Norway travel guide
From precipitous glaciers to steep-sided gorges and crystalline fjords, Norway’s natural beauty is impossible to overstate. The unspoilt wilderness of the Arctic north is one of the few places where the sun shines at midnight during the summer and where the magnificent Northern Lights brighten the skies during the long winter nights.
Further to the south, the picturesque cities of Oslo, Trondheim and Bergen are brim-full of buildings showing off Scandinavia’s age-old flair for design in cosmopolitan surroundings. Oslo is the present-day capital and financial centre, while the country’s second city, Bergen, is a picturesque former Hanseatic trading port and gateway to the fjords of Norway. Stavanger is the focal point of the Norwegian oil industry and former capital, Trondheim, is a long-established centre of Christian pilgrimage, and more recently, technical research.
Though the weather can be a tad grim in Bergen, the UNESCO-listed waterfront adds a flash of colour with its wooden warehouses and shimmering harbour. Oslo’s waterfront is no less beautiful and has an ice-white Opera House that could give Sydney’s version a run for its money.
Stunning though the cities are, the real wonders of Norway are to be found outdoors. In the far north, the glacier-covered sub-polar peninsular of Svalbard is one of the few areas where polar bears can be seen in the wild and Norway’s miles of Arctic tundra double up as a destination for skiing and spotting the Northern Lights.
Elsewhere, a ferry trip along Geirangerfjord must rank among the world’s prettiest voyages with pine-topped cliffs giving way to icy green water, regularly topped up by the waterfalls that cascade down the fissured sides of the ravine. Indeed, you’d be hard pushed to find a part of Norway’s northern fjord area that isn’t strikingly beautiful, with snow-capped peaks and looming forests almost everywhere you look.
385,186 sq km (148,721 sq miles).
5,271,958 (UN estimate 2016).
14.3 per sq km.
King Harald V since 1991.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre since 2021.
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.
Before you travel
No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide as well as support for British nationals abroad which includes:
- advice on preparing for travel abroad and reducing risks
- information for women, LGBT+ and disabled travellers
If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.
This advice reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK, for the most common types of travel.
The authorities in Norway set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how Norway’s entry requirements apply to you, contact the Norwegian Embassy in London.
Countries may restrict travel or bring in rules at short notice. Check with your travel provider for changes.
You should also read TravelHealthPro’s general COVID-19 advice for travellers.
Entry to Norway
There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Norway.
Passport validity requirements
Your passport must:
- have a ‘date of issue’ less than 10 years before the date you arrive. Passports issued after 1 October 2018 are now valid for only 10 years, but for passports issued before 1 October 2018, extra months may have been added if you renewed a passport early
- have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave
Contact the Norwegian Embassy in London if your passport does not meet both these requirements.
Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.
You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document, or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.
Checks at border control
Make sure you get your passport stamped.
If you’re a visitor, your passport must be stamped when you enter or leave the Schengen area (which includes Norway). Border guards will use passport stamps to check you have not overstayed the 90-day visa-free limit for stays in the Schengen area. If your passport was not stamped, border guards will presume you have overstayed the visa-free limit.
If your passport was not stamped, show evidence of when and where you entered or left the Schengen area (for example, boarding passes or tickets) and ask the border guards to add the date and location in your passport.
Read about passport stamping if you live in Norway.
At Norwegian border control, you may also need to:
- show proof of your accommodation, for example, a hotel booking confirmation or proof of address for a second home
- show proof of your travel insurance
- show a return or onward ticket
- prove that you have enough money for your stay – the amount varies depending on your accommodation
You’ll need your passport to travel to and enter the Svalbard archipelago.
There are strict rules about goods that can be brought into and taken out of Norway. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty.
It is illegal to import whale meat from Norway into the UK or EU. You could get a fine of up to £5,000 or be imprisoned.
Restrictions on Russian vehicles
There are restrictions on vehicles with Russian licence plates in Norway. See Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for more information.
Taking money into Norway
You can take up to 25,000 Norwegian krone into Norway without declaring it. If you bring in any more than this, you must declare it to customs on arrival. If you do not declare it, you could get a substantial fine and temporary confiscation of the excess currency, which may then be released only through a bank.
There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. You should remain vigilant.
UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.
Terrorism in Norway
Terrorist attacks in Norway cannot be ruled out.
Norway political demonstrations
Demonstrations in Norway are usually peaceful. If you’re in and around areas where demonstrations are taking place, follow the advice of local authorities and move away if there are signs of disorder.
There’s a small risk of petty theft, particularly at airports and railway stations in and around Oslo.
