The heart of Norway’s essence is beauty. From the people to the culture and the land, Norway is one of the world’s most lovely places. Here, the Norwegian fjords dominate and are intertwined with glaciers, lakes, and rivers.
The jagged rocks and vibrant greenery are an impressive backdrop to small villages that are popping with color. Dense forests are also scattered throughout the land and their isolation brings forth nature’s true personality. Travelers can go to the edge of the world in Norway and peer into its wonders, whether they’re atop a towering rock or deep into the pine trees.
Velkommen – Welcome to Norway
But Norway’s fantastic appearance is only part of the appeal. Sophistications runs deep through Scandinavia and the impressive design and aesthetics of the culture are also displayed throughout Norway. The graceful architecture of major cities like Trondheim and Bergen have made them the muse of many photographers. While the perfectly plated cuisine is just another showcase of Norway’s unique culture and character. With plenty to see and do, Norway will fill your trip with endless entertainment.
Boasting one of the lowest carbon footprints in the world, Oslo is Norway’s ultra-green capital. With sustainable food practices, production and space, Oslo and its people thrive. Tourists can indulge in the Michelin starred restaurants or keep it casual and try a pølse, Norway’s famous hot dog. No matter what you choose, Norway will have something to ease your hunger. Plus, aside from food, Oslo is becoming one of the best places in Norway to enjoy the nightlife. With DJs filling the local hotspots and the alcohol flowing, Oslo is packed with fun.
Culture and Language
With a culture and history similar to the other Scandinavian countries, Norway was once actually a part of a unified kingdom with Sweden and Denmark. The Kalmar Union brought the three Scandinavian countries together in 1397. However, Sweden left the union in 523, which means that Denmark and Norway stayed unified until 1814, when Norway declared its independence.
Vikings are also an important part of Norway’s identity and it is part of what makes it one of the three Scandinavian nations. In Norway, the Vikings built their longhouses and the longship, which gave them the ability to travel through the rivers and oceans. One of the most famous Norwegian Vikings is Erik the Red, who is the father of Leif Erikson. While Leif Erikson is most famous for discovering North America in the year 1000, well before Columbus set sail.
But since the days of old, Norway has expanded to become one of the most prosperous countries in the world. Hydroelectricity, oil, and gas are major productions for Norway, and it brings in a large percent of the country’s economy. With expansive oil revenues, Norway has become a very wealthy sovereign.
Norwegian culture is very similar to the rest of Scandinavia and the sophistication, simplicity, balance, equality, and humility are integral to Norwegian people. While the strong leadership leftover from the powerful Vikings has driven Norway to be successful, the people today are rather laid-back. Most often called Jante Law, these concepts are the backbone of Norway and its people.
But visitors don’t have to feel excluded because Norwegians are very welcoming and are eager to share their customs with international travelers. Norwegian is the official language in Norway and it is the most widely spoken amongst the population of 5.3 million people. However, a surprisingly 4.3 million people are estimated to be able to also converse in English. For many travelers, this means navigating and connecting with locals is not an issue because the English language is common knowledge.
Yet, visitors should still expect to hear plenty of Norwegian on their journey. It is not very common for Norwegian people to converse with each other in English and you will mostly hear English during tourist interactions.
Whenever you are looking to visit another country, you need to be aware of how to legally enter and exit the country as a responsible tourist. While Norway is a part of the Schengen area and therefore, it is part of the Schengen Agreement. For United States citizens, this means that you do not need a tourist visa if you are planning to stay for less than 90 days in Norway. However, there are a few other requirements that you’ll need to be granted entry into Norway.
Firstly, you will need to have a US passport that has a recommended remaining validity of 6 months. You also need two blank pages in your passport for your entry and exit stamps. There are no vaccination requirements for entry into Norway, but the US Government always recommends that you are up to date before you partake in any travel. Travelers are also restricted to enter or exiting Norway with less than $25,000 Norwegian Kroner or about $2,500 US dollars.
With no tourist visa, you won’t have to work any expensive fees into your budget, but you will need to be conscious of the overall cost of your trip. An outline of expenses will give you the best idea of the cost of things in Norway and allow you to determine how much you have to spend for the duration of your trip. With a spending budget, you can also save some money for unexpected or emergency costs to ensure that you don’t come up short on funds.
Norway is an expensive country to visit and it isn’t the place for budget travelers. Even the most experienced budget travelers will find it hard to save money when traveling in Norway. But the high cost is the only downside to traveling to the country and many travelers are willing to save up more money to visit Norway. However, with a larger budget, it is important to remember that some of Norway’s best places are in the great outdoors, which means that you won’t have to break the bank to see beautiful places and landscapes.
Norway’s northern location in Europe makes it an expensive place to visit and travelers should expect to pay about $700 US dollars for a flight from the United States to the country. But flights are not always that expensive and travelers may be able to find a special deal or budget website that lowers the cost of a ticket to about $300 US dollars.
