Norway


Overview

Norway travel guide, including map of Norway, top Norway travel experiences, tips for travel in Norway, plus where to see whales in Norway

Stretching from a temperate European latitude right up into the Arctic Circle, Norway has a vast landmass but a population of under five million – Mother Nature is mistress here, and has been a bit of a show-off.

Norway’s west coast is over 25,000km long, ragged, island-dotted and spectacular: the fjords of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord have even been declared Unesco World Heritage sites

Away from the coast Norway’s landscape is mountainous and wild, pocked with surprisingly vibrant towns and traditional rural villages. In the far north of Norway the Sami still herd reindeer, while intrepid travellers flock to mush husky-sleds and marvel at the northern lights.

Unless they go further north still – Norway’s outlaying Svalbard archipelago offers the chance to see polar bears under the midnight sun.

Wanderlust recommends

  1. Kayak around the small fishing communities of Sommarøy, high up in the Arctic Circle, during the midnight sun
  2. Snorkel with killer whales (yes, really), or watch them from the warmth of a boat, at Tysfjord, north Norway
  3. Delve into Sognefjord and the surrounding, rugged west coast, some of Norway’s most stunning landscapes
  4. Learn ancient myths and legends on the remote and beautiful island of Selja, a 15-minute boat journey from Selje, south of Ålesund
  5. Camp – for free – around Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), the dramatic ledge overlooking lovely Lysefjord
  6. Look for polar bears and walrus from the deck of an expedition ship while cruising around Spitsbergen
  7. Scan the skies for the northern lights in Norway’s far north
  8. Find free things to do (museums, parks, forest hikes…) in Oslo, Norway’s cool capital

Wanderlust tips

In Norway, make the most of your hotel breakfast buffet so you only need a snack lunch – this will keep costs down. Look out for city-bike schemes, where you can hire bikes for low prices (available in Oslo, Trondheim and beyond). If travelling in summer, when the sun barely sets, bring an eye mask.

I wish I'd known...

Daisy Cropper reveals the things she wished she'd known before taking her first trip:

"To leave room for the belly-bulging buffets. Many Norwegian hotels have buffets in place of set menus, which are often much, much cheaper. After the starter (which I had assumed was the main meal), I was ordered to go back up to the bar... twice!"

"The trek to Mount Skåla's summit is a hard slog. I wouldn't have taken so much stuff in my day pack, if I'd known. The views from the top are worth every step though!"

Further Reading

Travel in Norway: Vital stats

  • Capital of Norway: Oslo
  • Population of Norway: 4.9 million
  • Languages in Norway: Norwegian. The official written languages are Bokmål, Nynorsk and Sami. English is widely spoken.
  • Time in Norway: GMT+1 (GMT+2 Mar-Oct)
  • International dialling code in Norway: +47
  • Voltage in Norway: 230 V, 50 Hz
  • Visas for Norway: Not required by UK nationals
  • Money in Norway: Norwegian krone (Nkr). ATMs are widespread and credit cards widely accepted. Service charges are generally added to the bill.
  • Norway travel advice: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Norway tourism board: Norway

    When to go to Norway

    The climate varies greatly from north to south in Norway. Summer in Norway is June to September; temperatures in Oslo reach around 20-25°C, in Tromsø around 15-20°C.

    More northerly latitudes experience 24-hour daylight in high summer, and many festivals occur at this time.

    Winter in Norway (Dec-Feb) is very cold and permanently dark above the Arctic Circle; however, this is a great time to see the northern lights and try activities such as husky-sledding and snow-shoeing.

    Spot orca at Tysfjord from mid-October to January. Spring and autumn can be warm and pleasant, and less busy than peak season.

    Norway international airports

    Oslo (OSL) 48km from Oslo; Bergen (BGO) 12km from Bergen; Stavanger (SVG) 11km from Stavanger

    Getting around in Norway

    Internal flights connect over 50 Norwegian airports, including the outlaying Svalbard archipelago, and can cut journey times considerably; if you plan to travel a lot consider an airpass.

    Norway has a good network of boats. The Hurtigruten coastal ferry takes six days to sail from Bergen to Kirkenes; it is a vital lifeline for Norwegians living in remote seaside communities, and an incredible travel experience. Other boats delve into Norway’s spectacular fjords.

    Norway’s buses are good, comfortable and punctual. Trains are also a good wat to travel; invest in a rail pass if you plan to cover a lot of ground.

    A hire car will give you maximum flexibility and allow you to drive some of the specially designated scenic tourist roads.

    Norway accommodation

    The cheapest accommodation option in Norway is wild camping, which is legal as long as you’re more than 150m from a dwelling. There are also plenty of campsites. There is a network of mountain huts across Norway’s wilderness areas, often conveniently spaced a day’s hike apart.

    Norway has some good hostels, and the full range of B&Bs, guesthouses and hotels; you generally get what you pay for.

    Norway food and drink

    Succulent seafood is a Norwegian speciality; try delicious salmon (smoked or grilled), cod (often dried), trout and herring (for all meals, sometimes pickled). Fish soups are a common feature on Norwegian menus.

    Fish tends to be cheaper than meat in Norway, though look out for gamey reindeer steaks plus good beef and venison. Potatoes are a staple carb; other common vegetables in Norway include cabbage, swede and turnip. Pølse (hot dogs) are a quick, cheap snack.

    Vegetarianism isn’t that common in Norway. You’ll have no trouble going meat-free in big towns; cheese salads are a common option.

    Alcohol is expensive in Norway. That said, Norwegians are keen beer drinkers; local brands include Ringses and Mack. Buy your supplies from a Vinmonopolet (state-run off-licence) to keep costs down. Wine is pricey. Aquavit, Norwegian firewater made from potatoes, is an acquired taste.

    Health and safety in Norway

    No specific jabs are required for Norway. Check yourself for tick bites after walking in long grass/forests. Mosquitoes and blackflies can irritate in summer – pack repellent.

    If hiking out in the Norwegian countryside, be prepared for all weathers and let someone know where you are going.