...Norway is fun and excitement; walking in the footsteps of the Vikings; riding on a reindeer sleigh; hiking, biking and paragliding; or just sitting back and enjoying one of the world-class cultural events...
Situated in Northern Europe, bordering the North Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean, west of Sweden
324,220 sq km
Finland 729 km, Sweden 1,619 km, Russia 167 km
21,925 km (includes mainland 3,419 km, large islands 2,413 km, long fjords, numerous small islands, and minor indentations 16,093 km)
Compared to most other places at a similar latitude Norway has a very mild climate thanks to the warming effects of the Gulf Stream flowing along its coast. As a matter of fact; temperatures in the summer (end June-mid August) sometimes reach as high as 25°-30°, although there is hardly any humidity in the air.
lowest point: Norwegian Sea 0 m,
highest point: Galdhopiggeh 2,469 m
4,481,162 (July 2000 est.)
Norwegian (Nordic, Alpine, Baltic), Lapps (Sami) 20,000
The Norwegian State church is part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. However the country is also home to a wide variety of other Christian denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church, Baptists, and Methodists. Other major religions such as Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are represented as well.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway, but general knowledge of English, Swedish and Danish is good. Most young people are fluent in English, and familiarity with French or German is not uncommon.
Getting to Norway:
International airlines link Oslo with the major European countries. Bergen, Stavanger and Trondheim also have international airports. Trains run daily from Oslo to Copenhagen in Denmark and to Helsingborg and Stockholm in Sweden. There are also trains to Stockholm from Trondheim and Narvik. Numerous highways and secondary roads link Norway with Finland and Sweden. A bus and a catamaran service link Kirkenes in northern Norway with Murmansk in Russia. There are also ferries to/from Denmark, Sweden, the UK, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Passports and visas:
For most foreign visitors a passport will be sufficient. But, for certain foreigners a visa is also necessary. To find out what rules apply for your home country we advise you to contact the nearest Norwegian Embassy or Consulate for further information.
Duty free limits alcohol:
- 2 litres of beer, 1 litre of spirits (maximum 60% proof) and 1 litre of wine, etc (maximum 22% proof)
- 2 litres of beer and 2 litres of wine, but no spirits
Duty free limits tobacco goods:
- 200 cigarettes
- 200 cigarette papers and 250 grams of tobacco
NOTE! You must be at least 20 years of age to bring in spirits and at least 18 to bring in wine, beer, cigarettes and tobacco. Up to 3 kilos of meat may be brought in from EEA countries. The meat must be stamped with the country of origin.
You are not permitted to bring in fresh fruits, vegetables or dairy products. You may only bring medicine for your personal use, and you should have a letter from your doctor attesting to your need for the medicine.
Health and safety:
Pharmacies are open during normal shopping hours, and some are also open weekends and evenings for emergencies. If you should become ill during a trip to Norway, the staff at your hotel will normally be able to put you in touch with a local doctor or the emergency medical service.
If you use any prescription drugs, be sure to bring enough to last for your entire stay in Norway. Norwegian pharmacies are not permitted to give out medicine on prescriptions from outside of the country, and if you do run short, you will need to contact a Norwegian doctor in order to get a prescription for a new supply.
Travel insurance should be taken out before departure from your own country.
In Norway, in the event of an emergency, you can call:
- 110: Fire department
- 112: Police
- 113: Ambulance
Norway is 1 hour ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Daylight-savings time (summer time) means that part of the year the clock is set forward 60 minutes (1 hour) in relation to the time during the rest of the year.
Norwegian currency consists of "kroner" (NOK) and "øre"; 100 øre make up one krone. Travellers may bring currency into Norway up to the equivalent of NOK 25,000,- in Norwegian and/or foreign bills and coins. If you want to bring a greater amount, the Customs Department must be notified by means of a form filled out and presented upon arrival and departure. Use the red customs control lanes. The required form is available at all arrival and departure points. There is no limit on the value of traveller's checks, etc. that may be imported.
Credit cards and banking hours:
The use of credits cards is very widespread in Norway, and they are accepted almost everywhere. Eurocard/Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club are the most common. Not all service stations take credit cards, however, so be sure you have adequate cash on hand when you need to buy gasoline.
It is a good idea to check with your credit card company about the degree of acceptability and available services. Traveller's checks are accepted, and these should be purchased before departing on your trip.
In general, shops in Norway are open between 10 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday, and from 10 am to 3 pm on Saturday. Most towns have late shopping on Thursday when the shops stay open until 7 pm. Opening hours at larger shopping centres are a bit longer, usually until 8 pm weekdays and 6 pm Saturdays. Shops are closed on Sunday.
Food and Restaurants :
Because of Norway's long traditions as a fishing nation, fish has always been an important ingredient on the Norwegian menu. However, Norwegian farms as well as good stocks of game, also have contributed to the Norwegian kitchen with high quality meat. During the last years Norwegian chefs have been winning international prizes, by the help of their tendency to redefine traditional dishes with a new twist. In recent years, there has also been a veritable explosion of ethnic restaurants that serve their own national specialities. Making dining possibilities endless!
In Norway electricity is based on hydro-electric power due to water as an important natural resource. For those visiting as tourists it is useful to know that electricity in Norway is 220V AC, and that round-ended, two-pronged continental points are used.
Fixed public holidays:
- 2002: March 24
- 2002: March 28
- 2002: March 29
- 2002: March 31
- 2002: April 1
- 2002: May 9
- 2002: May 17
- December 25
Transportation in the country by air:
Norway has a good network of routes and connections. There are about 50 airports and landing strips, making even the northernmost places easily accessible.
