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Reine, Norway ©Petr Smerkl, Wikipedia
Norway is a wildly beautiful country of snow-capped mountains and deep glacier-carved fjords. The astounding scenery of the southwestern Fjordlands and the mysterious Northern Lights of the Arctic are the main draw cards for tourists, but there are many incentives to visit this sparsely inhabited country. It offers remote wildernesses and outdoor activities, fairylike forests, historic towns and charming fishing villages, friendly people, and the lure of the Arctic Circle. It also boasts some of the most scenic bus trips, boat cruises and train rides in the world.
'The Land of the Midnight Sun', with its long summer days, is not only for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, but offers a rich cultural heritage from the Vikings, the traditional nomadic Sami people of the remote northern regions, and world-renowned artists such as Edvard Munch. Principle cities of interest are Oslo, the pretty capital; the historic trading port of Bergen, gateway to the Fjordlands; and hilly Tromsø, within the Arctic Circle, the centre of the Northern Lights activity. They are pleasant, low-key cities that offer a good range of museums, historical sights and unique architecture.
Norway's greatest impact on history was during the Viking Age, when the sleek Viking ships crossed the Atlantic, and Europe was subjected to numerous raids. Traditionally Norwegians are explorers, and their influence is evident in the world-shaping history of the Vikings, and seen in more recent personalities like polar explorer Roald Amundsen, and the legendary Pacific crossing of Thor Heyerdahl on his wooden raft, the Kon-Tiki. Today, Norwegians hold onto many of their cultural traditions, most notably the art of storytelling that takes place around the fireside to while away the long winter hours. Trolls figure prominently in their folklore, some friendly and helpful, some decidedly naughty, conveniently serving as a source of blame for all of life's troubles.
Norway is one of the best adventure-tourism destinations in the world, with an intriguing folk culture to match its dramatic landscapes. It is an expensive country to visit but provides once-in-a-lifetime experiences that truly reward the investment.
The international access code for Norway is +47. Local operators provide GSM 900 mobile phone networks and cover most of the country. Internet cafes are widely available.
112 (Police); 113 (Ambulance); 110 (Fire).
Norwegian is the official language, but English is widely understood.
Norwegian residents over 18 years who have been abroad for 24 hours or more, and residents of other European countries, do not have to pay duty on goods worth up to NOK 6,000. This total can include up to three litres of alcoholic spirits and two litres of beer/wine (five litres if not carrying any other alcohol). It can also include up to 200 cigarettes or 250g of tobacco products. Travellers arriving from outside of the EU should confirm their duty free allowance prior to arrival in Norway.
Electrical current is 230 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are in use.
Despite its northerly location, the coastal climate in Norway is temperate, thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream flowing along its coast. Summer, between late June and early August, brings long, hot days with temperatures reaching 86°F (30°C), and sea temperatures averaging a comfortable 64°F (18°C). Even in the north of Norway, summer temperatures rise to 77°F (25°C) or more. However, summer weather can be changeable in Norway and the summer months can be wet. In winter much of Norway is snow-clad with very low temperatures in the north and the low-lying inland regions of the south. Temperatures can drop below -40°F (-40°C). In contrast, the coast enjoys mild winters, although gales and rain are common. In spring, between May and mid-June, Norway is at its prettiest, with everything coming to life and blossoming and snow melt swelling the waterfalls.
June and July is often considered the best time to visit Norway because of the warm weather and the long days, which see sunlight until nearly 10pm. These peak summer months are also the most crowded in Norway. March is the best time to go skiing in Norway, and May and September offer nice weather and slightly smaller crowds. The Northern Lights are famously elusive and unpredictable, but there is a possibility of seeing them any time between late September and March.
All visitors to Norway must have sufficient funds, return or onward tickets and all documents needed for further travel. Passports should be valid for at least the period of intended stay. Some European countries require only their National Identity Card if coming as a tourist to Norway. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all. It is highly recommended that passports have at least six months validity remaining after your intended date of departure from your travel destination. Immigration officials often apply different rules to those stated by travel agents and official sources.
United States citizens require a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa is needed for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.
British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens and British Subjects must have valid passports, but require no visa to enter Norway. For British passports with any other endorsement no visa is required for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.
Canadians must have a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
Australians must have a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
South Africans require a passport valid for at least three months beyond period of intended stay. Holders of temporary passports are not allowed. A visa is required for travel to Norway.
Irish nationals must have a valid passport but no visa is required.
