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Despite what you may have heard, leisure activities in Norway are not just related to snow and cold weather activities (although, if you’re a ski fan, you won’t be disappointed). The country has a strong music tradition, with festivals taking place throughout the year, and it’s quickly becoming a culinary destination as well.

Experience the nature

Enjoying nature in the Land of the Vikings is allemannsretten: every man’s right. Given that there are no signs marking this is as a private land, you can roam freely everywhere: from forests and fjords to beaches and icebergs. You can camp, hike, ski, pick flowers, or forage mushrooms and berries – you can even chop wood if needed, to make a fire.

 Important:

Be aware that you are not allowed to litter or leave the environment in a worse condition than how you found it.

As per nature itself, it is simply breathtaking. There are endless slopes for you to practice alpine and cross-country ski on. Fjords are so beautiful and peaceful to explore, so much so that they are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Jagged cliffs in places like Trolltunga or the archipelagoes of Lofoten, will turn you into a photographer even if you’ve never held a camera before (they’re so striking, you don’t really need to do much). Also, Norway’s shape and its position on the continent make it possible for you to venture beyond the Arctic circle, visit attractions like the North Cape, see polar bears in Svalbard, and of course, catch the Northern Lights. In the summer, Norway has many beautiful beaches where you can hike, swim, and even surf under the Midnight Sun.

Experience culture

One of the first things you’ll probably want to do is trace Norway’s Viking and medieval past. There are many Viking sites throughout the country, but some of the most important are the Viking ships in the Viking Ships Museum in Oslo, the three Swords in Stone in Stavanger and the Lofotr Viking Museum in Lofoten that will make you feel like you’re entering an actual Viking hall.

But Norway is so much more than Vikings. Architecture aficionados are in for a treat, as both modern architecture and majestic structures from the past (like Bergen’s Hanseatic Wharf or the very unique stave churches, many of them also UNESCO World Heritage Sites) always provide something fascinating to look at. Art lovers will appreciate the countless galleries and museums that can be found in the cities – this is the home country of Edvard Munch, after all – as well as the vibrant street art that’s on the rise. Throughout the year, there are unique festivals happening: from celebrations of the Sami culture, to weeklong fiestas for the sun’s return after the Polar Nights, to music performances of every kind (there’s even a festival where the musical instruments are all made from ice), to theater performances of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt on a lake. Thankfully Norwegians are great believers in the work-life balance, so you’ll actually have time to experience all these things.

Experience everyday life

Everyday life in Norway can vary significantly depending on where you live (aka above or below the Arctic Circle) and what time of the year it is. In the winter, even in the southern parts of the country like Oslo and Kristiansand, the sun rises around 10:00 am and sets around 15:30 pm, which gives you a very small window of daylight. Likewise, in the summer, the sun can come up around 4 am and not set until 11:30 pm, making it difficult to sleep without blinders on. Temperatures can be quite harsh in the winter too, with anything from -20 C in the cities to -42 C in certain areas.

The good news is that everyday life in Norway is built around these conditions. Public transport doesn’t slow down because of the snow, and the streets are generally very safe in the dark. You can see Norwegians jogging the streets or forests no matter the time of day or year, people riding the subway in full ski gear as the ski slopes are usually close no matter where you are, and of course, there’s always a sauna (or bath, as they prefer to call it) nearby if you want to soak in.

Norway is and remains an expensive country – even given the salaries of most Norwegians. Going out for food and drinks hasn’t really been a big part of the culture until recently, but nowadays cities like Oslo and Bergen are quickly becoming hot destinations when it comes to inventive gastronomy and mixology. The taboo of drinking on a weekday is also slowly subsiding, and you may see Norwegians having a glass of wine at a restaurant on a Wednesday night, for instance.

 Good to know:

Alcohol is still state-regulated in Norway. The only places you can buy alcohol above 4.7% volume, is at one of the state-owned vinmonopolet. Be aware they have peculiar opening hours and are closed on Sundays. You can buy beer up to 4.7% vol at the supermarkets, but only until 8 pm on weekdays, 6 pm on Saturdays, and never on Sundays.

 Useful links:

Visit Oslo
Visit Norway

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