Norway Travel Tips

Planning a trip to Norway can be overwhelming. That is one of the reasons why we started our Facebook group, Norway: Tips for Travellers, which quickly grew into a thriving community with 140,000 members. Over time, we noticed that some questions often repeat themselves.

Therefore, we decided to sum them up in this article and give you some essential Norway travel tips that will save you time, money, and stress and help you have the best trip ever.

Please ensure you read this article before posting a question to the group, as you might likely find the answer here.

Also, if you find this blog post helpful, share it!

Table of Contents

Weather in Norway

Norway is a long country, stretching from Lindesnes lighthouse in the south to the North Cape in the north, covering a distance of approximately 1,752 kilometers (1,089 miles).

Thanks to its length and the influence of the Gulf Stream, Norway experiences a variety of climates. The coastal areas, including cities like Stavanger, Bergen, Ålesund, Trondheim, and the Lofoten archipelago, tend to be more rainy and mild compared to the inland regions.

 

Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to the questions about what to pack, how to dress, and what kind of weather to expect in Norway.

 

Weather forecast for Lofoten, Norway
Current weather forecast for Lofoten, Norway

 

Current weather in Oslo, Norway
Current weather in Oslo, Norway

 

As I write this article on June 23, 2024, it is a cold, rainy, and windy day in Lofoten. The temperature is around 10 degrees Celsius, and the ferry between Bodø and Moskenes is delayed due to the weather and large waves in the fjord.

Meanwhile, in Oslo, Ivar is enjoying sunny weather with temperatures around 25 degrees Celsius.

If you want to know what the weather will be like when you visit Norway, we recommend checking the Norwegian weather forecast yr.no for historical weather data on your specific dates and locations, as well as for up-to-date weather forecasts.

 

Weather in Norway is unpredictable
Do not underestimate the weather in Norway. You can have a nice sunny day with 25 degrees in the morning; by evening, it can be windy, rainy, and 8 degrees. The weather changes quickly, and you might need a beanie and gloves even in the summer.

 

Radka Guide to Lofoten
The previous picture was taken at Kvalvika Beach, and this one was taken at Bunes Beach. Both were taken on summer days.

 

Best Time to Visit Norway

Are you wondering when the best time to visit Norway is? The ideal time varies from person to person and depends largely on what you want to see and do.

👉🏻 If hiking is your passion, plan your visit between late June and the end of September, when the trails are most accessible.

👉🏻 To witness the northern lights, travel to northern Norway between September and mid-April.

👉🏻 For winter activities like dog sledding or visiting a reindeer farm, the best time to visit is from November to April.

👉🏻 If you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider a road trip in May or October for a more serene experience.

 

Traveling to Norway in autumn is a good time to avoid the crowds
Traveling to Norway in autumn is a good time for avoiding the crowds and mushroom picking!

 

Outside of the summer season you can have some of the touristy sights in Norway to yourselves
Outside of the summer season you can have some of the touristy sights in Norway to yourselves. Like my dad on Preikestolen.

 

Norwegian Currency

In Norway, the official currency is the Norwegian Krone (NOK).

Norway is largely cashless; almost everything can be paid for by credit card or mobile payment options like Vipps or Apple Pay.

VISA is Norway’s most widely accepted credit card, followed closely by MasterCard. American Express (AmEx) is accepted in some places, but not as universally as VISA or MasterCard. Discover Card is not commonly accepted in Norway.

❗Note that most transactions require a credit card with a PIN. Euros, dollars, or other foreign currencies are not accepted.

❗ Although card payments are convenient, we would still advise you to withdraw a small amount of cash, around 500-1000 NOK, from an ATM for use in situations where cash might be necessary, such as private parking or tipping tour guides.

 

Norwegian currency and money
I honestly do not remember the last time I paid with cash. I do not even own a wallet anymore. I just carry a credit card and a 500 NOK banknote in my phone case.

 

Tipping in Norway

Tipping in Norway is less common or expected than in the USA. It is because the workers in Norway tend to have relatively high wages and benefits, so they rely less on tips to supplement their income.

However, even though tips are not expected, they are appreciated if you are particularly happy with the service.

