Want to get the kids away from the screens and out into the fresh air? Take the whole family to Oslo this winter for some family-fun in the snow. Oslo may be one of Europe’s smallest capitals in terms of people, but it’s one of the largest in size. It’s easy to combine big city cultural experiences with great outdoors activities. Two thirds of the area is nature: fjord islands, farmland, forests, lakes and parks, and locals use every opportunity to get out and enjoy it all. After a week of active fun in the snow, you’ll return home in great shape and with heaps of good family memories.
- Every winter weekend (and there are many, many of those), families take to the woods for some cross-country skiing. Have babies that can’t even walk? No worries, just tuck ’em in a snug sheep skin, put ’em in a pull-sled and pull them along. Nordmarka forest is just 20 minutes by metro from the city center. The trails start near Frognerseteren, where you can have hot chocolate and waffles by the roaring fireplace.
- Spend a night in a cabin in the wilderness at Kikutstua. After the kids have gone to sleep, the two of you could take a romantic glide along lighted trails – or by moonlight.
- Tryvann Vinterpark is everyone’s playground, with 14 slopes and 7 lifts, offering “regular” downhill skiing, Telemark skiing and snowboarding. Kids of all ages jump and play in the wavy terrain park and half-pipe. Two lifts, three slopes and a few jumps are reserved for young children.
- On Karl Johan, Oslo’s main street, you can skate at Narvisen outdoor rink. After dark, it’s illuminated and parents might want to ice-dance to classical music.
- Toboggan down Korketrekkeren, a 2000-meter-long corkscrew hill. The drop is 255 meters and the ride takes 8 – 10 minutes at full speed. Want more? Take the metro back up and go again. Korketrekkeren is lighted for night-time snowy fun as well.
- For an easier day outdoors, head to Frognerparken to watch Vigeland’s cool snow-covered sculptures. Locals jog, amble along or walk their dogs while kids climb on the statues.
- How about some winter sailing? A minicruise in an old wooden sailboat takes you past medieval Akershus Fortress, Oslo Opera House and Bygdøy.
- Your kids might not like opera (although you’d be surprised how hard it is to get seats for the kids’ Magic Flute), but they’ll relish climbing and running on the roof of the fabulous white marble ice-floe opera house. Fantastic fjord views from the roof-top.
- At Bygdøy, kids love exploring Amundsen’s Polar ship Fram, the Kon-Tiki raft that crossed from South America to Polynesia, and Viking Ships.
- Your little science-nerd will want to see our oldest ancestor, 47-million-year-old primate fossil Ida, at the Zoological museum. You may have to stop by the National Gallery as well – kids are weirdly fascinated by Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream.
[Image: Espen Klem/Flickr]