Here’s a few tips for the bush-walker friends who wish to explore Norway in a unique way, or a least away from marked trails.
This is thus NOT a touristic guide and the information you will find here is very broad. This article is for smart travelers and the goal is simply to help you get ready, that’s it. Once you are in the country, you’re an adventurer: figure it out yourself!
Norway for adventurers in 6 key points (plus 2 bonus points)
– Hitchhiking: (4 / 5) – Easy, remote location aside
– General transportation: (4.5 / 5) – Almost all places are served
– Camping: (5 / 5) – Wild Camping is allowed everywhere
– General cost: (1 / 5) – Very expensive country
1. Transportation in Norway
Norway is a country spreading itself from North to South (or the other way around), making some places hard to reach in theory. But thankfully, public transportion is relatively good and rather well developed.
- Hitchhiking in Norway
It’s an excellent way to travel. You shouldn’t wait for more than 30 minutes (for 1 man alone) to get picked up. Stay on roads with traffic however, otherwise the waiting time can easily reach 2h in some situations.
Besides been very welcoming, Norwegians spend a lot of time in their car to cover the long distances this country has, and you’ll end up being a great alternative to the radio.
ARTICLE: How to succeed at Hitchhiking.
- Traveling by train in Norway
A very good option though it can quickly become expensive. Schedules are reliable* and there’s a large range of towns with train stations, though it mainly focused on the southern part of the country. The Northern part is very little, actually almost not at all, covered.
(*I still had to face a major issue during my stay where all trains were canceled without notification due to track work, with absolutely no alternatives put in place).
- Traveling by bus in Norway
A very good alternative to the train, and even a very good addition to it, with prices being slightly cheaper. Schedules are very reliable and almost every single Norwegian town has a bus going through it.
It is however very hard to get access to prices, routes and timetables. If some websites allow you to check the later 2, the 1st point is usually a surprise you get to learn when getting into the bus.
There’s also different bus companies for each region, and not all provide clear transfer.
A useful link is share at the end of this article to help you better visualize map and destinations of Norwegian buses.
- Traveling by car in Norway
A recommended option if you are a group of people and you don’t like hitchhiking. Renting a small car will very quickly turn out to be cheaper than taking the train and / or the bus. Some travelers actually land in Sweden and rent their car there to make it even cheaper (yes, you can cross the Sweden/Norwegian border with a rented car).
- Traveling by bicycle in Norway
Not something I would necessarily recommend. Though some people do it, mostly in the Lofoten islands, there are almost no bike lanes in Norway and roads are very narrow. Most drivers will still be careful, but in Norway car is king.
If you’re going to Norway during winter, cross it out of your options.
- Traveling by plane in Norway
A fast and efficient way of reaching long distance destinations, but with a very high price of course. The options to reach the Northern part of Norway being limited however, taking a plane might not only be the only solution, it will also probably be cheaper than a combination of trains and buses.
2. Food in Norway
Norway is an extremely expensive country and a big chunk of your budget will go into food.
Prices in restaurants, even for entry-level ones, are high.
If you want to avoid going broke, cook for yourself and buy the strict necessary. Some travelers actually land in Sweden and buy groceries before crossing the border to Norway (specially true if you’re renting a car).
Be careful! ALL supermarkets are closed on Sunday (even in touristic areas). It is extremely difficult to find an open store on a Sunday.
Opening hours during the week are very long.
3. Water in Norway
One of the downside of this country: access to drinkable water is slightly complicated.
If you don’t want to pollute or empty your wallet by buying bottles of water, fill up your own bottles using tap water from random places (mostly toilets, gas station toilets, supermarket toilets, …)
Watch out as public toilets are usually not free in touristic areas.
Carry a filter system and / or chlorine tablets since there are many water streams in Norway, but potentially unsafe due to all the sheep running around.
4. Sleeping / Camping in Norway
Norway, the camper’s paradise.
To make it simple: camping is legal almost anywhere, as long as it’s not a private property or a field that is or can be cultivated.
Some Norwegians even told me they camped in downtown public parks for a few nights in a row.
I personally didn’t spent a dime during my 5 week trip in Norway for lodging.
! To make sure this rule stays up in Norway, be cool: don’t be a huge disgusting asshole who leaves trash behind and ruins the area!
For those who don’t like camping, known that almost every little town usually as a fjordhostel, sometimes not even listed on internet.
Worst come to worst, there is almost always a camping field with caravans ready to welcome you for the night.
5. Locals / Communication in Norway
The primary language in Norway is Norsk. Almost everyone in the young generation speaks perfect English.
The older generation still communicates rather easily in English.
Like any other country where you’d go, learn a few key words in Norsk.
Unlike some stereotypes, Norwegians are very welcoming and always ready to have a conversation. You are invited to do so as well, and get ready to know more about this country where hunting, fishing and farming are activities done by almost everyone (especially true for the older generation).
Cultural clash: Norwegians are extremely polite, respectful and patient. They wont understand someone cutting in front of them (like in the supermarket for example) and they avoid direct confrontation. Cultures where people are used to complain for anything are not welcomed in Norway.
6. Places to see in Norway.
There are some many things to see and your choice will depend on the season.
The Northern part will be ideal to see northern lights or going dog-sledding. In summer, the sun never goes down.
The Lofoten Islands are very touristy but are still a must see and do.
The Southern part of Norway (but still North of Oslo) is filled with National Parks and summits to climb.
The West side is full of fjords. Cross Geiranger fjord out of your list however, as it is a nest of tourists and it is infested with huge cruise ships constantly blocking the view.
The hiking opportunities are infinite in Norway. Most of the places are not even marked. It’s up to you to create a trail. You’ll truly feel like an adventurer.
Be careful however, as trails (when there are some) can go in multiple different directions and lead to nowhere. Always carry a GPS/map with you.
A useful link is share at the end of this article to help you visualize the terrain and the trails of Norway.
Anyhow, figure it out yourself!
7. Useful links for Norway
- Bus routes in Norway
Multiple website exist to help you better understand the buses routes of Norway. Be careful, as some of them offer you multiple bus stations choices for one city even though only one of them works. It will make you feel as the town is not of the bus route.
- Hiking maps for Norway
Getting lost can easily be done in Norway, here are some apps and website to view trails in Norway:
- Norgeskart (website and app)
8. The author’s review of Norway
Carry rain gear. Despite its beauty, Norway is a very cloud (at best) and rainy (at worst) country.
The local impressionist painter J.C Dahl is a proof of it, as he made multiple paintings dedicated only to Norwegian clouds.
Also be advise that despite you best efforts, your bank account will suffer your Norwegian stay.
When you travel, you are an ambassador to your country. So for all your fellow citizens, be nice: don’t behave like an asshole.
Don’t get mad, don’t complain of cultural difference, don’t complain at all, and don’t mock locals. Are you a traveler? An adventurer? Then adapt!