Norwegians love their knitted sweaters – they kind of have to, with the weather usually being so cold. The country has a great tradition in iconic knitted prints, and nowadays nobody does it better than Dale of Norway. You will find the Norwegian brand in concept stores in Oslo, Stavanger and, of course, Dale. They’re also doing cardigans, coats and various outerwear.
It may not have been always the case, but in the last 50 to 60 years or so Norwegians really embraced their Vikings heritage – and pop culture embraced it along with them. There are ‘Viking-style’ bric-a-brac in every souvenir shop in Norway, but you’ll be better off purchasing anything Vikings related at the gift shop of a museum. The Viking Ships Museum in Oslo and the Lofotr Viking Museum in beautiful Lofoten are probably the top places to stock up on Viking merchandise for your friends without falling into tourist traps and buying something that involves a horned helmet.
Norway has a significant moose population; it’s not unusual to see warning signs in more rural areas about moose crossing the road. And although moose and moose sausages are also considered a local delicacy, perhaps it would be better to opt for a gift that wouldn’t alienate your non-carnivorous friends. Norwegian brand Elgr design makes vibrant, pop moose figurines that would look great in any home. Oh, and if you’re around Bergen, there’s a whole shop dedicated to moose merchandise.
If you have friends who, besides Norway, also love the theater, then right across Oslo’s Royal Palace lies your answer for what to get them. At the Ibsen Museum, not only will you get the chance to step into the house of the man who changed theater, but after enjoying the tour of his home you can stop by the gift shop for mementos like a mug with a quote from the Dollhouse or carven wooden ducks to commemorate Ibsen’s The Wild Duck.
You’ve probably seen this peculiar cheese slicer at an IKEA, but did you know it was a Norwegian invention? It all started because of brunøst, a soft, caramel-like brown cheese Norwegians love – but regular knives can’t really handle. So back in 1925, an inventor called Thor Bjørklund came up with ostehøvel, a patented cheese slicer that has taken Scandinavia by storm ever since. Bjørkund’s factory in Lillehammer still produces the original thing, so a box of brown cheese along with an OG cheese slicer will be deeply appreciated by your Norway-loving friends.
The infamous ‘firewater’ has been Norway’s go-to drink since the 15th century. Aquavit is made from potatoes (or grain) and has a minimum of 37.5% ABV, so you know it’s not for the faint-hearted. The ‘Linje’ variety means the drink has crossed the Equator twice before it was bottled, so it has a stronger, more mature flavor. Just make sure to inform your friends they need to say “skål” before drinking.
But if your friends are alcohol aficionados, then you should probably take your game up a notch. Norway is home to the world’s northernmost distillery, where the single malt whisky being produced has been maturing under the Northern Lights. A visit to Myken Distillery will certainly be illuminating, although you can buy some of their products at the Vinmonopolet as well.
If your friends love Norway, then they probably already own a book (or seven) by Jo Nesbø. Nesbø and his Harry Hole series have probably been Norway’s most famous literary export, but Norwegian literature is so much more than that! Karl Ove Knausgård, also known as ‘the Norwegian Marcel Proust’, made waves with his controversial autobiographical series and has been translated into numerous languages. Dag Solstad, a brilliant writer who’s been around since the ’70s, recently had his work translated in English. Whichever book you choose to get for your friends, you can rest assured you’ll be giving them a whole new perspective to their favorite country.