Norway has a concept called joint holiday (fellesferie in Norwegian) where pretty much most of the population has a summer vacation at the same time. This has some big cultural implications that we will be looking closer at, but it’s also worth getting to know it if you plan on visiting Norway during the summer, because it will likely affect your trip.
The joint holiday in Norway is a 3-week long vacation that usually occur during July each year. About half of the Norwegian work force is on holiday at the same time, meaning that some services will be closed, while tourist attractions will be crowded. Most stores are open as usual, but specialized services might be hard to come by.
The biggest thing you will notice as a tourist that visit Norway is likely that everything will be much more crowded during this joint holiday. Beaches will be a lot more full, tourist attractions will have longer queues, hotels and vacation homes will be booked or much more expensive, and there will be more cars on the road.
How the joint holiday will affect your visit as a tourist
The main thing that will affect you as a tourist is that everything will be crowded during the joint holiday. Norwegian people will be swarming to holiday places such as cities like Kristiansand, Arendal, Kragerø and other cities in the southern of Norway.
But also popular tourist attractions like Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), Lofoten, museums, zoos, the bigger cities like Bergen, Trondheim or Oslo will be crowded. Expect longer queues for most things, including at the stores or on the road.
You might find that it is more difficult to find free seats on buses and trains, and finding accommodation will not only be harder, but also much more expensive. I would advise anyone that is thinking about visiting Norway during the joint holiday to book your accommodations in advance.
When it comes to the fact that many companies are closed during the summer, this is not really something that will affect tourists too much. Pretty much all stores will still be open, and it’s mostly bigger factories, consultants, government and municipality employees, teachers, and workers like that which have joint holiday. In fact, most smaller stores are usually dependent on the income from the joint holiday, since Norwegians tend to spend a lot of money during these three weeks.
A few exceptions that come to mind is auto shops, so you might find that it is more difficult to get help for your car if it breaks down during the joint holiday. If you for some reason need to get help with official documents from places like Skatteetaten or something like that, you might also experience more trouble getting the help you need. Government services don’t typically close down, but often run with a skeleton crew, so most inquiries take longer than normal.
There are also some positive things about visiting Norway during the joint vacation. Norwegian people are usually somewhat cold or unattentive towards tourists and people they don’t know, but we tend to be a lot more open towards small talk and just chatting with people during the holiday. You might find Norwegians more friendly, happier and easier to get in touch with during this time.
So, should you visit Norway during the joint holiday? It’s really up to you. The biggest problem would be the accommodation, so as long as you have that settled, then you will be fine. The joint holiday is often the time when the weather is the best, the people are the happiest, and the water is the warmest, so it’s a great time to be a tourist in Norway.
Summer is a great time to visit if you want to go on hikes in the mountains. Not only are you pretty much guaranteed to not have snow cover, but the chance of getting rain is at its lowest, and the sun stays up very long, so you can hike all day long. Summer is also the only time when you can comfortably swim in the fjords or lakes in Norway, and most people are surprised by how nice Norway is during the joint holiday period in July.
When exactly is the joint holiday?
The joint holiday is 3 week long, but the exact date will change from year to year. It is decided by the big worker’s unions making deals with all the big companies. After it is decided, many smaller companies tend to also give their workers the vacation at the same time so that families can enjoy their holiday together.
It is common for the joint holiday to be in July, and it is often late in the month.
The dates for the joint holiday (fellesferie) in Norway in 2022 is from Monday July 11th to Friday July 29th.
The article will be updated as soon as the dates for 2023 has been agreed upon. This is usually determined around September the year before.
How Norwegians spend the fellesferie
The Norwegian fellesferie is often the favorite part of the year for a lot of people. People obviously do different things during the joint holiday, but some typical Norwegian things to do during the joint holiday are things like:
- Go on mountain hikes. As mention earlier, July is one of the best times to go on hikes in the mountain. Either go on day-trips or spend the night in a wild camp.
- Go camping at a camp site. Camp sites are very popular in Norway during the joint holiday, since they usually are located very close to the sea or a beach, and is an affordable method for regular Norwegian families to be able to spend a few weeks close to the beach.
- Spend the entire time at their cabin. Families who own a cabin by the beach will usually move to this cabin for the entire holiday, and spend the holiday there. These cabins are typically very expensive, and acts as a kind of second home.
- Spend as much time as possible at the beach. Norwegians are not used to being able to go to the beach most of the year, so we are often very good at going to the beach as often as possible during the short period where it’s comfortable to do so.
- Barbecue as often as the weather allows it. Norwegians love to fire up their grill during the summer, and you can find that many people barbecue 3 – 4 times a week during the holiday if the weather allows for it.
- Eat a lot of ice cream. Joint holiday and ice cream fit as hand in glove, and you will often see both children and adults with ice cream during the sunny days of July.
- Go sightseeing in Norway. The 3 week long joint holiday allows people to be able to explore Norway themselves, do you might find that many Norwegians also act like tourists during the joint holiday. This allows us to travel to other parts of the country at a slow pace, enjoying the beautiful nature and wonderful places.
- Go on vacation in southern Europe. Many Norwegians prefer to go on vacation to southern Europe like Spain, Italy or Greek during the joint holiday.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.