Norway in a Nutshell…
- Eat! Avoid the restaurants as best you can if you are on a budget, and if you’re in Oslo, head out to Grønland to strike a few good dining and drinking deals. The Visit Oslo website has great tips on how to save on food.
- Drink! Alcoholic beverages (along with cigarettes) are some of the most expensive luxuries of Norwegian life. Drinking in public areas is also a punishable crime in Norway, which is why most locals have pre-and-after parties at their homes. Before you indulge with some liquid courage, be sure to observe and learn from the locals.
- Wear! Even during the summer months, Norway is a cold country, so make sure you pack warm gear. Think along the lines of items that can be layered so that you can take off and add layers as and when needed.
- Beware! Food, fuel, and accommodation in Norway is SUPER expensive, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways in which you can save money. The secret is this: the best things in Norway are totally free because seeing nature in all it’s glory is a priceless experience.
Getting Up Close and Personal With NorwayFrom the wonderful Norwegian locals (who are all fluent in English, by the way), to the magnificent and breathtaking fjords in the north, Norway is a country that begs to be explored, not only for its lovely people, but also for its sheer natural beauty. Possibilities here are literally endless. You could be summiting some crazy mountains or exploring the mysterious fjords, soaking up the cool Scandinavian vibes in Oslo, or losing your heart as you gaze upon the sights offered by the Midnight Sun, during the brief but beautiful summer months. Somehow, life in Norway is so alluring and almost mesmerising in a sense. The air out here smells just a little sweeter, the water tastes just a little bit crisper, and even the busiest of cities are hushed into an uncontested calm as the evening light sets oh-so-heavenly over the landscapes of this Arctic Circle wonder world. If you’re considering a trip to Norway, you’re in for a royal time. Here’s what to see and where to go…
Regions of Norway: What To Expect…
Eastern & Southern NorwayEastern Norway (as well as parts of the South) is an area well known for its exotic and awe-inspiring landscapes. Here are some of the top attractions in the region…
Setesdalen ValleyFrom the valley of Tovdal, all the way to Åraksbø is where you’ll be submerged in the beauty of Southern Norway. The Setesdalen Valley provides you with the opportunity of embarking down one of the country’s finest inland walks, passing the oldest building as well as the Rjukan waterfall. Make sure you get to see Stuvestøyl, Videstøyl, the Juvass stream and the Skuggefjell Mountain while you’re there too!
VelmundenVelmunden (also known as Fjorda) is a paradise for canoers and can be found between Lake Randsfjord and Lake Sperille, 396 meters above sea level. The routes to explore here are endless, and with the abundance of islands and smaller lakes, it’s a spot that’s perfect for families traveling with young kids.
OslofjordThe Oslofjord is a place where history literally drips off the walls, even more so when you’re visiting the Oscarborg Fortress, and island on the narrowest section of the fjord. History buffs will rejoice in the sights and military history on display here, but the natural scenery around the attraction is equally as enticing!
The Southern Norway ArchipelagoTrailing from the Ryyingen Lighthouse all the way to the Jomfruland Island, the archipelago f Southern Norway comprises of thousands of small islands and islets, arguably one of the south’s most attractive spots for sun worshippers during the summer months. Make sure you visit the Rjukandalen Valley to see the mighty waterfalls, representing the essence of Norway’s biggest hydroelectric power plant. There’s also the untamed wilderness of Femundsmarka which just begs to be explored, but don’t forget to swing by the Telemark Canal if you’re keen on learning more about Norway’s rich history!
Western NorwayIf you’re visiting Norway with the hopes of exploring as many fjords as you possibly can, then Western Norway is the one region you can’t afford to pass by. Here are some of the region’s highlights…
Fjord Valleys of Trollheimen & Dovre MountainsThe cluster of valleys (consisting of Todalen, Innerdalen, Sunndalen, Litjdalen, Grødalen, and Eikesdalen) pave the way to the high and majestic Trollheimen and Dovre Mountains. Hiking is a must do while you’re in the area so make sure you pack the appropriate hiking gear when you go. Some other great activities that offer an equally impressive experience are mountain biking and sightseeing by car, especially if you are not wanting to exhaust yourself!
SognefjordThe Lustrafjord and the Hurrungane mountains are tucked away within the Sognefjord, a beautiful landscape which also houses the Turtagrø mountaineering center as well as the Jostadalsbreen Glacier. While here, you’ll have the opportunity to see the country’s oldest stave church, Urnes, but don’t forget to indulge in some of the area’s great outdoor adventure escapades!
Vingen to HyefjordAs one of the finest walks you can undertake in Western Norway, the trail from Vingen to Hyefjord offers countless opportunities for you to lose your heart in the sights and sounds of the coast, the fjords, the mountains, and of course, the glaciers. You’ll see the distinct geological formations which date back to the Devonian Age, but you’ll also pass by the Ålfotbreen glacier, one of the wettest areas in the country.
NordfjordSurfer’s Paradise – as it’s so aptly called – can be found at the peninsula of Stadtlandet where it meets the Vågsøy Island. The scenery here is amazing, including sights of the oldest monastery ruins in the country as well as the 3 iconic lighthouses which offer accommodation for visitors to the area.
