Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

Posted by Scandinavian (Bee) | Fun stuff, Scandi Life

Little lessons: Hiking in Norway

One of the most favourite thing to do amongst Norwegians is going for a hike. No, not just going for a walk, but a hike. Which essentially means going for a walk but a bit longer and you have to bring a thermos of something to drink along the way. 

There is a Norwegian saying that goes ‘Ut på tur, aldri sur!’, which literally translated means ‘Out on tour, never sour!’ You should never start your hike in a bad mood – always be positive and ready for a great experience. Sing this merry little tune in your head every time you head out for a hike, especially if you are not in the frame of mind to be out walking – and think lots of positive thoughts.

Norwegians’ love of hiking and skiing is absolutely second to none. It is an essential part of being Norwegian both to go hiking and go skiing. It is unlikely you will find many Norwegians who do not enjoy these two activities.

Weekends and holidays are spent getting out into the fresh air and heading upwards to a hill or mountain, on foot or skis. To gå på tur (‘go for a walk’) is a favourite pastime – and is done by, literally, everybody. It is absolutely part of being a Norwegian.

If it’s a weekend day and impractical for you to get out of the city, you are allowed to take your walk in parks and around where you live. These are leisurely walks, but do not include popping to the shops for a loaf of bread or cat food: the walk has to be for the purpose of the walk itself. A weekend walk is often called a Søndagstur (Sunday walk). Then everyone knows what you’re doing and with what purpose (i.e. no purpose, other than the walk itself).

When out for a weekend walk, you must always factor in a stop for coffee (drinking this from your thermos that you packed at home, because a cup of coffee in Norway will set you back a small mortgage – bring your own). You must also bring one treat – usually a chocolate bar – and, if there is any kind of snow or ice, you must also bring one fresh orange.

Why an orange? Nobody knows, but it is always: an orange. Maybe its because it is super refreshing and completely impractical to peel when your fingers are frozen (which is often the case in Norway). An orange is, nevertheless, essential.

The word Søndagstur can also be used in Norwegian to describe something that was a bit easy, as in ‘How was that ultra marathon yesterday?’ ‘Oh, it was like a Søndagstur.’

When you manage to leave the city and aim to go on a proper hike, you need more appropriate equipment. These include:

Physical maps

Because you are unlikely to have any phone reception once you leave the town as half of norway is made up of fjords, mountains and other inaccessible terrain. It’s massive, but with only very few people in it. Bring a map, Citymapper is not your friend here. You can go out on a hike and see nobody for days and days, so best to be prepared like a native or risk getting lost.

More oranges

For these longer hikes, still bring the obligatory orange, your Kvikk Lunsj chocolate bar (although other brands are allowed) and the thermos of coffee. a Matpakke (packed lunch) is also advisable.

Hiking smile

Being on a hike is the only time in Norway when you are allowed to talk to strangers. You meet someone along your merry way, you smile and say Hei. Do not stop: Just “hei’ and get a “hei” back – and then you hurry along, minding your own hiking business.

Good Shoes

The shoes for a good hike are the kind that will rip your feet to shreds for the first few trips. Eventually, they will fit you and you will love them. Until them, bring plasters. Stop moaning: It’s normal. Keep walking.


Every Norwegian knows the saying: No such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. Dress for the weather and don’t try to get away without layering. Do not, ever, wear jeans. Wear proper waterproofs if it’s raining. Norwegians out hiking tend to look like an advert for comfortable hiking clothes (in rather bright colours so you can warn other hikers to put their hiking smile on.

Happy hiking!

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