The narrow, northern European country of Norway boasts a coastline populated with stunning fjords, arctic animals like caribou and wolverines, and many, many mountains. Situated on the west of the Scandinavian peninsula, it can be a remote arctic escape or a unique urban one for your Norway vacation.
Norway is also a very welcoming country to travelers—Norwegians have a reputation for being happy, outdoor-loving people, with a rich cultural history partially defined by the extreme climate.
Great public transport around the country makes getting around easy as well as being generally more environmentally friendly. More and more, a Norway vacation is regarded as one of the best ecotourism options; ecotourism is defined by the Global Ecotourism Network as “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and creates knowledge and understanding through interpretation and education of all involved: visitors, staff and the visited”.
A Look Into Norway’s Tourism Industry
Much of the unspoiled land in Norway attracts adventure-seekers—with 385,000 square kilometers to discover, everything from short walks in nature to long glacier-hikes are possible options. Additionally, beautiful fauna like polar bears, reindeer, whales, moose, and the arctic fox can all be seen on your trip to Norway. Dramatic, barely-touched landscapes drive much of Norway’s tourism sector; one such natural offering that lures travelers are the Northern Lights.
In addition to all the outdoor adventures, cities and towns have their own unique draws. Distinctive architecture and design, museums, and restaurants boasting excellent seafood bring people to cities like Oslo and Bergen as well as smaller ones like Trondheim, Tromsø, and Stavanger.
Tourism is seasonal, with most travelers opting to visit Norway during the summer and experience the midnight sun and avoid the short days of winter. The industry has been gradually growing over the past decade, with tourist expenditure increasing 53% from 2008 to 2018.
What Does Ecotourism in Norway Look Like?
Norwegian philosophy embraces conservation as everyone’s responsibility. Travelers can follow locals by maintaining a “leave it as you would like to find it” mindset during their trip to Norway. After all, one of the most beautiful aspects of Norway is its untouched feel.
Norway uses the term “Sustainable Destination”—a stamp of approval for a range of destinations working to systematically reduce negative impacts of tourism. This benchmark achieved “Recognized Standard” status by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), a third-party UN-related organization that has global standards for sustainable travel. It is run by Innovation Norway, which is owned by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries and other country authorities, and is the government’s most important instrument for innovation and development of Norwegian enterprises.
Additionally, Eco-Lighthouse is a term used for businesses in many industries in Norway. Used to assess environmental responsibility annually, it is the only Norwegian certification that is widely used. Run by the Norwegian non-profit Eco-Lighthouse Foundation, this national certification is recognized by the European Commission as having a standard on par with international eco-labelling.
In addition to policies, Norway has infrastructure that is well suited for an ecotourism-minded vacation. There are 10,000 charging stations across Norway, making it a good option for an electric vehicle road trip. In fact, much of the country is becoming electrified in regards to trams, ferries, scooters and more, so you can make many excursions more eco-friendly during your Norway vacation. An amazing two-thirds of the capital city of Oslo consists of water or green spaces—in fact, Oslo was named the European Green Capital in 2019. You can even take a guided kayak tour in Oslo and many other cities.
Eco-Friendly Adventures To Do When You Visit Norway
There are many eco-friendly tours to be had on your trip to Norway. You can see the country on foot, electric bike, boat, kayak, raft, and more, and it’s just a matter of fitting them all into your itinerary. Many “Sustainable Destinations” have more than a few tours to choose from, perfect for satisfying everyone.
Ålesund is a town known for its Art Nouveau architecture which is beautifully stretched out over several islands. The Kayak & Hike in Ålesund is ambitious, but offers both activities to discover Ålesund from different vantage points. The tour company, Fjord Tours, is a certified Eco-Lighthouse operator. A knowledgeable guide will tell you about the uniquely designed buildings as you paddle through the city which is followed by a nature hike. Both single and double kayaks are available, making it a good option for a Norway vacation with family.
Lysefjord & Pulpit Rock Fjordcruise will take you on a fully-electric boat ride and is also by the Eco-Lighthouse certified company Fjord Tours. From the southern coastal city of Stavanger, you will get on the electric boat—which, in addition to being more environmentally friendly, also offers a quiet and peaceful ride. As you sail along the Lysefjord river, you will go to Vagabond’s Cave, then go so close to the Hengjane Falls that you can feel the spray of the waterfall. Lastly, the highlight of the three-hour cruise is the mountain plateau called the Pulpit Rock, which dramatically emerges 604 above the river. The brand-new electric boat offers a cabin with panoramic windows and a sundeck.
For more of a laid-back and fauna-sightseeing experience near Ålesund, check out taking a Charter boat to Runde Island. You’ll be in a small group of 12 people and sail around the island which is known for its many, many birds. You’ll potentially see puffins, sea eagles, cormorants, storks, harbor seals, and more on this 45-minute ride. This tour is also Eco-Lighthouse Certified.
Absolutely consider a trip to Norway for your next eco-friendly vacation. With rugged Arctic experiences to be had as well as cultural attractions in quaint small towns, there are activities for everyone. With so many green innovations happening nationally, it is a perfect place to embrace ecotourism.
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