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Norway Country Information
Norway is a wildly beautiful country of snow-capped mountains and deep glacier-carved fjords. The astounding scenery of the southwestern fjordland is the main draw card for tourists, but there are many incentives to visit this sparsely inhabited country. It offers remote wildernesses and outdoor activities, fairylike forests, historic towns and charming fishing villages, down to earth friendly people, and the lure of the Arctic Circle with its famous Midnight Sun and surreal Northern Lights. It also boasts some of the most scenic bus trips, boat cruises and train rides in the world.

'The Land of the Midnight Sun', with its long summer days, is not only for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, but offers a rich cultural heritage from the Vikings, the traditional nomadic Sami people of the remote northern regions, and world-renowned artists such as Edvard Munch. Principle cities of interest are Oslo, the prettily sited capital; the historic trading port of Bergen, situated on the fjords and gateway to the Fjordlands; and hilly Tromsø within the Arctic Circle, the centre of the Northern Lights activity. They are pleasant, low-key cities that offer a good range of museums, historical sights and unique architecture.

Norway's greatest impact on history was during the Viking Age, when the sleek Viking ships crossed the Atlantic, and Europe was subjected to numerous raids. Traditionally Norwegians were explorers, and their influences are evident from the Viking settlements established in Scotland, to the more recent personalities like polar explorer Roald Amundsen, and the legendary Pacific crossing of Thor Heyerdahl on his wooden raft, the Kon-Tiki.

The Basics
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round two-pin plugs are in use.

Money: The official currency is Norwegian Krone (NOK) divided into 100 ore. Larger establishments accept major credit cards and travellers cheques. Use of credit cards is widespread, with Eurocard/Mastercard, Visa, American Express and Diners Club the most common. Visitors should be aware that credit cards are generally not accepted as a means of payment in Norwegian supermarkets and petrol stations. Foreign currency and travellers cheques can be exchanged at banks and major post offices, as well as many hotels and travel agents, although for poorer rates. ATMs are available in all towns and cities.

Language: Norwegian is the official language, but English is widely understood.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors to Norway must have sufficient funds, return or onward tickets and all documents needed for further travel. Passports should be valid for at least the period of intended stay. Some European countries require only their National Identity Card if coming as a tourist to Norway. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

Travel Health: Travellers should seek local advice before eating certain types of fish from the lakes and fjords and mussels from along the coast. The standard of healthcare is high. A reciprocal agreement exists between UK and Norway under which British nationals are covered for emergency treatment while visiting Norway as long as they hold a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Travellers should ensure that they have adequate travel and medical insurance.

Tipping: A 10-15% service charge is added to most hotel and restaurant bills and a further tip is only necessary if exceptional service has been received; waiters often receive an extra 5-10% tip. Taxi fares can be rounded up to the krone.

Safety Information: Norway is a safe country in which to travel, however travellers should still take sensible precautions to avoid petty-theft.

Local Customs: Smoking is prohibited in all public places and on public transport, unless otherwise indicated. Norwegians tend to see everyone as being equal; they do not flaunt their wealth or financial achievements and frown on those who do.

Business: Business in Norway is conducted formally, with an emphasis on punctuality and direct communication. Business attire is usually smart and fashionable, though not ostentatious. Titles and surnames are predominantly used on introduction, but may be dropped later and greetings are usually made with a handshake. Business cards are exchanged. Expect business to be conducted in a direct and forthright manner, with little small talk or socialising. It is worth bearing in mind that Norway is an expensive country and that any services such as lawyers, consultants etc are subject to 25% VAT. Business hours are usually 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

Communications: The international access code for Norway is +47. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the United Kingdom). City/area codes are not required. Two operators providing GSM 900 mobile phone networks cover most of the country. Internet cafes are widely available.

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Visa and Entry Information

  • Entry requirements for Americans: United States citizens require a valid passport but no visa is needed for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for UK nationals: British Citizens, British Overseas Territories Citizens (Bermuda) and passport holders with the right to abode in the UK must have a valid passport, but no visa is required for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for Canadians: Canadians must have a valid passport but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for Australians: Australians must have a valid passport but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for South Africans: South Africans require a passport valid for at least two months beyond the visa expiry date. A visa is required for travel to Norway.
  • Entry requirements for New Zealanders: New Zealand citizens must have a valid passport but no visa is required for a stay of up to three months in any six-month period.
  • Entry requirements for Irish nationals: Irish nationals must have a valid passport but no visa is required for stays of up to three months in any six-month period.

