Oh hello! Me again!!! I know, too soon but what can I say, I like to write, especially when it comes to a super-savvy Norway travel guide filled with uber useful Norway travel tips that you’re gonna love!
Because right now, the cosmos are telling me that you’re trying to plan the perfect Norway itinerary (furiously waving hands mystically so I look like a psychic).
Well, Fab! Because trust me, you’re gonna love it. And you don’t need to go broke when you travel to Norway either, contrary to popular belief.
But, let’s keep it real. Because whenever you visit a new country, you make mistakes. It’s inevitable. You have no idea how traveling to Norway works and will have some epic, “whoopsie” moments in the process.
Which is good. Because I mean who wants to vacation in a place that is exactly like home? Well, maybe some people but not this chick right here. I like to take chances, make mistakes, and let things happen (a la the Magic School Bus).
And although some mistakes are cute and totally innocent, some are Grand Canyon level problems that will needlessly stress you out as you travel through Norway.
And in good old, Girl with the Passport fashion…I made a ton of Norway travel mistakes and stressed out about them for you (Hello anxiety, we meet again). Shocking… to no one ever since I attract catastrophe like cheese attracts a mouse.
Actually, wait. That’s a lie. Mice don’t actually like cheese but whatev. You know what I’m throwin’ down. I digress though.
Basically, I’m about to get down and dirty and reveal my biggest travel blunders while I was destroying, I mean touring, the insanely beautiful, safe, and friendly Scandinavian country of…Norway (insert drum roll here).
So onwards and upwards, to some Norway travel tips that don’t suck! And, a warm welcome to the whimsical world of Norway travel. Because there are so many beautiful places in Norway that it’s kind of hard to know where to start when planning a trip to Norway.
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1. Underestimating the Sheer Size of Norway
With a population of just 5.3 million people, it’s easy to think that Norway is a tiny country that is super easy to get around.
But that assumption would be totally wrong! Yeah, that’s a total lie, as you can clearly see in the detailed Norway map above.
In reality, all those beautiful fjords and mountains, that make for exquisite Instagram selfies (kidding), are the same geographic boundaries that impede all of your attempts to travel Norway.
Therefore, when planning a trip to Norway, always give yourself plenty of time to get from one town to the next. I mean, between ferry rides across fjords and epic train journeys, you may spend your entire vacation actively travelling in Norway and not actually seeing anything.
And as much I love traveling, sleeping on a train for the duration of my vacation is not my idea of a good time.
I mean, did you know that the distance between Oslo and the Northernmost portions of Norwegian Lapland, is the same as the distance between Oslo and Rome Italy?
Yeah, I didn’t know that either!! So, the moral of the story? Give yourself plenty of time to travel Norway and plan accordingly.
Fun Little Factoid: Just in case you’re not in the know, Norway is a country in Scandanavia (A sub-region of Europe that includes Norway, Sweden, and Denmark. It’s also sometimes defined more broadly to include Finland and Iceland too) and has a population of around 5.2 million people – a place that is routinely named one of the top countries to visit/live in the world.
2. Assuming Everything in Norway is Insanely Expensive
When reading a Norway travel guide and planning a trip to Norway, the first thing that people will say is, “Oh my God, Norway is so expensive!”
And while I don’t consider Norway to be cheap, which is why you’ll definitely need this guide to Oslo on a budget, I also wasn’t dumpster diving just to find my next meal.
So what’s the truth?Is Norway expensive? Well no, if you use common sense and these money-saving tips.
So instead of taking a taxi, use public transportation. Instead of eating out for lunch, buy something at the supermarket Instead of renting a hotel room, try and book an overnight train trip. Instead of buying water, bring a water bottle.
Get the Idea?
In fairness though, I may be a bit bias since I live in New York and everything there is like Richie Rich level expensive. This is why you still might need this guide to Norway on a budget.
However, I was able to find a hotel room for $70 a night (the best kind of luxury travel Norway), at one of the best hotels in Bergen Norway (Augustin hotel) so clearly, a soda doesn’t always cost $10 a can.
Full disclosure though? That was at the end of April which is still considered the offseason. So things are probably very different during the high season when Bergen is flooded with four cruise ships daily.
Pro Tip: Eating out in Norway can get expensive fast! Therefore, one of my top Norway travel tips is to do like the locals do and get some meals from the local grocery store. Because, unlike many other European countries, Norway doesn’t have a culture where they go out to eat ALL THE TIME.
