Besides the renowned Drakkar longships and the stout Vikings (note the TV series), Norway is known for its cool weather, intelligent people and, of course, its abundance of heavy metal bands (wink). Yet before you travel there, we recommend that you read through the following list and keep as many of our tips in mind as you can. Here are six things to know before visiting Norway.
The moment you get off the plane, you will realise that everything is way too expensive. Well, this is due to the fact that Norway has high wages and thus it had to equalise certain aspects of the economy. Being budget-savvy there isn’t exactly easy as you can effortlessly pay around 20 USD for things as simple as a drink or a taxi ride (another thing: cab rides are extremely expensive – rent a car and you’ll save more money). Unfortunately this not-so-terrific-for-backpackers price problem reaches as far as housing as well. What this means is that even when you are trying to go to a cheap hotel, you are still going to pay heftily. Plan your budget well and you should have no problems, though.
Norway has a strange on-and-off relationship with the Sun (meaning that it rarely comes out and even when it does, it is for a brief time) but that does not seem to affect the people living there. The only thing that you might notice is that whenever it does come out, people tend to flock outdoors. You’ll notice also that, in spite of the colder weather, Norwegians tend to dress lightly as they are accustomed to it. Don’t feel bad for looking like a Yeti (as heavily-armoured against the cold as possible) among the blades of grass (the lightly-dressed locals), for it is the diversity of the world that makes it intriguing (wink)!
This is one for you party people: always drink at home before you go to events because your wallet will bow to you in gratitude. Remember those 20-USD drinks? Well, you can easily cast away more than 100-150 USD at a bar if you aren’t careful. Parties are pretty wallet-heavy in Norway in general but that does not mean that the locals cannot be seen indulging. There was a beautiful sentence in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park: “Life finds a way.” Keep your friends close and your wallets even closer – have a few pre-drinks and then head off into the aurora-clad realm of oblivion (wink)!
Since we know that you are going to visit public venues, we had to cover this one. Service in Norway is included in the price, so it is quite uncommon for people to tip for more than 10%. What this means is that if you give more, you are probably going to have to explain how things work in other countries. If you wish to use Buddha’s “Middle Way”, just add that 10% and all will be well. You will find that bartenders are friendly and efficient, no matter how much you pay.
This is an interesting one: Norwegian people rarely talk to strangers on the streets or on public transport vehicles. If things are different in your country, remember that this does not mean that Norwegians are unfriendly (really, the opposite is true about them); they are simply more contained. But do not expect this to happen if you hop into a bar, for there, random people might approach you and strike up interesting conversations. If they notice that you are a backpacker, they are going to be attracted to hearing about your way of life.
There are many Swedish people living in Norway and they often work in obvious places (where you will be able to meet them) such as bars, shops, stalls, etc. Yet you must understand that there is a bit of a tense atmosphere when Sweden is mentioned in Norway due to historical facts (Sweden occupied Norway between 1814 and 1905). They are not enemies by any means but there is that inevitable spark of competition when it comes to the two of them. Always talk about Norwegian exploits avoiding the counterpart and all will be well.
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Norway and how did they affect your trip? Tell us all about it in the comment section below and do not forget to check back from time to time for some interesting updates. Safe travels!