All Silicon Valley Resources

Silicon Valley FAQ


hit the ground running

Coming to Silicon Valley and want to know your way around? Where to go and how to get there are questions many visitors have to tackle, not to mention the ultimate goal of getting into the Silicon Valley mindset. Getting from one place to another can sometimes be challenging, but before sending out emails and asking people to Google things for you, check out these practical tips we get questions about all the time.

First, check out Bifrost - A Nordic Guide to Silicon Valley

This is a guide we have created just for you to prepare your Silicon Valley journey. If you haven’t read it already, do it now. You can access the guide here.

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Traveling to the US - you will need ESTA

Apply as soon as your travel plans are confirmed, recommended at least 2 weeks before travel (official minimum 72 hours).

Apply here - Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA)

Working in the US - you will need a visa

If you are planning on doing business during your trip, you will need to consult your lawyer to apply for a visa.

FAQ: Can I do business in the US only on an ESTA?

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getting around

Three words you will get familiar with when staying in the Bay Area: traffic, traffic, traffic. Unless you are strictly staying in San Francisco, you will be in a car and you will be in traffic.

In Silicon Valley we don’t tell distance in miles (or kilometers), we tell it in time. Trip from San Francisco to Palo Alto can either take 1 hour or over 2 hours depending on traffic. Always take into account traffic when scheduling meetings. The (worst) rush hours are 7-9am in the morning and 4-7pm in the evening.

Your options are to either rent a car, or become a regular with Lyft and/or Uber. Services are similar, download both and compare prices as you go, they fluctuate depending on demand.

Sometimes you will be able to benefit from the luxury of public transport. BART has a few stops in San Francisco and runs to Berkeley and Oakland (also OAK airport).

Caltrain runs between San Francisco and San Jose, with stops at the downtowns in Redwood City, Palo Alto (hei, Nordic Innovation House!), downtown Mountain View, and Downtown Sunnyvale - to name the main stops. Note that there is a free shuttle service, Marguerite, from the Palo Alto Caltrain Station to Stanford Campus. The walk would take you 20 minutes.

Palo Alto Parking is a fun game, you can park for free for 2 hours (3 hours in the garages), then you will need to move your car to a differently colored parking zone. Check out the parking zones here. In the garages you can also pay $25 for daily parking permit (the parking violation fee is over $40, and you can get multiple in a day).

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where to stay?

Accommodation in Silicon Valley is expensive. That is what you know. And then you get here and realize that it is even more expensive than what you imagined.

If you have hard time finding accommodation in Palo Alto, nearby options include Menlo Park and Mountain View. East Palo Alto can be a bit sketchy, so we don’t recommend staying there.

Affordable options include AirBnB and also check out Coliving.

Hotels within close proximity to Nordic Innovation House are The Cardinal, Cowper Inn, Hotel Keen and more upscale (read: expensive) Sheraton.

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Business cards

Yes, people still use them, so bring your business cards! We recommend getting business cards with a US cell phone number. If you get your cards here, you can go to e.g. Copy Factory (3929 El Camino Real Palo Alto, CA 94306) for same day printing, you just need a pdf file that can be printed as a complete business card. If you have time to order online, check out e.g. VistaPrint, MOO.

Cell phone

Easy option is to get a prepaid plan, with minutes and data included, from T-mobile, AT&T, Verizon or the cheaper option from GoSmartMobile, all available a short walk from Nordic Innovation House. We recommend AT&T or T-Mobile for smartphones bought in Europe.

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restaurants in palo alto

Palo Alto is full of great food, these are just a few picks close to Nordic Innovation House

Coconuts - Get to the Carribbean

Coupa Café - Few steps down Ramona, "Where tech entrepreneurs and investors work and meet"

Local Union 271 - Family owned, farm-to-table

NOLA - New Orleans’ vibes

Oren’s Hummus - The best hummus in the Bay Area

Sanchos Taqueria - Mexican street food, cash only!

Steam - Dumplings!

Sushirrito - American sushi fusion you have to experience

Sweet Greens - Healthy lunch salads

Wahlburgers - Try the Impossible burger