It’s so easy to fall in love with Norway. Many people tend to think of it as an expensive country, but visit with an open mind and it can be budget-friendly. There are a number of alternative accommodation ideas, including pitching a tent practically anywhere in nature thanks to allemannsretten, the principle of “freedom to roam.”
Now that we have accommodation settled, it’s time to play tourist… we suggest you rent a car and enjoy the abundance of natural landscapes and new views around each bend.
Norway’s capital Oslo is naturally the first stop. Boasting a wide range of museums, modern architecture, city-life and of course, nature, Oslo is also home to good food. From food stalls and convenience stores to Michelin Star restaurants, Oslo has something for every budget.
But remember that Norway has the best salmon and while it isn’t cheap, make sure that you have at least one proper salmon meal in Norway even if you’re traveling on a budget.
Speaking of budget, the vast Frogner Park (usually referred to as Vigeland Sculpture Park) in northwestern Oslo is Norway’s most-visited site, is free and always open.. A visit to the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet is also free — unless you plan to attend a performance or one of the highly recommended guided tours that take you behind the scenes. But you certainly don’t have to — walking on the structure itself is an experience.
You can’t visit Oslo and assume you’ve “done” Norway. Take the time and travel west to Bergen, in the Fjord Norway region. In Bergen, Norway’s second-biggest city, definitely visit Bryggen, a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site made up of more than 60 houses of German merchants from the Hanseatic League. They’re a must for any photographer, and most of the buildings are privately owned today and contain souvenir shops and restaurants.
Take the funicular up to the top of Mount Floyen — the views are nothing short of incredible. Once you arrive, grab lunch at the Fløien Folkerestaurant, take in the panorama, or go on a hike.
To the fjords
Bergen is known as the “gateway to the fjords,” and there’s no shortage of ways to experience their breathtaking beauty — one of the many reasons they’re listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you just have a day to see them, book a day tour from Bergen to the Nærøy or the Hardangerfjord. Some tours also include a ride on the spectacular Flam railway, named the world’s best rail journey by Lonely Planet Traveller in 2014.
The famous northern lights
Are you dreaming of seeing the northern lights? Well, Norway is the right place to do it! There’s something magical about watching the sky turn into a green and purple formation dancing all over. Many tourists come to Norway to see the northern lights. However, the northern lights (or Aurora Borealis) isn’t visible all over Norway. Since Norway is a long country you’re normally only able to see the lady in green in the northern parts of Norway. The further south you go, the fewer lights you will see. Places such as Lofoten, Bodo and Tromso are popular areas to watch the northern lights.
You should also remember that the northern lights won’t be visible during the summer as it is too bright during that season. Typically, you’ve got the best chance of seeing some activity between October and April.
During winter, northern Norway has polar nights; a period where the sun never rises above the horizon and you have 24 hours of dark. During summer, however, it’s the exact opposite; the sun never sets.
Norway has so much to offer, it truly deserves to be on your bucket list. See you there?