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Norway

Norway (Norwegian: Norge or Noreg) is the westernmost, northernmost — and surprisingly also the easternmost — of the three Scandinavian countries. Norway is known for the complex and deep fjords along its west coast, as well as the midnight sun and Northern Lights. Mainland Norway stretches from the North Sea near Denmark and Scotland to borders with northern Finland and the northwestern tip of Russia, and has a long border with Sweden to the east. Norway also includes the Svalbard islands.

Regions

Cities

  • Oslo – the capital and largest city of Norway, with museums of national importance, a beautiful setting and lively nightlife and cultural scene.
  • Bergen – Once the capital of Norway, old Hanseatic trading centre with a rich culture and dramatic scenery, Norway's second largest city. Wonderfully cute wooden buildings, a magnificent mountain setting, varied nightlife and lots of atmosphere. This is your gateway to the western fjords. The city has been dubbed "the rainiest city in Europe" with an average of 250 days of rainfall a year. Bring an umbrella.
  • 3 Bodø – The gateway to the magnificent Lofoten islands. And the place of Saltstraumen, the worlds strongest maelstrom.
  • Drammen – Once known as industrial and grimy, but recent refurbishing has made Drammen an enjoyable side trip from Oslo.
  • Fredrikstad – A magnificent old town stands out from the rest of the rather nondescript city. Brilliant as a day trip from Oslo.
  • Kristiansand – The jolly capital of the South. Best known for the family attraction Kristiansand zoo and amusement park and as Norway's "cool riviera".
  • Stavanger – The fourth largest city, and the third largest urban area. Commercially important due to the oil business. The wooden, cobbled central area is one of the most charming places in Norway. Home to one of Norway's medieval churches, you can also visit Iron Age homes, stone age caves, and sites where the Viking kings used to meet at Ullandhaugtårnet. Stavanger is where Erik the Red was born.
  • 8 Tromsø – A magnificent, modern cathedral and absolutely no polar bears roaming the streets.
  • Trondheim – Famous for its stunning cathedral (Nidarosdomen). Wonderful riverside wharfs, wooden buildings and the best student nightlife in Norway give beautiful, leafy Trondheim its charm.

Other destinations

  • 1 Atlanterhavsveien – The Atlantic Ocean Road is a spectacular road with bridges along islands and skerries on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
  • 2 Hardangervidda – Norway's largest national park on a large highland plateau.
  • 3 Jostedalsbreen – The largest glacier on the European mainland.
  • 4 Jotunheimen – A majestic landscape and home of Norway's highest mountains.
  • 5 Lofoten – Experience the midnight sun in this traditional fishing district in the northern province with islands and mountains.
  • Nordkapp – This cliff is the northernmost point of continental Europe, overlooking the Barents ocean.
  • 7 Sognefjorden – Glaciers, mountains and picturesque settlements are but a few of the sights on the Sognefjord. Flåm and Nærøyfjorden (also a UNESCO World Heritage site) are parts of the mighty Sognefjorden system.

Understand

The overall impression of Norway is a country with ample space and unusually rugged landscape. While famous for the great fjords along the Atlantic, also the interior has great valleys, wide forests and fjord-like lakes. Norway is one of the most mountainous countries in Europe. Water in all varieties is perhaps what characterizes Norway most: The endless coastline, the great fjords, countless waterfalls, crystal rivers, lovely lakes and numerous glaciers.

Although the great outdoors is Norway's number 1 attraction, there are also many interesting and lively cities like Oslo and Bergen. Man-made attractions include Norway's cultural heritage as well as modern structures and architecture - often found in cities but also in terms of impressive engineering in remote corners.

History

See also: Vikings and the Old Norse, Nordic history

The petty Viking kingdoms of Norway were unified in 872 AD by Harald Fairhair. In the following period, Norwegians settled in many places, such as Iceland, the Faroe Islands and parts of Scotland and Ireland, where they founded Dublin and Waterford. In the beginning of the 14th century, Norway and Sweden were unified as the Norwegian king was also elected king of Sweden. At the end of the century, the two countries and Denmark were unified in the so-called Kalmar Union.

Sweden broke out of the union in 1521. Norway remained in union with Denmark until the Napoleonic Wars of 1814. Only a few months after Norway declared of independence, Sweden invaded Norway and enforced a personal union, though Norway had a great deal of independence.

The union with Sweden lasted until 1905, which is considered the beginning of modern Norway. Norway have later rejected membership in the European Union, arguing that "we just left a union". From 1940 until 1945, Norway was occupied by German forces during World War 2. In the 1960s, oil was found in the North Sea. Oil drilling has brought Norway prosperity, but contrary to many other oil-exporting countries, Norway invests its profits in a very egalitarian way creating an affluent, harmonious society taking advantage of excellent infrastructure and pioneering environmentally friendly technologies in everyday lives. Repeatedly ranked as a country with one of the world's highest standards of living, Norway has attracted migrants from many places all over the world, which add to today's colourful and inclusive society. All this does not come cheap, and consumer prices are among the highest in the world.

Geography

I design coastlines. I got an award for Norway. – The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Norway sits on a large peninsula shared with Sweden in the north of Europe. In the north, it also borders Finland and Russia. Some 5 million inhabitants share an area about the size of Germany and larger than Britain. Norway is primarily a very long country - driving from the most southern to the most northern cities equals the distance from Hamburg to Malaga (and through much more rugged terrain). Norway's coastline is also one of the longest in the world - if islands and fjords are included the coastline has been calculated as 50,000 to 100,000km. Nordland county alone has a longer coastline than the entire United Kingdom when fjords and islands are included.

Norway is well known for its amazing and varied scenery. The famous fjords are long narrow inlets of the ocean, flanked on either side by tall mountains where the sea penetrates far inland. Norway's endless coastline also includes countless islands of all sizes - there are more than 200,000 identified islands along Norway's coast (only surpassed by Greece). The many islands and skerries shelter the coast from the rough Atlantic such that Hurtigruten and other ships can travel long stretches on calm waters. These sheltered (internal) waters (fjords, bays and straits) covers some 100,000km2.

There are more than 450,000 lakes throughout Norway; even inside the city of Oslo there are several hundred lakes. Norway is home to the deepest lakes in Europe. The vast majority of the land (about 95 %) is rocky wilderness and forests, and thus Norway has large, completely unpopulated areas, many of which have been protected as national parks. Also outside the national parks, much of the land is largely unspoiled nature - there is in fact no need to visit a national park to experience wilderness and great landscapes. Roads and railways as well as ordinary ferries offer easy access to great panoramas. There are few sandy beaches along Norway's endless shores; shores are typically rocky, steep cliffs or gentle polished slabs of rock.

Norway's highest point is Galdhøpiggen, 2,469m (8,100 ft) in the Jotunheimen region that lies midway between Oslo and Trondheim, but away from the coast. In the far north (Finnmark), there are relatively flat open spaces. Several of the world's tallest waterfalls are in Norway, particularly in the western fjords and the mountain region. While there are mountains all over Norway, some major mountain areas define Norway's main regions. The north-south line of mountain areas (notably Hardangervidda and Jotunheimen) are major barriers and separate West Norway from East Norway. Similarly the wide Dovrefjell separates Middle Norway (Trøndelag) from East Norway. Norway also includes the nearly unpopulated Svalbard archipelago far from the mainland, on the edge of the arctic ice shelf.

The long rugged coast, fjords, countless lakes, tall waterfalls and pretty rivers means that water is the one thing that most characterizes Norway.

Administratively, Norway is divided into counties that are grouped into regions East, South, West, middle (Trøndelag) and North. The landscape of Norway can also be described by zones that cuts across these administrative divisions.

  • The "fjordland", the part of Norway dominated by fjords, runs as a wide belt all along the country, 20 to 200km wide. This particular landscape is typically a tangle of fjords and peninsulas, valleys and lakes.
  • Island belt, Further out the mainland is sheltered by a belt of islands and skerries, this belt is often wide and complex for instance around Bergen or the Lofoten archipelago. Such belt of islands allows ships safe journey along major parts of the coast. Just south of Stavanger there are neither fjords nor islands, leaving the long sandy beaches unprotected.
  • Mountain region: Somewhat inland and partly coinciding with fjords is the high mountain belt running basically South-North through the entire Scandinavian peninsula separating East Norway and West Norway, while further north separating Norway and Sweden. The high mountains vary from wild alpine summits and glaciers towards the Atlantic and more mellow landscapes further east.
  • Big valleys: East/South of the central mountains are the land of big valleys that stretch from the lowlands around Oslo to the central mountains. Gudbrandsdal, Hallingdal, Setesdal and Valdres are typical big valleys. In eastern and central Finnmark the fjords instead of high mountains changes into a wide plateau at moderate altitude.
  • Central eastern lowland: Greater Oslo, both shores of the Oslofjord (Vestfold and Østfold counties), and around big lakes Mjøsa and Tyrifjorden is the most densely populated and most important agricultural area.

People

Norway is one of Europe's most sparsely populated countries. With a population of only 5 million people and a land area of 385,802km2, the population density is only 16 inhabitants per km2. Most of the population are Norwegians. The indigenous Sami people traditionally inhabit the northern part of Norway, that along with parts of Sweden, Finland and Russia outlines an area known as Sapmi (or Sameland). Other recognized minorities are the Kven people, Jews, Forest Finns, and Norwegian Romani Travellers. In recent years, immigration, in particular from the European Union, has increased greatly.

Norway is formally a Christian country with a dominant Lutheran majority of around 80%; however, many Norwegians do not attend church.

Norway has become rather liberal in moral issues and thus more similar to southern neighbours like Denmark and the Netherlands. Homosexuality is accepted by most people and recently (2008) same-sex marriage was given the same legal status as traditional marriage. For instance, a previous male minister of finance and prominent figure in the conservative party is in partnership with a prominent male business manager. With that said, some parts along the southern and southwestern coast are fairly conservative, especially in the more rural areas.

Although crime is low, Norwegians like locking things away - in cities you will even see communal washing lines for drying clothes surrounded by a chain-link fence and a padlock to which all the entitled tenants have access.

Economy and politics

Norway's primary income is the oil and gas industry in the North Sea which makes up more than 20 per cent of its total GDP. It also has several other natural resources such as hydro-electric power, wood, fish and minerals, some manufacturing, and a healthy technology sector. Politically, it is dominated by a widespread and continued support for the Scandinavian model, which means high taxes and high government spending to support free schools, free healthcare, an efficient welfare system and many other benefits. As a result the unemployment rate in Norway is extremely low (about 2 percent).

The Norwegian people have rejected membership in the European Union (EU) in two independent popular votes in 1972 and 1994, both times just by a few percent, after being vetoed out of membership by France in the 1950s and 1960s. However, being a member state of the European Economic Area and part of the Schengen agreement, Norway is closely harmonised with the EU, and integrated as a full member in most economic matters, as well as in customs and immigration matters. This is of great economic importance to Norway.

As one of the richest countries in the world and with a strong currency, most visitors should be prepared for greater expenses than at home. In addition, Norway has a very compressed wage structure which means that even typically low skilled work is relatively well paid. For the same reason, firms try to keep the number of staff as low as possible, even for low-skilled service staff. On the other hand, many attractions in Norway are free of charge, most notably the landscape and nature itself. Furthermore, you don't have to spend much money on accommodation if you're prepared to sleep in a tent or under the open sky. According to the Norwegian right to access, you may stay for up to two nights in one spot in uncultivated land if you keep away from houses and other buildings and out of the way of other people, provided that you leave no trace. If you move far away from people, you can stay for as long as you want.

Climate

See also: Winter in the Nordic countries

Because of the gulf stream, the climate in Norway, especially along the coast, is noticeably warmer than what would otherwise be expected at such a high latitude. Although half the length of Norway is north of the Arctic circle, the climate is not Arctic. Summers can be moderately warm (up to 25–30°C, 75–85°F), even in northern areas, but only for limited periods. The length of the winter and amount of snow varies considerably. In the north there is more snow and winters are dark; on the southern and western coast, winters are moderate and rainy. Further inland (North Norway and East Norway) the temperature can easily fall below -25°C (-15°F). In the interior of Finnmark -25°C to -35°C is common in January (record low at -50°C, 70°F). Along the coast of Hordaland and Rogaland temperatures only occasionally and briefly drop below -5°C (20°F). Some mountain areas have glaciers and permanent snow, but there is no permafrost on the mainland.

While the coast of West Norway is among the rainiest in Europe, East Norway is largely in the rain shadow and relatively dry. In fact, northern Oppland is among the driest areas in Europe (comparable to dry areas in Spain and Greece). The interior of North Norway also obtains very little precipitation. Longyearbyen in Svalbard gets less than 200 mm precipitation per year similar to Almeria in Spain.

Norway's hours of daylight, temperature and driving conditions vary greatly throughout the year. Seasonal variations crucially depend on region (distance from ocean) and latitude as well as altitude. The area with midnight sun (north of the arctic circle) also has winter darkness (polar night) when the sun does not rise above the horizon at all.

Norwegian weather is most pleasant during the summer (May to early September). If you like snow, go to Norway in December to April. Along the coasts and in southern part of West Norway there is little snow or frost and few opportunities for skiing, even in winter. In the mountains there is snow until May and some mountain passes are closed until the end of May. If you come in the beginning of May some passes can be still closed, but since the snow is melting very quickly, you will get a possibility to enjoy plenty of waterfalls before they disappear. And in this time the number of tourists is very small. Spring in Norway is quite intense due to the abundance of water (melting snow) in conjunction with plenty of sunlight and quickly rising temperatures (typically in May). Complete forecasts and statistics.

Daylight

Be aware that daylight varies greatly during the year. In Oslo, the sun sets at around 15:30 in December. North of the Arctic Circle one can experience the midnight sun and polar night (winter darkness). However, even at Oslo's latitude, summer nights exist only in the form of prolonged twilight during June and July, these gentle "white nights" can also be a nice and unusual experience for visitors. The polar (or northern) light (aurora borealis) occurs in the darker months, frequently at high latitudes (Northern Norway) but occasionally also further South.

Because of very long twilight at northern latitudes, there is usable daylight 1-2 hours after sunset. In summer this means that for instance in Trondheim midsummer nights are not dark at all.

Holidays

The major holidays are Easter, Christmas (Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day are all considered holidays), and the "common vacation" throughout July. In May there are several holidays including constitution day (17 May) - the main national celebration and an attraction in itself.

Public holidays (schools and offices closed):

  • January 1 - New Year's Day
  • Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday, "Skjærtorsdag")
  • Good Friday ("Langfredag")
  • Easter Sunday ("påskedag")
  • Second day of Easter (Monday) ("andre påskedag")
  • May 1 - Labour day
  • May 17 - Constitution Day
  • Ascension Thursday ("Kristi himmelfart")
  • Pentecost (Whit Sunday, "pinsedag")
  • Pentecost 2ed (Whit Monday, "andre pinsedag")
  • December 25 - Christmas Day ("juledag")
  • December 26 - Boxing Day ("andre juledag")

Many Norwegian holidays are celebrated on the day before (Holy Saturday, Christmas Eve etc.). On Christmas Eve ("julekveld", "julaften"), New Year's Eve ("nyttårsaften"), Holy Saturday ("påskeaften") and Saturday before Pentecost ("pinseaften") shops close early. Norwegians also celebrate midsummer at St. John's day on 24 June by making a bonfire late evening the day before - "St.John's Eve" ("St.Hansaften" or "Jonsokaften").

Read

Classical travel journals

  • W. Matthiue Williams: Through Norway With a Knapsack (1859)
  • Mary Wollstonecraft: Letters written during a short residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796)
  • Thomas Malthus: Travel journal from Norway (1799)
  • Samuel Beckett: The fjords and folk of Norway (1915)
  • W.C. Slingsby: Norway: the Northern Playground (1904)
  • Dhiravat na Pombejra: A Month in Norway: King Chulalongkorn's travels July–August 1907.
  • Robert Everest: A journey through Norway, Lapland, and part of Sweden: with some remarks on the geology of the country, its climate and scenery. (1829)
  • Lees, James A. and Clutterbuck, Walter J: Three in Norway (by two of them) (1912)

Get in

Entry requirements

Norway is a member of the Schengen Agreement.

  • There are normally no border controls between countries that have signed and implemented the treaty. This includes most of the European Union and a few other countries.
  • There are usually identity checks before boarding international flights or boats. Sometimes there are temporary border controls at land borders.
  • Likewise, a visa granted for any Schengen member is valid in all other countries that have signed and implemented the treaty.
  • Please see Travelling around the Schengen Area for more information on how the scheme works, which countries are members and what the requirements are for your nationality.
  • Still there is identity check before boarding flights or boats into Norway.

Russians who live within 30km from the border may enter Norway visa free for up to 15 days, provided they have been resident in the border area for at least 3 years, and do not travel more than 30km from the border. A border certificate, which is valid for multiple entries, must be obtained from the Norwegian consulate in Murmansk in advance.

Citizens of Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Israel, Japan, Macedonia*, Malaysia, Mexico, Monaco, Montenegro*, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, San Marino, Singapore, South Korea, United States, Uruguay, Vatican City, Venezuela, as well as holders of Hong Kong SAR or Macau SAR passports are permitted to work in Norway without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay. However, this ability to work visa-free does not necessarily extend to other Schengen countries.

Be keenly aware that Norway is not a member of the European Union. This means, especially if arriving by plane, that all persons entering Norway, regardless of point of origin, may be subject to customs controls at the port of entry. Information on duty-free allowances and regulations can be found on the Norwegian Customs website.

By plane

Oslo

For more information on facilities at and around Oslo Airport, Gardermoen, see the Oslo Airport, Gardermoen article.

Oslo Airport, Gardermoen (IATA: OSL) is the biggest airport in Norway and the main international hub, at Gardermoen 60 km north of Oslo. The airport is served by many major international and all domestic airlines.

The airport has scheduled flights to around 100 destinations abroad and 24 domestic destinations in Norway.

From the United Kingdom there are direct services to Oslo Gardermoen from:

  • London Heathrow (Scandinavian Airlines and British Airways)
  • London Gatwick (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Birmingham (Flybe)
  • Manchester (Scandinavian Airlines)
  • Edinburgh (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Aberdeen (Eastern Airways)

From Ireland:

  • Dublin (Scandinavian Airlines, Norwegian Air Shuttle)

From the United States:

  • Boston, MA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Fort Lauderdale, FL (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Las Vegas, NV (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Los Angeles, CA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Newark, NJ (United, Scandinavian Airlines)
  • New York JFK, NY (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Oakland, CA (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Orlando, FL (Norwegian Air Shuttle)

From Australia and New Zealand, the quickest connection is via Bangkok, Doha or Dubai. Thai Airways and Norwegian Air Shuttle fly non-stop from Oslo to Bangkok. Both Qatar Airways and Emirates fly daily from Doha and Dubai respectively, with connections from several destinations in Asia and Oceania

Sandefjord

Sandefjord Airport, Torp (IATA: TRF) is located just north of Sandefjord, 115 km to the south of Oslo, and is Ryanair's destination airport in Oslo. Ryanair now operate another service, from London Stansted to Haugesund on the west coast.

Sandefjord Airport Torp has scheduled flights to 14 destinations in Europe and 3 destinations in Norway.

From the United Kingdom there are direct services from:

  • London Stansted (Ryanair)
  • Birmingham (Ryanair)
  • Liverpool (Ryanair)
  • Glasgow Prestwick (Ryanair)
  • Edinburgh (Ryanair)

From Ireland:

  • Dublin (Ryanair)

Stavanger

Stavanger Airport, Sola (IATA: SVG) has scheduled flights to/from London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Frankfurt, Berlin, Paris, Kraków, Madrid, Nice and some other European cities.

From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from:

  • London Heathrow (Scandinavian Airlines and BMI)
  • London Gatwick (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Newcastle (Eastern Airways, Widerøe)
  • Aberbeen (Scandinavian Airlines, Eastern Airways and Widerøe)

Bergen

Bergen Airport, Flesland (IATA: BGO) has scheduled flights to/from major European cities as London, Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Prague, Warsaw and other cities.

Apart from to previously mentioned airports there are domestic flights to Trondheim and Tromsø.

From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from:

  • London Gatwick (Scandinavian Airlines and Norwegian)
  • Newcastle (Easter Airways)
  • Edinburgh (Widerøe)
  • Aberdeen (Eastern Airways and Widerøe)
  • Kirkwall (Flybe)

From the United States there are seasonal direct flights from:

  • Newburgh/ Stewart, NY (Norwegian Air Shuttle)
  • Providence/ T. F. Green, RI (Norwegian Air Shuttle)

Trondheim

Trondheim Airport, Værnes (IATA: TRD) can be reached by direct flights from several European cities, notably Amsterdam, London and Copenhagen.

From the United Kingdom there are direct flights from London Gatwick with Norwegian Air Shuttle.

Tromsø

Tromsø Airport (IATA: TOS) has direct flights from London Gatwick with Norwegian Air Shuttle twice every week. Nordavia Regional Airlines also operates a flight between Tromsø and Murmansk in Russia.

By train

There are trains from Sweden to OsloTrondheim and Narvik, with onwards inland connections.

For Oslo, daily service from Stockholm and Gothenburg. There are local services from Karlstad as well.

For Trondheim, the Nabotåget service from Östersund corresponds with one day and one night service from Stockholm, as well as the train from Sundsvall.

For Narvik, two trains run daily from Stockholm via Kiruna. Both are overnight.

Train schedules can be found on the website of the Norwegian State Railways and the Swedish Railways.

By bus

Several international bus lines run into Oslo from Sweden, the major operators being Eurolines, Swebus Express and Säfflebussen. Service to Gothenburg and Copenhagen is almost hourly. The service to Stockholm is also far more frequent than the train. Lavprisekspressen has cheap bus tickets between the large cities in Norway, Denmark and Sweden.

The minibus service between Kirkenes and Murmansk run three times per day. Contact Grenseland/Sovjetreiser (yes, they are actually still called that!) in Kirkenes for booking.

Other coach lines exist between Sweden and Bodø and Mo i Rana, as well as between Denmark and Stavanger.

By car

It is possible to enter by road from Sweden, Finland, or Russia. Major roads to Norway include European route E6 which runs through Malmö, Helsingborg and Göteborg in Sweden before crossing the border at Svinesund in the south-east of Norway, E8 which runs through Turku, Vaasa and Oulu in Finland before crossing the border at Kilpisjärvi. There is an enormous number of possible routes and border crossings, but keep in mind that the road standards vary, there are few motorways and that speed limits are low (generally 80km/h). Ferries from Denmark and Kiel (Germany) also takes cars (see boat section), and is a way to avoid long transport legs.

  • From Russia: European route 105 (E105) enters from Russia at Storskog border crossing 15 km east of Kirkenes. This is the only overland crossing between Norway and Russia. Crossing by vehicle only, no pedestrians (as of 2015). A legal loophole has allowed border crossing on bicycle without passport check; the legal status of this crossing is however uncertain.

By boat

From Belgium

DFDS operates a cargo line from Ghent to Brevik with limited passenger capacity which is normally for truck drivers. There are departures once or twice a week.The ferry may be scheduled to arrive at Brevik in the middle of the night.

