Norway is just about at the top of the world, stretching from the North Sea into the Arctic Ocean and sharing its borders with Sweden, Finland and Russia. It’s best known for its natural wonders – fjords, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers and islands. Add to that its charming cities, ski resorts and the oil industry and it’s no wonder that increasing numbers of tourists seek cheap flights to Norway.
Despite its latitude, Norway benefits from the warming influence of the Gulf Stream. Summer temperatures in Oslo can hit the 30-degree mark and there is about 20 hours of daylight. In the far north, there is almost continuous daylight in the summer months, and almost endless night in midwinter.
Another natural wonder to be experienced in Norway is the Aurora Borealis. Tromso, a lively university town, is located in the middle of the Northern Lights zone.
Oslo is the sophisticated and well-ordered capital. It sits at the northern end of the Oslofjord. Known as a peace city, it is home to the Nobel Peace Centre as well as 50 museums and art galleries.
Bergen, the second-largest city, is a sturdy old Hanseatic-League town with those famous brightly painted merchants’ houses.
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The climate may surprise you – thanks to the Gulf Stream. The south is the sunniest. In the summer, temperatures often climb past 25 degrees. The west coast gets rain year-round, and the further north you go, the colder it gets. Temperatures can plummet to -51 degrees.
Seek Norway flights and visit between May and September for the longest, brightest days. The Bergen International Festival is the country’s biggest arts extravaganza, and takes place in May.
The Northern Lights can be enjoyed (marvelled at) between November and February in the north of the country. The lights can be rays or arcs of colour – greenish white to deepest red. The Northern Lights Festival takes place in Tromso at the end of January.
Norway’s three most northern counties enjoy endless sun between the middle of May and the end of July. Places to enjoy the “longer” days include Nordkapp, Hammerfest, Vardø, Tromsø, Harstad, Svolvær and Bodo.
Avoid November to March as average temperatures are below freezing unless you like to ski. If you are a skier, the most popular resorts include Lillehammer, the famous former host city of the Olympic Games, Trysil, Oppdal and Hemsedal.
Norwegian State Railways has a well-developed network within the country, to other Scandinavian countries and to points in Europe.
The largest coach network in Norway is called NOR-WAY Bussekspress AS. Eurolines is its network partner, which provides services throughout Europe.
Passage between Bergen and Stamsund can be booked with Norwegian Coastal Voyage.
Car-rental companies are represented at the airports.
(prices quotes are from London)