Photo: Jorge Luis Ojeda Flota / Unsplash.com
Fjord Tours Articles / 18 Sep 2020

An Expat’s Guide to Exploring Norway

Among the Nordic countries, Norway is renowned for its year-round outdoor adventure opportunities. COVID-19 has made it more challenging, but with common-sense public health procedures in place, Norway is open for exploration, especially outdoors.

Here is an expat’s guide to exploring Norway - Read on for some secret places to visit and pro tips that will make any expat feel like a true Norwegian!

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Forests

You can’t go anywhere in Norway without seeing swathes of forest. Any exchange program student can tell you that more than 30% of the country is covered in trees. But there are some particularly special forested areas that expats may wish to consider exploring. Visiting students can carve out as little as one day to explore all the incredible nature that Norway has to offer.

If you want to see some stunning trees, then head straight to the Vestfold region where you’ll discover Norway’s only beech forest. You will enjoy the calming path near the lake and can sit at any spot to enjoy a snack under the boughs. If you’re a history buff, you might be interested in the 80+ Iron Age burial mounds located here. Go to the town of Larvik nearby for coffee and relaxation after your walk.

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Photo: Christian Roth Christensen

Nordmarka is the name for the forested region near Oslo that is full of unspoiled nature. Many of these destinations are reachable by public transit. The area itself is so full of activities that even long-time expats can always find a new adventure in Nordmarka. From hiking to skiing to fishing or berry picking, you’ll get a full dose of Norwegian tree energy in Nordmarka.

Ravnedalen Naturpark is a manmade park, but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It was originally created as a pleasure garden for people to enjoy walks and concerts. Today, guests can enjoy a walk under the trees (both native to the Nordic region and non-native) and then settle into the cafe to eat a snack while watching the swans.

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Photo: sverrehjornevik.com/Flåm AS

Bodies of Water

The Oslofjord is in the southeast region of Norway and it refers to a series of waterways. Exploring the Oslofjord provides many options for expats, from solitary lighthouses to busy bays. Viking fans will delight in traversing the same waters that ancient peoples traveled. For more modern historians, this area played a central role in the outcome of World War II due to its strategic location. If you enjoy spending time boating or fishing, then you should definitely add Oslofjord to your expat adventure list.

The fourth longest fjord in the world is the Hardangerfjord. This region has everything that an expat could want from an outdoor Norwegian adventure. You can discover waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and more. The area around the Hardangerfjord is rich in cultural history. Expats should plan to spend time soaking up the traditional foods and practices common to this region.

When it comes to Norwegian beaches, Sognsvann Lake is a unique gem. Set in a well-equipped recreation area, Sognsvann Lake is perfect for expats who want to enjoy nature in an accessible setting. The path is easy to navigate for people who use mobility devices, and it’s also well-lit enough that you can walk confidently no matter the weather. It’s not a great place to find solitude in nature, but if you want to make some Norwegian friends then it’s the perfect expat destination.

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Photo: Destinasjon Røros

Cities

Røros is a hidden gem that every expat should visit in Norway. If you’re going to live in a place with such a rich history, it’s essential to prioritize domestic travel so you can visit some of the most ancient sites in the Nordic region. Røros is one of the oldest “wooden towns” in Europe. Houses look mostly the same as they did in the 1600s and it’s protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bring your camera and spend all day exploring and photographing its unique buildings. Hot tip: Check out the Experience Røros Tour!

Fredrikstad is another delightful city that many expats have never visited. This city used to be a military fortress but now has delightful old-world vibes. If you like the moats and canals of Amsterdam, then you’ll love Fredrikstad. It’s full of waterfront cafes, art museums, and other delightful options to while away an afternoon. It has a free ferry that runs the length of the city several times a day for easy expat exploration.

Sometimes expats get too comfortable in their new city and forget to explore everything their host country has to offer. In Norway, there are amazing landscapes in every corner of the country just waiting to be discovered. From Tromsø in the north to Oslo in the east, to Bergen in the west or Kristiansand in the south, domestic travel in Norway is possible in every season.