All transatlantic flights from North America land at Oslo's Fornebu Airport. SAS (tel. 800/221-2350 in the U.S.; www.flysas.com) flies nonstop daily from Newark to Oslo. The trip takes about 7 1/2 hours. Most other SAS flights from North America go through Copenhagen. Flying time from Chicago is 11 hours; from Seattle, it's 12 hours, not including the layover in Copenhagen. From New York, Continental (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) flies 4 days a week in the summer (Thurs-Sun) to Oslo direct. In winter there are New York-to-Oslo flights on Saturday, Sunday, and Thursday.
If you fly to Norway on another airline, you'll be routed through a gateway city in Europe and will sometimes continue on a different airline. British Airways (tel. 800/AIRWAYS in the U.S.; www.britishairways.com), for example, has dozens of daily flights from many North American cities to London, where you can continue to Oslo. Icelandair (tel. 800/223-5500 in the U.S.; www.icelandair.com) can be an excellent choice, with connections through Reykjavik. KLM (tel. 800/225-2525 in the U.S.; www.klm.com) serves Oslo through Amsterdam.
For passengers from the U.K., British Airways (tel. 0844/493-0787 in the U.K.) operates at least four daily nonstops to Oslo from London. SAS (tel. 0870/6072-7727 in the U.K.) runs four daily flights from Heathrow to Oslo. Flying time from London to Oslo on any airline is around 2 hours.
Summer (generally June-Sept) is the peak season and the most expensive. Norway's off season is in winter (about Nov 1-Mar 21). Shoulder season is in both spring and fall. In any season, midweek fares (Mon-Thurs) are lowest.
If you're driving from the Continent, you must go through Sweden. From Copenhagen, take the E47/55 express highway north to Helsingør and catch the car ferry to Helsingborg, Sweden. From there, the E6 runs to Oslo. From Stockholm, drive across Sweden on E18 to Oslo.
Copenhagen is the main rail hub for service between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. There are three daily trains from Copenhagen to Oslo. All connect with the Danish ferries operating to Norway through either Helsingør or Hirtshals.
Most rail traffic from Sweden into Norway follows the main corridors between Stockholm and Oslo and between Gothenburg and Oslo.
If you plan to travel a great deal on Norwegian railroads, it's worth securing a copy of the Thomas Cook European Timetable of European Passenger Railroads. It's available online at www.thomascooktimetables.com.
Thousands of trains run from Britain to the Continent, and at least some of them go directly across or under the Channel, through France or Belgium and Germany into Denmark, where connections can be made to Norway. For example, a train leaves London's Victoria Station daily at 9am and arrives in Copenhagen the next day at 8:25am. Another train leaves London's Victoria Station at 8:45pm and arrives in Copenhagen the next day at 8:20pm. Both go through Dover-Ostende, or with a connection at Brussels. Once you're in Copenhagen, you can make rail connections to Oslo. Because of the time and distances involved, many passengers rent a couchette (sleeping berth). Designed like padded benches stacked bunk-style, they're usually clustered six to a compartment.
Rail Passes for North American Travelers
Eurailpass -- The Eurailpass permits unlimited first-class rail travel in any country in western Europe except the British Isles (good in Ireland). Passes are available for purchase online (www.eurail.com) and at various offices/agents around the world. Travel agents and railway agents in such cities as New York, Montreal, and Los Angeles sell Eurailpasses. You can purchase them at the North American offices of CIT Travel Service, the French National Railroads, the German Federal Railroads, and the Swiss Federal Railways. It is strongly recommended that you purchase passes before you leave home as not all passes are available in Europe; also, passes purchased in Europe will cost about 20% more. Numerous options are available for travel in France.
The Eurail Global Pass allows you unlimited travel in 20 Eurail-affiliated countries. You can travel on any of the days within the validity period which is available for 15 days, 21 days, 1 month, 2 months, 3 months, and some other possibilities as well. Prices for first-class adult travel are $745 for 15 days; $965 for 21 days; $1,199 for 1 month; $1,695 for 2 months; and $2,089 for 3 months. Children 4 to 11 pay half-fare; those 3 and under travel for free.
A Eurail Global Pass Saver, also valid for first-class travel in 20 countries, offers a special deal for two or more people traveling together. This pass costs $629 for 15 days; $819 for 21 days; $1,019 for 1 month; $1,439 for 2 months; and $1,785 for 3 months.
A Eurail Global Youth Pass for those 12 to 25 allows second-class travel in 18 countries. This pass costs $485 for 15 days; $625 for 21 days; $779 for 1 month; $1,099 for 2 months; and $1,359 for 3 months.
The Eurail Select Pass offers unlimited travel on the national rail networks of any three, four, or five bordering countries out of the 22 Eurail nations linked by train or ship. Two or more passengers can travel together for big discounts, getting 5, 6, 8, 10, or 15 days of rail travel within any 2-month period on the national rail networks of any three, four, or five adjoining Eurail countries linked by train or ship. A sample fare: For 5 days in 2 months you pay $469 for three countries. Eurail Select Pass Youth for travelers under 26 allows second-class travel within the same guidelines as Eurail Selectpass, with fees starting at $305. Eurail Select Pass Saver offers discounts for two or more people traveling together -- first-class travel within the same guidelines as Eurail Selectpass -- with fees starting at $399.
