Norway holidays

Experience Norway

Best Places to Visit

Oslo is a stunning city, with some amazing restaurants and nightlife. Despite being one of the largest capitals in Europe, it has the smallest population. Hiking, ice skating and skiing are all possible within the city limits while there are museums, parks and impressive architecture galore.

In eastern Norway, there is Velmunden, a canoeing paradise thanks to the Randsfjord and Sperillen lakes. The landscape is unspoilt, with many canoeing routes to explore. There are also several historic Finnish settlements here for those wanting to experience some of the history of Norway.

In southern Norway, visitors will find the Setesdalen Valley. The landscape here is perfect for hiking, with forest and mountains. There are a number of trails for tourists to follow, but one of the most popular is from Dale, via the Rjukan Waterfall, right across the Skuggefjell Mountains to Setesdal.

In Setesdal tourists will find the Haugeburet building, the oldest structure in Norway, having been built in 1219.

Touring the coastal road is a great way to take in some scenery. Running from Mandal to Hafrsfjord, the road is more than 6,000kms long and is best enjoyed by cycling.

The Southern Norway archipelago is a popular tourist spot. Made up of thousands of islands, this area is particularly popular with sun worshippers in the summer months, but it's also a perfect place for beginners to try sea kayaking as the islands are sheltered from the sea, meaning the waters are perfectly calm.

Skien is a small, stunning town that is the first stop on the Telemark Canal, which runs to Dalen. The canal is made up of an exemplary system of locks and flows through several towns and Lake Bandak.

Nidaros Cathedral was an incredibly important pilgrimage destination throughout the Middle Ages, and it's easy to see why. The Trondheim cathedral is huge and beautifully decorated.

Canals play a significant part in Norwegian life and one of the best is the Telemark Canal. This beautiful waterway extends from the birthplace of Norway's most famous playwright, Henrik Ibsen, all the way to Dalen. The canal can take a few hours to explore, particularly if visitors stop off to see the many sites along the way, such as the Nutheim art hotel, the Hardangervidda plateau and Morgendal, which is famous for its excellent skiing. A series of intricate locks can make for slow going, but this is one of the most peaceful and serene ways to explore Norway.

Top Landmarks

Norway is a stunning country with some amazing scenery and plenty of history. The rock carvings in Alta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are proof of human activity in Norway as far back as the prehistoric period. Having only been discovered in the 1960s, the drawings are well preserved and have become a tourist hot spot. There's also the Alta Museum here, for those wanting to know more about the carvings.

Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the little town of Roros. This old mining town may be small, but it retains many long-established traditions and is known for producing arts and crafts. Many of the 17th and 18th-century buildings that make the town so unique are inhabited by residents.

Oscarsborg Fortress, on an island in the middle of Oslofjord, is a monument to Norway's military history. The fortress itself is stunning, but the island isn't far behind in the scenery stakes.

Norway has many national parks that are worth a visit. Femundsmarka and Gutelia national parks, along with Tofsingdalen on the Swedish side of the border, form a collection of high mountains with no end of wild and beautiful wilderness.

Geirangerfjord is a tourist hot spot as it offers a taste of everything, from snow-topped mountains to lush green vegetation and a number of stunning waterfalls. Cruises and sightseeing boat trips are available and a good way of seeing Brudesl'ret Waterfall and De Syv Sostrene Waterfall in all their glory. This is also a popular hiking spot.

Entertainment

All of the big cities in Norway have enough clubs and bars to satisfy those visitors looking for nightlife. Some of the best nightlife in Oslo can be found in the Youngstorget area, which has a variety of bars to suit all tastes.

Oslo also has many quirky bars that offer something a little different. The Library Bar allows customers to sip a pint surrounded by leather bound books and crystal chandeliers while Tekhtopa is an ex-pharmacy which has been converted into a trendy drinking spot.

Norway has some fantastic live music venues, such as Hulen in Bergen. Set in a converted bomb shelter, it showcases a wide variety of live music styles and hosts a heavy metal festival in November.

Olavshallen in Trondheim is home to the Trondheim Symphony Orchestra for those seeking something more classical, with jazz concerts on throughout the year.