From Germany

Color Line runs a daily ferry from Kiel to Oslo. The ferry leaves Kiel at 13:30 and arrives in Oslo at 09:30, the following day. The ferry terminal in Kiel is on Norwegenkai, which is a short walk across the bridge from Kiel's main railway station (the bridge may at times be closed for pedestrians due to ship traffic). At the Oslo end of the journey, the terminal is located at Hjortneskai, which is just west of the city. There is a bus from the terminal to the city centre, which departs shortly after passengers disembark.

From Denmark

Several companies run from various harbours in Denmark (Frederikshavn, Hirtshals, Copenhagen) to various Norwegian harbours (Oslo, LarvikKristiansandStavanger, Bergen).

  • Color Line traffic from Hirtshals to Kristiansand and Larvik.
  • Stena Line from Frederikshavn to Oslo.
  • Fjord Line traffic from Hirtshals to Langesund, Stavanger and Bergen (Seasonal to Kristiansand).
  • DFDS Seaways traffic from Copenhagen to Oslo.

From England

There are no ferry routes to the UK from Norway any more, although DFDS Seaways have been to known to allow passengers on their freight service from Immingham to Brevik.

Thompson Cruise ships operate from Harwich and visit Flåm, BergenMoldeHammerfestNordkapp, Tromsø, Lofoten Islands, Geiranger and Ålesund in Norway. The duration of the cruise varies from 5 days up to 2 weeks. Sailing time from Harwich to south Norway is 1.5 days. On board the cruise ship are a number of restaurants, bars, casinos, cinemas and also a stage show to keep you entertained during the journey. There are various classes of cabins available, ranging from shared rooms to singles, doubles and luxury suites.

From Shetland, Faeroe Islands and Iceland

Smyril Line used to operate a once-weekly service to Bergen. This service now only operates Denmark-Shetland-Faroe Islands-Iceland.

Get around

Norway is a wide country with some very difficult terrain so getting around, particularly up north, is expensive and time-consuming. Because of difficult terrain in large parts of the country, navigation is largely related to landscape features such as valleys, lakes, fjords and islands rather than to towns. Norway is sparsely populated compared to continental Europe; visitors should not expect that every name on the map is served by frequent public transport or offers commercial services such as taxi, cafés and hotels – it may not be a town or settlement at all. The best way to see the Norwegian wilderness and countryside is by having access to your own vehicle. This way you can stop wherever you want, admire the view and venture onto smaller roads.

By plane

Norway's craggy coastline makes roads and trains slow, so domestic flights are very popular. The largest operators are SAS, Norwegian and Widerøe.

Air travel is the most convenient method to get from town to town especially in northern Norway, where towns and cities are fewer and further between. Unfortunately, it is also in these areas where ticket prices can be most expensive. Planes between the small airports are small, and they generally have several intermediate stops along the route to embark and disembark passengers.

Flights in southern Norway are cheaper than in northern Norway, and even though this area has better roads and rail, planes are generally faster than taking the train or bus. There are however no air routes between the cities within 200 km from Oslo, use the train or bus for this kind of travel.

If you plan to fly to the many smaller towns in Northern or Western Norway you should consider Widerøe's Explore Norway ticket (unlimited air travel for 14 days in summer for less than a full price return ticket).

By train

The Norwegian State Railways (NSB) operates all railways. Norway's rail network basically connects Oslo to other major cities, there are no rail lines North to South in West Norway between Stavanger and Trondheim, and there are no rail lines North-South in North Norway north of Bodø. These main lines run several times a day:

  • Oslo–Kristiansand–Stavanger (runs inland from Drammen to Kristiansand, connections to Arendal)
  • Oslo–Skien (serving coastal towns southwest of Oslo)
  • Oslo–Bergen (across the mountains via Finse, connections to Flåm)
  • Oslo–Trondheim (Dovrebanen, through Lillehammer, connections to Åndalsnes at Dombås)
  • Oslo–Sarpsborg–Halden
  • Hamar–Røros–Trondheim
  • Trondheim–Bodø (through Trondheim airport, connections to Sweden)

Trains are generally well-maintained and comfortable.

You can buy a Norwegian Rail Pass or the equivalent InterRail One Country Pass to travel cheap by train through Norway. If your itinerary is fixed and you don't have too many destinations, it might be cheaper to buy 'Minipris' tickets online. If you book well in advance, you can get one-way tickets for as little as 199kr. When buying online, you can choose ticket delivery at the station or at the train, the latter means you only need to know your seat number, the train steward has your ticket. Their website sometimes does not work for people outside of Norway. In that case you can call their call centre, but be sure to mention that you tried on the website first. Phone reservations normally incur a 50kr fee per train ticket bought. NSB has a phone app for buying tickets, but as of 2016, a Norwegian cell phone number is needed for it.

For long-distance trains and night trains, seat reservation is mandatory, but usually can be done on short notice, e.g., at a train station, since the trains are rarely fully booked. Generally, the trains are most crowded at the beginning and end of the weekend, i.e. Friday and Sunday evening. Shortly before and at the end of major holidays like Christmas/New Year and Easter, trains are usually very busy. If you try booking for these days at a late time, you may find all the cheap tickets sold out. Furthermore, the seat you reserve may be among the least desirable, that is, facing backwards, without recline, and facing towards and sharing the legroom with other passengers.

Night trains operate Oslo - BergenKristiansandBergenTrondheim and Bodø. With a regular ticket, you will get an ordinary seat, blanket and earplugs. Sleeping compartments are available for an extra of 750kr. If you choose to order sleeping compartment, you pay for the compartment, not the bed: 2 people, same price. This also means that you will never have a stranger in your compartment.

For 90kr you can upgrade any regular train ticket to NSB Komfort, the equivalent of first class, which means a little more room for your legs, free coffee, papers and a power socket. Usually the NSB Komfort coach is either the first or the last coach in the train, resulting in much less through traffic and a quieter environment.

The regular night train seats have a power plug, too. In some trains there is even free Internet access via Wi-Fi; one just needs to register (giving any 8-digit number as 'phone number').

Unlike much of Continental Europe, Norway does not have a high speed rail system, except for the route between Oslo and its airport. Attempts at implementing high speed trains are underway, but have failed so far. Therefore, a journey between the two largest cities, Bergen and Oslo, takes as much as six and a half to seven and a half hours.

In eastern Norway, where cities are closer together, there are several people who make a daily commute, and hence many of these cities have more frequent train service with hourly departures much of the day. This includes the cities in the counties of Østfold, Vestfold, Gjøvik, Hamar and Lillehammer. In general, these trains do not have seating reservations available, but it is still possible to upgrade to NSB Komfort.

If you get even closer to Oslo, there are local trains which may have departures as often as every 30 minutes. Local trains never have seating reservations, nor do they have a first class section. Local trains also operate between Bergen and Voss (sometimes to Myrdal), Stavanger and Egersund and around Trondheim.

By boat

Car ferries is an integral part of the road network in coastal and fjord regions. The road in principle continues onto the ferry such that for instance Fodnes-Mannheller ferry is part of national route 5. Prices and time vary with the length of the crossing and amount of traffic, call 177 for more information or check nearby camping sites for information booklets and timetables. Ferries often have information about other ferries in the region and other ferries along the same road. On the main roads ferries are frequent during daytime, typically every half hour. Reservations are usually not needed, drive to the ferry quay and wait in line until the ferry docks. Car ferries also take foot passengers. On main roads tourists typically do not have to worry about timetables as there are frequent departures. Most ferries do not run after midnight or they run only every second hour on main crossings. Norwegians refer to car ferries as "ferje" or "ferge". Vessels that only take foot passengers are refered to as "båt" (boat). To avoid confusion, visitors should use the term ferry only for car ferries.

Stretches with lots of ferries are desirable when bicycling, as the ferries are cheap for bicyclists and offer an often well-deserved break with a great view. Except for some of the shortest crossings (10 min), ferries typically have cafeterias serving coffee, cold beverages, sandwiches and some hot food. Due to numerous deep fjords and islands, driving in West Norway and Northern Norway as a rule (with few exceptions) involves ferries. Although car ferries are very reliable and operate with spare capacity, tourists should allow plenty of time on stretches including ferries. Ferries on unusually long crossings (several hours) or ferries crossing open stretches of sea are more frequently delayed or cancelled.

In regions with lots of fjords and islands, particularly along all the coast from Stavanger to Tromsø, an extensive network of catamaran express passenger boats ("hurtigbåt") shuttle between towns and cities, and connect islands otherwise accessible only with difficulty. There is no general network of boats connecting every village along fjords and coast, transfer by bus or car to nearest port may be needed. These vessels are also not called ferries. Service and prices are comparable with trains. Check in advance if you want to bring a bicycle. There are also some passengers in the inner part of Oslofjord.

One option particularly popular with tourists is the Hurtigruten coastal steamers that hop along the coastline from Bergen all the way to Kirkenes, taking five and a half days for the whole journey. Cabins are expensive and mandatory for multi-day journeys, but deck fares are more reasonable and there's even a 50% off discount with Inter Rail. Prices are summed up for all chargeable elements like persons, fuel charge (approx. 1/30 of a person), bike (approx. 1/20 of a person), car, cabin (approx. 125% of a person). Reservations are recommended for cabins and cars; on deck is usually enough space for persons and bikes.

Lakes do in general not have public transport by boat, here are however a handful of important exceptions. There is one car ferry crossing the very long Randsfjorden lake. Skibladner, a 150-year-old steam boat, allows tourists to cross lake Mjøsa (at Gjøvik and Hamar) the old way. Telemark canal, Norway's only proper canal, takes visitors from the coast and deep inland along charming lakes and impressive locks.

By bus

An extensive range of express buses connect cities all over Norway and even most national parks. NOR-WAY Bussekspress, Timekspressen and Boreal Transport are the biggest operators. Nettbuss also runs some express routes.

Lavprisekspressen offer cheap tickets for Oslo—Trondheim (via Røros and via the Dovre mountain range), Oslo—Kristiansand—Stavanger and back. If you're lucky, you can get a ticket for as little as 49kr, but usually the tickets go from 199kr to 299kr. The double decker buses are clean and modern with free Wi-Fi internet, coffee and tea.

Bus schedules and frequencies vary greatly, and seating may be limited, so plan ahead. For more information check each operator's website or try the extensive connection search Rutebok.no – available in English, Norwegian and German. Some mountain passes are closed all winter, and buses covering these typically run May—September only.

By taxi

Travelling with cab in Norway can be very expensive, and in most cities it is not necessary as bus, tram and train (or even walking) are easier. Taxis are generally safe as long as you choose a licensed taxi (with a white taxi sign on the roof). In villages there may be no or only one taxi car, so visitors should be prepared to book in advance.

  • ? 02393 conveys taxis throughout the country. The service, which costs 18kr per call is reachable within Norway only. In some cities, like OsloTrondheim and Kristiansand are several local taxi companies.

By car or motorcycle

For more details see: Driving in Norway

Norway has right hand traffic, like the rest of mainland Europe. Norwegian roads have varying quality, but all public roads have asphalt. Most roads are two-lane undivided, there is a limited motorway network around Oslo. General speed limit is 80km/h and speed is often slower due to road conditions. Driving in winter requires special equipment, snow and ice experience is highly recommended prior to a winter trip. Some of the scenic mountain passes, notably at Geiranger, Trollstigen and Nordkapp (North Cape), are closed during winter.

Driving is generally easy as traffic is calm, and most drivers are disciplined and law abiding, although moderate speeding is common on highways. However, some city centres (such as Bergen and Oslo) may be confusing to navigate for the first time visitor due to many one-way streets. Traffic is generally light except for city centres and a handful of stretches on main roads (notably E18 near Oslo). Near or inside Oslo the E18, E6 and ring roads can get congested during morning and afternoon rush, as well as during weekend rush (Friday afternoon) out of Oslo. Gas is expensive, starting at around 14.50kr per litre (approx. US$9.30 per gallon). Manual transmission is regarded as standard in Norway and is found in most private cars. Renting a car is very expensive, but can be essential for easy access to some of the more rural areas, although most areas have a good reliable bus service.

Some rules:

  • Headlights are mandatory even during daylight.
  • Off-roading is generally forbidden. Motor vehicles must stay on public roads.
  • Don't drink and drive. Your blood alcohol concentration must not exceed 0.2 ‰ (or 0.02 %).
  • Rules are strictly enforced, particularly regarding alcohol, speed and overtaking.

By bicycle

While the bicycle seat may be one of the best ways to experience the landscapes of Norway, it can be a gruelling experience for those who are unfit. There are few bicycle paths, and most of the time cyclists have to share narrow roads with heavy transport. Attitudes to cyclists vary. While some drivers show respect, slowing down and giving cyclists a wide berth, others show hostility, driving far too close and at far too high a speed, when passing. Cycling, as a sport, is becoming increasingly popular in Norway, especially since the success of Norwegian cyclists like Thor Hushovd. Attitudes to bicycle tourists vary, but in general is positive. Hostels and camping sites are generally a good place to meet people with similar interests. Norwegians themselves prefer to ride on well equipped, often expensive, bicycles. Good bicycle shops can be found in most cities.

You will find quite a number of travel diaries online. Only few designated cycle paths exist, mostly in the big cities, and they are not fully interconnected. Except for densely populated areas, they can mostly be ignored. While speed limits are relatively low and the vast majority of drivers are responsible and patient, Norway also has its share of speeders and road hogs. At places where a highway is built, the old road is often re-designated as a cycle route.

It is important for cyclists to be seen. The use of highly reflective safety vests, along with flashing lights on the bicycle, is encouraged to help prevent accidents.

In most of Norway, cycling can be physically challenging, due to steep climbs and strong winds. Your equipment should be lightweight and aerodynamic. You will need a wide range of gears: a ratio of 39-27 for a strong cyclist without luggage or even 22-32 for a normal cyclist with luggage is necessary on many slopes. Your brakes should be of high quality and you'll need spare brake pads when doing a trip of more than a few days. Lights are necessary because of the many tunnels. Because of the winds, it is advisable to avoid wide panniers and loose fitting clothes. A lightweight recumbent should be considered as a serious option for those experienced with this type of bicycle, especially when cycling south to north.

The roads are generally paved well, although gravel roads are sometimes unavoidable. As long as you do not go off-road, you will not need suspension or grooved tyres.

Because of the long distances and numerous hills, bicycle tourists are advised to plan well and be prepared to use public transport for the less interesting or difficult stretches. Particularly in western and northern Norway, passenger boats (including longer tourist ferries) can sometimes be used to avoid tunnels, mountain passes or less interesting stretches.

Ferries take bikes for free or a minimal charge. On trains you have to pay a fare. Some buses do not allow bikes, but in all other cases will only be transported if there is enough space (no fare or children's fare). The Norwegian Cyclist Association offers information.

It is legal in Norway (and Finland and Sweden) to put up a tent anywhere for one night. This must not be too near someone's home, or on other unsuitable places. This is particularly suitable for bicyclists, who can roll the bike into the forest at a suitable place. It is more troublesome for car drivers to do this, as it is hard to find a good parking place near a suitable tent place (car parking is not permitted on private roads, e.g. in the forest).

Tunnels

Special attention should be given to tunnels, as many of them are forbidden for cyclists, as are a few roads. Some long and narrow tunnels are not recommended for bikes, even if allowed. An online map of tunnels can be found. The tourist information also has a map of those forbidden routes. When renting a bike, you can consult the person who rents you the bike concerning the track you want to take. In many cases, signposts indicate the route for cyclists and pedestrians around forbidden roads or tunnels. Some of the high speed tunnels have bus stops a short distance from the entrance where you can board special buses equipped with bike racks to transport you through the tunnel. On main roads, buses usually run frequently. Some sub-sea tunnels are in addition really steep. If you do enter a tunnel on bike, use lights and safety reflectors (such as reflector jackets or vests). Norwegian drivers do not slow down in tunnels.

Warning: Do not underestimate the number and length of tunnels, particularly in western Norway. On the E16 between Bergen and Lærdal for instance, 30–50% of the road is in tunnel. Frequently, tunnels replace an older road that remains open for bicycles and pedestrians in summer or for local traffic all year. Ask locals or read the map carefully to find your way.

By thumb

Hitchhiking in Norway is best on the routes from Oslo-Trondheim (E6), Oslo-Kristiansand (E18) and Kristiansand-Stavanger (E39). However, near the cities these are now motorways and it is not possible to stand at the road itself. Hitchhiking is not that common in Norway. If hitchhiking is ever safe, it is pretty safe in Norway, however it is difficult to get a lift and it may be very slow.

When waiting, make sure to stand in a place where the vehicles can see you and have a safe opportunity to stop. Ferry ports and main fuel stations are good places to try. Stretches with low speed limits (50–60km/h) are generally better than high speed roads, as drivers find it less cumbersome to make a halt there. Drivers of heavy trucks in particular prefer to keep a steady speed. Roadside cafeterias where truckers have a break can be good place to ask for a lift.

Good hitchhiking spots from major cities are:-

Oslo to:

  • Bergen and the mountains- if you're daring, try Oksenøyveien (see Kristiansand), but be aware that most cars continue southwards to Drammen. Rather catch the Timekspressen bus, direction Hønefoss, to Sollihøgda.
  • Trondheim and the north- is getting more difficult as motorway development continues. The best bet inside Oslo is bus stop Ulvenkrysset. Get the metro to Helsfyr, then bus 76, 401 or 411 for one stop. Further outside, to avoid the local traffic, you are best off at the Shell gas station at Skedsmovollen, bus 845 and 848 from Lillestrøm train station.
  • Kristiansand and the south: Few spots beat the bus stop Oksenøyveien, connected by bus 151, 251 and 252. You may be dropped in Sandvika by cars heading towards Hønefoss and the mountains/Bergen. Carry a sign.
  • Sweden along E6: Highway all the way, except close to the centre. Try the bus stop Nedre Bekkelaget, bus 81 and 83.
  • Sweden along E18: You may try Nedre Bekkelaget, but as most traffic continue towards Strömstad and Gothenburg, you should rather catch the Timekspressen bus 9 to Østensjø stop, just after the Holstad roundabout.

Bergen to:

  • Oslo - Get local train to Arna and try near the entrance to Arnanipa tunnel.
  • Northwards - Go by bus to Vågsbotn in Arna, and try hithing a ride close to the Hjelle bakery.
  • Southwards - Get the light rail to Nesttun, then nearly any bus for three stops to Skjoldskiftet. Hitch southwards along E39.

Trondheim to Oslo - Get bus 46 to the shopping centre City Syd, then go under the E6 and try your luck at City Syd E6 stop. Soon, the city tax on buses will be extended past the Klett roundabout, if this is in effect you should go to the bus stop just after the roundabout at any Melhus-bound bus and try your luck there.

Molde/Ålesund - Get any Orkanger bus to the stop just after Klett roundabout. Soon, Trondheim city tax will extend to Børsa, after which you should stay on the bus for as long as you can, and hitch a ride from there.

  • Northwards - Get city bus 7 or 66 to Travbanen stop.
  • Sweden - To be sure to hitch only on cars going towards Sweden, get a train or bus to Stjørdal and hitch on the E14.

Looking polite and friendly is a good trick. Asking cars in line at a ferry quay (if travelling along the coast) is a very good idea, and may bring you very far. Hitching rides from Molde all the way to Bergen are not unheard of, but don't bet on it. In general though, you can really get to anywhere from anywhere by thumb, just in some places it might take a while.

Talk

See also: Norwegian phrasebook

There is no standard spoken Norwegian (norsk) – a wide range of dialects is used even in public broadcasting. There are even two standard ways of writing it, Bokmål and Nynorsk. Norwegians learn both at school. The two varieties are very close and mutually intelligible with the two other Scandinavian languages, Danish and Swedish. Bokmål is by far the more common form in most of the country, though Nynorsk is prevalent in Western Norway. Norwegian is very similar to Danish, but pronunciation is quite different and speakers may have difficulty understanding each other. Spoken Norwegian and Swedish sound more similar, but the vocabulary differs notably. Norwegians usually understand spoken Swedish well.

Sami is a minority language that has official status in some northern regions, completely different from Norwegian. Road signs and other public information there is provided in both Norwegian and Sami. Norwegian and Sami place names may differ – maps will typically use the Norwegian name. Sami is quite closely related to the Finnish language (not enough for comprehension, though), thus totally unrelated to Indo-European languages such as Norwegian or English (but there are quite a few loanwords).

English

Almost all Norwegians speak English and you should have no trouble getting around in English; 91% of the population can speak English, with most younger people having near native fluency, making Norway one of the most English proficient countries where English is not an official language.

Many people learn French, German and/or Spanish as well. As a Germanic language, Norwegian is also related to German and English. Many basic English words are similar to Norwegian, such as "brød" (bread), "dør" (door), "hus" (house) or "hund" (hound). In fact there is a large number of originally Norwegian (or Danish) words in English (as Vikings settled in and ruled big parts of the British Isles; cf the Danelaw). Norwegian and English syntax is also similar.

Foreign films and television programmes are generally shown in their original language with subtitles. Only children's programmes are dubbed into Norwegian.

See

Norway has plenty of rural attractions - mountains, fjords, islands, glaciers, waterfalls, forests and small villages. Norway's natural and cultural sights often coincide, such as an impressive mountain road within a great scenery or the ancient stave churches located in the most serene landscape.

Natural

Norway has an abundance of water in all forms: glaciers, snow, fjords, rivers, waterfalls and lakes. Other attractions worth a visit are the northernmost point of Europe at Nordkapp, the islands of Lofoten, the glacier of Jostedalsbreen and the mountains of Jotunheimen.

Lakes

Norway has countless lakes and even inside Oslo there are several hundred. Hornindalsvatnet lake near Stryn and Hellesylt is the deepest lake in Europe at 514 meters, if the lake was completely drained rivers would need 20 years to fill. Hornindalsvatnet is also unusually clear largely because it unlike many other lakes does not receive glacial meltwater with a characteristic milky turquoise color. Lake Mjøsa, Norway's largest, is the second deepest in Europe. The largest lakes are found in the lowlands of East Norway. Sogn og Fjordane and Telemark have a large number of pretty fjord-like lakes. There are also many lakes around Jotunheimen and other uplands.

Waterfalls

Norway has an abundance of waterfalls, in any size and shape. Norway is home to a notable number of the world's tallest waterfalls, particularly in the central mountains and Western Norway. The tallest waterfalls are eastern most parts of western Norway where the great fjords intersect with the central mountains. Sunndal, Romsdal, Geirangerfjord, Stryn, Lysefjorden (Ryfylke district), Byrkjelo, Sognefjord area (Flåm, Gudvangen, Lærdal, Skjolden) and Hardanger are areas with a large number of tall and easily accessible waterfalls. The more powerfall waterfalls are usually lower and found along major rivers in the big valleys for instance in Gudbrandsdalen, Valdres, inner Troms or Telemark. Many waterfalls are surprisingly accessible as they are often found close to main roads or railways, some plunge directly into the great fjords close to ferries and cruise ships.

Fjords

For more information on fjords, see the Fjords of Norway article.

Norway's famous fjords are found throughout the country and are not limited to a particular region or location. All major cities sit on the shores of a fjord. While the most picturesque fjords are less populated, most are easily accessible by road. The fjords increases Norway's coastline from a modest 3000km to 30,000km, islands add another 70,000km - in total creating the most complex coastline in the world. Norwegian fjords have twice been rated the best destination in the world by National Geographic Traveler.

