All year round, most of Norway is packed and ready for things to do, and the ten most popular destinations on the US version of visitnorway.com include everything from the urban vibe of Oslo to the Arctic life in Svalbard. Pick your favorites, and consider that going in the low season can also have its highs.
1. The Lofoten Islands
While the fjords cut into the land, Lofoten is shaped like a big arm that stretches out in the sea. The many mountain peaks point towards the Arctic sky like church spires, and in between them you’ll find traditional villages full of fishermen and artists.
Try everything from local food made of seafood and lamb to beaches of white sand and the Lofotr Viking Museum. It is also easy to travel to the mainland, or to Helgeland and the UNESCO-listed Vega archipelago further south.
The hometown of one of the world’s most popular music creators, Kygo, sounds, feels, and tastes like nothing else. Fresh seafood and other local delicacies match a bustling art scene of museums and galleries. The streets of this capital of the fjords is full of wooden, fairy tale houses with the seven mountains as a backdrop.
The medieval Hanseatic wharf of Bryggen, with its around 60 historic buildings in succession, is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and several foundations date back to the 12th century.
3. The Svalbard Islands
This huge island group in the northernmost part of Europe takes wildlife to next level, and at the same time the society is very well organised. Here you can participate in exotic, nature based activities, all year round.
You will experience Svalbard as locals do, and guides are often living the adventure. The main city of Longyearbyen is a mini metropole because it offers services and very good places to eat that you usually would expect to find in big cities.
4. The Geirangerfjord
The Seven Sisters and numerous other waterfalls run down steep mountain sides that end in the clear, blue water of the 9.3 miles long Geirangerfjord. Here, you’ll find the natural peace and quiet of one of the world’s top nature attractions.
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it is even more present off season.The immediate surrounding regions also have a lot to offer the whole year round.
A few main streets manage to create an urban, international vibe – polar style. The city on the peninsula of Tromshalvøya justifies the nickname “capital of the Arctics”and has a multitude of things to do and see, ranging from the Polaria Centre, The Polar Museum, and the local Mack brewery established I 1877, to whale spotting, midnight sun, and northern lights.
Tromsø is the largest city in Northern Norway. None the less, the surrounding steep mountains and deep fjords are so close to the city center that you can admire them from the main street.
A capital in the middle of nature, Oslo is selected for the European Green Capital of 2019 and listed by Lonely Planet as Best in Travel for 2018. A lot of things are cooking in the city, like a restaurant scene that includes the world’s northernmost three-star Michelin restaurant. Oslo is also home to some of the most awarded baristas and coffee brewers on the planet.
This one of a kind capital, both kid-friendly and with a growing music scene, appreciates nature, new architecture, arts, biking lanes, and pedestrians. At the Opera House you can even walk on the roof.
A 12.5 miles long mountain railway journey takes you through the beautiful landscapes of the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, an arm of the Sognefjord.
Keep in mind that one of the most travelled sites in Norway is far less busy and crowded in spring, fall, or even early summer.
8. The Stavanger region
50 years as Norway’s oil capital hasn’t spoiled the charm of this seaside city, nor has it changed the fact that the region has some of Norway’s main hiking attractions.
Here, you can explore the Lysefjord area and famous mountains plateaus like Preikestolen (“The Pulpit Rock”). Local food is served at both Michelin-starred restaurants and likewise ambitious, but more low-key eateries.
9. The Ålesund and Sunnmøre area
Nowhere else in the world can you walk between art nouveau architecture with the smell of the Atlantic ocean in your nose. Head for a place to eat fresh seafood, maybe after a day of kayaking, hiking, off-piste skiing, or fishing. If you’re not that into outdoor activities, the city is the cultural center of the region, and boasts several festivals throughout the year.
The surrounding Sunnmøre region continue the landscape theme of fjords, islands, and steep mountains. The Geirangerfjord, the Hjørundfjord, the island of Runde, Sunnmørsalpene mountain range, and many other places are easy to visit from Ålesund.
The Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, and it’s famous arm the Nærøyfjord has World Heritage status. The surrounding mountain areas are amongst Norway’s most popular hiking areas. The Sognefjord extends from the coast just north of Bergen to the mighty mountains of the Jotunheimen National Park and the blue ice of the Jostedalsbreen glacier.
There are strong food traditions in the Sognefjord area, and the mild climate, fresh air and abundance of lush mountain pastures mean that the Sognefjord area produces fresh ingredients of high quality.