Difference between revisions of "Northern Norway"
Revision as of 21:16, 27 August 2008
Northern Norway (Nord-Norge) is Europe's northernmost region which borders on the Arctic Circle.
Northern Norway consists of 3 counties.
With a low population density, Northern Norway is dominated by nature. Since the ice age ended 12,000 years ago, the coast has remained ice free in winter. The coast is protected by islands in most areas (except east of North Cape), and until modern technology helped build good roads, travel by sea was always more practical than across the rugged land. The sea has a rich life, and fishing provided food year round. Fishing in combination with small scale agriculturee as far north as Troms was for centuries the dominant way of life. Today, North Norway has good communications and a more varied economy than ever before. Nature, however, is still dominant in most areas outside the towns, although you might notice small farms along the fjords and on the coastal lowlands.
Norwegian is the official language of Norway and it is the most commonly spoken language in Northern Norway. Norwegian is mutually intelligible with Danish and Swedish. Sami is official in seven municipalities and Kven is official in one municipality. Russian is a common language in Kirkenes due to immigration, but it is not an official language.
Most Norwegians speak English well. In theory, all Norwegians are also able to speak a third language, usually German or French (but also Spanish, Italian or Russian), as learning a third language is mandatory in the Norwegian school. However, most people's knowledge of their third "school language" is basic at best.
The easiest way to travel to Northern Norway is by air. It is also possible to drive or to travel by boat. Some parts of Northern Norway can be reached by train.
From Southern Norway
The following cities/airports have non-stop flights to and from
Flights to/from Oslo arrives at and departs from Oslo Gardermoen Airport (OSL).
E6 is the main route to Northern Norway when driving from the southern parts of the country (Oslo, Trondheim). Be aware that the distance from Oslo to the southernmost part of Northern Norway is appr. 800 kilometers and that the rest of E6 through Northern Norway is appr. 1600 kilometers. The distance from Trondheim to Mo i Rana is appr 450 kilometers, to Narvik 920 kilometers and to Tromsø is appr 1,160 kilometers.
It is also possible to drive to Northern Norway from Sweden, Finland and Russia.
If you arrive during winter, be aware that winter tires are necessary and required by law. Do not try to drive without, even if you don't expect snow or ice.
From Southern Norway:
There is no bus connection between Northern and Southern Norway, except for a few local routes in the border area.
Eskelisen Lapin Linjat  operates buses to Tromsø, Alta, Nordkapp/Lakselv, Vadsø and Kirkenes from Rovaniemi/Oulu. Summer only.
Trains to Northern Norway depart from Trondheim. There is usually two trains per day, one leaves in the morning and the other leaves in the late evening. The train stops at Mosjøen, Mo i Rana and Fauske (and other smaller places) before it reaches its end destination Bodø just above the arctic circle. The journey to Bodø takes about 9 hours and 30 minutes. Prices may vary, lowest possible price as of January 2008 is 199 NOK. (one way, limited number of seats, look/ask for "minipris"). Trains are operated by NSB .
There is no railroad in the two northernmost counties, Troms and Finnmark.
The Hurtigruten (Coastal Express)  sails along the coast of Norway, from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes close to the russian border. It calls at 25 ports in Northern Norway and 9 ports in Southern Norway. Each port is visited twice a day, once by the southbound boat, and once by the northbound boat. Hurtigruten has been named "The World's Most Beautiful Voyage" by Lonely Planet.
Train can be used as far north as Fauske and Bodø, and from Sweden to Narvik. Hurtigruten follows the entire coast and calls at all major ports, except Mosjøen, Mo i Rana, Narvik and Alta (which are all situated in the innermost parts of long fjords. which would be too long detour). Travel by own car is the most practical, as there are road connection to virtually every small village. Without a car, travel by scheduled bus routes are the most economical. An important bus connection goes north from Bodø/Fauske to Narvik, and further to Tromsø and Alta (there are many other routes). There are also flights connecting towns (the towns of Finnmark is connected to Tromsø Airport), but this is expensive - often more expensive than a the longer flight from Oslo Airport to Tromsø, Bodø, Evenes or Alta. An express boat connects Tromsø and Harstad in less than three hours. With the completion of the new road December 2007, there are scheduled bus routes connecting Narvik and Lofoten.