Land of the Nords
It is also probably one of the safest areas I have visited and while I’m excited to have a lower stress level while traveling, I also need to keep in mind that I’m a visitor here, which means I still need to stay aware despite the high level of safety.
Land of the Vikings and blurred territory lines; Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Finland have all intertwined as one kingdom, allied with one another and fallen under the reign of one another in a game of tug of war for dominance. Norway in its current state has approximately 5.1 million people, roughly the same as the state of Colorado and boasts one of the longest and most rugged shorelines in the world; coming in eighth overall with 2,650km of mainland coastline.
What to see:
Olso: Welcome to one of the highest-ranking cities in both quality of life and cost of living. Apparently, the two are not mutually exclusive for this city founded in 1040.
- Fjords: These alone are reason enough to go out and buy a new camera before you travel to Norway.
- Northern Lights / Lapland: The northern circle which cuts across Norway, Sweden and Finland is known as Lapland. Dogsledding is big here and the Northern Lights are magnificent. Daytime dominates during the summer months – plan your trip accordingly.
- Svalbard Islands: A true taste of the wild, Svalbard is not part of the Schengen agreement, so you will need your passport to go here.
- Traces of the past: Eight UNESCO sites dot the Norwegian landscape, here’s a taste:
- Bryggen: The old wharf at Bergen, rebuilt to reflect its original history after multiple fires.
- Urnes Stave Church: Built in the 12th / 13th centuries, as you explore this church expect to find traces of Celtic art, Viking traditions and Romanesque spatial structures.
- Struve Geodetic Arc: Chain of survey triangulations running from Hammerfest to the Black Sea – “the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian.”
- Vikings: Could not be more excited to see the Viking ship museum in Oslo or Lofoten Islands.
Why you’re good to go:
- Mobility: Great train system and decent roads. Read more about Driving Overseas.
- Security: Norway is safer than most U.S. cities. Again – my challenge here be keeping my guard up.
- Both Sitata and GeoSure give Norway an A+ safety rating.
- No visa requirement for stays of up to 90 days.
Why it can be dangerous:
- Norway, like much of Scandinavia and Iceland, has remote areas and limited restraints, making visitors who are unfamiliar with the extreme weather conditions susceptible to being stranded or finding themselves in dangerous situations. Some remote areas, such as Svalbard have limited transportation infrastructure.
- Weather conditions can be intense and unpredictable. If you plan on going off the beaten path, be prepared for potential storms and extreme conditions. The Norwegian government maintains a crisis website which goes into detail on the potential natural disasters and weather related possibilities.
- The wildlife is wild: Again, minimal restraints mean that you have to take responsibility for you and your family’s safety.
More security details from the US and Brit international services:
- Security situation per FSO.
- Country profile per US State Dept (Lots of goodies in the safety and security section)
Things to know:
- Country Police – In case of emergency dial 112
- Ambulance – Dial 113
- Firefighters – Dial 110
- Country code: 47
- Visa requirements: American tourists do not require a visa for stays of up to 90 days.
- Check here for details on planned demonstrations.
- Click here to check for any emergency messages from the U.S. Embassy.
As always – when traveling:
- Let The State Department know you’ll be in country, enroll in STEP to make it easier for them to contact you should there be an emergency.
- Take U.S. Embassy contact info
- Telephone: 2130-8787
- Emergency after-hours: 2130-8540
- Dialing from the U.S.: 011 47 2130 8540
- Non emergency: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Follow alerts via the State Dept Twitter feed: or click Follow @TravelGov
- Let your friends and family in on your travel plans. TripIt offers a great app.
- Travel insurance: In case of emergency, trip cancellation or lost luggage. The concierge service alone is worth it. I’ve had great success with AIG TravelGuard.
Overall Norway has a TON of history to see and great culture to partake in – a high upside and low downside. The relative ease in getting around and high safety rating for Norway makes it a great place to take the family or get outside your comfort zone – as long as you factor in the geographic open-ness and natural extremes that you may run into.