Things to do in Norway

Norway’s off-the-scale wilderness is something that even JRR Tolkien could not have imagined. The country is shaped by a godlike hand and forces you to gaze up with wide-eyed wonder at the mountains and glaciers, as well as at the sky-high cliffs. Read about Things to do in Norway below.

Norwegians are nature-obsessed and embrace the outdoors with unparalleled zeal. You can do the same and embrace friluftsliv (outdoor life) regardless of the weather: whether it’s snowmobiling or dogsledding with the northern light flickering overhead, kayaking through the fjords in peaceful exhilaration or searching for the mysterious musk ox.

Culture follows the lead of nature too, as seen in Edvard Munch’s haunting works, the Vikings’ great longships for ferocious seas, and prehistoric rock art high above Arctic Circle. Although these 21 adventures are the best, they are only the tip of an iceberg.

The Trollstigen: Drive it

It was quite an experience. Norway’s Trollstigen (Troll’s Ladder, RV63) loops the loop as it climbs up to Stigrora (858m above sealevel). It negotiates 11 hairpin bends, and a 1:12 gradient. The route is mostly single-track, as if the switchbacks weren’t enough. It’s well worth the effort of ranting and turning around for the breathtaking wilderness that awaits. There are waterfalls that plunge over sheer cliff faces, the Romsdal Alpines’ sawtooth peaks, and scattered glimpses of wild reindeer. Start in Valldal and Andalsnes. The pass is accessible from May through mid-October, snow permitting.

Pulpit Rock can be climbed at sunrise

Pulpit Rock rises above the dazzlingly blue Lysefjord like a board for Nordic gods. The 604m-high rock finger was formed by glacial forces in the last Ice Age. While you can admire Preikestolen from the water’s edge, it is best to hike the two-hour trail up to the top. This path winds through forests and follows a path cut by Nepalese Sherpas. Some hikers hang precariously near the edge to take selfies. Do not do so at your own risk. To avoid crowds and get the dawn-of-creation lighting, you should arrive at sunrise

Saltstraumen RIB Ride

It is as if God whipped the bath plug at the world’s strongest maelstrom, Saltstraumen. 400 million cubic metres worth of seawater rush through a 3km-long and 150m-wide strait each six hours. You can feel the force of the tidal current, its churning whirlpools, and rapids by clinging to a rigid inflatable boat (RIB) and making a mad dash across it. Look out for sea eagles and puffins as the engine slows down to a plodder. These waters are fringed by the Caledonian Fold Belt’s crinkly edges.

Snowmobiling in Spitsbergen

Spitsbergen, located north of the Arctic Circle and midway between Norway, the North Pole and Norway, is an island of extreme cold and stunning beauty wrapped in its winter snow blanket. It is home to more polar bears per capita than any other place on earth. The frozen wilderness of Spitsbergen can be seen only by snowmobile from November through April. Blue days, nightly northern lights, wind-sculpted snow, and wildlife (Svalbard reindeer and Arctic foxes as well as occasional polar bears) will make you remember them for all your life.

Kayak on Haukland Beach

It’s easy to gaze in awe at Instagram photos, but once you see the breathtaking beauty of Haukland Beach, an island off Vestvagoy in Lofoten Islands, you will realize how stunning it is. Granite mountains rise like giant fins high above the arc of pale sandy, which fizzes into turquoise-blue water. Wild-camping and sea-kayak can be done here in the ever-lasting light of the midnight Sun. You can also visit the bay in winter to witness the northern lights. For more peace, avoid peak summer.

Oslo: Munch

After years of waiting, Oslo is now ready to shout about its cultural landmark, the Munch Museum. The 13-story museum was designed by Herreros Spanish architecture firm. It is a modern-day, leaning tower made of recycled aluminum. It will be the world’s largest gallery dedicated to one artist and draw from Edvard Munch’s collection. The museum will open in October 2021 and provide a deeper dive into his life, art and work. It will be the center of Oslo’s revitalized port district, Bjorvika.

Jotunheimen National Park: Hike

Jotunheimen is a stunning surprise. Just when you thought Norway could not get more spectacular, it does. This national park, which means “Home of Giants”, is where southern Norway splits into a thousand jewel-coloured lakes, fjords and mountains. It also features two of the highest peaks in the country, Galdhopiggen (2 469m) or Glittertind (2 465m). The hiking is amazing. You can hike high up to remote mountain huts or wild-camping areas. You can either go it alone, or join a tour.

Alta rock art to admire

Alta’s Unesco world heritage collection of prehistoric rock artwork depicts everything from bear dens and reindeer hunts to crowded boats, fertility symbols, and even reindeer hunts. It is a stunning insight into the hunter-gatherer lifestyle far north of Arctic Circle. Alta Museum is the cherry on the cultural cake. This museum offers a 3km trail that takes you past red-ochre painted rock art. (Come when the snow melts for outdoor petroglyphs). The museum’s other exhibits focus on Sami heritage, preChristian faith, and the northern lights. Alta’s Northern Lights Cathedral, an architecturally stunning, aurora-inspired Northern Lights Cathedral, is one of its most popular.

Eat sushi in Stavanger

You can train a Filipino man to be a sushi master in Japan. Then, fly him to Stavanger, southwest Norway, where you will hand him the best of the region’s cold-water seafood. The menu is not included, but there’s one beautifully crafted feast that was prepared before six lucky diners at an elegant walnut counter. Roger Asakil Joya uses fresh, bright seasonal flavours in his imaginative interpretations, while still adhering to Edomae tradition. Every bite is a surprise, from sweet and creamy scallops with a citrusy Yuzu hit to North Sea cod with salt kelp (shio kombu) — everything you eat is delicious.

Cruise to Urnes Stave Church

Norway’s unique stave churches were able to make the cultural leap from Christianity in the Middle Ages and the Vikings. (stave derives its name from the Old Norse stafr which means load-bearing posts). The Unesco world heritage stave Church in Urnes is turreted, wooden-vaulted, and intricately decorated with twisting vines. It can be seen on the Lustrafjorden shores like an elfin fairytale. The most spectacular way to get to the church is to cruise across the azure river from Solvorn, stopping at waterfalls and forests, and then take a detour along the fjord.

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By Michael Caine

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