Outdoor activities and adventure tourism
Police enforce bans on campfires in many hiking areas during the summer months.
For stays of less than 90 days you can drive with a UK photocard driving licence. For longer stays or if you only have a paper licence, you need an international driving permit (IDP).
Drink-driving laws are strict in Norway. The legal alcohol limit is one quarter of the UK’s legal limit. There are frequent roadside checks for alcohol. Penalties for driving under the influence are severe and include prison sentences.
Car drivers must use winter tyres with a minimum 3 millimetre (mm) tread if there is snow or ice covering the roads. You may also need to use studded tyres or snow chains. Truck drivers must use winter tyres with a minimum 5mm tread and have a sufficient number of snow chains.
You can get the full tyre requirements from Norway’s State Highways.
Keep your headlights on, but dipped, during the daytime all year round in all places.
On roads that are not marked with a priority sign (yellow diamond), you must give way to traffic coming from the right.
If you commit a driving offence, you could get an on-the-spot fine of up to 10,000 Norwegian krone.
Nearly half of Norway’s land mass is in the Arctic Circle, and if you are travelling to remote Arctic areas in Norway, or travelling by sea in the Arctic you could be at risk.
Consular assistance and support to British nationals in these areas is limited by the capacity of national and local authorities. Make sure you have appropriate travel insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment or potential repatriation.
Before you visit:
- consider your access to medical facilities, search and rescue and evacuation options
- have emergency plans in place, particularly if you are an independent traveller
Sea travel in the Arctic
Most people visit the Arctic by ship. Some areas of the Arctic are uncharted and ice-covered. Before you travel:
- check the experience and credentials of operators offering travel in the region
- consider the on-board medical facilities and discuss any pre-existing medical conditions with the cruise operator
Search and rescue
In the highest latitude regions of the Arctic, cruise ships may be isolated from other vessels or populated areas. Be aware that:
- search and rescue responders may be very far off, due to extreme distances
- assistance to stranded vessels may take several days to arrive, particularly in bad weather
- search and rescue teams only offer basic transport and medical care, and are unlikely to be able to give advanced life support
Extreme weather and natural disasters
Extreme weather, floods and landslides can occur. You should follow the advice of local authorities.
Climate and temperature
The weather can change rapidly, producing Arctic conditions even in summer on exposed mountain tops. Extreme weather can cause floods and landslides.
The winter is long and can last well into April. Temperatures can drop to -25°C and below. There is also a high wind chill factor, particularly in unsheltered areas and mountain ranges. Weather conditions can worsen quickly.
During especially hot and dry periods there is a danger of forest fires. Police enforce bans on campfires in many areas.
This section has safety advice for regions of Norway. It only covers regions where FCDO has specific advice.
Follow the safety advice of the Governor of Svalbard, including on how to protect yourself from polar bear attacks, the risks of glaciers, avalanches and other dangers outside the main town of Longyearbyen.
Before you travel check that:
- your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
- you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation
This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.
Emergency medical number
Dial 113 and ask for an ambulance.
Contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.
For more information read guidance on healthcare when travelling in Norway.
Vaccinations and health risks
At least 8 weeks before your trip check:
- the latest information on vaccinations and health risks in TravelHealthPro’s Norway guide
- where to get vaccines and whether you have to pay on the NHS travel vaccinations page
The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.
The NHS has information on whether you can take your medicine abroad.
Healthcare facilities in Norway
If you’re a UK national, you can use your UK passport to get free state-provided medical treatment in hospitals. Some doctors may charge for their services elsewhere.
Access to free healthcare is not an alternative to travel insurance. Read more about what your travel insurance should cover.
FCDO has a list of English-speaking doctors in Norway.
COVID-19 healthcare in Norway
If you think you may be infected with COVID-19, check for updated information from Coronavirus: Norway.
Travel and mental health
The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.
Emergency services in Norway
Contact your travel provider and insurer
Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.
Refunds and changes to travel
For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.
Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:
- where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
- how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim
Support from FCDO
FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:
- finding English-speaking lawyers, funeral directors and translators and interpreters in Norway
- dealing with a death in Norway
- being arrested in Norway
- getting help if you’re a victim of crime
- what to do if you’re in hospital
- if you’re affected by a crisis, such as a terrorist attack
Help abroad in an emergency
If you are abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission.
You can also contact FCDO online.
FCDO in London
You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.
Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)
Risk information for British companies
The Overseas Business Risk service offers information and advice for British companies operating overseas on how to manage political, economic, and business security-related risks.