"Saagar's Norway pages" Top 5 Page for this destination Norway by Saagar
Norway Travel Guide: 10,651 reviews and 30,157 photos
... I live here, but I hope that this doesn't totally disqualify my opinions...
I have been so lucky to receive many visitors from abroad. By listening to their comments - good and bad - and seeing their frustrations in coping with Norway and hearing some misconceptions and misinterpretations, I have gained a bit of insight... I have been able to assist some friends and visitors in route-finding and combating the weather issue and the cost of travelling here. Moreover, I like to travel in this oddly-shaped country myself, so I take pleasure in sharing my info abut my home country.
I have tried to keep this all-Norway page fairly generalized, yet topical and route-based. My own interests shine through. You will find a general travellers' introduction to Norway, some suggestions about what to do and what itineraries to take, as well as some practical tips and mentions of a few locations that you should take special note of. I hope you find my advice and tips useful and appropriate! And get in touch if you have questions and comments!
If you want to check specific cities and places, see my separate tips on these. If you are planning for a long-term stay in Norway, some of my tips in the local customs section may be useful.
A word on tourism marketing i Norway: generally, it is comprehensive, honest and quite well-organised, and every town or municipality of some size will have an official tourist office and a web site. They will not discriminate on basis of your wallet. Try options like googling "tourism + place name" or the main tourism portal localized: "www.visit x town .com, y fjord, .com, z island .com" etc., and you will most probably find the relevant sites. However, in order to be featured on web sites and in general tourism marketing the companies have to join these semi-government marketing agencies, and not all do. So, please be aware that there are many options i n a d d i t i o n to those officially marketed. There are also a rigorous channelling of tourists along certain routes, such as the Nutshell tour, the Golden Route and so on by tourism marketeers in Norway and abroad. That automatically blinds visitors' interpretation of what's available here. There is a lot more to Norway than what is marketed....
The key tourism portal to Norway: Visitnorway
The adventure tourism portal: Your Trip
Norwegian all-government portal: Government
Norwegian news in English: Aftenposten and News In English
The Norwegian phone directory: Telephone catalogue
Some web cameras in Norway: Web cameras
The Norwegian State Railways: NSB
Norway Bus Express: Nor-Way Bussekspress
Hurtigruta Coastal Express Liner: Hurtigruta
The situation at Oslo Gardermoen Airport: OSL
Airports in Norway: Avinor
DNT Hikers' Association: DNT
The weather just now? Check: Webcameras
The weather forecast: Weather
Sea conditions, waves and gale warnings: Maritime conditions
Every season has its charm. For travellers the key word is accessibility - to get to the places you'd like to see. You need to be aware that your options (getting around, activities) are limited in Norway once the snow, darkness and cold cover the country. Norway has two tourism limbo transition seasons; late autumn and early spring. Stormy darkness, sleet and snow in the autumn, and snowmelt in the spring, many country roads may be in bad conditions and skiing might be terrible, and hiking not an easy option). What complicates planning for the "transition seasons" this is that the seasonal changes vary widely between south and north, coast to inland and with altitude. To cope, you will need to seek local advice through tourist offices, hotel receptions and organisations such as hikers' associations etc. A main issue will always remain, this or that season, sufficient cash or not; how to beat the weather? I'll give some options and opinions in one of my travelogues.
If you are a happy winter person, that season offers great options. Once the snow has fallen in the autumn, things light up, literally, but for the time between the leaves have fallen off the branches and the first snowfall, there are few superlatives that can be used: Mid-October and November, the preferred business travel season of Norwegian industry and trade! All the white-collar fish mongers and purveyors of crude oil love to leave for southern markets!
Likewise, during the spring snow melt, winter activities tend to come to a halt, and summer activities haven't yet started. It's difficult to go hiking as well as skiing, and the cities' haven't properly woken up yet. But spring has its interesting emotional, cultural and environmental aspects here, especially the month of May, with lots of national celebrations and holidays.
There are ways of less expensive travelling and staying here than what your travel agent will tell you. Check my transportation tip pages for more specific stuff on how to save money on actual travel. Norwegians staying in hotels are frequently on expense accounts. Locals, while on holiday tend to visit relatives, friends or our own mountain or coastal cabins, and do not use travellers' accommodation regularily. Read in the tips section how we try to save money.
Don't come to Norway to see the cities (with a few exceptions), you will find more beautiful, better and livelier cities with more fun elsewhere. The great attractions of Norway are the landscapes; the fjords, islands, mountains, plateaus, all the water and the exotic Northern Norway. There is a network of numerous mountain and forest cabins connected by trails that give you access to the great outdoors easily and cheaply. The really intrepid cheapie-self-catering tourist will make use of nature's resources and legal provisions: free camping in the wilderness, free fishing in the sea, free berry picking etc. Combined with supermarket provisions you may have a very decent holiday on the cheap.
Ok, you cannot avoid the cities. But do visit them purposefully and don't expect too much from Norwegian urban life. Yet there are some exceptions to this; Ålesund, Røros, Bergen, some south coast cities in the right season and festival cities, like Molde and Oslo. Cities are sometimes seen as an anomaly to Norwegian life, the unit of confidence for many people here are the "bygd", those scattered, small communities along valleys and fjords. The conservative countryside suspicion against the cities and fear of removal from decision making and independent life are at the roots of why Norway remains outside the European Union. However, life here changes quickly, and most of us are by now very urban creatures living quite interesting lives in the crossroads between old traditions and the global village.
Getting to know Norwegians is very hard. Breaking the ice takes time, and face it, you are the one who have to do it. Norwegians are not apt to take the first step; most people here feel shy and reluctant to get in touch, even if curious, and we have no skills at getting introduced. It is always a very awkward situation for us - funny, huh? But most Norwegians feel delighted if you take contact, and they will be helpful and honestly try to involve themselves. To get fully integrated here is almost impossible, perhaps only the anonymity of the cities offer an opportunity to create a decent crossover life and retain pockets of original immigrant culture. There is a racist strain here for which there is no excuse.
So where is Norway in the Global Village? You wouldn't be guessing it while in the country, but we are amongst the most travelled people in the world. A small population and a globalized national economy shape an eagerness to look outside - in fair contradiction to that inward-looking psyche and racist strain. And we are really preoccupied with what the outside world thinks of us. The German author H. M. Enzensberger has described us as being out of step. And he makes some interesting observations of how the richest nation in the world chooses to dispose of its wealth. Again, coming here, you couldn't guess that the state coffers are literally overflowing with cash, mainly from a source of revenue most Norwegian has never seen - the North Sea oil fields. The Norwegian state runs in a huuuge surplus every year. As a patch-up for all damage done to the globe, Norway puts a fair amount of money into the UN and humanitarian causes, but far from sufficient to earn the country an award for outstanding achievements. Politics is grey and mainstream, the welfare state is being dismantled. While testily remaining outside the EU, this nation is actually one that has adapted to EU economic and social directives with the least critical sense.
Now, if all this hasn't scared you off, do come and visit!
- Pros:Great freedom of the outdoors, much space
- Cons:November, introverts, high cost, short summers
- In a nutshell:Nice place to l e a v e ..., yet I would still want to live here!
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