I still can almost sniff out that refreshing salty seaside smell, hear the thumping of the drums and taste the sprinkles on top of a softis cone. Norway, you’re not easy to shake off. Your blues and greens look perfectly photoshopped. Your vibe has made me a part of your tribe. And you, my friend, if you have truly got that wanderlust burning inside you, Norway will automatically hop onto the very top of your bucket list. So why would you possibly consider going there? Well, after doing my own research while putting this post together, I even Googled “reasons to visit Norway” wondering if anyone has written anything similar because: a) curiosity, b) SEO and c) to find if there was anyone out there with the same mindset and love for this country. Nearly 90% of my finds were photos (don’t get me wrong, stunning photos!) of Norway. There’s nothing wrong about that as most of us are all about visualization. There’s a “but” though. I craved a little more than a photo. Feed me some background, give me a story, unlock a little secret. Maybe it’s too much of PPL catching up talking. As a result, this post was born. Massive thanks to my hubby who shared lots of “inside info” since he lived there for 12 years. The rest is my own findings and observations. La oss gå (let’s go)!
Not sure what my body language is trying to “depict” here (a “Yessss! So happy I’m here!”?) but would look at that view! Let me moan a teeny tiny bit inside while I am sat here at my desk with my 2nd (I think it might be my 3rd) cup of coffee wishing I was standing on that picnic table right now. Also, it’s probably not allowed (+ not very nice to climb on top of picnic tables) but a girl had to soak in more of that scenery. So I was planning on doing your good ol’ regular Part 2 of our Norway holibobs (catch up with lovely Part 1) but it just didn’t sit right with me. Too bland. Too simple. Too blah. Norway deserves SO. MUCH. MORE. So Part 2 had to get a little bigger, even more informative and personal. So if you are a proud owner of a scratch map and like to explore the world outside your neighbourhood, this post might spike up even more of your inner wanderlust. #traveladdict
1. Out-of-this-world beauty.
You might remember a number of tweets I posted during our holiday in Norway saying that this is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Having always been a globetrotter, I was lucky to see quite a lot of stunning places across the planet. Now, drumroll… Norway still managed to top it all with its nature extraordinaire. I will never be able to list ALL of the places you might want to visit because there are thousands of islands, waterfalls, lakes and fjords. Here are just a few names you definitely want to look up and add to you must-see list: Odda, Trolltunga, Lofoten, Stavanger, Senja, Preikestolen, Kjeragbolten and hundreds of scenic fjords. You might not be able to pronounce them correctly (my Norwegian accent is a disgrace) but you have definitely seen most of them on TV, or online. One of these is translated as “Troll Tongue” (Trolltunga) as it resembles a piece of rock that sticks out of the mountain almost like that sticking-my-tongue-out emoji. It is one of the most popular destinations but it’s good to remember that it doesn’t have any safety railing. You just have to be wise and don’t go too wild with the jumps or come way too close to the edge for that candid selfie. Another wonder of Norway is the fjords which are narrow inlets with high steep cliffs that were created by glacier erosion. They are breathtaking. As for this photo below: Lofoten in all its beauty snapped by amazingly talented photographer Tomasz Furmanek who kindly replied to my messaged and gave me permission to use this stunning picture.
2. Unique culture.
Ok, before you might want to yawn at the word “culture”, let me ask you this. Have you ever heard of trolls? What about vikings? It’s almost “normal” to imagine big tough men wearing horned helmets when we think of Norway. Kind of like in that cute “How To Train Your Dragon” cartoon, right? 🙂 Well, trolls are even bigger in Norway! They are an important part of Norse mythology and folklore. No wonder when you walk into any souvenir shop you will see a variety of troll figures that you might want to bring back home with you. Of course, the culture of this beautiful country doesn’t just go down to the rugged men or imaginary creatures. Random (but cool) fact: have you ever seen the world-famous painting of a man holding his face while his month is wide open with horror? “Scream” was painted by Edvard Munch who happened to be Norwegian. Let’s add another “signature” cue to the mix. If you ever get to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando and do Epcot, you’ll notice this building from afar – a unique stave church. On top of that, Norwegian homes represent the culture even more so as they are easily recognizable across the globe.
3. Outdoorsy bliss.
Would it surprise you if I tell you that most Norwegians are extremely athletic? They definitely have ALL the opportunities to enjoy any kind of “outside fun” right outside their porches. Even if you’re a little couch potato, the scenery might make you want to get up and get going (it’s postcard-perfect so your IG would boom and bloom). Hiking and cross-country skiing are the most popular outdoor activities. I almost managed to snap a picture of a guy practicing his cross-country skiing skills when we were there in May (dude has to start early, right?) but he got away too quickly. Sport is huge in Norway and it’s not all about winter kinds. My hubby used to play beach volleyball every single day during his summer holidays (the most fun in summer that I had growing up was go to the park where I’d be bitten from head to toe by mosquitoes haha). Norwegian beaches are gorgeous and yes, it’s even possible to swim in the sea in summer. You won’t get Spain-warm degrees but depending on the area the water temperature might go up to +22 on a hot day. Plus, unlike the UK, Norway has the seasons! It’s definitely not all rain and gloom and then 7 days of heat in a year.
