Discover why Norway is one of the happiest countries in the world—and see where and how you can take part in their joy!
If you’re ready to uncover what makes Norway so unique—and how you can find your happy place—follow along as we explore this beautiful country together!
NORWAY AND THE ART OF ‘KOS’
The word KOS, which stands for koselig, is a concept that’s deeply rooted in Norwegian culture. It means “cozy” or “pleasant,” but it has more to do with creating an atmosphere conducive to comfort and happiness.
It’s not just about the temperature: it’s about finding your happy place—no matter where you are. That could mean a room full of flowers or a campfire under the stars. It could mean curling up with a good book or dancing with friends. It could mean taking a walk alone to clear your head or spending time with your family around the dinner table, sharing stories and laughter.
KOS is about finding contentment in everyday life—whether big moments or small ones—and experiencing that contentment together as part of a community that supports one another through all stages of life.
EXPERIENCE THE SAMI CULTURE IN NORWAY
Norway is a land of many wonders, but the Sami culture is one of the most beautiful and fascinating. The Sami people have lived on Norway’s Arctic coast for centuries and have adapted to their surroundings in inspiring ways. They speak their language, practice their customs, and have a deep connection to nature, unlike anything you’ll find anywhere else in the world.
The Sami way of life is also something you can experience if you travel to Northern Norway. Visit a Sami art exhibition, get up close and personal with reindeer, or stay overnight in a traditional Sami lavvo (tent).
The Sami Festival in Norway
Riddu Riđđu Festivàla – The Sami Week in Tromsø
The Riddu Riđđu Festival, held annually in Tromsø, is one of Norway’s most significant cultural events. It celebrates Sami culture and history and includes events like music concerts, lectures, exhibitions, film screenings, etc. If you’re visiting Norway in May or June, add this festival to your list!
The Sami Easter Festival in Kautokeino
This festival occurs yearly during Easter weekend in Kautokeino (also known as Gákti). It celebrates traditional Sami culture through activities like reindeer races and horseback riding competitions. There are also many other events throughout the day, such as exhibitions showcasing artwork made by local artists or food stalls selling traditional Sami cuisine like lutefisk (dried codfish). All visitors are welcome to join in on all of these festivities!
The Sami Parliament
The Sami Parliament is a unique and eye-catching architecture in Karasjok, Norway.
The Parliament was built to represent the Sami people’s struggle for their rights under Norwegian law. It also means their cultural heritage and battle throughout history with assimilation into mainstream society.
The Parliament’s dome-shaped roof, made from stainless steel and weighing nearly 50 tons, is a focal point of the Parliament. The dome itself is illuminated with red lights at night.
Norway is home to more than 200,000 reindeer.
In Norway, it’s not uncommon to see reindeer roaming around the streets.
The Sami people are native to Norway and have been herding reindeer for centuries.
The Sami people believe that reindeer have a soul and that every animal should be treated respectfully. They use their herd as a source of food, clothing, and transportation.
Unsurprisingly, reindeer play a vital role in Sami food as well. A must-try in Finnmark is reindeer meat, considered a local delicacy. Furthermore, there are countless ways to prepare reindeer, but bidos, a stew composed of carrots, potatoes, and slow-cooked reindeer meat, is probably the most famous recipe.
THE VIKING HERITAGE
During the Middle Ages, substantial stone cathedrals were built throughout Europe. In Norway, wooden doors and finials on the churches were frequently exquisitely carved. The ornamentation combined intriguing Christian themes with what were typically thought to be pre-Christian Viking themes with animals and dragons.
Stave churches frequently feature the great woodworking methods and woodcarving customs of the Vikings, who utilized them in the construction of ships and homes.
Various kinds of stave churches share corner posts, or “staves,” and a wooden framework with wall boards resting on sills. The name “stave church” comes from these walls being called stave walls.
Many stave churches are thought to have been erected on sites of sacred Norse land. The ancient Norse religion was conducted outside in holy groves, beside altars, or in heathen hovs rather than inside a place of worship.
