holiday in Norway?
This country is primarily about monumental
views of mountains, fjords, waterfalls and glaciers with the occasional
stave church thrown in.
Outdoor experiences range from spectacular summer walks to year
round skiing, though coach potatoes will also be pleasured by superbly
bus, ferry and self-drive car trips.
It's also clean and efficient, safer than just about any country
barring Japan and Scandinavian siblings, and has the most careful
and law-abiding drivers we've ever been held up by.
A traditional Norwegian stave church
• Like the rest of Scandinavia it's expensive, especially alcohol.
• Booze is also not that easy to find out of town centres since
most Norwegians drink at home.
• Urban life is often less than wildly exciting, particularly if
you have a tight budget.
Best weather: May-September;
the Midnight Sun occurs in the far north from mid-June to mid-July.
Worst: Winter (short, dark days), unless you want to either ski
or see the northern lights.
Minimum worthwhile stay, not incl. flights: 4 days, Oslo - Bergen.
A reasonable time: 10 days.
Oslo harbour, City Hall (the nasty brick lump), and Akershus Fortress on the right
**Oslo. Not a particularly attractive
city but it's a good place to stroll and worth a day or two for
the museums, Viking relics and especially the amazing sculpture
**Risor (2/3 hours south of Oslo),
a very picturesque fishing village.
***Bergen. This port town, with its
evocative mass of pretty wooden buildings and plentiful culture,
is a popular trip from Oslo - the 7 hour train ride is a scenic
masterpiece - and a natural starting point for fjordland experiences.
***Stavanger's 900 year-old town includes a striking 18thC wooden
district, a medieval cathedral and a fine collection of museums.
***Fjords. You can't leave Norway without
cruising the stunning fjords. Geirangerfjord and Sognefjord are
the two prettiest, with the former offering a terrific waterfalls
bonus while the latter is nearer to Bergen.
*** Geiranger, on the fjord shore.
A tiny village surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and tourists,
this is prime hiking country, but book accommodation in advance.
*** Jostedalsbreen National Park is
a popular hiking destination with many well marked trails, plentiful
accommodation, and natural splendour in spades, including 50 glaciers.
**Tromso. Way up north and well into
the arctic circle Tromso (aka 'Gateway to the Arctic') is unusually
lively and culturally rich, possibly due to the world's most northern
university being situated there. This is a good base for winter
skiing or summer wilderness hiking.
Buses, trains and domestic planes are highly efficient, though
not frequent and costly.
This is a great country for self drive, with magnificent views
and safe roads, but car hire is expensive. Bring your own wheels!
A reindeer takes the high road
Driving: an excellent way to explore
the land, with stupendous views and totally safe native drivers,
but watch out for elk (moose) or reindeer.
Biking: surprisingly common considering
the hilly nature and grand distances of the country, but bike hire
is readily available just about anywhere. Car drivers are very careful and competent.
Hiking: plenty of great hikes not far
from Oslo, from plateaux to glaciers. Geiranger and Jotunheimen
are renowned hiking spots.
Fishing: fjord fishing has to be at
the apex of ambient fishy experiences, tho' freshwater fishing is
also available. Licences are necessary and readily available.
Skiing: all year round, with glacier
skiing in summer time, esp. around Jotunheimen.
Boat Cruises: short or long fjord cruising
is one of the must-dos here, and Sognefjord is the classic spot.
Mountain climbing: if you can handle
low temperatures there's no shortage of serious, beautiful climbs
along the whole length of the country, but stick to summertime!
White water rafting: from half a day
to 2 days.
Easter, *Sami (Lapp) traditional celebrations in the north, esp.
Karasjok, including reindeer racing.
May 17, ***Constitution Day - the country's most colourful day,
with national costumes coming out of the closet.
June, *Midsummer's Eve Big parties and big, beach bonfires.
A genuine Viking longship in the Viking Museum, Oslo
The Viking Museum with three real ships, the Kon-Tiki Museum and
the huge open-air Norwegian Folk Museum are all in Oslo and interesting.
EU citizens and nationals of USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand
do not need a visa for up to 3 months travel in Norway; other
Scandinavians don't even require a passport.
Electric sockets are 230v and take 2 round pin plugs.
As usual in Scandinavia, many locals speak English though learning
basic greetings is worth the trouble.
Bergen, Norway's prettiest town and main activity centre
The Krone is the local currency and you'll need a lot of them
to enjoy Norway. Fast food and/or camping can keep expenses down.
Tipping is not strictly necessary in restaurants, but 5-10% for
waiters and taxi drivers seems to be accepted practice.
No worries at all here unless having your car savaged by an elk
is a problem for you.
A great place for lovers of excellent and varied seafood or exotic
meat dishes such as reindeer or elk, but oceanically deep pockets
will be required.
Vegetarians will have a hard time finding anything interesting to
Many travellers on a budget survive on fast food, sandwiches at
Konditori (bakeries), or supermarket purchases, with opportunistic
stuffing at hotel breakfast buffets.
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