Norway is a picturesque country with natural beauty surpassing that of many European destinations and even some of it’s 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 buying food 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 which is well worth seeing.
- Currency: Norwegian Krone (Nkr) = 100 �re
- 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
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, even the southern part however experiences extremely long daylight hours during the summer.
Things to see and do
The Country’s capital is the city of Oslo, by far the countries biggest city you can find all of the facilities and amenities you would expect to find in any European capital. Besides this there are plenty of unique attraction 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 Nazi’s as a prison during World War II. You can still get down into 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.
Central Norway is a region well worth travelling, from a base in the historic city of Bergen it is easy to visit attractions such as Sognefjord, Norway’s deepest fjord and the Jostedalsbreen glacier. Also nearby are several excellent national parks and the spectacular waterfalls at Geirangerfjord.
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.
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 bough by the weekend before departure. This prevent spontaneous travel on some routes so you may need to plan your journey in advance even if you are using a railpass.
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. On top of all this the standard Eurail and Interrail passes are valid 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.
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. The Norwegian Hostel association is a non profit organisation which maintains information on 75 hostels throughout Norway. The site includes pricing and booking information for all of the hostels as well as a detailed overview of the facilities at each hostel. 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.
The standard of health in Norway is high and the UK 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 Norwaw.
- 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
- The Norwegian Hostel association provides information on 75 youth hostels throughout Norway.
- Railkey.com sells Scanrail travel passes online.