Put your phone away (well, okay, maybe after you’ve finished reading this article). If you’re hoping to escape the daily hustle and bustle, log off from the world, and spend some quality time among nature and the great outdoors, then you’re definitely in the right country. Norway’s vast size and untouched natural beauty will make it very easy for you to completely switch off and unwind. All you have to do is pick one of these spots below – and resist the temptation to Instagram.
Find your true north (beyond the Arctic Circle)
Norway is one of only eight countries in the entire world with a land area extending beyond the Arctic. Arctic Norway is home to many breathtaking destinations such as the Svalbard archipelago, Bear Island and the Tromsø fjords. In fact, Tromsø is a great place from which to explore the northern Norwegian wilderness: situated 321 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, it is home to the world’s northernmost university, brewery and cathedral. Although there are many things to do in the city as well, true solitude and serenity lie just a fjord ride or a hiking trail away.
Follow the blue markings in the woods of Østmarka
A large forest region to the east side of Oslo, Østmarka may seem overwhelming at first – after all, it covers a staggering 256 square kilometres – but if you look closely, you will see the specific blue marks for hiking that you can safely follow. There are also swimming spots for those who want to wash off afterwards, and many cabins for those who want to spend the night.
Take a relaxing ride on the Flam Railway
It hasn’t been touted ‘the world’s most beautiful train journey’ for no reason. This train literally takes you on a ride through the very best aspects of Western Norway’s scenery – running from the end of Aurlandsfjord all the way to the Myrdal Station high up in the mountains, it takes you from sea level (at the Sognefjord in Flåm) to an elevation of 867 metres within an hour. You can book your tickets through the NSB website.
Make new (offline) friends at Dyreparken, Kristiansand
Observe Nordic animals in their natural habitats (as well as animals from Africa and Asia) at the Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park. It’s the perfect destination for families interested in knowing more about Norway’s non-human inhabitants.
Test your limits at Gaustatoppen Mountain
Towering at 1,883 metres, this is not the easiest mountain to climb. But if you decide to be one of the brave 30,000 who make the trip up to Gaustatoppen’s summit every year, you will certainly be rewarded: from the top, you can essentially see one-sixth of Norway, all the way south to the coast and east to Sweden. And because you deserve to have bragging rights after this, don’t forget to collect a rock from the mountaintop and get it stamped at the Tourist Association’s cabin, just to prove you made it.
Watch the Aurora Borealis in Vestvågøy, Lofoten
Uttakleiv may just be the most photographed beach on all the Lofoten islands – and that’s saying something. By day, the combination of a sandy beach and a rocky shoreline will make you feel like a professional photographer (trust us, the scenery will do all the work for you). But by night, Uttakleiv is an excellent spot to watch the Northern Lights. Nothing can help you unwind and feel one with the nature like looking at up and observing this marvel.
Get lost in the vastness of Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park is like an endless playground for hiking enthusiasts: with over 250 mountains almost 2000 metres high and 60 glaciers here, you can ski, hike, bike, climb, listen to waterfalls, spend the night in one of the park’s wooden huts and cabins and, of course, take amazing photos. If everything feels larger than life, just remember that this is actually the ‘home of the giants’ (which is what Jotunheimen literally means).
Hike to a remote beach like Kvalvika
Do you want to feel at one with nature, surrounded by mountains and greeted only by the clear waters and breathtaking views? Of course you do. Well then, Kvalvika should definitely be on your list. Situated on the northern side of the island of Moskenes (Moskenesøy in Norwegian), it might take you about an hour’s hike to get there, but it will be totally worth it.
Reflect upon the Pulpit Rock
Also called Preikestolen in Norwegian, this mountain plateau is one of Rogaland county’s most visited attractions. It towers 604 metres above the Lysefjord and was probably created by the expansion of ice around 10,000 years ago. It’s the perfect spot to sit and ponder, away from distractions and perfectly one with nature – but just don’t go too near the edge!