Click here for “Hiking (Preikestolen) in Norway; Tips and Tricks
Norway. The country of fjords, the aurora and imagination…
…because if you let your fantasy go wild, you might start to understand the old Norse mythology and how those people came up with it.
Back to reality.
Norway is getting more and more popular among tourists. For a good reason! Norge is considered one of Europe’s most beautiful countries and that’s definitely not a lie.
When we Google “Norway”, we see pictures of amazing landscapes that almost look unreal but many of the tourists who travel to Norway don’t get to see those landscapes or maybe only 1…
Because if you really want to go to Norway for the nature, you cannot do it very spontaneously. It’s a trip you have to plan before you get there.
Nowadays I read posts of people who planned a trip to Norway for one or two weeks and ask what they should visit. Most of the times in… Oslo.
*sigh*; that’s the reaction of Norwegians and people who know the country.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the capital but let’s say that it doesn’t represent Norway that much.
Back when I lived in Stavanger, a city in the south west of the country, I remember visiting Oslo for the first time and to me, it really didn’t feel like Norway. Many people I knew there agreed with me and I even knew several Norwegians who had never been there simply because they weren’t interested as they thought it would be boring.
This is not the right mindset either but you get what I mean.
Also… asking what you should visit in a country like Norway almost sounds offending to me ahah. Norway is extremely beautiful, if you’re planning to go there but you have no idea what the country has to offer, then you better stay home.
I will add a couple of pictures to show you the difference between the capital and the other Norwegian cities.
- the seaside
2. The town
See what I mean? Oslo is one of a kind (in Norway!) and Stavanger is similar to most of the other Norwegian cities. I can compare it to Belgium; people come to Belgium to see Bruges, Ghent, Brussels,… and some beautiful cities in the French part, Wallonie. But nobody comes just to see the modern part of Liège (Liège is awesome but it’s just not the main tourist destination in Belgium).
“So, how can I get to see the country in a proper way instead of seeing a city that doesn’t represent the country that much?”, I hear you asking.
Before I’ll give you my answer, I just want to make clear that it won’t be cheap (Norway is expensiiiive!). I’m sorry to the budget travellers (like me) out there but this trip won’t be so budget, sadly.
Unless, of course, you’ve got loads of time and are prepared to hitchhike and camp and make your own food on a little gas stove – which is an amazing way of seeing the country though but Norway is quite big so you won’t be able to do this if you’ve only got 2 weeks. You’ll need at least a month, even to just see a part of the country. If you’re okay with this, keep in mind that you won’t be able to go to restaurants, drink alcohol and sleep ho(s)tels as those things are damn expensive.
Anyway, back to the most probable situation; you’ve saved up some money and feel ready to give it a go.
The most important thing you’ll need is a car. Public transport in Norway is very expensive and you won’t be able to reach many of the beautiful spots – and even if it is possible, it can get very complicated.
If you have a car, you’re safe, you’ll be able to have a great trip.
Before you hit the road, find out which places you want to visit because once there, it can get a little overwhelming.
Every season in Norway is different and in some parts of the country (like where I lived, in Stavanger) you might experience the four seasons in just one week! So take the seasons into account.
Maybe you want to go there to see snow, don’t go during summer then, but do keep in mind that you’re not allowed to do certain hikes during winter, late autumn and early spring (not that you’d want to do that though).
What is the reason you want to visit Norway?
Hiking? Go between mid May and mid September. I’ve written a guide about hiking in Norway. You can read it here.
Visiting the cities? Pretty much all year round but keep in mind that cities in the west (like Bergen and Stavanger) are very very rainy, even more so in the autumn and winter. Which makes it more ideal to visit cities in summer and spring.
Road tripping (being in your car most of the time)? All year round but be careful in winter because Norway can suffer very bad storms, floods and sometimes the roads might close because of the frost. Then again, seeing Norway in winter is highly special.
Seeing the aurora borealis or simply the northern lighs? That’s a trickier one. First of all; it’s not sure that you will see them. You can go during the perfect time, on the perfect spot, stay there for a week and not see them. Anyway, you’ve made up your mind and you wanna give it a try. Just go to the very north of the country during autumn or winter.
Now you pretty much know what you need to know in order to visit this country properly. Enjoy your trip!
Just the heads up; I wasn’t an expat, I was an AFS student (back when I was 17-18), which means that I lived for 1 year with a Norwegian family who were so kind to treat me as family – which we now are – I went to a Norwegian school where I was the only exchange student, had to learn the language all by myself, took part in typical Norwegian activities and got fully immersed in the culture.