Norway: Flights, Northern Lights, Fjords & ‘Frozen’ Fantasies
Why 2016 is the year to go
“Frozen” may have intrigued Americans into learning more about this Scandinavian nation, but Norwegian Air Shuttle’s low-cost fares will actually get them there. This award-winning airline not only flies nonstop from seven U.S. cities, it’s also propelled many legacy airlines to drop their prices to compete with the newcomer. (Expect fares as low as $144 each way on Norwegian in the battle for your bum.)
With everything being so close in Europe, travelers can easily pair a trip to Norway with heavy-hitters like London, Paris or Rome to take advantage of the strong dollar. For those wanting to stay put and explore Norway, it’s one of the best places for seeing the Northern Lights.
Norway is known for
Natural beauty. From the mountains to the fjords to the Northern Lights to the lush forests, Norway is a stunning outdoor lover’s paradise. There’s skiing, hiking, biking, fishing, boating, mountain climbing, whale watching, picnicking … the “to-do” list is endless.
One insider tip
Norway is known as an expensive place for a reason -– a taxi or a round of drinks can equal the cost of a small house. Locals here know to drink at home first (or in travelers’ cases, to buy some alcohol at duty-free upon landing at the airport) before heading out to meet friends. The dollar is near a 10-year high against the Norwegian krone — so that will help a bit.
Also, a second tip while we’re at it, if you’re looking to do something off the beaten path, take the Ofoten line train from Narvik in the north to Riksgränsen, the Swedish border; this hidden gem of a journey takes you from the fjords to the mountains and could be the most beautiful train ride you’ll ever take.
Best time to visit
It depends on what you like to do or what you’d like to see. Bergen, a UNESCO World Heritage city, is known as the gateway to the Norwegian fjords and also close to ski resorts. Oslo is a vibrant capital city all year round, and easily explored on foot. If it’s the Northern Lights you’re after, you need to move quickly. The Northern Lights works in an 11-year cycle, and it’s currently experiencing a phase of high activity after last year’s “solar maximum.” Head to Tromso in the north or Svalbard, a Norwegian island in the Arctic, where you can see the lights between November and February. Want to experience another natural phenomenon? Svalbard is also a great place to experience the Polar Night (mid-November through January), when there is no daylight whatsoever. On the other end of the daylight coin, visiting in spring and summer will mean very long days in the Land of the Midnight Sun.
Aquavit. A bit of an acquired taste (cough, it tastes like the smell of nail polish remover), but the Norwegians swear by this drink, saying it aids digestion. Don’t forget to toast with a loud, “Skoal!”
Not a drinker? Try Brunost, or brown cheese, another classic Norwegian delicacy; there are 12 kinds to sample.
- Passport needed: Yes
- Money used: Norwegian Krone (NOK). Tipping is not required as a service charge is already included in the bill, but usually Norwegians will round the bill to the nearest 10 or 100 NOK at a bar or a restaurant.
- Visa needed: U.S. citizens can enter Norway for up to 90 days as a tourist or on business without a visa. The U.S. State Department says your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond the time you’re staying, and Norwegian authorities might require up to six months of validity.
- Plugs: 220-240 Volts. Primary socket type: “Type C” Europlug or the “Type E” and “Type F” Schuko.
- Internet availability: Widely available at most hotels, cafes and tourist offices; generally you just need to ask for a password, but you might have to pay a small fee too.
Visit the website for Norway’s tourism board for more information.