Norwegians love to go on what we call a søndagstur, which can be translated to a Sunday hike. Some people prefer to go up in the mountains for their Norwegian Sunday hikes, others love going into the deep forest, while some people prefer to go on walks closer to the towns and cities.
A Sunday hike is very popular in Norway, and both families with small children, senior citizens and even younger people go on these walks most Sundays.
The Norwegian Sunday hike / søndagstur can either be on foot, or on skis during the winter. The objective is simply to get to spend a few hours outside with people you care about, while enjoying the scenery and trying to relax.
If you plan on visiting or moving to Norway, then you might want to learn more about the søndagstur culture, how to plan for a trip, and what to bring when going on a Sunday hike in Norway.
Planning and executing a Norwegian Sunday hike
I would say that most Norwegians don’t really plan much for going in Sunday hikes, and many families choose the destination during the breakfast on the Sunday morning. However, if you are unfamiliar with the location you are staying in, then you will want to prepare to make sure the Sunday hike is about the length you want it to be.
There are very few «rules» regarding Norwegian Sunday hikes. Some people enjoy being outside on a walk for 5 – 6 hours, while other prefer to only walk a short distance, and instead spend their time in front of a campfire. Just pick a route, location and length that fit what you want.
You might not need to even make a lot of preparations. Just buy the things you want to bring with you the day before (since most stores are closed on Sundays), find a trail that seem nice, and go for a walk. If it’s too long, just turn around, or find a place to chill out for a while to rest.
Make sure to say hello to other hikers you meet on your walk. This is pretty much the only situation where it is both acceptable and expected for you to say hello to strangers in Norway, so feel free to say hi, give them a nod, and even make small comments about the weather or nature such as saying that it is a nice day for a walk, how the rain is refreshing, or how nice the nature is where you are walking.
Since the point is to just get out into nature and enjoy yourself, you are free to choose how you go about doing your Sunday trip yourself.
What to bring on your Sunday hike
Bringing everything you need is the key to a sucsessful Sunday hike, and this section will look a bit closer at what you should bring in your backpack to experience a real, Norwegian søndagstur.
– «Sitteunderlag». Norwegian is usually very moist when you get into the forest, and you will probably want a sitteunderlag to make sure you don’t get wet when you sit down to relax. I don’t think there is an English word for it, and the best translation is a seat pad, but made for nature and not chairs. They are also a lot more comfortable than sitting on the ground. If you don’t have one, don’t worry, the cheapest ones only cost 20 – 50 NOK, and are super light to carry with you.
– Lunch. When you are starting to feel hungry, find a nice place a bit away from the trail and sit down to enjoy a lunch. Norwegian people tend to bring pieces of bread spread, cheese or something like that, an orange, and some snacks. You might also want to bring a thermos with coffee. Some people enjoy making campfires to make a warm lunch as well.
– Snacks – preferably Kvitt-Lunsj. Kvitt-Lunsj is the “official” søndagstur snack, so make sure to bring one. And don’t just bite into it! Divide it into the four small stripes, and eat them one by one, or even better – share them with the rest of the group. You are free to bring any snack you want, but make sure to pack some carbohydrates to get your sugar levels up quickly when you start to feel tired.
– A small first-aid kit. You never know when you might need a first-aid kit, and there are always risk involved when hiking in the forest or in the mountains, such as a sprained ankle or a cut from when you cut down firewood. Most pharmacies sell ready-to-go first aid kits what you can bring in your backpack.
– Extra clothes. Be prepared for rain, even on sunny days! Since Sunday hikes typically aren’t that long, you don’t need to over-prepare, but make sure to bring a hat, jacket and warm clothing during spring, autumn or winter, even when it looks like it will be a sunny day. A small gust of wind might make the trip much colder than you expect, or you might notice that it gets a bit cold when you stop to eat lunch.
– Water in a refillable bottle. There are usually plenty of opportunities to fill your bottle when going on a Sunday hike in nature, but make sure to bring enough water that you don’t rely on finding a water source (unless you know for sure that you will find one).
– Firewood and a lighter if you want to have a campfire. You are only allowed to set up campfires between September 15th and April 15th, so don’t make a fire during the summer. However, during the winter, feel free to make a campfire to grill hot dogs or boil water to make hot chocolate or coffee. Some areas will have designated campfire areas where you can start a fire all year round.
How common is the Sunday hike culture in Norway?
The Sunday hike culture in Norway is very popular, and you will find that most families with younger children and a lot of the older people go on this søndagstur every single Sunday. This is a long tradition that has its origin many years ago, and if you ask older people they will tell you that they have been going on Sunday hikes for pretty much every Sunday their entire life.
As with most traditions, younger people such as students don’t take them as seriously. At the same time, it’s not uncommon to see students going on Sunday hikes, but they are probably not that strict about it. So you might be invited to a søndagstur if you are studying in Norway.