Europe’s true wilderness is not found not in the Alps, but the northern reaches of the continent from the 57th parallel north well into the Arctic Circle. It is land commanded by glaciers, sheer fjords, otherworldly mountain terrain, and extensive coastline. Norway is not conventional wilderness, but is as expansive, uncultivated, and uninhabited as anywhere on the continent, and its wonderlands speak directly and loudly to those who love wild country.
People often imagine the Nordic countries as geographic equals, but in reality Norway stands apart from its relatively flat neighbors. Norway is mostly mountainous, reaching a crescendo in the Jotunheimen range, the home of Northern Europe’s highest peaks. It also has the good fortune of being located along the Gulf Stream, which keeps temperatures considerably more moderate than Sweden, Finland, and places of similar latitudes such as Alaska and Siberia.
Wherever you go in Norway, the landscapes will be austere but as beautiful and wide open as any. The country is made for exploration; one can hike its entire length from north to south exclusively by way of public huts. In the winter, the land is frozen but the Norwegian people may be even more active. A devotion to nature is ingrained in Norwegian culture—embodied by the word friluftsliv, or the open air life—and after going there you will have a fuller understanding why.
It’s nearly impossible to envisage the scope of Norway's fjords. Many of us have seen photos of the country’s most famous fjords—the Geirangerfjord, Sognefjord, and Hardangerfjord—but even the best images can’t do justice to their grand scale. The bodies of water are immense, the walls tall and sheer, with snowmelt and rain tumbling downward in a continuous cycle of replenishment. These truly are some of the world’s great natural treasures... Read More
The Hardangervidda Plateau is one of Norway’s and Europe’s most wondrous open spaces, encompassing nearly 10,000 square kilometers of varied Arctic wilderness (bigger than Yellowstone National Park). Because of Norway’s exquisite system of trails and public huts, few, if any, such wide-open expanses anywhere in the world are as readily accessible. If you’re lucky, you may see one of the large herds of wild reindeer stealthily migrating through the area... Read More
The Jotunheimen Mountains are a place of superlatives. Translating to the “home of the giants,” they are the highest mountains in Norway and Northern Europe, Jotunheimen National Park is the country's most visited, and the Besseggen Ridge is the country's most popular day hike. All together, the Jotunheimen is an imposing concentration of mountains, glaciers, and alpine lakes encompassing roughly 3,500 km². In addition to Norway’s highest mountain... Read More
The Dovrefjell-Rondane corridor is Norway’s closest approximation of Montana’s Big Sky Country in the United States: a supreme stretch of wide-open, rolling mountainous terrain. The area has great historical significance as the traditional trade route between Oslo and Trondheim. For many years the Dovre Mountains were thought to be the highest in Norway. The Jotunheimen Mountains were later properly recorded as being higher—Dovrefjell’s highest peak, Snøhetta... Read More
Norway’s Lofoten Islands are referred to as the Lofoten Wall, because quite literally, they are vertical rows of granite shooting out of the Arctic Sea. A number of tiny fishing villages hug the shoreline and a majority of the inhabitants still depend for their livelihood on the epic winter cod season. For travelers, there isn't a more stunning or unique place to visit. The traditional red huts (rorbuer) once used to house the annual influx of fishermen have been converted... Read More
Europe’s true wilderness is found in Norway, and some of the country’s wildest terrain is in its northern reaches. Above the Lofoten Islands are the Arctic regions of Troms (home to the bustling island city of Tromsø), and Finnmark, the far north of Norway that borders Finland, Russia, and the Arctic Ocean. Aside from Tromsø, northern Norway hosts only a handful of small civilizations, as well as Finnmark’s indigenous Sami people, who have inhabited the area for more... Read More
Finnmark is vast and barren country—it's the coldest and least populated region in Norway. The Finnmarksvidda Plateau dominates the interior, while the coastal areas on the Barents Sea are mostly rugged fjords and inlets. All in all, Finnmark has five national parks and a wealth of opportunities to get off the beaten path (far off). The most visited tourist attraction in Finnmark is the North Cape (Nordkapp), often referred to as the northernmost point... Read More