Information for backpacking in Norway. Whether you need information about the Norwegian entry visa, backpacker jobs in Norway, hostels, or things to do, it's all here.

Backpacking Norway

Looking for important travel information while backpacking in Norway? Here you will find information on working in Norway, entry visas, Norway hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Norway

Norway is a picturesque country with natural beauty surpassing that of many European destinations and even some of its Scandinavian neighbours. Visitors can expect to see the famous Scandinavian fjords in abundance here as well as stunning mountain glaciers.

Further north beyond the Arctic circle lies an area of Norway often nicknamed “The land of the midnight sun” due to its 24-hour sunshine. Here, adventurous travellers will be able to see plenty of natural wildlife including seals, walruses and even polar bears. Combine this with a history steeped in Viking mythology and Norse legends and you will find Norway a compelling Scandinavian attraction.

It is worth remembering that like much of Scandinavia it is expensive to travel here, especially when buying things like alcohol or dining in restaurants. This might take Norway off the list for budget travellers but for those who can spare the extra cash, it is a country well worth seeing.

  • Currency: Norwegian Krone (Nkr)
  • Time Zone: GMT + 1
  • Language: Norwegian, Lappish by the northern Sami people.
  • Telephone Services: Country code +47, International Access code 095
  • Emergency Numbers: 112 for all services, 113 Ambulance

Climate in Norway

When deciding the best time to go backpacking in Norway, weather certainly plays a role. The coast of Norway is quite temperate during the summer, as is the southern part. Winters tend to be below freezing in the majority of the country and the northern mountainous areas experience Arctic conditions.

Midnight-sun days typically occur between May and June and the effect is more pronounced further north. However, even the southern part experiences extremely long daylight hours during the summer.

Things to do in Norway

Oslo

The capital is by far the country’s biggest city and you can expect all of the facilities and amenities as you would find in any European capital. There are plenty of unique attractions in the city.

One particularly interesting site is the Akershus Fortress– this medieval fortress and castle was built in the 1300s and was used by the Nazis as a prison during World War II. You can still visit the dungeons and crypts of King Hakon VII, and there is a Resistance Museum onsite detailing the actions of the Norwegian resistance during the Second World War.

Also worth a look is Vigeland Park which is home to sculptures by the artist Gustav Vigeland. The centrepiece is the world’s largest granite sculpture which is a mass of entwined human figures.

If you know your schedule ahead of time, a great insider tip is to buy tickets for major tourist attractions ahead of time. Tiqets has entrance tickets and skip the line passes for major attractions in Oslo so that you can avoid the lines and save that precious time for more exploring.

Fjords

The west coast of Norway is a region well worth exploring, from a starting point in the historic city of Bergen it is easy to visit some of the most awe-inspiring landscape in the world. Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) with its sheer cliff 604 meters above the fjord below, is a day-trip from Bergen.

Further afield you can visit Sognefjord, Norway’s deepest fjord and the Jostedalsbreen glacier. Also nearby are several excellent national parks and the spectacular waterfalls at Geirangerfjord.

Northern Lights

If you want to get a little further off the beaten track you might consider visiting Hammerfest which claims to be the northernmost town in the world. This town is primarily a fishing town but is also an excellent place to view the famed Northern Lights, the town also boasts some unique attractions such as the Royal and Ancient Polar Bear Society. This is also an excellent place to spot reindeer, they are very common this far north and there are usually some grazing in Hammerfest’s graveyard.

Unique Activities in Norway

Another good way to get an idea of things to do while backpacking Norway is to scan the activities offered by Get Your Guide or Viator. They work directly with local tour operators, so you won’t have to scour the internet or roam around town trying to find the best deal.

How to Travel Around Norway

If you’re flying to Norway or plan to take short flights within the country, we recommend using a few different flight comparison search engines. Kiwi is a new favourite among travellers. On average, we have found the cheapest flights to Norway with them compared to the other websites out there.

Of course, it is always worth checking Skyscanner to guarantee you’re getting the best deal. Both websites offer great flexible search options, allowing you to search the whole country of Norway to find the cheapest airport to fly into, and also see prices for a full month if you’re flexible on travel dates.

Train vs. bus travel in Norway

Train and long-distance bus are the standard modes of transport for getting around the country. Buses are the more economical option, nevertheless, they are well-equipped with the usual modern conveniences that expect when travelling in Europe. Train travel, on the other hand, is the fastest way between two cities and the train stations are conveniently located right in the center of town.

It depends on your preference, and certain routes are better suited to one mode of transport than the other. To compare your options for journeys from A to B, you can try Omio. They compare trains, buses (and even flights) so you can decide for yourself the tradeoff between cost and travel time.

Train travel in Norway

The rail network in Norway is comprehensive and efficient if a little expensive, the network is run by NSB and boasts some of the most scenic rail routes in the world. Some routes have compulsory reservations and on these routes the reserved ticket must be bought by the weekend before departure. This prevents spontaneous travel on some routes so you may need to plan your journey in advance even if you are using a railpass.

