Norway Tours and Travel Guide
Norway Attractions & Landmarks Guide
It’s given the world skiing, Vikings, fjords, Norse mythology, and a parcel of notable explorers and creative artists. It’s also celebrated as the Land of the Midnight Sun, where, in the far northern summer, the sun never sets. Norwegians would say you need all that daylight just to begin to sample all their country has to offer.
Tucked away on the far western and northern reaches of the Scandinavian Peninsula, Norway’s mountainous, often sparsely populated landscape stretches far above the Arctic Circle. Those who visit enjoy some of Europe’s most stunning scenery, along with outdoor recreational activities that include hiking, climbing, rafting, skiing, and even glacier walking and reindeer sledding.
Why Visit Norway on a Guided Tour
Whether you’re visiting on land or by sea, a Norway guided tour will help you make the most of your Scandinavian trip. Instead of spending time hassling over itinerary details and accommodation choices, your tour company’s expert Norway guides will arrange everything from start to finish.
Many travelers choose a Norway cruise for the effortless sightseeing it offers. Your hotel-room-on-the-go can slip in and out of those mesmerizing fjords, delivering you to interesting ports of call for days of leisurely exploration.
Unpack and repack only once and enjoy a wealth of dining options and entertainment onboard when not on land experiencing Norway. Many Norway cruises focus on the Northern Lights, sailing along the country’s lengthy coastline for the best nighttime views.
A Norway tour may also incorporate local transportation options, enabling guests to travel like a Norwegian, whether in a city like Bergen or out in fjord country. Options include long-distance train and local bus, both of which can trace popular Norway sightseeing routes like Bergensbanen and Nordlandsbanen.
With 18 selected scenic routes in Norway, a guided coach tour with a driver is an immersive and authentic way to discover this Scandinavian country. The country has selected these most beautiful Norway tour routes to combine nature, architecture and culture, linking everything together with roads in western, central and northern Norway, in the mountains and along the coast.
On a Norway guided tour, you gain peace of mind knowing that you have a local expert in your back pocket - a team of passionate, knowledgeable Norway travel professionals who know the ins and outs of their country, can match your sightseeing to your interests and energy level and often have off-the-beaten-path recommendations that make your time in Norway even more memorable.
Cities in Norway
Just about every tour to Norway is going to include time in Bergen, Norway’s second largest city and the gateway to the Norwegian fjords. With its colorfully painted peaked-roof wooden houses gleaming in the sun and its mountainous backdrop, the medieval wharf area has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bergen’s cultural cred is enhanced by serving as home for Edvard Grieg, Norway’s most famous composer, while playwright Henrik Ibsen, author of “A Doll’s House” and “Hedda Gabler,” began his theatrical career here.
Take the time to tour the Hanseatic Wharf, the bustling fish market and, if you’re lucky enough to tour Norway in May or June, the Bergen International Festival. In the not-so-far distance, marvel at the seven mountains surrounding the center of Bergen, then venture toward the ruggedly beautiful fjords that define the Norway landscape. There’s a young, hip student vibe here; your guided tour of Bergen will introduce you to the passionate residents and their favorite coffee shops, cafe, restaurants and hang-out spots.
Bergen is also the gateway to some of Norway’s most spectacular fjords -- long, deep, glacier-cut inlets (often flanked by sheer cliff sides) that are among the world’s great natural wonders. The Songefjord, leading to the village of Flam, is the most famous.
It’s easy to combine your Norway tour with a guided adventure in the Arctic - the northern city of Tromsø lies 217 north of the Arctic Circle and is known as the Gateway to the Arctic.
This is one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights and the city offers a plethora of outdoor activities and cultural attractions, from enlightening museums, like the Northern Norway Art Museum, to the a botanical garden that is farther north than any of its kind in the world.
A guided tour of Norway during the summer months, even as far north as Tromsø, will take advantage of the extended daylight the midnight sun provides. This is an ideal time for kayaking Norway’s fjords, hiking, fishing and heading out on a whale safari in the archipelago of Vesterålen, one of the top places in the world to view whales.
