Getting there & away
For bargain air fares, your first option should be shopping around on the internet. If you plan on flying with a national airline (as opposed to a budget or no-frills carrier), you should also check for cheaper fares with a travel agent who knows about special deals and can offer advice on other aspects of your trip. Reliable online flight-booking sites:
Cheap tickets (www.cheaptickets.com)
Lowest Fare (www.lowestfare.com)
Plane Simple (www.planesimple.co.uk)
The only intercontinental flights to Norway are from the USA, so the first step for everyone else is to get to Europe where you’ll find plenty of deals to Norway from European ‘gateway’ cities, particularly London, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin or Copenhagen.
Another possibility to consider is an open-jaw ticket, which allows you to fly into one city and leave from another at no extra cost. SAS Braathens, with its extensive network of Norwegian routes, is particularly useful in this regard. You could for example fly into Ålesund and fly out from Bergen, Oslo or a number of other cities in Norway or elsewhere in Scandinavia.
Regular, long-distance passenger ships disappeared with the advent of cheap air travel and were replaced by a small number of luxury cruise ships. Cunard Line (www.cunardline.com; USA 800 728-6273; UK 0845 071-0300;) has sailings between New York and Southampton; summer cruises (late April to mid-August) operate from Southampton to the Norwegian coast (even into the fjords at Flåm) and back again. Basic prices for seven-day cruises start at UK£937 from Southampton.
Ferry connections between Norway and Denmark, Germany, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden and also the UK provide straightforward links. Most ferry operators offer package deals that include taking a car and passengers, and most lines offer substantial discounts for seniors, students and children. Taking a bicycle incurs a small extra fee.
If you’re travelling by international ferry, consider picking up your maximum duty-free alcohol allowance on the boat.
The following companies operate ferries between Norway and Denmark.
Color Line (www.colorline.com; Denmark 99 56 19 77; Norway 81 00 08 11)
DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.com; Denmark 33 42 30 82; Norway 21 62 13 00)
Fjord Line (www.fjordline.com; Norway 81 53 35 00; Denmark 97 96 14 01)
Stena Line (in Norway 02010; www.stenaline.no)
On all of the Color Line routes in the table except Bergen–Hirtshals, a car with up to five people costs €198/231 on weekdays/weekends, while DFDS Seaways charges €195, including two passengers. On Stena Line, a car with driver includes costs from €122, while to Bergen with Fjord Line costs around €120, including driver and one passenger.
Color Line (www.colorline.com; Germany 0431-7300 300; Norway 81 00 08 11;) has a daily ferry link between Kiel and Oslo (20 hours). From mid-June to mid-August, reclining chairs start at €98 (Sunday to Thursday) or €108 (Friday and Saturday). Cars cost €80. Outside high season, one-way/return packages are available for a car and basic cabin for two people for €328/350.
Smyril Line (www.smyril-line.fo; in the Faroes 345900; Norway 55 59 65 20;) runs once weekly from May to mid-September between Bergen and Seyðisfjörður (Iceland), via Lerwick (Shetland, Scotland) and the Faroe Islands. One-way fares from Bergen begin at €195 to Tórshavn (25 hours) in the Faroes, and €295 to Seyðisfjörður (46 hours).
Smyril Line (www.smyril-line.fo; UK 01595-690845; Norway 55 59 65 20;) sails between Lerwick (Shetland) and Bergen, from May to mid-September, and takes at least 10½ hours. Couchette fares in low/high-season are UK£53/73 and cars up to 5m long are priced at UK£42/61.
The popular DFDS Seaways (www.dfdsseaways.com; UK 01255-240240; Norway 22 41 90 90) operates services from Newcastle to Bergen (with/without car from UK£149/80, 27 hours, twice weekly), Stavanger (with/without car from UK£225/167, 19½ hours, three weekly) and Haugesund (with/without car from UK£297/167, 22½ hours, twice weekly).
Border crossings between Norway and Sweden or Finland are straightforward; half the time you aren’t even aware that you’ve crossed a border. If you’re travelling by bus, some bags may be checked by customs, but you’ll rarely stop for more than a few minutes. For Russia, however, everyone needs a visa and travellers face greater scrutiny.