In restaurants, you can add a tip to your bill when you pay by credit card. To tip tour guides or hotel employees, you will need cash.

❗Do not feel pressured into tipping when the waiter brings you a card terminal with an option to tip. It is completely acceptable to just enter the amount you owe without adding a tip.

❗If you are from the USA, it might seem rude not to tip, but tipping is truly optional in Norway.

Lake Lovatnet close to Loen
Will you spot me and Ivar in a canoe?

 

Internet, Wifi, and Local SIM Cards

WiFi is readily available throughout Norway, including in most hotels, cafes, and public spaces. However, network connections might be unavailable in some remote mountain areas.

If you are from an EU country, you can call, text, and use data like anywhere else in the EU.

For travelers from countries outside the EU, we highly recommend getting an e-SIM, such as those offered by Airalo.

Getting a local SIM card can be a hassle, and sorting out an e-SIM before your arrival will save you time and headaches.

 

Best Apps for Traveling in Norway

When traveling in Norway, several apps can make your trip easier. Here are some of the best apps to consider:

Google Maps: Perfect for general navigation, finding attractions, and getting directions.

Entur: Essential for planning public transportation across Norway, including trains, buses, and ferries.

EasyPark: Ideal for finding and paying for parking in cities and towns.

Ruter: Specifically useful for public transportation in Oslo and the surrounding areas.

 

👉🏻 Check out our article with more detailed information on these and other helpful apps.

 

best apps for travelling in norway_Vy.no app for booking trains, busses and taxis
Vy is the go-to app for booking train tickets in Norway

 

Norwegian Power Plugs & Sockets

Norway uses electric plugs of types C and F. Plug type C has two round pins, and plug type F has two round pins with two earth clips on the side.

Norway operates on a 230V supply voltage and 50Hz.

Type C electrical socket and plug for Norway
Type F electrical socket and plug for Norway

 

Type F electrical socket and plug for Norway
Type F electrical socket and plug for Norway

 

Explore the Best Apps for Traveling in Norway

Public Transport in Norway

When you google “public transport in Norway,” you will find descriptions stating that it is efficient, reliable, well-connected, and easy to travel around the country. We do not entirely agree.

While public transport is excellent in big cities like Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Tromsø and in their surrounding areas, it can be less reliable and insufficient in more remote regions.

For traveling across the country, having a car is much more convenient.

 

If you decide to explore Norway using public transport, then:

👉🏻 Check the webpage/app entur.no to plan your journey from A to B.
👉🏻 Use the vy.no webpage or app to book train tickets.

❗Note that Vy typically releases train tickets for sale 90 days before the departure date.

 

GETTING TO LOFOTEN ISLANDS BY TRAIN
Here, you see the map of the railway network in Norway. Note that if you want to go from Stavanger to Bergen, for example, you need to travel via Oslo. The cities on the western coast are not connected by direct rail. Source: RAILWAYHERO

 

Renting a Car in Norway

Renting a car in Norway can make your trip much more flexible and enjoyable. Compare prices from conventional car rentals on rentalcars.com to get the best deal.

Make sure to book your car in advance, especially during the high season, because it can happen that there will be no cars left. For cheaper prices, try to avoid traveling in the high season.

Also, avoid renting a car at one place and delivering it somewhere else, as it always comes with a hefty fee.

👉🏻 You can also check out getaround.no, where you can rent a car from local people.

 

Rent a car in Norway
On rentalcars.com, you can compare prices from different car rental agencies.

 

Driving in Norway

In Norway, we drive on the right side of the road. The country has relatively few highways; most roads are two-lane and can be narrow and winding.

 

Speed limits vary depending on the area: typically, 50 km/h (31 mph) in urban areas, 80 km/h (50 mph) on rural roads, and up to 110 km/h (68 mph) on the few motorways.

 

👉🏻 During the summer months, expect increased traffic, with many buses and motorhomes sharing the roads, making driving more challenging.

👉🏻 You do not need an international driver’s license. If your driver’s license is not in English, you may have to apply for an international driver’s license or have an English translation available.

👉🏻 Norwegian drivers are generally very relaxed, and honking is rare and only used when someone is extremely upset.