3. Buying Food at a Convenience Store or Gas Station when Roadtripping Norway
No, no, a thousand times no. This is honestly one of my biggest Norway travel tips.
Whatever you do, back away from the store, unless you need some gas. Then buy away,
But Seriously. The prices of food and drinks at these places are not convenient in any way, shape, or form. And by no means are they helping you travel Norway cheap.
Therefore, when traveling through Norway, Stock up on goodies at the supermarket so that you can avoid the insanely inflated prices that these places offer.
Unless of course, you’re Mr. Monopoly and have money to burn when planning a trip to Norway. Then my friend, stay classy and rock on.
4. Not Wearing Sunscreen
I feel like most people assume that when you’re in Nordic countries, the sun doesn’t really exist. It’s almost like you believe that the sun won’t hurt you because you are at such a high latitude.
Sorry, wrong answer. That’s why my general rule is that if you can see the sun, then it can burn you. At least, that’s true for me. Although, I’m so pale that I’m practically see-through. So I may be an exception.
But in general, It’s always a good idea to wear sunscreen when you’re out in the sun all day, even if it’s cloudy because yes, you can get burned through the clouds (been there, done that. It’s a talent really).
5. Not Considering Winter Closures
Between the roads and attractions, a lot of things can be shut down during the winter.
And it makes sense. Because if you have 3 hours of sunlight and 12 feet of snow outside then chances are, no one is gonna risk life and limb just to hang out at a local museum.
But, this general Norway travel tip applies to off-season too! Because technically speaking, high season runs from the beginning of May through the end of September.
Therefore, travel through Norway during high season and you can expect large crowds, although everything will be open.
However, If you’re like me and visit in April, even if the weather is nice, most attractions will be closed or running on a more limited, winter schedule.
This means that while the crowds will be light and the hotel prices will be cheap, you won’t get to see as much. But a much better scenario than the soul-crushing hordes of tourists that descend, like locusts, upon Bergen in the summer.
That’s why for me, the best time to travel to Norway is in the off-season (October – April) because yes, I am an anti-social, recluse of sorts. Not Howard Highs bad, but on that spectrum.
Another added perk is that depending on where you go, you might even be able to see the northern lights while travelling in Norway.
6. Assuming You’ll Only Eat Fish
Okay, so while Norway is known for its love of fish, especially the dried and salted variety, Norwegian cuisine has come a long way since the days of old.
Yes, my friends.If you are a vegan or a vegetarian or just hate eating fish, you’re in luck (dollar, dollar bills y’all) because there are still a ton of things for you to eat.
Why? Most restaurants have hopped on the pop-culture bandwagon and embrace current dietary trends. That’s why many restaurants now offer at least a veggie burger of sorts on their menu.
Me? I’m the vegetarian weirdo who travels to Norway and tries Ethiopian food for the first time.
No regrets though. I loved eating with my hands and yes, the food was amazing (nom, nom, nom). So head to the Horn of Africa (in Bergen) because it’s worth it (dare I say finger-licking good?).
Pro Tip: Although I personally am not into the fishy goodness, Norway is known for having the BEST salmon and actually introduced the food to the Japanese in the 1980s. Therefore, be sure to try some quality salmon as you travel through Norway. Sure, it’s not cheap. But it’s delicious and will be a truly authentic Norwegian meal.
7. Taking Your Bag Into a Museum With You
Yeah no. This is a total party foul. In Norway, you do NOT take your backpack with you, into a museum.
Nope! Instead, you place your bag in a locker and walk around the museum empty-handed.
Why? No idea. I bet it has something to do with not damaging priceless artifacts around you. Just heed this Norway travel advice and don’t be like me and go all the way to the basement to pee, come back up to the entrance, to just to go right back down to the basement because you forgot to put your belongings in a locker.
Some other sage advice when planning a trip to Norway? In most hotels, the electricity will only go on when you place your keycard in the designated keycard holder.
Seriously. I don’t know how many times I almost broke my toe while frantically feeling my way to the door. Yeah, crashing into door frames and sporting black eyes at breakfast is not the way you want to start your trip to Norway.
Therefore, don’t scramble around trying to, go towards the light (LoL. Terrible but I had to). Just place your keycard in the holder and all will be right with the world.
8. Not Considering How Long (or short) the Days Are
Now, this all depends on how far north you go, but no matter where you are in Norway, the days are probably way shorter, or longer than you’re used to.
Yup, typically in the winter, the sun will rise around 10 am and set around 3 pm. Therefore, this natural occurrence can really cramp your style if you’re doing a bunch of outdoor activities.
