- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals Oslo Guide (PDF)
Fitness and sport are Norwegian national pastimes. One is likely to see people of all ages, from children on skis to teenagers running to octogenarians on bikes, exercising all around the city. Oslo offers any sport one can think of at gyms, in parks and in Nordmarka, Oslo’s district park.
Competitive sports in Oslo
Favourite Norwegian sports include skiing, running, biking, hiking, soccer, American football and handball. Norway has world-class skiing, football and handball teams. Each sport has a championship or race that every Norwegian either participates in, cheers for, or watches on television. Norwegians are very concerned with equality, except when it comes to sports. They are extremely proud of their sports heroes and victories. Even historical pride comes into play when it comes to sports.
There are a number of famous international sporting events that take place in Oslo annually. The Birkebeiner is a national institution, with a series of skiing, running and biking races commemorating a political party and an event of national importance involving a former king from the 13th century. Originally a cross-country ski race, the Birkebeinerrennet attracts 16,000 participants each year. The course is 33.5 miles (54km) long. The Birkebeinerrittet is the world’s largest cross-country bicycle race, with 17,500 participants. Finally, the Birkebeinerlopet is the largest running race in Norway, with 7,000 participants, covering 13 miles (21km), passing through mountains and forest. Some say that every Norwegian business leader will or should at some point compete in the Birkebeiner.
Skiing in Oslo
In the winter, it is still common to see Norwegians practising sports outside, such as running, hiking, skiing, ice hockey and ice-skating. Kilometres of trails are groomed every week for avid skiers, who leave for the woods right after work, in pitch dark, to hit the floodlit trails. Nordmarka is popular for skiing, and the metro system takes skiers straight to two ski areas in Nordmarka. At any time of the day or night, trails can be crowded with Norwegians skiing in the latest gear.
Jogging in Oslo
For runners, there are other options. Trails criss-cross parks and forests. The Oslo marathon attracts thousands of participants and onlookers each September. For less serious runners who enjoy socialising, the Oslo Hash House Harriers run once a week.
Gyms in Oslo
For those who aren’t as keen on being outdoors in the winter, Oslo offers a wide array of gyms for every taste. The biggest chains are SATS and Elixia, and smaller gyms cater to more specific needs. Often, companies will have discounts for their employees at these gyms.
►For a list of annual events to enjoy in the city, see What's On in Oslo
"Enjoy the possibilities! One of the greatest things this country has to offer is TIME. If you organise yourself, you can dedicate it to do what you love, whether it’s spending time with your kids, doing sports or that long-forgotten hobby. When you come back from work at 5.30 pm, it feels like having a whole new day before you so make good use of it!"
Read our expat interview with Gisèle to get more insight into life in Oslo.
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