Norway is a naturally beautiful country with plenty of history and lots to offer the outdoor enthusiast. Fjords, northern lights, and what seems like limitless hiking opportunities make Norway a must see location. If this gem of the north it isn't on your bucket list yet, it should be.
1. The Skiing
Cross country and downhill skiing are both quite popular in Norway, and there are plenty of opportunities to indulge in this winter sport. Trysil, Hafjell, or Hemsedal are the largest ski areas, though there is a large park close to the capital, Oslo, for cross-country skiing if you’re not planning on venturing too far out of the city. In Stryn there are two alpine ski centers that are open in the summer only (May-September), offering visitors the opportunity to race down a snowy hill in their t-shirts and shorts.
2. The Hiking
With plenty of wilderness, Norway has lots of potential for hiking - whether you’d like an easy walk in the woods, or a full-on alpine climb. Galdhopiggen, the highest mountain in Norway, is a popular spot for hiking; however, there are various routes available. Keep in mind that travellers enjoy a right to access in the country, meaning it’s possible to camp freely in most places for a day or two, provided you’re not on cultivated land, and keep your distance from houses and farm buildings. Leave your site exactly how you left it.
3. The History
Norway is known for its seafaring history, and the Fram Polar Ship Museum is a good place to see just that. Step onto a ship, see old stories come to life, and truly appreciate what it was like to be a Norwegian explorer at the end of hte last century. If you’d like to go a little further back in time, check out the Lofotr Viking Museum to row a Viking ship, or visit the Viking Settlement at Avaldsnes to get a taste of day to day Viking life.
4. The Food
Porridges, soups, potatoes, salted and smoked meat, and fresh salted or smoked fish are staples of Norwegian food, especially in northern coastal communities. Finer dining tends to be based on hunted animals, or fresh fish. Pastries, like lukket valnott, a marzipan covered whipped cream cake, can be quite delicious, as are the various cheeses that Norway has to offer. The country’s national dish is Farikal, a stewed casserole of lamb meat and cabbage.
5. The Architecture
Like many countries, Norway’s architecture has evolved over the years. From soaring medieval churches, to inspiring modernism, Norway’s many buildings provide a look at where the country has been - and where it’s going today. The Oslo Opera House is a sleek example of one of the city’s newer developments. While The famous Lom Stave Church, built at the beginning of the 13th century, is still in use today.
6. The Museums
Oslo, Norway’s capital, boasts plenty of museums, from art, to ship building, and even, the Nobel Peace Center. If you’re planning on checking out a variety of different attractions (including some of the more expensive museums), an Oslo pass is a good way to help keep costs down, while getting a good sense of the numerous museums that the city has to offer. You’ll also get free travel on public transport, and limited discounts at some restaurants and other attractions.
7. The Rock
Pulpit Rock offers awesome views from the top of a steep cliff, though it’s currently only accessible via an almost 4 kilometer hike. The trail is said to be well marked however, and the hike itself not overly challenging - provided you’re not visiting in the winter when the path can be icy (and sometimes closed). Formed by a glacier, the cliff overlooks the lush green valleys of the Ryfylke region.
8. The Cycling
Cycling is a great way to see Norway, and bicycles can be rented virtually everywhere. Larger cities often have their own cycling routes, and there are even cycling tours, if you’d prefer to bike in a group. While beautiful (and rewarding) cycling around the country can be a challenge - mainly due to Norway’s steep hills and high winds. Therefore, it’s a good idea to plan to use public transport for less interesting stretches, and save your energy for the most visually stimulating parts of the ride.
9. The Fjords
Norway is known for its beautiful fjords, and Geiranger Fjord is arguably the best of the bunch. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the views from the water - and a stunning lookout! Take a boat taxi to explore the fjord itself, and visit Eagle Road for a breathtaking look at Geiranger Fjord from above.
10. The Northern Lights
Tromso is supposedly one of the best places to see the Northern Lights - a stunning natural display that quite literally lights up the sky. While the Northern Lights are an incredible experience, you’ll need to brave Norway’s winter in order to see them. If you’re visiting in summer instead, it’s still worth a trip to Tromso - this time to take in the country’s midnight sun.