Norway is a country of outstanding natural beauty, with dramatic waterfalls, crystal clear fjords, majestic mountains, and spectacular glaciers. Preserving this landscape, its communities, and their way of life is essential for locals and visitors alike.
Norwegian philosophy is very much that conservation is everyone's responsibility. Enjoying nature and the outdoors is considered a national pasttime, and this is reflected in our attitude towards the preservation and use of the wilderness.
In practical terms, this means that even though large parts of mainland Norway consists of national parks and other protected areas, Norway's right of access makes sure you can enjoy nature more or less as you wish – even in these sensitive and vulnerable regions.
Originally an age-old tradition based on sustainable principles, long before anybody had ever heard the term, this has since been set down in law. Even today, it is still based on a long-term respect for nature and wilderness that is prevalent in Norway.
Today, knowledge of ecology and nature is much greater than it once was, but so is the wear and tear on both the landscape and the people. In order to protect both nature and community, landscape and businesses, we try to take the long view: What we enjoy experiencing today will be even more enjoyable to future generations, and it’s our job to make sure it’s still there when their turn comes.
Many places follow sustainable principles, but being certified as a sustainable destination is an honour few qualify for. It takes years of work demonstrating their lasting commitment to providing the best possible experiences for their guests, while keeping the negative impact of tourism to a minimum. In addition, the destination must work to continually improve its business practices and relations with the local community, following principles of sustainability.
Family-friendly Trysil is Norway's largest ski destination. Surrounded by unspoilt nature, Trysil was one of the first holiday spots in Europe to achieve the prestigious Sustainable Tourism certification.
The traditional town of Røros, which is known as one of Norway’s sustainable destinations, is a modern community in which people live and work right in the middle of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The UNESCO-protected islands of Vega, just south of the Arctic Circle, is named one of the world’s top undiscovered island gems.
The best preserved medieval church in Norway, Borgund, and unique wooden houses in Lærdalsøyri gives plenty to see, and from Lærdal you can reach an altitude of 1,000 metres with magnificent views in just a couple of hours on foot.
In the middle of Southern Norway, between the major cities Oslo and Bergen, lies Geilo. This charming town at the foot of two national parks; Hallingskarvet and Hardangervidda and offers endless opitions for outdoor activities - all year.
The Svalbard Islands are located in the Arctic Ocean, halfway between Norway and the North Pole. Here, you will find untouched arctic wilderness and unique wildlife in a setting that is both rugged and fragile at the same time.
The Setesdal valley is centrally located in Southern Norway and easily accessible from continental Europe. The highway RV9 passes through many villages and the landscape varies from flat countryside to wild and beautiful mountains. Around every bend, in the 210-kilometre long valley, new vistas and activities await you. In the winter you can choose between two skiing destinations; Brokke and Hovden.
Becoming a sustainable destination takes years of work, with the whole local community working together. These are the next in line, and are expected to be certified in the year to come:
“The tussock”/Green Travel is a common navigation to all qualified environmental schemes used among tourism enterprises in Norway. The symbol helps you find environmentally certified activities and accommodations when planning your trip to Norway. Every time you see a tuft of grass on Visitnorway's pages, you know that the associated products and offers are a part of the scheme. This makes it easier for you to go green.
These certifications fall under Green Travel: Ecotourism Norway, The ecolabel Nordic Swan, Eco-Lighthouse, The Green Key, ISO 14001 and Blue Flag. Individually and collectively they guarantee that the labelled experiences follow strict rules and guidelines for the production and management of waste, energy, transport, use of chemicals and demands for subcontractors. These measures go beyond what the Norwegian law requires.
Make sure your holiday has the smallest footprint possible by looking for these labels and logos.
This national certification is awarded to businesses and operators that hold a high international level in ecotourism. Over 100 strict criteria on environmental performance, host-role, local community integration and purchasing must be met and often improved. The certificate is renewed every three years.
More than 5000 products in Norway are certified with Nordic Swan, which indicates that they satisfy strict demands within energy efficiency, materials, and chemicals, all the way from raw materials to end product and waste management.
The Eco-Lighthouse certification places demands on energy use, waste disposal, transportation, procurement and work environment. Over 5000 businesses in Norway are certified with this, which must be renewed every three years.
Global ecolabel, recognized by GSTC, for hotels, small accommodations, campsites and attractions. Certified businesses must meet strict criteria within among others the areas of waste, energy, water, procurement, green areas, CSR and staff involvement. The high standards are maintained through annual certificate renewal, rigorous application process and documentation and frequent audits.
ISO 14001 is given to enterprises that have a high-quality environmental managing system for organizational performance.
Global, prestigious award based on a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety-related and access related criteria to be met and maintained, aimed at beaches and marinas. More than 4100 sites in 49 countries are awarded with the Blue Flag.
Outdoor enthusiast Gabriel Reboul from Aix-en-Provence in the south of France is running a salad bar. Green thinking is one of Norway’s forces, according to this snowboarder who has quickly become a free spirit addict to the relaxed Norwegian way of life.
Equality, freedom… and waffles. The foods, traditions and way of life here on the outskirts of Europe may sometimes seem peculiar. Hopefully you can learn a thing or two by reading here.
In Norway everyone has the unrestricted right of free access in the countryside, including the national parks.