The Best of Norwegian Leisure Homes: How to experience Norway like Norwegians
By Stephanie Brink Harck | Photos: Visitnorway.com
In the middle of nowhere, an idyllic cottage sits surrounded by a thick blanket of snow. While it is cold and dark outside, the fire warms up everything inside, giving each family member beautifully rosy cheeks. Welcome to the most Norwegian of Norwegian experiences.
Half of all Norwegians have access to a cottage or a leisure home, if not two: a mountain leisure home for skiing and a lake or fjord-side cottage for the summer months. Despite what many people might think, Norwegians make use of their holiday homes all year around, spending more time in these leisure homes than any other nationality.
Decades ago, a cottage was little more than shelter from the often harsh weather in Norway, but in the 20th century this all changed. Instead, it became fashionable to build a cottage, often literally built by yourself. Far more than just shelters, these cottages became quiet retreats from everyday life, urging family and friends to spend some quality time together and making the rest of the world seem a distant memory. The average Norwegian would then come to ski, skate, fish, swim and just experience the rich nature. And indeed, Norway offers beautiful natural surroundings: deep valleys, high mountains, majestic fjords and northern lights.
In the past, part and parcel of the real cottage experience was the lack of running water and the absence of electricity. This has definitely changed too. That version of a small, charming, picturesque cottage still exists, should you want to experience it, but nowadays most are every bit as grand as a normal house, some even better, complete with spa facilities, saunas, under-floor heating and other luxuries. This is also why many Norwegians choose to stay in Norway during their holidays rather than go abroad.
Tourists can get a taste of the luxury too and experience the magnificent countryside cottage-style, just like the Norwegians do. The old Norwegian tradition of living in harmony with nature is as popular as ever, and saying that a love of a good cottage holiday is well anchored in the Norwegian national soul is far from an overstatement.
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