❗Please drive safely but not so slowly that you hinder the traffic behind you. If a line of cars forms behind you or a car gets too close, let them pass by, stopping at the first convenient place. Alternatively, on a straight stretch of road with no oncoming traffic, you can slow down and start blinking to the right to signal to the drivers behind you that they can pass.

Driving in Norway: Trollstigen road
This is the Trollstigen road with its famous hairpins. Some of the roads in Norway look like this! PS: The Trollstigen is currently closed to all motorized traffic due to the danger of rockslides. The authorities have closed the road indefinitely until safety precautions are completed.

 

Driving in winter

Driving in Norway in winter is something you should seriously consider.

Do you have experience driving on ice and snow? If not, Norway is not the best place to gain that experience.

The roads here are winding and narrow, and visibility often becomes poor, especially in the darkness and during heavy snowfall.

In Lofoten, we see it every winter: tourists renting cars and creating dangerous situations by driving 30 km/h because they fear the slippery roads, driving in the middle of the road, or ending up in ditches along the road.

Such conditions make driving in Norway during winter particularly challenging and potentially hazardous not only for you but also for other drivers.

winter roads in Lofoten
This is an example of good weather and good driving conditions in winter on one of the smaller roads in the Lofoten Islands.

 

Navigating Norwegian Roads

Waze and Google Maps are popular driving apps that help you navigate Norway. They will give you a general idea of how long it takes to get from A to B, but we recommend always giving yourself extra time to reach your destination.

 

It’s best not to plan drives longer than three hours at a stretch, and you should add approximately 25% more to the time estimated by Google Maps to account for unexpected delays, road conditions, and scenic stops along the way.

 

Additionally, always check for road closures (vegvesen app) or ferry schedules if your route includes a ferry crossing, as these can significantly impact your travel time.

Closed roads due to stormy weather in Lofoten as seen in the Vegvesen app
The Vegvesen app is a really useful tool when driving in Norway. Unfortunately, it is only available in Norwegian, but the map shows closed roads or sections where work is ongoing. This picture is from a stormy winter day in Lofoten when the ferry between Bodø and Moskenes was canceled, and some sections of the main road E10 were also impassable. The exclamation marks indicate the bridges in Lofoten that close on short notice in strong winds. There is no way around them.

 

Toll System in Norway

The toll system in Norway is automated and uses the AutoPASS system, which takes photos of your car’s license plate as you drive through toll stations.

For tourists in rental cars, toll charges are usually handled by the rental company and added to your bill.

👉🏻 If you’re driving your own car, register with EPASS24 to have toll invoices sent to your home address.

👉🏻 Locals typically use an AutoPASS tag on their windshield, linked to a toll account that provides discounts and automatic payments.

 

epass24 registration for paying road toll in norway
Before traveling to Norway in your own car, you need to register for paying road tolls at Epass24.

 

Ferries in Norway

The ferry system in Norway is operated by several companies, including Fjord1, Torghatten, and Norled, so there isn’t one single page for all ferry timetables. The best option to find comprehensive ferry schedules is to use Entur.no.

Some ferries can (and should) be booked in advance, especially for routes like Geiranger-Hellesylt, Lysebotn-Lauvvik in western Norway, or the Bodø-Lofoten ferry in northern Norway.

👉🏻 Payment is automated through the AutoPASS tag for cars with AutoPASS (locals and rental cars). Other vehicles should register on FerryPay.

👉🏻 Note that some ferries run every 30 minutes, while others may only operate 2-3 times daily, so you must check the specific schedules for your planned routes.

 

Ferrypay is a system for registering your car for ferry crossings in Norway
FerryPay is a system that registers your car for ferry crossings in Norway.

Are you planning to travel in the northern Norway?

What to See in Norway

What are the must-sees in Norway that you absolutely cannot miss? This can be a challenging question—everyone has different interests, tastes, and travel styles. Ask 100 people what their favorite attraction in Norway is, and you’ll probably get 100 different answers!

Most tourists arrive in Oslo by plane and then continue to Bergen, usually via the Norway in a Nutshell tour.

