Norway is an amazing country, filled with gorgeous landscapes and magnificent views, which contribute to the country being one of the top tourist destinations in Europe. It is also a country of prosperity that attracts many immigrants every year who look with hope at Norway and its great living conditions. Norway is a safe and happy country, but it also has so much more to it! The country has a rich history, interesting culture, and is one of the prettiest places in the world when you consider natural beauty. Norwegians themselves are fascinated with their nature and they consider it to be a huge part of their everyday life, as they love hiking and camping. The locals’ love for nature is so vocal that most of them prefer to spend their vacation in a cabin in the woods than in a fancy hotel! And even though the country is quite expensive, especially for tourists, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. If you’re not sure about visiting Norway, we have prepared this list of Top Secrets About Norway Culture and Traditions, which shows some of the less obvious facts about this gorgeous country!
Norway is actually one of the safest places on earth, with the crime rate being virtually non-existent. Since the happiness level of the country is so high, people do not have to resort to crime. It is also one of the safest tourist destinations for women, so solo travelers do not have to worry, although precautions should always be taken to stay as safe as possible. Even the biggest cities of Norway are much safer than the capitals of many other European countries. Moreover, it is also one of the safest places for tourists out there, so you do not have to worry about getting mugged on the streets. Most crimes that actually do happen in Norway are office and home burglaries, which most often affect only the local population.
One of the biggest tourist magnets and important parts of Norway culture and traditions is its gorgeous landscape, filled with magnificent fjords - ancient remnants of the Ice Age. The whole country is filled with them, so it is really hard to miss fjords; however, they are much more common in the western part of Norway, so to get the best fjord experience, we recommend staying to the West. If you like hiking, we have some good news for you - Norway’s fjords are filled with hiking routes, and there are so many of them you won’t get bored! For adventurous tourists, we wholeheartedly recommend trying one of the many kayaking tours, during which you can learn how to steer and swim under the supervision of a professional guide.
Experience the polar night
If you go far enough North on your trip to Norway, you might get to witness the polar night or the polar day. This interesting phenomenon happens in the northernmost and southernmost areas of the Earth, close to the poles. During that time, the night can be far longer than it usually does, even more than 24 hours. In some areas of Norway, like Lofoten Islands or the North Cape, nights can last as long as a couple of dozen days. A similar situation happens with arctic days when the Sun stays above the horizon for more than 24 hours. The arctic night, however, is not always pitch black - even though the Sun does not rise, it still shines bright enough to slightly diminish the darkness of the night. This creates a truly unique atmosphere, named by the locals as the “arctic light”, as the landscape gets enveloped in dim-blue rays. Most of the polar nights happen in the months of December and November, but it can also last all the way from October to February in places such as Longyearbyen.
The Northern Lights
The polar night is not the only fascinating natural phenomenon that is deeply set in Norway culture in traditions. The more popular cousin of the polar night and day is the Aurora Borealis, also called the Northern Lights, and Norway is one of the best places on Earth to experience it. The further you go North, the easier it will be for you to witness this curiosity. If you want to have the best chance to see Aurora Borealis, we recommend staying within the North Cape region of Norway. The aurora is most likely to occur between the months of September and March, but it is very hard to predict phenomenon, so you need to keep your patience. On the positive note, you can spot the aurora when it actually occurs in almost every northern city in Norway, and many of them have observatories that allow you to better see the light!
Norwegians are not only one of the happiest people in the world, according to statistics, but they are also one of the healthiest ones, as they decide to spend most of their lives outdoors, hiking and biking around the beautiful landscape. One of the favorite activities among locals is kayaking along the peaceful rivers of Norway, which are always surrounded by tall mountain ranges and lush forests, creating a truly picturesque atmosphere and providing occasions for the perfect souvenir pictures! If you want to get some of the Norwegian outdoor experience, we recommend finding a campsite, as they are very common in Norway. Rent a tent and unwind for a couple of days, surrounded by gorgeous sights all around!
While on your trip to Norway, you will be able to see some of the wildlife you have only seen in zoos so far in their natural habitat! For example, you can find polar bears roaming around the archipelago of Svalbard, though we recommend staying to the guided tours to look at them up-close. Since polar bears are exclusive to the Svalbard region, it might be hard to spot them. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of more beautiful animals to see in Norway, such as arctic foxes, which are cute and fluffy. If you’re lucky, you might also get to spot a puffin, which is a small bird with a colorful and short beak, usually found at the coast of Norway in the north. Remember to stay safe and don’t venture out of established trails, as the forests of Norway are also inhabited by wolves and other dangerous predators!
Rich history of Norway
Norway culture and traditions are deeply set in its historical heritage. Some of the ancient cities in Norway were founded by Vikings over a millennium ago. While most of Norway and the rest of Scandinavia were once covered in thick ice, some traces of civilization date back as far as 10,000 BC. The most exciting and popular period of Norway history is, of course, the Viking Age. For more than three centuries, the Viking people have terrorized and pillaged the neighboring countries, using their superior ships to travel fast and strike hard. Some of the Viking conquerors even reached North America around the year 1000, approximately five hundred years before Christopher Columbus did! With the Christianization of Norway and union with Denmark, the king managed to suppress the Vikings and nearly eliminate their religion, although the remnants of Nordic mythology can be found to this very day, and there is a number of museums dedicated specifically to that!
The Norwegian cuisine, as you may have guessed it, is based mostly on fish. Not only is Norwegian salmon a huge part of Norway culture and traditions, but it is also considered to be the best salmon in the world. Even if you live outside of Norway, chances are, whenever you are eating salmon, it may have come from Norway! An interesting fact is that it was actually the Norwegians who introduced the Japanese people to salmon, who in turn started used it in their famous sushi. Apart from salmon and other fish, Norwegian people also frequently consume lamb meat, and even various game meats, such as moose, reindeer, deer, and grouse. Norwegians are also big fans of cheese, of which they have tons of national varieties. They are also the inventors of the cheese slicer!
Norway is also known around the world for its amazing skiing resorts, some of which are among the best-rated resorts in the world! A lot of locals enjoy skiing, which they start learning from their youngest days. Even though a lot of tourists visit Norway during their winter vacation for that exact reason, there are so many snowy peaks and luxurious resorts that crowds are never a problem! For the best skiing experience, we recommend visiting the Hallingdal mountain, whose slopes are long and smooth and you can even use a lift to ski down from the top!