There are well over 1,000 distinct (named) fjords in Norway. The vast Sognefjord is some 200km to the far end and includes a number of arms each about the size of the famous Milford Sound in New Zealand. Some fjords are very narrow, such as Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord, others are wide like bays or enclosed oceans, such as Boknafjord or Trondheimsfjord. In most parts of Norway fjords are the dominant landscape features, traditional districts are often identified by proximity to a major fjord and the district or region often have the same name as the dominant fjord. For instance Sogn is the area surrounding Sognefjord. Fjords are often so deep and/or wide (particularly in western Norway) that they can only be crossed by ferry (a few daring bridges or tunnels have been built). Today fjords remain as obstacles for roads and railways, only cruise passengers experience travel along these vast corridors.

In large parts of Norway there is in fact very little continuous land, instead a wide tangle of islands and peninsulas. These peninsulas are often connected to the actual mainland by (narrow) isthmuses. Such isthmuses are shortcuts between fjords and have always been important transport corridors. Still today main roads often run across these such isthmuses. In many cases such isthmuses sits between a saltwater fjord and a freshwater lake (in effect an extension of the lake), for instance at Nordfjordeid ("Nordfjord isthmus") sits between Nordfjord and Hornindal lake.

Fjord regions
  • Western Fjords: The most dramatic and famous fjords are largely in West Norway, approximately from Stavanger to Molde. Although the western fjords vary slightly in appearance they are generally relatively narrow, surrounded by steep rock faces, tall mountains and extremely deep (particularly the middle and innermost parts). These typical features of western fjords are most pronounced at the easternmost part where fjords intersect with the highest mountains (such as Jotunheimen). Melt water from glaciers flow into major fjords such as Sognefjorden. The fjords of western Norway (represented by fjords of Geiranger and Nærøy) is a UNESCO world heritage site
  • Nordland and Troms: These counties are also home to wild landscapes with alpine summits, islands and impressive fjords. The narrow strait into Skjerstadfjorden at Bodø creates the world's strongest tidal current, the Saltstraumen.
  • Middle Norway: The fjords of Trøndelag, notably the large Trondheimsfjord, are less dramatic but still dominates the landscape. The Trondheimsfjord runs from the large Hitra island to the interior town of Steinkjer. The central part of this fjord is like a small enclosed ocean.
  • East Norway: The fjords in the wider Oslo region, primarily Oslofjord, are also key to the geography of these lowlands and flatlands, similar to the Trondheimsfjord. The Drammensfjord is an important arm of the great Oslofjord. There are no saltwater fjords in the interior of East Norway, but there are countless lakes many of which resemble western fjords and are in fact called "fjord", for instance the long narrow Randsfjorden is a lake.
  • South Norway has some scattered fjords, but smallish compared to the wild fjords of the west and the wide Trondheimsfjord.
  • The fjords of eastern Finnmark are far less dramatic but these long and wide fjords dominate the landscape.
Fjord-lakes

Many freshwater lakes in the interior are called fjords, for instance Randsfjorden and Tyrifjorden, even lake Mjøsa is called "the fjord" by locals. These lakes are very similar to saltwater fjords with a typical elongated shape and also mostly deep. Mjøsa for instance is 450 meters deep such that most of the lake is in fact below sea level even if water surface is 120 meters. Several lakes in Western Norway are in fact extensions of the main fjord and some were in the geological prehistory part of the saltwater fjord itself. For instance the surface of the very deep Hornindal lake is only 50m above sea-level and separated from Nordfjord by a low isthmus. These western lakes are often so similar to the fjord that only the lack of salt reveals that it is indeed a lake.

Northern lights and midnight sun

If you want to see the northern lights, CNN has Tromsø on top of its list of best places to see it. Tromsø should also be visited during summer to see the midnight sun. Of course both can be enjoyed anywhere in the northern parts of the country. Northern lights is most frequent roughly north of arctic circle (from Bodø and further north). Because the midnight sun occurs in the same area, these phenomena can not be experienced at the same time. As northern lights otherwise is not restricted to a specific location, a dark night and clear sky are the only prerequisites. Clear sky correlates with cold weather, so visitors should be well-dressed, particularly November to March. Midnight sun and, more importantly, 24-hour daylight occur around midsummer north of the arctic circle - the further north, the longer the midnight sun season. At midwinter there is a corresponding period when sun is below the horizon and there is no real daylight (so called polar night).

Cultural

While most people don't pick Norway because they'd like to walk around in cities with museums, monuments, parks streetside cafés or luxurious restaurants, in Oslo and some other cities that's also an option. Just getting around in Norway by car, boat, train, bike or foot usually rewards you with great views. Speaking of transportation, Norway is also where you should head to if you literally want to take a train ride to Hell!

UNESCO world heritage sites of the country are:

  • The rock paintings of Alta
  • The Vega archipelago
  • Urnes stave church in Luster
  • The mining town of Røros
  • Bergen's waterfront, Bryggen

While Norway's cultural heritage is most pronounced in rural areas, Norway's cities also offer interesting cultural sights, old or new. Cities like Bergen, Ålesund, Kongsberg, Røros, Trondheim and others are interesting because of architecture and history. Norway's cities also offer fascinating modern architecture, most notable in the capital Oslo with landmark buildings such as the new Opera house and the University library, as well as the new controversial skyline downtown.

Outside main cities there are few if any monumental buildings except the local church. Norway hardly had any aristocracy that built palaces or imposing manors. Rural areas is dominated by wooden buildings, including most churches. From the middle ages about 30 idiosyncratic stave churches survived (from perhaps 1000), and some 100 stone churches. Most churches built after the Protestant Reformation are basic wooden "long" churches (rectangular shape), but there is also a number of other shapes such as the characterisic cruciform (cross shape) design with a central tower. The rare Y-shape exists in a small number of churches. The octagonal shape was used for a larger number of churches and several landmark churches with this largly endemic style can be seen around Trøndelag, Møre og Romsdal, and Nordland as well as other areas. Many church interiors are in a barren protestant style, but there is a large number of churches with elaborate interios such as tolepainted walls, impressive wood cut altar pieces and pulpit designs. A large number of church are log buildings and logs are usually visible on the inside. In stave churches the elaborate construction is largely visible.

Cityscapes

Oslo burned down in 1624 and was rebuilt in stone and brick only (in a grid pattern), and the rapid expansion in the 1800s makes Oslo different from most other towns. Trondheim and Kristiansand were both laid in a strict "military" grid pattern, while Bergen and many other wooden towns further south grew organically into a charming labyrinths. Ålesund burned down in 1904 and was rebuilt in a unique variant of art noveau (Jugendstil). Towns destroyed during the second world war (Molde, Kristiansund, Åndalsnes, Steinkjer, Namsos, Bodø, NarvikHammerfest, Kirkenes) were largely rebuilt in a less charming post-war style, although Kristiansund is an interesting example of bold urban planning. These World War II "burned towns" are also home to the first daring, untraditional church architecture.

Wooden towns

Typical for Norway is the widespread use of wood as building materials, even in centres of main cities like BergenStavanger and Trondheim, and the friendly atmosphere created by the many modest buildings. Some wooden cities have been lost to fire, for instance Ålesund (fire in 1904, rebuilt in local Jugend-style) and Steinkjer (bombing second world war). MoldeKristiansund, Bodø, Narvik and all of Finnmark were destroyed during the war. Levanger and Trondheim were not harmed by the bombings and their wooden charm is largely retained. The wooden town of Røros is on the UNESCO world heritage list. A number of other towns has notable wooden architecture, for instance Lillehammer, Skudeneshavn, Risør, ArendalTvedestrandKristiansandFarsund, Flekkefjord, Lærdal, Brevik and Son village. The wooden towns of the south/south-west coast is Norway's version of "pueblos blancos". The capital Oslo is in fact not very typical as the inner city is dominated by concrete and masonry structures, only small pockets of wooden houses exist in central parts of Oslo. Fire is a constant threat to these traditional towns and neighborhoods, and every year some parts if this heritage is lost.

Do

A great introduction to Norway is the one-day Norway in a Nutshell package on a single ticket from Oslo or Bergen into the mountains, with a boat trip through the fjords. You can break the trip at several interesting cabins for walking or just admiring the view, and even hire a mountain bike for part of the journey. One of the highlights of the 'Norway in a Nutshell' package is Flåmsbana, a 20 km railway that's one of the steepest in the world. Along the way you'll see beautiful mountains, rivers, valleys, waterfalls, and other beautiful sights on your way to the town of Flåm.

  • Go on top of the nearest top/mountain. Just for the walk. And for the view.

Hiking

See also: Hiking in the Nordic countries, Hiking destinations in Norway

Hiking, gå på tur, is a national pastime in Norway, from easy walks in Oslo's city forest to alpine climbing in Jotunheimen or the "alps" of Troms. About 30% of Norway is covered in forest, more than 50% of Norway's total area is barren mountain (little or no vegetation), a mere 5% include farms and all sorts of built-up areas (houses, roads, towns, etc). A number of areas are protected as national parks, but most the country is equally attractive and available to the public. Skiing season is generally from mid-November to late April, while bare ground hiking season is generally from mid summer to September. Hiking season varies greatly depending on region (and from year to year): In the high mountains there may still be deep snow until July, while in the lower areas and along the coast hiking season start early spring. Visitors should be aware that the tree line is much lower in Norway than in continental Europe and US Rockies, high alpine conditions (no vegetation, glaciers, extremely rugged surface may start even at 1000 to 1500 metres above sea level).

Proper mountain clothing is needed for hikes even in summer in the uplands. The right foot wear is the essential for a successful hike. Hiking boots with ankle support and a sturdy sole on rougher trails and in the terrain, particularly at high altitudes (above 1000 to 1500 metres) where trails often cross wide screes or blockfields.

In Norway, travellers enjoy a right to access, which means it is possible to camp freely in most places for a couple of days, as long as you're not on cultivated land and provided you are at least 150m away from houses and farm buildings. Don't leave any traces and take your rubbish away for recycling.

Den Norske Turistforening (DNT) (The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association) operates many staffed and self-service mountain cabins, marks mountain routes, offers maps and route information, guided tours, and several other services for mountain hikers in Norway.

Mountainous areas are popular among both Norwegians and tourists. Tourists can visit Galdhøpiggen (2469m), the highest mountain in Norway, or join a musk ox safari in Dovrefjell.

Google Maps can only be used for initial planning, not for navigation in the field. Try the national mapping agency's Atlas.no site, which concords with their excellent printed hiking maps. Hikers in the wilderness should bring a detailed topographical map 1:50,000 (1:75,000 can also be used) and a compass. GPS (satelite navigation) is only supplement to, not a substitute for, traditional map and compass navigation.

Skiing

Both cross country and alpine skiing are popular sports in winter, and the largest areas, such as Trysil, Hafjell and Hemsedal, compete well with the Alps at lower altitudes. Telemark is also a nice area to ski in. (The birthplace of cross country ski.) VossGeilo and Oppdal are other major ski resorts. There is more than 200 alpine ski resorts in Norway, and countless cross-country groomed trails, some with lighting to allow exercise after in winter evenings.

Winter sport resorts typically open in early December, whereas cross-country skiing may begin in November in some uplands. Around Oslo, within reach of the metro and city buses, there is a large park ideal for cross-country skiing, as well as hills for alpine skiing. In Stryn, at Galdhøpiggen and at Folgefonna there alpine ski centres that are open in summer only (May–September), offering unique opportunities for alpine skiing in T-shirt and short pants. Back-country skiing is popular in late winter and spring, and the season lasts until late May in the high plateaus/central mountains.

Dagens Næringsliv, the leading business daily, ranked the best alpine resorts (2013 and 2016):

  1. Hemsedal - Norway's most complete alpine resort, can be compared to leading resorts in Austria and Canada.
  2. Trysil - Norway's largest winter resort, best for children, but it also has many steep pistes
  3. Oppdal - all-over second best
  4. Stranda - Norway's best offpiste skiing, heavy snowfalls (ranked #8 in 2016))
  5. Hafjell - best snowpark, stable cold climate, 1994 olympics (rank #3 in 2016)
  6. Geilo - well suited for families with diverse preferences
  7. Voss - ideal for day trips from Bergen
  8. Kvitfjell - Norway's toughest downhill slopes, 1994 Olympics
  9. Lyngen - best summit skiing
  10. Hovden - best in South Norway, 200km from Kristiansand (ranked #6 in 2016)
  11. Myrkdalen - in Voss district, heavy snowfall, open November-May
  12. Røldal - in Odda district, heavy snowfall, second best off-piste, open until early May
  13. Narvik - second best off-piste, open until early May

Best cross-country resorts according to Dagens Næringsliv:

  • Beitostølen
  • Geilo
  • Golsfjellet
  • Gålå
  • Sjusjøen - 350 km trails
  • Oslo - 2600 km trails (350 km with lights) inside the big city
  • Rauland - stable snow in uplands
  • Meråker

Dagens Næringsliv in 2014 ranked the winter sport resorts that have the most complete offer (alpine skiing, cross-country skiing in groomed tracks and "summit skiing"):

  1. Voss - offers everything, more unstable temperatures than the interior
  2. Tromsø - mediocre alpine facilities, but superb mountainous hinterland
  3. Hemsedal - all options in a high valley, stable winter
  4. Sogndal - excellent summit skiing options, lots of powder snow, limited facilities
  5. Røldal - steep hills and heavy snowfalls, few options for beginners and families
  6. Geilo - perfect for cross-country skiing and for families, limited off-piste options
  7. Oppdal - all options in a high valley, somewhat dated facilities
  8. Narvik - wild mountains directly on fjord, limited offers for families and cross-country skiers
  9. Lillehammer - excellent cross-country and alpine near the city, no high mountains
  10. Trysil - great variety of alpine slopes, well suited for families

Cycling

You can rent a bicycle virtually everywhere in Norway. Cycling routes exist usually near bigger cities; you can find some tours at Cycle tourism in Norway. Some roads and tunnels are forbidden for cyclists as they are life-threatening; read the section By bicycle above. Some city dumps may have a special section where you can pick up discarded bicycles (and other stuff) for free. The charity thrift-stores (FRETEX/ELEVATOR/NMS Gjenbruk) sometimes stock used bicycles.

Swimming

There are few sandy beaches and water is mostly cold, in salt water as well as fresh water. The coast of Skagerrak, parts of the Oslofjord for instance, can however get pleasantly warm in late summer. The coast is mostly rocky, but some areas have stretches of gently rounded, polished slabs of rock, "svaberg", these get quickly dry and warm in sunny weather, and is a popular hangout in summer. Except for the long sandy beaches south of Stavanger, there are few and only short stretches of sandy beaches.

Music

See also: Nordic music

Norway has a bustling scene for both folk, classical and popular music, and is especially known for heavy metal music.

Buy

Money

Norwegian currency is the Norwegian krone (crown, plural: krone) (ISO code: NOK), sometimes abbreviated kr or kr., but often just the amount is shown on price tickets. A 1/100th krone is called øre. Be careful when crossing borders to differentiate the Norwegian krone (NOK) from the Swedish (SEK) or Danish (DKK) krone.

Euros are generally not accepted in shops, except in some airports and international transport (flights, ferries).

Coins come in 1, 5, 10, and 20 kroner. Paper notes come in 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 kroner. While price tags still include øre, for instance 9.99kr, there are no coins smaller than 1 kroner so prices are rounded.

Banking

ATMs in Norway are called Minibank. There is no problem locating an ATM machine in urban areas. At main airports and Oslo Central Station, you can withdraw euros, dollars, British pounds, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian kroner. Nearly all stores, accept major credit cards such as MasterCard and Visa (bring your passport/driving licence, as you are required to identify yourself when using a credit card).

Costs

Norway is an expensive country for visitors. While it is possible to travel in Norway on a limited budget, some care must be taken. Because labour is costly, anything that can be seen as a "service" will in general be more expensive than you expect. Travel costs can also be a killer, because the country is large and distances long, so a rail or air pass can save you a lot of money.

As rules of thumb, subsisting on under 500kr/day will be difficult even if you stay in hostels and self-cater, with 1000kr/day allowing a more comfortable mid-range lifestyle and over 2000kr/day needed for good hotels and restaurants.

Take care when buying alcohol and tobacco. It will most certainly be more expensive than you expect. A 400 or 500mL beer in a pub or restaurant will cost around 60kr whilst a 500mL can of 4.7% beer in a supermarket costs about 25kr. Cigarettes cost about 100 kr for a pack of 20, and a bottle of 500mL Coke will usually cost 20kr in shops. On the positive side: Norway has good quality tap water. Buying bottled drinking water is unnecessary and hugely expensive.

Fast food restaurants like McDonalds and Burger King are also more expensive than in most countries due to the labour costs. A large Big Mac menu will set you back around 90kr, the same goes for a Double Whopper Cheese menu. Also, keep in mind that most bakeries, fast food chains, and other types of restaurants that offer takeout, charge more if you eat it at the restaurant than if you take it with you, due to differences in the VAT rate.

If you are a bit careful about your expenses a daily budget of around 1,500kr (€190) per day is not unrealistic.

You can save some money by bringing supplies. Be aware of the strict Norwegian border regulations, which allow a maximum of 200 cigarettes or 250 grams of tobacco, 1 litre of hard alcohol and 1 1/2 litre of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 3 litres of wine and 2 litres of beer OR 5 litres of beer. As a general rule, tobacco, alcohol and meat will be comparatively expensive. Vegetables, flour, baby articles, car supplies (oil, window wiper fluid and so on), and clothes will have (almost) the same price as in neighbouring countries, or even be cheaper.

Many Norwegians living near the borders with Sweden, Finland or Russia head into those countries to purchase groceries, as the costs are significantly cheaper. While the option of crossing into Russia is not available for most travellers due to Russia's onerous visa requirements, those visiting areas near the Swedish or Finnish borders should consider this option before travelling to other areas, as there are no border controls between Norway and Sweden or Finland. Except for the border areas near Oslo, Sweden and Finland are very sparsely populated near the Norwegian border. Still there are shops near the border, which wouldn't exist without Norway.

Tipping

Traditionally, the tip has not been common, but is being introduced by outside influence. Tipping should be given only as a token of real appreciation for the service.

In Norway, like most of Europe, waiters are not dependent on tips from customers as they are in the US, as they are well paid. However, tipping is not unusual in mid- to high-end cafés and restaurants, but only if you feel you have been treated well. In restaurants, even though there is a service fee, rounding up is the norm, and 10% is considered generous. It is not normal to tip outside restaurants and bars, but in situations where change is common it is polite to leave the change (for example, taxis). Tipping cab drivers is usual if you travel for more than 200kr, but you will get no reaction from the driver should you choose not to tip, so this may be a new experience to American and English tourists. Tipping is never considered offensive, but not tipping is also rarely frowned upon.

Money exchange

It is possible to exchange money in most banks near tourist information offices, in the post-office or withdraw the money in local currency from the ATM. In some places, however, they don't handle cash in the banks so they only way to exchange money is in the post offices where the exchange fee might be up to 75kr (€9.09, US$11.78)!

You will get the best rate when you withdraw money from the ATM or simply pay with a credit card. The country is upgrading to a new system using computer chips embedded in the card and a pin number. Credit cards with magnetic strips are still accepted throughout the country; however, you will have to let the merchant know that the you do not have a pin code you need to sign instead. Sometimes a merchant system will not allow signatures, so it is a good precaution to have cash on hand to pay if needed.

Shopping

Opening hours in Norway are better than they used to be, though many smaller stores still close early on Saturday (13:00 or 15:00 is typical) and nearly everything is closed on Sundays. Grocery stores (particularly in the cities) have long opening hours frequently until 22:00 or 23:00 on weekdays. You'll often see opening hours written as "9-21 (9-18)" on doors, meaning 9am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm Saturdays. The grocery market is dominated by a handful of chains covering most of Norway: Rimi, Rema 1000, Kiwi, Prix and Bunnpris are low price shops with a narrow selection of items; Coop, ICA and Spar have wider selection and better quality at a slightly higher price; Meny, Mega and Ultra have fewer shops and higher prices.

Convenience stores, notably the major chains Narvesen and Mix (all over the country), Deli de Luca (Oslo, Stavanger, and Bergen only) and 7-Eleven (bigger cities only), are open from early morning until late at night every day, with 24 hour service in the biggest cities. All over the country you will find gas-stations, Statoil, Shell, fresh/selected, YX (HydroTexaco) (these days turning into 7-eleven with gas) and Esso, On the Run. Virtually all gas-stations serve fast-food, especially sausages and cheese. Also hamburgers, pizza, and so on. The gas-stations have long opening periods, and the bigger stations in cities and near bigger crossroads are open 24 hours. Items sold in convenience stores and gas stations are relatively expensive.

Most big cities have over the years been almost exclusively dominated by shopping malls. Although you do have shopping streets like Karl Johans Gate in Oslo, Strandgaten in Bergen and Nordre gate/Olav Tryggvasons gate in Trondheim, you are bound to find malls around the country by Thon Gruppen and other major companies. Norway is also home to Scandinavias biggest mall - Sandvika Storsenter - located 15 minutes outside Oslo by train. In Oslo you have Byporten Shopping Senter, Oslo City and Gunerius located right next to Oslo S train station and Paléet and Arkaden Shopping in Karl Johans Gate, as well as several malls and shopping centres a bit further out.

Getting "good deals" and bargaining is frowned upon, and the service workers are generally not authorized to give you a better price - only larger items such as cars are subject to haggling. The price you see is the price you pay. If you plan on buying tax-free, a good practice is to bring with you the necessary forms. Most stores will have these forms at hand themselves but it is a good precaution. Also, if you pay with a credit card, you might have to sign the receipt which will require some form of ID, driving licence and passport are both OK. This is due to the strict nature of money transactions.

Eat

See also: Nordic cuisine

Cuisine

While Norwegian eating habits have become more cosmopolitan in the last decades, traditional Norwegian "farm" food is still widely eaten, made by whatever can grow in the northern climate, be stored for a year until new crops come out, and contain enough energy for you to do hard work. Regional variances in traditional food are huge and hence, and what is thought to be "typical traditional" for one Norwegian might be totally unknown to another. Typical examples are variations of yeasted and unyeasted bread and other forms of bakery, porridges, soups, inventive uses of potato, salted and smoked meat, and fresh, salted or smoked fish. Dried cod (tørrfisk) and salted cod (klippfisk) are staples of coastal communities in the west and north and can be seen drying on outside racks in spring and summer. The national dish of Norway is fårikål, a stewed casserole of lamb's meat and cabbage. Other specialities include lutefisk (lyefish) made from dry/salted fish processed in lye, and potato dumplings served with salt meat (raspeball) or mixed with fish (blandeball). Sheep's head (smalahove) and dried mutton ribs (pinnekjøtt) are traditionally served before or during Christmas in Western Norway.

Finer traditional food is usually based on hunted animals or fresh fish. Steak, medallions and meat balls from game, deer, reindeer and elk are highly appreciated foods with international reputation, so are fresh, smoked and fermented salmon varieties as well as a host of other fish products. Traditional pastries like lukket valnøtt (marzipan-covered whipped cream cake) are other original contributions to international cuisine. Cheese of various types is common, but one particularly Norwegian favourite is brun geitost (brown goat-cheese), a mild sweet cheese which bears a remarkable similarity to smooth peanut butter in colour, texture and taste.

Today, Norwegians use plenty of sliced bread for almost any meal except dinner, whereas recipes for hot meals will be taken from almost anywhere in the world, including of course the traditional kitchen, but seldom the most extreme examples. Lunch usually consists of some bread and snacks instead of a warm dish but this is then compensated by eating well at dinner time. Most Norwegians don't go out for lunch, instead have a quick meal in the workplace.