The most visited regions are the fjords in western Norway between Stavanger and Ålesund, the Lofoten Islands in northern Norway, and the North Cape, which is the northernmost point in Norway accessible by road. That is during the summer.

❄️ In the winter, people still head to the fjords in western Norway, but Northern Lights tourism kicks in, and Tromsø suddenly becomes very popular.

 

Interactive Tourist Map of Oslo by Guide to Lofoten
Try to slow down. You can easily spend 10 days only in western Norway. We strongly advise you to focus on one area instead of trying to see Oslo, Bergen, Lofoten, Tromsø, and, ideally, Svalbard in one go.

 

Accommodation in Norway

Norway offers many accommodations, ranging from hotel chains to Airbnb. However, the country doesn’t have a strong culture of cheap shared accommodations, so hostel accommodation and B&B are quite limited.

To check accommodation options in your chosen area, we recommend using Booking.com. You can use the sort function to list accommodations from the cheapest to the most expensive or use the filter function to choose accommodations with a rating higher than 8 or 9, among other criteria.

 

Booking.com is a great tool for checking availibility and booking accommodation in Norway
Booking.com is a great tool for checking availability and booking accommodation in Norway.

 

We are not big fans of Airbnb, especially in small communities. Finding long-term rentals has become a huge issue in places like Lofoten, as everyone with a house or spare room rents them out through Airbnb.

If you plan to visit the fjord region (e.g., Flåm, Olden, Loen, Geiranger, Åndalsnes) or the Lofoten Islands, book your hotel as soon as possible (ideally before Christmas). Accommodation gets sold out quickly during the summer.

 

Reine rorbuer traditional accommodation in fishermens cabins in Lofoten
In Lofoten, you can stay in the traditional fishermen´s cabin called the rorbuer.

 

Tours and Attractions in Norway

There isn’t a single page where you can book all the tours and attractions in Norway. So, how do you find what to do in a certain area?

One option is to use Google, which is not always very effective. You can also use third-party services like GetYourGuide or Viator.

In our experience, you will find the widest selection of tours and activities on GetYourGuide, and we often recommend it in our articles. It’s a user-friendly platform/app with a good cancellation policy.

❗We also encourage you to book directly with the providers if you can. Booking directly often more effectively supports local businesses and sometimes offers more flexibility or better deals.

booking tours and activities in Norway through getyourguide

 

Oslo Pass & Bergen Card

Some cities in Norway, like Oslo and Bergen, offer special city passes that provide free access to public transport and entrance to various museums and attractions. Whether these passes are worth it depends on your travel preferences.

When considering a city pass, think about your itinerary and interests. If you plan to visit many museums and use public transport frequently, a city pass can save you money and offer convenience. However, it might not be as beneficial if your plans focus more on outdoor activities or less on museum visits.

 

Oslo pass card for visiting Oslo
In our opinion, the Oslo Pass only pays off if you are really into museums and plan to spend at least 2, preferably 3, days in Oslo to fully take advantage of the included attractions.

Do you want to travel from Oslo to Bergen by train?

Norway in a Nutshell

Norway in a Nutshell (sometimes shortened online to NIN) is a self-guided tour package that takes you through some of western Norway’s most scenic parts. It combines various modes of public transport, including trains, buses, and boats.

Norway in a Nutshell starts from either Oslo or Bergen, depending on your preference. It’s a flexible tour package that lets you choose your starting point, transportation mode, and activities depending on your interests and schedule.

The tour usually takes one day, starting and ending in Bergen or Oslo. However, we recommend taking more time to explore the different stops along the way and break up the journey over several days.

Flåm railway, Norway in a nutshell
Flåm railway, Norway in a nutshell

 

Nærøyfjorden fjord cruise, Norway in a nutshell
Nærøyfjorden fjord cruise, Norway in a nutshell

 

Norway in a Nutshell DIY: View of Undredal village from the Nærøyfjorden cruise
Undredal Village, Norway in a nutshell

 

The typical Norway in a Nutshell tour includes the following stops and modes of transportation:

✅ Train from Oslo or Bergen to Myrdal (Bergen Railway = Bergensbana)
✅ Flåm Railway from Myrdal to Flåm (Flåm Railway = Flåmsbana)
✅ Fjord cruise from Flåm to Gudvangen
✅ Bus from Gudvangen to Voss
✅ Train from Voss to Bergen or Oslo (Bergen Railway = Bergensbana)

 

👉🏻 We wrote two separate articles about the Norway in a Nutshell (NIN) tour. One gives you an overview of the Norway in a Nutshell tour and what you can do along the stops on this route.

