Norway Travel Guide
🗝️ Key Facts
💶Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
🕙Time Zone: +1 GMT
📞Phone Code: +47
🌐Language: Norwegian (English understood)
✈️Best time to visit: May to October
🍴Eat: Norwegian Salmon
🍷Drink: Pils (light lager)
🗺️Don't miss: Akershus Fortress (Oslo)
🗺 Menu of Contents:
Norway is home to some of the most dramatically beautiful natural landscapes in the world, with soaring, snow-capped mountains and glacier-carved fjords, not to mention the icy Arctic Circle and the breathtaking spectacle of the Northern Lights, one of the reasons most people visit Norway in the Winter.
All this natural splendour is popularly enjoyed through adventure-tourism activities like hiking, white water rafting, skiing, or even dog-sledding. However, those who want to experience the massive glaciers, fairytale forests, fjords, and rugged coastline without exerting themselves can enjoy some of the most scenic cruises, bus and train routes in Europe.
All this beauty is complemented by the intriguing heritage of the Vikings and nomadic Sami people of the north, as well as the friendly sophistication of the modern cities and quaint charm of small fishing villages.
Oslo, Norway's capital, is a cosmopolitan, attractive city boasting worthy museums, galleries, and a fun nightlife. The historic port city of Bergen, gateway to the fjords, is another popular destination. Those wanting the Arctic experience should head to Tromso, another very picturesque city.
Although Norway is an expensive travel destination, it is a richly rewarding one, bursting with once-in-a-lifetime sights and experiences!
Located within Scandinavia, Norway is best known for its scenery, dense forests and beautiful landscape which attracts many tourists year round. Specially to witness the natural phenomenon, the "Aurora Borealis".
Reaching Norway is very easy from Europe, benefiting from many national carriers flying to its main city, Oslo, as well as low cost airlines coming from main or secondary cities.The national carrier is Sas Scandinavian Airlines which operates many flights from the capital and with the best connections if you're travelling domestically up north. It operates in cooperation with Wideroe, which provides vital links to the smaller communities in the north of the country.
Another airline which is popular to fly to Norway is Norwegian Airlines, a low cost airline which has grown a lot in the recent years and provides links to Oslo and other cities from many European cities. If you are flying out of Europe there are limited direct services to Norway, but with only one transit stop the journey isn't long.
There are other alternatives to flying. If you are already within Scandinavia then it's worth checking ferries trains and busses. Quite often there are tours which use the ferries to go from one city to another and this can be a good option if you're touring around. Busses and trains are also available, this being a great option to admire the countryside as you pass by. They are cheaper than flying, but much slower.
Big cities have a good and effective public transport system. Norway is very punctual in its services, some towns and villages might not have many connections but by knowing the times and stops you can plan and organise your own tours without having to spend much on agencies.
✔️Tip: If you are considering in seeing many of Norway's cities, then it will be worth to consider buying a multiple air pass. Wideroe offers passes which can be used on a forthrightly basis and you can get as many flights as you wish from €500. Visit Norway Pass for more information.
Although it's always been considered to be a cold country from the outside, Norway can surprise, with warm Summer's and plenty of sunshine. Because of Norway's high latitude, there are large seasonal variations in daylight. From late May to late July, the sun never completely descends beneath the horizon in areas north of the Arctic Circle. The rest of the country experiences up to 20 hours of daylight per day. During this time of year it's best to visit Norway and the massive mountains ranges, dense forests and walk around little fishing villages and be able to enjoy comfortably activities in the outdoors.
However, from late November to late January, the sun never rises above the horizon in the north, and daylight hours are very short in the rest of the country.
Temperatures can reach 20 °C during the Summer season, so it's very enjoyable to visit during this time. The only disadvantage that July and August are high season and it can be very expensive. During the Winter, Norway covers itself in snow, which is an attraction in itself and is very popular also to visit for sport lover's (skiing). Temperatures can reach below -10 °C easily. So it's advised to come prepared with extra thick clothes.
