If you’re planning to visit Norway I’m sure it’s mainly to see that nature. There are some cities of course, but to be honest, the most amazing thing about Norway is the nature here.
Here is some insight on what you should know when your planning your trip to Norway.
Yes, Norway is quite expensive. But it’s entirely possible to travel around on a budget.
- Get your food from supermarkets (but never petrol stations)
- Stay in cheap cabins and cute airbnbs
- Travel by public transport or hire a small car.
- Tap water is safe to drink.
- Choose to travel off season for more budget options.
- Book your public transportation in advance.
- And – there aren’t entrance fees to any national parks or nature reserves. You can hike pretty much anywhere for free.
| Read also: How to elope in Norway
Seasons and weather
Visiting Norway can mean so many different experiences. It depends on where you go- north or south, winter or summer.
The northern part of the country has long days with midnight sun, (mosquitos) and usually colder weather in the summer.
In the winter however you can expect snow and if you’re lucky you’ll see the Northern lights. Expect short days and cold weather.
In the South, it’s doubtful that you’ll see any northern lights even in winter, and even though the days are long during the summer months, the sun does set. The winters can be rough and roads may close at mountain passes, but the summers can also be gorgeous.
Note that I’m saying can. The weather is very unpredictable, so make sure you’re prepared for what may come. Bring warmer clothes even if you’re visiting in summer.
The right to roam
Norway is pretty unique in some regards. You are free to enjoy nature, almost wherever you want to go. The law actually says so. There are of course some limitations which are important to follow. Let me tell you more about that in a bit.
First there’s an important distinction between open country/”unfenced land”- which is a land that is not cultivated; meaning most shores, bogs, forests, and mountains, and “fenced land” (which doesn’t actually have to be fenced), which is private, and includes cultivated lands, such as plowed fields with or without crops, meadows, pastures, and gardens, as well as young plantations, building plots and industrial areas.
It is the first kind, the open uncultivated land you can freely access.
Let’s talk about how you can use the right to roam and what not to do
- You’re allowed to camp anywhere in the countryside, forests or mountains, as long as you keep at least 150 meters away from the nearest inhabited house, cabin, camping car or caravan.
- If you want to stay for more than two nights in the same place, you must ask the landowner’s permission, except in the mountains or very remote areas.
- Campfires in or near forests are prohibited from April 15th to September 15th. A fire can be allowed in places where fire hazard is unlikely, like by the sea or on an approved campfire site. In extreme drought, even grills, gas burners, and camping stoves are prohibited, so make sure you Check the forest fire risk on yr.no. If you light a campfire or barbecue, you are legally responsible for making sure it’s safe, does not get out of control, and is completely extinguished before you leave.
- You may forage berries, mushrooms, and wildflowers for your own consumption.
- You may fish in the sea without a license, as long as it is for your own use. But if you want to hunt or fish in lakes or rivers you need permits.
- Also – be mindful of drone use. You’re not allowed to fly nearby aircrafts, people, birds, animals, or property as you might damage or annoy. In some national parks, you’re not allowed to fly at all because of wildlife. You’re also not allowed to fly higher than 120 meters over the ground. Read more here.
- Respect nature, animals and local inhabitants.
Note that these are general rules, and local rules and guidelines may apply.
Something I’ve noticed when traveling the world is that so many places are very safety concerned. Meaning there are fences and signs wherever you go. This is generally not the case in Norway.
We depend heavily on common sense, and it is a relatively sparsely populated country. Which means – many places are simply nature without signs and warnings or fences.
This, in turn, means that you have to take great care when walking about.
- Don’t go too close to waterfalls or glaciers or rivers or mountain cliffs – even if there are no warnings.
- Use a life vest when on small boats.
- Stay away from wild animals.
- The weather can change in a hurry – especially if you’re at high altitude, so bring warm clothes, snacks, and water.
- Use your common sense and take care.
Apart from the wildness of nature – Norway is incredibly safe.
Norway looks like a tiny country. But actually, the distances are quite surprising. If you’re only here for a short while you probably have to choose between seeing the sights in the Western part of the country (where the spectacular fjords and mountains are) or the epic Northern part.
If you want to go to the North to Lofoten, Senja, Vesterålen, etc. to see Northern lights (if you’re patient and lucky), stunning beaches, and mountains, you most likely want to fly there. The train won’t take you that far north, and it will take a couple of days to drive there. For perspective, the time it takes to drive from Oslo to Lofoten is the same as the distance from Oslo to Switzerland.
If possible, I do recommend driving in Norway. (Because road trips are the best) You get to stop wherever you want and see both the touristy parts and the more hidden gems. And because not all parts of Norway have enough public transport to get around in an easy way. Beware though – there are lots and lots of toll roads and ferries.
Little things to be mindful of when visiting Norway
- We take our shoes off when at home – and visiting other peoples homes.
- Pick up rubbish and things you drop on the ground.
- You hardly ever need cash.
- If you want a chance to see polar bears you have to visit Svalbard. They’re not on the mainland.
- I’ve heard Norwegians have a bit of a reputation of being cold and unfriendly. I think it’s just a matter of valuing their – and your – private space. That’s why you won’t meet smiling faces greeting you wherever you go. Except if you meet someone hiking. Then always say hello.
- Alcoholic beverages (except beer) can only be purchased from Vinmonopolet.
- Most shops are closed on Sundays and other national holidays so plan ahead.
- Never drink and drive. The legal limit for blood alcohol is 0,02%, which is pretty much a zero tolerance for drinking while driving. And don’t speed. If you get a ticket it’s not exactly cheap.
Wondering where to go? I’ll give you some suggestions in an upcoming post so stay tuned.