7 Surprising Norwegian Culture To Know Before You Visit Oslo, Norway

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In November 2015, I visited Oslo. However, it’s not a work-related trip but it’s a 3-month vacation treat by my son for my wife and I. Although my career as a sailor took me to trips in Western Norway, the Oslo visit was my first.

Despite the fact that Oslo is the capital of Norway, that doesn’t mean to say that the Norwegians‘ bent for nature will be lessened. This city is consist of forests and can be reached in just 30 minutes, thanks to their very efficient transport system. Any visitor in Oslo will never fail to get fascinated by its beauty. But there are few things you should know that can help you make the most of your trip to this city. Read on the 7 surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.




Standing in front of Fred Olsen Company, (my first employer) headquarters along Karl Johans Gate (main street in Oslo.)

An Environmentally Friendly City

The National Theatre in Oslo.

Oslo is a GREEN, sustainable city. It is known for conserving its natural areas and reducing pollution. Just like with the other Scandinavian capital cities, Oslo has also one of the lowest carbon emissions in the world. It has an efficient public transport system, viable food production and a lot of green spaces. Cycling also plays a key part in the life of its residents. An environmentally friendly city, this is a surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

The Freedom To Roam

In Oslomarka (Oslo Forest).

“Allemannsrett” (all men’s right) is everyone’s right to have an access at uncultivated lands in Oslo. It doesn’t matter whether you are a visitor, a local resident or a reindeer. You have the freedom to roam almost everywhere, as much as you want. You can hike or do your workout at Oslomarka, free to put up a tent in the middle of nowhere, it’s up to you. As long as you clean up your littler when you leave the area, mother nature is yours, FREE. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

Embrace “Utepils”

Oslo Radhus (Oslo City hall).

And since Norwegians love the outdoors, “utepils” is the best part for them at the first day of spring. Literally translated as “to drink beer outside”, utepils is a way of enjoying a drink outdoors on a warm day. Therefore when you are in Oslo during the spring season enjoy your utepils in the sun on a sidewalk cafe. It is having the benefit of your drink and your surroundings, this is the concept of utepils. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

It Is All About Gender Equality




Norway highly respect gender equality. Thus being a woman or having a different sexual orientation is NOT a discriminating element in Oslo. Judging others of their skin color, ethnic background, religious beliefs is definitely a NO, NO and individual freedom is kept in high regard. Oslo is a multi-cultural society wherein everyone is treated fair and square. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

They Are Super Humble

The Vigelandsparken in Oslo, world’s largest sculpture park.

Since Norwegians see themselves as “egalitarian” people, their culture is based on respect and interdependence. They don’t show off personal achievements and they have simple tastes. This is due to janteloven. It’s an unwritten law in Norway wherein people DON’T BRAG. No matter how high your profession or how rich you are, just be humble. Locals in Oslo don’t appreciate haughty persons. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

Personal Space Is Important

Holmenkollen Wooden Chapel in Holmenkollen, Vestre Aker borough, Oslo.

In Norwegian culture, personal space is important. Eye contact or starting a random conversation to a stranger in the bus or in the T-bane Metro (train system) is NOT an accepted norm. They are not being rude but it is just their nature. Respect for the individual’s dignity is also expected here in Oslo. You should not inquire about personal issues here like work background, salaries, etc.. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

Consider “Koselig” Instead

The Royal Palace in Oslo.

Anything that is nice, pleasant, likeable, a friendly person or a good situation – that is koselig. It might be enjoying a cup of coffee, spending a day at the Royal Palace grounds, reading a book or spoiling yourself with a gift is another koselig. It can’t be translated and it is multifaceted. “Kos” is something that makes you cozy and warm inside.




Koselig sometimes mean dressing up appropriately for the cold. As it is a saying in Norway “there is no bad weather here, only bad clothing” so you have to wear clothes that make you koselig in the cold weather. A surprising Norwegian culture to know before you visit Oslo, Norway.

Oslo is a great city especially in winter with its snowy white streets and twinkling fairy lights. And whether you are planning to visit this city when travel will become possible, it is essential to learn the basics of the Norwegian culture before you go. This will make them feel that you respect their way of life and that you took the time to learn a little about it. For now, stay safe and dream on. Lykke til og ha det.

Reference: Wikipedia