When planning a vacation, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the choices. Where should you go? What should you do when you get there? Where should you stay? Luckily, we’ve created a guide to help you plan an unforgettable vacation to Norway. Let’s dive in.
Best Times to Visit
There really isn’t a bad time to visit Norway. Due to the temperate waters of the Gulf Stream, you’ll find that Norway has a much milder temperature than you would expect. Generally speaking, the coasts will see mild and wet winters with occasional snowfall. The inland areas (especially towards the east) are more likely to see cold, snowy winters and hot, dry summers. No matter, you’ll still find plenty of things to do regardless when you visit.
If you’re looking for a beach visit, the best place would be Southern Norway during the summer. You’ll find plenty of winter snow in the valleys and Oslo region. If you’re more about experiencing several different seasons in one day, Fjord Norway is the place for you. When visiting in the spring, you can expect to see fruit trees in full bloom and glory. If you’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights, Northern Norway is the perfect place for this during the winter.
The time of year you choose to travel to Norway will be largely dependent on what you want to get out of your trip. Do some research before you start planning and make sure you mark down your must-see spots and can’t-miss activities.
Places to Stay
After arranging transportation to your destination, the next most important part of a trip is having a place to stay once you arrive. Norway offers many unique options for accommodations. You can choose from a traditional hotel or branch out for something a bit more adventurous. You can easily book a hotel from a website such as hotels.com or booking.com, but if you truly want an out-of-the-box experience, you’ll want to explore some of the more uncommon options.
Norwegians consider staying in a cabin to be an excellent way to fully immerse yourself into the lifestyle. In fact, cabins are so important, there is even a special term for enjoying a stay in a cabin: hyttekos. This translates to mean “cabin coziness”. Norway has thousands of cabins and cottages to choose from. Whether you want to be by the lake or in the mountains, there’s something for everyone.
Would you love to lounge around and gaze out the windows at a spectacular mountain view? You’ll want to check out this gorgeous waterfront cabin in Vestvågøy, Nordland, Norway. With ocean views, this cabin is large enough to accommodate six guests, but also cozy enough for
two. Relax on the large deck situated right outside the main living and dining area. You’ll have access to wi-fi to keep you connected to the outside world, but, honestly, you’ll probably not be wanting to surf the internet with a beautiful view right outside your window.
Maybe you’d like to get out onto the water? The Fjord Pearl, as the name suggests, sits right on a fjord and there’s tons of nature for guests to explore. The renters of the cabin provide a kayak for your use and this is the perfect place to explore in a nontraditional way. With breathtaking views, this cabin sleeps three and has plenty of space.
Choose from small, rustic, budget friendly cabins or luxurious, upscale cabins. If you play your cards right, you can even score a cabin nestled in a tree. Get up close with nature and enjoy a breathtaking view from your own personal grownup treehouse. Either way, you’ll be more than ready for a trip full of rest and tranquility.
Glamping in Style
You may have heard the term “glamping” and wondered exactly what that means. Glamping is basically camping, but with a twist. Instead of setting up a flimsy tent in the middle of the woods, glamping is often done in decked out campers equipped with all the comforts of home. For an even more incredible experience, you must visit Trones Eye. Located on the outskirts of Stiklestad Golf Club on a peninsula in the Trondheim Fjord, you’ll spend the night in a beautiful glass igloo. The igloo is fully furnished and boasts a 360 degree view of the water and lush greenery. Fall asleep to the sound of water lapping against the shoreline. Included in your stay is a golf cart that will take you to and from the golf club where you’ll find toilets, showers, and dining options.
Right on Track
For an unusual and whimsical experience, the Namsen Salmon & Train Experience will transport you back to the 1960s. You’ll spend the night on a restored train that is permanently parked on a bridge in the middle of the Namsen River. The carriage features ten cars furnished with two beds each. Every sleeping compartment overlooks the river. Enjoy the morning sunrise over a cup of coffee from the large seating area. There are toilets and showers available for your use as well. It’s safe to say you won’t sacrifice any comfort here.
