Best of Norway
Best of Norway
1. Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands, located 100 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle, are characterized by granite peaks towering over the open ocean and small fishing villages dotting the shoreline. Summer is a terrific time to visit with the midnight sun and ample opportunities for hiking, biking, and even Arctic surfing, but the Gulf Stream keeps the winters relatively mild. Fishing is still life there: every year from January through April the Lofoten Islands thrust into high gear as the world’s foremost cod fishery.
The heart of “Fjord Norway”—from Lysefjord in the south to Kristiansund in the north—is a world unto itself of long, snaking waterways. Norway’s famous fjords—such as the UNESCO World Heritage Geirangerfjord—garner much of the attention, but the entire western portion of the country is lined with countless other fjords. While traveling in Norway you will likely come across giants like the Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord, but it's also easy to get off the beaten path to the more remote corners of fjord Norway that few people see.
3. Hurtigruten Sea Voyage
The Hurtigruten, or Norwegian Coastal Express, aptly has been called "world's most beautiful sea voyage." It’s a unique sailing experience, to be sure, following almost the entire length of the Norwegian coastline from Bergen to Kirkenes (5 miles from the Russian border). This is not a cruise ship; originally chartered to improve communication along Norway’s jagged coastline, the current Hurtigruten fleet of 14 ships is cushier than it once was but still serves important passenger and cargo needs. The ships run 365 days a year with 34 ports of call, port-to-port tickets are available for trips of any length, and travel is in either direction (12 days round trip for the entire route). Book as far in advance as possible: the Hurtigruten is extremely popular.
4. Hardangervidda Plateau
Of all the mountain areas in Norway the vast Hardangervidda Plateau feels the most uniquely Norwegian. It’s the southernmost Arctic flora and fauna in the country—where large herds of wild reindeer roam—and the former training grounds for Roald Amundsen’s polar expeditions. On the whole, the Hardangervidda is rugged, otherworldly, and well worth a trip.
5. Public Huts and Cabins
For 140 years and counting, the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) has built and maintained the world’s best system of public huts. It’s a privilege to hike Norway's trails (also maintained by the DNT) and finish the day fireside at one of over 460 cabins throughout the country. There are three classes of huts: the staffed lodges are the biggest and have amenities like prepared meals with wine and beer but for more adventure try the self-service and no-service variety.
6. Northern Norway
At the top of Norway is the land of the midnight sun, polar night, and the Sami, Norway’s indigenous people. The bustling city of Tromsø is the capital of the Arctic and farther north are the wilds of Finnmark: vast and barren country that is the least populated region in Norway. The end of the road is the famous North Cape and neighboring Knivskjellodden, the latter being the true northernmost point of mainland Europe.
9. Northern Lights