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DISCOVER NORWAY

Ten things you should do in Norway at least once

Norway is full of stunning scenery, cultural activities and culinary delights. Here are our picks for things you should try doing at least once. 

Pictured is Trolltunga in Norway
Here is our pick for things you should do in Norway at least once. Pictured is Trolltunga in Norway. Photo by Robert Bye on Unsplash

Do one of the famous hikes 

Norway is home to several hikes and mountaintops that feature on lists of the world’s most picturesque, and several summits and cliff faces are shoe-ins for most people’s bucket lists. 

From Pulpit Rock and Trolltunga to Kjeragbolten and Bessegen, you should try to do at least one of the country’s most iconic hikes – especially if you live in Norway. 

The hikes all offer a moderate challenge, so you may need to make a few practice trips first. The best time to attempt these is before the peak tourism season begins in late June/early July. 

If you want to take a trip off the beaten path, then check out our list of spectacular spots that tourists might not know about

See the Northern Lights

Another once-in-a-lifetime experience that tops many people’s lists of things to do when they visit Norway. 

If you live here and are located on the west coast, mid-Norway or north Norway, then it’s a case of sooner rather than later- if you live further south, opportunities to see the Northern Lights are rarer. 

However, if you do live in the south, it’s worth keeping an eye on the forecasts or making a pilgrimage up north to see the elusive lights. 

You don’t need to fork out for an expensive guide, either. With the right know-how and a few YouTube tutorials on night photography, you stand a good chance of capturing the moment yourself. 

READ MORE: When will you next get to see the Northern Lights in Norway?

Swim in a lake, river or fjord

Norway is home to some of the best natural swimming spots in the world- if you don’t mind slightly colder temperatures, that is. 

From pretty much anywhere in the country, you are guaranteed to be no more than one hour away from a fantastic natural swimming spot. 

Fjords are probably the bathing spot of choice as that’s what may feel most Norwegian but don’t overlook the lakes, which boast fantastic scenery. As always, take due care when swimming wild and avoid strong currents. 

Try a hammock trip 

Given the abundance of nature on most people’s doorsteps in Norway, it’s no surprise that camping is such a popular activity. 

In spring and summer, many want to make the most of the warmer weather and spend a night underneath the stars. 

Hammock trips are fantastic, and like swimming- you are never far from an excellent spot. In Oslo, for example, plenty of areas give you a skyline view of the city at night or are close to wonderful hiking trails or lakes for swimming. 

READ ALSO: Five great places to go on a hammock trip in Oslo this summer

Take part in the May 17th celebrations

From the outside looking in, May 17th can undoubtedly seem strange given the costumes, pageantry and parades. 

Walking around cities like Trondheim, Stavanger and Bergen and seeing most women and some men adorned in traditional folk costumes can be a bit disorientating. But Norway’s May 17th celebrations are definitely worth seeing at least once. 

Skiing

Norwegians love skiing, and it may feel impossible to fit in if you aren’t interested in at least one winter sport. 

Perhaps the most Norwegian experience, and easiest for complete newbies to get to grips with, is cross-country skiing. 

Christmas is a popular time for cross-country ski trips. Later in the winter, many will ski to cabins for a warm drink and a bun or light a fire and roast some sausages just off the trail. 

You may also notice that ski lifts and cross-country courses are situations where the locals are more likely to greet strangers with a smile and a bit of small talk. 

Take a train trip

You don’t need to be a locomotive lover to be excited at the prospect of a train ride in Norway. The country is home to some of the most scenic railway journeys in the world. 

Several trips will let you see everything that draws people to Norway, fjords, mountains and glaciers in a single journey. 

Whether it’s a brisk ride on the Flåmsbanen or a marathon trip on the Bergensbanen, you might want to set aside a date in your calendar for one of the trips. 

READ ALSO: Five stunning train trips to take in Norway this summer

Go on a cabin trip

Unlike hammock trips, skiing and trying to see the Northern Lights, it’s always a great time to take a cabin trip.

There is something quintessentially Norwegian about a cabin trip that we can’t quite put our fingers on. 

Whether you’ve booked the night to stay in a rustic DNT (Norwegian Trekking Association) cabin or know a friend with a lush new build, it all counts and will undoubtedly be a great experience. 

Pictured is a cabin in Norway.

Cabin trips are a fantastic experience you should try at least once. Pictured is a cabin in Norway. Photo by Hasse Lossius on Unsplash

Try some of the local delicacies  

As I am sure all of you reading this are aware, Norway doesn’t share the same culinary heritage as countries such as Italy, Spain or France. It doesn’t even, technically, have meatballs- those are Swedish. 

Still, there are plenty of gems you’ll find yourself craving when you are out of the country. Of course, you don’t need to dive straight in and try any fermented fish or roasted sheep’s head either- although the locals will certainly commend your effort. 

Brown cheese, rommegrøt (sour cream porridge), and lapskaus are all pretty easy on the palate. Additionally, while the local cuisine might not be full of layered or delicate flavours, the country can go toe to toe with most when it comes to comfort food.

Go on a road trip 

One of the best ways to see Norway is from the view of a passenger seat of a car or from behind the wheel if you’re a fan of mammoth road trips. 

The country is home to several world-famous roads. Two of the most famous are the Atlantic Road and Trollstigen, both in West Norway. 

Trollstigen gives amazing views of the Geiranger Fjord, while the Atlantic Road runs through a stunning archipelago.