4. Northern Lights & Midnight Sun.
There’s one thing I have never seen in my life but have heard so many people say that it’s out of this world. Aurora Borealis aka Northern Lights is a sight to see at least once in your lifetime. You might want to book a little trip up North (the Lofoten Islands) between late September to late March. And then put your phone down and get your eyes up. Starry night, northern lights and lots of layers (plus multiple cups of hot chocolate) = pure bliss. When it comes to Midnight Sun, it might make you squint a little. Between late April and late August in many Nordic parts of the country the sun just doesn’t want to go away. The sunset lingers on and on playing with colours and patterns in the sky. The further up north you go, the more you get to enjoy this amazing phenomenon. You can even book a Midnight Sun safari and go on a “hunt” for the never-ending sunset. Sounds pretty perfect to me.
5. Foodie oasis.
It’s time to get rid of all kinds of stereotypes. Stories about Norwegians eating nothing but herring and porridge are long gone. Just like in most of the western world, Norway has a varied blend of different cuisines – anything from Italian to Japanese. At the same time, they have their special delicious “traditional” foods (get ready for lots of strange letters). Pinnekjøtt, which literally means stick meat, is served as a part of the main course on big holidays like Christmas. Tolvøres aka “school rolls” are sweetened cardamom rolls filled with custard and sprinkled with desiccated coconut. Yumm! Norsk Kanelboller or Norwegian cinnamon bun is another huge hit (and I am not going to admit how many of those I have eaten during our holiday). There are so many more other unique little dishes you might want to try in Norway. Just make sure to pop into the local fish market and get prawns. FYI, Norwegians love to eat them fresh! Last but not least – you must indulge in the goodness that is softis (you might remember this ice cream on my Instagram here).
6. Soak in the lifestyle.
This is something my hubby talks about quite a lot and I know he misses that about Norway. It’s a different mentality and a completely different lifestyle. Education is one of the best in the world, yet students don’t find it stressful. It’s one of the most expensive countries with the highest salaries, yet people are not overworked. This “puzzle” is all about their attitude to life and laid-back you-live-once-on-this-planet-so-you-might-as-well-enjoy-it-to-the-fullest kind of mentality. People are friendly, fun and welcoming. Even though they might come across as distanced at first, give it a few minutes, let them get to know you and you might as well make a lifelong friend. Well, it needs mentioning again – Norwegians are extremely outdoorsy! “Gå på tur” which means “go for a walk” is a huge thing as they love to spend time outside being active. I’m not even talking about all the sports they are good at! When my hubby was growing up there he learnt how to play ice hockey, football, volleyball and other jocky stuff. Probably thanks to that Norsk upbringing he is pretty much a pro skier too! Also, if you are talking to a local and happen to compliment the beauty of the country, you might hear them say “Tussen takk” (“thousand thanks”). They are very patriotic and proud to be Norwegian…
7. 17. Mai.
…which brings us to the reason #7 why you might want to book your holiday to Norway mid-May. It is one of THE biggest celebrations – Norway National Day or “17. Mai“. To some National Day might sound like a boring bank holiday. Well, not in Norway! One separate blog post exceeding all kinds of word count limit wouldn’t be enough to describe what goes down on May 17th across the country. Each city and town has its own programme for the day full of parades, concerts, food festivals and what not. If I could try to describe the grandeur of the day, it could only be compared to how huge the Carnival in Rio is. On this day people wear “bunad” which is a traditional costume that resembles rural clothes dating back to the 18th century. There are hundreds of styles of bunad, and kids dress up too! In fact, children take a big part in all the celebrations on 17. Mai as they march through the town with flags in their hands singing and shouting “Hurra!” It’s also the day when anything is allowed when it comes to diet so you will see people munching on all types of junk food (I am so in!). Ice cream is a must-have too but be prepared to queue for it. Another unique “part” of the 17th of May is Russefeiring or “Russ Celebration”. This is a graduation date for the high school students. You would easily recognise them by the overalls (they differ in colour depending on what major they had) and wild behaviour. When my hubby was graduating, their class brought out water guns and got the unsuspecting parade watchers soaked (haha, so cheeky)! No one is mad at them (while police is keeping them in check) as this is their last and only free pass to go cray cray. Everything is closed on the 16th & the 17th of May so make sure your shopping is done either before or after those red letter days. Now, the photo avalanche 🙂
People are gathering for the first parade of the day.
Houses and all buildings in the city are decorated with national flags. Flags, flags everywhere.
Bunad is a name for traditional Norwegian costumes which are worn by many on May 17th. We scrubbed up well, too
Midday parade includes marching bands and kids with their teachers walking through the city representing their schools.
Then people catch up chit chatting away in the street, get a hot dog or/and ice cream and relax at the beach (if there is one).
Later, there are more performances and parades. One of the coolest things to see was different businesses and clubs of the town taking part in the late afternoon parade representing their work or hobby. Kristiansand is a unique city as it even has a Hen Club! 😀
As tough as it was to choose these few pictures from thousands (!!), I am a little sad this post is finished.
Hope you enjoyed it and got to jot down all the reasons why
you MUST visit Norway at least once in your life.
All photos are mine unless stated otherwise
(there are 5 free stock images which do not require mentioning of the source and one
photo which I credited and got the photographer’s permission to use).
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My other travel posts you might enjoy:
Leave a comment and let me know if you have ever been to Norway.
If yes, what places did you visit there? If no, would you add it to your bucket list?
What are your thoughts about Norwegian lifestyle?
Have you manages to spot the “russ” in the photos?
What do you think of “bunad”?
What did you like the most about this post?
Excuse the avalanche of questions, as well as photos.
It’s not easy to stop when you’re dealing with such a striking beauty that is Norge 😉
As you might have seen from the event I created on Facebook,
Miel and Mint turns 1 on August 4th!
I am hosting a giveaway to thank you all for a wonderful year I’ve had
being a part of the blogosphere and your lives.