Locally sourced ingredients, as well as a diverse, multicultural community (more than 100 nationalities) inform the dining scene in Tromsø - your guide is the best source of information on where to dine in Tromsø and there is no shortage of excellent eateries.
Most Norway tours begin in Oslo, a modern city of 600,000 residents with a medieval hilltop fortress, a royal palace (Norway is a constitutional monarchy), and a harbor facing an island-dotted fjord.
While Oslo might seem a bit staid at first, some of its major attractions -- such as the Munch Museum, devoted to the 19th century expressionist painter Edvard Munch known best for his anguished work “The Scream” -- and sculptor Gustav Vigeland’s writhing, nude figures that line the walkways of an outdoor park, might give you another impression.
Oslo, is awash in exciting museums, cool architecture, high-end shopping and gourmet dining. This is one of Europe’s fastest growing cities. Check out the Opera House (where you are quite literally invited to walk on the roof), the Astrup Fearnley Museum (a private museum of contemporary art) and Barcode (a collection of 12 architecturally magnificent narrow high-rise buildings, all of different heights and widths - a must-see in Olso).
Two big attractions in Oslo are the diverse and innovative restaurant scene and live music, with thousands of concerts taking place every year and big outdoor festivals in the warmer months.
Similar ships to those displayed in Oslo’s Viking Ship Museum once carried Viking explorers like Eric the Red and Leif Ericsson off to raid distant lands, reaching the coast of North America five centuries before Columbus landed in the Caribbean. (Modern Norwegians, while descendants of the marauding Vikings, have mellowed considerably; the country’s violent crime rate is among the world’s lowest.)
Other Oslo-area maritime-related museums include the Kon-Tiki Museum, celebrating the exploits of Norwegian adventurer Thor Heyerdahl, who sailed from Peru to Polynesia on a log raft, and one showcasing the Fram, an expedition ship used by Roald Amundsen on his 1910 voyage to the South Pole.
Norway’s third-largest city, Trondheim exudes a cosmopolitan, yet intimately inviting ambience. Favorite sites in Trondheim include the Nidarosdomen cathedral (with sections dating to the middle of the 12th century), the National Museum of Decorative Arts, the Archbishop’s Palace Museum, Rockheim (devoted to popular music) and the Trondheim Museum of Art.
During your Trondheim guided tour, take a ride on the world’s most northerly tram, the Gråkallbanen, to Bymarka, a popular recreation spot for residents and travelers alike. Shopping is a favorite pastime in Trondheim - look for independent boutiques with clothing and gift items that you’ll want to take home as a Norwegian souvenir.
Top 6 Foods to Try in Norway
Sometimes a bit out of the ordinary, the food in Norway can feel, at the very least, interesting, and even bizarre to US travelers. Blame it on the Vikings.
Norwegian cuisine has held firm to its roots with many customs - and tastes - still connected with the country’s residents from thousands of years back.
Try any, or all, of these favorite Norwegian food specialties during your Norway tour:
- Lefse: These flatbread rolls are often fried and eaten over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays or at celebrations.
- Kumla: AKA Krub, Klubb and Klub. Whatever its name, these grated potatoes are mixed with various meat and vegetables and made into tender dumplings.
- Lutefisk: You’ll have plenty of opportunity for lutefisk during your Norway or Sweden tour (over there, drop the “e” for lutfisk). It’s made from aged stockfish, or dried and salted whitefish and lye and while unusual is a traditional Norway food favorite.
- Pickled herring: Make like a Viking and try this common Nordic cuisine favorite, brined herring with lots of vinegar and salt, often dressed up with onions, sugar and assorted spices, giving it a sweet-and-sour flavor.
- Krumkake: No one can resist this rolled cookie made of butter, sugar, cream, eggs and flour, then filled with cream, fruit jams or chocolate - a favorite Norwegian dessert.
- Fårikål: This is the national dish of Norway so you simply must indulge during your Nordic guided tour. The slow-cooking stew is comprised of mutton or lamb, black pepper, potatoes, cabbage and more.
