From its world-famous fjords adorned with tumbling waterfalls to the brightly-hued northern lights, Norway pulls out all the stops. As one of the most of the most beautiful countries on earth, read on to find out if Norway is the right destination for you.
Travel to: Norway
|Population||5.233 million (2016)|
What kind of traveller is Norway suited for?
Given Norway’s extraordinary natural beauty, it’s no wonder that outdoor-lovers are drawn to this Scandinavian country. Challenging and rewarding hikes with sweeping panoramic views of fjords, mountains and little fishing villages can all be found throughout Norway.
In winter, Norway is a great location to search for the northern lights or go dog-sledding. As for the food, Norway’s cuisine is typically characterized by hearty, seafood dishes and differs greatly from the cuisine of its neighbours. If you’re not a foodie and find yourself more interested in history, you will enjoy learning about Vikings, the Sami culture and Norwegian folklore.
While Norway isn’t always as cold as you might think, if you’re number one goal is a build your tan then you’re probably looking in the wrong direction.
Do I need a visa for Norway?
Norway is part of the Schengen zone, which means Australians, U.S. citizens and Canadians do not need a visa to visit, but can only stay for a limited time of up to 90 days (over a period of 180 days) within the Schengen zone.
If you’re a British citizen, the Schengen area does not apply and you can visit or stay in Norway visa-free for up to 3 months. Before you travel, we would advise for you to check with your local embassy before you travel.
My favorite thing about Norway is it’s almost tucked-away feeling. Despite its growing popularity thanks to the famous Fjords and Disney Movie “Frozen,” Norway’s price tag still makes this a destination that travelers might hold off on until they’ve saved enough. That means less tourists, less crowds and more authentic experiences. If you love nature, you’ll find that several hikes, waterfalls, coasts, glaciers and frozen tundras are completely secluded!
If you’re traveling to Norway for the first time, be prepared for all sorts of weather! Norway is a very large country with vast terrain and climates. Even in the summer, it can be quite chilly in the North. All of the most popular attractions are separated by several miles which means many climate changes. Bring lots of layers, rainproof jackets and all of the snow accessories you can think of! – Sebrin, The Clumsy Traveler
When should I visit Norway?
- Spring (March-May): If you’re planning to go on a hike or two, spring is a great time to grab your hiking boots and explore Norway.
- Summer (June-August): Summer in Norway is phenomenal, especially due to the exceptionally long days. The further north you go, the greater your experience with the midnight sun will be. Temperatures at their peak can reach 25-30⁰C.
- Autumn (September-November): Foodies, this is your time to shine. Autumn offers delicious seasonal produce for you to sample.
- Winter (December-February): A beautiful time in Norway, winter is when you’re most likely to see the northern lights. This is also the perfect time to make the most of the seasonal activities such as skiing and dog-sledding.
How much time do I need in Norway?
As such a diverse and exciting country, you could easily spend months in Norway and never run out of things to do. If you’re planning to view the northern lights and head up north, you may need longer as Norway is a narrow country so it will take some time to travel. A week is a sufficient time to focus on Oslo and the surrounding areas, but around ten days to two weeks will allow you to experience the country in greater depth. If you’re travelling from Europe, it’s possible to squeeze a trip to Norway for a quick weekend break.
How do I get around Norway?
Norway has an extremely efficient transport system, including trains, buses and ferries, and they are often timed to make connecting between them easier. Trains reach as far north as Bodø, and from then on you will need to rely on buses. Pick up the NSB Togruter, which is available for free at most train stations and offers information about timetables and connecting buses. If you’re keen to travel by boat, jump on the Hurtigruten coast ferry, which stops at most ports from Bergen to Kirkenes.
Norway is a country that pushed me into living in the moment. From overnight trains to grass-roofed mountain cabins, from avalanche detours to fresh prawns, from running from the sauna into the cold night air and back (beer in hand), to hiking the fjords and even swimming in the North Sea: Norway is dreamy and like no other. I was lucky to visit three Norwegian friends who showed me the true local side of the country. My special piece of advice would be to get to know the locals: do a homestay, take a class, get to know the people of this beautiful country! – Sarah, Endless Distances
What do I need to know before I go?
- It’s a common misconception that Norway is incredibly cold given its location. In reality, the Gulf stream and warm air currents mean Norway is much warmer than one might expect. Of course, you should still bring layers, especially if you’re travelling during winter.
- Norway doesn’t accept Euros as they have their own currency, the Norwegian krone. It’s also worth noting that yes, Norway is expensive but if you budget accordingly you will be fine.
Is Norway safe? Should I travel solo?
Norway is very safe and one of the best places in the world to travel solo. With comfortable and secure accommodation (even the hostels will impress you with their classic Scandinavian design), friendly residents, low crime rate and reliable transport mean you’ll have almost nothing to worry about.
