Travelling alone for the first time can be daunting – but Norway solo travel offers a safe and easy route in
Fancy dipping your toe in the pool of solo travel? Norway, with its low crime levels and liberal outlook, is a great place to start. Here’s why:
It’s very safe
All travel involves an element of risk, and how to master that is a challenge that you may well relish.
As with most situations in life, your common sense will steer you through – and the confidence that comes from making day-to-day decisions, and coping and thriving alone, is a magic all of itself.
That said, if you’re travelling alone for the first time, you may want to begin somewhere that feels very secure.
Read more: Lessons from a lone female traveller
Norway is exactly that.
Officially, it’s one of the safest countries in the world. By far the biggest risk to tourists here is environmental conditions, rather than any man-made factors.
Over 90% of Norwegians feel safe walking around their area at night, and just 1% have reported being mugged in the past year.
Norway ranked second after Singapore in Gallup’s 2018 Global Law and Order report, an annual survey that measures our personal sense of safety in countries worldwide. This compares to the UK (21) and the US (37).
It’s not unusual to eat out alone
Dining alone is one of the unsung pleasures of solo travel: it’s such a great way to get a feel of a place.
You may feel a little self-conscious the first time you try it abroad, though, which is where Norway lends a helping hand.
It’s perfectly normal to eat out solo in Norway, so the whole “table for one” thing is a doddle. Instead of feeling awkward or intimated, you can go right ahead and make yourself at home.
What’s more, Norway is fast developing a reputation for its buzzing culinary hot spots, from hip bistros with dramatic fjord views to rustic brewery restaurants.
“For a chef like me, Bergen is perfectly situated by the fjords, the islands, and the vast North Sea, so every type of amazing ingredient is right at our doorstep,” says chef Christopher Haatuft, who left New York in 2013 to set up the restaurant Lysverket in the colourful harbour city.
“People question why I left New York to go to Bergen to open a restaurant. Here we have the best seafood in the world and a closeness to nature that you can’t find anywhere else.”
From grilled mussels over shimmering sea views to beer-marinated pork rib tapas by a roaring log fire, Norway offers the kind of immersive dining that’s simply too good to share.
Head space beckons in the Great Outdoors
Solo travel is a great opportunity to escape the incessant digital chatter of a modern age, especially when you head into nature.
Being outdoors is something that’s carved deep within Nordic national identity, underpinned by a value known as friluftsliv – meaning “‘free air life”.
You’ll find Norwegians out and about at all times of year, embracing the country’s awe-inspiring landscapes with cross-country skiing, hiking, sledding and more.
“It’s so quiet and beautiful here, everyone says, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy,'” says Flash Pack’s Norway guide, Arturs Kiselevs.
“Mostly, Flashpackers come from big cities, so they’re used to hearing the highways or cars passing by, with lights everywhere. They’re always amazed by the peace of the place.”
Part of the appeal of solo travel is the ability to dial down and reclaim some head space. And this process is magnified tenfold in the vast natural splendour of Norway.
The country’s “allemannsretten” law means you are free to roam and camp almost anywhere you want in the wild, from forested valleys to mountain peaks and remote lakeside pitches (side note: camping alone as a woman is normal here, and very safe).
It’s easy to get around
If you’re used to endless slogs on the subway, Norway’s public transport system will come as a delight.
The country is connected by a clean and efficient system of trains, buses and ferries, which regularly reach even the most far-flung destinations (and in this wild Northern outpost of Europe, there’s a lot of them).
“If you can find it on the map, you’ve got a good chance that a bus or boat will take you there,” says the website Fjord Norway.
“Many foreign travellers are positively astonished at how good public transport is in Norway. Even the most remote destinations have viable communications with the world-at-large, and for those who live there this is important confirmation that they are part of the greater community.”
It’s certainly not the cheapest system in the world, but with over 50 domestic airports and an extensive network of express coaches, it couldn’t be easier to get around – one less niggle off your list.
And, while it’s always best to have a crack at speaking the local language (the amount of translation apps available these days make it a poor effort not to), over 90% of Norwegians speak English as a second language.
So if you happen to find yourself stuck or confused, help is never far away.
It’s one of the happiest countries in the world
There are a lot of great things about solo travel, but one of the best is how it opens you up to a particular place or culture.
When you’re not distracted by a companion, you’re so much more alert to the world and people around you.
Regularly voted the happiest country on earth, Norway is a great place to soak up some positive vibes in.
This is a country that just gets things right, from a great welfare system that makes people feel secure and free, to an emphasis on work life balance.
The average work day runs from 8-4pm in Norway, and you would be lucky to reach even the CEO of a company beyond those times.
“There is a general notion that people work to live rather than live to work,” says the News in Norway website. “Many families have ‘hytter’ (cabins) close to the coast or in the mountains. So don’t be surprised if you find your colleagues leaving work early on Fridays to go to their ‘hytte.'”
Norway is also big on fairness and parity: there is virtually no social hierarchy here, and gender equality thrives.
This progressive attitude translates on a practical level, too. Norway is a tolerant and accommodating place for all kinds of visitors, from women travelling alone to LGBTQ+ travellers. The country is also fairly accessible for travellers with disabilities, although advanced planning is advised.
Norwegians are super-relaxed
Norway is no utopia, but as a generally happy and fair country, it stands to reason that Norwegians are typically laid-back.
“Norwegian people have an amazing and sometimes downright baffling ability to brush anything off,” says half-Norwegian, half-American blogger Silvia, of the website Heart My Backpack.
“I’m always in awe of how cool my Norwegian friends can remain regardless of what’s thrown at them.”
It’s easy to feel a bit displaced or nervy when you’re travelling alone in unfamiliar territory. But with this level of chill in evidence, you can’t fail to relax through osmosis.
Read more: Five friendly towns for solo travel newbies
Let’s not forget, this is a land of very low crime, great restaurants, easy transport links, all-round happiness and magnificent natural splendour.
As far as first-time solo travel is concerned, it’s a total pleasure and a breeze.
Want to ease your way in? Book on Flash Pack’s Norway trip, and join a group of like-minded solo travellers for glacier hiking, sea-kayaking, RIB boating and more.
Happy days indeed…