information and travel tips about norway
Ready to go! Photo: Natasha Mileshina, Flickr.com

All too often when I travel have I step onto a plane, train, or bus, only to realize I have no clue what currency, exchange rate, or country code (basic general information) I am headed too. I’m not talking about the customs of a country, that’s a whole different subject. I’m talking about the little details always seem to get lost in the grand excitement for the trip, sometimes those little details are really important.

Here is a little help with those hose last minute, look at a glance, make sure you have everything you need information about your destination that we never really think about looking up.

General Information

Currency

Norwegian kroner (NOK). To get the best rates, we advice you to take out cash from ATMs once you arrive.

Credit cards are widely accepted, even in the smallest local souvenir stores. Visa and Mastercard is the way to go, though AMEX and Diner’s will work in taxis, hotels and restaurants.

If you are bringing USD, GBP, CAD, EUR or any other major currency, the best cash exchange rates are found at Forex — available in most major cities (Stavanger, Oslo, Bergen and several more). Banks, including the ones at the airports, will give you worse rates and charge high fees. Some banks will give you a better exchange rate than Forex, but they will charge high commissions, leading to a worse effective exchange rate.

For transfer of larger sums of money, i.e. a deposit for an apartment or a private home rental, Transferwise is your best option. It’s simpler and cheaper than a normal international wire — and just as safe.

At the time of writing the exchange rates are as follows. The actual exchange rates depends on the bank you are using, or what the credit card company rates are at the transaction time. For updated daily rates, check out xe.com.

The Best Currency Exchange Rates
As of July 24th 2014

Language

The official language is Norwegian.

Two written versions exist: Nynorsk and Bokmål. This dates back to the time when Norway was a Danish colony, and the national romantic period in art, writing and culture that followed. Bokmål which is the most common version, is based on Danish, while Nynorsk is built upon local dialects from all over Norway.

It may not be easy for a traveler to hear, but the spoken Norwegian language varies a lot from region to region. If I talk to someone from up north I have to concentrate hard! I’m sure they feel the same way when they have to deal with me..

English is widely spoken, but if you would like to impress the locals with some phrases in norwegian, read this article.

Visas

No visas are required for residents of Schengen and EU countries. US citizens can travel to Norway for up to 90 days without a visa, the same goes for most nations in South America.

The borders between Norway and its neighboring countries are barely visible, except or the Russian border. A lot of travelers will travel to Sweden or Finland while they are visiting Norway without any hassle,  it is as simple as crossing the border.

Phones

Most kiosks will sell prepaid SIM-cards. Signal and connection is generally good, even in remote areas. Wifi is available in most cafes, airports, hotels and public places.

Driving

Drive on the right, though on many of the narrow mountain roads there is no  designated left or right — just the middle of the road.

Roads can be windy, leading to lower speed limits than in many other countries — and what you may be used to from The States. Fines for speeding or other creative driving infractions are high, and speed cameras are plentiful — there are even ones that  measures your average speed over a certain distance.

Traffic police are generally ‘un-bribeable’.

If you are driving in Norway, you will definitely come across a toll road booth, or a thousand, just to figure out that there is no way to actually pay. If you are renting a car, it will come with an Autopass chip. Simply drive through, and the rental company will charge your credit card. If you are driving your own car, you can pay at a gas station after passing. If you don’t pay, you will receive a bill by mail.

Electricity

220 volts AC (50 hertz) is the standard in Norway, like in most of Europe.

The plug used is the ‘Euro plug’, with two round pins.

Alcohol

The rules on alcohol are generally strict in Norway.

Strong beer, wine and spirits are only sold at the government run stores called Vinmonopolet. Most cities and towns have one of these, but the opening hours varies from place to place. If you are planning on buying alcohol after office hours (after 4–5 PM that is), these stores will most likely be closed.

Beer is sold at supermarkets, but only until at certain time in the evening. The “last call” at the markets depends on where you are, as this is regulated by local laws but it’s no later than 8 PM on weekdays and 6 PM on Saturdays.

No alcohol is sold in stores on Sundays, on public holidays or on election and referendum days.

Fear not, the above laws does not apply to bars and night clubs! The closing time for night clubs and bars, again depending on the local politics, is usually between 2 and 3:30 AM.

When to go

Norway is a country of many seasons, from mild and rainy, to hot and dry, to freezing cold and roads closed due to snow.

It may sound like an obvious statement: first figure out what you want to see and then prioritize around that. The Northern lights and the Fjords are both amazing, but best experienced in opposing seasons.

when to visit norway
Changing seasons. Photo: Sarah Spaulding, Flickr.com

High Season

The peak season is mid-June – mid-August for most of Norway. At this time you can see and do ‘everything’, but it’s also the busiest season. Book accommodations well in advance. Weather can be warm or rainy depending on the region.

Shoulder Season

The middle season from mid-May to mid- June, and mid-August to  mid-September is less crowded. Most roads that are closed for the winter, i.e. the road to Kjerag will open in May and closed in October.

Less crowds means more room for exploration, discounted trips and you don’t have to book accommodation as far ahead.

Weather tends to be mild, and in Southern Norway the best weather is often in May, early June, and in August.

Low Season

From October to April, many attractions and roads are closed due to mother nature.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t go this time of the year. The same 10 ft of snow that’s closing the mountain road, is making the perfect opportunity for offpist skiing. Top activities during this time include: dog sledging, skiing, along with northern lights observation, or an arctic holiday to Svalbard.

Phone numbers

  • Directory assistance – 180
  • International code – 00
  • Norway country code – 47
  • Ambulance – 113
  • Police (emergency) – 112
  • Police (nearest police office) – 02-800
  • Fire department – 110

You are all caught up. Go enjoy your trip!

What other information do you think is important to have? Let us know below.