- Ha det bra
- God natt
- Vær så snill
- Thank you
Activities in Norway
Hike a Troll’s Tongue
The Troll’s Tongue or Trolltunga is one of the many hikes you can find in Norway and certainly one of the most scenic. This tough 8-10 hour hike is recommended to be tackled between June to September due to dubious weather conditions. Once you reach the top, you will be rewarded you with an incredible view 3,609 ft above sea level.
Gaze at the northern lights
Norway is a great place to see this natural phenomenon. Your best chance of seeing the northern lights is at the Arctic Circle between October to March.
No matter where in Norway you live, there’ll always be amazing hiking trails close by, leading you to stunning views of fjords, the ocean, the forest, or mountains. It makes life a little less stressful and hectic to be surrounded by nature the way we are in Norway!
Don’t underestimate the distances! I often hear from visitors-to-be that they’d like to visit, for instance, the fjords of Bergen AND Northern Norway to see the Northern Lights – all of that in the scope of a few days, which just isn’t possible! Norway is an immensely big country, so try to narrow it down to one area. The whole country is stunning anyway, so don’t worry on missing out on anything! – Vanessa, Snow in Tromso
Witness the midnight sun
You can experience the phenomena of the midnight sun in Norway during the summer months. The further north you go, the lighter and brighter it will be.
There’s no greater way to embrace the Arctic spirit than to experience dog-sledding. You’ll form a bond with the energetic huskies and the nature around you as you race through the snow.
Get acquainted with Viking history
Norway is well known for its Viking past, something which is documented well throughout the country. Oslo is a particularly good place to delve deeper into the Vikings and a range of artefacts can be found at the Viking Ship Museum and the Historical Museum.
Drive the Atlantic Ocean Road
Opened in 1989, the Atlantic Ocean Road is a unique stretch of road that connects Averoy with the mainland via small islands and a total of eight bridges. The road is extremely impressive and at times seems to defy gravity, and it’s known as one of the most beautiful drives in the world.
Can’t miss places in Norway
An archipelago known for sharp peaks and dramatic scenery, the Lofoten Islands are a hiker’s dream. Here you can kayak, visit the small fishing villages, cycle around the islands or simply enjoy the view.
The best way to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site is to cruise through the fjords on a ferry or cruise. The journey on the narrow waterway will leave you gawking at the sheer cliffs and the waterfalls that cascade down them.
The landscape is just… well special. The fjords, the mountains, the cute little villages with red wooden houses. It’s impossible not to like. Norway is definitely not densely populated, so there is a lot of nature and animals to observe and enjoy, but where you do meet people, they tend to be warm and welcoming. Oh and let’s not forget about the fact that wild camping is mostly permitted, which adds to the free spirit experience that one gets when visiting Norway. – Sonja & Jerry, MyHammockTime
Kown as the hub for art and culture in Norway, in Oslo, you can visit the modern opera house in the city centre and marvel at the impressive Scandinavian design.
What I enjoy the most about Norway is the fresh air; the absolutely magnificent nature which is very easily accessible even from big cities like Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. The Norwegian language is very funny when you get into it. The one thing I like most is the respect for women, and equality among everyone which is a value highly respected in Norway.
If you are traveling to Norway for the first time, I advise that you not only check out the North of Norway. Tromsø is the door to the Arctic, and has the Northern Lights in the Winter, whale safari, amazing scenery as well as great fresh local fish. In the summer I would not miss taking a cycling trip either in Flåm in the Western fjords, or in Senja in the North. Don’t forget your rain jacket and your camera! – Lorelou, A Frog in the Fjord
The beautiful and historic coastal city of Bergen can be found in the south-west of Norway. Once prosperous for its seafaring trade, today Bergen is known for its colourful buildings and the fjords that surround the city.
60% of Svalbard is covered in glaciers, and the rest is made up of dramatic peaks and picturesque fjords, making this one of the most breathtaking examples of natural wilderness in the world. Polar bears even outnumber people here.
Within the Arctic Circle, Tromsø is a popular choice for viewing the northern lights. Because of the university and a large number of students, Tromsø has some of the best nightlife options than any other Norwegian town.
The nature itself is definately the greatest thing about Norway. With more than 2000 km from the southern tip of Lindesnes to Cap North in the harsh polar zone, the differences in nature, climate and ways of living are extreme. Having half my family in the south, and half in the arctic town of Tromsø, I have the privilege of exploring both parts of the country deeply.
Southern coastal towns and villages are my favorite spots for sunbathing and swimming in the sea in summer time, while my father’s hometown, Tromsø, is my all year round favorite. The beaches at 70 degrees North are drop dead beautiful, and Sommarøy has the world´s northernmost archipelago of small islets surrounded by white sand, green grass and turquoise sea. This area is made for water sports like SUP, kayaking and sailing and windsurfing. – Linn, Linns Reise
Alesund is a beautiful town on the west coast of Norway, and the entryway to Geirangerfjord. It’s known for its art nouveau architectural style as most of the town was rebuilt after a fire in 1904.