During the day, explore the area on a leisurely bike ride or try your hand at some fishing. The Namsen River is one of the best salmon rivers in the country.
See the Light
Lighthouses have become popular places for a getaway all across Norway. There are approximately sixty lighthouses along the Norwegian coast that have been converted for visitors. It’s highly recommended that you book your stay well in advance as more people discover this rare accommodation option.
Food for Thought
No trip is complete without trying some of the local cuisine. Norway offers some of the best seafood on the planet thanks to its cold, clean waters. The big daddy of Norwegian seafood is king crab. If your trip takes you to Northern Norway, you’ll be able to get a taste of this seafood staple freshly caught.
Norway Has Game
If you’re an adventurous eater, Norway has plenty of unconventional foods for you to try. For starters, the meat is out of this world. Especially during hunting season, you’ll be able to find delicious game wherever you decide to dine. There are four Norwegian specialties you can’t miss out on while you’re there.
Grouse. Grouse is a coveted catch for the bird-hunter in Norway. The breast is tender with a milder flavor. The rest of the bird tends to have a slightly more gamey taste.
Reindeer. No, Norwegians aren’t serving up Rudolph on a plate. The meat is lean and delicious and is especially popular among the Indigenous Sami people.
Deer. Deer is a popular choice around the world, but are especially abundant in Norway. The most common way deer is served is as steak, but there are a variety of cooking methods from stews to jerky or smoked.
Moose. Moose meat is often compared to that of venison or elk and is considered a delicacy. When prepared properly, moose is a phenomenal choice for an unforgettable meal.
You can’t travel to Norway without trying some of the more traditional dishes. There’s nothing better than diving in and dining like a local. Some of the local favorites include:
Mutton & Cabbage (Fårikål). This is the national Norwegian dish and can be found on tables all over the country. This simple stew is prepared by simmering mutton and cabbage in a pot until both the meat and cabbage are tender. Your best opportunity to experience this traditional food is if you travel to Norway in the fall or winter.
Sheep’s Head (Smalahove). This dish is best suited for someone who is a slightly more adventurous eater. True to its name, we are literally talking about the sheep’s head. The head is simmered on low heat and normally served alongside mashed potatoes. Traditionally, this was a pre-Christmas meal to be eaten in the week leading up to the holiday.
Potato Dumpling (Raspeball). Who doesn’t love potatoes? There are so many different ways to serve potatoes and potatoes in Norway are no exception. You can’t leave without trying these balls of deliciousness. Flour is mixed together with mashed potatoes, rolled up and then cooked. Normally, the dumplings are served alongside various kinds of meat. Some Norwegians opt to enjoy the dumplings with bacon on the side and sugar or syrup on top. We don’t think there’s really an incorrect way to eat a potato dumpling.
Things to Do
Of course if you’re visiting another country you’ll want to partake in some adventurous activities they may have to offer. There are so many things to do in Norway, it’s hard to choose just a few.
● Fjords. We’ve already talked a lot about the fjords of Norway, but that’s because they’re just that tourist worthy. You can explore the different fjords in many different ways from cruising to driving, to hiking or by ferry. Hike up to the top of one of the many mountains to get an unmatched view.
● Hiking. Norway is a great place to go hiking. There are plenty of mountains around, all offering some of the most incredibly breathtaking views around. Want to take some Instagram-worthy photos? Hike Trolltunga. This hike ends at the Troll’s tongue, which is a sliver of rock jutting off a mountain and the perfect location for a noteworthy photo.
● Road Trips. Do you like taking scenic drives and being outdoors? One of the best ways to see the land is to road trip through the Lofoten Islands. You’ll find all kinds of terrain scattered around these islands. There are mountains and beaches, plenty of places to hike and everything in between. You’ll drive along the rocky coastline and be able to appreciate every bit of the view. Surprisingly, the beaches are also great for surfing. Enjoy some fishing while you’re there or just relax.
