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April 24th, 2022

Up Guide - Getting around

April 24th, 2022

Written by

Sondre Sommerfelt in collaboration with Up Norway

A cosmopolitan travel writer

This Up Guide is written by insider Sondre Sommerfelt; A cosmopolitan anthropologist, travel writer and cultural entrepreneur, for Up Norway.

Sondre is an Oslo-based travel writer, sailor, skier and cultural critic. He loves the outdoors and city life (who doesn’t) and knows everything that moves on Norway’s cultural and music scene. Enjoy his humorous - yet useful - guides to Norway.

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Getting around - ‘Slow travel, sustainable travel’

There’s no easy way to say this: if you’re a pedantic planner, or a less than easy lover, getting around Norway can be challenging. We promise, however, that we’ll help make your trip a great experience, and more than worth the planning. Never forget, furthermore, that these are voyages as much of the imagination as they are physical trips. So even the idea of a five-hour train ride, to see the most magnificent fjords, or an extra two-hour flight to see the spectacular Northern Lights, the chances are it will not be anything you regret.

Widerøe - Scenic flights all over Norway

Widerøe’s fleet of twin-engine aircraft serves the grid of smaller airports dotted around this long stretch of impassable land. The airline is so important for transportation to sparsely inhabited areas in this country, in all kinds of weather, that there are famous songs and poems in phrases of their tiny turboprops. They’re bumpy and noisy rides, but will get you where you’re going safely and offer you a scenic experience on a clear day.

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There are over 120 ferry routes in Norway, and in summertime, one can expect queues at some ports

Both locals and visitors alike just love travelling up and down the beautiful coastline in the short Nordic summer. Sit back and relax in the midnight sun, take a refreshing dip in the fjord, and buy local strawberries while you wait. Norwegian strawberries are ridiculously expensive until July, when the prices drop like a stone over the summer months. And they taste so much better than Belgian strawberries. Or Wimbledon ones. It’s the abundance of light in the long summer nights that gives them their vibrant sweet flavour.

Mountains don't have addresses

No one’s trying to be condescending here, but do you really need an address for mountains, glaciers, fjords, seas, tidal waves, the Polar Circle, the Northern Lights, or other topographical or natural phenomenon? Though it’s unbelievable what you can find via Google these days, we don’t have street to all of Norway’s earthly features. Not yet, anyway.

The money question

Do you think prices for travelling – like everything else in this land - are steep? Well, yes. Put simply, they are. But the country is still heavily subsidised. Though it’s a massive stretch of land with very few people, an extraordinary transportation network serves every last corner of the map. It may cost less to take an Easyjet flight from London Stansted to Berlin Schönefeld, but we promise the high-speed ferry from Bodø to Lofoten Islands is a trillion times more spectacular, and its colour scheme is a great deal more palatable too. Don’t rush, breathe, travelling in Norway is all about the journey, not the destination, at least not ONLY about the destination. And think twice about the transport you are choosing, help move towards more sustainable travel, even if that means a love boat or a slow train.

Trying to understand Norwegian transportation timetables

Norwegians love their long, impenetrable, portmanteau language, as well as the awesome letters Æ-Ø-Å, which contribute to a stretchy linguistic blend of words with plenty of vowels. These include harbour, bus and airport names, with place names differentiated by just a letter or two. (Yes, it’s all in the details.) Your best bet? Ask a Norwegian: they’ll know what to search for, and probably know a better route there anyway. That said, the leading heroes of any Nordic odyssey are the staff on the country’s boats, planes and trains, as well as the harbour and airport folk, who seem to be about the only people who know what’s going on and are able to articulate it clearly.

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‘Gå tå tur’ or ‘Take a hike’

Easy access to nature allows the people of Norway to indulge in their favourite activities: solitary walks, or, even better, solo cross-country skiing. The wilderness lies only a few minutes in any direction from the centre of any town, even the major cities. ‘Gå på tur’ – ‘take a hike’ – is a collective obsession everywhere: not everybody actually does it, but everybody likes to give the impression they do it, and everybody at the very least talks about it, especially on Sundays after a heavy tinnitus-inducing night out and an even longer breakfast: ‘We should have gone for a hike!’

This sudden wilderness is, of course, also perfect for biking, canoeing, swimming or downhill skiing, ice skating according to the season, and there are cabins ready to serve you homemade cakes and hot chocolate. Wherever you put your tent is your home, but don’t forget your fishing rod. In the capital, Oslo, the city’s ‘Weltanschauung’ is concentrated on the surrounding forests known as Oslomarka, or just ‘Marka’, which in old Norse means to mark, as in mark a border. That’s a pretty neat description, at least when trying to get under the skin of Norwegian people – trying to comprehend ‘Norway’ – as it all starts here, in the outskirts of the city, on the border with nature.

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The Norwegian fixation on ‘Gå på tur’ or ‘Take a hike’ if fortified with the omnipresence of hiking and skiing gear in every city

Nobody spends as much money on sports equipment as Norwegians. Bus and metro carriages are filled with people in heavy boots and Gore-tex outerwear with skis and poles, snowboards or toboggans, ice hockey sticks or mountain bikes (with huge puffed up wheels!) and lycra, as far as the eye can see. Everybody always seems to be either just coming back from some thrilling adventure or embarking, Amundsen-like, upon one. Oslo has to be the only capital city where ski wear is appropriate dress code for a Michelin starred restaurant. And don’t be alarmed if a man in full-body superhero spandex is picking up kids in the kindergarten – it’s just a sporty father coming back from his daily exercise in ‘Marka’. All this is perfectly normal.

See more on why you should get around with Up Norway and What is so different about experiencing Norway as an Up traveller here.

Before Departure

Do you need a travel visa?

Norway as a Schengen area country does not require foreign visitors from visa-exempt countries to have a visa. Travellers from countries who are not visa-exempt need the Schengen visa to enter the Schengen zone.

October 19th, 2021

Hiking and pack-rafting from Sami town Kautokeino through Reisa National Park.

Norway at its most rugged and stunningly beautiful.

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October 19th, 2021

Hiking and pack-rafting from Sami town Kautokeino through Reisa National Park.

Norway at its most rugged and stunningly beautiful.

We went hiking and pack-rafting from Sami town Kautokeino through Reisa National Park in Norway and saw Norway at its most rugged and stunningly beautiful.

Torunn Tronsvang

Founder