Tips to Plan a Vacation to Norway

Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is Europe’s second least-populated country and one of the most beautiful countries in the world. This Scandinavian gem is known for its amazing, albeit unbelievable, natural landscapes which have, sort of, imparted a very unique personality to the country. It boasts for numerous appealing natural attractions―steep fjords, mighty glaciers, rocky coastal islands, fascinating wildlife, and of course, the enchanting phenomena of the Midnight Sun and Northern Lights.

What is even more appealing is the country’s energetic cultural life that can be best experienced in the cosmopolitan and lively Norwegian cities. Norway not only intrigues, but also inspires its visitors, which is why, despite being one of the most expensive countries in the world, it keeps attracting more and more tourists, year after year.

Planning a Norwegian Vacation

A vacation to Norway can be really expensive, which is why, it is extremely essential to careful plan for the same. Buzzle brings you some essential travel tips to plan the vacation of your lifetime.

When to Visit

  • Norway has four main seasons viz., winter (December – February), spring (March – May), summer (June -August), and autumn (September – November).
  • While you plan your Norwegian holiday, your main consideration should be the country’s climate. It should be noted that Norway has a hugely variable climate, and that the weather can change all of a sudden.
  • Nevertheless, the peak tourist season in Norway falls between mid-June to mid-August (summer months). It is needless to say that Norway is most crowded at this time of the year, owing to which, airfares and accommodation prices are at their peak.
  • Norway’s peak season also happens to coincide with the school holidays in Norway and in the other countries of Europe, which further adds to the difficulty of finding desired accommodation and cheaper deals.
  • If you wish to travel during the peak season, make sure that you book well in advance, and ensure that you have booked after proper price comparisons. You surely do not want to end up paying more for less.
  • The period between early May to mid-June and between mid-August to late September comprises the shoulder season to travel to Norway.
  • The climate in late May is pleasant, and one can enjoy the country’s picturesque landscape against the soothing backdrop of blooming flowers and blossoming fruit trees. Moreover, the days are also longer, and most tourist sites are not crowded.
  • As you travel further North of the Arctic Circle in the peak season, the Midnight Sun can be seen at least one day in a year. So, if you are lucky enough to be in the right place on the right day, you will be simply awed by the sight.
  • Winter in the country is not particularly pleasant with temperatures below freezing and really long nights (only four to five hours of daylight). Owing to this, it forms the off-season to visit Norway.
  •  Most tourist sites and offices are either completely closed or open only for a short while during winter, and public transport becomes highly unreliable. Moreover, most accommodation facilities such as hostels, guest houses, and B&Bs also tend to shut down during this season.
  • Unless you are a skiing enthusiast and/or a curious mind, wanting to catch a quick glimpse of the Northern Lights, visiting the country in winter is not recommended, owing to the temporary closure of tourist infrastructure (at most places), and hostile weather.

Getting Around

  • Norway boasts of an extensive and extremely efficient network of public transport. What is even better is the fact that its buses, ferries, and trains are timed in such a way that the people do not have to wait for long to get their connecting mode of transport.
  •  Owing to the country’s craggy coastline, traveling by train or bus often becomes difficult and so, domestic flights have become a popular mode of transport within the country.
  •  Domestic flights are pricier in the northern parts of the country, as it has less number of towns and cities that lie pretty far apart. So, air transport tends to be the fastest and the most convenient mode in the north.
  • Though domestic flights are cheaper in southern Norway, it needs to be noted that there is no designated air routes between Oslo and cities that lie within its 200 km radius. So, for commuting between such spots, one has to rely only on trains and buses.
  •  The train network in Norway is operated by the Norwegian State Railways (NSB), and basically connects the Norwegian capital to the country’s major cities. Train travel in Norway often tends to be expensive; however, if you aim to travel extensively by train, you can opt for the Eurail Norway Pass or the InterRail One Country Pass to save money.
  • Trains do not run in the extreme north of the country, beyond Bodø, and hence, there is often no other choice apart from buses and ferries, both of which tend to operate on a seasonal basis in this region.
  •  Those wanting to explore the country at their own discretion have an option of car rentals. Cars can be booked online, and it is the best way to get around the country, especially in regions where public transport is less frequent and/or unreliable.

Visa Requirements

  • If you are a national of Iceland, Finland, Denmark, or Sweden, you will be granted free entry into Norway to stay for an unlimited duration, even without a valid passport. All you will need to produce is a valid identity card issued by your home country.
  •  Moreover, Norway is one of the Schengen countries and so, nationals of all the other member states of the Schengen Convention are granted entry without a visa for a total stay of up to three months. However, they do need a valid passport to enter Norway, and may have to face limited border controls at Norwegian frontiers.
  • Although Norway geographically lies in Europe, it is not a member of the European Union. So, citizens of those EU countries which are not party to the Schengen Convention, need to have a valid passport (not a visa), and are subject to customs control at the port of entry.
  • Apart from these, the citizens of the U.S., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand can enter Norway on a valid passport. South Africans need a Schengen visa to enter Norway.
  •  Most other nationals need a valid visa to enter Norway, which can be obtained from the Norwegian consulate in their home country.

Accommodation and Food

  • It goes without saying that Norway is an expensive country, and you will indeed have to travel smart in order to save money while you are there.
  • Most of your expenses will be incurred on accommodation. If you are on a budget, opt to stay in a shared room in a hostel, rather than an individual one in a hotel or a B&B. You may be able to save some money by doing so.
  • Food is also on the expensive side in Norway, but there are ways to save on that as well. Stay in a hostel that offers free breakfast, book an accommodation where you have access to a kitchenette so as to cook your own food, or opt for a hotel that offers a free buffet breakfast.
  •  Because the lunches tend to be cheaper than dinners in Norway, having an elaborate lunch at an inexpensive restaurant, and picking up stuff from the supermarket eateries for dinner is a good option.