The country is a part of the Eurail network, which is a good choice if you plan to take multiple train journeys in a short period of time. Eurail offers Global Rail Passes, a Scandinavia Pass, and a One-Country Pass for Norway. To decide whether you should buy individual tickets from A to B, or whether you should purchase a Eurail pass, read our Travelling Europe by Train guide.

NSB offers a flexipass called the Norway Railpass which allows unlimited travel for up to five days in a one month period. Additionally, the Scanrail pass offers up to 10 days travel in a 2 month period throughout the whole of Scandinavia (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) and the pass also entitles the bearer to reductions on many ferries.

Bus travel in Norway

The bus network is more extensive than the rail network and will allow you to reach towns and villages that are not covered by the rail system. Prices are cheaper than rail travel although there is the usual trade-off when it comes to travel times. The largest coach operator is Nor-Way Bussekspress which operates routes throughout the country including routes well into the Arctic circle.

www.nvb.no JVB operates an East-West service primarily between Bergen and Lillehammer. If you are looking to travel north into Lappland you will find Ofotens Bilruter is dominant in this area. It is also easy to pick up international buses to Finland, Sweden and Russia.

Driving in Norway

If you want the flexibility to stop in smaller towns between the major cities, check AutoEurope  or Europcar to compare offers from the major car rental agencies in the region. Before deciding, read more about what to expect from driving in Europe.

Backpacking Tours in Norway

Though part of the fun of backpacking Norway is exploring on your own, there are situations, especially when venturing off the tourist trail, when it does make sense to go with a guide or a small group. For these times, a popular option among backpackers is G Adventures. They hand-select local guides to ensure authenticity and quality. This is especially a good option for those travelling Norway alone who would like to meet up with like-minded travellers. Their most popular trips in Norway are their 11-day Cruise the Norwegian Fjords tour, or their 7-day Norway Winter and Northern Lights tour.

Health and Safety in Norway

The standard of health in Norway is high and the UK even has a reciprocal agreement with the Norwegian health service entitling British national to free emergency medical treatment. Further treatment cover can be obtained by bearing a completed E111 from. You should still take out travel insurance however as these two levels of cover will not extend to some medical treatments.

The Norwegian Food Control Authority advises taking local advice before eating mussels harvested off the coast. Apart from this normal precautions should be observed when consuming food and drink. The drinking water in Norway is considered safe and there are no vaccinations required or recommended before visiting Norway.

Entry visa requirements for Norway

A valid passport or EU National ID is required by all visitors to Norway for the duration of their stay. Nationals of the EU do not require a visa for any length of stay, US nationals require a visa for visits of longer than 3 months. EU citizens may work in Norway but need to obtain a permit from the Norwegian police on arrival. Any other immigration or visa related enquiries should be directed to your local Norwegian Embassy.


Foreigner work permits and backpacker jobs in Norway

Residents of the USA, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as EU nationals are permitted to enter and reside in Norway for up to three months, only needing a passport. For a stay of three or more ,months you must apply to either the Norwegian Embassy or local police for a residence permit (oppholdstillatelse).

The permit will enable you to stay in the country for up to five years, or one year for students and non EU nationals, who will also need a work permit. EU nationals are not required to wait until they have the permit before starting work. Alike Switzerland, you can usually expect high wages for work, but along with this goes the generally high cost of living.

The Atlantis ‘Working Guest Programme’

Atlantis is an organisation that arranges placements in various environments throughout Norway. Types of work include agricultural tasks on farms where you will also be provided with accommodation, food, and be paid about NOK 700 (approx. kr60) for a 35-hour working week.

Au pairing jobs can also be arranged, where pay is up to NOK 3000 (approx. kr255) per month, excluding tax deductions. Atlantis charge registration fees, which vary depending on the job you apply for, but for au pair work it is as much as NOK 1000 (approx. kr85). Programmes range from two to six month time periods.

Seasonal work in Norway

Winter resorts in Gausdal, Voss, and Lillehammer, for example, may provide job opportunities in hotels, bars, and restaurants in a variety of roles. Similar jobs can also be found in beach resorts during summer months. Work in ski resorts can be anything from waitressing, au pairing, and even DJing.

Pay for the most basic of jobs can start from about NOK 8000 (approx. kr680) per month, and be as much as NOK 8500 (approx. kr723) per month. Bear in mind that where employers provide accommodation and food, deductions of up to about NOK 1000 (approx. kr85) for each month can be made. To secure a job in a tourist-based industry it is best to enquire in person at the earliest in the tourist season as these types of jobs are popular with travellers and students.

Au Pair Positions in Norway

Atlantis and Inter Au Pair can both arrange au pair placements in Norway. The main cities of Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen probably accommodate the majority of families looking for au pairs. As an au pair you will be expected to look after the children, taking them to and picking them up from school for example, maybe giving them some language tuition, as well as general domestic duties such as cleaning. Most au pairs in Norway are given about NOK 2800 (approx. 238) for a month’s work as well as the provision of food and meals with their host family.

Agricultural and Farm Work in Norway

On-the-spot work can sometimes be found during the harvest seasons throughout Norway, particularly July to September. Try Lier for strawberry picking, Andebu for raspberries, and Loen for potatoes. Never expect wages to be desirably high, but what money you do earn can tide you over until you find better-paying work.