Bergen serves as the starting point as well for the Hurtigruten ships that make their way year-round up and down the Norwegian coast for some 1,300 miles. Along the way, the half-passenger, half-cargo vessels make numerous port stops, some very brief -- others allowing for hours to tour cities like Trondheim and Tromso -- to drop off and pick up transient passengers as well as food and supplies. The latter provide a lifeline for isolated Norwegian villages that are otherwise virtually cut off from the rest of the country.
The fjord-rich, island-speckled western coast continues hundreds of miles north of the Arctic Circle and peaks at the North Cape, continental Europe’s northernmost point, before heading farther west to Kirkenes. The Hurtigruten has been called the world’s most beautiful voyage, and it’s certainly a contender.
We should also mention the Norwegian island of Svalbard (Spitsbergen) here, hundreds of miles north of the North Cape in the polar regions and an adventurer’s and wildlife-lover’s dream, reached by small-ship expedition cruises, including Hurtigruten.
Touring Norway’s Fjords
Imagine your dream Norway tour … we’re pretty certain it includes time spend in Fjord Norway, a region of the country so stunning and iconic that it has its own moniker.
The photos don’t do this area justice - it’s a heaven-sent wonderland of rugged, snowy mountains, strikingly blue fjords and crashing waterfalls. Your Norway tour will delve into the history of the country, including the fact that this amazing landscape remains much the same as when the first settlers arrived.
One of the best characteristics of Fjord Norway is the fact that the fjords and waterfalls are so accessible. This particular region is known for Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord - and, in fact, is so emblematic that it’s a UNESCO World Heritage List site.
During your Norway fjord tour or cruise, visit the many small communities that have popped up along the sides, shop for local Norwegian specialties and dine on locally sourced Norwegian meals - practically every village has its own specialty that its proud of. Fruit is plentiful - apples, pears, cherries and strawberries, in particular - and restaurants usually have wild game, fish and sheep on the menu.
Norwegian fjord tours typically include Geirangerfjord, where the brave can stand 1,500 meters above sea level on the Geiranger Skywalk and take in a vast fjord and alpine view. The best waterfalls in the Geirangerfjord region include the Seven Sisters, the Suitor and the Bridal Veil.
Top outdoor activities in the Geirangerfjord region range from hiking and fishing to rafting and cycling - anything that keeps you outside and in view of this impressive natural region. The Trollstigen mountain road is another must-see Geirangerford attraction - if you’d like to experience it, look for Norway guided tours that access the Geirangerfjord area on this alternative route.
Looking for one of the most impressive fjord views in Norway? Sail through Nærøyfjord, truly one of Europe’s most epic fjord trips. The Nærøyfjord is - most believe - the prettiest part of the Sognefjord and one of the most rugged and wild.
There’s a passenger boat between Gudvangen, Aurland and Flåm all year long and myriad activities, including guided kayak trips through the fjords, hiking along the fjords and learning about Viking history and culture at Viking Village Njardarheimr.
Outdoor Travel in Norway
Norway was tailor-made for outdoor adventure travel - from its plunging fjords to its majestic peaks to its frothy waterfalls. Here are a few favorite activities to do outdoors during your Norway guided tour - you might even center your Nordic tour around one of these if it’s your passion. Hiking, kayaking, dog sledding - the sky’s the limit.
Speaking of sky, look up if you’re visiting Norway in the winter. The Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is one of the biggest attractions of Norway and Scandinavia. Your Norwegian tour guide can regale you with the mythological stories behind the lights and point out the best place to photograph the aurora. The best time to spot the Northern Lights is between September and March when there are fewer hours of daylight. Tromso, Norway, is a popular starting point for Northern Lights tours.
Winter Norway travel means dog sledding - and what a rush it is! Explore the Norwegian wilderness by a method of travel that has served the region for ages. One-day and multi-day Norway dog-sledding tours are popular in Tromso (the “gateway to the Arctic”), Svalbard and Finnmark.
