Summer Highlights in Norway
Late June to early August is when the weather is warmest and the days are long and bright. Temperatures in July and August can reach 25°c–30°c. At the same time there is hardly any humidity in the air. Sea temperatures can reach 18°c and higher, making swimming a popular pastime. The warmest and most stable weather usually occurs on the eastern side of the southern mountains, including the south coast between Mandal and Oslo. Even further north, summer temperatures are rather pleasant – sometimes reaching as high above 25°c. However, the summer weather can be wet and changeable, especially in Western, Central and Northern Norway.
If you want to experience the midnight sun, you will have to travel to the northern part of the country, above the Arctic Circle.
Norway in a nutshell® is the most popular round trip in Norway, and can be taken from Voss, Bergen or Oslo. This unique tour includes some of the most beautiful scenery in Fjord Norway such as Northern Europe’s highest railway, the Bergen Railway, the Flåm Railway, the Nærøyfjord (on UNESCO’s World Heritage List) and the steep Stalheimskleiva Road.
The Sognefjord, Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, extends more than 200 kilometres inland to the foot of the Jotunheimen mountains. This area is said to be one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the world. The round trip combines a beautiful boat journey on the Sognefjord, with a spectacular train journey on the Flåm Railway. Sognefjord in a nutshell is available as a day trip or with accommodation en route. The tour can be started in Bergen and Oslo. You can customize your own tour by adding hotels and activities. Season: 1 May–30 September.
If you want to experience the beauty of the actual fjords, a good way of doing so is to take one of the boats or ferries that sail on the narrowest and most picturesque fjord arms. One of the most spectacular boat trips is to sail with the car ferry from Gudvangen to Kaupanger or Lærdal on the Nærøyfjord.
There are boats for hire many places, and several charter boat services are available. Fjord safaris with rib boats are also a great way to experience the fjords.
The mountain areas surrounding the innermost part of the Sognefjord are among Norway’s most popular hiking areas. The most famous mountain areas are Jotunheimen National Park, Jostedalsbreen National Park, Breheimen, the Aurlandsdalen Valley and the Utladalen Valley. Walkers can make use of the extensive network of well-marked trails and mountain cabins run by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), and there are many guided walks to choose from. Hiking maps and descriptions are available at the local tourist offices.
To participate in a glacier walk on the Jostedalsbreen Glacier or in the Jotunheimen National Park is fantastic, both for experienced mountaineers and newcomers. At Nigardsbreen Glacier there are guided walks with different levels of difficulty every day throughout the summer, even for children as young as six years old. If you travel without your own car, The Glacier Bus takes you on day excursions from anywhere in the Sognefjord region to the exciting adventures of the Jostedalsbreen Glacier National Park in Jostedal.
To paddle along steep mountain sides and waterfalls, or between icebergs on emerald green glacier lakes is a unique experience. Kayaking is offered from places like Solvorn, Balestrand, Jostedal, Leirdalen, Flåm, Aurland, Gudvangen, Kroken, Marifjøra, Vik and other places on request. The unique glacier lake kayaking is offered only by the company IceTroll in Jostedalen.
There are hundreds of good fishing lakes, and the mountain trout you might catch taste delicious. Rivers open for salmon and/or sea trout fishing are at the moment Flåmselva, Nærøydalselva, Vetlefjordelva, Mørkridselva, Fortunselva, Jostedøla, Årøyelva, Sogndalselva, Storelva, Vikja and Årdalselva. Be aware that the fishing regulations can change, so it is wise to contact a local tourist information office to get updated information. Guided fishing trips are also offered some places, such as in Leirdalen.
Even though there are steep mountains and narrow roads along the Sognefjord, there are many great possibilities for cycling tours. The most famous bicycle path is Rallarvegen, the Navvies’ Road, – an 80-kilometre long stretch from mountain to fjord where you bike along the Bergen Railway down to the beautiful Sognefjord. Another amazing mountain to fjord route is from Nørdstedalseter in Breheimen to Skjolden at the head of the Sognefjord. There are also marked bicycle paths in Lærdal and Luster. Tour de Jotunheimen, Jotunheimen Rundt, is one of the most demanding and exciting bike races in Europe. Try the mini version from Lom through Jotunheimen to Skjolden and along the fjord to Sogndal.
Rafting, mountaineering, rock climbing, cliff climbing, horseback riding, summer skiing, canyoning, cave trips, mountain biking, historic village walks, golf, tennis, put ball, paint ball, beach volleyball and much more. Many companies offer some of these activities in combination with breathtaking hiking trips too. In winter you can enjoy alpine skiing, back country skiing, amazing glacier cave trips, snowshoeing trips, summit trips, avalanche courses and a lot of other fun in the snow. 1 point for each activity.
Do not miss out on the region’s great outdoor events, such as High Camp – Turtagrø, Tour de Jotunheimen, Jotunheimen Rundt, Tinderittet (mountain skiing competition), the Norwegian Mountain Film Festival, Heirsnosi Opp, Fanaråken Duathlon, the Norwegian Glacier Festival, Kjeringi Open and Fjellsportfestivalen (Mountain Sport Festival), National Park Festival and many, many more. We even have outdoor church services at different mountain locations. 1 point for each activity.
