5 of the best Christmas markets along Norway’s coast
As winter deepens and the skies carry the promise of snow, Norway’s coast comes alive with Christmas markets. It’s the most magical place for the most wonderful time of the year.
1. Oslo’s traditional and modern Christmas markets
Before or after you sail on The North Cape Express, make time to explore Oslo. At Christmastime, the bare branches of the city’s trees are wreathed in fairy lights, the scent of fresh doughnuts wafts through the air, restaurants fill with revellers, and amazing Christmas markets fill the pavements and squares.
Jul i Vinterland takes over Spikersuppa with stalls selling world foods, thick hot chocolate, and handicrafts. There are carousels, an enormous Ferris wheel, and ice-skating displays, too.
Oslo’s high streets and cool neighbourhoods have some of the best shops in Norway, but for something a bit different, time your visit to coincide with Julemarked av Oslo’s Supermarked. It’s ideal for unique gifts such as illustrations, ceramics, and edgy clothes.
Just outside Oslo, the traditional Christmas market at Bærums Verk has seasonal goodies, historic buildings, and horse and carriage rides.
2. An Arctic Christmas in Tromsø
Tromsø is working hard to win the title of Norway’s best Christmas town from Oslo. It helps that the chances of a white Christmas are very good this far north. In December, the Arctic city is covered in snow and bathed in the blue light of the Polar Night. The main street, Storgata, is draped in warm white fairy lights, with the cream steeple of Tromsø Domkirke at its heart.
In between browsing the city’s various Christmas markets and boutiques, make time for wintertime activities such as dog sledding, ice skating, and Northern Lights chasing. Or simply soak up the atmosphere and warm up with a mug of gløgg around a fire near the Christmas tree on the main square.
3. Bergen’s famously atmospheric Christmas
Norway’s most famous Christmas market has the added advantage of being within walking distance of Bergen’s other Christmassy attractions. For much of December, the rides and stalls of Bergen Christmas Market jostle with happy shoppers along one end of Festplassen.
After you’ve browsed the stalls, taken in views across the city from the top of the big wheel, and sipped an enormous hot chocolate topped with a tower of whipped cream, it’s an easy stroll to Pepperkakebyen, the world’s largest gingerbread town, or to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen – Bergen’s former wharf area now turned treasure trove of boutique shops and galleries.
Or you can take the Fløibanen funicular up near Mount Fløyen for incredible views and walks atop the city below. There’s a gift shop up there too, just in case you didn’t check everything off your Christmas list at the market.
4. Christmas market for foodies in Trondheim
Come December, Trondheim is quintessentially Christmassy. It’s also a haven for foodies, so arrive hungry. Start your visit with a wander around Bakklandet. The old, brightly painted wooden buildings that line River Nid here are garlanded for Christmas and packed to the rafters with cute gift shops, galleries, and cafes. Midbyten, the fairy-light lined city centre, is also a great place for Christmas shopping.
More than 70 vendors, a 45-metre-high Ferris wheel, 100 events, and a huge lavvu make up Trondheim’s Christmas Market, in Torvet at the heart of the city. Pick up woollen socks, local cheeses, handmade jewellery and all sorts of artworks, then head to the lavvu for a warming mug of gløgg, delicious food, and storytelling.
If you have time, swing by Nidaros Cathedral, Norway’s national sanctuary. This Gothic, subarctic Notre Dame is the northernmost cathedral in the world, and even more beautiful in the snow.
5. A tranquil Christmas in Lofoten
There’s (almost) no need for Christmas lights on Lofoten. In December, the light here is naturally beautiful. It’s Polar Night so the sky is already a tranquil shade of blue, and you might see the Northern Lights overhead too. Nevertheless, come Christmastime, the archipelago pulls out all the festive stops.
Seasonal markets pop up in cute red huts in Skårungen, a traditional Christmas market takes place in Lofoten’s oldest fishing village, Nusfjord, but the star of Lofoten’s Christmas show is Henningsvær. Its galleries, shops, and studios are filled with the creations of local artisans who specialise in everything from glassblowing to candle making. Explore it like a local on one of the blue kick sleds for the most authentically northern Norwegian experience.
Three more festive places along Norway’s coast
Finally, if you’re still looking for the perfect present, check out these three equally festive places.
At the northernmost tip of Europe, Artico Christmas House in Honningsvåg celebrates the most wonderful time of the year all year round. Get your Christmas baking accessories, unusual advent calendars, and Scandi-style ornaments with plenty of time to spare.
At the other end of Norway, Skraastad Farm, a.k.a. Christmas Farm, is also Christmassy year-round. Visit on an excursion from The North Cape Express and find out exactly what a traditional Norwegian Christmas looks, sounds, and tastes like.
Just north of the Arctic Circle, Bodø is the perfect place if you like your Christmas cultured, delicious, and active. Bodø is the European City of Culture 2024, and it’s earned a reputation for delicious seafood and easy access to the great outdoors. In between eating and all those winter activities, visit the Christmas markets in Glasshuset and Nordland Cultural Center.