Norway has a good range of theatres across the country. Agder theatre in Grimstad is an old quarry that has been adapted for performance purposes.

The National Theatre in Oslo is a more lavish affair at the beautiful Rococo Hall. Constructed specifically to showcase the work of Henrik Ibsen, a famous Norwegian playwright, the theatre features his plays throughout the year.

All of the cities and most of the big towns have cinemas, and most show the latest films in English, although children's films are sometimes dubbed. Oslo is home to the Cinemateket, an art-house cinema that shows alternative films alongside old classics.

Dining Out

Traditional food tends to be made from whatever can be grown in that particular area and as a result, traditional food varies from region to region. For example torrfisk, dried cod, or klippfisk, salted cod, are main dietary staples, but only in the northern coastal communities.

However, it is widely agreed that forikol is the national dish of Norway. This stewed casserole contains lamb and cabbage and is the perfect dish to enjoy on a cold night. Steak is a common menu staple in most restaurants, with game, deer, elk and reindeer all commonly enjoyed. Fish, such as smoked salmon, also makes an appearance on most menus. Cheese is hugely popular in Norway, especially geitost. This smoked cheese is soft and mild in taste.

Whale was once commonly eaten in Norway; however, due to whaling laws, it is becoming harder to find and can be quite expensive.

Lunch in Norway tends to be a small meal, such as a sandwich or snack, with a much heartier and more drawn out evening meal. Hot stews and soups are popular, and sliced bread is eaten with almost every meal. Pastries, such as lukket valn'tt, are a must-try for visitors.

Beach

Southwestern Norway is known for having the best beaches in the country, particularly around the city of Stavanger. Here, there are a number of white sandy beaches such as Solastrand, Vigdel and Orrestranda. All are only a short drive away from Stavanger and due to the size and number of beaches, there's never any need to fight for towel space.

Romance

Few experiences on earth are as amazing or romantic as witnessing the natural phenomenon that is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, with a loved one. The best time to see the lights is from September through April. In the city of Tromsø, they can be seen on any clear night during this time. With plenty of cosy hotels here, it's the perfect spot for a romantic getaway.

Family

Camping in Norway is popular and a great way to explore the country, with campsites all along the coast, in the mountains and by many of the lakes. Camping by one of the fjords means enjoying all of the hiking trails on offer, but many of the campsites have heated outdoor pools, barbeques and kids' clubs. Hot water and other amenities come as a standard in many campsites.

Adventure

Norway is something of an adventure holiday mecca, with skiing, canoeing, hiking and skydiving all possible. However, those seeking some real adventure can head to Spitsbergen. Here, it's possible to hike to one of the largest glaciers in Europe. Although it's not for the faint-hearted, it is certainly a thrilling experience. Spitsbergen is also a great place to see polar bears roaming the ice and seals and walrus.

Our best deals in Norway

Need to know

Language

Norwegian, which has some similarities to Swedish and Danish, is the official language. Because it was, until relatively recently, a series of unconnected regions, there are significant variations in dialect; the same word can be pronounced many different ways, according to where it is spoken. Also, there are three written languages to contend with. However, 90 percent of the population is fluent in English, having been schooled in it since the age of six. Everyone within the tourist industry speaks English fluently, with German and French also commonly spoken. Even outside of the tourism sector English is widely spoken, with only some of the older generation not having at least a basic grasp of the language.

Currency

The official currency of Norway is the Norwegian Crown, which is made up of 100 Ore. Foreign currency can be exchanged at any airport, bank or money exchange, and all three can be found throughout the country. In Norway, ATMs are called Minibanks and accept foreign cards. Credit cards are widely used, except in small shops and post offices. Anyone wishing to use their credit card will have to show photo identification, such as a passport or driver's licence.

Visas

Norway is a signatory to the Schengen Agreement, in which 26 separate European Nations have abolished their internal borders with other member nations. As a result, Norway is open to citizens of all Schengen states. Citizens of EU countries which have not signed the agreement, including the UK, are also granted access to the country without a visa and for an unlimited period. However, it can still be worth carrying a passport, credit card and driving license in the event of needing to hire certain things, such as car-hire. Non-EU citizens need a visa to enter as a tourist for up to 90 days. Although the UK is not part of the Schengen Agreement, it is part of the EU so UK citizens do not require a visa for a stay of any length. However, they are required to hold a valid passport.