The church was built in 1150, and is the oldest stave church in Norway. It is situated in Luster, beside the Lustrafjord. Urnes Stave Church is the only stave church in the world to be included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Experience the magnificent Lysefjord, the Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen, wild and beautiful coastal scenery. Season: 26 May to 2 September. The trip is available as a 3 or 4 days trip. The tour can be started in either Stavanger, Bergen or Oslo and runs in the periode 26 May – 2 September. You can customize your own tour by adding hotels and activities.
When the clouds cover the ocean with a colourful, heavenly carpet, and the midnight sun is at its lowest, this is one of the most special places on earth. You do not get further north in mainland Europe – you are at the end of the world. To get there, the nearest village is Honningsvåg. From there you take a bus or drive your own car. The North Cape Tunnel Toll costs NOK 145 each way for a standard car. Additionally, you will have to pay a fee per person. Please note that from July 2012 you will no longer have to pay to go through the tunnel. Between 1 November and 30 April, the road is closed for private cars, and you must join the daily bus from Honningsvåg. It is recommendable to buy the ticket one day in advance.
In Northern Norway, the sun never sets during the summer months. Go on a midnight sun cruise, join a safari or play golf in the middle of the night.
Choose among tours of 45 minutes up to 7 hours: Mini Cruise – hop on-hop off, Fjord Sightseeing, Selected City Sightseeing, Oslo Combination, Oslo Experience, Grand Tour of Oslo, Norwegian Evening on the Fjord, Jazz, Blues or Opera Cruise.
See great Viking ship discoveries from Gokstad, Oseberg and Tune as well as other finds from Viking tombs around the Oslo Fjord. The world’s two best-preserved wooden Viking ships built in the 9th century. Small boats, sledges, cart with exceptional ornamentation. Implements, tools, harness, textiles and household utensils. Norwegian name: Vikingskipshuset.
Thor Heyerdahl was one of the world’s most famous scientists, adventurers and environmental campaigners of all time. The Kon-Tiki Museum houses original vessels and artifacts from Heyerdahl’s world-renowned expeditions. Experience the original Kon-Tiki raft, the reed boat Ra II, an exhibition about the Tigris and an Easter Island exhibition that includes a 10-metre replica of a statue from Easter Island.
The museum includes a comprehensive exhibit featuring the playwright Ibsen’s life and work, as well as Ibsen’s private home, where he spent the last 11 years of his life. The home of Henrik Ibsen and his wife Suzannah has been restored with the original furniture, fixtures, décor and colours. The library, dining room and parlours are open to the public when accompanied by museum guides. The study is the “crown jewel” of the museum.
The summer might be over, but there is no reason to stay indoors. Norway is full of autumn activities for people of all ages with everything from musk ox safaris to salmon fishing. Find something that suits you!
The leaves are slowly but surely transforming from the familiar green to a diversity of yellow, orange and red. The beautiful colors are one reason why people trek outdoors, even in the receding summer temperatures. And once outside in the fresh air, there are plenty of activities to embark upon.
The four national parks Jotunheimen, Rondane, Dovre and DovrefjellSunndalsfjella offer long stretches of unspoilt nature and in all parks you can find both organized trips as well as opportunities for solitary relaxation.
In the mountain ranges you can observe the musk ox in their habitat. The musk ox is a mighty survivor from the last ice age and can only be found in a few countries, including Norway in the Dovrefjell region. On a musk ox safari you can experience the large animals up close, and possibly get a sniff of their characteristic strong smell.
For those looking for inspiration in the kitchen, berry and mushroom hunting can be a good idea. The selection of berries and mushrooms in Norway is one of the biggest in Europe, and if you concentrate you might just find a yellow carpet of mushrooms hiding under the trees.
River rafting is perhaps not for the timid, but most tour operators offer trips for both beginners and the advanced. Sjoa is one of the most frequently visited rivers, and runs from Jotunheimen through Gudbrandsdalen. Both rafting and kayaking are popular activities and from the river you can observe a magnificent natural scenery.
One of Norway’s most successful exports is the salmon and it is perhaps not surprising that angling is a popular activity among the Norwegian people. In addition to salmon, there are more than 300 species of fish in Norway, and from the British salmon lords started coming here at the beginning of the 19th century sports fishing has drawn enthusiasts from far and near. The weather in spring can be very varied. There may be days when it is cold enough to snow, and days when it is warm enough to sit outside in the sunshine. Spring months can also be very windy. Remember that the weather and temperatures can change quickly, especially in the mountains. So whether summer or winter, autumn or spring – prepare yourself for the wilderness and bring good footwear and warm clothes.
Gathering wild berries in Norway is a traditional fall family activity. Nothing is like fresh berries – most of them naturally sweet and requires little effort to prepare; just rinse them under water and serve for a nutritious snack or dessert. In the Norwegian woods and mountains you’ll find wild cranberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and even cloudberries. My favorites are blueberries and “tyttebær”, probably because they are easy to find where I grew up (South East of Norway) and our family trips out in the nature to pick and this brings up the greatest memory.
