The First Time to Norway

The First Time to Norway

Norway is undoubtedly one of the most expensive travel destinations, but it is a country you should definitely have on your bucket list. Famed for its stunning fjords formed by the last ice age melting, Norway is a true wonder of nature that deserves a worthy mention.

Norway is also rightfully associated to the mighty Vikings, Valhalla and the ancient northern Gods. It’s been hundreds of years since Harald Fairhair and his army were roaming these lands, but even as foreigners we can still feel the powerful heritage that they have left behind.

In the following guide we will cover all the information you need to know about Norway as a first time traveller: things to see, how to get in, how to book a hotel, what areas to visit, most famous sites etc.

Things to know about Norway & The First Time to Norway

Norway is a large country despite its sparse population; it’s bigger than Germany despite having only 5 million inhabitants (to Germany’s 80 million). If you include the fjords it has a larger coastline than the US and its biggest county (Finnmark), which has a population of 70,000 is larger than Netherlands. Also while Norway is very far north it does not have an artic climate. Southern cities have temperatures rivalling Britain.

So when you travel you should keep these things in mind and look up bus and train times ahead if you’re not traveling by car (we recommend traveling by car). When you do travel keep in mind that nature is the goal here and you shouldn’t travel from city to city as fast as you can.

Entry Requirements

There are a few regulations that travellers should keep in mind before traveling to Norway. Below you will find requirements for EU, EEA citizens, other nationals, Americans etc:

  • Because Norway is not part of the European Union there are a few requirements that European citizens have to meet. Visitors from countries that are part of the European Union, as well as New Zealanders and Australians need to produce a valid passport at the airport before they gain entry to Norway.
  • Norway is a member of the Schengen agreement. Therefore, a Visa granted to any Schengen members is valid for free travel between countries that are part of the treaty. The only countries which have not signed the Schengen agreement are Bulgaria, Cyprus, Ireland, Romanian, the United Kingdom and Croatia.
  • Members from other regions including the United States, South America, Venezuela, Japan, Makedonia, Costa Rica, Panama etc. are permitted to enter Norway with passports and spend a maximum of 90 days visa-free within the country.

Arriving to Norway by Plane:

If you are flying to Norway from a European country that is not part of the Schengen agreement you will be subjected to tests upon embarking and after you land in Norway. In other words, you will have to go through customs and check in again every time you change a flight. Let’s take a look at the major airports and their incoming flights:

  1. Oslo Airport, Gardermoen: this is the largest airport in Norway. It receives flights from London, Manchester, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Dublin, New York, Bangkok etc.
  2. Sandefjord Airport, Torp: this airport is located roughly 115 kilometres South of Oslo. Flights from London, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburg, Glasgow (all Ryanair flights), Romania, Italy and other European countries land here.
  3. Moss Airport: the Moss airport can be found approximately 60 kilometres south of Oslo. It receives scheduled flights from approximately 15 European cities.
  4. Stavenger Airport, Sola: receives flights from Paris, Berlin, Krakow, Frankfurt, Madrid, Nice, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London.

The First Time to Norway

Getting Around in Norway

Planning ahead is vital for a country like Norway. That’s because visiting the northern part of the country is extremely time-consuming and expensive. We believe that the best way to access the remote wilderness and rugged countryside is by renting a vehicle. Buses and trains are extremely expensive mostly because the coastline is difficult for them to cross.

  • By train: Most rail lines run between Stavanger, Trondheim and Oslo. Nothing goes north-south or north of Bodo. The good news is that, despite their price, trains are very comfortable and clean. If you book tickets in advance you can get a hefty discount.
  • By Boat: Certain locations are only accessible by boat, and car ferries are an integral part of the Norwegian coastal road network. You can find specific information about car ferries and rides online.
  • By Bus: there are buses for almost any place in Norway. This is probably the best way to travel in the country if you plan for tickets in advance. Each operator has a dedicated website where you can inquire about future trips and prices.
  • By Taxi: NEVER, EVER use a cab unless it is an emergency. Prices for taxi rides in Norway are absolutely outrageous.

What you Should Visit in Norway:

1. The Fjords

These masterpieces made by mother nature is what we will focus as the core of the journey, but you don’t actually need to go to the most famous ones (Sognefjord and / or Geirangerfjord) to see the Norwegian nature at its peak, most of the Norwegian coast is made up of fjords and simply traveling along the coast will give you plenty of awe inspiring views.

2. The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

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Another Sight we strongly recommend is exclusive to northern Norway where it can occur almost every single night, you do not need to go on a guided tour to see it, but we suggest you go to a dark place (city lights and full moons may obscure this), if you visit during December or January you may even see it almost 24 hours a day during the winter darkness, in the middle of summer it can however not be seen as there will be 24 hour daylight.

3. Other Worthy Attractions

Out of the cities you can visit we heavily recommend Bergen, Aalesund and Trondheim as they are both beautiful and close to the coast making it convenient resting places on a journey.

Then there is Preikestolen (or Preacher’s Pulpit) a famous rock cliff rising 600 metres above Lysefjorden and Trollstigen (Troll’s Ladder) a famous steep serpentine road which is a view that should not be missed if possible.

Average Prices in Norway

Norway is expensive no doubt and you should plan for this in advance. Try to keep use of taxis low if possible, consider buying food from supermarkets and bakeries over going to a restaurant (prices often vary from 20 to 30 USD a person). But there is also a bright side, very few places have to pay for access to attractions, even a lot of state institutions such as the national gallery is free to enter.

Where to sleep

Larger Cities all have hotels, hostels and some pensions (pensions being less common and not much cheaper than a hotel). There are Youth Hostels (Vandrehjem) mostly placed according to the most used tourist routes (these are clean and cater for your basic needs). The hotels are quite expensive and do not follow the normal 1 to 5 star system, but they are clean and dependable.

If you haven’t decided on a hotel yet you should check out major traveling websites such as TripAdvisor. There you will find extensive reviews and descriptions left by other travellers. You can also find out more about prices and packages.

We hope that these tips and tricks will make it easier for you to plan your next trip to Norway. Remember, planning ahead can save you a lot of time and money and it will also enable you to enjoy your trip to the fullest.