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Norway Explained For Members

How, where and when can you get naked in Norway?

Robin-Ivan Capar
Robin-Ivan Capar - [email protected]
How, where and when can you get naked in Norway?
While a lot of Norwegians may be relaxed about nudity in specific settings and situations, remember that some may find it inappropriate. Photo by Marvin Meyer on Unsplash

While Scandinavian countries are known for traditionally being comfortable with nakedness, Norwegians – especially younger generations – are not big on public nudity. However, there is a time and place for getting naked in public.

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While it is by no means a social taboo, generally speaking, public nudity in Norway is practised in specially designated places such as nudist beaches and saunas.

Furthermore, some people also get naked in private areas like their own home or a friend's home (depending on the occasion).

Norway is well known for its progressive values, and according to a recent poll by Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), 82 percent of respondents answered that it was acceptable for people to bathe naked in public places or that they do not care.

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However, older generations of Norwegians seem to be more comfortable with, for example, completely undressing at the beach or entering the sauna naked.

Nowadays, it seems that the culture has taken a somewhat conservative turn, and nudist beaches are not a big thing among young Norwegians.

Not only that, as Jan Dalchow, the director of the film Naken (Naked), says, a growing shame related to nudity seems to be taking hold in Norway.

Note: This phenomenon is mostly related to total nudity - a lot of younger Norwegians have no problem stripping into their underwear in city parks during nice Spring or Summer days.

A generational – and cultural – divide?

As is the case with many aspects of Norwegian culture – for example, celebrating holidays such as Halloween or Valentine's Day – an ever-growing divide can be seen between older and younger generations.

Norwegian youth seem less keen on visiting nudist beaches or taking all their clothes off in the sauna. It's always hard to pinpoint the precise drivers behind most cultural shifts, as the reasons tend to be complex.

One possible explanation is that the shift could be caused by changing attitudes towards nudity and body image.

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With the rise of social media and the pressure to present an idealised image (which wasn't a thing just a few decades ago), many young Norwegians could feel more self-conscious about their bodies and less comfortable with public nudity.

Furthermore, as Norway becomes more diverse and multicultural, old cultural norms and values may be changing.

While public nudity may be more accepted in what one might call traditional Norwegian culture, newer immigrants to the country may have different attitudes and beliefs about public nudity.

In any case, these trends shouldn't be generalised to the level of the entire population – some younger Norwegians do enjoy being naked in saunas, while some older people do not. The same goes for visiting nudist beaches.

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Sauna

Saunas in Norway are typically gender-segregated. Photo by HUUM on Unsplash

The socially accepted arenas of nakedness

In Norway, nudity is most commonly accepted in designated nude beaches and saunas.

The country is home to around 20 nudist beaches, and some of the most popular ones include Huk Beach, west of Oslo, Kollevågen Beach in the vicinity of Bergen, Strandskog Beach (also close to Oslo), and Mauren Beach near Ålesund.

Along with beaches, saunas are Norway's second area of clothes-free relaxation. They are usually gender-segregated, and in many places, it might be considered impolite to wear any clothing inside the sauna.

However, it is important to note that some saunas may have specific rules, so it's always a good idea to check with the staff or host before entering.

While a lot of Norwegians may be relaxed about nudity in specific settings and situations, remember that some may find it inappropriate.

In 2021, the residents in the vicinity of Mellandstranda Beach, which is located in Hedmark, put up a sign asking people not to bathe naked there after a lot of people started bathing naked at the beach.

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What does the law  say?

From a legal standpoint, no law in Norway expressly prohibits being naked in a public place, and no law explicitly prohibits swimming naked at the country's beaches. However, relevant regulations do state that "exhibiting sexually offensive or other indecent "behaviour is illegal.

Nudity in itself is not problematic in relation to the law, but "indecent behaviour" to the extent that it is expressed towards another person is a punishable offence.

Therefore, it is important to be considerate of others. As the law regulating outdoor activities states, your behaviour during bathing must be "considerate" and "not… cause inconvenience for others."

The Norwegian police assess each case of potentially indecent behaviour based on a number of factors, including the time and place, norms, and culture – usually, the tolerance threshold is much higher on a beach than, for example, a store.

Furthermore, nudity often needs to be sexually motivated to be punishable.

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