Do you find yourself dreaming of Norway at night? Or perhaps your ticket is already booked? Regardless of your stage in the planning process, make sure to check out these essential travel tips before your next adventure to the beautiful country of Norway:
1. Get Your Documents Straight
Before you book your tickets to Norway, it is important to check what kind of documentation you will need to enter the country. If you are traveling with an American passport and are planning on staying less than 3 months, you will not need a visa. If you are looking to extend your Norwegian stay past 3 months, you can apply for one at a Norway visa application center before you leave the US. There are centers located in New York, the District of Columbia, Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco.
2. Geography and Language
Norway is an extremely long country and the south compared to the north has many noticeable differences. Southern Norway offers stunning coasts and warmer weather. The West has rolling mountains and the popular fjords. The East is home to the capital and large surrounding forests. Head up North if you a brave enough for the arctic landscapes. Depending where you are visiting, each region has a different Norwegian dialect, so keep that in mind if you are looking to pick up some phrases when traveling throughout the vast landscapes. However, for the most part, many Norwegians speak fluent English but always appreciate when tourists make the extra effort to learn some Norwegian.
3. Book Your Train Tickets in Advance
Once in Norway, domestic travel is extremely accessible thanks to public transportation. The Norwegian long distance trains offer easy transportation and beautiful scenery. The Bergensbanen (The Bergen Railway) is one of the most famous and popular train rides in the world. The full journey takes around seven hours and serves as the link between the East and West of Norway. During your ride you will experience a wide range of landscapes from urban environments in Oslo to beautiful rural landscapes of mountains, valleys, forests and fjords.
Another popular Norwegian train ride is the Nordlandsbanen (The Nordland Railway). These tracks run from Trondheim to Bodø. It is one of few train rides in the entire world that crosses through the polar circle. Take in the sights of inland forest villages, coastal highlands, and various wildlife. If you have your in-country plans ready, it is highly recommended that you book your tickets in advance. With being prepared, you can save up to 50% off the cost of your train or bus tickets. Waiting to buy until last minute, can break any traveler’s budget. If you are looking to travel lighter during a specific leg of your journey, you can store some of your luggage in the lockers at Oslo S/Oslo Central Station. Keep in mind the station in closed between 1:10 AM-4:30 AM and you will not have access to picking up your luggage during this time frame. Payment for locker usage can be done with Visa, Mastercard or cash.
4. Familiar Yourself with Norway’s Currency
Norway’s currency is the “Kroner”. For reference, 1 USD is equivalent to 8.65 Norwegian Krones. Most places accept debit or credit cards, but it is always a safe idea to have a bit of cash on you. Foreign currency is rarely accepted, so some Norwegian `currency will be necessary. ATMs can be found everywhere in the towns and cities. If venturing to more rural areas, there should be the occasional kiosk where you can withdraw money.
5. Tips to Save Money on Your Trip
Norway is all around an expensive country. A beer will cost you around 70 NOK, 35 NOK for a soft drink, 25 NOK for a coffee. Luckily, free tap water is a staple in Norway restaurants and is very refreshing! Since the exchange rate is not the greatest, consider obtaining a city tourism card. This will grant you free entry into all the attractions in addition to free transportation If looking to save some extra cash in other ways, consider cutting back on eating every meal out. If your lodging facility has a kitchen, head to the grocery store and cook up some of your own food. To keep your grocery bill down, avoid fresh vegetables and chicken fillets. If you don’t consider yourself a chef, pizza and shawarma (similar to a gyro) are typical affordable eats. Vegetarians beware, meat is a cultural staple in Norway, and it can be a tricky place to grab a veggie meal on a tight budget.
In regards to lodging, even the basic hostel accommodation does not come cheap. Hostel dorm rooms charge between 200-500 NOK per night and private rooms start at around 750 NOK for a single. Luckily, there are public camping laws throughout Norway that allow a free stay in the public lands and parks with your own tent. The outdoors are very important for Norwegians and they do their best to maintain the right of using the outdoors freely. Make sure that you are respectful of this viewpoint by practicing Leave No Trace and by not causing any damage to the surrounding nature.
6. Rules on Tipping
In regards to tipping, it is not a common practice in Norway. However, if you do decide to tip, it is most appropriate in bars and restaurants when you are especially pleased with the service. In this case, 5-15% of the bill is acceptable.
7. Call Home for Free
If you can’t wait until you are back home to tell your friends and family about the amazing time you are having in Norway, you can do so by dialing "00" followed by your two or three digit country code, then the area code and followed by the phone number. Also, on most mobile phones, using "+" instead of "00" will also work. If you are using a cellphone to call home, buying a local pre-paid SIM-card (called "kontantkort") may be the most affordable option to look into. Like most places of the world, internet access is usually good in most towns and cities, with using either mobile data, or wifi in cafés and other public areas. As you move into the less populated areas, mobile data coverage will become more spotty. Wherever you are, save the internet for home! You’ll be having so much fun taking in the sights and sounds of the one and only Norway.
Have you travelled to Norway? Let us know your favorite travel tips in the comments below!
Post written by: Kirsten Cusack, @kirqsak