You will also likely see and notice that the price of airline tickets changes with the time of year and level of tourism in Norway. Norway’s high tourist season is summer with the months of June, July, and August at its peak. But Norway is a popular destination all year long and you may also see prices spike in the winter or fall months.
Once you’ve determined what season to visit Norway, you’ll also need to begin the next step of planning your vacation, which is determining your accommodation arrangements. All accommodation in Norway is expensive and you’ll likely see that even hostels start their prices at $30 US dollars per night. Many hostels also have a surcharge, which covers the cost of linens. You cannot use a sleeping bag in hostels, but you could bring your own linens if you want. But since most travelers won’t pack a set of bed sheets, they prefer to pay the extra $5 US dollars per night.
Budget hotels are also a popular choice for travelers who prefer a little more privacy and personal space. Most budget hotels will cost about $70 US dollars per night. A 3-star hotel would be a little more comfort and expensive, with nightly rates starting at $90 US dollars. Hotels with pools are even more pricey and will cost about $120 US dollars per night. The nicest or luxury hotels will be the most expensive and will normally cost more than $250 US dollars per night.
For travelers who are navigating Norway in a group, Airbnb is a great option for larger but affordable accommodation. A couple may be interested in a private room rental, which will cost about $45 US dollars per night. But you can also find some apartments listed for about $60 US dollars per night too, if you need more space and privacy.
When you aren’t in your room, you may be out on the streets exploring the local cuisine. Norwegian cuisine is often based in three major parts, which include characteristics from the local landscape and region. Mountains, coasts, and the wilderness play a large part in Norway’s local dishes and many will feature raw materials that require minimal cooking.
Sursild is Norway’s version of pickled herring, which is a common dish found throughout all the Scandinavian countries. Finnbiff is a more Norwegian dish, which features reindeer meat in a stew and a hearty sauce. Kjøttkaker is a Norwegian meatball, which are more like cakes with potatoes and carrots. However, all of kjøttkaker is served with a delicious sauce smothering the top of the dish. Smoked salmon is another tasty meal, which is often fried or served as filets with vegetables and sauce. Pølse is another famous Norwegian dish, which is just Norway’s take on a traditional hot dog. Finally, for the sweet tooths, Norwegian waffles are a popular breakfast item and snack. These heart shaped waffles are often served with fresh cream and jam.
But the downside to Norway and its delicious dishes is that, much like everything else in the country, food is expensive. Even the cheapest meals, which are often the pølse or hot dogs, are about $3 US dollars each. Inexpensive restaurants will still cost you about $20 US dollars per person and nicer restaurants will be double or triple that price. If you’re looking for quick snacks like a slice of pizza or a sandwich in a café, you should expect to pay $3-$6 US dollars.
Travelers, who are really on a tight budget, will want to avoid eating out as much as possible. This means that you’ll want to peruse the aisles of local supermarkets and cook the food for yourself. You should be able to eat plenty with about $70 US dollars per week as a grocery shopping budget.
Similar to food, alcohol is also very expensive in Norway. Even a beer is about $8 US dollars in bars or restaurants and still about $4 US dollars in a supermarket. Mixed drinks are more expensive, and you could pay close to $20 US dollars for some popular cocktails. For many travelers, drinking is an option to cut out of the budget so that you can spend money on the experience in Norway and not just on the alcohol.
While the cost of each part of your budget may seem like a lot, when its broken down it’s a little more manageable. Budget travelers will not be able to save much in Norway and the vast majority still require about $100-$150 US dollars each day in the country. A more comfortable budget with a mid-range price would cost about $270 US dollars per day. Anything over that cost, which is often considered to be a luxury vacation, could be well over $400 US dollars per day.
How to Get Around
Norway is a large country and that means that transportation is important to consider before you make your trip to this Scandinavian wonderland. Certain parts of Norway can also be quite remote, especially as you begin to head more north. The most common transportation methods are domestic air, buses, trains, boats, and cars.
Longer journeys can take too much time for some travelers, especially if they are looking to go to different regions of the country. Domestic flights are the fastest way to travel around Norway and there are a few different domestic airlines servicing the country. Domestic air is expensive, and travelers should expect to pay $70-$165 US dollars per flight.
Buses are a more affordable option with longer journey costing about $20-$30 US dollars. For many travelers, this is the most affordable way to go long distances. But the downside to buses are that Norwegian roads are rather windy and often cause motion sickness. But there is a rather decent bus system throughout the country and even remote locations have limited bus services available.
Buses are also a great way to get around cities. Local buses in Oslo have a pass that can be loaded up with money and used for getting around a concentrated area. A 24-hour bus pass with unlimited rides will cost about $11 US dollars. A 7-day unlimited pass is also available for $28 US dollars.
If you are planning ahead and take the time to book in advance, trains are a great transportation option that are affordable and fast. While trains don’t service the entire country, there are available in some of the more touristy areas. Train tickets normally cost about $30 US dollars for longer trips, if you book your seat ahead of time.
