Photo: Vlada Photo / Visit Nordfjord
Fjord Tours Articles / 14 May 2020

Your Guide to Norway

Norway is one of the most beautiful and varied countries you will ever visit. With the midnight sun and Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in the North, striking blue seas in the South, viking ships in the cultural capital Oslo to the East and world famous turquoise fjords and snow-capped mountains in the West.

Norway offers visitors an incredible mix of cultural and natural wonders. There is no end to travelers' choices. Fjord Tours makes it easy to get around the country in a sustainable way. Our tours visit green valleys, forests, mountains, UNESCO fjords, national parks, and beautiful coastal landscapes. Our most popular tour is the Norway in a nutshell®​ tour.

Wherever you travel in Norway, you’re never far from mountains to climb and trails to explore. Short or long, along the coast, or in the mountains, unparalleled adventure awaits. And did you know that you are allowed to roam and pitch a tent almost anywhere?

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Photo: Maciej Ducxynski/Fjord Norway

What is Norway known for?

Fjords

Norway's fjords (pronounced f'yourd), of which there are over 1000, are natural wonders that just beg to be seen. Created by retreating glaciers from the last Ice Age, the landscape has been majestically sculpted over thousands of years.

Sognefjord

Norway's largest and the world's second-largest fjord is Sognefjord. This popular tourist destination stretches 204 kilometers inland branching into smaller fjords and inlets along the way. At its widest, it is almost 5 kilometers across, and at its deepest is 1308 meters deep. Cliff walls around the edge soar as high as 1,307 meters.

The view is breathtaking and it is with good reason that Sognefjord appears on many a bucket list. Whilst exploring Sognefjord, you should treat yourself to a fjord cruise or express boat to really experience the scale of the cliffs and waterfalls up close. A spectacular 17-kilometer stretch is UNESCO protected Nærøyfjord, just 250 meters wide with cliff walls towering above. You can read more about the Sognefjord here.

Find a fjord that suits you

The Hardangerfjord

If the Sognefjord is the King of the fjords of Western Norway, the Hardangerfjord is the Queen.

The Nærøyfjord

Surrounded by towering mountains up to 1,700 metres high, this arm of the Sognefjord is amazingly beautiful.

The Sognefjord

Norway’s longest fjord, the Sognefjord, is located in the heart of Norwegian fjord country and extends more than 200 km (120 miles) inland.

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Photo: © Desire Weststrate / Folgefonna Breførarlag

Glaciers

Glaciers are a mass of snow and ice. They begin to form when snow remains in the same area year-round, where enough snow accumulates to transform into ice. Each year, new layers of snow bury and compress the previous layers which eventually turn to ice. In Norway, there are 1624 glaciers covering a total area of ​​2595 km2.

Photo: Daan van Lierop/Briksdal Adventure AS

Jostedalsbreen and Nigaardsbreen

In the area surrounding Sognefjord you will find Norway, and Europe's, largest glacier: Jostedalsbreen. Jostedalsbreen has a total area of ​​over 480 km² with the highest point reaching 1952 meters above sea level. At its thickest, Jostedalsbreen is approx. 600 meters thick and has a continuous length of 60 km. Several arms reach far down into the valleys below, including Nigaardsbreen, which is located in Luster municipality in Sogn and Fjordane county. This glaciers’ name comes from the farm Nigard which was crushed by the glacier in 1748 as the glacier emerged approx. 3 km during the period 1700-1748.

Guided walks on this and many other glaciers are extremely popular, the icy blue landscape full of enchantment and wonder. You can read more about guided walking on Nigaardsbreen here.

National Park Erik A E3xjlohvtnw Unsplash

National Parks

The national parks in central Norway provide a playground for all sorts of experiences. They can be especially appealing to environmentally conscious travellers with wildlife walks, white-water rafting and skiing among the many sustainable activities.

Jotunheimen National Park

Jotunheimen is a gigantic area of ​​land with deep green valleys and dramatic prehistoric peaks, at least 275 of which are higher than 2000 meters. Jotunheimen is home to one of Norway's most popular and spectacular hiking trails over the impressive Besseggen mountain ridge with one vantage point providing a stunning photo opportunity with a lake of different colours on either side. You will also find Norway's highest mountain cabin at the top of Fannaråken (2068m) and Norway's highest mountain, Galdhøpiggen (2469m), where you can actually ski in summertime at Galdhøpiggen Summer Ski Center.

