Tips for Norway
August 16, 2004 12:08 AM   Subscribe

Me, I'm looking at Norway...any tips?
posted by rushmc to Travel & Transportation around Norway (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Money and money! Make sure that if you're going to Norway, you know someone there, or have some sort of setup in place. Norway is excruciatingly expensive in almost every respect. You'll be paying $1.50 a liter for gas (possibly more now - and while all of Europe is high, Norway is particularly high), and maybe $7-$8 for a beer. Spending $15 in McDonald's on a single meal is not unheard of. All that said, wages in Norway are high (I'm guessing this is because Norway is a reasonably isolated resource-driven economy whose wealth almost entirely circulates internally) so if you get a job there, you'll be fine.
posted by wackybrit at 12:23 AM on August 16, 2004

Go to Hell :-)
posted by FidelDonson at 12:33 AM on August 16, 2004


The fjords of the west have the most spectacular scenery in the country.

Oslo sucks (personal opinion), although there are a great number of cultural attractions there. Were I a tourist, visiting a city, I would choose Bergen.

The hurtigrute (coastal steamer) starts in Bergen, travelling north. During the summer, it takes trips into the fjords for the tourists, showing them just how beautiful this country is. The trip is acknowledged to be the most beautiful sea-voyage in the world. I agree. Taking the boat up the coast and back is a holiday in its own right.

One more tip: Bring warm clothes, no matter what time of the year you come. The weather changes quickly.
posted by dayvin at 2:00 AM on August 16, 2004

Go! It's great! See this thread for reasons.
As wackybrit points out it is expensive but you can keep costs down by staying in the plentiful and often excellent hostels and by getting food from markets. Fresh seafood and fruit, particularly berries of varios kinds are plentiful and of excellent quality at these markets. Camping could save you even more, there a number of camp sites or there are generous rules as to where you can put your tent down wherever you happen to be (check what they are beofre you actually do this though). Driving will be expensive but perhaps you could consider public transport instead. Trains run between the big cities (see this map) and there are a number of options for passes available. Some passes will also give you discounts on ferries and buses which you will need to get you around if you decide to travel around the fjords, the most well known of which are on the coast heading north of Bergen. This area also has the Jostedalsbreen glacier, the biggest glacier on the European mainland. Trips on the glacier are possible, but you absolutely must have a guide! There are a number of places that walks can begin from - remember to wrap up warm! (I know that sounds obvious but when we were there we stopped a couple from going up there in shorts and sandals). Alternatively you can be taken up in small plane, though this will drive costs up. Trains are excellent, easily the best I have travelled on anywhere in Europe, reasonably priced, extremely spacious and comfortable. Don't bother shelling out for first class, it isn't worth the price hike. Trains go through some beautiful areas and will save you from some long drives. Keep your camera handy on the train. IIRC the Oslo-Bergen line has the highest railway station in Europe.

You're going to have to make some choices as to what you want to see though as its a big country and there's plenty there. The length of time you have available will restrict your choices. Whilst most of the Norwegian cities are pleasant, you really go to Norway for the landscape. Simply, you have the famous fjords in the southern half of the country, and then things get a bit more barren - though no less striking - as you head north (roughly, as you go beyond Trondheim). At the end of the main rail line you'll get to Bodo and can use this as a jumping off point for the Lofoten islands, which are beautiful as those pictures in my first link show. Ferries, including the Hurtigrute, depart from here for the Lofotens. Some are faster than others, some are cheaper. I recommend Stamsund, which has a superb youth hostel and A (that A should have a little circle on it and roughly is pronounced 'ore'.

There are some things worth seeing in the cities though. Oslo has the original Kon-tiki raft in a museum. The Fram polar exploration ship is also worth a look. You can get superb views over Oslo and the Oslofjord by going up to the Holmenkollen Olympic ski jump or from the TV tower a little further beyong the ski jump. Both can be reached by a short train journey up the hill.
posted by biffa at 2:59 AM on August 16, 2004

Also, you can free camp almost anywhere that's undeveloped in Norway (at least, you could, I can't imagine this has changed). If you're the rugged outdoors type, and you're not planning to hang around Oslo all the time, this can be a great way to save money and have fun at the same time. You might want to know a little Norwegian, however, incase anyone comes poking around..
posted by wackybrit at 7:41 AM on August 16, 2004

My wife and I just got back from a 10-day trip. I am nearly bankrupt, spending roughly 200 euros a day. So stay away from hotels and bring your tent. Anyway, I can advise you to take the express ferry from Bergen to Flam (in the Aurland fjord), where I took this picture . Additionally, you can take the famous Flamsbana railway up to Myrdal and then bike back (20 km, downhill along dozens of waterfalls, etc.).
posted by swordfishtrombones at 8:06 AM on August 16, 2004 [1 favorite]

I agree with wackybrit - Norway has really expensive drinks. Beware.