Where to Buy Rail Passes -- Travel agents in all towns and railway agents in major North American cities sell all these tickets, but the biggest supplier is Rail Europe (tel. 877/272-RAIL; www.raileurope.com), which can also give you informational brochures.
Many different rail passes are available in the United Kingdom for travel in Britain and continental Europe. Stop in at the International Rail Centre, Victoria Station, London SWIV 1JY (tel. 0870/5848-848 in the U.K.). Some of the most popular passes, including Inter-Rail and Euro Youth, are offered only to travelers under 26 years of age; these allow unlimited second-class travel through most European countries.
Scanrail Pass -- If your visit to Europe will be primarily in Scandinavia, the Scanrail pass may be better and cheaper than the Eurailpass. This pass allows its owner a designated number of days of free rail travel within a larger time block. (Presumably, this allows for days devoted to sightseeing scattered among days of rail transfers between cities or sites of interest.) You can choose a total of any 5 days of unlimited rail travel during a 15-day period, 10 days of rail travel within a 1-month period, or 1 month of unlimited rail travel. The pass, which is valid on all lines of the state railways of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, offers discounts or free travel on some (but not all) of the region's ferry lines as well. The pass can be purchased only in North America. It's available from any office of RailEurope (tel. 800/848-7245) or ScanAm World Tours, 108 N. Main St., Cranbury, NJ 08512 (tel. 800/545-2204; www.scandinaviantravel.com).
Depending on whether you choose first- or second-class rail transport, 5 days in 10 days costs $249 to $329, 8 days out of 2 months costs $180 to $360, 10 days out of 22 days costs $359 to $489, and 21 consecutive days of unlimited travel costs $469 to $629. Seniors get an 11% discount, and students receive a 30% discount.
Rail Passes for British Travelers
If you plan to do a lot of exploring, you may prefer one of the three rail passes designed for unlimited train travel within a designated region during a predetermined number of days. These passes are sold in Britain and several other European countries.
An InterRail Pass is available to passengers of any nationality, with some restrictions -- they must be under age 26 and able to prove residency in a European or North African country (Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia) for at least 6 months before buying the pass. It allows unlimited travel through Europe, except Albania and the republics of the former Soviet Union. Prices are complicated and vary depending on the countries you want to include. For pricing purposes, Europe is divided into eight zones; the cost depends on the number of zones you include. For ages 25 and under, the most expensive option (£399) allows 1 month of unlimited travel in all eight zones and is known to the staff as a "global." The least expensive option (£159) allows 5 days of travel within 10 days.
Passengers age 26 and older can buy an InterRail 26-Plus Pass. The cost varies from £359 to £489 for 16 days to £599 to £809 for 1 month. Passengers must meet the same residency requirements that apply to the InterRail Pass.
For information on buying individual rail tickets or any of the just-mentioned passes, contact National Rail Inquiries, Victoria Station, London (tel. 08705/848-848). Tickets and passes also are available at any of the larger railway stations, as well as selected travel agencies throughout Britain and the rest of Europe.
By Ship & Ferry
From Denmark -- The trip from Frederikshavn at the northern port of Jutland in Denmark to Oslo takes 11 hours. Call Stena Line (tel. 96-20-02-00; www.stenaline.com) for general reservations.
From Sweden -- From Strømstad, Sweden, in the summer the daily crossing to Sandefjord, Norway, takes 2 1/2 hours. Bookings can be made through Color Line, Tollbugata 5, N-3210 Sandefjord (tel. 47-22-94-42-00; www.colorline.com).
From England -- SeaEurope Holidays, 6801 Lake Worth Rd., Ste. 107, Lake Worth, Florida 33467 (tel. 800/533-3755; www.seaeurope.com), is a U.S.-based company that will arrange a variety of seagoing options for you, all before you land in mainland Europe. For example, if you'd like to sail from Newcastle in England to Bergen in Norway, these trips can be arranged.
By Cruise Ship
Norway's fjords and mountain vistas are among the most spectacular panoramas in the world. Many ship owners and cruise lines offer excursions along the Norwegian coast.
One of the most prominent lines is Cunard (tel. 800/7CUNARD in the U.S. and Canada; www.cunard.com, or tel. 0845-071-0300; www.cunard.co.uk in the U.K.).
Ten-day cruises are offered on the new Cunard flagship, Queen Mary 2 (from $3,422/£1,711 in summer). This vessel re-creates the grandeur of those old queen liners, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth, but on a larger, more modern scale. The 150,000-ton ship carries a total of 2,620 passengers.
Departing from Southampton, England, the ship calls at Oslo and Bergen and cruises the North Sea. En route it also stops at the most frequently visited fjords, including the Eidfjord. Prices for the 6-day cruise (starting at $1,294/£647 in summer) include round-trip airfare to London on British Airways from 79 gateway cities throughout the world.
In its tour of Baltic capitals, Norwegian Cruise Line (tel. 866/234-0292; www.ncl.com) stops at Helsinki, Stockholm, and Copenhagen, but, ironically, doesn't go as far as Norway itself.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.