👉🏻 The other one will save you some money by walking you through how to book the Norway in a Nutshell tour on your own.

 

Norway in a nutshell on your own
Even though Norway in a Nutshell is one of the most touristy attractions in Norway, we really enjoyed it. We did our own version by car. We arrived in Flåm and took a train to Myrdal, from where we biked back to Flåm. After that, we took a fjord cruise back and forth to Gudvangen.

 

Tips for Visiting Oslo

Oslo, Norway’s capital, has a fantastic mix of modern and historic architecture, world-class museums, galleries, restaurants, and beautiful nature just a stone’s throw away from the city. 
Modern architecture in Oslo, Norway
Modern architecture in Oslo, Norway

 

Nature around Oslo, Norway
The deer are frequent visitors to Ivar’s mom’s garden in Oslo. The other day, we also saw a badger walking down the road in front of the house.

Getting from the Airport to the Oslo City Center

Getting from Oslo Airport (Gardermoen) to the city center is straightforward. The easiest and most convenient option is to travel by train.

By Train

Vy trains run frequently from Oslo Airport to Oslo Central Station (Oslo S), taking about 20 minutes. Tickets can be purchased at the airport.

Flytoget Airport Express Train is a slightly more expensive but very convenient option. The Flytoget train runs every 10 minutes and also takes about 20 minutes to reach Oslo Central Station. Tickets can be purchased at the airport.

By Bus

Several airport shuttle buses operate between Oslo Airport and various parts of the city. These buses can be a good option if you stay outside the city center or need to get to specific locations not serviced by the train.

By Taxi

Taxis are available at the airport but are the most expensive option. They offer the convenience of door-to-door service, which can be useful if you have a lot of luggage or are traveling in a group.
Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo, Norway
Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo

What to see in Oslo

There are a lot of things to see in Oslo, especially when it comes to museums. We plan to publish an article with the 10 best things to see in Oslo, so stay tuned.

To give you a small teaser, our favorite places are the Vigeland Sculpture Park, strolling around Aker Brygge, visiting The Well (spa), and walking around Sognsvann.

Radka really likes the Folk Museum in Bygdøy. Meanwhile, Ivar’s favorite thing is stuffing his face with hot dogs from the Sausage Factory food truck, which is between the Town Hall and the Nobel Peace Center.

Folk museum in Oslo, NorwayThe Folk Museum in Oslo

What to do in Oslo

The main mistake people make when planning their trip to Norway is thinking that Oslo is a good starting point for visiting the fjords. It is not. Oslo is situated in the Oslofjord, but the stunning fjords that you know from Instagram are in western Norway, close to Bergen and a one-day drive from Oslo.

Oslo offers more cultural and culinary experiences than stunning scenery and fjords. However, we can recommend island hopping in Oslofjorden, taking a silent cruise on board a hybrid electric catamaran, or enjoying some of the saunas with a view of Aker Brygge or the Oslo Opera House.

Interactive Tourist Map of Oslo
Check out our Interactive Tourist Map of Oslo, where you will find all our tips on what to do in Oslo, where to eat, where to stay, where to go for a drink, and more.

 

Tips for Visiting Tromsø

Tromsø is the biggest city in northern Norway, the Northern Lights capital of Norway, and a gateway to the Arctic. It is easily accessible thanks to its airport, located just a 15-minute drive from the city center, and a number of direct flights from European cities.

Most people head to Tromsø between September and April when they can see the aurora borealis dancing in the sky.

best northern lights tours tromso Northbound Oli and Ryan
Beautiful northern lights in Tromsø, captured by the Northbound Northern Lights company that offers small group photography-oriented northern lights tours in Tromsø

 

Northern lights by Arctic Photo Guide
Nico, aka the Arctic Photo Guide, also offers small tour northern lights tours that cater to active people who want to get away from the crowded spots and are not afraid to hike a bit to get to some stunning locations

 

Northern Lights Tour with Wandering Owl
Wandering Owl is an established Tromsø based company that does northern lights tours with minibusses.