Rondane National Park

Rondane is Norway's first national park, and is still one of the most beautiful with its wide expanse surrounded by mountains, moving glaciers.  It is not uncommon to meet herds of wild mountain reindeer while exploring the trails here. The mountain cabin at Rondvassbu, a 6km (1 ½ hour) hike up from the main road, is the starting point for many memorable trips. Peaks such as Storronden, Vinjeronden, Trolltinden and Rondanes highest mountain Rondslottet 2178 m are all accessible with a little effort.

Dovrefjell - Sunndalsfjella National Park

Dovre has even more to offer than soaring mountains. The Highland plains, marshes, and forests are home to some of Norway's most charismatic creatures including moose, wild reindeer, arctic fox, and the fiery wolverine. Still, the most distinctive animal you can see over Dovrefjell is the iconic (but also dangerous) musk ox, which still roams and graze in herds today. Birds love the Fokstumyra ants, with 87 nesting species and 162 resident species making a birdwatchers paradise. The area's most famous mountain is called Snøhetta (2286m) and can be climbed with a six-hour hike.

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Photo: © Raumabanen / Rolf M Sørensen

How to travel in Norway

Scenic Railways

The best way to travel far in Norway is by train. It is relatively inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and not least offers truly unique views.

Photo: ©Rolf M. Sørensen /NSB

Bergensbanen

The Bergen Railway runs between Bergen and Oslo, and is Northern Europe's highest railway line. Approximately 100 km of the 500 km long route runs through wild mountain scenery with stunning waterfalls.The Bergen Railway was completed in 1909, and has since revolutionized the life of the small communities along the line allowing trade and tourism to flourish.

Bergensbanen crosses both the Langfjellene and Hardangervidda and Finse is the highest station, 1222 meters above sea level. Travel time from Bergen to Oslo is approx. 7 hours. The route has several times been named one of the world's best rail experiences.

Photo: Terje Rakke / Nordic Life AS / www.fjordnorway.com

The Flåm Line

The Flam Line (Flåmsbana) corresponds to the Bergen Railway and is considered to be one of the most beautiful train journeys in the world. Flam Railway offers panoramic views of the wildest and most awe-inspiring nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape. You will see rivers that cut through deep ravines, waterfalls that fall down the side of steep, snow-capped mountains and mountain farms that cling above dizzying slopes. The 20 km long train ride between Myrdal and Flåm is one of the steepest railway lines in the world.

Flåm Railway makes a photo stop at the beautiful Kjosfossen, a stunning waterfall with a free fall of 93 meters. The twisting tunnels of the railway spiral in and out of the mountain and are a testament to some of the most daring and talented engineering in Norwegian railway history, truly a sight to behold. The end stop for the railway is the small village of Flåm, which lies at the heart of the Aurlandsfjord, an arm on the Sognefjord.

See more scenic railways

Scenic Railways / 30 Aug 2017
The Dovre Railway

The Dovre Railway was opened in 1921 and runs between Oslo and Trondheim. The railway line passes through the stunning Gudbrandsdalen valley and across the mighty Dovrefjell mountain range.

Scenic Railways / 27 Oct 2015
The Bergen Railway

Explore the Bergen Railway on one of our round trips to the fjords. It is Northern Europe's highest stretch of railway, roughly 100 km of which runs through wild mountain terrain.

Scenic Railways / 29 Oct 2015
The Raumabanen Railway

The Raumabanen Railway is one of Norway's most beautiful and wild stretches of railway.

Scenic Railways / 29 Oct 2015
The Flåm Railway

Discover The Flåm Railway - the most beautiful train journey in the world.

Scenic Railways / 23 Nov 2015
The Northern Railway

The Northern Railway) runs between the historic city of Trondheim and the beautiful Northern town of Bodø.

Scenic Railways / 23 Nov 2015
The Southern Railway

The Southern Railway takes you from Oslo past Kristiansand to Stavanger through contrasting scenery.

Places worth a visit

Photo: VisitOSLO/Tord Baklund

Oslo

Norway's capital Oslo, is a green city covered by an island-rich archipelago. About 5 million people inhabit Norway, with approximately 1 million living in the capital. The city is characterized by its rich cultural life, with food and drink, festivals, and concerts from all corners of the world. The people of Oslo, and actually most Norwegians love “beer drinking”, which means drinking beer outside on warm sunny days.

There are numerous museums and must-sees, such as the beautiful opera designed by Norway's most famous architects Snøhetta, Vigeland sculpture park in Frognerparken with 650 sculptures created by Gustav Vigeland, Akershus fortress which is a medieval castle commissioned by King Håkon V in 1299, the Viking Ship Museum and the Kon Tiki Museum at Bygdøy.

