5 things you need to know about Norwegian culture

Norway is an ever popular destination for visitors, drawn to its dramatic fjords and rugged coastline and the stunning spectacle of the Northern Lights. Proud of their land’s pristine nature and breath-taking beauty, Norwegians will expect visitors to respect their customs. And although they are naturally reserved they are very friendly and welcoming.

To mark the publication of a new edition of Culture Smart! Norway, here are some snippets from the guide, detailing aspects of Norwegian culture that are useful to know about before you visit. If you like what you read, you can pick up the guide here and receive 25% off the RRP throughout January with the code CSNEW25!


Norwegian greetings tend to be short and to the point. Although god morgen (pronounced g’ moren) may be used in the morning, usually hei or hei hei (pronounced somewhere between hi and hay) suffices for most greetings. Good-bye is ha det bra, literally have it good, often shortened to ha det (pronounced hadder).

It is unusual to hear the use of Mr, Mrs, or Miss, unless a senior citizen is being addressed. Generally, first names are used. When meeting someone for the first time, whether at work or in a social setting, it is common practice to shake hands and state your name and surname. Doctors, dentists and lawyers will also introduce themselves in this way. Eye contact is very important in this situation.


In Norway today English is taught from the first year of schooling and young Norwegians, motivated by the desire to learn the language of imported TV and movies, pop music and the Internet, have considerable fluency in the language. In fact, it is usual to find that all but the most elderly people have a good basic level of English and are happy to use it when confronted with visitors to their country.

There is an expectation, however, that those who will be staying in Norway for some time should learn the language to facilitate their integration.


Norwegians rarely mix business and pleasure. It is not common to go for a drink after work with colleagues. Team-building and socializing with colleagues are considered important in Norwegian work culture, but they take place in a more formalized way. Many Norwegian companies have active sports and social clubs that organize social events. Typical events could be an evening trip to a local ski centre, a summer barbecue, a boat trip, or a meal at a hotel. Also popular is the blå tur, or mystery tour, when employees board a chartered bus after work and are taken off to an unknown destination for a meal or activity. While such occasions are to be enjoyed with colleagues, work is not a major place for making friends.


In a country where the winter is long and dark, it is not surprising to find that Norwegians do all they can to bring light into their homes. Since the advent of effective triple glazing, the windows in the main living rooms of modern homes tend to be very large, sometimes becoming whole walls of glass. In the winter, and particularly during Advent and over Christmas, burning candles are placed outside to welcome visitors, and special candle bridge lamps and electric stars are placed in the window as symbols of light in a dark world.


Norway is a very child friendly society, but that does not mean that Norwegians mollycoddle their children – in fact, far from it. With the majority of mothers working, children tend to be independent from an early age. The young children of working parents may attend a barnehage (kindergarten or nursery) or spend the day with a dagmamma (registered day-care provider). The use of private nannies is not so common. Norway has a reputation as a “safe” country, which means that children are granted much greater freedom to roam than in many other places, where parents fear danger on every corner. Motorists should also be aware that children have the right to stop the traffic when they want to cross the road by putting out their hand.

If you enjoyed reading about Norway, the new edition of Norway Culture Smart! is available to order here. Use discount code CSNEW25 at checkout for 25% off your order for January only (FREE UK delivery).

Book Details:

    • ISBN: 9781857338836
    • Format: Paperback
    • Page count: 168
    • Dimensions: 171 x 108 x 13mm
    • Published at: £7.99 / $11.99 / CAN $15.99
    • Release Date: 2nd January 2019



Image source: pixabay

The above text was adapted from Culture Smart! Norway, written by Linda March and Margo Meyer

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