Moreover, during the winter months, there are many more exciting activities, such as whale watching (November to January), dog sledding, reindeer feeding (November to April), visiting ice domes, and snowmobiling (December to April).

We have created a few separate posts about visiting Tromsø in winter, the best activities to do in Tromsø during the winter, and an article on how to choose the best Northern Lights tour. Make sure you check them out!

 

Interactive Map of Tromso
For tips on what to do in Tromsø in winter, where to stay, where to eat, or where to go hunting for the Northern Lights on your own, check out our interactive map of Tromsø!

Have an amazing time in Norway, and please share this article if you found it useful!

Do you have any tips you’d add to this list? Leave a comment below to help out your fellow travelers!

FAQ About Traveling to Norway

The best time to visit Norway really depends on what you want to do. Late June to the end of September is ideal for hiking. If you want to see the Northern Lights, plan your trip between September and mid-April. November to April is perfect for winter activities like dog sledding or visiting a reindeer farm. To avoid crowds, consider traveling in May or October.

Norway is packed with stunning sights! Don’t miss the fjords like Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, the cities of Oslo and Bergen, the Northern Lights in Tromsø, and the scenic Lofoten Islands.

However, all of the above-mentioned places are also very touristy. If you want to explore some hidden gems, we recommend getting our map of western Norway. It will guide you to lesser-known spots that offer equally breathtaking views and experiences without the crowds.

Renting a car can give you a lot of flexibility, especially if you plan to explore remote areas or travel at your own pace. While public transport is excellent in cities like Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim, it can be unreliable and sparse in rural areas.

If you decide to rent a car, book in advance and be prepared for narrow, winding roads, especially in the countryside.

Yes, Norway is a largely cashless society. Credit cards are widely accepted, but make sure your card has a PIN, as it’s often required for transactions.

While almost everything can be paid by card, having a small amount of cash (around 500-1000 NOK) for situations like private parking or tipping tour guides is handy.

Tipping in Norway is not as common or expected as it is in many other countries. Workers in Norway generally have relatively high wages and benefits, so they do not rely on tips to supplement their income. That said, if you’re particularly happy with the service, leaving a tip is appreciated but not obligatory.

In restaurants, the common practice is to round up the bill. For example, if your bill is 285 NOK, you might round it up to 300 NOK. You can add a tip to your bill when paying by credit card, but there’s no pressure to do so. It’s completely acceptable to pay the due amount without adding a tip.

You can round up the fare to the nearest 10 NOK for other services, such as taxi rides. Tipping the staff is not customary in hotels, but leaving a small amount for exceptional service, such as for the concierge or housekeeping, is appreciated.

When it comes to tour guides, it’s a bit different. If you’ve had a great experience, a tip of 50-100 NOK per person is a nice gesture. Remember that you’ll need cash for this, as it’s impossible to add a tip when paying by card in these situations.

Also, don’t feel pressured into tipping when the waiter brings you a card terminal with an option to tip. It’s completely fine to enter the amount you owe without adding anything extra. If you’re from the USA, where tipping is more customary, it might feel rude not to tip, but in Norway, tipping is truly optional and should reflect your satisfaction with the service.

You do not need a visa to enter Norway if you are from an EU/EEA country.

Citizens from many countries, including the USA, Canada, Australia, and Japan, can enter Norway for up to 90 days without a visa for tourism purposes.

Always check the latest visa requirements for your specific country before traveling.

Yes, tap water in Norway is safe to drink and often of excellent quality. In fact, it’s usually better than bottled water, so bring a reusable water bottle to refill throughout your trip.

Picture of Ivar & Radka

Ivar & Radka

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten. We met in Trondheim and lived together in western Norway, Narvik and Tromsø. At the moment we call western Lofoten our home. We hope our page will make it easier for you to explore the beautiful places that made us chose Norway for our home.

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Ivar and Radka Guide to Lofoten

Hi! We are Ivar & Radka, an international couple who runs the Guide to Lofoten.

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