Norway maintains high import tariffs for food; especially meat, dairy products, and alcoholic beverages. Norwegians who live near Sweden or Finland usually cross the border to buy these products.

Norwegians are also known for buying a lot of frozen pizzas at modest prices in any grocery store.

Places to eat

Eating out is expensive, with fast food starting from 50kr and sit-down meals in a decent restaurant nearly always topping 200kr or more for a main course. Even a take-away sandwich and a coffee at a gas station may cost you up to 70kr. One way to cut costs is self-catering, as youth hostels and guesthouses often have kitchens for their guests. Supermarkets and grocery stores are not hard to find, even in the smallest village there is usually more than one grocery store. The largest chains are Rimi, REMA 1000, ICA and Joker. Breakfast is often hearty and buffet-style, so pigging out at breakfast and skipping lunch is also an option. Buy/bring a lunchbox before attending breakfast, as most of the bigger hotels will allow you to fill it up for free from the breakfast buffet for eating later in the day.

For a cheap quick snack Norwegian-style, look no further than the nearest grill or convenience store, which will dish up a sausage (pølse) or hot dog (grillpølse) in either a hot dog bun (brød) or wrapped in a flat potato bread (lompe) for around 20-30kr. However prices can soar as high as 50kr if you buy at the right (read wrong) places. In addition to ketchup and mustard, optional toppings include pickled cucumber (sylteagurk), fried onion bits (stekt løk) and shrimp salad (rekesalat). To get the most for your money, order a (kebab i pita) which is lamb meat roasted on a spit then fried when you order, served together with vegetables in a pita bread. This tastes great, is extremely filling and can be found for as little as 40kr in central Oslo. Outside, you will have to stick with your grillpølse.

Vegetarians

Very few Norwegian cuisine restaurants have vegetarian meals on the menu, but will make something if asked, with varying success. Some of the few chains of stores/restaurants where you will always have a vegetarian option is Peppes Pizza, Dolly Dimple's, Subway and Esso/On the run (spinach panini).

Allergies and diets

If you have allergies like lactose intolerance and gluten allergy, going to Peppe's Pizza, Dolly Dimple's, Subway and Burger King are good suggestions. But if you want to eat somewhere a little fancier, asking the maître d'hôtel at the restaurant is always good practice. In some cases, if it is not on the menu, they might be able to accommodate you anyway.

As the regulations for food is extremely strict in Norway, the ingredients for anything you buy is always printed on the packages, and if you ask, you will always be told what is contained in the food you order.

Food safety

Food safety is very good in Norway. Salmonella is very rare compared to other countries, and health officials inspect restaurants at a regular basis. Also tap-water is usually very nice; Voss water from Vatnestrøm in Aust-Agder is actually exported abroad, including USA.

Drink

Norway is often described as a "dry" country, because alcohol is highly priced and a glass of wine or beer in a restaurant is in the range of 60kr and above. When in cities and towns with many students such as OsloBergenTrondheim and Tromsø, you can very often find lower prices. Ask young people in the streets or at your place of accommodation for hints and tips of where to go. Beer can be bought at the supermarkets, however wine and stronger alcoholic beverages have to be purchased in state owned liquor stores (Vinmonopolet). The Vinmonopolet is a monopoly but maintains high quality and a wide selection of products; the finest products are moderately priced. The price of alcohol, however does not stop the locals from having a good time. They are often found drinking and carrying on in local street parties and on their porches.

The high prices is one reason why the tradition to hold vorspiel and nachspiel before going out is very popular in Norway. The words derives from German and can be translated into pre- and after party. If going out in the weekend, it is not unknown for Norwegians to gather at a friends house and not leave there until after twelve in the evening. So if you've seen Norwegian drinking culture abroad, and are shocked by the empty bar/club at ten o'clock, call your Norwegian friend and ask where the vorspiel is. (If that person one of the many Swedes in Norway, vorspiel would mean foreplay - they would say foreparty.) It's likely to be a whole lot of fun. Clubs tend to fill up around the period immediately after midnight. However this is mostly true at weekends - during normal weekdays, you will often find Norwegians sitting in bars enjoying a couple of beers or a bottle of wine.

You must be at least 18 years old to purchase beer or wine and 20 years old to purchase spirits with an alcohol content of 22% and more in Norway.

Technically, drinking in public is prohibited. This law is very strict, and even encompasses your own balcony, if other people can see you! Luckily, the law is very seldom enforced (cases of anyone being fined on their own balcony are very rare, for instance), and Norwegians do indeed drink in parks. There are calls for modifying the antiquated law, and recently, there has been a debate in media: most people seem to agree that drinking in parks is alright as long as people have a good time and remain peaceful. However, if you bother others and get too intoxicated or a policeman happens to be in a bad mood, you may be asked to throw away your alcohol, and in a worst-case scenario, fined. Drinking openly in the street is probably still considered somewhat rude, and it would be more likely to attract police attention than a picnic in a park, and is advised against. Having a glass of wine in an establishment that legally serves alcohol at the sidewalk, of course, is not a problem.

Be careful about urinating in major cities like Oslo if you're drunk, fines for public urination can be as high as 10,000kr! However, this normally isn't a problem if you urinate in a place where nobody sees, like a couple of yards into the woods. Public intoxication is also something you should be a bit careful with, especially in the capital, Oslo. In smaller towns the police will have no problem giving you a night in the local jail if they think you are disrupting peace and order.

In Norway, all alcohol with a volume percentage of under 4.75% can be sold at regular shops. This means you can get decent beer all over the place. The price varies, but imported beer is usually expensive (except Danish and Dutch beers brewed in Norway on licence like Heineken and Carlsberg). Shopping hours for beer are very strict: The sale stops at 20:00 (8PM) every weekday, and at 18:00 (6PM) every day before holidays (incl Sundays). Since the sale times are decided by the local council, it may vary, but these are the latest times decided by law. This means the beer will have to be PAID for before this time. If it's not paid, the person behind the counter will take your beer, and tell you "Sorry pal, too late!". On Sunday, you can't buy alcohol anywhere except bars/pubs/restaurants.

For strong beer, wine and hard alcohol, you will have to find a Vinmonopolet branch. The state shop has a marvellous choice of drinks, but at mostly sky-high prices. The general rule is that table wines are more expensive than in nearly any other country. Expect 80-90kr for a decent, "cheap" wine. However, as the taxation is based on the volume of alcohol per bottle rather than the wholesale cost, you can often find more exclusive wines at comparably lower prices than in private establishments in other countries. Vinmonpolet is open until 17:00 Monday to Wednesday, 18:00 Thursday to Friday, and 15:00 on Saturday.

Many car borne visitors (and Norwegians on shopping trips to Sweden and Finland) bring alcohol into Norway, but there are import restrictions for private use; 1 litre of liquor and 3 litres of beer without paying heavy duties.

Beers

The brands you are most likely to see in pubs are industrial lagers from Ringnes, Hansa, Borg, CB, Mack, Aass and Frydenlund (accompanied by a vast array of imported drinks). However, in the last ten years a range of microbreweries and craft breweries have made locally produced beer of all varieties and often high quality available. For instance Nøgne Ø, Ægir, Haandbryggeriet, Kinn, 7 Fjell and many more. Beer from small or specialty breweries are also available in pubs or cafes such as Mikrobryggeriet (Bogstadveien Oslo), Lorry's (Parkveien, Oslo), Grünerløkka Brygghus (Oslo) or Beer Palace (Aker Brygge, Oslo), Ægir (Flåm), UNA Bryggeri og Kjøkken (Bergen), Trondhjem Mikrobryggeri (Trondheim) and Christianssand Brygghus (Kristiansand). Norwegians are proud of their local breweries. At bars or pubs it is considered good manners to order a local beer first.

Sleep

A single hotel room (always book ahead for weekdays) should cost you from around 800kr and up (special offers are common, look for them), but you can find reasonable cheap lodgings in camping huts (300-600kr, space for entire family), mountain cabins (150-300kr per person), youth hostels (150-250kr per person), etc. Most of these will require you to make your own food, bring your own bedsheets, and wash before leaving.

For longer stays (one week or more) consider renting an apartment, a house or a high quality cabin. Several agencies offer reservations on houses or cabins owned by farmers or other locals. This type of accommodation is frequently more interesting than a standard hotel.

Work

Citizens of countries belonging to the European Union, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, do not require a permit and are free to live and work in Norway for up to 3 months (some restrictions apply for recent members of the European Union). In addition, citizens of a number of non-EU countries are permitted to work in Norway without the need to obtain a visa or any further authorisation for the period of their 90 day visa-free stay (for more information, see the 'Get in' section above).

You may start from the local office of the public agency NAV, to get legal advise and a list of available jobs. They also provide an online guide: Work in Norway. Even though the unemployment rate in Norway is very low (3.2% [1]), short-term employment may be hard to find. (Certainly when not fluent in a Scandinavian language.) If you decide to move there you have to fill in a "Residence Permit" which lasts for 3 years before it needs to be renewed.

Salaries ranged from 15,000 to 35,000kr per month in 2012.

Stay safe

Norway has a very low rate of violent crime. The most likely crimes for tourists to experience is car break-ins and bicycle theft. Pickpockets do also tend to be an increasing problem in urban areas in the summer season, but it's still nothing like in larger cities in Europe. It is always a good idea to look after your belongings, this includes never leaving valuable objects visual in your car and locking your bike safely.

Single women should have no problems, although ordinary street sense is advised after dark.

Norway is one of the countries in the world with least corruption. Police and other authorities cannot be bribed, travellers are strongly advised against attempting in any form of bribery.

Norway has a unified police force ("politi"). The police force is the government authority in areas like crime, national security, major accidents, missing persons, traffic control, passports and immigration control. Most cities have municipal parking attendants, too, but the attendants do not have any authority beyond fining and removing vehicles.

Norway has a large number of electric vehicles, particularly in cities. These cars are very silent and pedestrians should use their eyes, not ears, when crossing roads and streets.

Outdoor safety

The most unusual dangers to visitors are found in nature. Every year, quite a few tourists get hurt, even killed, in the mountains or on the seas, usually after given, unheeded warnings. For example, do not approach a glacier front, big waves on the coast, or a big waterfall unless you know what you're doing, and do not walk on glaciers without proper training and equipment.

Norway has few dangerous wild animals. Car crashes with the mighty moose or the smaller red deer account for the bulk of wild animal-related deaths and injuries. In some rural districts, sheep, goats, cows or reindeer can be seen walking or sleeping on the road.

Specific rules and precautions apply to Svalbard, where you should never travel outside Longyearbyen without someone in your party carrying a weapon. The polar bears on Svalbard are a real and extremely dangerous threat for the unprepared, and there are cases involving death and/or injury almost every year. There are more polar bears here than humans. Svalbard is a fragile, dry arctic tundra with large parts almost untouched by humans. The current recommendation is that nonlocal visitors participate on organized tour arrangements only. Breaking the law, disturbing wildlife or being reckless can land you a fine and/or deportation from the archipelago. That said, if you come well prepared with common sense, the visit will be one of the most memorable you've ever had. The nature, scenery and history of Svalbard is simply breathtaking.

As for other wild animals on mainland Norway, there are not much more than a few extremely rare encounters with brown bear and wolf in the wilderness. Contrary to popular belief abroad, there are no polar bears in mainland Norway, let alone polar bears walking city streets. The Scandinavian brown bear is peaceful and will generally run away from humans. In any case it is extremely unlikely that tourists will even see a glimpse of one of the around 50 brown bears remaining in Norway. Norwegian wolves are not dangerous to humans. In general, there is no reason worry about dangerous encounters with wild beasts in Norway.

When hiking or skiing, be prepared for a sudden shift in the weather, as these can happen very quickly in Norway. If unsure about conditions, ask locals or go on a guided tour. You are expected to manage on your own in the Norwegian wilderness, so you won't find fences or warning signs even at the most dangerous places. Keep in mind that avalanches are common. Unless you know exactly what you're doing, stay in marked slopes when skiing. If you think you know what you're doing, think twice. 12 people were killed in avalanches just in the first three months of 2011 in Norway.

At sea

Norway's immense coastline is an adventure for visitors, but also a treacherous area. Huge waves that build up power across the Atlantic crush on slippery rocks and slabs along the outer coast. Every year tourists are in serious danger and occasionally even killed when they challenge the big waves along the shores. Many tourists also leave the sheltered waters and venture onto the open sea in small boats, every year tourists are rescued at sea, some even perish.

Glaciers

Glaciers are one of the most dangerous places for visitors to the Norwegian outdoor. Never underestimate the power of the glacier. Observe warning signs. Never approach the front of the glacier. A glacier is not a stable piece of ice, it is constantly moving and huge chunks regularly fall off.

Do not enter a glacier without proper equipment and a skilled local guide. Sunrays get reflected from the white snow, so it necessary to use sunscreen to protect your skin. Bring warm clothes for tours on the glacier.

On the road

For more information on driving in winter conditions, see the Winter driving article.

If you plan to cross the mountains by car (for instance by driving from Oslo to Bergen) in the winter season, it is imperative that you are prepared for the journey. The conditions are harsh. Always keep a full tank of fuel, and keep warm clothes, food and drink in the car. Make sure your tires are good enough and suited for winter conditions (studded or non-studded winter tires, "all-year" tires are not enough), and that you have the sufficient skills for driving in snowy and cold conditions. Roads are often closed on short notice due to weather conditions. For advice on conditions and closed roads, call 175 in Norway or check the online road reports [2] (in Norwegian only) from the Norwegian State road authorities. Remember that not all parts of the roads have cellular phone coverage.

? Emergency numbers

  • ? Police: 112
  • ? Fire: 110
  • ? Emergency Medical Services (Ambulance): 113
  • If you are unsure which number to call, ? 112 is the central for all surch and rescue services and will put you in contact with the correct department.
  • For non-emergencies, the police is to be called on ? 02800.
  • For treatment of casualties or serious illness (non-emergencies) call ? 116117.
  • The hearing impaired using a text telephone can reach the emergency services by dialing ? [tel:1412 1412}.
  • Roadside assistance is provided by Falck (? 02222) and Viking (? 06000). AAA members may call NAF on ? 08505. In case of traffic accident you are supposed to call the police only if individuals are injured or if the crash causes a traffic jam. The police will not get involved if there are damages on the vehicles only.

Stay healthy

  • The water quality in Norway is mostly adequate and tap water is always drinkable (except on boats, trains etc.).
  • The hygiene in public kitchens is very good, and food poisoning rarely happens to tourists.
  • Norway can get relatively warm in the summer, but be prepared to bring warm clothes (sweater, windbreaking/waterproof jacket), as they might come in handy. It's hard to predict the weather, and in summer, you may experience severe weather changes during your stay.
  • Tourists hiking in the high mountains (above the forest) should bring sports wear for temperatures down to freezing (zero degree C).
  • Norway has a high density of pharmacies. Nose sprays and standard pain killers (paracetamol, aspirin) can also be purchased in grocery stores and gas stations.
  • The sun is generally not as strong as in southern Europe. Keep in mind that in cool conditions (low temperatures or wind) you don't feel that the sun burns your skin. The air is often very clear and clean in the North and UV-levels can be high despite the low sun. Also keep in mind: the sun is stronger in the high mountains, radiation is multiplied on or near snow fields as well as water surfaces. Even when it's cloudy the light can be strong on snow fields. Do not underestimate the power of the Nordic sun! Bring sunglasses when you go to the high mountains, when you go skiing in spring and when you go to the beach.
  • In southern Norway there are ticks (flått) that appear in summertime. They can transmit Lyme's disease (borreliosis) and more serious TBE (tick-borne encephalitis) through a bite. The risk areas for TBE are mainly along the coast from Oslo to Trondheim. Although incidents are relatively rare and not all ticks carry diseases, it's advisable to wear long trousers rather than shorts if you plan to walk through dense or tall grass areas (the usual habitat for ticks). You can buy special tick tweezers from the pharmacy that can be used to remove a tick safely if you happen to get bitten. You should remove the tick from your skin as quickly as possible and preferably with the tick tweezers to reduce the risks of getting an infection. If the tick bite starts to form red rings on the skin around it or if you experience other symptoms relating to the bite, you should go visit a doctor as soon as possible. Since ticks are black, they are more easily found if you wear bright clothes.
  • There's only one type of venomous snake in Norway: the European adder (hoggorm), which has a distinct zig-zag pattern on its back. The snake is not very common, but lives all over Norway up to the arctic circle (except for the highest mountains and areas with little sunshine). Although its bite hardly ever is life-threatening (except to small children and allergic people), be careful in the summertime especially when walking in the forests or on open fields. If you are bitten by a snake, seek medical assistance. The probability of being bitten is however very small, as the adder is very shy of humans.

Contact For minor injuries and illness, go to the local "Legevakt" (emergency room/physician seeing patients without appointment) ? 116 117. In cities this is typically a municipal service centrally located, be prepared to wait for several hours. In rural districts you typically have to contact the "district physician" on duty. For inquiries about toxins (from mushrooms, plants, medicin or other chemicals) call the national Toxin Information Office at ? +47 22 59 13 00

Respect

Norwegians are generally open-minded and tolerant and there are few, if any, dos and don'ts that foreign visitors need to keep in mind. If anything, it is important to keep in mind that Norway is perhaps the most egalitarian country in the world. Behaving in a way that suggest either party is inferior or superior is considered exceptionally rude, and the flaunting of wealth or rank (if any) is frowned upon. Most Norwegians will handle misunderstandings or possibly offensive comments in a friendly manner and almost all will respond well to compliments paid to the country in general.

Many Norwegian people can however be mistaken as somewhat rude and unwelcoming, because they can be very direct and that small talk generally doesn't come easy. This is just a matter of culture; making contact with strangers, such as talking with fellow passengers on the bus, is uncommon. This does not apply to train journeys, or outside the bigger cities where small talk will be made upon the base of curiosity. During hikes in remote wilderness, talking to strangers on the same trail is customary.

Furthermore, Norwegian as a language is very straightforward. The once common use of the polite pronoun is nowadays extremely rare, and so are polite phrases and words in everyday situations, so don't be offended if a Norwegian speaking a foreign language uses a very familiar language. The use of informal language also applies when shopping, checking in at hotels and similar, but do not expect small talk in those situations either. Norwegian does not have something corresponding directly to please (German bitte), some may say unnskyld (excuse me) to call your attention. On the other hand, expressing thanks is important in Norway, this occurs in many situations. For instance after being served food in a private home it is customary to say thanks for the meal (takk for maten), at more formal occasions the "thanks" is often accompanied by a handshake. For instance after a eating or travelling together some Norwegians says thanks for good company. Many Norwegians also express a thanks for last time we met for instance a few days after meeting a party.

The Norwegian culture in general is very informal and Norwegians usually address each other's by first name only, except perhaps in official meetings. The informal culture is not equivalent of that in southern parts of Europe; showing up late for meetings is considered rude, so is talking loud, being too personal with strangers and losing your temper. It is customary to take off your shoes when entering a Norwegian home, in winter this is often a necessity.

Norwegians' reputation for being cold and unwelcoming may be a result of a surprisingly complex unwritten code of conduct with many apparent contradictions. For example; while it is very uncommon to make contact with strangers at public transportation like buses, the opposite is true when you meet Norwegians in outdoor activities like hiking or skiing: Greeting a fellow hiker or skier is expected, not doing so is often considered quite rude. Another phenomena that often confuse foreigners is the role of alcohol in social interactions. It is best explained as the grease that enables Norwegians to meet and make contact without too much friction, again with exceptions. Fortunately, tourists are exempted from most or all social norms, and Norwegians are in general quite aware, and humorous, about the contradictions in their social norms.

It is increasingly popular among visitors to build stone cairns in wildnerness, along rocky beaches and on mountain passes. Stone cairns are used to mark trails and can in fact be misleading to hikers. Visitors building cairns often pick stones from stone fences, some are actually cultural heritage, some are in use for reindeer, sheep or cows. It is in fact illegal to alter nature like this, even if only with a simple boulder.

Patriotism

Norwegians can also be perceived as somewhat nationalistic. It is common to use the flag in private celebrations (such as anniversaries and weddings), and many will also fly the flag on public holidays. Most Norwegians will speak warmly of their country, in particular about subjects such as nature and the country's economic success. May 17, the constitution day, can perhaps be a bit overwhelming for foreigners, as the country is covered in flags, citizens dress up in their finest clothes and celebrate all day long. Norwegian nationalism is however generally an expression of appreciation of living in a successful community, not aggressive in any way. On constitution day, dress up and try to say gratulerer med dagen (literally "congratulations on the day") to anyone you meet, and you will probably get the same in response and see a lot of smiles, even if you're not Norwegian at all. Norwegians take pride in the fact that the parades on constitution day are made up of school children and families instead of military troops. May 17 is a celebration of the 1814 constitution that established Norway as a liberal democracy, the constitution is still in effect.

Cope

First time visitors not familiar with the country tend to plan a trip in Norway from city to city. Although Norway has many nice cities the country's main attraction is the land itself, the nature, the landscapes, the wilderness, as well as a number of man-made sights in rural districts, notably road constructions and cultural treasures such as the stave churches. Unlike many other countries in Europe, a trip to Norway should ideally be planned according to types of landscapes to visit as well as a selection of cities. Norway is a long country with long distances and complex topography, and travellers should not underestimate distances.

Numbers, time and dates

Norwegians use a comma as the decimal separation sign or radix. For instance, "12,000" means 12 (specified with three decimal places) not 12 thousand, whereas "12 000" or "12.000" means 12 thousand.

Like many countries, Norwegians typically use the 12 hour clock system in speech and the 24 hour clock system in writing, print, signs and timetables. Norwegians don't use pm/am to indicate morning or afternoon. In Norwegian "half ten" ("halv ti") means half past nine, when speaking to a person not fluent in English better not use this form to avoid misunderstanding.

Dates can be seen abbreviated in a number of ways, but the order is always DAY-MONTH-YEAR, for instance 12.7.17 or 12.07.17 is always 12 July 2017 (120717 and 12/7-17 are also common, but regarded as incorrect forms). Monday is considered the first day of the week, while Sunday is the last. In timetables, weekdays are thus often indicated by numbers 1 (Mon) through 7 (Sun). Norwegian calendars will also indicate the number of the week 1 through 53. Timetables for public transport often use the abbreviation Dx67, meaning "daily except Saturday and Sunday".

Norway uses the metric system only. A Norwegian mile, 'mil', is equal to 10km. There is virtually no knowledge of Imperial or US measures. Few Norwegians will be able to convert from Celsius (Centigrade) to Fahrenheit, and weather forecasts use metric units. However, many modern cell-phones have conversion programmes which can be used to understand the metric system.

In Norwegian there is usually no concept of ground floor as in the UK (or "Erdgeschoss" in German), instead the entrance level of a building is called the first floor ("første etasje" or labelled zero, 0) like in the US. Levels are then counted 1, 2, 3 etc.

House purchase

If purchasing a house and business in Norway do check all legal documents (kjøpekontrakt/takst) and maps (grensekart) are correct. Ask for information in the native language you are used to. Make sure the Estate Agent is registered with NEF.

Connect

Mobile phone coverage is universal in urban areas and generally also good in rural Norway, though on occasion some rural valley areas might be badly covered.