Passport/Visa Note: All visitors to Norway must have sufficient funds, return or onward tickets and all documents needed for further travel. Passports should be valid for at least the period of intended stay. Some European countries require only their National Identity Card if coming as a tourist to Norway. The borderless region known as the Schengen area includes the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden. All these countries issue a standard Schengen visa that has a multiple entry option that allows the holder to travel freely within the borders of all.

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Weather and Climate in Norway
The climate of Norway is more temperate than one would expect situated as it is in the northern latitudes. The warm Gulf Stream current moderates the coastal weather and conditions in winter are therefore relatively mild. Strong winds and heavy rains are common in winter though, especially along the west coast. The inland highlands experience an Arctic climate with severe snowy winters, but summers are sunny and warm, with surprisingly high daytime temperatures possible.

Although well into the northern latitudes, Oslo's climate is fairly temperate thanks to warm air being wafted across the Atlantic from the Gulf Stream. Summer weather in Oslo is mild and pleasant, with frequent hot spells, and plenty of long sunny days. In winter temperatures hover just above or below freezing. Snow is plentiful in winter, making the city a great winter sports venue, and rainfall is spread across the year, the rainiest month being August.

Not only is Bergen the warmest city in Norway, thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream, but it is also probably the wettest. In fact, so well known has the city become for its high rainfall that at one stage an entrepreneur posted umbrella vending machines in the streets. Bergen's annual average precipitation is 88 inches (2250mm), and most of this falls as rain. Summers are pleasantly mild to warm, and in winter temperatures generally remain above freezing, although stiff breezes and high humidity may make it feel colder. Snow falls on odd days, and is generally not more than 10 cm deep.

Tromsø has a continental sub-arctic climate with cold winter weather and short summers. It rains year-round with October generally seeing the highest rainfall. Tromsø usually has a lot of snow in winter (January to April) and cool summers, only reaching an average high of 59°F (15°C). Large areas in the Tromsø municipality are located above the treeline and have an alpine tundra climate.

Attractions in Norway

  • Bryggen - Bryggen, the site of the old medieval quarter, is a charming, compact area of brightly coloured wooden homes that once housed the city's merchants. Steep cobbled lanes are lined with a vivacious blend of cafes and artists workshops.
  • Vigeland Park - Vigeland Park is the city’s most visited attraction, a vast green area of duck ponds, trees and lawns that is a monument to the celebrated Norwegian sculptor Gustav Vigeland, who spent 40 years creating the life-size statues that decorate the walkways and open spaces.
  • The Kon-Tiki Museum - Situated on the Bygdøy Peninsula, the Kon-Tiki Museum contains the renowned balsawood raft, the Kon-Tiki, on which Thor Heyerdahl made his famous journey across the Pacific in 1947 to prove the theory that the first Polynesian settlers could have sailed the 4,300 miles (6,923km) between Peru and Polynesia
  • Tromsø Museum - The Tromsø Museum is northern Norway’s oldest and largest museum with exhibitions devoted to the cultural and natural history of the region.
  • Arctic Cathedral - The spectacular design of the white and ultra-modern Arctic Cathedral is visible from afar, situated on a small hill on an island linked by the spindly Tromsø Bridge.

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Events in Norway

  • Independence Day - Norway achieved Independence from the Danes, creating their constitution on this day back in 1814, and progressed to become one of the most successful countries of the twentieth century.
  • Norwegian Wood Festival - This festival is one of the highlights on the country's musical calendar attracting many of the world's top artists as well as plenty of local Scandinavian bands.
  • Bukta - Tromsø Open Air Festival - A relatively new festival on the music calendar, Bukta is acclaimed as the festival where the sun never sets. Held during summer in the northern part of the country, the festival boasts the natural splendour of snowcapped peaks against the Artic Ocean as a backdrop to some of the finest in local and international music.

Airports in Norway

Oslo Airport (OSL)

  • Location: The airport is situated 29 miles (47km) northeast of Oslo.
  • Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +47 06400
  • Getting to the city: An Airport Express train and a variety of taxis go to the city centre. An airport bus travels between the Oslo Bus Terminal downtown and the airport, with night services connecting to every arrival (90 kr).
  • Car rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar and Hertz.
  • Facilities: Facilities at the airport include banks, bureaux de change, ATMs, a post office, left luggage, duty-free, tourist information and hotel reservation kiosk. Business facilities are available including fax and Internet access. There is a selection of bars, shops and restaurants. Disabled Facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Parking: There are long- and short-term parking facilities at Oslo Airport.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Bergen Flesland Airport (BGO)

  • Location: The airport is situated 12 miles (19km) south of Bergen.
  • Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 between the last Sunday in March and the Saturday before the last Sunday in October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +47 67 03 15 55
  • Getting to the city: An airport bus (60 kr) services the city centre. Taxis (about 250 kr) are available outside Arrivals.
  • Car rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Europcar and Hertz.
  • Facilities: There are a selection of shops, bars and restaurants at the airport, other facilities include a bureau de change, ATMs, left luggage, duty-free, a post office, child facilities, tourist information, hotel reservations and business facilities with fax and Internet access. Disabled facilities are good; those with special needs should contact their airline in advance.
  • Departure Tax: None.

