7 ways to get into the Christmas spirit outside Oslo

Christmas magic in the Oslo region

7 great ways to get into the Christmas spirit right outside the Norwegian capital

Oslo surely is a nice place to be during the holiday season, but the region that surrounds the city also offers a great selection of authentic Christmas experiences. Local Christmas traditions in combination with idyllic towns, historical sites, old crafts and beautiful nature make for wonderful memories.

So why not take a day and go on a real holiday excursion? Below are our seven favourite ways of catching the Christmas spirit in the Oslo region.

Christmas market in Oslo, detail
Christmas market in Oslo, detail
Photo: VisitOSLO/Didrick Stenersen

1. Visit Santa

Yes, we're serious: Santa lives in the Oslo region! It's an excellent place for him, of course – his hometown of Drøbak turns into a summer paradise during Santa off-season, so he can enjoy a sunny seaside vacation in the comfort of his own home.

Anyway, during Christmas season, Santa's picturesque hometown has everything you need to get into the spirit, including a two-story shop that only sell Christmas ornaments and cosy bakeries with seasonal treats.

Tregaardens julehus, Drøbak
Tregaardens julehus, Drøbak
Photo: Visit Oslo Region/Didrick Stenersen

Psst – if you visit Drøbak on a Sunday or Monday this year, you can actually travel from Oslo to Drøbak by boat. Vision of the Fjords, a one-of-a-kind sightseeing boat that currently docks in Oslo, will take you there and back on a Christmas cruise, with plenty of time to explore Drøbak and make sure Santa gets your wish lists.

2. Journey to Fredrikstad's Old Town

How about an entire historic town centre filled to the brim with Christmas spirit? Venture down to Fredrikstad’s Old Town, located just a short train ride south of Oslo.

The old town's quaint buildings are beautifully decorated for the season, and a wide variety of independent shops sell gifts you won’t find anywhere else. The cobblestone streets are full of friendly people, carollers and all those wonderful scents of Christmas.

Fredrikstad's Old Town hosts several events throughout advent, with the main markets being open the three first weekends of December. Don't miss the gingerbread house exhibition!

3. Explore old traditions at Maihaugen

If you're curious to know how Christmas has been celebrated in Norway through the ages, jump on a train bound for Lillehammer and visit the Maihaugen open air museum on 1 or 2 December. This popular attraction boasts a collection of Norwegian homes from the medieval ages to the 1950s, and this weekend you can see them decorated for Christmas.

Maihaugen also hosts a traditional Christmas market with over 100 different stalls, entertainment, horse-drawn sleigh rides and other kinds of Christmas fun this weekend. 

If you can’t make it up here on this particular weekend, a visit to Lillehammer, with its tranquil atmosphere and excellent track record of snow, is nevertheless a good pick for a Christmas outing.

4. Browse unique designs at Hadeland Glassverk

A Christmas visit to Hadeland Glassworks is a cherished tradition for many Oslo region natives – and we hope you'll add it to your holiday favourites, too. The glassworks is Norway’s oldest industrial company in continuous operation, and an excellent choice if you’re looking for some quality Scandinavian design to bring back home.

In addition to a large indoor Christmas market (and free gingerbread cookies!), Hadeland Glassworks offers a nice selection of family activities on weekends. With horse and carriage rides, children’s workshops and meet-and-greets with Santa’s little helpers, chances are you’ll want to spend the whole day here.

5. Eat like a miner at Blaafarveverket

The Royal Modum Blaafarveværk was established in 1773 to extract cobalt from the mines in the area, which was used in blue dye for porcelain and glass industries all over the world.

Every November and December, what's now a museum opens its doors for Christmas preparations in historic and peaceful surroundings.

Christmas at Blaafarveværket
Christmas at Blaafarveværket
Photo: Blaafarveværket

Blaavarveværket's café Kroa is a great place to enjoy traditional Norwegian Christmas dinners, rice pudding, Christmas porridge and holiday cookies. You'll also find three gift shops on the premises, including one that sells signature cobalt-coloured glass products.  

6. Buy artisan gifts at Bærums verk

If you only have an afternoon or so to spend outside Oslo, not to worry! Bærums Verk is located just west of the city, yet offers plenty of that trip-to-the-countryside feeling with artisan shops in 17th century houses and scenic surroundings.

Local juice at the famers' market, Bærums Verk
Local juice at the famers' market, Bærums Verk
Photo: Handelsstedet Bærums Verk/Morten Brun

The old-fashioned Christmas at Bærums Verk attracts thousands of visitors every year. A large Christmas market is open here on weekends, accompanied by a farmers' market on Sundays. Make sure to sample some of the local foods!

7. Celebrate with the Vikings in Vestfold

Our last suggestion sends you down to the western coast of the Oslo Fjord and the county of Vestfold, known, among other things, for its many Viking landmarks.

Vestfold Viking
Vestfold Viking
Photo: Visit Oslo Region/Didrick Stenersen

Highlights here include Tønsberg, Norway's oldest city, founded by the Viking themselves. The whole city is nicely decorated for Christmas, and makes for another great spot to experience Norwegian Christmas with a historic flair.

Practical information



Travelling the region by train

Train is a comfortable way to travel, and the Norwegian State Railways connects Oslo with several of the places mentioned in this article.

The State Railways offers a journey planner in English, which makes it easy to look at your options and book your tickets in advance.