Travelling to any country can be a little daunting when you start to consider the culture differences you might encounter. Even though Norway is part of Europe and most Norwegians speak English things are a bit different here.
I have some tips that will show everyone that you are a seasoned traveller through Scandinavia and make you feel like a local.
Norwegians don't say "hi" to each other in the street
It can be a little disconcerting when you first visit Norway to find that Norwegians don't greet each other as they pass in the street. If you say "good morning" to someone you don't know they are likely to give you a strange look and speed up a bit! Norwegians love to give each other and everyone else plenty of space.
There's no word for please
Despite that fact that Norwegians are very polite, there is no word for please in the Norwegian language. You simply ask for what you wan and no-one bats an eyelid. Saying "takk" (thank you) afterwards is always nice though
Don't expect to get anything done on a Sunday
Norway is very secular society with acceptance and inclusivity of all religions and creeds, buts regardless shops, banks and public buildings are all closed on a Sunday. There is also a law that bans the use of machinery on a Sunday, So if you had plans to mow the lawn or use a chainsaw you can forget it! In Norway Sundays are days to be "ut på tur" or out for a hike and you'll find that all the beauty spots and nature areas are busy.
There's zero tolerance on drink driving
The drink driving legal limit in Norway is ZERO. That means no lunchtime tipple and driving home, and carefully watching what you drink in the evening if you want to drive the next day. The police are usually out in the mornings doing spot checks and as polite and friendly as they are I am sure they are less understanding if you have alcohol in your breath at 8am on a Monday morning.
If you get invited to a a social event, you are honoured
It can be hard to break into friendship groups and social groups in Norway. They tend to follow a pattern of being made at organised events and clubs. So if you get invited to a party or dinner, you should be honoured- you are now part of the family
Bring a gift
Don't forget the host! It's customary in Norway to take a gift for the host or hostess of the party. It doesn't need to be anything huge; it could be a small box of chocolates or a small plant, and all will be gratefully revived.
Winter driving is hardcore
Gosh, I can't stress this one enough!! Winter driving, even in southern Norway, is not simply driving on a sprinkling of snow. It's thick ice, very cold weather and extreme driving conditions that need experience or training. All Norwegians who learn to drive take special ice driving lessons where they learn to address a swerve, how to brake and the conditions that can be so dangerous. So if you are considering driving in Norway in the winter, either take lessons before you come or use public transport. Its much less stressful and dangerous.
Eating out is expensive
It's no secret that Norway is not the cheapest place. Eating out can be eye-wateringly expensive even for a simple cake and coffee. So expect to pay more than you would at home. Some of the best dining is at the traditional "kro" or taverns that you find in more rural areas. This is where you'll find substantial Norwegian traditional dishes that have been passed down for generations and is a welcome break from the usual pizza and burgers that so many other places seem to serve.
Dress for the weather
"Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær"
(there's no such thing as bad weather only the wrong clothes)
Summer is fairly predictable in Norway with warm weather and a little rain but nothing extreme. The other seasons are another matter! In winter you will need clothes for very cold weather and autumn and spring can be unpredictable. Do check the weather report before you travel and be prepared for whatever the Norse gods throw at you weather-wise.
Norwegians love to be outside
Friluftsliv or outdoor living is the beating heart of the Norwegian soul. Norwegians get outside in all weathers and all seasons and it's hardly surprising; Norwegian nature is truly spectacular. So be ready to enjoy nature like you have done before, And a little rain or snow doesn't stop anyone here.
Are you planning a trip to Norway? Or maybe you've been inspired to start looking. For more culture tips and Nordic traditions and customs, join us in the Living a Nordic Life Facebook group