Fresh air, dramatic fjords and untamed wilderness – Norway is a geographical stunner. Here is everything you need to know to get there now
Stretching from a temperate European latitude right up into the Arctic Circle, Norway has a vast landmass but a population of under five million – Mother Nature is mistress here, and has been a bit of a show-off.
Norway’s west coast is over 25,000km long, ragged, island-dotted and spectacular: the fjords of Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord have even been declared Unesco World Heritage sites.
Away from the coast, Norway’s landscape is mountainous and wild, pocked with surprisingly vibrant towns and traditional rural villages. In the far north of Norway the Sami still herd reindeer, while intrepid travellers flock to mush husky-sleds and marvel at the northern lights.
Unless they go further north still – Norway’s outlaying Svalbard archipelago offers the chance to see polar bears under the midnight sun.
Trolltunga, Norway (Shutterstock)
Norway is famous for its fjords, gouged by retreating ice, a true landscape of the Gods. Anthony Ham says that your first glimpse of one – the dramatic cliff faces, the epic scale, the green meadows that top them – will stay with you for the rest of your life. His favourite, and the one he recommends you go out of your way to visit, is Sognefjord. It is one of those rare places where the reality surpasses even the most hopeful imagination, he says.
William Gray recommends dropping by the Lofoten Islands. It's a spellbinding mix of fjords, whales and Viking myths and the drive getting there is out of this world too.
If watching wildlife is your thing, then you'll want to head to Arctic Norway. It's one of the best places to watch whales – indeed, it was just off Skutvik that Sarah Baxter got to actually swim with Orcas. Wildlife photographer Mark Carwardine lists his favourite spots to watch whales in Arctic Norway too.
Travel Icon: Sognefjord, Norway – Anthony Ham
Adventure on the Lofoten Islands – William Gray
Swimming with Killer Whales – Sarah Baxter
Norway's Arctic Circle – Mark Carwardine
Ålesund, Norway (Shutterstock)
Served by one of the world's best budget airlines, Norway is easy and cheap to get to, making it the perfect short-break destination for Europeans. Whether it's a city break in Oslo or Ålesund, or even Tromsø in the far north, our intrepid writers have put together handy guides to making the most of your time in these lively and lovely cities.
If it's the great outdoors you're after – and let's face it, there's plenty of that in Norway – Anthony Ham has tips on camping and hiking weekends in Norway. And Ben Lerwill reveals how to enjoy a sunny weekend on Sommaroy. What are you waiting for?
10 things to do for free in Oslo – Lauren Williams
Short break: Ålesund, Norway – Daisy Cropper
Go now! Tromsø, Norway – Wanderlust Team
A camping and hiking weekend in Norway – Anthony Ham
A sunny weekend in Sommaroy, Norway – Ben Lerwill
Northern Lights in the Troms region (Shutterstock)
Arctic Norway is synonymous with the Northern Lights and Phoebe Smith certainly had no trouble tacking them down near Kirkenes, Norway's most north-easterly town, right near the Russian border. What did surprise here was how much else the region offered.
Sarah Barrell, on the other hand, took to the seas, sailing on the Hurtigruten Coastal Express as it plied the waters between Bergen and Kirkenes, observing the lights as they danced high above the deck. There are other novel ways to see the Northern Lights in Norway too. Thomas Rees lists them here.
Hunting the aurora in Arctic Norway – Phoebe Smith
Left in the dark – Sarah Barrell
Novel ways to see Norway's Northern Lights – Thomas Rees
Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway (Shutterstock)
While it's relatively simple to capture the majesty of Norway's fjords – in many instances it is just a case of point and shoot – getting a decent shot of the Northern Lights can prove a little trickier. Thankfully William Gray is on hand with his tips for photographing this stunning phenomenon. And not all of them concern your camera either!
If it's inspiration you're after, then look no further than the photos taken by our readers on their travels in Norway. They are quite spectacular too.
Photography tips: snapping the Northern Lights – William Gray
Polar bears frolicking in Svalbard (Shutterstock)
Ready to start planning your trip? Our Norway travel guide is the place to start. Make sure you drop by the Norway essential info page as well, for more everyday (but equally vital) information. And we’ve rounded up the latest travel news from Norway too.
If you have a particular question about Norway, pop over to the myWanderlust Forum where our knowledgeable community are ready to spring into action and share all that they know. Or check out the questions that have already been asked about Norway. The answer to yours might already be there.
Norway Travel Guide – Wanderlust Team
Norway Essential Info – Wanderlust Team
Norwegian landscape (Shutterstock)
Here’s a selection of fantastic tours offered by our partners. From hiking and cross-country skiing tours to specialist Aurora Hunting and wildlife expeditions, there’s something to suit every taste and budget.
Main image: Sognefjord, Norway (Shutterstock)