For almost all international bus services to/from Norway, the best website is www.eurolines.nu, which acts as a feeder for national companies.
Nor-Way Bussekspress (www.nor-way.no) buses travel between Copenhagen and Oslo (Dkr340, eight hours, at least twice daily) via Göteborg, Malmö and the Øresund bridge. Three Swebus Express (8070 3300; www.swebusexpress.se) buses also run to/from Copenhagen each day (from Skr323).
A cheaper alternative is Lavprisekspressen (www.lavprisekspressen.no in Norwegian), which sells tickets over the internet for as little as Nkr49 for Oslo to Copenhagen, although Nkr149 or Nkr199 is more common; it all depends on how early you book.
The Finnish company Eskelisen Lapin Linjat (016-342 2160; www.eskelisen-lapinlinjat.com) has cross-border services (one daily service only), some of which are covered in the table, right; some services run only in summer.
Hamburg is the central European gateway for Scandinavia; with up to three daily trains to Oslo, you may need to change in Malmö. For these services and online booking, contact Deutsche Bahn (www.bahn.de).
Berlin Night Express (www.berlin-night-express.com) has a daily overnight train from Berlin to Malmö in Sweden (bed in single/double compartments €250/125, 17¾ hours). Travelling to/from Oslo requires changing trains in Malmö, and in Gothenburg from late August until mid-June.
Russia has a short border with Norway and buses run daily between Kirkenes and Murmansk. The rail link to/from eastern Asia via Russia can work out at about the same price as flying, depending on how much time and money you spend along the way, and it can be a lot more fun. Russian trains run as far as Murmansk (from St Petersburg).
Lavprisekspressen (www.lavprisekspressen.no, in Nor-wegian), which sells cheap tickets over the internet, operates a service that runs from Oslo to Copenhagen making stops in Gothenburg (Göteborg) and Malmö. Fares can be as low as Nkr49 or Nkr199, depending on how early you book.
Otherwise, the cheapest fares are with Swebus Express (0200 218 218; www.swebusexpress.se). Up to five daily buses run between Stockholm and Oslo (from Skr348, eight hours), with four each to Gothenburg (Göteborg; from Skr128, 4½ hours, four daily) and Malmö (from Skr210, eight hours, four daily).
There are also buses between Bodø and Skellefteå (Skr565, 8¾ hours, once daily except Saturday) and along the Blå Vägen, or ‘Blue Highway’, between Mo i Rana and Umeå (Skr282, eight hours, once daily).
After three years of uncertainty, regular rail services have finally resumed between Oslo and Stockholm (Nkr454, six hours). Two trains run in each direction daily (one requiring a change in the Swedish city of Karlstad) from Monday to Friday and once daily on weekends. For more information, visit either Norwegian Railways (NSB; 81 50 08 88; www.nsb.no) or Swedish Railways (SJ; in Sweden 0771-75 75 99; www.sj.se).
There are also daily trains from Stockholm to Narvik (Skr1650, 18¾ hours). Journeys from Trondheim to Sweden via Storlien and Östersund require changing trains at the border. Trains also run between Oslo and Malmö (Skr733, 8¼ hours, twice daily), via Gothenburg (Skr573, four hours, four daily).
Given that slow travel doesn’t necessarily equate to environmentally sound travel, and given that it’s cheaper to fly, it’s difficult to see why you’d take the bus journey from London to Oslo (from UK£120, 36 hours, five weekly) via Brussels, Copenhagen and Gothenburg. Should you discover a good reason, contact National Express (0870 580 8080; www.nationalexpress.com) or Nor-Way Bussekspress (81 54 44 44; www.nor-way.no).
Travelling by train from the UK to Oslo (29 hours) can also be more expensive than flying, although it is much better for the environment. For tickets, contact Euro Railways (1-866-768 8927; www.eurorailways.com).
Crossing most borders into Norway is usually hassle-free, particularly if you’re arriving by road, although if you’re from a non-Western country you may find yourself and your baggage under greater scrutiny than other travellers. If arriving in Norway from a non-EU country, expect your papers to be checked carefully.
