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Norgesferie 2020: What Norwegians Hate Most About Norway Vacations

Red fishing cottages in Reine, a Norway vacation hotspot

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…

Norwegian standing on the Preikestolen cliff on a foggy day
Both men and women agree that Norway's unpredictable weather is the worst thing about a Norwegian summer vacation.

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.

Happy couple on a beach in northern Norway
Hot weather is never guaranteed in a Norwegian summer.

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.

4. Mosquitos

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.

Wooden cabin by Gjende lake in Norway
Mosquitos are a problem in the Norwegian summer

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.

6. Ticks

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.

A beach in northern Norway
Even at the height of summer, Norway's sea temperature can be very cold.

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.

8. Queues

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!

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About the Author: David Nikel

Originally from the UK, David now lives in Trondheim and was the original founder of Life in Norway back in 2011. He now works as a professional writer on all things Scandinavia.

8 Comments

  1. … And the stupid outrageous prices, the lack of accommodations, the poor railway network (and expensive Oslo – Flåm 2000kr?! Rather go one week to Portugal), no hostels, no restaurants variety, expensive nightlife, expensive groceries.

    Vacations in Norway is only for retired old wealthy people. Not good for young backpackers. Young people deal well with water temperature… not the 1500kr per night hotels… they all flock to nearby countries.

    Norway is simply way way underdeveloped in tourism.

    1. Low budget tourism needs volume to be justifiable and volume won’t be a thing in this country as everything else (food, drinks, transportation…) is much more expensive than many other countries.

  2. You pinned it … blame the state that overtax everything.. Hardly possible to deliver any seasonal services in a country that confiscates your earnings that way.

  3. The state, when it comes to f ex the Flåm rail line price? If you order a ticket to the station BEFORE the Flåm line begins (at Myrdal), the prices are normal. The excuberant prices are only for the part between Myrdal and Flåm. Yes, it’s expensive, and though there’s nice scenery along the way you can get just (or at least almost as) as nice scenery on other train trips that cost less.

    Norway is very expensive if you don’t do your research before you come. If you do, it’s always possiblet to find cheaper options. I travelled with a friend a couple of weeks ago and we found acommodation in Bergen priced down to 600-700 kroner. AirBnB and even hotels. If you book while you’re there or just before, and choose expensive hotels, of course it’s going to cost. Instead of just blaming the government for high prices, maybe do some research before you come… and another reason for high prices is that Norway is a high-cost economy, with proper wages etc. even in industries like bars and restaurants. Which means you aren’t expected to leave a large tip, as the workers already get a livable wage 🙂

  4. Yes, Norway can be expensive but so can England or France. What price though can you put on clean fresh air, spectacular scenery, relatively low crime rate giving personal safety, usually pleasant and very honest people,normally uncrowded roads and a great sense of freedom.

    My wife and I have been visiting Norway for nearly 40 years and for 10 years owned a hytte so we regard it as our second home. In fact we have traveled more of Norway than most Norwegians. From Lindesnes up to the Nordkapp and from the Eastern valleys to the Vestkapp and everywhere in between.

    We were very disappointed when we had to cancel our planned holiday for July but now find that we are allowed to visit Norway again so we will be back in August.

  5. Not only are the curtains semi-transparent in many Norwegian budget hotels, there is a consistent ignorance as to what is regarded as normal international standards. Beds made from pallets or packing cases, like wooden boxes on the floor where you stump your feet against it as bed legs are considered a luxury. You’d be hard pressed to find a double bed in many places. Don’t expect a high standard as many Norwegians bring with them their sleeping bags, just to be on the safe side.

  6. As Italian I can understand Norwegians that want to enjoy warm summer beaches in southern Europe. Norwegians enjoy their stunnig nature all year round and so it’s normal to enjoy an holiday abroad, but if you are worried about high prices I experienced that it’s only a matter of programming and organization: if you want to travel Norway in a cheap way you must do some research before you start. Airbnb, just to say one, allows you to find spectacular accomodations for less than 1000 nok per day, and houses are full of everything you need. When you’re there try the norwegian way: buy your food at grocery store (Kiwi for example) and eat outside in the nature. If you need restaurants or hotel you have to be prepared to high prices. Otherwise you can spare lot of money simply enjoying what nature as to offer, that is so much. I hope to come back soon

  7. Starting to plan a motorcycle ride to the Arctic Circle. Do not like camping so need to find overnight accom. Weather doesn’t bother but when is the best time to ride. Can you get ferry crossings from Denmark just by turning up or do you need to book in advance. Any advice would be helpful. I am a seasoned European bike tourist just never gone further up than northern Germany

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