What makes Norway a unique country to travel to?
Norway is a highly developed, stable democracy with a modern economy. The cost of living in Norway is high; tourist facilities are well-developed and widely available.
Norway has a relatively low level of crime in comparison to the United States and Western European countries with large populations. The most likely forms of crime, especially in the Oslo metropolitan area, include residential and office burglaries and petty thefts. In Oslo and the other major urban areas, crime has been centered in the inner city and high transit areas. As in any other location, especially in urban areas, you should exercise basic security awareness. Although rare, violent and weapons-related crimes are growing in frequency and receive intense media coverage. These crimes usually occur in areas known to have drug trafficking and gang problems, such as certain parts of eastern Oslo. Reports have shown an increase in rape in Norway, mainly in downtown Oslo, with areas such as Grünerlokka being an area of particular concern. You should be aware that instances of pick-pocketing and petty theft are common in major tourist areas, hotel lobbies, train and transit stations, and surrounding areas. The Oslo Central train station is an especially popular area for pick-pockets and bag snatchers.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal to bring back into the United States, if you purchase them, you may also be breaking local law.
While you are traveling in Norway, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own, and criminal penalties will vary from country to country. This can be especially true in countries such as Norway which may seem similar to the United States, yet travelers may not be aware of subtle legal and cultural differences. Norwegian family law, for example, can be very different from that in the United States, so visitors and long-term residents are encouraged to familiarize themselves with this law to avoid potential problems. There are also some things that might be legal in Norway, but are illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods in Norway. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. While you are overseas, you may be subject to both U.S. and local laws. If you do something illegal in Norway, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not at your destination.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Medical Facilities and Health Information
Medical facilities are widely available and of high quality, but may be limited outside the larger urban areas. The remote and sparse populations in northern Norway and the dependency on ferries to cross fjords of western Norway may affect transportation and ready access to medical facilities. The U.S. Embassy in Oslo maintains a list of emergency medical and dental clinics in major cities.
Safety and Security
In July 2011, Norway suffered two sequential terrorist attacks by a right-wing extremist against government buildings in Oslo and a youth camp, leaving 77 dead. In a separate case in September 2012, Norwegian courts upheld the convictions of two men resident in Norway suspected of planning attacks and having links to al-Qaida. Like other countries in the Schengen area, Norway's open borders with its Western European neighbors also allow the possibility of terrorists entering/exiting the country with anonymity. Be vigilant with regard to your personal security.
Traffic Safety and Road Conditions
While in Norway, you may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. Public transportation in Norway is generally safe, and the maintenance and condition of urban roads is generally good. Rural road conditions are fair and the availability of roadside assistance is limited. Most roadways beyond the city limits of Oslo and other major cities tend to be simple two-lane roads. In mountainous areas of Norway, the roads tend to be narrow and winding, and have many tunnels. The northerly latitude can cause road conditions to vary greatly, depending on weather and time of year. Many mountain roads are closed due to snow from late fall to late spring. The use of winter tires is mandatory on all motor vehicles from November to April.
Norwegian law requires that drivers always use headlights when driving. Norwegian law also requires drivers to yield to vehicles coming from the right. In some, but not all, instances, major roads with “right of way” are marked. Seatbelts are mandatory for drivers and passengers. It is illegal to use a hand-held cell phone while driving; violators risk a fine of 1,300 kroner (approximately $215).
Norway has some of Europe’s strictest laws on driving under the influence of alcohol; they prescribe heavy penalties for drivers convicted of having very low blood-alcohol levels. Frequent road checks with mandatory breathalyzer tests and the promise of stiff jail sentences encourage alcohol-free driving. The maximum legal blood alcohol content level for driving a car in Norway is .02 per cent.
Automatic cameras placed by the police along roadways help to maintain speed limits, which are often lower than in other European countries. Fines – and sometimes even jail time – are imposed for violations.