Given the expenses involved in Norwegian travel, it may be worth looking into an organised tour. Several reputable operators offer affordable itineraries.
Grand Nord Grand Large (01 40 46 05 14; www.gngl.com in French; 15 rue du Cardinal Lemoine, F-75005 Paris) seeks out the locations and activities that are noticed by only a handful of other companies. In Norway, it offers cruises and hiking in Svalbard and Lofoten, among other destinations.
Borton Overseas (800 843-0602; www.bortonoverseas.com; 5412 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55419) specialises in adventure travel with dozens of Norwegian tours including hiking, cycling and cross-country skiing.
Brekke Tours (800 437-5302; www.brekketours.com; 802 N 43rd St, Grand Forks, ND 58203) caters mainly for North Americans of Norwegian descent, and has both excellent escorted and independent tours.
Destination Wilderness (1800 423-8868; www.wildernesstrips.com; PO Box 1965 Sisters, OR 97759) promises medium-level hiking in the Jotunheimen and Rondane national parks among others.
Scanam World Tours & Cruises (800 545-2204; www.scanamtours.com; 108 N Main St, Cranbury, NJ 08512) organises cruises and shorter upmarket tours, including an eight-day fjord tour.
Scantours (800 223-7226; www.scantours.com) has an extensive range of short tours in Norway, from one day around Sognefjord (‘Norway in a Nutshell’) to 12 days aboard the Hurtigruten coastal ferry.
Arctic Experience (01737-218800, www.arctic-experience.co.uk; 8 Bolters Lane, Banstead, Surrey SM7 2AR) is one of the most popular tour operators for Scandinavia and offers a range of hiking tours, skiing expeditions, snowmobile safaris and short breaks, mostly in Svalbard.
Arcturus Expeditions (1432-850 886; www.arcturusexpeditions.co.uk; PO Box 41, Hereford, HR1 9DP) is one of Britain’s most inventive operators and organises tours through the furthest reaches of the polar regions. In Norway, it offers hiking and dog-sledding in Finnmark and Dividalen, and icebreaker cruises and trekking in and around Svalbard.
Go Fishing Worldwide (0208-742 1552; www.gofishingworldwide.co.uk; 2 Oxford House, 24 Oxford Rd N, London, W4 4DH) organises tailor-made fishing trips to Norway.
Taber Holidays (01274-594 642; www.taberhols.co.uk; Tofts House, Tofts Rd, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire BD19 3WX) offers highlight-oriented, and all-inclusive tours around Norway, including cruises, coach and self-drive tours.
Waymark Holidays (0870-9509800; www.waymarkholidays.com; First Choice House, London Rd, Crawley, West Sussex, RH10 9GX) specialises particularly in Nordic skiing and hiking holidays in the Gol and Oslo areas.
For a full list of Norwegian airports, visit www.avinor.no. The main international Norwegian airports:
Ålesund, Vigra Airport (airport code AES; 70 11 48 00; fax: 70 18 37 38)
Bergen, Flesland Airport (airport code BGO; 55 99 80 00; email@example.com)
Haugesund, Karmøy Airport (airport code HAU; 52 85 79 00; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Kristiansand, Kjevik Airport (airport code KRS; 38 06 56 00; fax 38 06 31 22)
Oslo, Gardermoen Airport (airport code OSL; 81 55 02 50; www.osl.no)
Sandefjord, Torp Airport (airport code TRF; 33 42 70 00; www.torp.no)
Stavanger, Sola Airport (airport code SVG; 51 65 80 00; email@example.com)
Tromsø Airport (airport code TOS; 77 64 84 00; fax 77 64 84 93)
Trondheim, Værnes Airport (airport code TRD; 74 84 30 00; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Airlines that use Norway as their primary base:
Other international airlines that fly to/from Norway:
Aeroflot (22 35 62 00; www.aeroflot.aero)
Air France (23 50 20 01; www.airfrance.com)
Austrian Airlines (81 52 10 52; www.aua.com)
British Airways (81 53 31 42; www.british-airways.com)
British Midland Airways (www.flybmi.com)
Brussels Airlines (23 16 25 68; www.brusselsairlines.com)
Finnair (81 00 11 00; www.finnair.fi)
Fly Nordic (24 14 87 58; www.flynordic.com)
Icelandair (22 03 40 50; www.icelandair.com)
KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines (22 64 37 52; www.klm.com)
Lufthansa (22 33 09 00; www.lufthansa.com)
Ryanair (82 00 07 20; www.ryanair.com) Flies to Sandefjord.
