Norway

Introduction

Norway’s cities are full of stylish cafes, cutting edge Scandinavian design and rich history. The largest cities are Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim and Stavanger and each has much to offer to its visitors.


From Tromso to Stavanger, the country’s rural wilderness is also stunning: there are fjords, glaciers and mountains, all linked by a network of hiking and skiing trails. Make sure you enjoy the local fish specialities that Norway is famous for.


The vast countryside and forest areas lead to many remote communities and a population density which is amongst the lowest in Europe.

Places to go in Norway

History

Norway remained neutral during WW1 and attempted to do so during WW2 too, however it was of too great a strategic importance and was attacked by the Nazis in 1940. Following this King Hakon established an exile government in England and most of Norway's merchant fleet was put under the command of the Allies. Although occupied until the end of the war, there was an active resistance movement in place. The royal family returned in 1945.


Norway has been rather reluctant when it comes to forging close bonds with other European countries although it did join NATO in 1949 and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 1960. In 1972 and again in 1994 however, it voted against joining the EC (now EU).

Politics

Norway's political system stems from its constitution signed originally in 1814 when the system of absolute monarchy was changed to one of a constitutional monarchy. The King even today retains symbolic powers and has symbolic executive power, however in practice it it the Council of State and the Prime Minister who exercises this. Legislative power is vested in the government of the day and the Storting (parliament) and the Judiciary always remains independent of both the Executive and Legislative bodies.


Norway has a a multi-dimensional party system with strong representation from the whole political spectrum. There are the socialist parties, such as the Social Left Party and the Labour Party, or right–wing parties like the Party of Progress and the Conservative Party. The Centre Party, the Christian Democratic Party and the Liberal Party occupies the middle of the political spectrum.


Other political parties like moral-religious Christian parties, parties that are especially concerned about regional policy issues or parties that try to protect environmental values are also well represented in the Norwegian political scene.

Geography

Located in the north of Europe (on the northwestern part of the Scandinavian Peninsula), Norway borders the North Sea to the southwest and the Skagerrak inlet to the south; in the west, it borders the North Atlantic Ocean (Norwegian Sea) and the Barents Sea to the northeast. In the east, there is a long land border with Sweden, a shorter one with Finland t othe northeast and another with Russia in the far northeast.


Norway has one of the longest and most rugged coastlines in the world and is one of the world’s most northerly countries as well as one of the most mountainous ones. It has vast areas dominated by the Scandinavian Mountains which make for some wonderfully dramatic landscapes. Only 3% of Norway is arable with mountains covering over half of the country’s landmass. Norway is famous for its fjords and glaciers: Sognefjorden is the world's second deepest fjord and Hornindalsvatnet is Europe’s the deepest lake.

Economy

The economy of Norway has grown continually since the start of the industrial era. Shipping has long been an important factor of Norway's export sector, but much of Norway's economic growth has been the result of its abundance of natural resources, especially petroleum, hydroelectric power, and fisheries.


Agriculture and traditional heavy manufacturing are now less important than they used to be for Norway’s economy. The public sector has grown rapidly in parallel with the economy as a whole now being among the largest in the world relative to the size of the population.


Norway’s main industries are those relating to petroleum and gas, to shipbuilding, pulp and paper products, metals, timber, mining, textiles and fishing. The main exports are petroleum and petroleum-related products, machinery and equipment, metals, chemicals, ships, and fish.

Country Information

CurrencyNorwegian krone
LanguagesNorwegian, Sami, English
GovernmentConstitutional monarchy
TimezoneGMT + 1
Population4.6 million
ATM availabilityAvailable
CapitalOslo
Dialing code(00) 47
Emergency servicesAmbulance and fire 110, police 112
WeatherDespite its location in the far north, the climate in Norway is temperate, which is caused by the warming effects of the Gulf Stream that flows along its coast. The interior highlands are dominated by an Arctic type of climate: in the winter there is snow, strong winds and severe frosts; but during summer, the daytime temperatures can rise above 30°C with long hours of sunshine. The coastal areas have relatively mild winter conditions. Expect to get rain and clouds along the west coast, especially in winter; also, rainfall is frequent and rather heavy. In summer, the lowland area around Oslo is the driest and warmest part of Norway.
Tourist boardhttp://www.visitnorway.com
Famous forVikings, cod, Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree
Useful phrasesHei (hello), ya (yes); nei (no); takk (thank you)
Accommodation forAll over Norway there are the usual large hotels which are part of big hotel groups. You’ll also find privately run hotels alongside the big chains, many of them still being family-run establishments. Note that there is a Nordic Passepartout which is a pan-Scandinavian card that is accepted by over 50 hotels in the country (during the main summer period and on weekends), with which you get great discounts. There is no grading system in Norway, such as the usual star-rating system that you have in most other countries, but establishments that call themselves turisthotel or høyfjellshotell must meet specified standards. Bed and Breakfasts, guest houses (pensjonat) and mountain lodges are generally smaller and offer more basic facilities than hotels; they are available throughout the country. A rorbu is a hut or shelter normally used by fishermen during the winter fishing season. They generally are equipped with all the necessary facilities, and these can be rented during the summer, providing a cheap and very unusual form of accommodation. There are over 1000 authorised campsites in Norway and these (by contrast to hotels) are generally rated in the 1 - 5 star system. Rates awarded are dependent on the standards of the campsites and available amenities. In uninhabited areas, offsite camping is permitted; however, fires are illegal in field/woodland areas between 15 April and 15 September. If you want to camp on farmland, you must ask the farmer for permission. There are over 100 youth hostels all over Norway, and some of them are open all year round, while others are open only during the summer season. Groups should always book in advance. Also, note that although everybody is welcome, members of the Norwegian Youth Hostel Association (NUH), or similar international associations have priority. These international membership cards can be bought at most youth hostels.
Business hoursBanks are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday 08.15-15.00/15.30 and Thursdays 08.15-17.00. Shops are typically open Monday - Friday 09.00-16.00/17.00 (although on Thursdays some stay open until 18.00/20.00). Shops close earlier on Saturdays typically having opening hours of 09.00-13.00/15.00.
VisasAmericans, UK nationals, Canadians, Australians South Africans and New Zealanders do not need a visa for stays up to 90 days. Citizens of the borderless region known as the Schengen area, which includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden do not need a visa either.
TippingIn Norway, a service charge is included at restaurants and bars. However, it is common to leave a tip; generally around 5-10% of the price. It is also not uncommon to tip taxi-drivers or cleaning staff at hotels. However, other service personnel almost never receive tips so don't feel under any obligation.

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