know about the weather in Norway. It can be very harsh and a big shock to the system when you first experience the deep cold of Winter. You can feel the nose hairs inside your nostrils freeze, your eyes hurt, face and hands go numb, but it all this depends on if you don’t have the right clothes, or if you stay too long outside.
Common sense comes into play as should a survival instinct, so don’t put yourself in a situation where you could be affected by the cold and you will be fine. An open wood fire, warm drinks and blankets indoors will keep you going through the Winter.
Of course, if you have to travel to your workplace, the public transport is usually fine over Winter, although be prepared to put snow tyres on your vehicles and check for delays in Bus/Train arrivals. I used the train to get to another job in Oslo and on occasion it either didn’t turn up, or only a couple of carriages made it, but I never had a situation where I couldn’t get to where I needed to go.
However, even the Norwegian people themselves are never prepared for when the first snowfall hits. Generally they experience a lot of accidents and problems during the first weeks, so be ready for that too. Check out the movie to the right which I found on Youtube, showing what the snow can be like in certain places in Norway.
My friends in Norway say that sometimes the snow can be head high, so you have to spend hours digging yourself out of your home in order to get to the shops, but what choice do you have. In Norway you are a slave to the elements, but you have to respect this and nature as otherwise you could get yourself into trouble. It’s just something you learn to live with and adapt to.
Houses in Norway are generally built from wood (mostly pine) as there is an abundance of trees in the country. Also, wood holds the heat longer than stone, so Norwegian homes coupled with real fires are extremely warm and comfortable in the winter.
Some of the log cabins in Norway are gorgeous and are fantastic for keeping the elements at bay. I have been to many restaurants and businesses that are inside log built structures, which add a natural feel to the atmosfear. Also some of the traditional architecture is beautiful, on the older buildings, with dragons, vibrant red colours, mutli-layered houses etc.
One downside is that their homes are then very flammable and if there is a lightening storm, the fire brigade are kept busy! I do love the architecture of Norwegian wooden houses and the fact that most of them have a lot of land and space around their homes, giving you room to breathe. Have a look at my friend Espen’s house on my Gallery page.
The Right Clothes
There is a saying in Norway “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing” which is very true.
People complaining about the cold, generally have not dressed correctly for the climate and the same goes for those who feel hot or wind swept. So you must buy the correct clothing for the weather as you can not go out in the Norwegian winter just wearing a leather jacket and expect to feel warm (yes I did that).
It’s pretty much common sense, as although an umbrella will pretty much do for most of the English seasonal weather, you will need to equip yourself with a warm clothes and shoes depending on what you are doing, or unless you intend to spend most of the Norwegian winter indoors.
Clothes shops are in abundance in Norway, so you can always buy clothes when you are over there as generally they have been designed with the Norwegian climate in mind. Otherwise you can buy your clothes online before you go or whilst you are out there.
With the right clothes, the cold Winter can be a lot of fun, with Winter sports, building snowmen, igloos, snowball fights, sledging and other snow related fun, which you may not have experienced in your own country before. So give them all a try, but of course, be careful and respect the climate.
So, be prepared for the climate in Norway, but make sure you experience the cold weather along with the warm as otherwise you are not making the most out of the experience.
Their Winter is cold, very cold compared to many countries, but make sure you are prepared for the four-five months of Winter and you will be fine. Like any part of moving to a new country, it’s all about adapting to the new climate and getting used to the seasons, but again, this is all part of the experience and should be embraced.