Known for its dramatic fjords, towering mountains and miles of forests, Norway is a playground for adventure seekers.
Norway’s hiking trails are well-known among outdoor enthusiasts, but the rugged natural beauty of the mountains and coastline attract nature lovers and thrill-seekers alike for a wide range of adventures.
Thrilling activities like mountain biking and packrafting offer a fresh perspective on the wild landscapes. From world-famous hiking trails to the adrenaline-pumping excitement of navigating rivers and rugged terrain, Norway promises a memorable adventure travel experience for all.
Flexible Attitude, Quality Clothing
Jørgen Jørgensen, fourth-generation leader of the family-owned Norwegian adventure travel clothing brand Norrøna, says the most important thing to pack is flexibility, followed by suitable clothing: “You have to be prepared for anything, both with your packing and with your mindset.”
Mindset is important because of the unpredictable Norwegian weather. While many photographs of popular hikes in Norway feature clear skies, that’s rarely the reality. “There is no season with guaranteed good weather. Even if it’s clear in the cities, the weather is unpredictable in the mountains and can change quickly.”
When asked what a Norwegian would pack for an outdoor vacation in their own country, Jørgensen is clear with his advice: “Layering is critical. Essential items include a light down jacket, Gore-Tex outer layers for waterproofing and wind protection, and a wool base layer.”
Top Adventure Travel Locations In Norway
Jørgensen recommends three areas in Norway to consider for an outdoor vacation, including Northern Norway, the Jotunheimen mountains of Central Norway, and a choice that may surprise some: Oslo. Each area offers different possibilities.
The coastline of Northern Norway, particularly the segment extending from Helgeland to Tromsø, boasts some of the most unspoiled and breathtaking landscapes in the whole of Norway.
Jørgensen spent time this summer in Norway’s far north, but chose to spend his vacation on Senja island over the more famous trails of Lofoten. In fact, the Lofoten Islands are getting so crowded that local authorities want to introduce a tourist tax to pay for improved infrastructure.
“The trails of Lofoten are truly spectacular but they do get busy. There are so many other cool places to go in the north. It gets even better if you use ferries or even private boats to reach islands, where you can be all alone.”
Norrøna recently launched an adventure travel agency that will focus on remote locations, where such boat-hike combination tours will be available. Kayaking is growing in popularity in the Lofoten Islands, as is surfing among the cold water surfing community. So much, in fact, that surf schools and rental outlets have sprung up to serve keen surfers heading to the beaches at Unstad and Flakstad.
Jotunheimen National Park, renowned for encompassing Norway’s highest mountains, stands out as possibly the premier hiking locale in Scandinavia. The challenge in organizing a visit lies in determining the best starting point, given the park’s vast expanse of over 440 square miles.
Once again, Jørgensen recommends looking for lesser-trodden trails. “The famous Besseggen ridge offers outstanding views, but it is so crowded. If you look elsewhere, there are so many nice trails with far fewer people, especially for multi-day treks.”
He recommends joining the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) so that you are entitled to use the many DNT-owned cabins. Websites including ut.no can help you find these lesser-known trails, as can speaking with tourist information offices.
The Forests Of Oslo
Enjoying the great outdoors in Norway doesn’t necessarily mean driving for hours into the mountains. The capital city Oslo is surrounded by nature, from the idyllic islands of the Oslofjord peppered with vacation cottages, to the vast forests to the north and east.
Jørgensen says he often spends entire summers without leaving his home in Oslo because of the outdoor opportunities on his doorstep: “When I go mountain biking in the Nordmarka forest, I can go days without seeing anyone. Nature is so easy to access but there are few people doing it.”
Understand The Right To Roam
Norway is no budget travel destination, but there are ways to cut costs. One of the best ways is to take advantage of the so-called ‘allemannsretten’, or the right to roam.
This curious aspect of Norwegian law grants everyone the freedom to explore and enjoy the natural landscape, regardless of land ownership. This right allows travelers to hike, camp, and traverse through most lands, as long as they respect nature and leave no trace.
That being said, Jørgensen points out that there are several must-know rules if you are planning such a trip: “You can’t make camp too close to people’s property, and there are strict rules on lighting fires in the summer.”
It’s this principle that makes Norway such a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, providing access to countless remote and untouched areas. It also makes camping easier than in many countries, which can help to lower the cost of an adventure travel vacation in Norway.