Northern NorwayNorway’s northern region holds a few attractions which may entice visitors from all walks of life. From the Russian border to the quaint fishing villages, the sights to see are in full supply. Here’s what you can’t afford to miss…
Lofoten IslandsReine Sorvågen, Ā, Værøy, and Røst are the outermost Lofoten Islands, offering some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. The islands were once home to thriving fishing communities; hence you can expect to indulge in the rich history on display at various galleries. Remember to visit the local markets for some fresh spices while you’re here!
Island KingdomsTræna and Myken are ancient island kingdoms which is part of the reason why history buffs can’t afford to pass them by. The islands house countless monuments and ancient cultural sites, but it’s also where you’ll have the opportunity to attend the hugely popular Træna festival!
Lyngen AlpsAlso known as “The Alps in the Ocean”, the Lyngen Alps takes tourists on a walk of the wilder side of Norway. While here, you’ll have opportunities to indulge in adventure activities such as extreme skiing, hang-gliding, mountaineering, fishing, and of course, some good old diving.
Activities You HAVE To Try in Norway:
- See the fjords – The deep and narrow sea inlets of Norway are stunning beyond belief, and they offer so much to see and do. Some of the top fjords to visit include Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, which attract roughly 1 million tourists annually.
- Visit beautiful Bergen – Norway’s 2nd largest city, Bergen, is a site you cannot afford to miss out on seeing. While you’re exploring the city, make sure you catch a lift up to the Floyen Mountain to see some of the best panoramic views of the stunning natural scenery.
- Explore the national parks – Norway has some of the best conservancy parks in the world. Parks such as Jostedalsbreen National Park attract thousands of tourists on a yearly basis since they house a huge variety of fauna and flora, plus they also have great attractions such as glaciers, waterfalls, and for the adventurers out there, they also offer activities like caving and rafting!
- Enjoy the views from the Preacher’s Pulpit – Also known as ‘the Preacher’s Chair’; Preacher’s Pulpit is arguably one of Norway’s most famous attractions. Located on top of a cliff, the viewpoint can only be accessed via the 4km hiking trail, but it will be worth all the effort once you summit and lay eyes on the beautiful views.
- Visit the city that never sleeps – Social butterflies should definitely swing by Tromsø, Norway’s summer party town. If you’re done soaking up the eternal light provided by the array of bars and clubs, you can gaze upon the impressive Northern Lights during the winter months!
- Save…and spend it in Oslo – While the experience might not be the cheapest on offer, a visit to Oslo will be well worth the money spent once you consider the fact that you’d have soaked up all the great energy from the country’s capital. Oslo is located on a fjord and offers many great attractions such as museums, great food, and of course, some of the friendliest locals around.
The Best Time of Year to Travel to Norway…Most of us picture Norway as a country that’s constant cold, almost inhospitable. Although, there definitely is some truth to that idea, it’s not all snow and isolation, but picking the prime time to visit Norway isn’t as easy as it may seem at first glance. Traveling to Norway during the dark, cold, and extremely long winter months does have its perks (like awesome skiing opportunities), but then again, it decreases everything from daylight hours to transport availability. Take enough warm gear and equipment to help you make it through the cold, and you’re good to head off to Norway during the winter months to witness the Aurora Borealis (northern lights). Winter is also a great time for ice fishing as well as snowmobiling, which is, by the way, an extremely satisfying pass time! The brief – but beautiful – Norwegian spring falls in mid-May, which is when the fjords are probably at their prettiest as the ice makes way for impressive waterfalls which obviously feeds the plant life. You can imagine the scenery… Autumn (during September) is also a good time to visit Norway since you’ll enjoy a lot of sunlight and an almost tropical climate. The far north gets bitterly cold during the autumn months, though so make sure to pack a warm jacket. Most travellers head to Norway during the summer months though, and the reason why isn’t hard to understand. Transportation methods are in full supply, and it’s also when you’ll get to see the Midnight Sun, where daylight stretches out longer and longer the further north you go.
Some (totally) Random Facts about Norway:
- While grocery stores and petrol stations are allowed to operate as usual, all food stores in Norway are closed on Sundays.
- Wine and liquor can only be purchased at specific outlets – Vinmonopols – and some cities only have one or two outlets.
- Most Norwegians cross the Swedish to buy their groceries since Sweden is so much more affordable.
- Even though it’s one of the world’s biggest exporters of oil, Norway has some of the highest fuel prices in the world.
- If you’re caught driving under the influence of alcohol in Norway, you’ll get a 30-day jail sentence, your license will be revoked, and you’ll pay a seriously pricey fine as well!
- Speeding is a serious offense in Norway, and those who are caught speeding can expect to get fines bigger than the one’s authorities issue to folks caught with class-A drugs on them.
- Grandiosa Frozen Pizza is Norway’s unofficial national dish because it’s what the Norwegian locals eat more than anything else.
- Most Norwegians consider cross-country skiing a national sport of sorts. This is because they experience such cold and long winters, resulting in most locals turning towards the most available form of recreational sports in these circumstances.
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