The various airlines often have favourable price offers, particularly in summer, for those who wish to travel in Norway by plane. The airlines that operate in Norway are Braathens, SAS, Widerøe.
Transportation in the country by Rail:
The Norwegian State Railway has a well developed network stretching from the Southwest coast up to Bodø on the coast of Nordland county. In addition there is the Bergensbanen route that crosses the mountains on its way from Oslo to Bergen on the West Coast. The northernmost railway station at Narvik can be reached by train through Sweden or by bus from Fauske.
«Norway in a nutshell» is a fabulous trip that takes you through some of the most picturesque landscapes in Norway including fjords, mountains and valleys. The difference in altitude from start to finish on the Flåmsbanen route that goes from Myrdal to Flåm, is 865 meters. With its tunnels that are basically drilled out by hand, this stretch of railroad is an engineering masterpiece.
When you get to Flåm, you arrive at the world's longest fjords, Sognefjorden, which marks the start of still more extraordinary experiences. You can continue by bus to Voss and get back on a train there or else take the opportunity to take a boat along Sognefjorden to Bergen. This trip may be started either in Oslo or in Bergen.
Motoring and car hire:
Gas stations are found along the road everywhere in Norway. Gas prices may seem relatively high in Norway, but they are so for environmental reasons. However, gasoline dealers set their own prices, and consequently gas prices may vary from place to place.
The best travel experience is not necessarily found along the busy highways. Choose instead a county road on the other side of the valley. This is possible (in some stretches at least) in many of the valleys in eastern Norway. Along the coast there is often a narrower, outer road that offers more interesting sightseeing.
As for the fjords in the western part of the country, the outer roads are the least travelled, and they stretch more or less the entire way from Stavanger to Trondheim. In North Norway an alternative to the North Cape Road (route III-6 IV) is the Coast Road between Trondheim and Bodø, which is a fantastic experience.
Taxi service in Norway is good. All taxis in Norway accept the commonest credit cards such as Visa, American Express, Diners Club, and Eurocard/Mastercard.
Travel for the disabled:
It has become more and more common for hotels to be furnished with consideration for the needs of physically-disabled guests.
NSB, the Norwegian State Railways, has separate coaches specially fitted out for those with impaired mobility, and the new Coastal Express ships are provided with elevators and cabins to accommodate disabled passengers.
The travel bureau Terra Nova, at Kristian Augusts gate 13, N-0164 OSLO, has brochures about special organised tours around Norway for wheel-chair users. Phone: +47 22 99 23 99. Fax: +47 22 99 23 90.
A guide for Northern Norway may be ordered free of charge from Nordland Reiseliv.
The Norwegian Association of the Disabled supplies information for people who due to disabilities have special needs when travelling.
Festivals & Events
Kristiansund Opera Festival, February
The Kristiansund Opera Festival is hosted and produced by the district opera in the city of Kristiansund. It runs for 14 days and has been staged in February every year since 1972. The festival presents a comprehensive menu within musical theatre and offers two to three opera productions, large church music productions, ballet and concerts.
Førde Folk Music Festival, July
Over 250 artists perform music and dances from all corners of the world, around the clock! Concerts, courses, exhibitions, club nights, festival parades, dance fun. There are festival activities going on at local museums, hotels, churches and in the downtown streets, leading to more than 80 events.
The Peer Gynt Festival, August
The Peer Gynt Festival is a ten day long cultural festival with an open air performance of Henrik Ibsens Peer Gynt, with music by Edvard Grieg, open air consert "Ved Rondane", art exhibition, and much more.
The Hamsun Festival, August
The Hamsun Festival has been arranged every other year since 1982 with a focus on Knut Hamsun's literar work, his life and ties with this part of Norway. The festival is held on the island of Hamarøy, where visitors can enjoy the scenery and the local indigenous colour that characterises much of Hamsun's literary work.
Lillehammer Jazz Festival, October
The Lillehammer Jazz Festival is considered one of autumn's most beautiful adventures. The festival profiles Norwegian and Nordic jazz, but has always included renown foreign performers as well.
The Festival of North Norway, June
The Festival of North Norway is the most important art event in Northern Norway. During a hectic week the town of Harstad, located 300 km north of the Arctic circle, is turned into a cultural melting pot for artists with completely different outlooks.
The Northern Lights Festival, January
Each year, in the middle of January, Tromsø comes to life after the long polar night. The programme offers music in concert halls, churches and pubs, as well as dance, theatre and music ensembles of different sizes and types.
Tromsø Film Festival, January
Tromsø International Film Festival is Norway's largest film festival. It is the world's northern-most film festival and presents a cutting-egde international program, consisting of more than 40 feature films plus the latest in short films produced in northern Norway.
Telemark Folk Festival, August
The Telemark Festival presents traditional folk music from all over the world. With more than 50 concerts and work-shops for all ages one can learn traditional Norwegian dances, play a traditional instrument or study with our guests from abroad.
Oslo Jazz Festival, August
The Oslo Jazz Festival has been an annual event since 1986 and has grown to more than 60 concerts taking place in six days. The Festival presents the elite of Norwegian musicians in traditional, swing, modern and bebop styles, as well as many world famous performers.
Ibsen Culture Festival
The Festival offers pieces and impressions produced by great artists both from Norway and abroad. There are performances in the great Teater Ibsen and events in the town's art galleries and cultural venues. Young people from all over Norway participate in Ibsenstafetten.
The Ibsen Stage Festival, September
The Ibsen Stage Festival in Norway is one of the most significant international festivals in the country, receiving attention far beyond the national boundaries. Actors from all over the world arrive to meet Ibsen at center stage.