Norway – do it right!
My experience of Norway was short and sweet... I must admit though that I was thankful for the short part upon leaving because as much I loved Norway, in only three days I spent two weeks wage! any longer and you'd be able to find me on Westminster bridge, empty Costa cup in hand.
As all of the Scandinavian countries are, Norway is a costly place to visit. But if you're like me and on a tight budget that doesn't necessarily mean that you should rule it out as a holiday destination - you just need to plan ahead and be conscious of where your money is going. I was aware that Oslo was going to be an expensive city, hence the short stay! so If you're just planning on checking out the capital then three days is a good amount of time to do it in, even two days would be enough I think. While we're on the subject of cost, to give you a rough idea of what prices in Oslo are like, we were spending on average £7 for a beer (and that wasn't even for a full pint!) the most we paid was £9 for a beer. I know.. you can close your mouth now. To eat out you'll spend on average around £20/£25 for a simple meal like a burger and fries, again close your mouth! for that reason in the three days that we were there we only ate out once, we splurged and treated ourselves that night. We went to a restaurant call Hos Thea, it's European/scandi cuisine and it's not far from the waterfront. It is pricey, so it's not for everyone, but if you've got a bit of extra cash to treat yourself with, do it here! the rest of the time we were strategic, we stayed at a hotel which was inclusive of breakfast (the Scandic Victoria) I can highly recommend it, it's a little pricey but worth it for the central location and incredible breakfast spread - the salmon is the best I've ever had in my life! we ate a late brekkie each morning and made sure to fill up so that we would'nt really be hungry again until the late afternoon. For dinner the other two nights we were there we picnicked in the parks 🙂 I suggest hotdogs as a picnic choice! the scandis have totally nailed hotdog making. I've been to Sweden, Iceland, and Denmark and every one of them including Norway has incredible hotdogs! and at around £3 a pop, they're cheap, which left more spending money for important things like beer 😉
I hope that at this point I haven't turned you off visiting with all this talk of expensive stuff, because Oslo is a truly gorgeous city. The paths are lined with brightly coloured tulips, clowns wander the streets handing out balloon figures - after your money of course but hey ho it adds character! people sit on park benches playing music from their boom boxes (I thought the same thing, people still carry boom boxes around?) in Oslo, yes they do. Thankfully for us that day this fella was streaming the Eagles, as you can imagine we were more than happy to sit there with beer and hotdogs in hand whilst listening to hotel California. I felt compelled to hug that man as we eventually walked by en route to home! there is so many stunning parks in Oslo too that you can't miss, so grab a map and get walking! strolling along the harbour is lovely aswell. It's definitely worth stopping for a drink at one (or more!) of the bars along the waterfront to sit and take in the view and do some people watching 🙂 I highly recommend having a drink at Lekter'n, it's a big open air bar and restaurant on the water front, it's so nice to sit there in summer with a cold beer watching the world go by.
If you're planning on a more adventurous/active kind of trip then I'd recommend heading North, but you shouldn't skip Oslo! at least spend a night there if you can. I would love to visit northern Norway, to see what the more rugged and natural side of it is like. I imagine in winter it would be magical! Like something out of a children's Christmas book. In the warmer months though I think it would still be just as stunning, one of those raw but strikingly beautiful landscapes. I'm yet to venture that direction myself, but I do intend to do so and so I have done my research! So if you are one who prefers to venture off the beaten track, here is how I would be doing it; I'd be heading to a little village called Dombas, it's situated right in the thick of the national parks and mountain ranges so would make for a good base. It's a 4 hour drive from Oslo airport so you would need to hire a car - if you're going in winter I'd highly recommend hiring a 4wd! in summer though I imagine a little buzz box would do the job just fine 🙂 there is public transport available, both buses and trains, both of which are a 5 hour journey. Personally though I'd hire a car to save myself the faff of public transport! you might get lost but that's all part of the fun isn't it? 😉 Dombas is a 1hr 40min drive from Jotunheimen national park (the most popular Norwegian national park which also is home to Norway's highest peak) and a 50 min drive to Dovrefjell national park (home of some incredible wildlife including musk ox, reindeer, the arctic fox, and the wolverine!) Dombas is a very small village and there is limited places to stay, so i'd also recommend booking in advance.
If you'd rather not have a base and would prefer to move around, the other option is to take some camping gear with you because you can actually camp in the national parks (I'm not sure if camping is permitted in all of them, but definitely the two that I've mentioned) there is also some accommodation available in the two which I've mentioned (Dovrefjell and Jotunheimen) including cabins and hotels. To find out more info check out www.visitnorway.com
There is a few other places on northern Norway's map that are definitely worth checking out if you can. Lom, Bergen, and Trondheim are a few other spots that I've looked into and they just look so beautiful and picturesque that I think they'd definitely be worth a visit! They're all quite far apart though which is the only problem, I suppose it all depends on what kind of trip you're planning and how much time you've got to do it in!
Well there you have it, I've exhausted all of my knowledge on Norway! the one other thing that I must mention is that if you're heading north in the winter months you're likely to catch the elusive and spectacular northern lights... here's to hoping! this website; en.vendur.is provides a very accurate forecast for the lights, definitely use it to help you in your quest to find them! If you'd like to know a little more about the best way to go about catching the lights, check out my post on my time in Iceland https://girlgoneinternational2012.wordpress.com
In conclusion, Norway is definitely worth breaking the bank for! even if it's just for the salmon 😉
Over and out x