Things to Know Before You Go to Norway

The North comes with its own unique set of both wonders and challenges for the avid traveler. This City Knows has compiled the things to know before you go to Norway to ensure the best possible experience on your Norwegian escapade.

Children watching Northern Lights in Norway

Before you zip up your suitcase and set your compass northward, there’s a fascinating thing to know before you go to Norway: nestled within its vast landscapes is the world’s longest road tunnel, stretching an unbroken 24.5 km. But this little nugget is just the tip of the iceberg, or should we say, fjord, as you set out for a journey to discover a land where nature’s grandeur is the backdrop of everyday life.

Planning Your Visit to Norway

Embarking on a Norwegian adventure brings you face-to-face with breathtaking landscapes and vibrant city life, all wrapped in the serene Nordic calm. Understanding the essential things to know before you go to Norway can ensure your journey is as majestic as the fjords themselves.

When to Go and How Much to Bring

Norway’s allure shines brightest during the summer months of June to August, when the days are longest and the weather is most welcoming for exploring the great outdoors. But winter enthusiasts will find the northern lights and snowy nocturnal landscapes between December and March truly irresistible. The northern lights can be seen between October and April, but visibility can vary depending on a variety of factors like solar activity and weather conditions. 

Do note that Norway is known for its high cost of living, so budget accordingly. It would be best to prioritize experiences over souvenirs, indulge in local food markets rather than dining out for every meal, and consider using public transportation, which is both efficient and eco-friendly.

The good news for budget travelers: the cost of living can vary significantly per region. For example, major cities like Oslo and Bergen tend to be more expensive than smaller towns or rural areas. Additionally, while dining out can be expensive, grocery costs and public transportation are relatively affordable compared to many other developed countries.

Where to Stay 

Your choice of accommodation can significantly enhance your Norwegian experience, from urban hotels to cozy cabins:

Traditional red Norwegian house by the fjord

How to Get Around

Norway’s extensive public transportation network makes it easy for even first time visitors to explore both urban and rural areas. In cities like Oslo and Bergen, trams, buses, and ferries are usually convenient and punctual. However, for more remote areas, renting a car may offer more flexibility, especially for visiting national parks and scenic routes like the Atlantic Road. Apps like Entur provide comprehensive travel information across various modes of transport, helping you plan your journey seamlessly.

Culture and Interaction in Norway

When delving into Norwegian culture, it often entails embracing the warmth of its people against the backdrop of a cold climate. 

Here are things to know before you go to Norway that help you understand the nuances of local customs and language better to enhance your connection with this beautiful country:

Local Customs and Etiquette

Like most premier vacation spots, Norwegians also value personal space and simplicity. However, they also tend to be quite friendly and open once they get to know you. They may initially come across as reserved or introverted, but this is often just a cultural difference in communication styles.

When meeting someone, a firm handshake is common, while close friends may greet each other with a light hug. Dress codes are generally casual but always neat, with practicality favored over fashion, especially outdoors. Tipping is also not a standard practice, as service charges are typically included in your bill. Of course, you are welcome to round up or leave a small tip for exceptional service in restaurants and taxis.

Language Tips

While Norwegian is the official language, the proficiency in English among Norwegians is high, making communication for English speakers relatively straightforward. However, learning a few basic Norwegian phrases like takk (thank you), and unnskyld (excuse me) can enrich your experience and is seen as a sign of respect. 

For deeper explorations into rural Norway, a translation app might just come in handy to navigate local menus and signs.

Friends socializing at Norwegian seaside town

Exploring & Experiencing Norway

Immersing yourself in Norway’s stunning landscapes and rich culture is truly an adventure like no other. 

These things to know before you go to Norway might just be your passport to an unforgettable journey:

Must-Visit Attractions

The majestic fjords are Norway’s crown jewels, with Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord being must-sees for their dramatic beauty. For a unique arctic experience, a visit to Svalbard offers the chance to see polar bears in the wild. History enthusiasts will appreciate the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, showcasing impeccably preserved Viking ships. Don’t overlook the Lofoten Islands, too, for a blend of pristine nature and traditional fishing villages.

In addition to Norway’s natural and historical treasures, the city of Bergen offers a picturesque gateway to the fjords and a glimpse into medieval Norwegian life through its UNESCO-listed Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf. Exploring further, Atlantic Road, known for its dramatic views and engineering marvels, makes for an unforgettable road trip. For those drawn to the allure of the Arctic Circle, a visit to the North Cape presents the mesmerizing phenomenon where the sun never sets during part of the summer. 

These experiences, from urban exploration to nature’s grandeur, encapsulate the diverse appeal of Norway, ensuring every traveler finds their own piece of paradise.

Food and Drink

Norwegian cuisine always offers a deep dive into seafood excellence, with dishes like salmon, cod, and king crab taking center stage. For a traditional taste, try the hearty fårikål (lamb and cabbage stew). Oslo’s Mathallen Food Hall presents an ample variety of local and international delicacies. Dietary needs, including vegetarian and vegan options, are also increasingly catered to in major cities.

Woman enjoying scenic Norwegian train ride

Local Experiences

Embarking on a fjord cruise provides an unparalleled perspective of Norway’s natural splendor, with various tours available to suit all budgets. For the uber adventurous, the Tromsø region offers unique opportunities to witness the northern lights. Cultural experiences like traditional Sami reindeer sledding further enrich the visit. Costs can vary, with northern lights tours starting at around 900 NOK.

Staying Safe & Healthy in Norway

With its low crime rates, Norway is considered as one of the safest destinations for solo travelers or groups. However, natural hazards such as slippery roads and steep terrains in rural areas call for caution. No specific vaccinations are required for Norway, as well, but it’s wise to have your routine immunizations up to date. In terms of drinking water, tap is not only safe— but somehow extra nourishing, too!

Discover More Things to Know Before You Go to Norway with This City Knows

Norway’s breathtaking landscapes, from its serene fjords to the mystical northern lights, await your discovery. These things to know before you go to Norway will definitely prepare you for a journey where nature’s wonders meet vibrant culture and culinary delights.

Let This City Knows be your guide to exploring the spellbinding beauty of Norway. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or cultural enrichment, we’ll help you tailor a travel experience that’s as unique as the Northern Lights. 

Plan your journey with us and unlock the magic of Norway— a country where every view is a postcard and every moment is an opportunity for discovery.

Patty O.
Author: Patty O.

A city girl through and through, Patty has always planned her adventures in and around urban areas. Through her travel writing, she aims to make a compelling case for the global city as a place of endless discovery and satisfaction. Her goal is to detail how urban exploration can fulfill the desires of anyone and everyone, from cultural and culinary adventurers to historical and supernatural enthusiasts.

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