You’ve heard the rumors: Norway is the happiest country on earth! We are here to report that we support this claim. The land of no sun/or all sun (depending on the time of year you visit) is full of nature so pristine, it would be hard not to smile when gazing upon it.

Walk through the bustling streets of Oslo and you’ll see a cultural mecca. Spend a night in Bergen and fall in love with its coziness. Sleep under the Borealis in Tromsø and experience magic.

As always, our primary concern at GST is honoring the land’s customs, culture, nature, and people. Luckily, Norway has made it very easy to do so.

There are three certification systems currently employed for environmental certifications. The Nordic Swan (Svanen), Eco-Lighthouse (Miljøfyrtårn) and ISO 14001. Each certification has strict requirements for waste management and energy preservation to the environmental profiles of the hotels’ suppliers.

Ready to do Norway the GST way? We’ve covered two of Norway’s most popular tourist spots: Olso and Tromsø.

Green Suitcase Stays at:

Thon Hotel Opera. Photo credit: Thon Hotels.

Oslo:

Thon Hotels – Thon may sound like a Nordic God, but is in fact, a socially responsible hotel line. Thon Hotels are elegant, affordable and can be found all across Scandinavia. They are a great choice for consciously minded travelers. They focus on serving sustainably sourced food in all their restaurants, workplace inclusivity, and advancement, and energy efficiency. They are Eco-Lighthouse certified and often hotel “Green conferences” that are future-focused.

Smarthotel – Another great choice is Smarthotel, which has locations in Olso, Tromsø, Forus, and Hammerfest. They are also Eco-Lighthouse certified and have other social responsibility initiatives. Guests can rent a bike free of charge during their stay. You’ll also get an Oslo City Pass from the hotel, which gives you access 30 museums and attractions, as well as free walking tours and use of public transportation. The hotel has also partnered up with Plan International Norway, an organization that helps young girls avoid early and forced marriage, stay in school and benefit from a quality education.

Tromsø:

Raddison Blu– Tromso is Norway’s northernmost city and a popular spot to see the Northern Lights. The small city is nestled in the Lyngen Alps, which lends itself to being a great spot to catch the dancing Borealis. Our hotel of choice is Raddison Blu. The Blu is a registered Responsible Business partner. Each hotel listed in the RB directory has a unique action plan that covers social, environmental, community outreach and employee well-being. Blu Planet is the company’s Conservancy plan to protect water and reduce their carbon footprint by more than 20%. They also serve a water-light breakfast with locally sourced and seasonal ingredients.

Green Suitcase Plays at:

Vigeland Sculpture Park

Oslo– From the Opera house to the National Gallery Oslo is a playground for the arts. Some of our favorites are the following:

Munch Museet – a collection of art from Edvard Munch.

Vigeland Sculpture Park– an open-air museum dedicated to the works of Gustav Vigeland.

Ibsen Museet– the famed playwright’s house turned museum full of memorabilia.

Nobel Peace Center–  a museum dedicated to documenting the Nobel Peace prize and it’s winners.

Viking Ship Museum– a museum dedicated to the Vikings and their ships. Heck ya!

Tromsø– If chasing the green lady is on your bucket list, this quaint northern town is the place to do it!

 

Arctic Reindeer experience

Tromsø Artic Reindeer Experience – A sustainably run Reindeer experience. Meet members of the Sami tribe and hang out with their herd. On this excursion, you will learn more about the Sami culture, hang out in a Lavuu (Sami tent), and feed the Reindeer.

Tromsø Safari– Book your Northern Lights safari and more with this locally owned and operated company. They have a strong commitment to the land, it’s people and protecting the wildlife.

Green Suitcase Eats at:

Oslo has numerous options to choose from for organic and sustainably sourced fare. Visit Olso has a comprehensive list of some of the best spots to grab “green” grub. Our favorite on the list? Organic scratch kitchen, Kolonihagen Frogner. 

In Tromso, we opted for the chic, 100% local and organic, Bardus.

Photo credit: Bardus restaurant

Green Suitcase Shops at:

Dale of Norway– Made in Norway since 1879. Their sustainably sourced wool is the stuff of dreams. If you see yourself standing by the fire in a premium Norwegian sweater, this would be the company to buy it from.

Green Suitcase Customs and Etiquette tips:

  1. No need to tip. A service charge is already included in the bill. You can round up to the nearest 5 0r 10 NOK if you’d like to.
  2. The common greeting in Norway is a handshake.
  3. Jante Law- Criticism is frowned upon. Wealth is not flaunted. Humility and equality are respected.
  4. Take off your shoes when entering a home.
  5. Haggling for souvenirs is not acceptable.
  6. If invited to someone’s home, be punctual and bring a gift.
  7. Direct eye contact is important in as it seen as a sign of respect and trustworthiness.

 

Misty is the owner and founder of Green Suitcase Travel. She is a consultant, travel writer, and all around travel maven. When she is not traversing the world, spreading the news about sustainable travel, she is in Tucson, Arizona enjoying the desert.