In September, I had the pleasure of visiting Norway and the Faroe Islands. As it was my first time visiting either country, I was left wondering, why did it take so long for me to come here?? Well, it’s because they are logistically more difficult to navigate, and they aren’t your “typical” European tourist destinations. This means there is far less information out there about planning trips to these destinations (but that’s where my services come in handy for you 😊).
I’ve seen an increase in client requests for travel to Norway (as well as other Scandinavian countries) recently, so I thought this blog post might prove timely and helpful if you’re considering a visit to either of these countries.
If you’re looking for a unique travel experience, Norway is a destination that should definitely be on your Life List. With its breathtaking natural landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and vibrant cities, Norway has something to offer for every type of traveler. Whether you’re interested in hiking through fjords, exploring historic sites, or simply soaking up the local culture, Norway is a destination that, I promise, will not disappoint.
The Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago located in the North Atlantic Ocean, has recently become a more popular destination for travelers seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure. With its rugged landscapes, breathtaking fjords, and unique culture, the Faroe Islands offer a truly unforgettable travel experience. Nature enthusiast? Photography buff? Simply looking for a new and exciting destination to explore? Then the Faroe Islands are definitely worth considering! While remote, you can reach the Faroe Islands via a flight from Bergen, Norway in under two hours.
Below are just a few of my observations and takeaways from my trip:
The people in Norway were some of the friendliest I’ve encountered in all my travels. They were always helpful and courteous, and we never once felt like anyone was being rude or dismissive toward us. This was also true of the people in the Faroe Islands. They all live in what I consider to be a very harsh environment in winter when it’s freezing cold and dark nearly all day, yet they truly seemed to be some of the happiest and most content people I’ve ever met. I guess there really is a reason those polls you see online that rank the happiest people from various countries always seem to rank the Scandinavian countries at the top.
Driving extensively through Norway and Faroe Islands, I couldn’t help but notice there’s not a huge class difference like you see in other countries, including the U.S. Class in the traditional sense that we think of it does not seem to exist there. Obviously, there’s still a difference between rich and poor, but the majority seem to be centered around what I would call upper middle class. While I didn’t see areas of obvious poverty, I also didn’t see McMansions. My guess is that perhaps this contributes to my first bullet point above.
I’d say that 99% of the people with whom we interacted in Norway and Faroe Islands spoke excellent English. I don’t say this as if I expect them to speak English, but I mention it because it means this is an area of the world you can feel comfortable traveling without the worry of a language barrier issue. Even much of the signage in Norway was in English. However, I will say good luck in trying to figure out how to pronounce the names of streets, towns, etc. in Norse because I failed miserably every.single.time. We just started making up silly code names for locations because we couldn’t pronounce anything 😊.
Both Norway and Faroe Islands are, by far, the cleanest countries I’ve ever visited. Even in a large city like Oslo, you rarely ever see trash on the ground, nor did I see it on the sides of the road when driving through the more remote areas. Even the gas station bathrooms were spotless!
I felt very safe in both countries. In 15 days of travel, I rarely saw law enforcement. This is apparently because crime is so low there. Obviously, we did see an increase in police presence in Oslo compared to the more remote areas, but even there it was far less than I would have expected for such a large city. I’m still scratching my head at the fact that we boarded a flight from Bergen, Norway to Faroe Islands and back again without ever showing the first piece of identification. Yes, you read that correctly. I decided Faroe Islands is where Colin Farrell and Brendan Gleeson should have been hiding out all along (my fellow fans of the movie “In Bruges” will get that reference).
Speaking of Oslo, their public transportation system is excellent! You can buy an inexpensive pass or individual tickets for ferries, trams, and buses that will take you anywhere you need to go (I also noted these to all be very clean).
If you go to Norway and/or Faroe Islands, be willing to try something new as far as food. I tried to embrace my inner Anthony Bourdain and “eat like the locals”, but I was not always successful, so do better than me when you go. I did try fish eggs for the first time ever, so at least I wasn’t a total failure! But the sour cream herring at breakfast….nope, had to pass! I also had to pass on the whale burgers. What can I say….I guess I’m just not very food-adventurous.
They’ve apparently never heard of a pothole in Norway, so if you’re driving there, you can rest assured that the roads will be near perfect. Be prepared for lots of tunnels, as they seem to LOVE them. They also love speeding cameras and apparently take speeding very seriously in their country, so always try to be aware of your speed. Despite its remoteness and rugged terrain, the roads in Faroe Islands were also in surprisingly great shape.
If traveling to these countries, plan for rain and varying conditions because it WILL happen, trust me! As the Norwegian saying goes, there’s no bad weather, just bad clothing. There were multiple days when we chose to don our rain jackets/pants and waterproof boots and head out to explore despite the weather conditions, and not once did we EVER regret it.
Everything in Norway was more expensive compared to other European countries I have visited, so be prepared for sticker shock. Eating and drinking in restaurants/bars was particularly eyebrow-raising. In my opinion, this should not deter you from visiting, but it’s something to keep in mind when planning a trip there. Like other travelers I saw (and which we did ourselves), learn to embrace the fine art of roadside picnicking while enjoying the beautiful scenery.
While I loved the entire trip, if you twisted my arm and made me choose my favorite part, I would have to say it was the Faroe Islands. They are just so different than anything I’d ever seen or experienced. It was like wandering through the set of a movie. But I still have other parts of Norway I want to visit that we didn’t have time for on this trip, so I reserve the right to change my mind later 😉.
You should absolutely consider experiencing the natural beauty of Norway, from its breathtaking fjords to stunning Northern Lights, where you can immerse yourself in its rich culture. And as the hidden gem of the Nordic region, the Faroe Islands offer an unforgettable adventure full of rugged landscapes and unique wildlife not to be missed.
This trip was the culmination of a custom itinerary I built for us. Even as an experienced travel planner, it still took MANY hours of research to plan out the logistics and book everything. This is just one of the services I offer as a Travel Advisor, so keep in mind when you want a fully independent trip, you don’t have to spend hours planning it yourself! And if independent travel in Norway/Faroe Islands isn’t your thing, that’s fine too because I can help you find the best group trip options as well (in fact, I have clients visiting both locations on an ocean cruise in July and clients doing independent travel in October).
When you’re ready to explore river cruise options, you can sign up here for a complimentary discovery call with me.
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