Norway shares most of its border with Sweden, but also borders Finland and Russia in the far north. Norway is not a member of the European Union (but it is part of the Schengen area) and it uses the Norwegian krone as its currency. Norway has been ranked as the best country to live in several times, something the Norwegians are very proud of. They are also proud of their royal family, and the national day (17th of May) is celebrated by everybody with cake, ice cream, soda, and hot dogs.
Tourists mostly come to Norway to experience the amazing nature and outdoor sports. From mountains to fjords, and from world class hiking to rafting; Norway has it all! With several smaller cities worth a visit, Norway is also a good country for city trips. The most popular cities are Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim. But Stavanger, Lillehammer, Ålesund, Tromsø, and Bodø are also worth a visit. Lofoten has the most beautiful nature, but is not easy to reach and travel around with public transport. There are several national parks that are worth a visit for hiking, the most popular ones being Jotunheimen and Hardangervidda. Interesting day hikes are Preikestolen, Kjerag, Besseggen, and Trolltunga.
A famous place for biking is Flåm, where you can also take a rail trip with beautiful scenery. Not far away is Finse, one of the places you can walk on a glacier. Also famous for its scenery is Geiranger, where you find amazing viewpoints. Also worth seeing is the charming town of Røros, where you can visit the popular market in February. Norway is beautiful in winter, but many hostels outside the bigger cities are closed. Skiing is good in many places, most famous are Trysil and the areas around Lillehammer.
Probably the most desired place to visit when going to Norway is the North Cape. The very tip of mainland Europe has an information center and a view over the ocean (and nothing but the ocean). Honningsvåg is a good nearby location to get a hostel for the North Cape area.
Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world and the hostel prices are no exception. Expect to pay about 50% more for a bed as in any other western European country. Going out for dinner is challenging when on a budget, so it might be wise to find a hostel with a kitchen. Alcohol is especially pricey, but hostel staff can give you tips on which bars are more affordable.
Traveling around Norway can be cheaper if you book ahead. There are long distance buses between the major cities that are cheap when booked long in advance. Trains are comfortable and also have tickets on sale, but the destinations that can be reached by train are limited. Taking a plane might sometimes be cheaper than you expect and saves you a lot of time. Almost every mid-size city has an airport.
The quality of hostels in Norway is high. The hostels are usually very clean and modern. It's not as common to have bed linen included in the price as it is in other countries, so this is something to be aware of. Breakfast is sometimes included, and is usually of good quality, sometimes even including Norwegian salmon. In bigger cities there are usually a few hostels, but don't expect a hostel on every street corner. In smaller towns, there is usually only one hostel, and sometimes these hostels are only open during the summer high season. It is therefore wise to book in advance.
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Trondheim has the clean, fresh atmosphere of a small city, but the variety and possibilities of a big city. Friendly, but hardy people. Most younger people speak good English.
Bergen is very pretty, surrounded by hills and with a beautiful harbour. I suggest you bring a raincoat though, cause it rains 275 days a year (Lonely Planet statistic). It is pricey, so be prepared. If coming from Oslo take the 'Norway in a Nutshell' option and get off the train at Myrdal, train down to Flåm, …
I went on a school trip to Voss and went snowboarding on the local slopes and loved it. Never had such a good time! Everyone is lovely and the snow is great. Goin back soon.
I attended the 150 Year Jubilee held in Meråker. Meråker's residents are the kindest and most pleasant people I have ever met. Don't forget to visit the museum in Pulden and the museum in Kopperå. I plan to return soon, to visit my many relatives in Meråker, Stjørdal and Hell.
In reality, you really don't need to know a word of Norwegian to successfully get around Oslo or Norway in general. Know that "Heisann" is hello and takk (pronounced "tuck") is thank you. Everyone there speaks English. Also, ladies, Norwegian boys are hot and have cute accents.
Geilo is very nice! Also for skiing or snowboarding. Very good ski school and nice people. Nice small village with railstation. Let's go to Geilo!
Stavanger is a small city bustling with business activities. So the three hotels and five-star hotels are always full. So if you want a space to rest overnight, boy, you are in trouble, so book a hotel before you arrive. The city has just one hostel, which opens only for three months from June.
My family is from there, Stamsund and nearby Valberg. I love the village. I would take a small boat every day and go exploring.