Borgund Stave Church in Lærda
The Borgund Stave Church is built entirely out of wood except for its stone foundation and massive stone wall at the front entrance. The walls are decorated with carvings depicting biblical scenes and traditional Norse mythology, including dragons and other mythical creatures. The church has no steeple or tower but a pointed roof similar to an onion dome on top of its nave.
The interior walls are covered with paintings depicting biblical scenes such as Jesus’ birth or crucifixion (depending on whether you enter through the main or side door). The exterior walls are decorated with Viking runes that tell stories about Norse mythology, like Thor’s hammer or Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin (thought and memory).
The Heddal Stave Church
The Heddal Stave Church is a stave church built in 1150 that has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996.
The church is made of wood and has a thatched roof. The interior is decorated with carved reliefs, including pictures of snakes, dragons, and other creatures. The entrance to the church faces east so that those inside can see the rising sun when they worship.
GASTRONOMICAL ADVENTURE IN NORWAY
The food in Norway is a gastronomical adventure.
Trøndelag Food Festival and Trondheim Brewery festival
The Trøndelag Food Festival is one of Norway’s most prominent food festivals and has been running since 1981. It takes place in mid-July, during the peak of Norway’s summer. The festival offers all kinds of culinary delights from around the country, including traditional Norwegian foods like lutefisk and fried fish cakes to more modern dishes like seared salmon with dill butter sauce.
In addition to sampling all sorts of food, visitors can enjoy live music performances by local bands or attend lectures on cooking techniques and food storage methods. There are also craft stalls selling handmade gifts and jewelry.
The Trondheim Brewery Festival takes place every year at Hotel Norge on July 22nd until August 4th (though it may vary slightly depending on what dates fall during this period). The event offers 120 different types of beer from over 70 breweries worldwide—so whether you’re looking for something dark or light, bitter or sweet, there’ll be something for everyone!
Gladmat Food Festival, Stavanger
The Gladmat festival is a gastronomical adventure in Stavanger every year.
Gladmat is a celebration of all things Nordic!
The festival features numerous activities, including the following:
- Cooking classes
- Wine tastings and seminars on Norwegian wines
- Wine dinners
- Beer tastings and workshops on Norwegian beer
- Chocolate tastings
- Lectures on Nordic culture and history
- Musical performances by local musicians
- Art exhibits by artists from around the country
- Shopping opportunities from local artisans selling everything from handcrafted jewelry to hand-painted porcelain plates (and everything in between)
Matstreif Food Festival, Oslo
At this festival, you can learn about different types of cuisine worldwide while enjoying local flavors from Norway and beyond. It’s one of Norway’s most famous and prominent festivals and an absolute must-do.
Bergen Food Festival
The Bergen Food Festival is a celebration of all things edible. It takes place in the picturesque city of Bergen, Norway, and includes food tastings, art exhibits, and cooking demonstrations from local chefs and restaurateurs.
Bergen is known for its culinary diversity, reflecting the mix of cultures influencing the city. In addition to the traditional Norwegian dishes you might expect (lutefisk, smalahove), there are also plenty of international influences at this festival. You’ll find everything from Ethiopian to French cuisine at this event.
If you’re planning a trip to Norway and looking for something unique to do while you’re there, this event will not disappoint!
Norsk rakfiskfestival, Fagernes
Two local men started it to celebrate their love of rakfisk—a traditional Norwegian dish made from fermented trout.
It’s easy to see why this dish has been such a hit with locals for centuries: it’s delicious! The fish is rich and flavorful, but the fermentation process makes it shine. The procedure lasts for at least three months and transforms the fish into something different from its original form—it becomes tender and softens considerably when soaked in salt water for long periods.
The festival itself is filled with activities related to traditional Norwegian culture. There are live performances by local musicians and dancers. There are also food stands where visitors can sample some of their favorite dishes. You can also find booths where participants can learn about local customs.
When picking a destination, don’t limit yourself to classic tourist destinations. Often, the best experiences involve venturing off the beaten path. Norway is just one example of a country that defies expectations; it has all the beauty and variety we expect of a travel destination, but it also successfully surprises us. Let Inspired Travel Designs help design the travel of your dreams. Let’s chat!
Produced by Inspired Travel Designs In conjunction with Visit Norway