Therefore, use this list of Norway travel tips to help you plan accordingly and do anything outdoors during daylight hours.
Also, remember that some people’s moods can be affected by the lack of light. Me? Not so much.
Truth be told though, I think I’d have a harder time in the summer, trying to sleep when the sun was still up.
Asa result, just be aware of it and you should be totally fine. It just really throws off your sense of time and you generally feel like it’s way earlier or later than it actually is.
9. Not Booking Hotels or Train Tickets in Advance
When I was booking my tickets planning a trip to Norway, I was shocked at how quickly everything filled up.
I mean sure, this would be no surprise during the busy summer months, but I was going in the offseason!
Well, guess what? A lot of other people think this way too. As a result, train tickets and hotel rooms can book up fast.
That’s why, one of my Norway travel tips is to try and book your train tickets/hotel rooms at least 90 days in advance, just to be safe.
Plus, if you do this, you’ll score cheaper train tickets since you’re planning so far in advance. Actually, you can really only buy train tickets up to 90 days in advance but whatever.
Just remember that the quicker you book things, the better.
10. Not Cleaning Up After Yourself
So I feel like, in Norway, there is more social consciousness. People just seem to be more aware of their actions and how they affect society as a whole.
The result? Lights will only turn on when someone is in the room, people at buffets are encouraged not to waste food, and people actually clean up food they drop on public transportation.
Crazy Right? Maybe I’m just used to the inability of New Yorkers to take care of communal spaces, but I was stunned to see some dude actually picking up bits of his sandwich that fell on the tram floor.
Legit, I felt like I was on another planet where total slobs are shamed into appreciating and yes, even caring for public spaces (Not a bad thing to conform to).
Seriously, New Yorkers need to step up their game because we’re disgusting. Instead of cleanliness, we have rats the size of cats just chillin’ in our subway stations like, “Yo ma, pass me that pizza would ya?”
That’s why, if you’re travelling in Norway, be prepared to clean up after yourself.
11. Cash Is Optional
I’ve noticed this before, but you really don’t need cash in Norway, at least not in the populated areas where I was.
A Debit card? You betcha since some transactions require a pin number. But in general, I didn’t exchange any cash because I didn’t need to. I mean, even the public transportation ticket machines take cards. So yeah, I kind of felt like, “Ehh…what’s the point?”
Therefore, no need to exchange cash you’ll never need again (I know you’ll really miss those insanely high fees for transferring from one currency to the next).
Instead, embrace this ever-growing no cash trend and feel the financial freedom (I sound like a cheesy credit card commercial).
In truth though, there was one locker that required change, but I borrowed a coin from the museum admission desk and it was totally fine.
Pro Tip: Just in case you’re not sure, Norway does NOT use the Euro as its currency since they are a part of the EEA or European Economic Area. Therefore, don’t try to pay for things in Euros. Instead, use the local currency of the Norwegian Kroner (NDK). But as I said, you can use a card to pay for just about everything.
12. Trying to See Fjords and the Northern Light in Oslo
Yeah, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Northern Lights won’t be dancing around the entirety of Norway in the winter.
One of those Norway travel tips that is sad but totally true. Especially since not only do you need clear skies, but you also need to be near the Arctic Circle, at least if you want to see the Northern Lights in their most vibrant colors.
But just know that even if you are near the Arctic Circle, this still doesn’t guarantee that you will see these natural beauties.
I mean, sure, I was personally above the Arctic Circle. But,the Northern Lights I saw were kind of crappy. Nothing like the advertisements that leave you in awe of all the vibrant colors and lights magically swirling through the sky (we call this photo editing).
Similarly, you also won’t be seeing any jaw-droppingly beautiful fjords in Oslo either.
Sorry but fjords and the stunning topography that they create are only found on the Western coast of Norway (Bergen is a great place to see them).
Therefore, when planning a trip to Norway, you can’t just fly into Oslo and witness a stunning array of fjords that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Sorry but I just don’t want you to be totally disappointed when you get to Oslo and find no fjords insight.
13. Trolls are Everywhere!
Between the playgrounds, street art, statues, and souvenir shops, you will literally find a troll around every corner.
And they are super creepy! Trust me these aren’t the cute, 90s troll dolls with jewels in their belly that you could rub and make a wish.
Nope. They must be found in some traditional, Norwegian folklore because they are everywhere.
Sure, I find them totally weird, but clearly, other people do not. Plus, people generally consider most of what I do pretty odd so who am I to judge?
