When I visited Norway in July, I had only 7 days to spare and cover as much as I could. When it came down to plan out a route, solidifying our plans wasn’t an easy task because, as always, I wanted to see everything! Having traveled to only South-Westren Norway, I could advise a few things to whose who struggle to pick the right places.
First off, if you can skip Oslo – do it. Don’t be fooled by the fact it is Norway’s capital. It is a very small city with not a lot to see or do. Spending extra day or two in Bergen, or any other “large” (still so small) towns would bring you a lot more satisfaction than in Oslo. If you are traveling from any major city in Europe, try to fly directly to Bergen, or at least minimize your time in Oslo.
All the beauty you need to see is on the west cost on Norway. And, depending how much time you have to see it, you can follow this basic guidance:
7 days – Bergen region and the fjords
10 days – Bergen (6 days) and Stavanger (4 days) regions
14 days or longer – start South (Stavanger) and move North via Bergen and The Atlantic Road
WEATHER IN NORWAY
Different parts of Norway receive different amount of precipitation and sunshine. In the East, places like Oslo, get the most sun rays and the least amount of rain. Bergen, located in the South West, proudly takes the first places as the rainiest city in the world. And rightfully so. It rains all year around, 240 days per year (not sure how exact this number is). If you are determined to catch a few nice days in Bergen, make your plans to travel in July and August. It is almost never warm enough to show off those short shorts of yours, and it is a necessity to have rain boots, windproof jacket and an umbrella. The Atlantic winds are rather chilly but when the sun does come out, Bergen shines in all colors. Northern Norway is usually cold and gloomy, even during summer months which makes the landscape look even more dramatic.
MONEY IN NORWAY
For money conscious travelers Norway can be a bit of a downer. For someone like me, who lives in New York City, there aren’t that many times I get astounded by an unreasonably priced item (after all, a cart of milt can cost you 5 USD in NYC). Boy,was I wrong! It would be an understatement to say that Norway is very expensive. And not only in tourist driven areas. Gas stations, small towns, supermarkets, etc, will make your hairs rise when you see that fast food in a roadside cafeteria will run you not less than 30 Euro a plate. A shrimp or sea food stick or a plate will range between 15 to 20 Euro. It does make you lose your appetite but as long as you are aware and budget for meals, you will be prepared.
FOOD IN NORWAY
Sea Food is the must have at all times in Norway. As an animal lover I can understand people cringe at what Norwegians might have for dinner on a casual day but when in Norway. That means a few things: Wild salmon, which is quiet expensive, because to the contrary belief is not that easy to catch. Whale must be one of the most exotic dishes one can try in Norwy. Among other delicacies you should have a taste of a moose and reindeer, herring and other seafood.
Notorious dishes in Norway: Pickled herring, Meatballs, Smoked salmon, Brown sauce, Brown cheese
What to eat in Norway despite your food morality.
PEOPLE OF NORWAY
First thing you notice about people in Norway – there aren’t that many. When you arrive in Oslo, you might think that it is busy and crowded like any other big city in Europe. Well, not exactly. Oslo, being the largest city in Norway, is very small with a few busy streets filled with shops and restaurants.
Maybe that’s why Norwegians received their stereotype of being somewhat introverted, as you will not see many of them roaming the streets. They do spend their fair share of time in bars but during colder months they snuggle up on the coach with a book.
Even during the most visited season, the streets will be empty and businesses closed after 3PM. Despite being very accommodating, most Norwegians won’t be prone to strike up a conversation with strangers. Therefore, if you are in Scandinavia it might need to make the effort if you want to make friends while visiting.
WHAT TO BRING BACK FROM NORWAY
A troll toy. While it seemed odd and somewhat irrelevant, I was amazed by the myths and story telling around trolls. They are symbolic to Norway and many Norwegians are strong believes that trolls are real (not sure if i buy that). Nevertheless, many famous sites are named after different trolls that believed to have existed, exp:
Nit wool sweater. Norwegian sweaters have a very unique pattern and hold heat very well. You rarely see a Norwegian wear it outside, but during cold month it can make you stay warm, …or somewhat warm.
Pre-packed meats and seafood. We found a great market in Bergen filled with vendors selling dried and smoked Whale, Wild Salmon and other fish. I was a little unsure how one can eat this majestic animal after watching Save Willy, but my travel moto When in Rome… took over and I splurged 17 euro on a few thinly cut slices whale meet. A few of my other experimental souvenirs included moose and reindeer sausages.
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