Climate

Norway is often thought of as a wet and bitterly cold country, however there is some variation in climate that may surprise you. The countries position in the westerlies means that there is a strong and warm current that passes its shores, bringing small spells of pleasant weather. Unlike other countries that have a high latitudes; such as Greenland and Siberia, Norway is much more temperate. This also means that the snow that falls along the coast melts almost immediately. For around three months of the year snow can be seen quilted across houses and streets inland, and on average, temperatures vary between -10°C in the early part of the year, to +16°C in the summer months.

Main Airports

Oslo Airport (Gardermoen) is by far the biggest airport in the country, at around 60kms to the north of Oslo. It receives many flights from the UK. Sandefjord Airport in Sandefjord, 115kms from Oslo, is the primary destination for many budget airlines arriving from the UK. Moss Airport in Rygge also charters scheduled UK flights.

Flight Options

Scandinavian Airlines flies from London-Heathrow, Manchester and Dublin direct to Oslo Airport (Gardermoen). British Airways flies from London-Heathrow to Oslo. Ryanair flies from several UK airports to Sandefjord Airport, including from London-Stansted, Birmingham, Liverpool, Edinburgh and Glasgow. Flight time from London to Oslo is 2 hours.

Travel Advice

Flight fares tend to be consistent price-wise throughout the year, but there is a marginal rise during the peak season, June through August. Some of the non-budget airlines, such as British Airlines, sometimes have online deals, so it is worth checking. Flying into Sandefjord Airport rather than Oslo Airport can be cheaper but travellers have to travel a further distance to Oslo on arrival.

Other Transport Options

Several international bus lines cross the border from Sweden. Eurolines and SwebusExpress run bus services from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Oslo several times a day, and buses run far more frequently than the trains. Although there is currently no ferry service from the UK, there is a daily ferry service from Kiel, Germany, to Oslo, that takes around 8 hours. Color Line and Stena Line run ferries from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Oslo.

Getting Around

Domestic flights are extremely popular. Flights are limited in the north but run far more frequently in the south. The bus network is extensive, with the train line being significantly less so. Driving is the best way to reach rural areas; however, rentals can be expensive.

Bus

There in an extensive bus network that connects the cities and most of the national parks. NOR-WAY Bussekspress, Timekspressen and Veolia Transport Nord are the three biggest bus companies.

Car

Although some cities are confusing to navigate, the roads are well signposted (in Norwegian) and the network is extensive. Roads are well maintained, but petrol stations can be infrequent. Driving is on the right and from November to April, winter tyres are essential.

Train

All trains in Norway are run by the Norwegian State Railway, which connects Oslo with other big cities such as Kristiansand and Stavanger. Rail passes allow for unlimited rail travel, but for single tickets, it can be cheaper to book online. Advance booking for overnight trains is mandatory.

MAP

NORWAY`S WEATHER TODAY

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MONTHS

AVERAGE RAINFALL (mm)

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FACTS

  1. Norway introduced salmon sushi to the Japanese during the 1980s
  2. Norway's national symbol is the lion
  3. 15 miles in length the Laerdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world
  4. Authors published in Norway will have 1000 copies bought by the government and distributed to libraries
  5. Grimstad is the sunniest place in Norway
  6. The pop group, A-ha, comes from Norway
  7. The Sami people make up around 1% of the Norwegian population, with around half of the world's Sami population living in Norway
  8. Norway was one of the founding members of the United Nations, established in 1945.

FACTS

  1. Norway introduced salmon sushi to the Japanese during the 1980s
  2. Norway's national symbol is the lion
  3. 15 miles in length the Laerdal Tunnel is the longest road tunnel in the world
  4. Authors published in Norway will have 1000 copies bought by the government and distributed to libraries
  5. Grimstad is the sunniest place in Norway
  6. The pop group, A-ha, comes from Norway
  7. The Sami people make up around 1% of the Norwegian population, with around half of the world's Sami population living in Norway
  8. Norway was one of the founding members of the United Nations, established in 1945.

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