Lonely Planet guide to Norway

Published: 01 August 2007

Norway is a ruggedly beautiful country of mountains, fjords and glaciers.

The 'Land of the Midnight Sun' has delightfully long summer days, pleasantly low-key cities, unspoiled fishing villages and rich historic sites that include Viking ships and medieval stave churches.

Norway prizes its stunning natural wonders and retains a robust frontier character unusual in Europe. It's not all frozen tundra, either. The temperate south includes rolling farmlands, enchanted forests and sunny beaches as well as the dramatic Western Fjords.

When To Go

Norway is at its best and brightest from May to September. Late spring is a particularly pleasant time - fruit trees are in bloom, daylight hours are long, the weather is mild and most hostels and sights are open but uncrowded.

Summers are marked by the phenomena of the midnight sun, especially north of the Artic Circle. At Nordkapp, in the far north, the sun stays out from May 13 to 29 July, but nowhere in the country - even the far south, experiences true darkness between late May and late July.

Unless you're heavily into winter skiing or searching for the Aurora Borealis of the polar nights, Norway's cold, dark winters are not the prime time to visit, and many hostels and camp grounds outside of major cities close.

Norway – Fast Facts

  • Full Name: Kingdom of Norway
  • Capital City: Oslo (pop 508,730)
  • Area: 324,220 sq km / 125,181 sq miles
  • Population: 4,546,123
  • Time Zone: GMT/UTC +1 ()
  • Daylight Saving Start: March
  • Daylight Saving End: October
  • Languages: Norwegian Bokmål (official). Norway has two official languages, Bokmal and Nynorsk. Norwegian Nynorsk (official), Northern Sami (other)
  • Religion: Christian (86.3 per cent Evangelical Lutheran)
  • Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
  • Electricity: 230V 50HzHz
  • Electric Plug Details: European plug with two circular metal pins
  • Country Dialing Code: 47