9 Quintessential Norway Experiences
For obvious reasons, Norway has become a very popular tourist destination. The untouched wilderness, the architecture, the fjords, northern lights, and need I go on? But even though the fjords and northern lights are reasons alone to wish to visit Norway, they are not the only ones. Here are EuroTribe’s – quintessential Norway experiences;
The right to roam
Living in a big city can often be stressful. I always felt drawn to nature and would love to live close to the mountains and woods and explore them regularly.
In Norway, you’re given free access to the countryside – if you don’t litter! So you can enjoy the gorgeous Norwegian scenery and breathe in the fresh air – as long as when your escapade is finished, you pick up your rubbish.
Outdoor recreation is a part of their cultural identity and is established by law. The right to roam or the right of access (“allemannsretten”) is a traditional right from ancient times, and from 1957 it has also been included as a part of the Outdoor Recreation Act. Now everybody gets to experience nature, even on privately owned areas.
When you think of Norway, you might not think of fantastic food – but that’s where you’re wrong and no worries, I’m here to educate you.
If you consult any travel guide they will recommend you the “fårikål” or “sheep in cabbage”. It’s traditional as it gets, every fall many Norwegian families prepare this dish and serve it with potatoes.
If you love cheese, you should try Norwegian goat cheese which is brownish and its taste described as caramel with a sharp edge to it. It’s strong and specific, so it’s definitely worth a try!
Far as the sweets go, Norwegian’s go to is a heart-shaped waffle. Coincidentally, in all honesty, one of my favorite breakfast foods are waffles so I’m delighted. What’s better than a regular waffle? A heart-shaped waffle! No squares here!
As mentioned above I always felt drawn to nature and living in a big city can often feel rushed, stressful and noisy. Some countries are simply, way calmer compared to others and the economic standard and a way of life have a lot to do with that as well.
Norway is a pretty large country by European standards with a modest population size. The low population density means there are vast areas of untouched nature. Just imagine yourself roaming the beautiful wilderness of Norway with your significant other and enjoying it completely alone sole for each other’s company.
The village of Voss is very famous to every real adrenaline junkie. The Extreme Sports Week is being held annually in this picturesque village. Wherever you turn you’re met with mountains, lakes, cliffs, rapids, and glaciers. At this meetup of daredevils, you can see base jumping, mountain biking, paragliding, whitewater kayaking and kitesurfing. If you’re thirsty for more action, just visit Oslo. The city is dubbed as the “winter sports capital of the world”.
It’s very admirable how far Norwegians have developed sustainable tourism and I’m always for supporting a good initiative. Norway is one of few places that are certified as a sustainable destination. It takes years of work demonstrating their lasting commitment to providing the best possible experiences for their guests while keeping the negative impact of tourism to a minimum. The destination must work to improve its practices and relations with the local community, in accordance with sustainability principles.
Driving Along the Fjords
Norway offers some of the most scenic drives in the world. Driving along the fjords is on my bucket list (alongside watching northern lights in Svalbard). One of the best rides is Aurlandsfjellet route between Oslo and Bergen which passes through the country’s most famous attractions.
If you think beer is not good enough reason to visit a country well then you haven’t had a good beer! Although Norway is ultra-restrictive on buying alcohol, in the past few years there has been an increasing number of microbreweries producing various types of craft beer.
It wasn’t always like this. A couple years back you didn’t have much of a choice. To put it in words of Ewan Lewis, the co-founder and chief brewer of Ægir Brewery, “To have one beer for every taste is absurd. It’s as if an entire country served cheeseburgers as the only food.”
The microbreweries in Norway are popping up literally every month everywhere and picking up multiple international awards along the way! Nowadays when you enter a Norwegian pub you’ll be given a vast assortment of choices between brands and styles of beers! So pick your poison! Will it be a milky stout, an IPA or will you dare to try a sour?
Christmas in Norway
Christmas in Norway, is a festival of light — a promise of longer days and the return of the sun. Just imagine that for weeks when it’s high noon that it feels like twilight and that it’s already dark by 4 p.m.
A highlight (pun intended) of the season is on the feast day of Santa Lucia, the “Queen of Lights”. Supposedly it’s a young woman born of wealthy parents, who went from one farm to the next, dressed in a white gown with a red sash. To light her way, she wore a crown of lingonberry twigs with lit candles and carried a torch, as she brought baked goods to each house.
On Santa Lucia Day, there’s a row of girls led by one dressed as the “Lussibrud,” wearing a white robe and a crown of lights. The girls carry baskets of saffron buns, called Lussekattor, to hand out.
Norwegians are not very religious so even during Christmas, you see no Christian elements in the holiday decorations. The whole celebrations have more pagan elements.
It is a unique and magical experience in its own way.
Svalbard is your best bet to experience the northern lights or go on a dogsled excursion.
If you’re not impressed by the northern lights (not possible by the way), you will surely be blown away by the midnight sun phenomenon. Svalbard is scarcely populated which lets nature run its course freely without the menacing hand of man. You will be able to enjoy earth-shattering glaciers and landscapes that you won’t believe your eyes. If you’re in Norway, Svalbard is a must.
If you’re going for the first time, then of course, I suggest focusing on more traditional sightseeing and if you’re short on time then definitively opt out for one of many Norway tours.
If you need help finding cheap accommodation in Norway check out this resource.
Do you have any other quintessential Norway experiences to add? Let us know in the comments below.