Norway and nature go hand-in-hand and the astonishing fjords, glaciers, mountains and wildlife are just waiting to be explored. As our guide shows, the measures that Norwegians have put in place to realise their love affair with nature means the country is ideally suited for adventure, whether that be on skis, legs, two wheels or by boat.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing has been an essential mode of transport for centuries during winters in Norway, and even during the summer Norwegians whip out their “rulleski” (a combination of skis and rollerblades) and practise cross-country skiing. From autumn to spring Norway is the perfect place to go skiing and snowboarding, and there are numerous resorts for both daredevils and families. If you’re looking for an extreme thrill just outside the capital then Holmenkollen have recently opened a zip line, Kollensvevet, which gives you the same view, route and sensation of speed as the ski jumpers experience on the ski jump. Some of the best places to go skiing and snowboarding include Trysil, Voss and Norefjell. Why not try Telemark skiing – a type of skiing popular at Norwegian resorts where you ‘dance’ your way down the slope.
As hiking is immensely popular with Norwegians, you’ll find hiking trails scattered throughout the country both inland and on the coast, as well as 44 national parks to visit. The hiking trails have varying levels of difficulty, so choose wisely! Glacier hiking is perfect for those looking for an extra level of excitement. There are plenty of wooden cabins spread across the landscape which provide basic and affordable accommodation. If you want to make it cheaper then you can camp in most places for free thanks to “Allemannsretten”, the Right to Roam (do have a look at this government website to check the rules). Preikestolen, Trolltunga, Galdhøpiggen, Besseggen and Romsdalseggen are some of the most popular and beautiful hiking destinations.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
With its many mountains and fjords, Norway might not seem like the obvious place to go on a cycling holiday. In recent years, however, a lot of effort has been made to make the country more bike accessible and Norway is now considered one of the top cycling destinations in Europe. The magazine Travel and Vacation voted Rallarvegen Norway’s finest road for cycling, but there are plenty other paths to take you across the country in a challenging and fun way. It is worth remembering that some of these routes do require previous experience, and to take into account the country’s long winter season. Hafjell, Trysil and Geilo have bike-friendly accommodation as well as bike rental and repair. Even Oslo has some pretty good bike trails for all types of cyclists.
Canoeing and Kayaking
Norway is famous for its fjords. What better way to experience them than being on them? Canoeing and kayaking are offered in numerous places along the coast and fjords. Helgeland coast in north-western Norway is considered one of the best areas to go sea kayaking, for example. It is also worth looking into Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO world heritage site, as well as the Vega Islands, Flekkefjord and Finnøy. If you’re a beginner, it might be worthwhile to take part in an organised tour. Remember that the fjords are incredibly deep and that Norwegian nature can be quite harsh, so safety should always be a priority.
Norway is a sanctuary for some of Europe’s coolest wildlife, such as brown bears (no polar bears on the mainland, though you can find them on Svalbard), elks, wolves, lynxes and whales. Going on a wildlife safari is one of the best ways to see these magnificent creatures. While the bears and wolves are incredibly rare and usually shy, it is relatively common to see musk oxen, elks and reindeer on the mainland as well as numerous types of birds, including white-tailed eagles. Whale safaris are hugely popular as sperm whales, and occasionally other species, visit the Norwegian coast every summer. Jump on an organised tour and see what wildlife you can find.