Another thing to bare in mind is the amount of precipitation which falls in Norway, the country can get very wet, specially in the Winter and Spring.
Fish is naturally the number one dish to have in Norway, specially Salmon, along with meat, potatoes and other root vegetables. The favourite traditional hot snack is the pølse, a type of sausage. The roadside kro (traveller's restaurant) is a good choice if you want to sample traditional Norwegian cuisine. Breakfasts are often enormous with a huge variety of fish, meat, cheese, and bread served buffet-style with coffee and boiled or fried eggs. Open sandwiches are topped with meat, fish, cheese and salads. Popular dinner dishes include meatballs (kjøttboller or karbonader) with boiled potatoes, boiled fish and bacalao, a spiced dried cod stew.
Specialities include: Brunost (a sweet brown cheese made with whey). Roast wild elk, or reindeer. Lutefisk (baked preserved cod). Grøt (a form of porridge). Multer (cloudberries, a summer delicacy).
As for drinks, buying alcohol in Norway is very expensive as a note. You can find drinks such as Aquavit (schnapps), Pils (light lager) and Lagerøl (lager with less than 2.5% volume). Also wine and cider are widely available around the country but it's not a producer.
Norway was one of the first countries I'd discover as I begun to travel and start exploring the world. My experience in Norway was limited to its capital, Oslo, where I was able to take an insight into the Scandinavian heritage and the history behind the Vikings. It was very impressive to learn and understand how would people live here many centuries ago.
Oslo is a quiet city by day, with nice walks, organised streets and easy to navigate around. By night there is also plenty to see and do with restaurants and bars opening for tourists and locals sampling some of the traditional food, specially Salmon which is the pride of the country. Taking plenty of money for entertainment and eating is a must. It's very noticeable that Norway's quality of life is higher than the rest of Europe. For sure it's an aim to come back and sample the countryside and landscape next time I plan to visit this country.
Oslo Tourism Information Guide
A good starting point to Norway, is arriving in Oslo and staying in the city for a few days to get to know the culture, ways of life and deepening into the past of the country by it's many museums and galleries. The story of the Vikings is very well represented and it's fascinating to see some of the ships which they used back then with real scale models and originals to view.
Oslo is also an epicentre for business, trade and tourism, so there are multiple options to enjoy in the city day and night.
Regardless of the season, there is always something to keep you busy in the way of recreational outdoor activities. The summer climate and lengthy daylight hours offer a time to relax, enjoy the city walks, join boat tours or join in the many celebrations, such as Oslo's chamber music and jazz festivals each August. The hottest climate in Oslo predictably falls between June and August, when visitors can expect to enjoy plenty of sunny weather with highs approaching 30°C.
However, when the snowy weather arrives each winter, the city takes on a completely different appearance and prepares for its next type of tourists, since the city features its very own adjacent ski resort at Tryvann Vinterpark. January is always Oslo's coldest month and the climate can be harsh, staying only barely above freezing by day and dropping to below -5°C at night, or even further.
By the time that April arrives, the frosty weather has almost disappeared. Daytime temperatures in April generally stay above 10°C and quickly rise towards the end of the month, sometime reaching as high as 15°C or more on the sunniest days. These temperatures also remain until mid October when they start to go down again.
The best time to visit depends of your preference to experience snow or clear skies. However, for general tourism visiting from April to October is best, taking note that July and August are the high season and everything tends to be more more crowded and expensive.
Getting from the airport to the city centre is possible by train and bus.There is an express train called "Flytoget" which offers links from the Airport to Drammen, Asker, Sandvika, Lysaker, Skøyen, Nationaltheatret, Oslo S and Lillestrøm. To go to the city centre get the train to Oslo S, tickets cost NOK 180 (€20 one way) trip takes 20 minutes.
Scandinavian Airlines offers a direct bus service to the city centre every 20 min at a cost of Nok 190 (€22 one way) taking 45 minutes approx..
