Drinking Tap Water In Norway: Is It Safe?

There are lots of countries and regions all over the world where the tap water is full of bacteria and viruses, and could spread diseases to tourists who drink it even though the local people are immune to the disease. But what is the tap water in Norway like, and can you drink it safely?

All tap water in Norway is considered safe for drinking for anyone, and all water have been processed to a point where all bacteria have been killed. So feel free to drink and use as much tap water as you want to without worrying about it.

The tap water is considered completely safe anywhere in Norway, not only in the major cities like Oslo, Bergen or Trondheim. You can safely drink tap water even in the middle of nowhere!

There might be exceptions, but as a Norwegian who has spent most of my life in Norway, I have yet to see an exception to this.

Water faucet
Norway has tap water that is safe for drinking. Photo published with permission.

Tap water in Norway is free and tastes great

Most Norwegian people drink tap water most of the time, and bottled water is either seen as an unnecessary luxury or something to drink if you forget to bring a bottle.

It is common for people to bring a refillable with them to work, school, on hikes or just for whenever they need to drink water, and fill up the bottle with water from anywhere.

You might want to buy yourself a refillable water bottle when you travel in Norway. This allows you to fill up with free water any time you want to. Many cafés will let you fill your water bottle at their tap, while some people prefer to fill it up in public toilets. This might seem strange, but many public toilets (especially outside of popular tourist areas) are clean and the tap water there is just as good as from anywhere else.

Water bottles
Water bottles are a great way to bring water with you when going on hikes or sightseeing. Photo published with permission.

The water usually tastes very good in most parts of Norway, but there are of course some areas where the water will have a small taste of chloride. Most places will not, since it is most common to filter the water with UV-rays to kill bacteria and other microorganisms.

If you think that the water taste strange or metallic, try leaving the faucet running on old water for about 60 – 90 seconds. This allows all the water in the pipes to run into the sink, and you get fresh water from the tap. This will usually give you water with the best possible taste. This problem only occurs in buildings with old or damaged pipes.

You can usually safely drink water from nature

Norway has a lot of surface water this is considered to be safe to drink, both for Norwegians and tourists alike. Many hikers fill up their water bottle from small streams they come across, and this can be a good option for filling up the bottle.

If you want to drink water directly from nature, make sure to follow these guidelines to avoid becoming sick:

  • Make sure there are no grazing animals such as cows or sheep upstream or close to the water source.
  • Choose running water instead of still water (rivers and streams instead of lakes or ponds).
  • The bigger the water source, the better it is.
  • Make sure the water is clear and has no distinct color.
  • Make sure the water does not smell bad. Good water does not have any smell at all.
  • Make sure the water tastes like normal water by taking a small sip. Spit it out if it tastes bad or strange.

Most water sources in nature are perfectly fine for drinking, but you never know. Animals carry a lot of bacteria that could potentially make you sick, and you never know if a wild animal recently drowned or took a shit in the water close to where you are drinking.

You should either get a water filter or use water purifiers if you plan on drinking a lot of water directly from nature. You could also boil the water before you drink it, but it will of course take a good while to get the water temperature back to being cold. Using a filter or boiling the water will allow you to drink water from virtually anywhere without worrying about being sick.

That said, I would think that most Norwegian hikers tend to just drink unfiltered water when they are hiking or taking a walk in the forest, as long as the water looks, tastes and smells fine.

Read the full guide to drinking water from nature in Norway here.

Water rapids just outside of Hallingdal Museum
Water rapids just outside of Hallingdal Museum. Photo: Nicklas Iversen / thenorwayguide.com.

How most Norwegian consumers get their water

Norway is in a pretty unique spot when it comes to water resources, because we use a whole lot of surface water here instead of ground water. This means that we tap water directly from huge lakes, such as Maridalsvannet north of Oslo. This lake provides over 90 % of Oslo with water!

Read more: Oslo municipality urges everyone to save water.

But before the water reach anyone, it has to go trough a water treatment plant. Oslo uses two different treatment plants before it reaches the consumer, but other municipalities might only have a single treatment plant. This is still more than enough to get rid of any harmful bacteria.

The water treatment plants usually have several mechanical filters, as well as huge UV-lights that kill any living organism in the water. Some treatment plants use chloride, but this is pretty rare in Norway.

Maridalsvannet
Maridalsvannet gives 90 % of Oslo its drinking water. Photo: Grzegorz Wysocki / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Buying bottled water in Norway

If you prefer bottled water, then you can buy this in Norway as well. We have some great brands of bottled water here, and the most common bottled water brand to buy is called Imsdal.

Buying bottled water in Norway usually cost around 15 – 25 NOK per bottle in a grocery store, and can cost even more in restaurants and cafés. But you can usually get tap water for free whenever you are eating out, so there’s not reason to buy bottled water. Just ask for a glass of water, and they will often give it to you for free.

Most Norwegians don’t drink bottled water unless they are thirsty and don’t have a bottle to fill up.

Bottles of Voss water in a grocery store.
Bottles of Voss water in a grocery store. Photo by Christian Rasmussen / CC BY 3.0.

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