Even in the most remote mountain cabins, as long as they are staffed, you will usually be able to send a postcard.

Internet

Most Norwegian households are connected to the Internet in some way (often broadband), making cybercafés hard to find outside major cities, due to a relatively small market. Most public libraries have free public access to the internet, but a limited number of computers and limited opening hours.

If you bring a laptop with a wireless connection you will find wireless internet zones just about everywhere (gas stations, grocery stores, city centres, cafés, shopping centres, hotels, etc.) Be prepared to pay for it though. It is not unusual for hotels to have a terminal for guest use. Around 60% of camp grounds have Wi-Fi Internet, but if it's crucial for you, best to ask before paying for your camping space.

Telenor (national telecoms provider) sells pre-paid SIM cards for 49kr, providing fast 4G internet access capped at 10kr per day. Speed is reduced after 500MB in a month, unless you purchase a further data package (another 49kr / 500MB.Telenor stores (including the one at the airport) ask NOK199 for this SIM card, however you can purchase it in convenience stores for 49kr. Activation on-line requires a Norweigan ID, however Telenor stores can do this instantly for free for foreigners on presentation of your passport. (Prices as at May 2014.)

As of August 2011, Telenor (national telecoms provider) sells prepaid wireless 3G internet dongles for computers (700kr), 150kr buy-in must be purchased with the dongle itself, that comes with 50kr credit and 300MB of data to be used in 4 days. Then, another 150kr purchase must be made for 15 days unlimited internet access. 3G speeds are very usable, and if 3G service is not available the dongle steps down to 2G (not so much fun). Of course, these prices and conditions may change quickly. There is a mobile phone shop at Oslo airport (landside) that sells phone equipment.

There are other providers; NetCom (part of the TeliaSonera group) offers coverage that is slightly less than Telenor but prices are better; 150kr gets you a data-only SIM with 1GB data at 4G speeds for a week, 29kr gets you 500MB for a day, or 200kr for 2GB/2 weeks or 300kr for 4GB/month. With voice the packages are 1GB+talk/text for 199kr, 3GB+talk/text for 299kr, and 6GB+talk/text for 399kr.

Radio listening

For foreigners who are used to listen to FM radio, Norway is becoming a challenge. During 2017 the major FM network is closing down and the larger radio stations are transmitted via internet, cable network or DAB + (digital radio). Most Norwegian rental cars do have a DAB + car radio, though. There will still exist local radio stations (broadcasts) on FM, but they have limited range and will quickly disappear when driving outside urban areas. The language in the FM and DAB + radio stations available are Norwegian only.

Arctic Circle Trail Hiking

Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail

Sisimiut, Greenland

Carefully trying to pick my way across a marsh, I sink into a deep pocket of mud up to my shins. This wet terrain is a regular hazard on the Arctic Circle Trail.

NOTE: This is Part 4 of a series. ► Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Packing/Logistics

DAY 9: Innajuattoq to Nerumaq

Hiking Distance 18 km (11 miles) | 7 hours

The Greenlandic morning is dark & wet with heavy fog at 8am when I begin packing my gear for the next leg of the Arctic Circle Trail. Luckily most of the day will be hiking downhill out of the mountains.

Stuffing dry kindling from my failed fire attempt under a rock for the next hiker to use, I gradually make my way into a valley lined with small lakes and cotton grass blowing in the wind.

Eventually the fog clears and I spot reindeer grazing in the hills beside me. Then another arctic hare. There are so many wild animals roaming Greenland!

Nerumaq hut is not far away, and I stop to take a short nap due to lack of sleep the night before. Today will be a long day on the trail and I’ll need all the energy I can get.

Moving quite fast now, at this pace I should finish by tomorrow evening. My backpack is exponentially lighter having eaten most of the food I began with.

Arctic Circle Trail Landscape

Dark & Wet Morning

Arctic Circle Trail Trees

Dwarf Willow Forest

Willow Tree Forest

The Arctic Circle Trail threads through a patch of dwarf willow trees, the tallest are only about 6 feet high. It’s the largest forest I’ve seen since arriving in Greenland last week. Trees don’t grow well in the arctic tundra.

More and more rivers snake their way down from the mountains across my path, some with small waterfalls. Most are easily crossed by rock-hopping.

The trail becomes wet & swampy again. The weather worsens.

In fact now it’s raining. I still haven’t found the next hut. Fog moves in and the sky darkens. While I’d love a dry place to sleep tonight, it looks like I’ll have to pitch camp in the rain.

I curl into my sleeping bag and snack on dried fish — washing it down with the last of my potent Greenlandic schnapps in an attempt to stay warm.

Arctic Circle Trail Hike

Final Day of Hiking

Arctic Circle Trail Cabin

Mountain Hunting Cabin

Arctic Circle Trail Sled

Remains of a Sled

DAY 10: Kangerluarsuk Tulleq to Sisimiut

Hiking Distance 22 km (14 miles) | 8 hours

The next morning I prepare for what will hopefully be the final day of trekking. Right away my feet are sucked deep into bog mud, up to my shins. Not a good way to start!

Climbing a hill I soon discover the Tulleq hut I’d been searching for the night before. Ahhhhh! Only 10 more minutes and I would have enjoyed a solid roof over my head.

The trail rises back into the mountains through a high rocky valley, with views of snow covered peaks on either side. I find the remains of dog sledding equipment scattered about.

Hiking through boulder fields alongside a small river, crossing it a few times before coming to a wide open valley called Nasaasaaq. Jagged mountains can been seen in the distance.

Nasaasaaq Arctic Circle Trail

Beautiful Nasaasaaq Valley

Arctic Circle Trail Musk Ox

Musk Ox on the Trail

Musk Ox Surprise

Trekking down into this beautiful valley, I spy something large, shaggy, and brown moving across the trail. It’s a musk ox!

The musk ox is Greenland’s largest land mammal weighing up to 400 kilos (880 lbs). These huge shaggy creatures are related to goats, but look more like buffalo to me.

I watched a group of them from a distance earlier that week, but this bull was only 50 yards away — blocking the path ahead. The Greenlandic name for them, Umimmak, means “the long-bearded one”.

Musk oxen are an important source of meat and wool for native Greenlanders. You have to be careful not to get too close or they can charge.

Eventually this one smelled me & ran up a mountain. I don’t blame it.

After passing an out-of-place ski lift, I round a corner to find the Arctic Ocean. Perched on the edge is the colorful fishing town of Sisimiut.

Sisimiut Sled Dogs

Sled Dog Welcoming Committee

Sisimiut Greenland

Sisimiut, Greenland

Fishing Boats

Greenlandic Fishing Boats

Fishing Town Of Sisimiut

Success! I made it! I hike into town past hundreds of barking sled dogs feeling on top of the world. My feet ache. My body is exhausted. Yet I can’t stop smiling.

Trekking for 10 days across the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland’s wilderness was a rewarding adventure travel experience.

I’d lived off the land eating berries & mushrooms, saw all kinds of cool wildlife, camped under the stars, and spent time alone with my thoughts surrounded by nature. It was my personal version of into the wild.

To celebrate the end of my long journey I checked into a fancy hotel, boots still caked in mud. Jumping into a hot shower for 20 minutes with a cold beer. Followed by a delicious musk ox steak dinner with Greenlandic coffee.

Damn it felt good to be back in civilization!

The next 4 days were spent walking around Sisimiut, hanging out with other hikers & a group of theater actors from Norway & Denmark. We danced to Greenlandic hip hop & learned about Inuit culture.

Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail in Greenland and reconnecting with nature in the wilderness has been the highlight of my travel year so far. ★

Watch Video: Greenland’s Arctic Circle Trail

(Click to watch Hiking the Arctic Circle Trail – Greenland on YouTube)

NOTE: This is Part 4 of a series. ► Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Packing/Logistics

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have you ever wanted to travel to Greenland?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Kate in Senggigi

What does budget travel mean to you?

For some of my friends, it means downgrading to a three-star hotel instead of a luxury property. For others, it’s giving up their private rooms for hostel dorms.

Budget travel is unique to everyone. The broadest definition of budget travel is being financially conscious during your travels.

I asked my Facebook fans a question: how low-budget would you go? Hostel dorms? Couchsurfing? Never eating in a restaurant, ever? They had a lot of great answers and I’ve included them throughout this post.

Leon Nicaragua

Extreme Budget Travel

I define extreme budget travel — or what I like to call traveling “on the hobo” — as traveling while spending the least amount of money possible.

“I had some Couchsurfers come stay with me that are doing a long term trip with a $0 budget for accommodation. If they can’t find CS hosts they camp. One was sleeping in temples in Myanmar. He said his average is $5/day but oftentimes only spends $3. They also only hitchhike everywhere.” –Nathan

Accommodation? Free only. Couchsurfing or camping in their own tent or van. Possibly sleeping in churches, temples or mosques. Free lodging via working gigs. Hostel dorms if there’s no other option.

Transportation? Free or very cheap only. Hitchhiking or traveling in their own vehicle. If anything, an occasional bus ride or public transit.

Food? Cheap only. Supermarket fare or cheap street food. No restaurants, ever. Maybe an occasional takeaway kebab.

Attractions? Free only. In cities, walking around and taking photos, enjoying free museums and attractions. In the countryside, hiking and exploring. Forget about paying for a ticket.

How to get by? Working from time to time. WWOOFing, Workaway gigs, working in hostels or bars, busking, random gigs along the way.

And while there are occasional exceptions, the above is largely how extreme budget travelers spend their time on the road.

Here are some examples:

We Visited Over 50 Countries In Our Van Spending Just $8 Per Day

This is How a Guy Traveled Through Southeast Asia On Just $10 Per Day

I just came back from a 5-months travel. I’ve done hitch-hiked over 15 000km, and have been living as a homeless for pretty much 4 months.

Amman Skyline

The Pros of Extreme Budget Travel

Travel longer. See more. The less you spend, the more time you have to see everything the world has to offer. The price you would pay for a midrange two-week trip could grow into a multi-month extravaganza when traveling on the hobo.

Enjoying the same sights at a fraction of the price. Nobody charges you to walk through the piazzas of Florence, nor do you pay anything to enjoy the white sand beaches of Boracay. It feels awesome to look around and know that you paid far less than everyone else!

Expensive destinations aren’t off-limits. One thing I noticed was that extreme budget travelers don’t shy away from expensive countries. You find just as many extreme budget travelers in Norway and Australia as you do in Laos and India.

“Curiously enough it’s easier to spend less in expensive countries. It’s easier to say no to a $25 hotel room and camp, than to say no to a $5 hotel room and camp. In Europe I’d go camping and couchsurfing all the time out of necessity, but here in Asia I’d happily pay for accommodation, because it’s cheaper. But of course that adds up and in the end I pay more. I remember spending 6 months in the US and Canada and I spend $0 on accommodation. :D” –Meph248 on Reddit

Having more local experience. You’ll get to know locals more intimately, whether it means couchsurfing in locals’ homes, working with locals, hitchhiking with locals, or shopping at the local markets. Plenty of travelers will pass through the same town without having a conversation with someone who wasn’t a waiter or hostel employee.

The time of your life — on very little cash. You’ll have great stories to tell your kids someday!

“I did $5 a day while touring the Balkans for a month. I managed! -Free lodging and food by volunteering at a hostel (even had my own room at the top floor) -Free private beach access through a guy I was seeing -Free drinks every night at the bar across the street because the owner swore I was Serena Williams

That about covers all bases! Lol” –Gloria, The Blog Abroad

The possibility of extending your trip indefinitely. If you pick up enough paid gigs in between, you can keep on traveling forever. This especially works well if you pick up gigs, either officially or under the table, in high-paying countries like Australia.

Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Pitfalls of Extreme Budget Travel

Reduced safety. If you don’t have funds allocated for accommodation or private transportation, what happens when none of the Couchsurfing hosts in town appeal to you? What happens if your bus is delayed, you show up in Tegucigalpa late at night, and you can’t afford a cab to your accommodation?

Not having money for instances like these sacrifices your safety.

“I would never want to absolutely rely on couchsurfing for the whole of my trip. I couchsurf where I can but when I can’t find a decent host I book a hostel. I think when you get too desperate to couchsurf you end up pushing the safety limit a bit and staying with dubious people.” –Britt, Adventure Lies in Front

Just how bad can the result be? Read this heartbreaking post by Trish on Free Candie.

Missing cool activities and social events. You meet a cool group of fellow travelers and they’re all going whitewater rafting. They want you to join — but you can’t do that. And sure, you can walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge if the $300 Bridgeclimb is out of your price range, but would you go to Leon, Nicaragua, and skip $30 volcano boarding? What about a $5 wine tasting in a Tuscan town? And even if it’s just a $4 hostel shuttle to the beach, which all your friends from the hostel are taking, you’re stuck on the much longer 25-cent local bus.

Less exposure to local cuisine. Yes, there’s fresh produce and markets and supermarkets can be their own adventure, but if you’re making pasta in the hostel every night, you’re missing out on one of the best parts of traveling — the food.

“As a student in EU having a long-term schengen visa on a third-world passport, I think I have hit the bottom after sleeping at airports, night buses, railway stations, common areas of hostels. taking pictures of food in local markets and then coming back to cook pasta in hostel kitchen :-(” –Anshul

No backup savings. In the event of an emergency — say, you need to fly home for the funeral of a dear friend — you don’t have the cash to do so. Most of the time, travel insurance will only reimburse you if it’s a member of your immediate family.

Isolation and discomfort. If you’re not comfortable in your accommodation, you have fewer options and may be far from the city center or tourist zone. If you’re limited with money, you can’t just pick up and leave — you might need to stick it out for at least a night.

“Ive couchsurfed once and they tried to convert me to their religion so i just left.” –Christipede

No alone time. If you’re a natural extrovert, this probably won’t be an issue, but traveling on the hobo requires you to socialize with lots of people on a daily basis, especially if you’re couchsurfing. If you’re an introvert, you’ll have difficulties carving out alone time to relax your mind. (Camping solo is one way around this, however.)

Mooching off others. Conversely, depending on others day after day can wear away at you. Sure, you can help cook and clean, or play music, and you know you’ll pay it back to other travelers someday, but you might get uncomfortable having strangers host and feed you for free on a regular basis.

“It’s funny. I’m open to going extremely low budget. As long as I can be self-reliant about it. Meaning I’d rather sleep (legally or semi-legally) on an abandoned beach or in a corner of a park than ask for someone’s couch. This is strange, I know, since the spirit of travel is tied so intrinsically into the good will of others. I guess I’d rather rely on others for their company (and their rum!) and then slip off to my tent for the night.” –Bring Limes

Resentment. Is this the trip you had in mind? Is this even the kind of trip you’d want? Wouldn’t you rather be in a nice hotel room, eating in restaurants, doing cool activities, and not having to work every now and then? After weeks of depriving yourself, over and over, you could end up feeling resentful. It might not be worth the savings.

“I feel like [extreme budget travel] would detract from the travel experience itself. If I was wrapped up in my head worrying about money and a budget the whole time it would take away from experiences. I certainly don’t travel luxuriously, but I choose to travel within my means without missing out on things.” –Megan, Forks and Footprints

Blue Night Shadows

A Lot of People Think They Can Do This

I’m an avid Redditor but don’t comment often. What makes me comments are posts like these:

“Me and my cousin are going on a trip in 2015 for 16 months around SE Asia. we plan on visiting 19 countries in that time: Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Sri lanka, Tawain, Thailand, Vietnam, Bhutan

We dont really know what months to go to the different countries and theres not much info online about it, so im asking you we kind of want summer all the time around. Also what places should we see in different countries? Im thinking that 12k USD will be enough for this trip? no including air fare, is that close to accurate?”

Oh God.

First of all, no, $12K will not be nearly enough. I really hope he meant $12K each, because even $24k for two would not be enough for a trip like that, especially with countries like Bhutan and Japan on the list. The only way it would be possible would be through extreme budget travel, and just the idea of traveling that way for 16 months makes me want to curl into a ball and hide.

I get emails all the time from travelers who want to travel as long and as much as possible, so they squish their budget down to the bare minimum. They tell me that yeah, they really want to see as much as possible, so they’re going to couchsurf and camp and they’ll be able to stretch their trip to as long as possible. I give them advice, wish them luck, tell them to buy travel insurance.

Some of them end up traveling this way — and have a fabulous, life-changing trip. Others end up miserable and return home much sooner than planned.

My worry about these travelers is that they won’t end up enjoying themselves on what should be the trip of a lifetime. I believe that far more people think they can handle long-term extreme budget travel than can actually handle this style of travel on a long-term basis.

It doesn’t help that traveling on the hobo is romanticized in popular culture, complete with scenes of waking up on a farm in Provence, harvesting olives all day, then having huge dinners with wine every night before hopping on a train to the next idyllic destination.

In short, it’s fun to travel on the hobo if you’re doing it for fun. It’s not so fun if you’re doing it because you can’t afford anything else.

Bike Lady in Ferrara

Special Concerns for Women Travelers

I feel like there needs to be an asterisk when talking about extreme budget travel as a woman. Just like there needs to be an asterisk with almost every kind of travel.

If you haven’t read Why Travel Safety Is Different For Women, please read it now.

In that piece, I talk about how women are attuned to the risk of sexual assault every minute of every day. It never leaves our minds, and each day we make dozens of micro-decisions for the sake of self-protection. For that reason, we need to be extra careful when it comes to extreme budget travel.

“extreme budget travel is a luxury that men can have I think. as a woman, I always need to have a little extra to get myself out of a bad guesthouse or take taxis rather than walk. I’m sure some women have managed it, but i wouldn’t feel safe on a low low budget. I usually budget $50/day with an extra $500/month of travel, although I rarely use it all. it gives me enough cushion to get a single room rather than share a dorm with just one man, etc.” –Lily

Camping alone or sleeping outside leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Staying in a sketchy guesthouse with a badly locking door leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Hitchhiking with strangers leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Taking public transportation in a rough city at night leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

Accepting food and drinks prepared by Couchsurfing hosts leaves us vulnerable to sexual assault.

That doesn’t mean that women can’t do extreme budget travel — I know women who do it and love it. I know that some take extra precautions, like carrying pepper spray and a knife. And even then, many of them have done so safely; most of them have only had a few scary but ultimately non-dangerous incidents, like I have.

But it doesn’t mean that the risk isn’t there. You need to evaluate that risk closely.

Kyoto Apartment

It’s Not For Everyone

If you want to try out extreme budget travel and you think you would enjoy it, go for it! I’m happy for people to travel in any way they’d like, as long as it’s not harmful to others.

There are plenty of people for whom extreme budget travel is a great choice. And they’re a surprisingly diverse group of people.

My issue with it is that I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it is to live this way on a long-term basis. In short, it’s not for as many people who think it’s for them. So many people attempt it, burn out, and leave their trip with regrets.

Costa Brava Mountains

Short-Term Extreme Budget Travel

What if you only did the extreme budget travel thing for a shorter time? Say, for a two-week trip or just for a month or two out of a yearlong RTW trip? What if you just did it when you traveled in Australia and went back to spending more money in Southeast Asia?

I think that’s actually a very smart idea. This way, you get to try it out, reduce costs in the most expensive destinations, and see if you are interested in doing it long-term.

“I don’t mind dorms for cheap travel, although a few weeks is the max I could do that without at least a few nights in a private. I’m planning to couch surf and WWOOFing a lot in Japan, since I want to go for a while without spending thousands and thousands. I can’t live on that low though- it’s boring to only have enough to eat and stay in the hostel!” –Alexandria

Marigolds in Pienza

How to Maintain Your Sanity While Traveling on the Hobo

Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Walking a mile out of the way for loaves of bread that cost 20 cents less is the definition of insanity. Instead, reduce your big expenses like accommodation and transportation, or stick to cheap countries.

Travel slower. Spending more time in fewer destinations will majorly cut down your costs. When you spend longer in a destination, you’ll get to know the cheaper places, you’ll spend less time sightseeing, and your transportation costs will be lower.

Stick to cheaper regions — not just cheaper countries. Most people consider Thailand a cheap country but don’t take into account that the beach resorts in the south are MUCH more expensive than the rest of the country. Stick to rural, less-visited areas for lower costs. In Thailand, you’ll find the cheapest prices in the north.

Set up a separate bank account for splurges. Use it for special activities like seeing Angkor Wat, getting scuba certified, or having a restaurant meal in a fabulous food region.

Plan on getting private accommodation every few weeks or so. Just a few days in a room to yourself will make you feel so much better, especially if you’re an introvert.

Have a re-entry fund saved up and don’t touch it. This is money to cushion your return home. How much do you need? Depends on your situation. Some people like to have enough to secure a new apartment and pay for a few months of frugal expenses; others just need a thousand dollars or so. The choice is yours.

Don’t scrimp on travel insurance. Even if you’re committed to spending as little as possible, you don’t want to put yourself in a position where you weigh your health against saving money. Not to mention that it will save your ass financially in the event that you get severely injured and need an air ambulance to another country. I use and recommend World Nomads.

Leaving the Generalife

One Last Tip: Check Your Privilege

When you’ve been traveling on the hobo for awhile, there will be dark days. You’ll be down to your last few dollars and unable to eat anything but rice and pasta. You’ll be tired. You’ll be lonely. You’ll be treading water and you won’t know when you’ll earn enough to leave town.

This happens to all travelers. We all go through tough times, but extreme budget travelers are additionally vulnerable because of their lack of money.

Even when you’re at your lowest, it’s important to remember that you hold enormous privilege. You’re living this lifestyle by choice, and you’ve experienced far more than the vast majority of the world will ever be able to.

Don’t refer to yourself as poor. Don’t take food donations meant for the needy. And for the love of God, don’t compare yourself to the homeless.

Instead, practice gratitude each day. Be kind. Use what you’ve learned to create a better life for everyone you meet, both on the road and at home.

And if you choose to settle down for some time — whether it’s just for a few weeks or something more permanent — open up your home to vagabonds like yourself. Feed them, give them a place to sleep, show them your favorite spots in town. It’s time to repay the kindness that you’ve been gifted on your journey.

Have you ever tried extreme budget travel? Did you enjoy it?The truth about extreme budget travel

iPhone GPS Hiking

Using Your Smartphone GPS for Hiking

Travel Tips

Would you be surprised if I told you my favorite piece of backpacking gear is my smartphone? I love using my iPhone’s GPS for hiking in the wilderness.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook & Instagram, you’ll know that I recently returned from an epic trek in Greenland on the Arctic Circle Trail.

There’s no cell-service on this hike. It was a 10 day adventure through remote Greenlandic wilderness. However I was still able to use my iPhone’s built in GPS capabilities to help me navigate the long-distance route.

My battery lasted 7 days before it needed recharging too!

I’ve been using Gaia GPS for hiking trips in places like Turkey, Norway, Israel, Greenland, Canada, Iceland, and the United States. It’s a super useful app for adventure lovers.

GPS Hiking App

Gaia GPS in Greenland

Smartphone GPS For Hiking

Did you know that cell service is not necessary to use your smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) chip? However to track your progress effectively without service, you must pre-download maps before the journey.

There are a few different GPS mapping apps out there for smartphones, but my favorite (and the most used) is called Gaia GPS Topo Maps.

This amazing app allows hikers to pre-download different types of maps from around the world for use with your iPhone’s GPS. You can also record altitude, speed, leave waypoints, create tracks, and produce all sorts of other detailed information about your backcountry trips.

