The overall impression of Norway is a country with ample space and unusually rugged landscape. While famous for the great fjords along the Atlantic, the interior also has great valleys, wide forests and fjord-like lakes. Norway is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Water in all varieties is perhaps what characterizes Norway most: The endless coastline, the great fjords, limitless waterfalls, crystal rivers, beautiful lakes and plentiful glaciers.
Although the great outdoors is Norway`s most famous attraction, there are also many interesting and lively cities like Oslo and Bergen. Man-made attractions include Norway`s cultural heritage as well as modern structures and architecture - often found in cities but also in terms of impressive engineering in remote corners.
Norway is a very long country, packed with things to see and do. To get the most out of your visit, we recommend that you choose one or two regions to explore. Here are some of the highlights!
The Vestlandet Fjords has been voted the world`s most unspoiled tourist destination by National Geographic, and have also been included on UNESCO`s World Heritage list. This region boasts breathtaking scenery with fjords and waterfalls and is also home to Bergen, Norway`s second-largest city and a great starting point to explore the fjords. Also found in this region is the unique city of Alesund; the capital of southwestern Norway, Stavanger; the municipality of Eidfjord; and the stunning small town of Geiranger.
Southern Norway, often referred to as the `Norwegian Riviera,` boasts an amazing coastline with boating and bathing opportunities aplenty. The region offers hiking, cycling, swimming, sailing, fishing, skiing, and rafting. Visitors can cruise the Telemark Canal, a 65 mile engineering marvel, or discover Mordegal, the cradle of modern skiing. Other fun activities include festivals, cultural events, and the exploring the many museums found throughout the area. Kristiansand and Arendal are two other beautiful towns that can be found in this region.
Northern Norway is the largest and most sparsely populated part of mainland Norway stretching from the idyllic Helgeland region in the south to the mainland Europe`s northernmost point near the North Cape. This region boasts stunning scenery of wild and untouched nature and quaint old villages. And while in the northernmost region, you`ll get to experience life in the Arctic Circle, whether its staying up with the midnight sun or marveling at the Northern lights. This is where you`ll find the beautiful city of Tromso or `Paris of the North`, a great city for seeing the northern lights. The city also offers a modern mix of outdoor activities, a vibrant nightlife, and fantastic places to eat local food. The modern shipping harbor town of Narvik, as well as the second largest city in Northern Norway, Bodo can also be found in this region.
The Eastern Norway region combines a lively city culture with beautiful mountains and raw nature. Even though Eastern Norway is by far the country`s most populated region, there are vast areas of almost untouched nature and plenty of outdoor adventure. A great place to start your exploration of this region is the capital city, Oslo, which is also the country`s main hub for domestic and international travel. The urban vibe of this charming coastal city offers exciting new architecture, excellent food, and a lively music and art scene. The city is also a great base for day trips around the region. Lillehammer has a reputation as one of the best resorts in Europe and Geilo can also be found in this region of Norway.
The historic center of Norway, the Trondelag, is surrounded by the Trondheims Fjord and offers a perfect base for discovering nature, history and culture. The region is very mountainous, with only small strips of lowlands along the coast, fjords, and interior river valleys. Trøndelag`s seven national parks and two nature reserves are suitable for all types of outdoor adventures. The coast of Trøndelag is wild and beautiful and is renowned for its fantastic fishing.
Although summer is the most popular season to visit, there are other seasons that offer some great benefits as well. This Scandinavian country has a climate that easily fluctuates from year to year, especially in its most northern parts, which are located at the edge of the global temperate zone. In the northern areas, summer temperatures can reach into the 80s. Winters are dark and have more snow than other areas of the country. In the coastal and inland regions, the climate varies significantly. The coastal areas brings a cooler summer climate, with winters offering more moderate, rainy weather and little snow or frost. More inland you will find the climate to be colder in winter, but warmer summers.
When you go to Norway if you want to avoid the high travel season go in May and September. These months are wonderful alternatives of when to go to take advantage of lower rates when the weather is still mild enough to enjoy the outdoors and sightseeing. The top tourist season is early summer, especially the months of June and July. This is when the days are at their longest, the weather is warmest (ranges from 57°F to 63°F), and all the attractions are open. The only downfall is that because it is the most popular time to visit, the crowds are at their highest and prices are at a premium. After school vacations in mid-September and October, Norway becomes slightly more affordable as it`s between summer and winter, but several outdoor attractions do start to close with the onset of snow and bitter winds (typically mid-October). Before May and after October is the year`s slowest time in Norway, and prices of flights and hotels will be at their cheapest, but with winter comes short days, and reduced hours for attractions and transportation services. If you are okay with being chilly, it is a great time to see the phenomenal northern lights, and enjoy the many cold weather activities such as dog-sledding, ice fishing, skiing, skating and snowmobiling. For more information, check out: Best Time to Visit Norway
We recommend 7-10 days based on what you want to see and do. We offer flexible vacation packages so you can select your number of nights in each city, desired hotel and activities. We suggest a minimum of 3 nights in larger cities.