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TRAIN TRAVEL

Cheap tickets and best routes: A guide to travelling by train in Norway

Norway is filled with fantastic scenic routes and natural attractions meaning traveling by train can be a great and rewarding experience. This is our guide on how to find cheaper tickets, which sites to check, and not miss amazing routes.

Cheap tickets and best routes: A guide to travelling by train in Norway

​Norway’s railway system has been in operation for over 150 years, and a highly developed railway network connects the country through a number of dependable lines. It stretches over more than 3,000 kilometres and counts around 330 train stations.

It is not by chance that Norwegian train trips end up at the top of lists of the most recommended scenic train journeys worldwide year after year – train travellers in Norway have the chance to see incredible glaciers, pristine fjords, hidden villages, and many other unique natural attractions along the country’s train line.

There are certainly faster alternatives to train travel, but the jaw-dropping beauty of the landscape in itself is often enough to justify the extra time.

Without further ado, here’s what you need to know when it comes to taking the train in Norway.

The rail network and key lines

Norway has a modern and well-developed railway network that covers its extremes – from the popular summer destination of Kristiansand in the south of the country to Bodø (the European Capital of Culture for 2024!) in the north.

As an added bonus, most Norwegian lines go through Oslo (Oslo Central Station functions as the country’s main railway hub), which can be very useful for visitors landing at the capital, and there are numerous train connections to other countries in the neighbourhood.

When it comes to tickets, there are several train companies operating in Norway, including VY (regional lines, as well as local trains in Oslo), SJ NORD (regional lines, as well as local trains in Nordland and Trøndelag), Flytoget (connecting the Oslo area and the Oslo International Airport), and Go Ahead Nordic (connecting areas from Oslo to Stavanger).

The key long-distance lines, according to VisitNorway – the official travel guide to Norway – include:

  • The Sørlandsbanen/Jæren Line: Oslo – Stavanger, the trip takes around 8 hours. 
  • The Bergen Line: Oslo – Bergen, the trip takes about 7 hours.
  • The Dovre Line: Oslo – Trondheim, the journey takes around 7 hours.
  • The Nordland Line: Trondheim – Bodø, the trip takes a whopping 10 hours.
  • The Rauma Line: Dombås – Åndalsnes, a shorter 1 hour and 40 minutes trip. 
  • The Røros Line: Hamar – Trondheim, the journey takes around 5 hours. 
  • The Ofoten Line: Narvik – Kiruna, the trip takes 3 hours and 20 minutes. 

You can see the main long-distance lines on the map below, based on the most recent available line map from Bane Nor:

Finding and booking affordable tickets

You can buy train tickets in Norway at all main train stations; however, try to book tickets online and in advance to get better deals (cheap tickets tend to sell out quite fast – especially if it’s high season).

  • VY tickets can be booked here (remember to look for low-fare tickets).
  • SJ NORD’s tickets can be booked here (the standard tickets are the most affordable option). 
  • GoAhead Nordic’s tickets can be found here (if possible, get low-fare tickets).
  • If you’re taking the Oslo Airport Express Train, you can book your ticket here.
  • You can also book your train trip through the Entur app or on Entur’s website here (Entur is a government-owned transportation company that offers railway tickets and serves as a travel planner for public transport throughout the country).

Don’t forget to ask for discount policies, as many train operators in Norway offer some sort of discount (for example, to students and children). 

If you intend to take multiple train journeys, keep an eye open for discounted “minipris” tickets, which are sold as a limited offer and at highly discounted prices. 

They can be purchased well in advance but have a cancelation option that is valid for only four hours from the time of purchase. 

After the cancellation window expires, they become non-refundable – so make sure you’re willing to take the risk. If you need a more flexible ticket option, consider a (pricier) flex ticket.

A selection of three unforgettable train trips

If you’re strapped for time and looking for a scenic trip, we recommend some of the following train journeys.

1. The Flåm Line

The Flåm railway is an internationally famous railway, despite the fact that the train trip from Myrdal station to Flåm village takes roughly 1 hour. 

This line is a record-contender – it is one of the steepest standard-gauge railways in the world.

If Lady Luck blesses you with nice weather, you will be able to enjoy stunning views of meandering rivers and waterfalls.

The antique trains on the Flåm Line are something to admire in themselves, but visitors to Flåm can enjoy numerous activities year-round, such as visiting the Flåm Railway Museum or taking up waterfall hikes. 

Fjord-aficionados can also enjoy Aurlandsfjord sightseeing trips (if you plan to rent a car, don’t miss the Stegastein viewpoint, just a 30-minute drive from Flåm). 

2. The Bergen Line

The Bergen Line – voted as one of the world’s top scenic train journeys by Lonely Planet – is a must for any true lover of scenic train trips.

The train on the line passes through incredible mountain scenery on its journey from Oslo to Bergen, passing through the stunning landscapes of Gol, Voss, the Hallingdal valley, and the Hardangerjøkulen glacier on its way. 

Left wanting more? You can also transfer at the Myrdal station and hop on the Flåm Line for a truly unforgettable two-in-one experience.

3. The Røros Line

Going back all the way to 1877, the Røros Line is Norway’s oldest main railway line. While not as exciting as its more famous “siblings” – the Flåm and the Bergen lines – this line is characterized by views of deep and untamed forests. 

The trip from Hamar to Trondheim takes around 5 hours. Before arriving at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Røros in Trøndelag, the train passes through the wild landscapes and forests of Østerdalen. 

Fun fact: Norwegian master architect Georg Andreas Bull designed the train stations between Hamar and Grundset, and Trondheim and Støre.

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