Norway’s landscape plays out like an epic drama: glacial highlands, gorgeous archipelagos, arctic tundra and stunning fjords – over 1,000 of them – make the country a true geo-blockbuster. Its scenery comes with its own mood lighting, too, thanks to the mysterious Northern Lights in winter, and the midnight sun in summer. Norway’s bestiary is equally unforgettable. On Spitsbergen there are polar bears and walrus, artic fox and musk ox. On a Norway wildlife vacation, you could swim with orcas or take a small ship cruise to spot polar bears. Yes, Norway is rich in every way – just look at our travel guide.
Our top Norway vacations
From NKr 154008 days ex flights
Lofoten, biking in unique and beatiful scenery
Small group2021: 4 Jun, 11 Jun, 18 Jun, 2 Jul, 23 Jul, 30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug, 27 Aug, 3 Sep
From US $66006 days ex flights
6 night live-aboard tour in the stunning fjords 0f Norway
Small group2021: 6 Nov, 13 Nov
Best time to go to Norway
The best time to visit Norway depends on what you want to do. June to August promise long days and the fabled midnight sun – ideal for hiking, cycling or cruising. Just don’t expect particularly warm temperatures. May and September offer mild weather, fewer crowds and gorgeous natural colours. Winter can be bitter, but dress properly and Norway is a snowy nirvana, from snowshoeing to cross country skiing. The Northern Lights sparkle from September on, peaking between December and February. The best time to visit Svalbard is at midsummer. Find out more about the best time to go.
Map & highlightsHead west to the city of Bergen and you’ll find yourself surrounded by Norway’s best fjords. Songefjord is the longest and deepest, whilst Hardangerfjord is surrounded by brilliant hiking. You don’t have to head particularly far north to find skiing. The town of Rjukan, under Mount Gausta, is a great winter base and under three hours from Oslo. If the north is calling, you’ll find that fishing villages don’t get much prettier than on the Lofoten Islands. Even further up, the town of Kirkenes sits at the very top of Norway. Still not north enough? Try Svalbard.
Connecting the Atlantic with the hiking mecca of central Norway's Hardangervidda Plateau, this is a microcosm of classic fjord landscape. Highlights include glacier walking in Folgefonna National Park and the gorgeous waterfall-and-mountain ringed town of Eidfjord. The apple-growing village Ulvik is an idyllic base for hiking, cycling and farm-stays, scented by glorious blossom in May.
Hurtigruten's northern terminus has a fantastic winter snow hotel, year-round trips to bag giant king crab – and a rich frontier history, 15km from the Russian border. The Soviets and Nazis fought fiercely here in WW2, though today the Russians come to stage monthly markets. 100km south, the Pasvik National Park offers Norway's finest taiga, roamed by bear and wolf.
3. Lofoten Islands
Fishing hamlets of red and yellow clapboard dot this magically diverse northern archipelago. Startling white sands fringe Flakstadoy, while spiky Moskenesoy is an island out of Tolkien. Spread across several islands, Henningsvær is known as 'Lofoten's Venice'. Museums range from dolls to Vikings, while atmospheric galleries showcase the myriad artists inspired by Lofoten's stunning Arctic light. See our Lofoten Island travel guide.
Rjukan & Gausta
4. Rjukan & Gausta
Rjukan is southern Norway's outdoor activities HQ in the lee of the famous Gausta mountain. A town museum chronicles its role in Hitler's plan to build nuclear weapons, close to northern Europe's oldest cable car and an extraordinary railway burrowing deep into Gausta. Hikes (allow 4 hours) to the summit promise jaw-dropping views taking in an estimated 1/6th of Norway.
The world's longest ice-free fjord (205km) and Norway's deepest (1,300m), Sognefjord cuts a deep gash in the west coast, framed by 1000m cliffs and gentler shorelines cradling gorgeous villages like Undredal (80 humans, 500 cheese-producing goats) and cherry-growing Laerdal. The 17km Naeroyfjord is a stunning UNESCO-listed spur that narrows to 250m across, home to tumbling waterfalls and hamlets like Gudvangen.
