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 and things to consider when visiting Norway.
Let me guess, 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).
Trust me, you’re gonna love it. And you don’t need to go broke in the process, contrary to popular belief.
But Let’s Keep it Real:
Whenever you visit a new country, you make mistakes. It’s inevitable. You have no idea how Norway travel wrks 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.
While some mistakes are cute and totally innocent, some are Grand Canyon level problems that will needlessly stress you out on your vacation.
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.
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 sme Norway travel tips that don’t suck!
And, a Warm Welcome to the Whimsical World of Norway travel.
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1. UNDERESTIMATING THE SIZE OF NORWAY (SERIOUSLY, JUST LOOK AT A NORWAY MAP. THIS COUNTRY PUTS THE ASS IN MASSIVE. OKAY, NOT REALLY BUT I JUST WANTED TO USE THAT LINE)
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. Wrong! Yeah, that’s a total lie. 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 traveling.
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 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!! Moral of the Story: Give yourself plenty of time to travel Norway and plan accordingly.
2. ASSUMING EVERYTHING IN NORWAY IS EXPENSIVE (NOT THE CASE WHEN I WAS IN BERGEN NORWAY)
When reading a Norway travel guide:
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, 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. Also: There are a ton of amazing and totally free hikes in Norway that will give you stunning, once in a lifetime views. Three cheers to that! 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.
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. Disclaimer: This was at the end of April which is still considered offseason. So things are probably very different during high season when Bergen is flooded with four cruise ships daily.
3. BUYING FOOD AT A CONVENIENCE STORE OR GAS STATION WHEN ROADTRIPPING TO YOUR FAVE NORWAY DESTINATIONS (A TIP YOU MAY NOT FIND IN EVERY NORWAY TRAVEL GUIDE BOOK)
No, no, a thousand times no. 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; 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 traveling to Norway, are Mr. Monopoly, and have money to burn. Then my friend, stay classy and rock on.
4. NOT WEARING SUNSCREEN (TRAVEL NORWAY GUIDE TIP 101)
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.
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. Its a talent really). I mean: You don’t have to bath in sunscreen but a little extra never hurts. And if you hate sunscreen (the fewer liquids I travel with the better), you can always rock a super awesome hat like this.
5. NOT CONSIDERING WINTER CLOSURES (A NORWAY TRAVEL AGENCY CAN HELP WITH THIS)
Between the roads and attractions, a lot of things can be shut down during the winter. And it Makes Sense: 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 rule applies to off-season too!
Technically speaking, high season runs from the beginning of May through the end of September.
Therefore: Travel Norway during high season and expect large crowds, but 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 te hotel prices will be chea, you won’t get to see as much. But a much better scenario then the soul-crushing hordes of tourists that descend, like locusts, upon Bergen in the summer. So 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.
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?).
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. Don’t be like me and go all the way to the basement to pee, come back up to the entrance, just to go right back down to the basement because you forgot to put your belongings in a locker. Additional Norway travel advice:
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 I want to start my.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: 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: I think I’d have a harder time in the summer, trying to sleep when the sun was still up. As a Result: Just be aware 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 TRAVEL IN NORWAY, IN ADVANCE
When I was booking my tickets 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 only buy train tickets up to 90 days in advance but whatever.
Just remember that the quicker you book things, the better.
10. CLEAN 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?”
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.
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). ***Okay, there was one locker that required change, but I borrowed a coin from the museum admission desk and it was totally fine.
12. TRYING TO SEE NORWAY FJORDS AND THE NORTHERN LIGHTS IN NORWAY OSLO (ADVENTURE TRAVEL NORWAY! WOOT WOOT)
Yeah, I hate to burst your bubble, but the Northern Lights won’t be dancing around the entirety of Norway in the winter. Sadly True: 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 in the Arctic Circle, this still doesn’t guarantee that you will see these natural beauties. Sure:
I was 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).
Additionally: You will not be doing any “fjord travel Norway” in Oslo. 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). That’s Why: 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 in sight.
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. JUST 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 reiterated to me that no tip was necessary and graciously thanked me for my patronage. Yeah: 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 it’s 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.
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 into nature because no matter what you like, there is something for you amongst this stunning landscape. Legit: There is 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 than anyone can!
NOW FOR THE NORWAY TRAVEL GUIDE AND NORWAY TRAVEL TIPS FINALE!
So as we all know:
There are about as many different Norway travel mistakes as there are people on this crazy planet of ours. Therefore: I could have listed a ton of other common mistakes in this Norway travel guide, but I haven’t made them yet! Why? I wasn’t in Norway that long! You need to give me a bit of time and I assure you that I will commit any and every Norwegian party foul possible. That’s Why: You need to stick with this not so fancy smancy Norway travel advice. Disaster is just right around the corner and you’ll want to hear all about as soon as the shizzle hits the fan and calamity/chaos ensues.
So buckle up because it’s already been one hell of a ride, and it’s only gonna get better.