Better Than Dedicated GPS Unit?

Why spend hundreds of dollars on a dedicated GPS device for hiking when you can get the same functionality with a $20 app for your smartphone?

Using your phone as a GPS unit saves you money, reduces the amount of weight you pack, and serves multiple purposes (photos, journal, notes, etc.).

It’s a wonderful backup to have along with paper maps, and can save your butt if you happen to lose the trail or get caught in bad weather.

Both have happened to me a few times, and whipping out your phone is far easier than attempting to use regular maps during a raging storm!

GPS Hiking App

Pre-Downloading a Section of Map

Gaia GPS Settings

To get the most out of Gaia GPS, there are few settings you need to be aware of. First, there are many different map layers you can use within the app. The two I use most often are the Open Hiking Map and Google’s satellite view called Imagery + Roads.

These are probably the best maps for hiking. The Open Hiking Map includes basic topographical features along with known hiking trails, while Satellite Imagery gives you a better picture of the landscape.

If hiking somewhere without cell service, make sure to pre-download sections of the map that cover the area where you’ll be.

Pre-downloading maps is explained in the YouTube tutorial below.

Gaia GPS also allows you to record tracks as you hike, but don’t do this unless you have a specific need, because it drains battery life and requires the phone to be powered on the whole time.

I only use the app to confirm my GPS location or navigate in bad weather.

Close the Gaia app after each use (double tap the home button and swipe the app up to close). This prevents Gaia from continually updating your location. Turn the phone off to further reduce battery drain.

iPhone GPS Hiking

Hiking in Norway with the LifeProof FRĒ Power

Protecting Your Phone

As you might already know, I’m a huge fan of the water & shock-proof smartphone cases from LifeProof, and they’re one of my sponsors too.

Using the LifeProof FRĒ POWER gives me double the battery power for long-distance treks like the Arctic Circle Trail.

So when my phone’s battery eventually dies, I simply press a button on the back of the LifeProof case to recharge it completely.

Battery Conservation Settings

While hiking through Greenland for 10 days, my iPhone 6 battery lasted for 7 days using the settings below. I turned off the phone when not in use, and only powered it up to compare my GPS location with the paper maps I carried.

  • Enable Airplane Mode (turns off WiFi/Bluetooth)
  • Close all apps except Gaia
  • General > Usage > Battery Percentage = ON
  • Privacy > Location Services = OFF (except Gaia)
  • Privacy > Advertising > Limit Ad Tracking = ON
  • Privacy > Motion & Fitness = OFF
  • General > Siri = OFF
  • General > Accessibility > Reduce Motion = ON
  • General > Date & Time > Set Automatically = OFF
  • General > VPN = OFF

One more important tip is to keep your phone warm when it’s cold out, like in a pants pocket. This includes when sleeping too. Nothing drains the battery faster than cold weather! ★

Watch Video: Gaia GPS Tutorial

More Information

Product: Gaia GPS App for iPhone | Android Total Cost: $19.99 USD Useful Notes: Gaia GPS is a pretty big application with many features. You’ll want to set aside at least an hour to learn how to use it.

READ NEXT: Complete Travel Gear Guide

Have any questions about using your phone’s GPS for hiking?

This is a post from The Expert Vagabond adventure blog.

Boston Fourth of July

When Donald Trump announced he was running for president, we joked that he’d be done within a few months. Comedians had a field day. He couldn’t gain any serious support, could he?

Until he started leading all the polls…and winning primaries.

Holy shit. This could actually happen.

“If Trump gets elected, I’m leaving the country!”

I know. Everyone says it. But there’s no way to actually do that, is there?

OF COURSE THERE IS! You could leave the country in SO many different ways — ways that are 100% legal and ethical.

Kate on the Sydney Bridgeclimb

1) Get a working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand.

If you’re 30 or under, you qualify to spend a year living and working in Australia or New Zealand! These are the only traditional working visas currently available to Americans.

In both countries, you can apply for the visa if you’re as old as 30; you can enter the country within one year of receiving your visa, which means you could start your year at age 31. Australia also offers the option of taking a second year if you spend three months working in “regional Australia” (rural areas and outside the most popular tourist destinations). Edit: I’ve since learned the second year is not available to Americans, sadly. Brits and Canadians can take advantage of this option, however.

You could spend your year bartending in Cairns or Queenstown, working on a winery in the Barossa Valley or Marlborough, working at a corporate job in Melbourne or Wellington, or taking on a hospitality job just about anywhere. And those are just a few of the possibilities.

For more, check out the Australia working holiday visa site and the New Zealand working holiday site.

Hongdae

2) Get a job teaching English abroad.

Teaching English abroad is one of the easiest ways U.S. citizens can get a job working abroad. Most countries only require a university degree in any field; others also require a TEFL certificate.

The most opportunity for Americans is in Asia. South Korea tends to offer the best packages: a competitive salary plus free housing and free flights to and from your home country. Many teachers in South Korea are able to comfortably save more than $10,000 per year and pay down debt or go traveling afterward.

Japan, China, and Taiwan also have great environments for teaching English with decent benefits. Entry-level teaching jobs in Southeast Asia and Latin America tend to pay only enough to get by.

While many Americans dream of teaching English in Europe, it’s extremely difficult to work in the EU without EU citizenship and the jobs are thus few. Eastern Europe and Turkey are a better bet.

Options in the Middle East tend to pay the most but have the most stringent requirements, often a teaching certification and experience in your home country and/or an advanced degree.

This is just the most basic of overviews — head to ESL Cafe to learn anything and everything about teaching English abroad.

El Tunco, El Salvador

3) Join the U.S. Foreign Service.

Dreamed of working as a diplomat around the world? The U.S. Foreign Service is your way in. If you’re able to pass the notoriously difficult Foreign Service Exam, you’ll be eligible to work two-year contracts in countries around the world.

The goal of the U.S. Foreign Service is “to promote peace, support prosperity, and protect American citizens while advancing the interests of the U.S. abroad.” Basically, you represent the United States while abroad.

There are several different tracks: Administration, Construction Engineering, Facility Management, Information Technology, International Information and English Language Programs, Medical and Health, Office Management, and Law Enforcement and Security.

You don’t get to choose your destination — you could be headed to any of 270 embassies around the world — but if you work in a hardship destination, you’ll often get preferential treatment regarding your next assignment. Like two of my lovely readers whom I met in Mexico last year — after working as diplomats in Pakistan, they got stationed in Cuba next.

Check out all the details on the U.S. Foreign Service’s website.

Bitola

4) Join the Peace Corps.

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most famous volunteer program in America, starting in 1961 under President Kennedy. Volunteers are sent around the world in primarily two-year contracts working in the fields of Education, Health, Community Development, Environment, Youth in Development, Agriculture, and Peace Corps Response.

You don’t get to choose where you go — you’re sent where your skills are needed the most. That means if you speak Spanish, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Latin America; if you speak French, there’s a good chance you’ll be sent to Africa.

Most people I’ve known to serve in the Peace Corps describe it as life-changing. It’s a fantastic way to serve your country and make lasting contributions toward building a better planet.

For more, visit the PeaceCorps.gov.

Koolbaai

5) Find a job abroad.

I know it sounds daunting to find a job abroad when you don’t know anything about it, but Americans do it successfully every day!

The U.S. State Department has put together a comprehensive list of resources for finding work abroad, no matter what field you’re in.

Ljubljana

6) Study abroad or get another degree.

Are you still in college? Studying abroad will be one of the most valuable (and fun!) things you do in your college career. Here are the lessons I learned from my semester in Florence in 2004.

Already have a degree? This could be a great opportunity to get your master’s abroad! Several countries offer you the option of getting your master’s in just one year, unlike the standard two years in the United States.

You probably know that several countries offer free university education to their citizens. Well, several countries offer free university education to international students as well, including Americans! Don’t speak the local language? They offer degrees given in English as well.

It was big news when Germany began offering free education to international students in 2014. Other countries include Brazil, Finland, France, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden.

Many of these countries also offer stipends, making getting your degree infinitely more affordable than in the U.S.

London Millennium Bridge

7) If your job has an international office, see if you can transfer.

This isn’t an option if you work for a small, independent, local business. But it could work if you work for a larger company.

I used to work for a company with offices in Boston and London, and plenty of people migrated across the Atlantic in each direction. The company took care of the sponsorship and all the red tape.

Another option: if your company has an international parent company, see if you can find a job abroad in one of your parent company’s other companies.

Playa Samara

8) See if you can start working remotely.

If your job is mostly doable online, you may have the ability to start working remotely and set up shop anywhere in the world.

Note that this is something best done little by little. Start by doing exceptionally outstanding work for awhile, then ask your boss if you can work remotely one day per week. Make that your most productive day of the week. If it goes well and your company is pleased, keep negotiating for more time working remotely.

If you’re able to transition to working 100% remotely, keep in mind that you may need to stay within the same time zone or in a destination where you have excellent internet. Still, that’s a small price to pay for working from, say, a beach town in Costa Rica!

Berlin

9) Look into the German Artist Visa.

Entering the EU long-term is a major challenge for most Americans, but one of the easiest ways in (aside from getting a student visa) is to get the German “artist visa.”

“Artist” is a relative term here. In this case, it means freelancer. If you’re able to prove multiple contracts paying you enough to get by, that may be enough for you to secure this visa and live in Germany.

Most people with this visa choose to live in Berlin due to its art scene, expat scene, and relatively low cost of living (albeit one that continues to rise). Increasingly popular alternatives are hip Hamburg and artsy Leipzig.

Check out Travels of Adam’s guide to getting the German artist visa or, alternatively, a student visa.

Paris Marais

10) Become an au pair in Europe.

If you love kids, don’t mind living with a family, and want to live like a local, becoming an au pair could be an excellent option for you. Many Americans become au pairs by finding a job and family online, then registering for a student visa to give you a year in the country.

The student visa could be for as little as a few hours of language study each week; some countries, like France, are notoriously lax about whether you actually attend class and many au pairs decide to ditch the classes entirely.

Being an au pair could be the time of your life — or a complete disaster. The best thing is to know exactly what kind of experience you want — how many kids and how old? Living with the family or in your own apartment? Urban, suburban, or rural environment? Would you be expected to cook or not? — and finding a family that fits your needs well.

Ashley Abroad has a great resource for getting started as an au pair.

Christmas at JJ's

11) Save up, quit your job, and backpack the world for awhile.

Yes. You can absolutely do this. Plenty of people around the world travel for months at a time — it’s very common for people from other western countries, but far less popular for Americans.

If you want your money to go the furthest, stick to a cheaper region. Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Central America, and Eastern Europe are all great options. You can live in parts of these regions on less than $1000 per month if you want to (but that amount doesn’t include start-up expenses like flights, gear and insurance).

Here’s how I saved $13,000 in just seven months. That was almost enough to sustain me for six months in Southeast Asia from 2010-2011, but keep in mind prices have increased a bit since then.

Santa Cruz Atitlan Guatemala

12) Move somewhere cheap for awhile.

Not in the mood to be traveling all the time? You could just move somewhere. Many countries have visa policies that allow you to live long-term by leaving the country every few months and coming right back. (Be sure to check on your country’s latest visa regulations, as they can change at any time.)

I still think that Chiang Mai, Thailand, offers the maximum value for a great price. As a solo adult, you can comfortably get by in Chiang Mai for less than $800 per month, or even less if you’re part of a couple, and there are plenty of amenities for the many expats who live and work there.

Other popular options for expats? Oaxaca, Mexico. Ubud, Bali. Bangkok, Thailand. Medellin, Colombia. Lake Atitlan, Guatemala (particularly Panajachel and San Pedro). If you have the ability to live in the EU, consider Berlin, Germany; Lisbon, Portugal; Budapest, Hungary; Prague, Czech Republic; or any town you can imagine in Spain: Madrid, Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona.

Ragusa, Sicily

13) Get a second citizenship based on your ancestry.

Several European countries offer the option of getting a passport based on your ancestry. I’ve known Americans who have gained Irish, British, Italian, and German citizenship due to their parents, grandparents or even great-grandparents being born in those countries.

The best part? Gaining EU citizenship means you can move around freely within the EU, not just the country where you hold the ancestry! I have an American friend with new German citizenship who’s thinking about moving to London. That’s totally fine on a German passport.

Do research this first — every country is different and has its own conditions. Some don’t offer ancestry-based citizenship at all. (While my great-grandfather immigrated from Italy, I don’t qualify for Italian citizenship because he naturalized before my grandmother was born.) Here’s a guide to obtaining citizenship in European countries.

Israel also offers citizenship based on the Law of Return. You must either be Jewish by birth (meaning your mother or grandmother is Jewish) or a convert to Judaism.

Keep in mind that this could potentially take years, depending on the country. It took three years for my friend Mike to get his Italian citizenship. (Then again, as someone who lived in Italy and visits often, they are not the most organized of nations when it comes to this kind of stuff. Or anything else, frankly.)

Skellig Michael

14) Fall in love with someone from a different country, get married, and move to their country.

I know a lot of people, particularly women, dream of this — meeting a handsome fisherman on a Greek island, or a brawny Australian at a beach bar in Thailand, and falling in love and it being destiny and your friends being so jealous.

Well…as someone who has lived in another country for two different boyfriends, let me tell you that the reality can often be quite difficult, even if you have a good relationship. Living in a different country is like fighting through hundreds of cultural differences every day, and there can be a chasm in your relationship if you’re struggling while your partner is surrounded by everything he knows and loves. It’s much harder if you don’t speak the local language or you’re living in a small town.

Whatever you do, make sure you have a strong support system on the ground. Make sure you have interests, activities, and a social circle outside your partner. Most importantly, make sure your partner understands how challenging it is for you to be there, even if you’re happy most of the time. Make sure he makes an effort to travel to America, too.

You’re the one who is sacrificing here. Even if you were excited to move there. Even if he supports you financially. Even if you work online and have the freedom to live anywhere.

quebec-ice-slide-gallery

15) Just move to Canada!

Everyone says they’re moving to Canada if a candidate they hate is elected. Well, this guy actually moved to Canada when George W. Bush was elected. That link gives you an overview of ways for Americans to move to Canada today.

Pink House New Orleans

But in all seriousness…

I know this is a tongue-in-cheek list, but I seriously hope you’re not voting for Donald Trump. (I know I’m preaching to the choir here. The kind of person interested enough in other countries to read a travel blog is not the kind of person who would support a xenophobic presidential candidate.) Please do everything you can to keep him from being elected.

But there’s something else I want to say.

In the past six years, I’ve met many American travel bloggers who have said something along the lines of, “I just don’t like it in America. I don’t want to live where I could be killed in a random shooting or where I could be bankrupted if I’m hospitalized. I don’t like it here anymore, so I’m leaving.”

I get it. I was like that. Parts of me still feel that way. But not anymore.

I recently moved back to the U.S. after more than five years of travel. There were many reasons. One is because I am sick of doing nothing. I want to be here and fight to make my country better. And I’m getting started.

All of us can run away. Believe me — there’s stuff about America that keeps me up at night. Frequent school shootings and a Congress that refuses to pass any kind of reasonable legislation like closing the gun show loophole. Black Americans, including children, being killed by the police for no reason at all. The racism, both overt and subtle, that our president receives on a daily basis. Out-of-control elections and candidates supported by corporations. The possibility of a religious ideologue being appointed to the Supreme Court.

So why do I even bother? Because when you choose to be inactive, you’re giving power to the opposition.

If you choose to travel, or to live abroad, that’s wonderful! But don’t use it as an excuse to check out of America completely. Donate money to causes that will make America better. Donate your time to causes and see if you can help online. Get absentee ballots, familiarize yourself with candidates in every race, and vote in every election. These things really can make a difference.

Would you leave the country if Trump was elected?15 legal, ethical ways to leave the country if Donald Trump gets elected.

35 of the world’s best places to travel in 2017

       

With so much negativity in the media, the world is often portrayed as risky, dangerous. And yet as travelers we learn the same lesson over and over: Preconceived notions of places and cultures are almost always wrong.

The world is, in fact, safer, more hospitable, more open and accepting than non-travelers could ever imagine. If only people everywhere could realize that on the opposite side of the globe are people not so different, so foreign, as they might believe.

Let’s make 2017 the year of traveling fearlessly. These places are just starting points. The next step is taking action. We hope to see you on the road.

       

1. Jordan

 

1. Jordan

Completely safe oasis isolated from the instability of the region

Jordan is a place of supernatural beauty. Imagine Yosemite as a desert with super luxury tented camps. That’s a bit how Wadi Rum feels. And Petra is so ancient you could use the Bible as your guidebook rather than a Lonely Planet. Beyond these obvious destinations, there’s also Al Salt, Jarash, and Amman. Travel here with an open mind, and get ready for and a hospitality that will blow away any expectations. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

2. Los Angeles

 

2. Los Angeles

Epicenter of Southern California with quick access to nature

LA has it all. The food options, historic sites, and outdoor access are enough to make you forget the 45-minute drives it takes to reach them. Your best bet (as always) is to hook up with locals (try travelstoke if you don’t know anyone there), and plan your travels around different neighborhoods. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

3. Yucatán Peninsula

 

3. Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico

No-worries area of Mexico with luxury haciendas in the middle of the jungle

Beyond Chichen Itzá are other lesser known Mayan ruins worth exploring throughout the region, along with the cenotes, as well as world-class diving (the world’s second largest coral reef after the Great Barrier Reef, is on the Carribean side of Mexico) and beaches. Of special note is Rosas y Chocolate, one of the top urban hotels in all of Mexico, pictured above.

       

4. Sisimiut, Greenland

 

4. Sisimiut, Greenland

Above the Arctic Circle, and almost like dropping off the map

Sisimiut is the second-largest town in Greenland. 5,500 people live on a tiny, rocky promontory just north of the Arctic Circle. If you are lucky enough to travel to Greenland, your goal should be connecting with locals and getting invited to a kaffemik. These are celebrations such as birthdays or weddings, and guests may can come anytime you want and leave whenever they feel like it. Photo by Greenland Travel.

       

5. Península Valdés, Argentina

 

5. Península Valdés, Argentina

The overlooked part of Patagonia, with stunning marine wildlife

The stark, windswept, and seldom-visited Atlantic coast of Patagonia has intense concentrations of wildlife with its epicenter at Peninsula Valdes. Each year between June and December is the Southern Right Whale migration. Throughout the year are other wildlife viewing possibilities, including Magellanic penguins, and elephant seals. Awesome family adventure. Image: Matiasso

       

6. Hamburg

 

6. Hamburg, Germany

Harbor city unlike anywhere else in Germany

Hamburg is more fish than sausage and more tea than beer. It’s home to one of Germany’s oldest red-light district, the Reeperbahn, where many musicians, like the Beatles, got their start. Explore the Speicherstadt, attend the Hamburger Dom, or check out a Sankt Pauli soccer game; Hamburg’s notoriously rowdy soccer team. Image: Nick Sheerbart

       

7. Faroe Islands

 

7. Faroe Islands

Otherworldly North Atlantic escape

Off in the North Atlantic somewhere between Iceland and Norway, this group of 18 islands is like a dream world: dramatic sea stacks, well-trodden hiking trails, and cosmopolitan small cities with great food scenes. The country has incredible infrastructure with most islands connected by bridge or undersea tunnel. For those islands not connected by road, there are fast ferries and subsidized helicopter transport. Photo by Stefan Klopp.

       

8. Auckland

 

8. Auckland, New Zealand

Ultimate urban backpacker hub for exploring wilderness and beaches

Auckland is one of the largest cities by land area in the world, with plenty of natural reserves, surf spots, and Maori cultural experiences throughout and surrounding the city. There’s also a great cafe culture. It’s a perfect base for exploring both coasts of NZ’s North Island. Photo by Rulo Luna.

       

9. Dominical, Costa Rica

 

9. Dominical, Costa Rica

Surf, yoga, and natural foods paradise within easy reach

Out of all the places in Costa Rica that should’ve gotten overrun with mass tourism, Dominical has been spared. It remains a small, uncrowded town with a super cool expat scene and awesome restaurants. There are exceptional AirBnb properties overlooking nearby Domincalito (as well as in town). For surfing, Dominical is almost never flat. Photo: Blaze Nowara.

       

10.Montreal

 

10. Montreal, Canada

Multicultural city with world-class paddling options and nightlife

2017 marks Montreal’s 375th anniversary, and the city plans to celebrate all year. Join in for a big party and some birthday cake on May 17, the official date that the city was founded on. Culturally diverse Montreal will also welcome you with free festivals, concerts, cultural activities, exhibitions, foodie events, tastings, tours, and theatrical performances. Photo: Michael Vesia.

       

11. Portmagee, Ireland

 

11. Portmagee, Ireland

Coastal Irish village with access to ancient sites

Portmagee is both a rad little village on its own, and the departure point for Skellig Michael. Take a ferry there, hang with puffins and dolphins all day, enjoy seafood caught steps away at the family owned Moorings Guesthouse while listening to traditional Irish song and dance and lulled to sleep by the ocean. Photo by Tony Webster.

       

12. Belfast, Maine

 

12. Belfast, Maine

Scenic seaport on Penobscot Bay, loaded with architectural treasures and historic districts

Belfast is known for welcoming the back-to-the-land movement of the ’70s. It gets a lot of credit for the craft beers of Marshall Wharf, Delvino’s authentic Italian food, served in an old hardware store, and the many local farmers who’ve taken the torch from those revolutionary back-to-the-landers and are fueling the city’s sustainable food movement. Photo by Bruce C. Cooper.

       

13. Havana

 

13. Havana, Cuba

Rapidly transitioning nation grounded in Caribbean culture and vibrancy

 

Cuba has been among the hottest places to travel for our staff at Matador, with reports always containing two elements: 1. People have more fun there than anywhere else they’ve been in years, and 2. The wifi is the worst they’ve found anywhere (Correlation anyone?). On a recent filmmaking journey, it was noted: “Everyone here has rocking chairs. This is place where people know how to chill.”

       

14. New York City

 

14. New York City

An energy unrivaled anywhere in the world

With so many things to do and places to see, NYC can be quite disorienting for a first-time visitor, which you should just accept as part of the experience. The quintessential walking city, stroll the Highline, Brooklyn bridge, and Riverside Park. Photo by Jaden D.

       

15. Franklin, Tennessee

 

15. Franklin, Tennessee

Classic small town southern vibes and beautiful watershed

A short drive from Nashville, Franklin has a great small town vibe with their Main Street as the site of numerous festivals and the Harpeth River (and connected trails) flowing right through town. The upcoming September Pilgrimage Festival will be in its 3rd year, and with Justin Timberlake as producer, it is going to be awesome.

       

16. Durango

 

16. Durango, Colorado

Outdoor adventure hub in a region dotted with storybook towns

Durango is one of the raddest towns in the US with the powerful, free-flowing Animas River running deep through the San Juan Mountains and right through the city. World class ski resort + backcountry adventures via kayaks, skis/snowboard, and great events from Snowdown in January to the La Plata County Fair in August. Photo by Avery Woodard.

       

17. Abu Dhabi

 

17. Abu Dhabi, UAE

One of the best places in the world to experience Islamic culture

Abu Dhabi is a desert emirate, dotted with oasis towns, date farms, historic forts, natural reserves, mangroves, and dunes that have lured explorers throughout history. As one of the largest mosques on the planet, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque receives pilgrims from all over the world during Eid celebrations. Outside of prayer times, it’s also open to non-Muslims and has free guided tours.