Home to the world's northernmost town, Longyearbyen, plus the Global Seed Vault, Svalbard is an Arctic wonderland. Most come during summer to glimpse polar bears, walrus, whales, Arctic fox and myriad birds. In winter, months of eerie Arctic night offer prime aurora spotting chances, plus or husky or snowmobile safaris to glaciers and historic mines. See our Spitsbergen travel guide.
Fjords & islands
There aren’t many lands where the easiest way to travel is by boat. The Vikings took one look at Norway’s steep mountains and decided to jump into their longboats, and not much has changed today. A small ship cruise or a ferry ride is the best way to see some of the country’s most amazing scenery – its fjords and islands. There are some 50,000 islands off Norway’s coast and over 1,000 fjords. Breheimen National Park is one of the best places to go, encompassing Nærøyfjord and Sognefjord. You don’t have to stay in the boat. As you can imagine, there’s fantastic hiking here too.
Norway’s winter is so long it’s often considered to have two parts – there are the dark months from November, when the Northern Lights are more frequently seen than the sun. As spring approaches, the days lengthen and the snow is at its best for winter sports. Cross country skiing is a Norwegian staple and a lovely way to explore snow-clad forests on a winter vacation. Add a bit of paw power on a hut to hut dog sledding trip – gorgeous huskies are enough to convert the staunchest cat lover. The Norwegians look forward to winter every year, and you should too.
Norway is a fantastic place to see the Northern Lights. Away from the city lights, the aurora borealis tends to be visible in the sky from September to March, but your chances of spotting them will peak during the long nights of December and January. A small ship sailing cruise is a good way to go, as your captain can take the boat to clear skies at remote anchorages. The scenery of the Lofoten Islands is almost distractingly beautiful beneath the borealis, whilst in Svalbard you can seek the best viewing spot by snowmobile.
More vacation ideas
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Self guided trekking in Rondane National Park
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Spectacular view of the fjords, mountains and glaciers
Small groupDeparts every Wednesday between 26th May and 26th August
From £24508 days ex flights
Unique Photography in Norway's beautiful Lofoten Islands
Small group2022: 4 Feb, 12 Feb
From NKr 145508 days ex flights
Biking under the midnight sun from Tromsø to Svolvær
Small group2021: 11 Jun, 18 Jun, 25 Jun, 2 Jul, 9 Jul, 16 Jul, 23 Jul, 30 Jul, 6 Aug, 13 Aug, 20 Aug
More about Norway
Somewhere between tales of trolls and stories about the Vikings you’ll realise that your children are having an even better time than you are on a Norway family vacation. The landscape is filled with legends, making hiking around the fjords far more exciting than your average Sunday stroll. Wildlife vacations are a big hit with kids, and seeing polar bears will impress everyone – and their teddies too. In winter, you can have fun watching each other fall over while you try to master the art of cross country skiing or bundle up under reindeer skins and watch for the aurora borealis.
Head north of Norway and you’ll find the remote Svalbard archipelago and Spitsbergen, its only inhabited island. This icy place is famous for polar bears. Go on a small ship cruise to circumnavigate Spitsbergen – depending on the ice – and you’ll split off into Zodiac boats to get closer to the wildlife. If you travel by land, you’ll go by snowmobile or dog sled rather than car. Seek out ice caves and abandoned trappers’ huts, and emerge to see the Northern Lights rippling through the sky. By land or sea, you’ll hopefully see polar bears; they’ll almost certainly spot you.
Types of vacations
There’s more than one way to do Norway. Winter vacations can be as active or as relaxing as you like – cross country ski on the Peer Gynt Trail or try some winter photography in the Lofoten Islands. If you don’t fancy snowshoeing, come after snowmelt for your walking vacation and enjoy hiking the spectacular mountains in ‘Fjord Norway’. Adventure vacations take this a step further, with glacier hikes and kayaking on their action-packed agendas. The wildlife is almost as dramatic as the landscape here – go on a wildlife vacation to swim with orcas or follow polar bears.