The essence of Norway's appeal is remarkably simple: this is one of the most beautiful countries on earth. Impossibly steep-sided Norwegian fjords of extraordinary beauty cut gashes from a jagged coastline deep into the interior. Glaciers, grand and glorious, snake down from ice fields that rank among Europe's largest. Elsewhere, the mountainous terrain of Norway's interior resembles the ramparts of so many natural fortresses and yields to rocky coastal islands that rise improbably from the waters like apparitions. Then, of course, there's the primeval appeal, the spare and staggering beauty of the Arctic. And wherever you find yourself in this most extraordinary country, these landscapes serve as a backdrop for some of Europe's prettiest villages.

Culture & History

The counterpoint to Norway's ever-present natural beauty is found in its vibrant cultural life. Norwegian cities are cosmopolitan and showcase the famous Scandinavian flair for design through the ages. Bergen, Trondheim, and Ålesund must surely rank among Europe's most photogenic cities, while contemporary Arctic-inspired architectural icons grace towns and remote rural settings alike.

Much of the culture of Norway can be traced back to the Vikings, a group of Scandinavian seafaring pirates, traders, and pioneers that settled in Northern Europe in the eighth century. However, throughout their history, the people of this country have always identified with rural culture, which can be seen in its traditional costumes and folk music that are still celebrated today. More modern expressions of Norwegian culture include Jante Law and Constitution Day.

Jante Law is an essential part of modern Norwegian culture and emphasizes humility, equality, respect, and simplicity. In Jante Law, wealth is not flaunted, people don't criticize others, and egalitarianism is key. May 17 is Constitution Day, Norway's holiday celebrating its nationhood. On this day, Norwegians participate in parades with bands, unions, civic and volunteer groups, schools, and performers.


Food is a cultural passion through which Norwegians push the boundaries of innovation even as they draw deeply on a heartfelt love of tradition. From sweet treats like wild berries, waffles and brown cheese, to savory reindeer, moose and lamb dishes prepared by some of the world's best cooks. You’ll also find fresh king crab, salmon, and the famous Atlantic "skrei" cod.

Breakfast usually includes fish, crispbread or flatbread, yogurt, cheese, coffee, and milk. Lunch includes fruit, coffee, and the popular open-faced sandwich with cheese, cold meat, or paté. Dinner consists of root vegetables such as carrots or boiled potatoes paired with fish and meats such as whale, chicken, beef, pork, or chicken.

The most famous cheese in Norway has traditionally been the brunost, or the brown cheese – caramelised whey cheese, quite similar to fudge, made with cow's milk or goat's milk. Norwegians normally eat it on high-quality bread, or on Norwegian waffles, often found at cosy cafés in the countryside. The taste of this cheese might not be for everyone, however, and many foreigners try it only once.

But the last few years, the most interesting Norwegian cheesemongers have made a much greater variety of products – everything from camembert, blue cheese, chevre and brie to traditional products such as gamalost and pultost. Today, you can find more than 150 small-scale cheese makers, spread from the south of Norway to Finnmark in the north. Several of them are run by young and ambitious cheese makers who are eager to experiment with techniques, spices and ripening.

Urban Experience

Compared to other countries, people in Norway have a lot of free time. Norwegians admittedly work nine to five, but they have afternoons and evenings off – in addition to almost every Saturday and Sunday, as well as Christmas, Easter and summer holidays.

The number of restaurants in Norway is rising, and offer almost every kind of national food culture – from Japanese and Vietnamese to Mexican and Somali. Norwegian cuisine has also regained its status – from Maeemo in Oslo to Lysverket in Bergen. The new Norwegian cuisine is often described as ‘Neo-Nordic’ or even ‘Neo-fjordic’ due to the focus on taking a fresh approach to local ingredients – especially seafood delicacies.

Culture night takes place once in a year on one of the September Fridays. On this night, the best of Oslo’s art and music is accessible for everyone to enjoy. During the whole night different concerts, art shows, and black parties are free to join. Therefore, avail this great opportunity to explore the culture of this great city of Oslo.  There’s also a busy calendar of festivals, many of international renown.

Outdoors & Adventure

Enjoying nature in Norway is very much an active pursuit, and this is one of Europe's most exciting and varied adventure-tourism destinations. While some of the activities on offer are geared towards the young, energetic and fearless, most – such as world-class hiking, cycling, and white-water rafting in summer, and dog-sledding, skiing, and snowmobiling in winter – can be enjoyed by anyone of reasonable fitness. Whether you're here for seemingly endless summer possibilities, or for snowsports and the soul-stirring Northern Lights in winter, these activities are an exhilarating means of getting close to nature.

When it comes to wildlife, Norway has few peers in Europe. Here you can watch whales – humpback, sperm, and orca depending on the season – off Andenes, Stø or Tromsø, while the interior offers up wild reindeer, prehistoric musk oxen, ponderous elk (moose) or beguiling Arctic foxes. Birdwatching, too, is a highlight, from the puffins of Bleik to the migratory seabirds of Runde and Varanger. But the real prizes inhabit Norway's high Arctic, in Svalbard, where polar bears and walruses are the poster species for a wilderness of rare, dramatic, and precarious beauty.