The transportation is well-organized, very dependable, and you`ll find many different forms of public transport often work together to provide seamless connections. However, you will notice that getting around Norway isn`t cheap, so it pays to plan in advance and search out discounts.
By Car: Traveling by car in Norway gives you the freedom to go at your own pace and is generally not difficult. However, winding mountain roads are not for the faint of heart, and drivers heading into the more isolated north, or those who are traveling during the winter months, will need to do a bit of pre-planning before departure.
Most major car rental companies are found in Norway (Hertz, Europcar, Avis, etc). Prices can be expensive, so shop around online for discounts. You`ll need to be at least 21 years old to rent a car from most companies, and those under 25 will likely pay a surcharge. Many rental companies require that you`ve been driving for at least one year and that you have an International Driving Permit (available from AAA) if you don`t have an EU/EEA license.
Confirm whether the rental is a manual transmission or automatic. If your car pick-up and drop-off locations differ, expect a substantial price increase.
Take advantage of National Tourist Routes, which have visitor centers and viewpoints overlooking the breathtaking scenery along the way.
-Headlights are mandatory even during daylight.
-Off-roading is generally forbidden. Motor vehicles must stay on public roads.
-Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.2 ‰ (or 0.02 %).
-Rules are strictly enforced, particularly regarding alcohol, speed and overtaking.
-You must carry a yellow fluorescent vest and a red warning triangle in the event of an emergency; make sure your rental car comes equipped.
By Train: The state-owned Norwegian State Railways (NSB for short) is the country`s primary operator, running both local and regional trains. Tickets can be purchased online, by mobile app, by phone or at ticket machines. A surcharge is assessed for passengers who buy tickets after boarding. When it comes to long-distance train travel in Norway, it pays to plan as far ahead as possible. NSB sells a limited number of discounted minipris tickets. Minipris can be purchased between three months and 24 hours before departure; on long journeys you can save well over 50 percent compared to a standard-priced seat. They are unavailable on certain routes and at peak periods, and aren`t changeable or refundable.
Some trains permit you to upgrade your seats from standard class to comfort, which is slightly roomier and provides power outlets along with free coffee and tea, for an additional fee. Two-berth sleepers are a great option for overnight travel. Reserve seats in the family coach to take advantage of the children`s playroom, stroller space and other amenities.
For those planning multiple train trips in Norway, the Eurail Norway pass, which is available for three to eight days of travel within one month, can also provide considerable savings. NSB’s Bergen line, which begins in Oslo, is one of the highest railways in Europe and a must for those wanting to experience Norway’s natural beauty. The privately owned Flam Railway line takes passengers along one of the world’s steepest and most scenic railways. The 50-minute journey, which passes through 20 tunnels, is considered an engineering feat and one of the world’s best train rides. By Bus: Buses are a reliable long-distance transport mode and, indeed, perhaps your only public transportation option when traveling to Norway`s small, remote towns.
Nor-Way Bussekspress is the largest long-distance company, teaming up with smaller carriers to form an extensive network. It provides connections with trains and ferries too. Express bus tickets can be bought onboard by credit card, but booking online may reward you with considerable discounts. Note that mountain routes are usually suspended during winter months.
Discount carrier Lavprisekspressen offers routes from Oslo to Kristiansand, Trondheim and Stavanger. Tickets can only be purchased online (the website is currently just in Norwegian).
By Taxi: Travelling with cab in Norway can be very expensive, and in most cities it is not necessary as bus, tram and train (or even walking) are easier. Taxis are generally safe as long as you choose a licensed taxi (with a white taxi sign on the roof). In villages there may be no or only one taxi car, so visitors should be prepared to book in advance.
The currency in Norway is called the Norwegian Kroner (NOK). Once you`re in Norway you`ll have to use the Kroner. You can exchange currency in the tourist information office, banks, or in an exchange bureau.
Tipping in Norway can vary but it is usual for Norwegians to leave a tip in restaurants and bars if they are happy with their service. A 10-20% tip is expected if the customer is satisfied. It is uncommon to tip taxi drivers or hotel staff. For more information, check out Tipping in Norway.
The country`s written and spoken language in Norway is Norwegian. Since Norwegians begin learning English at the age of six, Norwegians often speak fluent English and are more than happy to converse with you. However, we suggest you get a good guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, please, thank you, excuse me and numbers 1-10.