New Zealand citizens must have a passport valid for three months beyond period of intended stay, but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
There are no real health risks associated with travel to Norway and the standard of healthcare is high throughout the country. A reciprocal agreement exists between the UK and Norway under which British nationals are covered for emergency treatment while visiting Norway as long as they hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Travellers should ensure that they have adequate travel and medical insurance.
Norway is a safe country in which to travel; however, travellers should still take sensible precautions to avoid petty theft, as they would anywhere in the world. Petty theft is most common at airports and bus and train stations in Oslo.
Emergency Phone Number
112 (Police); 113 (Ambulance); 110 (Fire).
* For current safety alerts, please visit Foreign travel advice - GOV.UK or Travel.State.Gov
The official currency is the Norwegian Krone (NOK), divided into 100 ore. Larger establishments accept major credit cards. Use of credit cards is widespread, with Eurocard/Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club the most common. Foreign currency can be exchanged at banks and major post offices, as well as many hotels and travel agents, although for poorer rates. ATMs are available in all towns and cities.
Exchange RateNot available.
Embassies of Norway
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Washington DC, United States: +1 202 333 6000.
Royal Norwegian Embassy, London, United Kingdom: +44 (0)20 7591 5500.
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Ottawa, Canada: +1 613 238 6571.
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Canberra, Australia (also responsible for New Zealand): +61 (0)2 6270 5700.
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Pretoria, South Africa: +27 (0)12 364 3700.
Royal Norwegian Embassy, Dublin, Ireland: +353 (0)1 662 1800.
Foreign Embassies in Norway
United States Embassy, Oslo: +47 23 96 05 55.
British Embassy, Oslo: +47 2313 2700.
Canadian Embassy, Oslo: +47 2299 5300.
Australian Consulate, Oslo: +45 7026 3676.
South African Embassy, Oslo: +47 2327 3220.
Irish Embassy, Oslo: +47 2201 7200.
New Zealand Consulate, Oslo: +47 6677 5330.
Smoking is prohibited in all public places and on public transport in Norway, unless otherwise indicated. Norwegians tend to see everyone as being equal; they do not flaunt their wealth or financial achievements and frown on those who do. Travellers should note that whale meat is available legally in Norway, but that it is illegal to bring it into most other countries.
Business in Norway is conducted formally, with an emphasis on punctuality and direct communication. Business attire is usually smart and fashionable, though not ostentatious. Titles and surnames are predominantly used on introduction, but may be dropped later, and greetings are usually made with a handshake. Business cards are commonly exchanged. Expect business to be conducted in a direct and forthright manner, with little small talk or socialising. It is worth bearing in mind that Norway is an expensive country and that any services from lawyers, consultants etc are subject to hefty VAT charges. Business hours are usually 9am to 4pm, Monday to Friday. Norwegians highly value family and believe in a healthy balance between work and leisure - they are hard-working but overtime is frowned upon and workers in Norway are entitled to more leave than foreigners may be used to.
A 10 to 15 percent service charge is added to most hotel and restaurant bills and a further tip is only necessary if exceptional service has been received; waiters often receive an extra five to 10 percent tip. Taxi fares can simply be rounded up to the krone.
Public Holidays in Norway
Norway is a famously good destination for outdoor adventure tourism, with fantastic skiing, cycling, hiking, climbing, river rafting and even scuba diving opportunities. The spectacular scenery is also popularly enjoyed on cruises and train rides, with much of the tourist activity centring on the famous and extensive network of fjords. Sognefjord is the largest of the fjords and lures many tourists to Norway with its dramatic vistas and the natural and cultural wealth along its banks. Many visitors start their fjord explorations in Bergen, but Tromso also offers some glorious fjord cruises.
Tromso is the gateway to the Arctic and the main attractions in the north are the phenomena of the Northern Lights and the Midnight Sun, which keep travellers arriving year round. Tromso, like all the main cities in Norway, also boasts some good museums, as well as the unique Arctic Cathedral.
Oslo, the capital, is a cosmopolitan, sophisticated city, surrounded by glorious countryside and promising many sightseeing opportunities for rainy days. The heritage of the Vikings and the great Norwegian explorers can be investigated in Oslo, as well as some of the country's best art galleries. Other popular urban destinations in Norway include Stavanger and Trondheim, and of course Bergen, the gateway to the fjords, which also boasts the historic neighbourhood of Bryggen.
Map of Norway
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