       

18. Seattle

 

18. Seattle

All in one foodie, art, music, and outdoor adventure destination

Seattle has been blowing up for the last two decades and continues to be one of the most interesting cultural centers in the US. But beyond the city itself, Seattle is special for its geography. Simply jump on a ferry for a day trip to the San Juan Islands or over to the Olympic Peninsula and you’re deep in coastal rainforests and mountain ranges–another world. Photo by Vincent Lock.

       

19. Sicily

 

19. Sicily, Italy

The Mediterranean’s largest island, rich in archeological sites and culture

Sicily has retained a strong sense of identity, and nowhere is it more enmeshed with the rich history than in the ancient walled neighborhood of Ortigia, in Siracusa. The high stone buildings and cobblestone streets give the sense of stepping back in time. Make sure to also hit up Mt. Etna (Europe’s tallest active volcano), Cefalù, and Taormina. Actually, just go everywhere. Photo by Scott Sporleder.

       

20. Varanasi

 

20. Varanasi, India

The cultural center of North India

According to Hindu mythology, Varanasi was founded by Lord Shiva. The city is one of the seven sacred cities of Hinduism. It is also a city surrounded by death. The biggest tourist attraction here is to witness the cremations that take place along the banks of the Ganges. Varanasi is Photo: Arushi Saini Photography.

       

21. St. Petersburg

 

21. St. Petersburg, Russia

Russia’s cultural capital

The historic districts of St. Petersburg comprise a UNESCO world heritage site, and the Hermitage is among the top museums in the world. Bar hop along the trendy Ruben Street and wander the massive Nevsky Prospekt main drag. Lastly, as Russia prepares to host the 2018 FIFA World Cup, St. Petersburg will serve as the backdrop for the 2017 Confederations Cup Final. Photo by Victor Bergmann.

       

22. Quebec City

 

22. Quebec City, Canada

While Canada is 150 years old in 2017, Quebec City dates back to 1608 and is like nowhere else in North America. The fortifications and French colonial stone buildings of the Old Town make you feel like you’ve travelled back in time. Photo by Julien Samson.

       

23. Charleston

 

23. Charleston, South Carolina

One of the most fun party weekends in the US

Take your time here in the Lowcountry. Have a meal at Hominy Grill, a sailboat ride up around Fort Sumter, spend an evening being touristy on King Street, and definitely take the short ride to Folly Beach. Sipping beers and eating seafood at Red’s Ice House overlooking the fishing boats on Shem Creek isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon either. Photo by North Charleston.

       

24. Montreux

 

24. Montreux, Switzerland

The French Swiss city, surrounded by vineyards and towering alps

Belle Époque buildings overlook a long promenade along Lake Geneva, making Montreux one of the most picturesque places in the world. Every July is the Montreux Jazz Festival, which celebrated its 50th year in 2016. Photo by Karim Kanoun Photography.

       

25. Óbidos, Portugal

 

25. Óbidos, Portugal

Portugal’s scenic literary powerhouse near world class-surf

Once you’ve walked the 13th century streets, filled your bag with books and your stomach with bacalhau and vinho verde, you can drive 45 minutes to Lisbon or explore the area around Óbidos. Peniche, a surf paradise, is 25km away, and there’s a natural park (Parque Natural das Serras de Aire e Candeeiro) also nearby. Photo by lagrossemadame.

       

26. Pokhara, Nepal

 

26. Pokhara, Nepal

Nepal’s relaxing, fresh, and super close-to-nature second city

Nepal’s second city doesn’t rival the capital Kathmandu in many respects but it’s the hands-down winner for a relaxed vibe and adventure access. The hilltop viewpoint of Sarangkot is one of the best places in the world for paragliding; there are kilometers of trails just around Fewa Lake, and if you’re out of energy, Pokhara is an ideal place to chill out. Photo: Aalok dhakal.

       

27. Cabo San Lucas

 

27. Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

Works all ways: place to get waves, have family fun, or as a romantic getaway

Most people associate Cabo with spring break, tequila, and loud music. The scene has changed over the last few years, with the main attractions being nature wildlife, and classy upscale resorts. Photo: Ben Horton.

       

28. Nelson, Canada

 

28. Nelson, Canada

The friendliest little ski town in British Columbia

Nelson’s history includes the settlement of the pacifist Doukhobors from Russia as well as Vietnam draft dodgers, which played no small part in its progressive values and “hippie vibes.” Nelson has a thriving music, arts, and cultural scene, and a surprising amount of cafes, bars, restaurants and locally-owned shops for a city of only 10,000 people. Photo: Carlo Alcos.

       

29. Altér do Chão, Brazil

 

29. Altér do Chão, Brazil

The “Brazilian Caribbean” hidden in the Amazon jungle

This is the perfect place to explore the Amazon rainforest. You can go on day trips to see sloths, river dolphins, and other animals, and you can taste exotic fruits and food only found here there. If you go during the rainy season, Altér do Chão is super quiet, with a hippie-ish vibe. Photo by lubasi.

       

30. George Town, Malaysia

 

30. George Town, Malaysia

A mind-blowing combination of Chinese, Indian, and Malay cultures

Spice, herb, and fresh produce stands between colonial architecture and street art offers a sensational experience with the chatter of diverse languages, like being a walk away from India and China. Photo by Ah Wei (Lung Wei).

       

31. Luang Prabang, Laos

 

31. Luang Prabang, Laos

A relaxed introduction for newcomers to Asia

Photo by Annie Spratt

Driving behind a school bus one recent winter afternoon, I watched a boy of about 10 get off the bus and cross the street to go home. What stood out to me about this commonplace afterschool scenario, however, was that the boy was glued to his smartphone the entire time — so much so that he wandered off his driveway and walked about fifteen feet into his snowy yard, looking up only when he realized he was up to his knees in snow. He righted his path and got back onto his driveway and continued walking towards his house, head bent again towards whatever entertaining world the phone was providing.

School trends

That particular moment exemplifies the trends that American schools have been experiencing in recent years: children are spending an average of over 40 hours per week on screens, not including the time they spend on computers when they’re at school. Schools are also noticing decreasing attention spans (humans now have shorter attention spans than goldfish), a notable increase in a range of mental and physical health problems, and parents with an increased sense of fear for the safety of their children. Meanwhile, school teachers are struggling with increased demands on having their students meet a variety of learning standards and are often trying to gain more classroom time by minimizing recess-time.

These troubling trends occurring in American schools today can seem overwhelming, so coming up with one solution can seem unlikely at best. However, employing the principles of outdoor education in every American school has the potential to address all of these concerning trends.

Outdoor education 101

Picture this: There are two equal groups of middle schoolers standing in horizontal lines facing each other. One side represents a group of deer and the other side represents the resources those deer need to live, which the students determined are food, water, and shelter. When the teacher yells “Oh Deer!” the deer run towards the resources, each deer partnering up with the type of resource it needs. If a deer cannot find a resource to pair with, the deer dies dramatically in the field, decomposes, then becomes a resource. If a deer does find a matching resource, the student playing the resource joins the group of deer — this represents an increase in the deer population due to access to resources. Before playing another round, the teacher carefully leads the students through graphing the change in deer population (as you might imagine, there are more deer after round one) and hypothesizing what will happen in the next round. Through this outdoor activity, the students are not only exercising and having fun but also covering a range of math and science education standards all at once.

When embedded in a curriculum that includes regular outdoor, hands-on experiences focused on using the natural world as a lens to solve problems, come up with new ideas, and develop questioning skills, an activity like “Oh Deer” perfectly exemplifies the interdisciplinary impact of outdoor education.

The benefits of outdoor education

In a 6th-grade outdoor geology class I used to teach, I brought my students to an area full of big rocks and told them to explore — by climbing, tunneling, and crawling—in an effort to answer one question: how did these rocks get here? Students naturally tested their limits on the slippery rocks, helping one another through tight squeezes and pulling each other to high places. They not only developed grit and self-esteem by challenging themselves, but also communicated with each other face-to-face and hand-to-hand, developing direct interpersonal skills. Considering such a broad question during their explorations also encouraged critical thinking and problem-solving in a real-world setting, which is correlated with higher test scores, academic achievement, and memory retention.

In younger children, regular outdoor learning experiences help them develop fine motor skills, enhance creativity, and develop the capacity for empathy — critical skills acquired during early childhood and correlated with becoming responsible adults. Outdoor education takes a slightly less structured approach for these younger children, free play being especially important for brain development, but playing with sticks, making fairy houses, matching natural objects to colorful paint chips, and making leaf rubbings all enhance their imaginations and engagement in the world around them.

In the words of Senegalese forester Baba Diuom, “In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.” And as naturalist John Burroughs put it “Knowledge without love will not stick. But if love comes first, knowledge is sure to follow.”

And regardless of if you’re a teacher or a parent, we could all do to spend more time outside: just a few 10-minute experiences in nature per week have proven mental-restoration benefits.

Outdoor education around the World

Did you ever consider the meaning of the word “Kindergarten?” In German, it translates to “children’s garden.” The first Kindergartens started in Europe in the mid-18th century were designed to encourage play and learning, primarily in an outdoor setting. Humans all over the world have recognized the learning value of outdoor experiences for a long time; let’s explore a few examples of the successes of outdoor education around the world today.

At Maruntabo, a forest kindergarten in Japan, young children use knives to prepare group meals, they climb and crawl in a variety of natural habitats, and they guide their own learning through exploration and curiosity. These programs have been catching on in Japan, and among many other benefits, are seeing way fewer children absent due to sickness than in indoor school settings.

In Finland, children in one forest school unknowingly learn their numbers by counting how many of them hop into a hole in the ground. They explore on their own, helping guide the curriculum themselves, developing their cognitive functioning, staying healthy, and never getting bored. Finland has some of the healthiest children in Europe and their government recommends children engage in a minimum of 3 hours of physical activity per day to keep them healthy and focused on learning.

In the UK and Norway, there are many forest schools where children brave the cold year-round outdoors, making fires, climbing trees, and assessing risk on their own.

Let’s get started

Improving mental and physical health, enhancing academic achievement and performance, and fostering community engagement is as simple as getting outdoors for hands-on learning experiences regularly throughout our lives. Schools, struggling with budget cuts, can also easily save money by becoming outdoor-based as the greatest teaching supplies can be found for free in nature. The trend towards keeping children indoors, immobile, and screen-reliant is harmful and expensive. But slowing this trend is simple: have students do their writing assignments outdoors where they can write about the change of seasons, have them make art with natural objects in their schoolyard, have them create shelters with sticks to test their engineering skills, or simply give them free time to explore, observe, and ask questions about the natural world on their own. In fact, try it out yourself. You’ll be glad you did.

Remember that boy who wandered into his snowy yard, glued to his phone? In that same area, a small group of boys just a little older than him were asked to brainstorm what their community would be like at its best. They created an elaborate mind-map with categories as broad as “food security” and “healthy rivers” and as specific as wanting a community gathering place. None of them mentioned smart technology, TVs, or computers. When their teacher pointed that out to them, they still weren’t interested in adding any of that to their list.

Perhaps we all have had enough screen time. Now is the time for schools to provide the alternative: the fun, mystery, and magic of life and learning in the great outdoors. More like this: Helicopter parenting damages children. This NYC playground looks to address that

It’s no secret that I’m traveling less than usual this year. But that doesn’t mean I’m planning to sit around in a bathrobe, drink breakfast cocktails while cackling at the morning news and watching the world burn. (Though now that I write it, it is tempting…)

Nope, 2017 is going to be my year of learning. 

I’ve always loved being a student, and in the last few years I’ve focused a ton of energy on my dive education, and loved every scantron-bubble-filling moment of it. This year, I’m turning my attention to another kind of learning: blogging and business.

I know to some of you, that literally couldn’t be more of a snooze fest. But I also know there are plenty of you who are interested in entrepreneurship, and so I’m excited to share little bits about this journey along the way. In fact, I’ll be making a pretty major announcement in my newsletter later today about a ten day learning retreat I just enrolled in… if you want to be the first to know, sign up in my sidebar or at the end of this post right now!

In the meantime, I’ll tell you about the online course I kicked off the year with. This is the one course that I’ve prioritized for the year that is truly specific to travel blogging; the rest have a less targeted audience.

Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships

I knew I wanted to take this course as soon as I saw who wrote it: my friend and fellow blogger Amanda of A Dangerous Business. Amanda is like that really smart and sweet girl from high school who was friends with everybody and you just really always wanted to peek at her project because you were sure she did the assignment better than you — and literally, now you can.

Partnerships courseAmanda is one of my most respected peers and I have always admired her business savvy and her pro-activeness in seeking brand partnerships that are the perfect fit for her blog, so I was super excited to hear that she was was spilling her secrets for this special collaboration with Travel Blog Success. With both a degree in hospitality and management and seven years of travel blogging experience, Amanda really knows the ins and outs of the travel industry and has successfully pitched and partnered with a wide range of travel brands and tourism boards (Intrepid Travel, Visit Norway, Marriott, and Visit Scotland, to name a few.)

Travel Blog Success will always have a special place in my heart as the first online course I ever enrolled in, a turning point for me in investing in myself as a business. Over the years they have expanded to offer several satellite courses to the original membership, and as a matter of fact, this weekend they are holding a massive sale for members, so if you’re already enrolled in Travel Blog Success and are interested in investing in another course, there’s never been a better time to do it (more on that later!)

Those who read Alex in Wanderland regularly know that I already work with brands and tourism boards on a regular basis. However, as someone who has been totally self-taught, I wanted a “tune up” course to reflect on the methods I’m currently using, find a renewed sense of focus, and think about being more proactive in business for the year ahead.

Bloggers and Brands Course

What’s Inside

Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships consists of twenty-three written lessons broken into eight modules. The lessons include worksheets, example documents, video and written interviews, and more.

Module 1: An Introduction lays out the key terminology and helps lay ground guidelines for when to start pitching and to whom to pitch.

Module 2: Media Kits was the module I personally took the most away from. It includes detailed information and examples on what and what not to put into your media kit, design ideas, and how to best market yourself. Includes media kits of big name bloggers.

Module 3: Pitching covers crafting the perfect pitch, finding contacts at the companies you wish to pitch to, samples of successful email pitches that worked, how to follow up and how to handle rejection.

Module 4: Sponsored trips is mostly about setting expectations for what sponsored trips really are (AKA, kryptonite to introverts or anyone who needs personal space or quiet time not to go crazy), but also includes incredibly helpful details and examples of wrap-up reports for presenting at the conclusion of a campaign.

Module 5: Social Campaigns introduces the concept of social media only campaigns, of which I have been offered several over the years. Instagram and Snapchat are the focus, but there’s info on all channels.

Module 6: Brand Ambassadorships talks through the holy grail of brand ambassadorships — and includes an interview with your truly!

Module 7: In Depth Interviews shares the real life experiences of Adventures Kate, Expert Vagabond, Borders of Adventure, and a PR expert. Two are video interviews that are also presented in transcript form.

Module 8: Conclusion wraps things up.

Whether you’re interested in scoring press trip invites and receiving products, designing your own campaigns, or just pitching the occasional quick projects, you’ll find what you need to get the wheels turning here. Once you land a pitch, this course guides you on how to carry out out projects with utmost professionalism.

While Amanda is very generous with her own experience, she also shares the perspectives of other top bloggers and PR industry experts.

Just like the Travel Blog Success main course, Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards includes access to a private Facebook group, where we gossip, ask questions, offer feedback, and talk all things blogging and social media partnerships.

How to Travel With A Laptop

How Long Will It Take?

I started and stopped a timer every time I finished reading a module and taking notes, and came it at just under two hours. Keep in mind that’s from the perspective of someone who is a very fast reader, a thorough note taker, and also has some experience in this field.

Now I have several hours of action to take from my notes ahead, which in my case will include overhauling my media kit, designing a campaign wrap up report, implementing a few new tools and apps I learned about, and acting on a few brainstorms I had while reading. I’d say you could knock out the coursework in a very busy weekend, though bloggers new to pitching and starting this process from scratch will probably take more away from it by spreading it out over a week, completing one module per day, and giving the ideas some time to sink in.

Bloggers and Brands Course

What I Loved

I enjoyed that this course really unapologetically targets the intermediate blogger. Too new, and you likely don’t have an audience to leverage yet. (Though even if you’re not quite to the pitching and partnering stage yet, you may wish to look ahead and see what mistakes to avoid along the way.) Too established, and you risk not taking away anything new. Though frankly, based on the to-do list I walked away with, it’s certainly not a problem I had.

If you’re looking for concrete examples of and step-by-step guides on how to create pitches, media kits, campaign conclusion reports, and actionable tips on apps and products to use along the way (I literally downloaded two apps and started using two new programs that I already feel revolutionized my workflow from the moment I finished this course), you’ll find them here. If you’re wondering what press trips are really like, you’ll have your expectations set — and read an example itinerary.

I nodded along to so many clever tips and tricks that took me years to figure out on my own. For example? I really appreciated Amanda’s insights on how to reflect your stats in a way that is both savvy to you and honest to the brand you are pitching, such as showing total pageviews of all time instead of per month, or focusing on your rate of growth as opposed to your total followers.

As someone who firmly believes that bad pitching from bloggers who aren’t truly ready to partner with brands yet is harmful to the influencer industry, I was a little nervous this course might promote reckless pitching or over-ambitious brand partnerships. Silly me! Amanda keeps it real — she addresses many of my concerns about knowing when you have influence or skills worth leveraging, how to always put your readers first, and how to stay gracious as you grow.

The course has a strong emphasis on proactive pitching rather than accepting what rolls your way, which is just what I needed to absorb right now and is a very inspiring message for me as someone who tends to do the opposite. I feel fired up to dream big!

Bloggers and Brands Course_4

Room For Improvement

Frankly, there’s not much. I took separate notes with feedback to give to the course creators with anything I thought could be even better and it was a pretty sparse list — mostly just a few suggestions on, like, font styling. You know you’re doing something right when the only advice someone can give you is your bold font isn’t bold enough.

The one area I would have liked to see a little more emphasis would be the downsides of purchasing social media followers and fudging traffic figures. I think it’s something that is super tempting for new bloggers to try but can be really harmful in the long run, and I would love to have seen that more widely addressed.

Bloggers and Brands Course

Conclusion

I’m coming at this review from the unique position of a fairly experienced blogger — one who is actually quoted and interviewed in the course material. So I had a different experience than most of the target audience will, though I was still impressed by how many action points I walked away with and how renewed my focus feels upon completing it.

I learned a lot of what is in this course the hard way, through heartache and rejection and big mistakes. You know what? It might be nice to avoid that! If something like this had been available when my blog was a baby, I would have happily saved myself time, money and missed opportunities by investing in a course like this.

Travelpony Booking Site

Buy It Now!

At $197, Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships is definitely a ponderable purchase. No? Just me? I’m the only one that uses that term? You know, it’s like when you find the absolute perfect pair of jeans but you got lost in the mall and accidentally went to a store where they wrap things in tissue paper and they aren’t in the clearance section and you panic. You just need to go to Auntie Annie’s, get a soft pretzel with extra salt, and ponder that purchase.

If I was the friend shopping with you today, I’d be the one whispering “go for it!” (through a mouthful of pretzel, obviously).

Bloggers and Brands Course

Enrolling in the Travel Blog Success main course was an enormous investment for me, too, when I first signed up all those years ago. But the act of investing in myself was a powerful one and the knowledge I gained and community I joined still serve me to this day. This course specifically is so filled with actionable information, you could realistically recoup the cost with one well-worded pitch for weekend hotel stay.

Plus, are you guys ready for this? For some of my friends here today, this thing is half off.

I know that plenty of you are already enrolled in the  Travel Blog Success main course. Great news, if it somehow escaped you so far — it’s the 7th anniversary sale this weekend! Until midnight, you can save 50% on any satellite course, plus an additional 10% if you buy two or more. Just check the latest newsletter for the code (and shoot me a note if you’re a member but for some reason not on the mailing list). The sale applies to all satellite courses, including:

• Bloggers, Brands, and Tourism Boards: A Guide to Successful Partnerships • Videography for Travel Bloggers (I took this course and reviewed it here!) • Blogger to Bylines: A Guide to Freelance Writing (I decided a while ago freelance writing isn’t for me, but I’ve heard great reviews of this course from those who have taken it.) • The Complete Facebook Marketing Course (I couldn’t be more clueless when it comes to Facebook marketing — I think I’ll tackle this course next!)

Yes, I’m a proud affiliate of Travel Blog Success and earn a percentage of every sale I recommend. And I’d love to return the favor. So, I’m going to offer a bonus incentive to anyone who buys this course today — I will personally take a peek at your media kit, your “work with me” page or a pitch email of your choice and give you my feedback. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and trust me when I say this blogging gig has attempted to murder me multiple times, so I have lots of strength and side eye to share after five years in the game. Just shoot me an email with your purchase confirmation and you can redeem any time!

Build a Better Travel Blog

Is there another online course you’d like to see me review next? Let me know!

Let’s talk — I’ll answer any questions as best I can in the comments.

Note: I requested a free copy of this program in order to review it for this post, and because I wanted to copy Amanda’s homework. I am a proud affiliate of the Travel Blog Success program and thus will earn a percentage of your purchase at no extra cost to you. As always, you’ve received my honest opinions, thorough reviews, and completely irrelevant TV references, regardless of who is footing the bill.

And one more thing — spots are still available for March slots of my Featured Blogger. Come hang out in my sidebar (plus other perks!) Get in touch for more details.

Trolltunga, Norway

Photo: Scott Sporleder

Norway has a lot more to offer than its capital city of Oslo. The country’s span from north to south gives it some of the most varied terrain and wilderness in Europe. From colossal woodland and fjords to arctic tundras, Norway has everything for people wanting to explore outdoors.

Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.

Geiranger

 GeirangerGeiranger, NorwayQuick photo stop.

 GeirangerGeiranger, NorwayRib boat tours are a great way to see the fjords from a different perspective. Plus their pretty fun.

Trollstigen

 TrolltungaOdda, NorwayPicnic spot with a view.

Dalsnibba

 DalsnibbaStranda, NorwayCrazy views and cold times.

Gullsteinsvollen

 Gullsteinsvollen – Mountain LodgeAure, NorwayHiking in the mountains in the Norwegian is a must when visiting the fjords in Norway. This Photo is taken right after we submerged out of the later of clouds.

Sentrum

 SentrumOslo, NorwayWe took a shrimp cruise. All you can eat traditional shrimp sandwiches.

Trollstigen

 TrollstigenRauma, NorwayFound a perfect look out.

 TrollstigenRauma, NorwayAnother angle at Trollstigen.

Trolltunga

 TrolltungaOdda, NorwayConvinced to do the 10 hour hike yet?

 TrolltungaOdda, NorwayI felt a bit bad talking to hikers who hiked for over 10 hours meanwhile we took a 20 minute helicopter ride. But it was pretty fun!

Jarle Bergesen

 Jarle BergesenSula, NorwayA little picnic along the way on our road trip.

Håholmen Havstuer

 Håholmen HavstuerAverøy, NorwayWe had some traditional rehydrated fish here. It’s decent! But too much is too much haha

Brævasshytta

 BrævasshyttaSogndal, NorwayThat’s one big glacier. At the bottom it had the craziest cold wind coming down from the glacier.

