With a summer of domestic travel ahead, discover what Norwegians dislike most about travelling within their own country.
The great Norwegian summer vacation (norgesferie!) of 2020 has begun. Travel restrictions mean that a lot of Norwegians are choosing to settle for a summer holiday closer to home this year.
But despite strong encouragement from prime minister Erna Solberg and extensive promotion from tourist agencies around the country, Norwegian media suggests that many people are reluctant to travel within Norway. Let's take a look at why that might be.
Why are Norway vacations unpopular among Norwegians?
As reported by NRK, Norstat and the insurance company Frende looked into the reasons why Norwegian vacations are unpopular among Norwegians. The results will make for some eye-opening reading for foreigners disappointed at missing out on their planned Norway vacation this year.
Before we get to the top results, there was a notable difference in responses between genders. While men were irritated by their fellow Norwegians, bugs (specifically ticks) were a common complaint from women. However, both men and women agreed that the weather was the most disappointing aspect of a Norwegian vacation.
Now, let's dive into the details…
1. The weather
It's hardly surprising that Norway's unpredictable weather tops the list, even though it feels somewhat strange writing this after a two-week heatwave here in Trondheim! This is especially true in the mountains and fjords, where weather can change suddenly at any time of year.
Of course, Norwegians know how to deal with the weather. New arrivals soon stumble upon the phrase “det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlige klær” and it will only take one sudden rainstorm for you to really grasp its meaning! But while Norwegians know how to dress, it doesn't mean they enjoy it.
2. It doesn't get really hot
I don't know about you, but I'm sensing a theme here! Again, I'm writing this after a couple of days on which the temperature here in Trondheim hit 30C. Such days are rare, however. Contrast this with visiting southern Spain, where you're practically guaranteed 30C days at this time of year.
Climate change is causing an increase in average temperature across the board in Norway. However, it's also causing more unpredictable weather. Climate experts say Norwegians can look forward to a warmer and wetter climate in the years to come.
3. It's not abroad
A vacation isn't a vacation unless there's cheap food and drink and a different culture? That's my guess as to this one, anyway! Fuelled by a strong economy and cheap flights galore, Norwegians have certainly gotten used to cheap vacations in southern Europe.
Having grown up with Norway's spectacular scenery and typically taking several weekend hiking trips during the year, many locals simply want a change of scene in the summer.
There's a lot to be said for a relaxing holiday in a fisherman's cottage next to a lake. When the sun shines, such a scene is hard to beat. But in such places, there's something the photographs never capture.
Mosquitos are particularly prominent on the inland northern plains, but they can be found anywhere in the country near standing water. On the plus side, mosquitos in Norway don't tend to carry dangerous diseases, but they can still ruin a summer vacation.
5. Other Norwegians
This one, I can appreciate. Not because I am offended by Norwegians, particularly. But because it's how I feel when as a Brit, I find myself in some Spanish beach resort surrounded by my countrymen! As I mentioned above, this complaint was much more common among men than women.
Ah, flått! If the mosquitos don't get you, there's always the ticks. If you've ever taken a forest walk wearing shorts and short-sleeved top, you'll understand this one. Ticks are common in forests and in humid areas, especially in and around the habitats of deer.
Summer is high-season for ticks, and getting them attached to your body can result in illness. This article recommends showering after a forest walk, and checking for ticks every night. This complaint ranked high among women.
7. The water temperature
Even on the occasions when the air temperature rises above 30C, Norway's water temperature rarely follows suit. It's almost always cold, because coastal winds quickly dissipate the heated water out to sea. and this means on sunny days the water can feel even colder than usual because of the relative temperature difference.
So, while Norway's beaches can look just as pleasant as those in southern Europe, the swimming experience is quite different. It's also potentially dangerous. While not common, jumping into cold water on a hot day can send the body into shock. There have even been instances elsewhere in Europe of people fainting after drinking a lot of iced water during a heatwave.
While Norway isn't often packed with tourists, some attractions do suffer from long queues in the summer months. One common example is the queue to take a photograph at Trolltunga, something that can frustrate after spending several hours hiking there.
Many of Norway's popular hiking trails have suffered from overcrowding in recent years, but with international travellers limited, perhaps that won't be as big a problem in 2020. Just be prepared to queue for an ice-cream, wherever you are!
9. The bright nights
Many international tourists love the novelty of the midnight sun. Recently, I've enjoyed reading outside on my balcony as late as 11pm. But for Norwegians, the midnight sun is a frustration on vacation. But why, given that it's a problem throughout the summer, not just on vacation?
From experience, my guess is it's because many cabins and other holiday accommodations have very thin curtains. In contrast, most regular Norwegian homes have blackout blinds and/or thick curtains to cope with the endless summer light.
So for Norwegians used to sleeping in relative darkness, the sudden influx of light at night can make sleeping a challenge. If you're planning a norgesferie this year, don't forget to pack an eye mask!