Read more about Oslo here

Photo: ©Øyvind Heen

Bergen

Bergen is Norway's second-largest city, known for being a very beautiful city but with very changeable weather. One of the most iconic sites here is the Insta-friendly pier Hanseatic Wharf. Bergen was once a trading center, dominated by Hanseatic merchants and today is home to several historic buildings depicting life in the Middle Ages, as well as shops, restaurants, the Bryggen Museum and the Hansa Museum. Visitors will also want to visit Troldhaugen, the former home and workspace of composer Edvard Grieg. The funicular takes you to the best view of the city at the top of the Fløyen mountain.

Read more about Bergen here

Photo: Harald M. Valderhaug

Flåm

The iconic Flåm countryside is surrounded by steep mountainsides, rolling hills and waterfalls, and is a paradise for those seeking unique and spectacular nature experiences. Flåm is one of the most popular cruise ports in Norway today.

The origins of the flourishing tourist traffic in Flåm, date as far back as the late 19th century when a large number of English tourists came to fish in the Flåm River. These travelers laid the foundation for the hotel's operation and a steady flow of tourists grew.

In the center of Flåm you will find grocery stores and various shops with souvenirs, arts and crafts. There are also cafes, restaurants and a wide variety of activities. Flåmsbanamuseet is open all year and the Tourist Information is open during the summer.

Read more about Flåm here

Photo: CH - Visitnorway.com

Røros

Røros is a village in the county of Trøndelag. Røros is traditionally known as a mining town, but today Røros is perhaps even better known for being a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with authentic and traditional wooden buildings.

Today, Røros is almost like a living museum! The city center with its authentic wooden structures is protected and several buildings are protected. Røros's inhabitants work and still live in these characteristic buildings of the 17th and 18th centuries.

In Røros you can explore narrow streets, old courtyards, and buildings. You will find several charming shops and workshops in the many narrow streets. The city is known for its artists and craftsmen and produces several award winning design products. The winter in the Røros region is refreshingly beautiful. You can experience sleigh rides, dog or reindeer skiing, skiing, kicking, or walking. In Røros there is a snow guarantee in the winter, with sparkling white snow and cold that breathes frost roses on the windows. Røros has a subarctic climate and it can get very cold! The coldest temperature recorded on Røros is a chilly - 50.3 ° degrees! So if you visit Røros in the winter, remember to dress warm!

Read more about Røros here

Photo: Foap/Visitnorway.com

Tromsø

Tromsø is the gateway to the Arctic, with one of the highest occurrences of the northern lights in the world during winter and 2 months of golden midnight sun during summer.

Tromsø is the largest city in the Nordic region north of the Arctic Circle, and has the world's northernmost university, beer brewery and cathedral.
The city lives on education, research, administration, fishing exports and satellite technology. Despite its location far to the north, Tromsø enjoys a moderate sea climate.

The midnight sun in Tromsø is visible from approx. May 21 to approx. July 21st. Between November 21 and January 21, the sun stays below the horizon all the time, and it's darkness.

Read more about Tromsø here

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Photo: Terje Borud - Visitnorway.com

Norwegian Climate

The Norwegian climate is characterized by large variations, with mostly hot summers, a rainy and windy autumn, cold winters before it gets warmer in spring again. Western Norway is most exposed to rain and wind, but mostly for shorter periods during the day. Summers can get very hot in the east, while the mountains inland are sometimes covered with snow until late June. As Norwegians usually say: "There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing". So be sure to pack well with wool and rainproof clothing if you are going out for a walk.

Quick facts about Norway:

  • Total area (1): 323 781 km2
  • Lakes and rivers: 18 351 km2
  • Largest lake: Mjøsa 365 km2
  • Highest point: Galdhøpiggen 2469 m
  • Coastline, mainland: 28 953 km
  • Inland ice and glaciers: 2 790 km2
  • Average temperature Oslo (2018): 7.8 ° C (maximum 34.6 ° C, minimum -15.9 ° C)
  • Currency: Norwegian kroner (NOK)

Tailor your Ultimate Norwegian Tour:

The original Norway in a nutshell®

This legendary tour takes you through Norway’s most breathtaking UNESCO-protected fjord and mountain scenery, as well as a trip on Europe’s top scenic rail journey.

Sognefjord in a nutshell

The Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, extends more than 200 km inland to the foot of the Jotunheimen mountains. This area is said to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world.

Hardangerfjord in a nutshell

On the Hardangerfjord in a nutshell round trip, you will experience a journey through a landscape of majestic mountains, roaring waterfalls, and idyllic orchards.