For travelers who are looking to visit some of the islands off the Norway’s mainland, a ferry will take you there. Longer ferry rides will cost about $20 US dollars, while shorter rides will cost about $15 US dollars. Many ferries are also equipped to load cars if you’ve got a rental with you and you’ll have to pay about $8 US dollars more to have the ferry take your car too.
Car rentals are a popular option in Norway because of the convenience they give travelers to set their schedule and the reliability of always having a ride. However, cars are expensive, and the roads are often slow due to the numerous twists and turns. Many roads are also only two lanes, which makes passing difficult. But some travelers prefer road trips and are willing to pay about $100 US dollars for a daily rental fee. However, be aware that gas is also expensive and costs about $7 US dollars per gallon.
Top Cities to Visit
While Oslo is Norway’s capital, there are a few other famous cities to visit in the country too. From all over the country, here are the best Norwegian cities to visit.
Not only the capital of Norway but also the heart of its culture is Oslo. Oslo is a beautiful city that is filled with galleries, museums, architectural wonders, and culinary delights. The eco-friendly design has made it world famous and one of the cleanest cities. With peaceful waterways and wide-open spaces, the city is a great place to take a stroll and explore. But the nearby location to some of Norway’s highlights like the fjord lands, skiing and hiking, Oslo is also a great base to jump off to your next adventures.
Bergen is the old capital of Norway, which was one a part of the Haneseatic League. With brightly colored architecture and iconic wooden houses, this city is a sight to behold. A main center for trading and commerce, the waterfront area is now a popular scene with locals and visitors who enjoy the enthusiastic nightlife offered. However, visitors need to pack a rain jacket because there is almost always precipitation falling in Bergen.
Another colorful marvel, Trondheim entertains with its harbor, quiet streets, calm cafes, and tasty restaurants. A large university in the city also gives its it a younger energy and great place to explore local art and music. The proximity to northern Norway also makes Trondheim the last great stop before you step into the remote wilderness and forests.
With a mish mash of architecture, Alesund is an interesting sight. Art Nouveau and mock Gothic architecture are often mixed with folklore roots and painted in bright colors. But even though the city may not be as uniform in appearance as others, it is still a place worth exploring. In Alesund, you can stay at the bars or jump off into the nearby fjords for a wild encounter.
Bodo is a small and rather remote town, but it makes the list because it is the most popular place to visit before heading out towards the Lofoten Islands. While the actual streets are rather bland, the amazing mountainous background make up for the drab appearance of Bodo. In the winter, the snow-capped peaks are a wonder and showcase the rugged beauty of Norway.
Points of Interest
Cities may lead to many interesting adventures, but sometimes there are also specific points of interest that draw your attention. Here are Norway’s top points of interest that consistently amaze and awe tourists.
Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway, which is 127 miles long. Here, the network of waterways cut through the fjords and lead you to towering cliffs and breathtaking beauty. The fjord can be explored by boat and see some of the best sights in the area, including Jostedalsbreen, which is the largest glacier in Europe.
Pulpit Rock is the reward after a long journey and difficult two-hour hike. The rock famously juts out from a cliff and its flat top is the perfect spot for a picture. The view is amazing, and visitors can take a peek over the edge to see Lysefjord, which rests 600 meters below. Just watch your footing and don’t step too close to the edge because there are no barriers in this natural wonder.
One of the most beautiful settings in Norway, Lofoten Islands are a popular spot because of their outrageous beauty. The islands are formed from large stone peaks, which drastically emerge from the water to create a masterpiece. The landscape is also spotted with small villages, which happily rest at the base of these stone giants. Visitors are mostly attracted to the Lofoten Museum and the Lofoten Aquarium, which give you more background on the area.
A hotspot all year round, Lillehammer is a great place to go whether you’re exploring in the summer or winter. Summertime is perfect for exploring Malhaugen Park, which is an open area museum. While winter is great for sports like curling, cross-country skiing, and sleigh rides. With 18th century architecture, Lillehammer is also an old area that displays the history of Norway.
Another fjord area in Norway and a World Heritage Site, Geirangerfjord is popular for tourists to take cruises and boat rides out on the water to view the spectacular scenery. Eagle’s Road is another popular place in the area, which takes tourists through 11 hairpin turns to the best sites of the fjord.
Atlantic Ocean Road
The Atlantic Ocean Road connects various islands together and is considered to be one of 18 National Tourist Routes in Norway. With amazing views, this is one of the best scenic drives in the world. As you explore the route, you’ll also run into small villages and the Trolls Church Cave. Other hotspots along the route include restaurants and outdoor excursions.
Get Out and Go
With beauty that can’t be believed until you see it, Norway is a magical place to visit. With a high price comes an even higher reward and tourists here can indulge in the wonders of nature and awe at its beauty. With friendly people and vibrant cities, Norway also captures the attention of every visitor and makes their eyes shine in amazement. A trip to Norway will be unforgettable and an experience worth every penny.