● History. When you travel, do you like to learn the history of the area you’re traveling to? Well, if you visit Nusfjord, you’ll get just that. One of the best preserved fishing towns, Nusfjord boasts a rich history. You’ll be able to tour a saw-mill, shop at an old-fashioned store, and even explore a factory that produces cod-liver oil. If you’re feeling very adventurous, you also have the option to spend the night in a renovated fisherman’s cottage.
● Northern Lights. The Northern Lights (also known as Aurora Borealis) are a well known light show put on by Mother Nature. Taking a trip to Norway anytime during September through April will yield the possibility of feasting your eyes on one of nature’s most marvelous wonders. The beautiful dancing lights are enough to put an exclamation point on any trip.
Naturally you’ll want to shop for some souvenirs to commemorate your time in Norway. In recent years, Norway has become a subject of interest when it comes to fashion. For clothing options, you’ll find anything from warm wear to fashionable sporty gear. Knitting has a strong history rooted in Norway and you’ll find many options for colorful, warm, hand knitted apparel in the majority of the shops. Need something to wear for all of those outdoor activities you’ll be participating in? There are plenty of sports shops and warehouses that will definitely have exactly what you’re looking for.
If you want something comfortable to go hiking in, wool is your best bet. Wool is a great material for regulating body temperature, ensuring that you never get too hot or too cold while you’re enjoying the great outdoors. Norwegian wool is durable and sturdy and, contrary to popular belief, does not itch. The wool is also known for being a breathable, moisture-wicking material. In fact, children in Norway are dressed in wool right from the beginning because it is the best material to keep them warm and/or dry, regardless of the weather conditions.
Wearing Norwegian wool is like wearing a piece of nature. The sheep the wool comes from are well taken care of and that care translates to the quality of wool produced. Norwegian wool is considered eco-friendly and organic, as there is no need for harsh sanitizing chemicals to be used on the wool before it is made into clothing.
You’ll find Norwegian wool used in all kinds of goods such as knitting yarn, carpets, furniture covers, clothing, blankets, and many other interior textiles. You’ll be hard pressed to find a home that does not contain something made out of the luxurious material.
If you’re looking for more traditional souvenirs that aren’t necessarily wearable, you’ll have some options there as well.
● Lotus Bowl - The iconic design was born in 1963 and the brightly colored kitchen designs are easily recognizable. You can find these just about anywhere as well as online.
● Re-turned Birds - You’ll find these beauties in just about any tourist shop. These wooden birds are hand-crafted and make a wonderful addition to any decor.
● Swims shoe protector - The weather has a tendency to change quickly, especially in certain parts of Norway. Proper planning includes protectors for your shoes and perhaps an umbrella as well. You can pick either of these items up in any shop around any of the towns.
A couple of things to note when shopping in Norway:
The only currency accepted is the Norwegian NOK. You’ll need to convert your cash to local currency if you want to spend it. Otherwise, you’re welcome to use a credit or a debit card in most places for most purchases.
In the larger cities, you’ll find that shops are usually open from 10am to 5pm and most are closed on Sundays. You may be able to find certain grocery or souvenir shops open on
Sundays, but it’s best to plan to have all of your shopping done by Saturday evening. Of course, it’s always best to check the hours of operation for each individual store as times may vary.
Traveling to Norway can be an interesting and exciting trip. Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, there are things to do that will interest anyone in your traveling party. From outdoor exploration activities such as hiking or skiing to simply sitting on the beaches, it’s easy to have a great time during your visit. Norway has a way of making even the simplest activity seem exciting. Explore the fjords or take your leave in a fisherman’s cabin. Take in the breathtaking scenery and sample some of the best food around. You can spend your entire day outside or simply resting in a glass igloo overlooking the ocean. You may even catch a glimpse of a dolphin or two! Whatever you decide, there are no bad choices when it comes to taking a trip to Norway.