This is a short, general guide for travel to Norway. I will also write separate posts about the cities of Stavanger, Bergen, Tromsø and Oslo. Many people think of Norway as a place of natural beauty, including the fjords. And I can confirm that the fjords are definitely worth visiting, as well as hiking and enjoying views from mountains and hills. One of the nice things about the Norwegian cities is that they do not feel crowded, even in the centre. However, very nearby one can find beautiful natural highlights to explore. The north, including Tromsø, is a popular destination to see the Northern lights (aka Aurora borealis).
Most people speak English in Norway. There are very clear signs around the cities to find landmarks, and clear signage to explore the nature trails. Public transport is reliable and quite frequent. And credit cards are accepted in most places even for the public toilets! Therefore, travel to Norway is very easy, though it can also be quite expensive relative to other European countries.
If you would like to venture further into the wilderness, then Svalbard is just a few hours flight north from Oslo.
- Norway’s natural beauty is the top highlight whether this is the fjords near Bergen, the mountains and hills or the Northern lights
- Bergen is a quaint town near the sea and surrounded by hills. It is also the gateway to see many spectacular fjords and waterfalls
- Stavanger has some interesting attractions in the city including the fish canning museum and petroleum museum. It is also the gateway to some beautiful natural sights such as Preikestolen
- Oslo, the capital of Norway, and a city full of beautiful architecture, parks and art. For example, the Opera house is beautiful both inside and outside
- Tromsø is a city in the north famous for seeing the Northern lights in the winter. It also has an ice dome hotel which gets rebuilt every winter. And it is the gateway to the Lofoten archipelago
- Svalbard is an Arctic island with stunning, unspoilt nature. In the winter, it is very cold but you can enjoy activities including dog sledding, snow mobiles, and visiting an ice cave. In the spring, you can take boat trips and may spot whales or polar bears
- There were many older civilisations before the modern cities so look for ruins and museums to learn more
- Seafood and the local cuisine, including the tasty breads
Before you go
- Be prepared for the weather. The winters are cold and even the summer evenings can be chilly
- The days are incredibly long in the summer and short in the winter
- If you get seasick, then bring or buy medication, as you will likely want to take boats to fully enjoy some highlights like the fjords
- Alcohol is very expensive! There are also limited hours to buy it at a shop especially on the weekends
- Interesting fact- public restrooms that require payment often accept credit cards. Some of them do not accept cash!
- Most people speak English
- Bring a good camera if you want to capture the best of the natural sights
- Norwegian Airlines is a budget airline and has many flights to Norway from around Europe
- Most airlines have some flights to the larger cities in Norway including Ryanair, EasyJet, BA, etc
- The bus system between cities is reliable and scenic. I took the Kystbussen from Stavanger to Bergen and the journey was about 5 hours including some ferries. The views were beautiful and I enjoyed the scenery.
- There are also trains between the major cities and also to start the tours in the fjords areas, such as Bergen to Voss
- Of course, a great way to see some of the natural beauty is on a boat, especially cruising through the fjords
- In the city centres, it is easy to get around by foot. If you like hiking then there is also a lot of opportunity for that
- The cable cars in Bergen and Tromsø are great for views or to start some of the hikes
- In Stavanger, I stayed in the Comfort Hotel both of my trips. It is part of a Scandinavian chain, not to be confused with the US chain of the same name. I like the chain because they are simple, clean and usually have good breakfasts.
- In Bergen, for my first trip I stayed in the Augustin Hotel, which is quite central and peaceful. I would definitely recommend it. For the next trips, I stayed in AirBnB and with a friend. In general, anywhere in the city centre is very safe and there are no bad areas.
- As usual I would recommend a site such as Booking.com to look at reviews and locations to choose accommodation within your budget. If you want to have the convenience of a kitchen or more space then AirBnB is a good option. I say this especially since if you’re on a budget then it is usually cheaper and you can make some of your own food.
The currency in Norway is the Kroner. As of September 2021, the exchange rate is about 11.8 kroner to one British pound.
I recommend to check the currency conversion just before you leave as this fluctuates
I had not heard much about the cuisine before travelling to Norway but I found a few restaurants that had creative local food that I would recommend. This includes Egget in Stavanger and Spisekroken in Bergen. They used a lot of local ingredients in their beautifully-presented and delicious dishes.
In general, there is of course a lot of salmon and other seafood in the cuisine! I have posted a recipe for Norwegian Fish Gratin.
More specifics on food are in the City Guides!
Q: Do I need a tour guide?
A: No but it may be useful to book a tour to visit the fjords as that makes it easier to get from place to place by a mix of bus, train and boat. Around the cities, it is easy to self-navigate.
Q: Do people speak English?
A: Yes most people speak English
Q: Can I travel solo?
A: Yes Norway is quite safe and it is easy to travel solo
Q: How easy is it to send postcards?
A: Yes it is easy to find postcards in the tourist shops and stamps at the post offices. The post offices are usually closed on Sunday. See Sending Postcards from Abroad for details on cost and the time it took to reach the USA.
Go to Country Map