Adjusting to the culture in Oslo

local culture in Oslo
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Updated 2019-10-09 07:29

From cultural attractions to a buzzing food scene and local sights and sounds, Oslo has a lot to offer. Experiencing Oslo like a local will very much depend on the season in which you arrive in the city. Summertime activities are vastly different from wintertime favourites; whichever season you find yourself in, here's a guide to adjusting to the local culture.

Spring in Oslo

Spring is marked by the arrival of Easter celebrations and Norway's Independence Day that is celebrated on May 17. Easter in Norway is a long holiday and celebrated by nearly everyone, although the celebrations are not particularly religious. Families gather around typical Norwegian food (boiled potatoes and lamb meat) and share large eggs full of candy, and many head to cabins in the wood to get in a last bit of skiing before the snow melts.

May 17 is undoubtedly the biggest celebration in Norway. People line the streets of the city centres to participate in and watch parades, all while proudly waving the bright-coloured red and blue Norwegian flag. Locals dress in ‘bunads', traditional folk costumes that are delicately woven and decorated with patterns typical of different areas in Norway.

Naturally, expats don't have ‘bunads' and acquiring these treasured pieces is a costly exercise. Instead, fit in with the locals by dressing up in a navy dress or suit and heading to the town centre to observe the merriment and enjoy a hotdog (‘polse') from the many vendors that pop up on the day.

Summer in Oslo

Norwegian summers are synonymous with hiking outdoors, soaking up the sunshine, and enjoying barbecues with friends and family. Head to your nearest park on a sunny day with an ‘engangsgrill' (one-time use grill) and some meat for the barbecue to fit in with the locals.

Summer is also a great time to take advantage of the many public facilities in Oslo. The parks offer green pastures for picnics while the waterfront has perfect spots to lounge in the sun while enjoying views over the water. While you are at the docks, why not grab a boat to one of the many islands located in the Oslofjord?

Winter in Oslo

Norwegians really come alive in winter. Although the days are short, locals make the most of the cold weather by hitting the slopes and relishing in cosy Christmas markets. Cross-country skiing is an all-time favourite in Norway, and there are unwritten rules that expats must try it out at least once a season.

Within 40 minutes reach of the city centre is the Oslo Winter Park, a wintertime playground for ski and snowboard enthusiasts of all levels. Open from December to mid-April of each year, the resort offers everything from ski lifts and runs to ski classes, equipment rentals, and a cosy café for those who prefer to observe the fun from a warm spot on the sofa.

Don't forget to warm up with a delicious traditional Norwegian waffle topped with strawberry jam, brown cheese (‘brunost') and sour cream. This is the ‘typisk Norsk vafler' (typical Norwegian waffle), and it will rarely come with other toppings.

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