Lofoten

 LofotenSmøla, NorwayLofoten is a archipelago in northern Norway. This is a place you have to see before you die! It is not impossible to describe this landscape! Beaches, mountains, northern lights, midnight sun! Lofoten has all of it! #hiking #extreme

Smøla naturopplevelser

 Smøla naturopplevelserSmøla, NorwayAmazing Photography opportunities

 Smøla naturopplevelserSmøla, NorwayThis is something unique! You can actually rent this lighthouse!! And if you are really lucky, you can witness the northern lights dancing above you

The Atlantic Road

 The Atlantic RoadAverøy, NorwaySuch a sweet road!

Flydalsjuvet

 FlydalsjuvetStranda, NorwayQuick pit stop for a photo.

Dalsnibba

 DalsnibbaStranda, NorwayI love mountains and you get a lot of them in Norway.

traveler settling in

Photo: Yoann Boyer

I travel to question the world around me and my own beliefs, I travel to feel more fully alive, and, admittedly, I also travel to escape. No relationship drama can seem too heavy if I know that next week I’m boarding a flight to go dog sledding across northern Norway for a while. My pending house projects don’t even seem that real while I’m loving life road tripping in Tierra del Fuego.

And that’s exactly why I’m consciously choosing to stay put for a bit. To learn how to confront head on everything and everyone that I find myself using travel to escape from. I currently have no future travel plans lined up, and to be honest, that scares the shit out of me. It makes me feel anxious, wired, stagnant and trapped.

Here’s how I’m learning to deal with those feelings:

Just because I’m not traveling doesn’t mean I’m not a traveler.

So much of my identity as a travel writer and editor and fearless wanderer-extraordinaire comes from that fact that I…travel. I come up against feelings of “If I’m not traveling, what am I now? Nothing? Boring? Lame?”

I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that while I’m not currently traveling, that doesn’t take anything away from my traveler spirit. That doesn’t mean that in the future my life won’t be filled to the brim with absurdly wonderful adventures across the globe. It doesn’t mean that I somehow instantly lose my street cred with other travelers I meet (and even if I did, why do I even care?)

Focusing on my home life now will actually help me travel more in the future.

This one was tough for me. I don’t exactly have one of those “work your ass off your whole life, save up ’til retirement, then if you aren’t totally decrepit by then maybe you can go on a nice cruise!” kind of mentalities. I don’t push off passions and desires, I usually go at them full force in the present, never knowing what tomorrow might bring.

But it’s really helped me to accept staying put and actually finishing building my house knowing that in a few years when my teenage kids are out of the house, I have currency. Here in Patagonia there’s no mortgage system. I’ve had to buy the materials as I can, so when the house is done, it will be completely paid off. I’ll have a killer house in the Patagonian Andes that I can easily use in a house exchange program to secure 4 months in Italy, 3 months in Russia, a few weeks in Brazil, whatever floats my boat at the time.

My expenses are low because I grow a lot of my own food, my car is paid off, I live in a country where health insurance is covered and where my kids can go to university for free. With not only housing costs, but all of the major day-to-day life expenses out of the way, the money I make can be used almost entirely towards travel in the near future. My current situation is not reflective of my lifetime situation.

Using travel to escape feels like a cop out (for me).

Making travel plans to escape a certain reality at home made me start to feel like a hypocrite. I used to teach yoga and meditation, where I would teach how to be more conscientious, more fearless, and that to really confront an issue, one would have to address it at its root. And then look at me in my own life, running away and thinking that because I could use the excuse of “it’s my job” or “travel is me living life to its fullest”, it somehow made it justifiable.

I’m seeking more integrity. I want to be conscientious. I want to be fearless. I want to address problems at their root. So for now, that means staying put and sitting with the issues at hand. My house isn’t getting done very fast? Then I need to get my butt out to the construction site and throw some energy towards it. I have commitment issues? Perhaps I should bring that up clearly to my partner instead of just running off all the time in an attempt to ignore it or make it go away.

I’m not saying that it’s been an easy process. Getting on social media where most of my contacts are fellow travel writers and seeing what grand adventures everyone is on drives me insane some days. Seeing hitchhikers on the side of the road, going who knows where, wild as the wind, is enough to make my tummy knot up in jealously some days. But it’s a healthy process and it’s one that there’s no getting around that I need to be in right now. The next time I hit the road, hopefully I will have the state of mind to be more present. I will be traveling not to try to fill a void or to escape, but to simply express and experience fully one of my greatest passions. More like this: The courage to stay in one place

Wildlife at the end of the world

 

I was told that if a naturalist was given the opportunity to visit any place on Earth, just once, that the choice would be easy — the island of South Georgia.

Text and photographs by Andrew Peacock

Standing on Salisbury Plain, on the island of South Georgia, one is deafened by King Penguins squawking in numbers up to 500,000 strong.  

Good weather conditions had allowed us to land Zodiacs full of passengers from our expedition ship and lead them along the beach to the edge of the rookery.

King Penguins follow an unusual breeding cycle taking 14 to 16 months to fledge a single chick which means visitors to a rookery can usually see chicks at all stages of development. The Skua is the only real predator to threaten the chicks. Below you see one of these birds carrying off what appears to be a newly hatched penguin chick, covered in mud.

The chicks balance on the feet of a parent, covered by a flap of abdominal skin forming a protective pouch.

A rather morose looking young penguin makes its way across the mud to find its parent.

A formidable high range of mountains forms a spine along the length of the island, serving as a significant barrier to those who seek to explore the glaciers and high passes of the interior.  

Looking at the landscape panorama below that I photographed from our ship I can’t help but think of the difficulties faced by Sir Ernest Shackleton and his team on their epic crossing of the island at the end of one of the most amazing sea journeys ever documented.

The lure for the lucky visitor to South Georgia is not only its natural beauty and abundant wildlife — historic tales of man’s presence there abound.  

Shackleton was buried at Grytviken, the site of an old whaling station. Near the cemetery stands a wooden neo-gothic whalers’ church. Prefabricated in Norway, it was shipped to South Georgia and built there in 1913. Today it is still occasionally used for special events.

In visiting the whalers’ church I reflected upon the adventurous spirit of those men and few women who lived and worked at that time on this beautiful but harsh sub-antarctic island.

By the harbour the rusting hulks of former ships squat forlornly, no longer a threat to the whales that were killed in their thousands in the waters nearby.

The South Georgia Pipit is the only songbird of the Antarctic region and is endemic to the island. However, it is threatened by the Norwegian Brown Rat, introduced two centuries ago by sailors and whalers.  

The rats have devastated the island’s seabirds, invading their nesting sites and eating the young chicks alive. Over time this has caused their populations to drop by more than 90%. In a bid to protect the island’s wildlife, conservationists are currently undertaking a final push to wipe out millions of rats from South Georgia once and for all.

The South Georgia Heritage Trust, a Scottish registered charity, has just completed the third and final phase of its Habitat Restoration Project, during which helicopters dropped 95 tonnes of the poison Brodifacoum as rat bait pellets at strategic locations around the island. With any luck South Georgia may soon be rodent free for the first time in centuries!

The island of South Georgia is of course just one small area within the greater Antarctic biosphere. Its raw beauty and fascinating wildlife make it an adventure travel destination well worth visiting.

I feel very lucky to have had the privilege to photograph and explore one of the wildest and most remote places on Earth.

 

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norway

DK

DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norway will lead you straight to the best attractions this breathtaking country has to offer.

Explore Norway region by region, from the enchanting Northern Lights and beautiful fjords to the vibrant Oslo nightlife. Experience the culture, history, wildlife, and architecture of Norway with walks and hikes through dramatic landscapes and scenic routes, and guidance on Norwegian cuisine. Whether you are whale watching, exploring museums, or hiking across spectacular mountains, this in-depth guidebook provides all the insider tips you need.

Discover DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norway.

   • Detailed itineraries and "don't-miss" destination highlights at a glance.    • Illustrated cutaway 3-D drawings of important sights.    • Floor plans and guided visitor information for major museums.    • Guided walking tours, local drink and dining specialties to try, things to do, and places to eat, drink, and shop by area.    • Area maps marked with sights.    • Detailed city maps include street finder indexes for easy navigation.    • Insights into history and culture to help you understand the stories behind the sights.    • Hotel and restaurant listings highlight DK Choice special recommendations.

With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that illuminate every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Norway truly shows you this country as no one else can.

Series Overview: For more than two decades, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides have helped travelers experience the world through the history, art, architecture, and culture of their destinations. Expert travel writers and researchers provide independent editorial advice, recommendations, and reviews. With guidebooks to hundreds of places around the globe available in print and digital formats, DK Eyewitness Travel Guides show travelers how they can discover more.

DK Eyewitness Travel Guides: the most maps, photographs, and illustrations of any guide.

Norway: A Cultural Guide

Safari the Globe

Are you looking to get more out of your guide book than just an endless list of sites to see and hotels to stay in? This guide will help you re-live the history, see the architecture, experience the culture, and indulge in the local foods & drinks. It will give you the opportunity to immerse yourself into the daily lifestyle, while helping you understand the how and why behind this culture.Anyone can see a country; our readers want to live the culture and better understand the people. This guide allows you to do this: reaching into the past to understand the present. This guide is focused on the modern people and their lifestyle, including arts, entertainment, behavior, dress, sports, and identity. It also explores the geography, history, architecture, religion, superstitions, and other remnants from the past that have created the present. Are you seeking out the best of the culture, geography, architecture, or food? This guide will point you in the right direction for each, offering the top geography highlights, the best places to re-live the history, and more!Contents:Welcome: Country overview, name origin, flag symbolism, & map of NorwayLand & Environment: Geography, weather, wildlife, and the best places to see theseHistory & Architecture: An overview of the past and how it created the present, plus must-see locationsThe Norwegian Culture Today: The daily life and identity of the people Food, Dining, & Drinks: From historic foods to modern specialties, plus where and when to eatSocial Life & Relationships: Behavior, dress, entertainment, arts, sports, & relationships among othersAlso Includes... Travel essentials, logistics, pre-departure checklist, a packing list, & more

Lonely Planet Norway (Travel Guide)

Lonely Planet

Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Norway is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Visit Norway's cultural capital, Oslo; hike to breathtaking Pulpit Rock; or savour the high Arctic in Svalbard - all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Norway and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet Norway Travel Guide:

Colour maps and images throughout Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - history, landscapes, wildlife, environmental issues, Sami people, arts, architecture, cuisine Over 54 maps Covers Oslo, Geirangerfjord, Lofoten Islands, Bergen, Svalbard,  TromsoKristiansandKongsbergRjukan, Finse, Hardangervidda Plateau, Roros, Jotunheimen National Park, VossTrondheim, Nordland, Senja, Longyearbyen and more

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Norway , our most comprehensive guide to Norway, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out the Lonely Planet Europe guide.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

The Rough Guide to Norway

Rough Guides

This in-depth coverage of Norway's local attractions, sights, and restaurants takes you to the most rewarding spots—from the Troll Wall to fjords to museums—and stunning color photography brings the land to life on the pages.

Discover Norway's highlights, with expert advice on exploring the best sites, participating in festivals, and exploring local landmarks through extensive coverage of this fascinating location.

Easy-to-use maps; reliable advice on how to get around; and insider reviews of the best hotels, restaurants, bars, clubs, and shops for all budgets ensure that you won't miss a thing.

Make the most of your time with The Rough Guide to Norway.

Series Overview: For more than thirty years, adventurous travelers have turned to Rough Guides for up-to-date and intuitive information from expert authors. With opinionated and lively writing, honest reviews, and a strong cultural background, Rough Guides travel books bring more than 200 destinations to life. Visit RoughGuides.com to learn more.

Rick Steves Snapshot Norway

Rick Steves

You can count on Rick Steves to tell you what you really need to know when traveling in Norway. Rick Steves covers the essentials of Norway, including Oslo, Gudbrandsdal Valley, as well as Bergen. Visit the Oslo Cathedral, surround yourself with Gudbrandsdal Valley's time-worn hills and log cabins, or get immersed in history at Bergen's Hanseatic Quarter. You'll get Rick's firsthand advice on the best sights, eating, sleeping, and nightlife, and the maps and self-guided tours will ensure you make the most of your experience. More than just reviews and directions, a Rick Steves Snapshot guide is a tour guide in your pocket.Rick Steves Snapshot guides consist of excerpted chapters from Rick Steves European country guidebooks. Snapshot guides are a great choice for travelers visiting a specific city or region, rather than multiple European destinations. These slim guides offer all of Rick's up-to-date advice on what sights are worth your time and money. They include good-value hotel and restaurant recommendations, with no introductory information (such as overall trip planning, when to go, and travel practicalities).

Insight Guides: Norway

Insight Guides

Insight Guide Norway is a comprehensive full-color guide to the culture, history, and people of this land of contrasts. Be inspired by our Best of Norway section highlighting unmissable sights and experiences and lavish Photo Features on topics such as Norwegian folklore, culinary traditions, architecture and natural wonders. Our unrivaled coverage of history, landscape, and culture provides an essential introduction to Norway’s untamed land and contemporary life, to complement the in-depth coverage of the arts, activities, and modern culture. A detailed Places section, with stunning travel photography and full-color maps, shows you where to go and what to do, from the world’s most spectacular fjords and stunning coastal scenery to historic old towns and the best in modern architecture – making sure you don’t miss anything. A comprehensive Travel Tips section gives you all the travel advice you need to plan your trip, with our selective, independent reviews to guide you to the most authentic hotels and restaurants.

Norge: A captivating photography collection of the people, architecture, and nature of Norway.

Zane R. Cochran

Come away to beautiful Norway where photographer Zane Cochran captures breathtaking views of the untouched countryside and fjords of the pristine wilderness, puts the heritage and culture of the Norwegian people on display as they celebrate Constitution Day, and discovers the unique cityscape where historical city streets meld with modern architecture.

Southern Sweden and Norway (National Geographic Adventure Map)

National Geographic Maps - Adventure

• Waterproof • Tear-Resistant • Travel Map

National Geographic’s Southern Sweden and Norway Adventure Map provides global travelers with the perfect combination of detail and perspective in a highly functional travel tool. The hundreds of points of interest that highlight the diverse and unique destinations within the countries such as World Heritage sites, museums, castles, archeological sites, churches, and more make this map invaluable to travelers hoping to experience all the history, art, and culture the region has to offer. National parks, winter sports resorts, and campsites are plentiful in both countries for those wishing to explore the picturesque mountains, extensive coastlines, fjords, and ancient forests. Cities and towns are easy to locate with the user-friendly index. Transportation aids include a clearly marked road network complete with distances and roadway designations, and the locations of airports, airfields, railroads, ferry routes, lighthouses, harbors, and international border checkpoints.

The northern half of the region is shown on the front side of the print map spanning from the counties of Nordland to Hordaland in Norway and Norbotten to Kopparberg in Sweden. The reverse side of the map covers the southern portion of Norway from Bergen south to include the cities of StavangerOslo, and Kristiansand. It also shows the southernmost section of Sweden from the city of Mälmo on its border with Denmark north to Borlänge.

Though it is the third largest nation in the European Union, Sweden remains lightly populated, as does its neighbor Norway which is the second least densely populated country in Europe. Sweden’s capital Stockholm is regarded as one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Despite its northern latitude, Sweden enjoys all four seasons, though the sun virtually never sets in the summer. Norway is a storied landscape of azure fjords, agate-colored mountains, and spectacular northern lights. Many of its remarkable wooden stave churches which date to the Middle Ages are still intact. Though once the home of the fierce Vikings, Norway is known today as one of the world’s most welcoming places.

Every Adventure Map is printed on durable synthetic paper, making them waterproof, tear-resistant and tough — capable of withstanding the rigors of international travel.

Map Scale = 1:975,000Sheet Size = 37.75" x 25.5"Folded Size = 4.25" x 9.25"

Exercise normal security precautions

The decision to travel is your responsibility. You are also responsible for your personal safety abroad. The purpose of this Travel Advice is to provide up-to-date information to enable you to make well-informed decisions.

Crime

Even though the crime rate is low, petty crime (pickpocketing and purse snatching) occurs, especially in the summer tourist season from May to September. Remain vigilant in public places and tourist areas, including airports, train and bus stations, restaurants and hotels.

Avoid poorly lit areas, especially the streets behind Oslo’s Central (railway) Station after dark.

There has been an increase of rape and assault in Oslo. Authorities have increased the frequency of patrols and have made arrests. Remain highly vigilant, particularly at night and when clubs and pubs are closing. Avoid walking alone through parks and poorly lit areas of the city. Do not, under any circumstances, use "pirate taxis" or other unofficial transportation.

Road safety

Narrow and winding roads may be hazardous and impassable, especially in winter and in mountainous areas. Observe posted speed limits and keep headlights on at all times. Respect signs showing animal crossings, especially for moose.

Public transportation

Public transportation services are efficient and reliable. Use only officially marked taxis, particularly in Oslo.

Consult our Transportation Safety page in order to verify if national airlines meet safety standards.

Fraud

Automated banking machine (ABM) card and credit card fraud occurs. Before using your card, carefully inspect the ABM to ensure that it has not been tampered with. One scam involves a unit placed on top of the card reader and then personal information, including the PIN, is used to access accounts.

See our Overseas Fraud page for more information on scams abroad.

Mountain activities

If you intend to do mountaineering, glacier climbing or ski touring:

a) never practice these activities alone;

b) always hire an experienced guide from a reputable company;

c) buy travel health insurance that includes helicopter rescue and medical evacuation;

d) ensure that you are in top physical condition;

e) ensure that you are properly equipped;

f) advise a family member or friend of your destination, itinerary and when you expect to be back;

g) know the symptoms of acute altitude sickness, which can be fatal;

h) register with the Embassy of Canada in Norway;

i) obtain detailed information on trekking routes or ski slopes before setting out, and do not venture off established trails, especially in early or late winter because of the possibility of snow avalanches occurring due to warming weather conditions;

j) ensure that you are well informed about weather and other conditions, such as snow, before you set-off on a trip.

Consider using modern communications tools, such as a mobile telephone or GPS tracking system, which can assist emergency response units in locating stranded travellers. Bring other safety devices such as a back-plate, a helmet and a spade for digging snow. If you feel that it is dangerous, remember that it is never too late to turn back.

General safety measures

Exercise normal safety precautions. Ensure that your personal belongings, passports and other travel documents are secure at all times.

Emergency services

Dial 112 to reach police, 113 to reach ambulance and 110 to reach fire fighters.

Health

Related Travel Health Notices
Consult a health care provider or visit a travel health clinic preferably six weeks before you travel.
Vaccines

Routine Vaccines

Be sure that your routine vaccines are up-to-date regardless of your travel destination.

Vaccines to Consider

You may be at risk for these vaccine-preventable diseases while travelling in this country. Talk to your travel health provider about which ones are right for you.

Hepatitis B

Hepatitis B is a disease of the liver spread through blood or other bodily fluids. Travellers who may be exposed (e.g., through sexual contact, medical treatment or occupational exposure) should get vaccinated.

Influenza

Seasonal influenza occurs worldwide. The flu season usually runs from November to April in the northern hemisphere, between April and October in the southern hemisphere and year round in the tropics. Influenza (flu) is caused by a virus spread from person to person when they cough or sneeze or through personal contact with unwashed hands. Get the flu shot.

Measles

Measles occurs worldwide but is a common disease in developing countries, particularly in parts of Africa and Asia. Measles is a highly contagious disease. Be sure your vaccination against measles is up-to-date regardless of the travel destination.
 

Tick-borne encephalitis

Tick-borne encephalitis is a viral disease that can cause swelling of the brain. It is spread to humans by the bite of an infected tick. Vaccination should be considered for those who may be exposed to tick bites (e.g., those spending time outdoors in wooded areas) while travelling in regions with risk of tick-borne encephalitis.

Yellow Fever Vaccination

Yellow fever is a disease caused by the bite of an infected mosquito.

Travellers get vaccinated either because it is required to enter a country or because it is recommended for their protection.

* It is important to note that country entry requirements may not reflect your risk of yellow fever at your destination. It is recommended that you contact the nearest diplomatic or consular office of the destination(s) you will be visiting to verify any additional entry requirements.
Risk
  • There is no risk of yellow fever in this country.
Country Entry Requirement*
  • Proof of vaccination is not required to enter this country.
Recommendation
  • Vaccination is not recommended.
Food/Water

Food and Water-borne Diseases

Travellers to any destination in the world can develop travellers' diarrhea from consuming contaminated water or food.

Practise safe food and water precautions while travelling in Western Europe. When in doubt, remember…boil it, cook it, peel it, or leave it!


Insects

Insects and Illness

In some areas in Western Europe, certain insects carry and spread diseases like Lyme disease, tick-borne encephalitis, and West Nile virus.

Travellers are advised to take precautions against bites.


Malaria

Malaria

There is no risk of malaria in this country.


Animals

Animals and Illness

Travellers are cautioned to avoid contact with animals, including dogs, snakes, rodents, birds, and bats. Certain infections found in some areas in Western Europe, like rabies, can be shared between humans and animals.


Person-to-Person

Person-to-Person Infections

Crowded conditions can increase your risk of certain illnesses. Remember to wash your hands often and practice proper cough and sneeze etiquette to avoid colds, the flu and other illnesses.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV are spread through blood and bodily fluids; practise safer sex.


Medical services and facilities

Medical services and facilities

The standard of health-care services is high and excellent medical care is widely available. However, access to emergency medical assistance may be limited in remote regions.

Keep in Mind...

The decision to travel is the sole responsibility of the traveller. The traveller is also responsible for his or her own personal safety.

Be prepared. Do not expect medical services to be the same as in Canada. Pack a travel health kit, especially if you will be travelling away from major city centres.

You are subject to local laws. Consult our Arrest and Detention page for more information.

Canada and Norway are signatories to the European Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons. This enables a Canadian imprisoned in Norway to request a transfer to a Canadian prison to complete a sentence. The transfer requires the agreement of both Canadian and Norwegian authorities.

Illegal drugs

Penalties for trafficking, use or possession, even of small amount, of illegal drugs are strict. Convicted offenders can expect heavy fines, detention or deportation. If a visitor is in possession of drugs upon arrival in Norway, the visitor will be charged with importation rather than simple possession.

Some substances, such as khat, that may be legal in other European countries, are prohibited in Norway.

Road travel

An International Driving Permit is recommended.

Penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are strict. The legal blood alcohol limit is 0.01 percent. Roadside checks for alcohol are frequent, and submission to a breathalyser test is mandatory.

The use of cellular telephones while driving is prohibited, unless they are fitted with a hands-free device.

Winter tires are mandatory from November 1 to April 15.

Same-sex marriages

Same-sex marriage is legal.

Money

The currency is the Norwegian krone (NOK).

Credit cards and traveller’s cheques are widely accepted, and automated banking machines (ABMs) are widely available.

When crossing one of the external border control points of the European Union (EU), you must make a declaration to customs upon entry or exit if you have at least €10,000, or the equivalent in other currencies. For Norway, this amount is restricted to NOK 25,000 (approx. €3125). The sum can be in cash, cheques, money orders, traveller’s cheques or any other convertible assets. This does not apply if you are travelling within the EU or in transit to a non-EU country. For more information on the EU legislation and links to EU countries’ sites, visit the web page of the European Commission on cash controls.

Climate

Avalanches and rockslides present a risk. The weather in mountainous areas is highly unpredictable. Ask local residents about weather patterns before setting off on a trek.