14. Say No to Tipping
Norwegians are so nice that I literally had a waiter return the tip I left him.
Shocking but true!
And then when I tried to convince him to take it, he just smiled and told me that if people do tip, it’s only 5%.
But, he quickly reiterated to me that no tip was necessary and graciously thanked me for my patronage.
Yeah, talk about being a world away from waiters in New York City who will practically spit on you if you leave them anything less than 20%. But lesson learned.
15. Not Spending Enough Time in Nature
Look, Norway is known for a plethora of things, but its magnificent cities aren’t one of them.
Don’t get me wrong! I’m not knocking the cities in Norway. They have their own distinctive charm and appeal. But if they were totally chaotic mega centers of urban life then Norway would lose some of its natural appeal.
No, on the whole, Norway is known for its stunning natural beauty, which is why you should definitely do a Norway in a Nutshell tour while you are in the region.
Between the fjords, majestic rivers, and snow-capped mountains, this country is truly a playground for any and all outdoor enthusiasts.
Therefore, get out of the city and experience all of the best hikes in Norway! Because no matter what you like, there is something for you in this stunning landscape.
I mean, you name it and they have it since you can go zip-lining, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, not so strenuous hiking (for this chick right here), river cruising, and so much more.
And trust me, if this city slicker can find a way to enjoy nature then anyone can!
You’ll also love the fact that most national parks and outdoor locations are totally free for visitors to use since Norwegians believe that all people should have free access to public lands.
Yup, three solid cheers for Norway. Hip, hip, hooray!
Pro Tip: Because of the very Norwegian idea of “Allemannsretten”, or the fundamental right of every person to public access, you can pretty much pitch a tent just about anywhere you want in Norway – unless a sign explicitly says not to. So, one of my many Norway travel tips would be to live it up, go wild camping and embrace the Norwegian love of the great outdoors. Just be respectful, clean up after yourself, and leave no trace behind.
16. Polar Bears Will NOT Be Wandering With You Through the Streets
Umm, I feel like this is one of those Norway travel tips that didn’t need to be explicitly stated. But I guess I do since I’ve had more than one person ask me if they will meet any polar bears as they frolic through the streets of Norway.
So yeah, obviously I need to clarify a few things when planning a trip to Norway. Actually, I don’t need to clarify much since there’s a pretty short answer to the above question.
And that answer is no. In fact, there aren’t any wild polar bears on the mainland of Norway at all! Yeah, if you actually want to see some polar bears in their natural habitat, then you’ll need to fly all the way to Svalbard, a super cool archipelago that sits smack dab in between mainland Norway and the North Pole.
Because in this place? Well, there are actually more polar bears than people. That being said though, polar bears still like to steer clear of people, and incidents of polar bears actually mauling people is super rare.
17. Assuming Nobody Speaks English
Although English may not be widely spoken in many other parts of the world, it’s definitely spoken just about everywhere in Norway.
Therefore, when planning a trip to Norway, don’t feel like you HAVE to know Norwegian to chat with the locals.
Is it nice to know a few phrases and to show respect for people’s culture? Absolutely. So one of my many Norway travel tips would be to learn at least a few common Norwegian phrases before traveling to Norway.
But don’t feel intimidated and like you can’t chat with people if you don’t know Norwegian because the vast majority of Norwegians know English.
They may be a little shy about chatting with you in their non-native language, but most locals can probably understand you and help you with any questions you might have.
18. Don’t Be Scared! Norway is Super Safe!
Like most of the countries in Scandinavia, Norway is super safe. In fact, Norway is known for being one of the safest countries in the world since crime rates are exceptionally low – even in major urban centers like Bergan, Oslo, and Stavanger.
Does that mean you should wander around flashing large wads of cash and throw caution to the wind? No. Still take all the usual precautions when visiting a major urban area.
But, you definitely don’t need to gird your loins and freak out if you have to walk alone down the street in the middle of the night. Yeah, the vast majority of crimes in Norway are non-violent burglaries, so no need to worry, especially if you are traveling alone.
Pro Tip: Like in most major European cities, when planning a trip to Norway, watch out for pickpockets when traveling to large, touristy areas throughout the summer months. It’s still safe but it’s not unheard of for people to get pickpocketed.
Well cool kids, that just about wraps up this epic Norway travel guide and my 18 super sweet Norway travel tips.
I hope you now have everything you need for planning a trip to Norway and feel like you’re ready to travel through Norway like a total pro.
And if you found this post even a little bit useful, feel free to pin this now so that you can read it again later!