3. Fantastic Fjords
Fjords are the defining characteristic of Norway and the headliner of most Norway guided tours. In the warmer months, these deep-blue arms and their sheer walls invite fishing, boating, hiking and kayaking. Among the most beautiful fjords in Norway is the Naeroyfjord - named for the Norse god of the sea, Njord - with a crown of mountain peaks and huge waterfalls plunging to the fjord below.
4. Glimpse Reindeer and Polar Bears
Looking for the most off-the-beaten-path location in Norway? Hop a flight to Svalbard, a snowy, arctic archipelago and home to Arctic fox, walrus, polar bears and reindeer. Norway polar bear tours can be arranged to see this region’s most impressive residents, as well as climb about on the glaciers on which they live.
The snow is melting and the days are getting longer - much longer, thanks to the midnight sun - and Norway is awakening. Your Norway guided hiking tour is on the books and you’re ready to go - it’s time to play.
All generations of Norwegians head to the hills as the weather warms - the most classic hiking routes in Norway include Preikestolen, Trolltunga, Galdhøpiggen, Besseggen, Gaustatoppen, Trekanten in the Trollheim mountain area and Romsdalseggen.
Trade in your hiking boots for two wheels and take a Norway cycling tour through traditional villages, stunning natural landscapes and even on rugged mountain biking trails. The beauty of biking in Norway is the varied terrain with something for all skill levels.
Many Norway tours can focus on bicycling, even offering cyclist friendly overnight options, recommendations for bike shops for rental and repair and suggestions for biking parks, including Hafjell, Trysil and Geilo.
Norway’s top bike trail is Rallarvegen and, as luck would have it, the trail runs through gorgeous Fjord Norway, land of sheer cliffs and crashing waterfalls. Valdres, Telemark, Helgeland and Lofoten are also among Norway’s favorite bike routes.
The best way to explore a Norwegian fjord? By kayak - up close and personal. Norway kayaking tours are popular on the northwest Helgeland coast (bonus: you might even get to stay in a traditional rorbu, or fisherman’s cottage), and in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Steigen.
Beginner kayak tours in Norway often focus on the gentle waters at Nærøyfjord, a World Heritage Site. Don’t overlook Norway’s many lakes and rivers - kayaking and canoeing tours in Norway embrace all of the country’s wilderness, not just its fjords, and can set you up in a fun log cabin on a pristine lake, complete with a kayak rental for use throughout your stay.
Wildlife Viewing in Norway
As ubiquitous as Norway’s famous glaciers, the wildlife in this northerly region should not be overlooked. Norway tours that focus on wildlife include safaris that take you right into the world of whales, musk oxen, polar bears (in Svalbard), reindeer, Arctic fox, king crabs and more.
Look up and try to find a white-tailed eagle’s nest. Turn a corner on a Norway hike and come face to face with a moose. Even birdwatchers are in luck here - Norway’s Vega archipelago and Runde are favorite birding destinations in Scandinavia.
There’s a reason Norwegians tend to do well in Olympic ski competitions: this is where the sport was born, as evidenced by Norwegian rock art depictions dating back some 4,000 years. With Norway’s glaciers and snow-capped peaks, you can usually find places to ski here year-round -- or go glacier-walking, if you prefer. Hiking and climbing among waterfalls, mountains, and meadows are other favorite outdoor pastimes.
With so much to see and do in Norway, it’s vital to pick the group tour that’s right for your preferred level of physical activity, cultural immersion, and budget. Let Stride’s easy to use tools help you find the Norwegian fjord in your very near future.
Best Norwegian Souvenirs
Besides the bounty of fjord photos you’ll take, some of the best souvenirs to bring home from Norway are:
- Bunads (traditional Norwegian costumes
- Norwegian knitted sweaters
- Liquorice chocolates
- Viking drinking bowl shaped like a ship or a Viking drinking horn
- Any item of rosemaling art
- Solje pins or jewelry
- Lucky troll figurines
- Norwegian brown cheese
- Anything cloudberry flavored
- Cured reindeer meat or sausage
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