Discover Norway’s Abundant National Parks
Norway has an abundance of great national parks scattered all over the country, each with its own characteristics. If you are planning a visit to Norway, stopping by one of our national parks would be a good idea. Here you can get close to nature and get spectacular and unique views you will not find anywhere else in the world.
What is a National Park?
National Parks are set up by governments and countries looking to protect and preserve a particular area of land or sea. These areas are often home to endangered species of flora and fauna or are of distinct natural beauty. The first area to be recognized as such was Yellowstone National Park in the United States established in 1872.
How many National Parks are there in Norway?
The natural protection act of 1954 prepared the legal groundwork for establishing National Parks in Norway with the first two established in 1962 and 1963. There are currently 47 National Parks in Norway, 40 on the mainland, and 7 in Svalbard.
Are National Parks free to visit in Norway?
The rules for National parks in Norway may be stricter than in many other countries but they are free to visit. The freedom to roam applies, making backpacking, hiking, skiing and wild camping throughout the parks permitted, given that due care and consideration to nature are taken. Almost all use of motorized vehicles within park boundaries is prohibited.
Where is Norway's most beautiful National Park?
This will be a heavily debated topic depending on what you’re looking for and of course who you ask. Us Norwegians can be very patriotic and impressions of the best spots will vary region to region according to the local’s proud perspectives.
To try and help you decide, we have listed some of our favorite National Parks to visit in Norway!
Established on 21 December 1962, Rondane National Park became Norway's first and was then later extended in 2003 to cover almost 1000km sq. The park contains ten peaks above 2000m which are all accessible to hike or climb given the right season and weather. At an altitude of 2178m, Rondeslottet (“Rond Castle”) is the highest peak in the park. As well as hiking and climbing, the park offers fishing and rafting on the Sjoa River. Today the park remains an important habitat for Norway’s oldest herd of wild reindeer, sign up to a leisurely horseback ride for a chance to spot them.
Travel to the neighboring Dovrefjell for the chance to spot more of Norway’s fascinating inhabitants, including the distinctive Musk Ox with their buffalo-like horns and shaggy coats wolverine, arctic fox, golden eagles, and other fascinating Norwegian animals.
Snøhetta is the highest peak in this park at 2268m with the viewing platform designed and installed by one of Norway’s leading architecture design companies of the same name making an excellent photo opportunity for those not wishing to tackle the challenging hike. Along the northern edge of the park, you can find the Åmotan waterfall which is 156m long and a definite recommendation for more selfie opportunities.
This national park is mainland Norway's largest and encompasses three counties; Vestlandet, Viken, and Vestfold and Telemark. The area is again a popular wilderness to explore with hiking and cycling options galore. The most popular cycling route is Rallarvegen and dates back to 1909 when it was built as a transport road during the construction of the Bergen Railway.
Gaustatoppen in Rjukan is probably the most popular hike in the area with a stay in the 100-year-old cabin at the 1883m top, also possible. On a clear day, the view from the top is incredible with 1/6th of Norway being possible to see.
Want to see into the past and get a feel for the landscape during the last Ice Age? Jostedalsbreen National Park is home to the largest glacier in all of mainland Europe filling 483km sq. If the ice of the Jostedalsbreen glacier were to melt, Norway’s water needs would be covered for more than 100 years (of course we hope that this will never happen).
The glacier has 28 named arms, the most popular of which is the Briksdalsbreen but is easiest to access in Jostedalen (Luster), Fjærland (Sogndal) and Veitastrondi, where you can participate in glacier hikes and visit Glacier museum in Fjærland.
Folgefonna is the third largest glacier on the Norwegian mainland and has been a tourist attraction since 1833. The Folgefonna Center in Rosendal provides interesting information about its formation and the effect of the global climate on its development. Folgefonna offers a summer skiing destination, glacier hikes, and even you can even go glacier kayaking at Folgefonna!
Jotunheimen is a wilderness paradise for great nature experiences in the mountains. Here you will find Norway's two highest mountains; Galdhøpiggen 2469m and Glittertind 2465m. Probably Norway's most popular hike, the Besseggen ridge, also lies within this special park. In the heart of Norway, the area offers excellent hiking during summer and ski mountaineering during spring and wintertime.
Lom National Park Village is the natural gateway to Jotunheimen and indeed many others including Breheimen and Reinheimer. The quaint and cozy center of Lom offers outdoor cafés, restaurants, and shops and can be used either as a base station for day trips or as a refill point before heading out into the wilderness.
Færder National Park is one of two marine national parks in Norway, and like Ytre Hvaler National Park it enjoys an easily accessible location in Eastern Norway. The park covers 340 square kilometers of mainland, islands, skerries, and sea bed in the municipalities of Tjøme and Nøtterøy in Vestfold county. The park was established to preserve a characteristic coastal landscape with great biodiversity and relatively untouched countryside. The management of the park is based on the principle of conservation through use.
Enjoy the interactive exhibitions in the national park’s new visitor center at Verdens Ende (“The World’s End”), experience how the park changes with the seasons, try your hand at fishing, take a relaxing boat trip and learn about the people who lived and worked here.
Several of our hiking trips venture into national parks, have a look at our selection here.