Fjords, the Northern Lights and Vikings are the essential components of a trip to Norway. And the Norwegians’ yearning for country cabins and cottages mean even far-flung corners of the country are blessed with memorable boltholes and hideaways far from the capital, Oslo. Here’s our pick, bookable on Culture Trip.
Luxury hotels and sleek urban apartments are perfect for a city break, but when you’re planning a vacation in Norway, there’s nothing like immersing yourself in nature. Make yourself cosy in one of these Scandinavian log cabins with views of the Aurora Borealis and expansive fjords, and prepare for outdoor activities including skiing, hiking, cycling and even dog sledding.
“Difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations,” proclaims a sign on the dirt road to Ongajok, a remote lodge in northern Norway near Alta. Just as the word “lost” rears into view, you’ll reach a farm-like oasis of cabins and a lavvo (a traditional Sami tent). The pine cabins are comfortable and cosy, while the lodge’s communal lounge and hall feature country-chic furniture and wall-hung antlers. You can walk huskies in summer or go dog-sledging in winter, and there’s reindeer stew on the menu.
Far above the Arctic Circle, jutting into the Norwegian Sea, the Lofoten Islands cradle some of the country’s most spectacular fjord-riven landscapes. Midway along the peninsula-like archipelago at Stamsund, the Lofoten Panorama stands atop a private deep-water pier with views across the harbour and rugged coast beyond. Eight three- and five-bedroom apartments offer high-end, well-appointed accommodation aimed at groups of friends or families; floor-to-ceiling windows and private terraces season the feeling of exclusivity.
This cluster of pretty fisherman’s cottages stands alongside a little jetty at Manndalen, a predominantly Sami community on the eastern arm of the 120km-long (75mi) Lyngenfjord. Here, amid the jagged Lyngen Alps, the village’s immediate hinterland looks relatively temperate and surprisingly green in summer. Cottages blend rustic simplicity with Nordic homeliness. Each one-bedroom cottage has a sloped-ceiling loft and a fully equipped kitchen and sleeps four. Some even have a sauna, and there’s a communal barbecue pit. Silver Viking boats with echo sounders are available to rent.
The Holmen Husky Lodge’s DNA is imbued with the passion of founder Eirik Nilsen, a mechanic-turned-musher who embraced Arctic nature and his beloved Alaskan huskies to win the Finnmarksløpet (Europe’s longest dog-sled race) three times. Revitalising a formerly decrepit farm near Alta, Holmen experiences range from two-day mushing trips to six-day cabin-to-cabin adventures across the Finnmark Plateau. The lodge’s accommodation includes traditional tipi-like lavvos, sharing communal facilities, or a part-glazed dome bubble with a wood-burning stove and private facilities. Bring swimwear for the outdoor jacuzzi.
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Overlooking Lyngenfjord at the foot of the Lyngen Alps, the Koppangen Brygger neatly combines straightforward access with bracing isolation. At a tiny end-of-the-road bay atop a pier, this accommodation features cabins, hotel-like double rooms and apartments. The two-, three- and four-bedroom, simply furnished cabins have private kitchens, saunas and decks; there’s also a shared outdoor jacuzzi. Koppangen village is a fine launchpad for winter skiing or summer hiking with, if you’re inclined, mushroom- and berry-foraging along the way.
You’ll find Brekke Cabins in the verdant sloping glades just above Ortnevik, a pretty end-of-the-road village overlooking the vast elongated Sognefjord. Once full of summer mountain farms, the area behind these soft hills and forests is home to rugged mountains that collectively form part of the Stølsheimen Nature Preserve. The Brekke has three self-catering options: a large chalet with two loft bedrooms, and two fairytale-like meadow cottages – with grass and wildflowers sprouting from their roofs – that comfortably sleep two to three.
Among the convoluted rocky coastline and islets at Svolvær, a Lofoten Islands fishing town, the Svinøya Rorbuer boasts an almost unrivalled range of accommodation. Whether you choose one of the former fisherman’s cottages (or rorbu), lodges or historic houses (culminating in an 1828 manor house), all tap into the region’s rich and once vital fishing heritage. Framed by Svolvær’s serrated mountain backdrop, the houses’ simple prettiness feels like the perfect combination of culture, colour and countryside.
Deep in the rugged folds and watery chasms of Norway’s fjordland, even the spectacular standards of the region are eclipsed by the wonder of Geirangerfjord. At 260m (853ft) deep and hemmed in by 1,700m-high (5,577ft) mountains, this Unesco World Heritage site is among the most popular natural attractions in the country. The Grande Hytteutleige og Camping’s south-facing location on a rare land shelf gives its straightforward cottages and cabins searing fjord-and-mountain vistas, marred only by occasional cruise ships. It’s all hopelessly scenic, but you’ll probably never have it to yourself.
Girdled by magnificent snow-capped peaks, Bøyum Camping stands in a lush meadow at the head of the 25km-long (16mi) Fjærlandsfjord, which is itself merely one arm of the vast Sognefjord. Just a short walk away is the Norwegian Glacier Museum, while a short drive delivers tantalising glimpses of Bøyabreen, a branch of Jostedalsbreen – the largest glacier in continental Europe. Part of a family-owned campsite, these self-catering cabins offer straightforward rooms for four (some with bunk beds) and dormitories. If you tire of the scenery, it also has beach volleyball, and bike rentals are available.