O/T Why do British people judge a nation on how expensive the booze is?

Oh, and yes, look out for the word "SLARTIBARTFAST" hewn into the side of the fjords (they have lovely crinkly edges).
posted by longbaugh at 8:48 AM on August 16, 2004

Rent a car and drive through at least some of the spectacular countryside.

If you're pressed for time, check out the "Norway in a Nutshell" tour. Flam is definitely worth visiting (and fun to say!). Fjaerland, Norway's "book town", has 14 second-hand bookstores.

In Oslo, overlooking the harbor with the Fram and Kon-Tiki museums, is an old fortress used by the Nazis during WWII. It's now a museum to the Resistance.

Get ready to eat a lot of fish.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:29 AM on August 16, 2004

Norwegian railway site (in English). Expressbus website.

This site suggests car rental of around 3900Nkr/week, that's 580 of your yankee dollars.

You might also want to get the Thomas Cook European Timetable as it wil make it easier to throw different buses, trains and ferries together and to plan routes through the fjords.
posted by biffa at 9:53 AM on August 16, 2004

I'm a native Norwegian who left when I was 14, so it is always interesting to me to read about it from a tourist's perspective. Everyone here is correct that Norway is almost prohibitively expensive - not just the drinks and hotels, but groceries as well. In other words, just basic survival is expensive, to say nothing of entrance fees to events/bars etc. However, it is stunning. Not sure if you're interested as a tourist or an immigrant, but as someone said above, salaries do reflect the high cost of living. Good thing too, otherwise nobody would be able to afford living there...
posted by widdershins at 9:54 AM on August 16, 2004

It's been years since I've been there myself, but I would certainly recommend you visit my dad's hometown, Trondheim. In particular you ought to see the Nidaros Cathedral and the royal residence, StiftsgÄrden. The Ringve Museum is interesting if you're musically inclined; it's a short trip outside of Trondheim proper. You might also take a ferry out to Munkholmen.

In Oslo I second Holmenkollen and also recommend the Viking Ship Museum with astonishing preserved longboats, and the huge sculpture garden Vigelandsparken.

If you've got kids with you and you're stopping by Lillehammer then check out Hunderfossen Familipark with giant trolls and other fun things. I also recommend Maihaugen, a fascinating museum/town near Lillehammer which consists of an assembly of medieval buildings. And no doubt there are many things to see relating to the 1994 Olympics.

Oh, and be sure to see an ancient stavechurch while you're in Norway!
posted by Songdog at 10:41 AM on August 16, 2004

I'd also second Trondheim, in fact I was about 2 clicks away from booking a plane there last wednesday to go the next day. I used to have a blown up picture of Munkholmen on my wall, taken from the top of Nidaros Cathedral. There's a really nice walk up the hill to the west of the city, you can get the bus up that way but its close enough to walk, take in the views of the city and the fjord (not as impressive as the ones to the southwest) and go on into the nature reserve which is only a couple of miles up the track. There is a student union type building called the 'red round house' which serves cheaper local beer and reasonable food, they operate as an interrail centre in the summer and provide cheap places to crash but it looks like you're too late for that. Its an interesting building in its own right though, much bigger than it looks in the photo. The tourist office also likes to play up the restored wharf houses but they're really not that interesting.

If you're there go the central square on market day, you'll be able to pick up fantastic local fruit, I remember being able to smell fresh strawberries from over a 100metres away. There's also an excellent fish market, Ravnkloa, marked on this map. They may well sell whale though, if that's a problem for you.

I'm not sure Trondheim's worth a diversion of you're only planning to do the western fjords but its a gentle waypoint if you're planning to go north to the Lofotens, and the Hurtigrute stops there if you're getting about that way.
posted by biffa at 4:00 PM on August 16, 2004

Response by poster: Thanks for all the input!
posted by rushmc at 6:25 PM on August 16, 2004

Why do British people judge a nation on how expensive the booze is?

I don't drink it myself, but possibly because beer is so expensive in the UK. If beer is so expensive here, then if it costs more in Norway then Norway must be a total rip-off, if you see what I mean ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 10:28 PM on August 16, 2004

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