Norway has a flourishing retail sector and all the large towns and cities are jammed with department stores and international chains. There are a handful of obvious Norwegian goods – cheese, knitted pullovers and dried fish (klippfisk) are three that spring to mind – but it’s the Norwegian flair for design that is the country’s most striking feature, especially as reflected in its fine art and interior design. You will, however, have to dig deep to bring any of it home – Norway is not a land of bargains. If you’re visiting the far north, resist the temptation to bring back reindeer antlers – they really are naff.

Taking advantage of their decision not to join the EU, the Norwegians run a tax-free shopping scheme for tourists. If you spend more than 315kr at any of the three thousand outlets in the tax-free shopping scheme, you’ll get a tax refund cheque voucher for the amount of VAT you paid. On departure at an airport, ferry terminal or frontier crossing, present the goods, the voucher and your passport and – provided you haven’t used the item – you’ll get 12–19 percent refund, depending on the price of the item. There isn’t a reclaim point at every exit from the country, however – pick up a leaflet at any participating shop to find out where they are – and note that many of the smaller reclaim points keep normal shop hours, closing for the weekend at 2/3pm on Saturday. The downside is the shops themselves: the bulk are dedicated to selling souvenir goods you can well manage without.

Essentials

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