Stavanger Airport (SVG)

  • Location: The airport is situated seven miles (14km) from Stavanger City.
  • Time: GMT +1 (GMT +2 from March to October).
  • Contacts: Tel: +47 67 031 000
  • Getting to the city: An airport bus service links the airport and Stavanger City (70 kr), every 20 minutes. An airport bus also travels to Sandnes five times a day. Taxis are readily available outside the arrival hall.
    Car rental: Car rental agencies represented at the airport include Hertz, Budget, Europcar and Avis.
  • Facilities: Facilities at the airport include a restaurant, pub, ATM, bank and duty free shop.
  • Departure Tax: None.

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Driving Information

Drinking and driving:
If the level of alcohol in the bloodstream exceeds 0.020 per cent severe penalties include heavy fines and / or prison also surrender of driving licence.

Driving licence:
Minimum age at which a UK licence holder may drive a temporarily imported car 18, motorcycle up to 11kw minimum age 16, 11-25kw 18 and over 25kw 20.

Fines:
On-the-spot for infringement of traffic regulations. Vehicles illegally parked may be towed away.

Fuel:
Unleaded petrol (95 & 98 octane) and diesel is available, there is limited LPG availability. Petrol in a can permitted but it is forbidden aboard ferries.

Credit cards accepted at filling stations, check with your card issuer for usage in Norway before travel.

Driving Distances:

From
To
Time
KMS
Oslo Frankfurt
14hrs 42mins
1399km
Oslo Amsterdam
16hrs 34mins
979km
Oslo Bergen
7hrs 40mins
497km
Oslo Stavanger
8hrs 45mins
553km

Please click here http://www.viamichelin.com/ for driving distances

Lights:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory.

Motorcycles:
Use of dipped headlights during the day compulsory. Wearing of crash helmets is compulsory for both driver and passenger.

Motor Insurance:
Third-party compulsory. Green Card recognised.

Passengers / Children in cars:
Children under 4 cannot travel as a front or rear seat passenger unless seated in a special restraint. Children over 4 must use a special restraint system or a seat belt.

Seat belts:
Compulsory for front / rear seat occupants to wear seat belts, if fitted.

Speed limits:
Standard legal limits, which may be varied by signs, for private vehicles without trailers: In built-up areas 31 mph (50 km/h), outside built-up areas 49 mph (80 km/h) and up to 55 mph or 62 mph (90 km/h, 100km) on motorways.

Compulsory equipment:

  • Warning triangle - compulsory for all vehicles with more than two wheels
  • Reflective jackets – compulsory for residents, strongly recommended for visitors

Other rules / requirements:

We recommended that visitors equip their vehicle with a first-aid kit, fire extinguisher and set of replacement bulbs.

In addition to some road, bridge and tunnel tolls, city tolls are payable by motorists entering Bergen, Oslo, Stavanger and Trondheim. The toll charge needs to be paid prior to entering ‘the zone’. The tolls can be paid at the nearest Esso station.

Spiked tyres may be used between the 1 November and the first Sunday after Easter. Cars with spiked tyres will be charged a fee by the municipalities of Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim, the stickers are available to purchase daily, monthly or yearly.

In the three Northern counties Nordland, Troms and Finnmark spiked tyres are permitted from the 15 October to the 1 May.

Snow chains may be used on all types of tyres, in the event that there is snow or ice covering the roads winter tyres or any tyres and snow chains must be used.

A vehicle towing a caravan must be equipped with special rear view mirrors.

Trams always have right of way.

The use of radar detectors is forbidden.

We strongly recommended that a reflective jacket be carried and worn if the driver and / or passenger(s) need to exit a vehicle which is immobilised on the carriageway of all motorways and main or busy roads. We recommend the jacket be carried in the passenger compartment of the vehicle (not the boot).

The carriage/use of reflective jacket is compulsory for vehicles registered in Norway.

Visitors renting a car in Norway will have to make sure the hired vehicle is fitted with a jacket.

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