Wages depend on your employer, the amount that you can collect, its worth at market, or how long it takes you. As with most seasonal work, jobs are best found by making personal enquiries at the beginning of the season, or by checking local notice boards and advertisements.

Volunteering in Norway

For work of up to one year, Camphill Communities offers placements to volunteers on their workcamps around the world. Work involves assisting in the running of community centres for adults with special needs, and further education centres. For a 6-day working week you can expect to receive pocket money of about kr29, as well as free accommodation and food. The Camphill community Corona in Ranheim has jobs available throughout the year in sheltered workplaces and health food shops. See the Camphill website, below, for more details.

Norway Hostels and Budget Accommodation

Budget travel and hostels in Norway including: Aalesund hostels, Aandalsnes hostels, Alta hostels, Andenes hostels, Balestrand hostels, Bergen hostels, Bodo hostels, Borlaug hostels, Boverdalen hostels, Dalholen hostels, Dombas hostels, Drammen hostels, Elverum hostels, Evje hostels, Fagernes hostels, Flaam hostels, Flekkefjord hostels, Forde hostels, Geilo hostels, Gjovik hostels, Halden hostels, Hamar hostels, Harstad hostels, Hellesylt hostels, Hemsedal hostels, Honefoss hostels, Horten hostels, Hovden hostels, Jotunheimen National Park hostels, Kabelvaag hostels, Karasjok hostels, Kongsberg hostels, Kragero hostels, Kristiansand hostels, Lake Norso hostels, Lakselv hostels, Lillehammer hostels, Lofthus hostels, Meraker hostels, Mosjoen hostels, Moss hostels, Narvik hostels, Nesbyen hostels, Oppdal hostels, Oslo hostels, Risor hostels, Roldal hostels, Roros hostels, Runde hostels, Sarpsborg hostels, Sjoa hostels, Sjusjoen hostels, Skarnes hostels, Skien hostels, Skjolden hostels, Sogndal hostels, Sorvagen hostels, Stamsund hostels, Stavanger hostels, Steinkjer hostels, Stokkoy hostels, Stryn hostels, Sunndalsora hostels, Svalbard hostels, Tonsberg hostels, Tromso hostels, Trondheim hostels, Tynset hostels, Uvdal hostels, Vaeroy hostels, and Voss hostels.

Norway has plenty of hotels of all standards in all towns of any sized, however these will be prohibitively expensive for a lot of travellers. This makes youth hostels a much better alternative.

We have had good experiences finding hostels in Norway on HostelWorld. They have the largest inventory of hostels worldwide, and with over 10 million reviews and ratings from other travellers, you know exactly what to expect.

Another good way to find accommodation while backpacking Norway is by checking hotels.com and  booking.com. With both sites, you’ll not only find hotels, but also homestays, hostels, and other unique accommodation. We have discovered some great finds and have appreciated the ability to book ahead. You can use their advanced filtering to narrow your results by budget, location score, overall review score, and amenities. Many of the places on booking.com also offer free cancellation, which takes the pressure off the planning phase of your trip.

You can also try checking The Norwegian Hostel association, a nonprofit organisation which maintains information on 75 hostels throughout Norway. Although 75 hostels doesn’t seem like a large number compared to other European countries the hostels which exist are spread evenly throughout the country so you should be able to find one close to wherever you want to go.

Useful Links for Backpacking in Norway

  • The Norwegian Tourist board provides information and advice for travellers visiting Norway.
  • NSB operates the rail network throughout Norway.
  • Nor-Way Bussekspress which operates routes throughout the country including routes well into the Arctic circle.
  • JVB operates an East-West service primarily between Bergen and Lillehammer
  • Ofotens Bilruter operates coach routes throughout Lappland
  • Eurail – Rail Passes for travellers who plan on doing lots of train travel in a short period of time. Single-Country and Multi-Country passes available
  • Omio – Train, bus, and flight search for Norway and all of Europe. Offers online booking and mobile tickets
  • Auto Europe – Europe’s leading rental car search engines
  • Kiwi and Skyscanner – Flight comparison search engines to find the cheapest flights to Norway and within the country.
  • GetYourGuide and Viator – a collection of local tours and things to do while backpacking Norway. Also offers Skip the Line tickets for crowded attractions
  • Tiqets – Website selling entrance tickets and skip the line tickets for major attractions in Norway
  • G Adventures – guided backpacking tours in Norway, great for solo travellers or for those interested in a more adventurous trip which would require a guide
  • HostelWorld – #1 hostel search website to find budget accommodation while backpacking Norway. Thousands of hostels and millions of reviews from fellow travellers.
  • Booking.com – commonly used accommodation booking site in Norway. Hostels, hotels, and other unique accommodation with advanced filtering and millions of reviews
  • Travel Insurance – read our comprehensive overview of Travel Insurance and some recommended providers while backpacking in Norway

There you have it, a Norway travel and backpacking guide. Hope you have found the information to help you on your backpacking journey.

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