Norway has some pretty unique and strict laws about what types of shops can be open on a Sunday, so don’t expect to be able to go shopping just like any day of the week on a regular Sunday. While the laws might seem simple at first glance, there are lots of exceptions to the rules, so shopping on Sundays in Norway is not as straight-forward as it might seem.
The general rule is that all shops must be closed on Sundays, so you will not be able to go shopping for either souvenirs or groceries on a Sunday in Norway. However, kiosks, gas stations and grocery stores that are smaller than 100 m² can be open on Sundays, so there are some options if you want to go shopping or need some food.
These are the most common exceptions to the rule of stores always being closed on Sundays, but there are some more that we will look closer at below in the article.
Gas stations, kiosks and small grocery stores on Sundays
Pretty much all gas stations and kiosks are open on Sundays. A lot of small grocery stores are open on Sundays as well, but they have to be less than 100 m² to be allowed to be open during Sundays. Some bigger grocery stores can even keep open by sealing off most of the store, and only keeping a small portion of it open.
This allows you to get all the essentials you need, but as you might expect it’s nothing like going to a regular grocery store on any other day of the week.
A grocery brand that often tend to have smaller stores that are open on Sundays are Joker, so keep an eye out for that one if you ever need groceries on a Sunday. Small grocery stores like this one has the same prices as usual, so it’s much cheaper to buy groceries from a small Joker on a Sunday compared to a gas station.
As for the opening times of gas stations and kiosk, expect most or all of them to be open on Sundays, and be open the same hours as usual.
Keep in mind that gas stations and kiosks are generally very expensive compared to a regular grocery store. For this reason most Norwegians won’t buy groceries at these places unless they really need something (like a single forgotten ingredient for a dinner). So be prepared to pay premium rates for whatever you buy at these places. That said, most gas stations have a pretty decent range of food and items that are commonly needed, so it’s a great place to go if you really need to pick up some milk, flour to bake bread or some spices that you needed for dinner.
Read more: What to expect at gas stations in Norway.
Are restaurants open on Sundays?
Restaurants are allowed to be open on Sundays, and in most cases they have regular opening hours on Sundays. Not only are real restaurants open, but places like Burger King, McDonald’s and other fastfood places are also open.
It is very rare that restaurants are closed on Sundays, so you can expect to be able to eat out as if it was any other day of the week.
All grocery stores can be open on Sundays in December
December is a busy month for most Norwegians since we do a lot of preparation for Christmas during the entire month. All stores will be much busier than usual, so to compensate the government has allowed for all grocery stores to be open on all Sundays from December 1st to December 23rd.
This allows people to do their Christmas grocery shopping even on Sundays, but regular stores that don’t sell groceries still have to keep closed on Sundays.
PS. most grocery stores close early on Christmas Eve (December 24th), and are completely closed on December 25th and 26th.
Grocery stores can be open on Sundays in “tourist municipalities”
There are no set rules for which municipalities that count as a “tourist municipality”. They all need to send an application to the Statsforvalter where they argument that the municipality is what is called a “typical tourist destination”.
If the municipality gets permitted to keep stores open on Sundays, any store can be open, not just grocery store. This means that you can go shopping for anything you need, including clothes or souvenirs.
As a visitor, you can’t really know for sure if the destination has stores open on Sunday due to this rule without Googling it or something like that. Some very popular tourist destinations does not have stores that are open on Sundays due to local, political rules where they choose not to apply to be a “tourist municipality”.
Also keep in mind that each store can choose if they want to be open on Sundays or not. You might find that a lot of small stores chooses to be closed on Sundays even if they are legally allowed to be open.
Several political parties want to let all grocery stores be open on Sundays
Many politicians as well as regular people feel that it is unfair that small grocery stores or stores in tourist destinations are allowed to be open on Sundays, while other grocery stores have to be closed. For this reason there is constantly a debate whether or not to allow for all grocery stores to be open on Sundays, but as of 2022 most are still closed.
Why stores are generally closed on Sundays in Norway
Sundays in Norway are considered a public holiday in Norway, and has roots in christianity where Sundays are said to be resting days. Sundays, along with other public holidays are called “red days” (røde dager) in Norway, and the same rules that apply on Sundays applies to any public holiday.
A “red day” can be seen in any calendar by having the date written in red. These should always be treated as a Sunday when it comes to opening hours for shops.
Some other public holiday dates that you should keep in mind are:
- January 1.
- Easter: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and 2nd Easter Day (always on the Monday after Easter on Sunday). The exact dates changes each year.
- May 1. This is Labor Day.
- May 17. This is the Norwegian national day.
- Ascension Day. Exact date changes, but it is usually late May.
- The day after Pentecost. Date varies, but it is 51 days after the Easter Sunday.
- December 25 and 26.
Some of the dates are pretty difficult to remember since they change every year, but don’t worry, most Norwegians get confused by the changing dates as well. Just take a look at any Norwegian calendar to see which days have their date written in red letters to find out for sure.
Another option is to check out the public holiday dates article.
Buying alcohol on Sundays in Norway
It is illegal for stores to sell alcohol to bring home on a Sunday, even if the store itself is allowed to sell it. So don’t expect to be able to buy beer from a regular Rema 1000 in a tourist destination or even from a small Joker that is open on Sundays. They are not allowed to, and they will not make an exception. Breaking this rule will have serious consequences for the store, and most cash registers won’t allow the cashier to even scan it on Sundays.