Once in the city centre, the transportation is simple to follow, extremely punctual, translated into English and quick due to being a small city and not having much traffic congestion problems. All the public transport in Oslo and the surrounding county (Akershus) is operated by Ruter. Ruter's tickets are valid for buses, trams, subways, ferries (not the Bygdøy ferry) and local trains. For more information visit the official page for Oslo Transport.
However if you staying in the centre, there is not much need to get public transport as everything can be found at walking distance.
Below you can access the maps for more details on the transportation options in Oslo:
Oslo is known for its green spaces and museums. Many of these are on the Bygdøy Peninsula, including the waterside Norwegian Maritime Museum and the Viking Ship Museum. You can also even go to a ski museum. During the day why not hop on of the many ferries that go around the city or take a train to the outskirts of Oslo and marble at the views below.
The main highlights of the city are:
- Viking Ship Museum: Contains the world's best-preserved Viking ships and finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord.The Viking Ship Museum shows discoveries from the Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune ships, plus small boats, sledges, a beautiful cart, tools, textiles and household utensils. Includes real boat displays and scale up ones.
- Natural History Museum: Norway's largest collection of natural objects is available to the public in the Botanical Garden, the greenhouses and the Zoological Museum. Free entry to the Natural History Museum (Zoological and Geological Museum) on Thursdays.
- Akershus Fortress is a great place to discover Oslo's history and enjoy a summer day. The building of Akershus Castle and Fortress was commenced in 1299. Guided tours of the fortress are available to the public in summer.
- Norwegian Folk Museum: One of the world's oldest and largest open-air museums, with 155 traditional houses from all parts of Norway and a stave church from the year 1200.
- Norwegian National Opera and Ballet: Oslo's Opera House is located right at the harbour, with an angled, white exterior that appears to rise from the water. It invites its visitors to climb its roof and enjoy panoramic views of Oslo and the fjord, all year round.
- Vigeland Sculpture Park: Vigelandsparken is one of Norway's most visited attractions. The unique sculpture park is the life work of the sculptor Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943) with more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and cast iron. The park is open all year at all times and is a popular recreation area.
- Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower: contains more than a century of skiing competitions. Inside the ski jump is the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, the oldest of its kind in the world. The museum presents Norwegian polar exploration artefacts and an exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing dating back over time. The observation deck on top of the jump tower offers panoramic views of Oslo.
Oslo is lively at night, mainly fuelled by the fiery local drink, akevitt (a spirit flavoured with herbs). Many Norwegians go out late on Fridays and Saturdays after a vorspiel (pre-party) involving drinks at home, so the street atmosphere becomes more active from 22h. on the weekends.
What's more, many live acts ranging from classical to the heavy metal, are often performed in the many bars and clubs. Conveniently, you can buy tickets to virtually any performance from the post office.
Oslo excels itself when it comes to upmarket shopping. However, as with Scandinavia in general, shopping in Oslo can be quite expensive and some goods tend to be more expensive than you might expect, although special offers and markets will help you to save your budget.
The shops along the street of Bogstadveien, north of Frogner, are especially good and here you can expect to find plenty of popular Norwegian souvenirs, such as jewellery, knitwear, stocks, hand-carved wooden trolls, toys, and folk costumes. For the best bargain shopping that Oslo has to offer, take a stroll to the Vestkanttorget flea market on a Saturday, on the Amaldus Nilsens Plass and close to Vigeland Park.6
Oslo, and Norway in general, are very expensive for a budget conscious traveller, as per the quality of life is higher, everything tends to be more expensive.
Hotels and Hostels are of a very high standard and rooms can be quite overpriced when compared to other countries. It's recommended to find accommodation with in reach of public transport and avoid key tourist areas for the price to be a bit lower. Hostels are a good option, having individual rooms with shared bathroom as well as private accommodation like Airbnb. The average price you can expect to pay is €50 per room.
Oslo is well situated when travelling within Norway, so it's a good starting or ending point to your trip. To see the city and most of the highlights it's recommended to spend 2 to 3 nights, possibly including a weekend for more things to do especially in the evening and go out.