Hello, I have recently booked a trip with friends to Norway, Sweden + Finland over December/January. We will mainly stick to the cities but were wondering if we will need proper winter gears and walking boots etc??!! Is it very Icy?! Would love to hear other peoples experiences...I must sound hilarious but have never been on a cold holiday before! Thanks!
I just joined this forum and your question was at the top...
As it happens I've spent January-Feb. in Stockholm, and it is VERY cold and gray. I'm sure Norway and Finland are the same way. Also note daylight lasts for about 4-6 hours during that time.
A good jacket I would definitely recommend, and you are not going to want to be outside much. But you will have to pay to get your coat checked at every bar you go in, kind of a bummer. If you're really cheap and stalwart, go out in a sweater or blazer-type coat you can wear in the clubs... I did. Just sprint from the subway to the bar!
Ice is somewhat of an issue but not too bad- you'll be fine with sneakers. The Swedes are very stylish and you will look pretty silly walking around the city in mountaineering gear. The women walk around all winter in heels.
The subway system (in Stockholm at least) is awesome and you can get around the city quite well while staying warm and indoors.
My verdict: Daytime sightseeing wear the biggest puffy coat you have, and night time you might want to brave it to look less nerdy and save $ on coat check.
You will definitely need proper winter gear here in Oslo in the winter. I agree pretty much with everything the prior poster has written, but would say that sneakers are not really going to be good enough. And if you go further north, they really won't be enough! They will last you if you don't do much walking, but you are going to get some pretty cold feet... Most Norwegians have decent winter shoes/boots that they wear; females and males. Also, a lot of women walk outside in boots, but carry nicer shoes with heels in their bag to put on inside (at work/parties etc). They don't have to be hiking boots, but I think you'd even look better in those than in sneakers in the middle of the winter. I usually wear boots similar to Timberlands. Timberlands are considered pretty stylish here for example.
I am Norwegian, so I have a lot to say here (all though I currently live in Oz).
Rule 1. Don't forget that Norway is as long as Chile. The north and south are worlds apart.
Roadrover is 100% right. If you're going to stick to the cities, then you don't really need to think to much about it. Get a coat and some long underwear (you might not need that, it depends whether you can afford taxis or if you have to wait for the bus). If you want to buy shoes that's fine, but even though you are in Norway, you cannot go out in the same shoes you would use to walk in the terrain. It would be awkward in a club. This means you have to buy 'nice winter shoes'. Its hard to explain. I for one never bothered with it after I moved to Oslo. I just had sneakers all year round.
If you want to look scandinavian, buy brown shoes and a black coat.
And yeah. It can get very icy. We have a problem with old ladies falling and breaking their hips. But dont worry about it. Get drunk and have some fun with it. You'll see people run-and-slide all the time when their going from bar to bar.
At bars, there are heatlamps in the outside smoking areas.
Secondy, why would you stick to the cities? Scandinavia is the kind of place you go to for the nature and extreme sport (both during winter and summer). Go snowboarding in Norway, go cross-country skiing, eat Norwegian chocolate and and orange while pausing to view the mountain range. Seriously, its worth it. Continental Europe has all the good museums, classy architecture and awesome clubs. We got nature.
If you want to stick to cities though, here are some tips; Stockholm is very nice and very worth it, but the people can be very stuck up. The swedes are much nicer in Guthenburg or further north. In Norway, don't stay too long in Oslo. Its all just junkies, African drug-dealers, and prostitues (hey, I'm from there. Compared to other norwegians, my criticism of the city is mild) Go and see the basic stuff, then move along to Bergen, Stavanger, Molde and Tromso. Especially Tromso. These cities are much nicer, more classic scandinavian architecture and the people will be much nicer and more welcoming. Don't know anything about Finland.
The Northern part of Norway is probably one of the nicest place on earth, but there is no sun there now. You might want to consider going anyway. If you go there, you have to drink kaffekarsk (coffee-karsk). It'll make you almost as badass as they are at that latitude.
That was a long letter. Hopes some of it helps.
Another thing: I think there are tons of scandinavians on couch surfer. Check it out. You know its safe, come on, its scandinavia.
Torgeir (Tony-Guy in Australia)
In Norway, don't stay too long in Oslo. Its all just junkies, African drug-dealers, and prostitues (hey, I'm from there. Compared to other norwegians, my criticism of the city is mild)
Hehe While I know where you are coming from, I am quite fond of Oslo (having lived here 8 years now). Mind you, maybe that is just because I'm Dutch so I'm used to all those things LOL That said, I TOTALLY agree with your conclusion; get out there to the other more authentic cities and the nature!
Yeah. Don't get me wrong though, I love Oslo. Its a great place to live. But I don't think I would like it as a tourist. You have to get 'inside' this city for it to be great, you know what I mean? Sam I Am, you would probably know more than me about this.
A lot of sensible things have already been said about this. I have one recommendation to add: Get something warm for your head, at least if you think you will stay outside long enough to need long underwear. A padded cap (both an inner insulation layer and an outer layer of windbreaking material) with earflaps is recommended.
Oh, one more thing: At the coast of Norway, including Oslo and the southern part of Sweden, including Stockholm you have to be prepared for both frost and snow as well as rain, sleet and temperatures round the freezing point. The interior of Norway and Sweden, and Finland, is colder, and consequently drier. All this said, wish you a nice trip.
Just a few points from an ex resident ....
- Believe it or not, Oslo is quite warm ! Scandinavia is much colder further North and East, particularly inland.
- Be prepared for -25C and colder when it gets chilly. This is slightly colder than your home freezer.
- If you are driving, you will need winter tyres (rental cars are supplied with them in winter).
- A grey cloudy day is very gloomy. Even at mid day there is not enough light for colour. Snow is white and everything else is black. Bit like living in old B&W photos !
- Most bars and restaurants have a cloak room where you can leave your coat and outdoor shoes (ladies often arrive with indoor shoes in their coat pockets).
- The countryside is spectacular, but in winter there are few tourists and not all hotels, restaurants and bars stay open.
- Winter clothes need to be windproof as well as well insulated
- Buy your winter clothes and shoes in a Swedish supermarket. They are relatively cheap and made for the climate.
- Try and get some aluminium heat reflecting insoles for your outdoor shoes. Buy in Sweden or from a ski / mountaineering shop.
- The advice for long underwear is good if you intend to spend time outdoors. Regardless of clothing, the cold eventually penetrates and you will discover why saunas are popular in cold places.
Have fun !
[ Edit: Edited on 23-Nov-2010, at 00:53 by mpprh ]
Most have already been said about norway. As pointed out, nature is the only draw we got. I just want to add that you can go can see quite a bit of nature even if you decide to stick to the cities. You can go cross country skiing in østmarka or nordmarka. It's forest, but just two hours away you got blefjell. Even a small day trip can get you above the tree line, and it's very beautiful. For alpine skiing and snowboarding you got norefjell one and a half hour away.
For another kind of "extreme sport", you can go sled riding in "korketrekkern". Just take the metro to frogneseteren station. Right off the station you got a two kilometers ride down to midstuen station where you can take the metro back to the top. Might sound a bit silly, but it's a lot of fun. It was used as a bobsleigh track in the 1952 winter olympics held in Oslo
I have just read through all the comments above and it sounds great. But just one thing, as a tourist to Scandinavia how much sightseeing can you actually get done in 3 weeks with only so many hours of sunlight? My husband has just started his own business and won't take time off during Australian Winter due to demand so Christmas & New year is the onyl time we can go and I am a bit worried about what we will be able to see while there during this time.
Would love to hear ALL comments!