Spanair (91 50 54 00; www.spanair.com)
TAP Portugal (81 00 00 15; www.flytap.com)
Welcome Air (www.welcomeair.com)
Wizz Air (www.wizzair.com) Flights between Polish cities and Sandefjord.
Nairobi and Johannesburg are the best places in Africa to buy tickets to Europe. Several West African countries offer cheap charter flights to France, and charter fares from Morocco can be incredibly cheap if you’re lucky enough to find a seat.
STA Travel (www.statravel.com; Bangkok 02-236 0262; www.statravel.co.th; Singapore 6737 7188; www.statravel.com.sg; Japan 03-5391 2922; www.statravel.co.jp) proliferates in Asia, with branches just about everywhere. Another resource in Japan is No 1 Travel (03-3205 6073; www.no1-travel.com); in Hong Kong try Four Seas Tours (2200 7777; www.fourseastravel.com).
If you’re coming from Australasia, there’s a large difference between low- and high-season fares. From Australia, flights to Oslo usually require a couple of stopovers on the way, usually Singapore or Bangkok and another European city. Good deals are often to be found with Air France, Qantas, KLM or Cathay Pacific. From New Zealand, Lufthansa offers some of the best deals for travel to Oslo.
In New Zealand, both Flight Centre (0800 243 544; www.flightcentre.co.nz) and STA Travel (0800 474 400; www.statravel.co.nz) have branches throughout the country. The site www.travel.co.nz is recommended for online bookings.
There’s not much variation in air fare prices for departures from the main European cities.
In France there is a student travel agency, Voyages Wasteels (01 55 82 32 33; www.wasteels.fr in French), which has offices around the country and specialises in student and youth travellers. Voyageurs du Monde (08 92 23 56 56; www.vdm.com in French) and Nouvelles Frontières (08 25 00 07 47; www.nouvelles-frontieres.fr in French) are also recommended. Online agencies include Lastminute (www.fr.lastminute.com in French).
In Germany STA Travel (069-743 032 92; www.statravel.de in German) is an ever-reliable agency, with offices across Germany. Online agencies are Lastminute (01805 284 366; www.lastminute.de in German) and Expedia (www.expedia.de in German).
Dutch travellers will find Airfair (0900 771 7717; www.airfair.nl) to be a reliable source of discounted tickets.
Travellers from Italy should check out CTS Viaggi (www.cts.it), while Spaniards could consider Barcelo Viajes (902 116 226; www.barceloviajes.com); good online Spanish booking agencies include Atrapalo (www.atrapalo.com) and Despegar (www.despegar.es).
Travellers from the UK have the widest range of options for flying to/from Norway with services from London and many other cities in England and Scotland. In addition to internet fares, recommended travel agencies include Flight Centre (0870 499 0040; flightcentre.co.uk) and STA Travel (0871 230 0040; www.statravel.co.uk).
The North Atlantic is the world’s busiest long-haul air corridor and the flight options are bewildering. Thanks to the large ethnic Norwegian population in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, you may find small local agencies specialising in travel to Norway and offering good-value charter flights.
Some of the best deals are offered by Icelandair, which flies to Bergen and Oslo via Reykjavík, from a number of US cities; on some of its transatlantic flights it allows a three-day stopover in Reykjavík. If you’re planning on flying within Norway (or around Scandinavia), SAS Braathens has some interesting regional discounts available to passengers who fly on its transatlantic flights.
Recommended agencies include Air-Tech (www.airtech.com) and Educational Travel Centre (800 747-5551; www.edtrav.com). In Canada, try Travel CUTS (1866-246-9762; www.travelcuts.com), Canada’s national student travel agency.