General information on Finland/Norway
Surf, wind and cliffs, red cottages, green forests, blue lakes, the smell of damp moss, of seaweed and sea water, of snow and camp fires. A clean natural paradise with numerous lakes, peaceful forests, a sauna culture of its own, world-class architecture and glasswork, summer months with midnight sun and Northern Lights. If you include the fjords, Norway's coastline is an unbelievable 28,000 km long. The sea cuts deep into the mountains, as if the fjords wanted to cut the country into pieces, but sea and land are brother and sister. The water brings the Gulf Stream and thus warmth into the interior. The mountains keep back the wind. You can sunbathe at the fjord while snow sparkles on the mountains. It is the same in Finland, the land of vodka and Nokia, Mika Häkkinen and the thousand lakes, sauna and crispbread. Finland, also called Suomi, is one of the most interesting and at the same time least known holiday destinations in Europe. On the one hand nature, overwhelming in its simplicity and appearing almost devoid of humans – on the other, people full of life, exuberant festivals and its very own culture.
The time difference in Finland is CET (Central European Time) plus one hour.
Finland and Norway border not just one another, but also Sweden and Russia. Finland is the seventh largest country in Europe. Some 80,000 islands lie off the coast, and inland there are 188,000 lakes with a further 98,000 islands, the largest lake area in Europe. 10 percent of the country is water, 69 percent is forest and 8 percent is used for agriculture.
Norway occupies the western part of the Scandinavian peninsula. The long coastline is characterized by deeply notched fjords and the mountainous interior features the biggest glaciers in Europe. Although more than 500 square km of the surface of Norway lie north of the Arctic circle, the west coast remains ice-free the whole year round thanks to the warm currents of the Gulf Stream.
The climate in Finland is influenced mainly by various air currents. These ensure that temperatures are up to 10°C warmer than in other countries on the same degree of latitude. Nevertheless Finland is generally described as having a typical continental climate. This means that the temperatures in the short summer are really hot and in winter are well into minus figures. In addition to the winds, the Baltic and the many Finnish bays store the warmth. On top of this comes its proximity to the Gulf Stream which ensures natural warming. The climate in Finland is also affected by the high mountains in Norway, as these cause a Foehn weather effect. With an easterly wind, it can also be the case that the cold climatic conditions of the Asiatic continental climate reach as far as Finland.
Despite its extremely northern location, the Norwegian climate is relatively mild thanks to the influence of the Gulf Stream coming from the Caribbean. Whilst the interior is characterized by a continental climate with cold winters and relatively warm dry summers, marine conditions determine the weather on the coast, with relatively mild winters and cooler, damper summers.
Take clothing on holiday which you would normally put on in northern Europe - a warm sweater and rainproof clothing. In the mountains and in the evenings it can become cool, and we therefore recommend taking warm underwear. For sunny days, it is important to have sun cream and good sunglasses with UV protection. Adequate insect protection should also be considered.
The Finnish cuisine combines local plain cooking, manor house cuisine and modern European cooking trends with historical loans from Russia and Sweden. Some dishes have defined traditional Finnish cooking for years. These include, for example, coffee with sweet Finnish pulla rolls, pea soup with pancakes, grilled sausage with typical sweet-and-sour Finnish mustard, new potatoes with pickled herring, river crabs in dill, strawberries on dairy ice cream, or cloudberries with freshly baked Finnish cheese.
Rather unfairly, Norwegian cuisine does not have a particularly good reputation. As a rule, breakfast is very generous and solid, often including sausage and cheese. Little is eaten at midday, possibly a cold buffet or sandwiches, and in the evening, there is "Middag", a more extensive hot meal. Norwegian specialties include smoked salmon, smoked or marinated trout, reconstituted stockfish, poached cod, flat bread, brown goat's cheese, smoked meat, lobscouse, roast reindeer and elk.
Norway's official currency is the Norwegian krone (NKR). 1 krone = 100 Øre. One EUR ~ approx. 8 NKR. The import and export of foreign currency is not limited. The official currency in Finland has been the euro since January 2002.
Telephoning is straightforward in both countries. The GSM networks cover large areas of the country and have roaming agreements with Germany. The code for Germany is 0049, for Finland is 00358 and for Norway is 0047.
Medical care in Finland and Norway is very good. In thinly-populated areas of Lapland, you may have to accept quite a few kilometers' drive, however, to reach the nearest hospital. If you require certain drugs daily, do ensure that you have adequate supplies of these with you.
We also recommend checking general vaccination protection – diphtheria, tetanus and polio. The traveler should obtain information and seek medical advice in good time about preventing infection and vaccinations, as well as about other prophylactic measures. We would refer you in particular to the general information available from health authorities, doctors experienced in travel medicine, doctors of tropical medicine, travel medicine information services or the Federal Centre for Health Education [Bundeszentrale für gesundheitliche Aufklärung].
Mains power supply is generally 220 V, frequency 50 Hz, whilst sockets are European standard.
Customs & excise
Norway is not a member of the EU and has strict customs regulations. 1 liter of high-percentage alcoholic drinks and 1 liter of wine and 4 liters of beer may be brought in. As far as tobacco is concerned, 200 cigarettes or 250 g of other tobacco product and 200 cigarette papers may be brought in. Only persons over 18 years of age may bring in alcoholic drinks and tobacco. The minimum age for importing alcoholic drinks with over 22 percent by vol. is 20. The following products may only be imported with special permission: illegal drugs, pharmaceutical products (except small quantities for personal use), poisons, weapons and ammunition, fireworks, potatoes, fresh milk and cream, mammals, birds and exotic animals, plants and plant parts.
Finland: from Germany and all other EU member states, people aged over 20 can import products into Finland in unlimited quantities, though only as long as they are intended for personal consumption. However, people who are 18 but not yet 20 may only possess and have with them alcoholic drinks up to 22 percent by volume.
As is the case everywhere, there are both written and unwritten rules in Finland and Norway, too. Smoking is not permitted in public buildings, for example. Restaurants, bars and dance clubs are also smoke-free zones. The little word "takk" (thank you) is the basis of all politeness and often opens doors.
There are currently no country-specific safety notices for these countries. However, to avoid difficulties, you should not leave anything lying around unsupervised, keep your valuables on you and always keep a careful eye on what is happening around you.
This information has been compiled to the best of our knowledge, however this may be subject to change. We are not liable for the accuracy of the stated information.