Travelling through Norway really is a feast for the senses, and I'm so pleased we finally had the chance to see for ourselves the places we'd heard and read about. The fjords are every bit as spectacular as always described, but so are the mountains, waterfalls and towns. Oslo is the perfect hub, although of all the towns and cities we visited, it was Tromso that left a lasting impression. For all its beauty though, deciding whether to travel through this Scandinavian country is not an easy choice - it is by far the most expensive country I've ever visited. I would wholeheartedly recommend a trip there, but only if you are confident that it fits with your budget. Here's my usual tips and advice if you do take the plunge (and if you can, you should!).
- Plan a considerable budget. It really can't be stressed enough: Norway is very expensive, even if you seek the cheapest options. The difficulty is finding a balance - in a country such as this, with so many incredible places just waiting to be discovered, you don't want to fix your plans too firmly, or risk missing out on gems not included in the guidebooks. However, a loose itinerary such as ours prevented us securing accommodation in advance, and we paid a premium as a result. Even the rooms we could book beforehand though, such as our hostel in Oslo, cost more than other European cities.
- Think carefully about how to get around. Norway has an extensive train network, running between major cities across the country, and a reliable bus network. If travelling on a strict budget, this is also possibly the cheapest option. We considered all the options, but eventually chose to hire a car. The petrol costs over long distances knocked the price higher, but gave us the freedom and flexibility to go wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted. See our ten day route here.
- Get off the beaten path once in a while. Now, I am definitely not one to criticise the guidebooks, or suggest throwing them away. I love my Lonely Planet guides, and find them invaluable when thinking about options during our travels. However, there is literally something to see everywhere in Norway. The guidebooks highlight the top features, all certainly worth a visit. But we also found some incredible places by following a small road sign, or taking a wrong turn. Not all waterfalls, lakes and towns can make it into one book, but we loved finding somewhere new, especially when we were the only people there. Leave some time for a little independent exploration.
- Get excited about the food. I love eating, and F and I enjoy trying new food when we travel. However, the cuisine was our one let-down in Norway. We were hoping for fish and light, fresh meals. And in some places, we found them (albeit at a steep cost). But in some of the towns we stayed in (Hellesylt in particular), the only food options were either fast food joints or pizza restaurants. Hot dogs, burgers and pizza were everywhere, but after a few days we were craving something fresh. If we were repeating the trip, I'd probably try to book some accommodation with a communal kitchen, so we could shop in the local supermarkets and cook for ourselves.
- Forget your walking boots! Hiking in Norway is simply amazing, and although some walks can be challenging, the views are absolutely worth the effort and the hikes themselves spectacular.
Missed any posts about Norway? Find them all here:
Vikings, rafts and expensive pizza: A few days in Oslo
A journey through Norway's incredible fjords
Travelling through Norway by car
A few days in Tromso
The natural beauty of Norway: A photo-blog