DNT – the Norwegian Trekking Association – are Norway’s biggest outdoor activities organisation. For some 140 years, we’ve been working to promote trekking and to improve conditions for all who enjoy the country’s broad range of outdoor attractions.
Stavanger is Norway’s third largest metropolitan area and it is located on the south west coast of Norway. It has a great number of colorful wooden architectural structures and it is said to have the largest number of wooden houses in Europe. Its economy is driven by the North Sea oil fields. The principal sightseeing spots of this town include the Norwegian Oil Field Museum, Canned Goods Museum, and the cathedral. Also, an interesting suggestion is to head for the hills. Two of the best day hikes in Norway are located a couple of hours out of town on the beautiful Lysefjorden. Not too far from Stavanger, alpine centers are ready for skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter season.
The only festival of its kind in Norway, Nuart takes place every year in Stavanger. The street art festival has in the past attracted home-grown talents such as Dolk and Pøbel, but also big international stars like Banksy, who, armed with spray cans, leave their mark on every street corner with their thought-provoking graffiti and huge murals. Cool stuff. This year: Dates yet to be announced.
Need cheering up? This festival, which covers all genres, from stand up to caricatures, street theatre, musicals, and more, should bring a giggle or two. All events are in English, and past performers have included the likes of Jo Brand, Harry Hill, and Puppetry of the Penis, among many others. This year: 3-7 October 2012.
Established in 1882, this is Norway’s largest (and most controversial) exhibition for contemporary art, featuring dozens of artists under one roof, and drawing tens of thousands of visitors every year. Well-established names appear side by side with little-known Norwegian artists. The media used, which range from painting and sculpture to video installations and performance, are as varied as the artists themselves.
Scandinavia’s largest contemporary music festival takes place over 10 days in September every year in Oslo. Concerts, workshops, live music and related exhibitions take place in various venues around the capital. Read more about the festival. This year: 6-15 September 2012.
The Oslo Marathon actually consists of three races in one – a 10 km, a half marathon and a full marathon. The event is a big street party for runners and spectators alike, with entertainment in and around the course, including a big screen on which to follow the race. As many as 20,000 are expected to take part in 2012. The race starts outside the Akershus Fortress, and takes in many of the capital’s main sights.
If you thought chamber music was dull, think again. This festival, which attracts a number of international performers every year, is one of the most innovative of its kind, featuring not just classical music, but anything from tango-inspired compositions to folk, jazz, rock and more. Read more about the festival. This year: 17-23 September 2012.
A small, unpretentious music festival, which for over 30 years has been attracting local jazz musicians and fans with its small, intimate format. The festival is also a platform for young Scandinavian artists to perform in front of a wider audience. There are concerts throughout the day, and several free events. Various venues. This year: 18-21 October 2012.
A festival dedicated to this very Norwegian culinary specialty. Rakfisk, which literally means brine-cured fish, is trout, sometimes char, that has been salted and left to ferment in brine for two to three months. It is an acquired taste, but judging by the 500 tons consumed each year, it has its fans. Fagernes in Valdres is the birthplace of rakfisk, and the festival draws thousands of enthusiasts every year. This year: 1-3 November 2012.
The oldest animation festival in the Nordic and Baltic countries, this is an important platform for animators throughout Scandinavia to showcase this increasingly popular art form. The festival, which lasts for five days, features screenings, talks, workshops and events for children, many of which are free.
The south coastal region of Kristiansand has a population of around 80,000. The City thrived during World War I, providing flexibility as a neutral ground for trading within its port. Named after the city’s founder King Christian IV, Kristiansand is a somewhat surprising beach resort for both Norwegian and foreign holidaymakers during the summer months.
Bergen, Norway’s second largest city, is the gateway to the beautiful fjords of Norway’s west coast. It has fine restaurants, great museums, and even getting there is a treat – the rail journey from Oslo to Bergen is considered one of the most scenic in the world, not to mention one of the most comfortable. The city was one of nine European cities honored with the title of European Capital of Culture in the Millennium year.
Bergen has given a warm welcome to its visitors for more than 900 years. Bryggen has become a symbol of our cultural heritage and has gained a place on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The old Hanseatic wharf is architecturally unique and is perhaps one of the most familiar image in all of Norway.
A few minutes’ ride on the Fløibanen funicular, and you ascend high above the busy city of Bergen, up into fresh mountain air! From Fløibanen’s upper station, you can enjoy an amazing view of the city, fjords and islands. A good network of trails tempts you to short or long walks, or energetic hiking in the mountains above Bergen. The “Fløyen Hiking Map” shows many alternative walks, and the most popular trails are described.
Celebrating its 11th anniversary this year, the festival features more than 100 films from around the world, as well as an exciting competition programme, documentaries, “cinema extraordinaire” and animation. Read more about the festival. This year: 17-24 October 2012.
Facing the ocean, on the west coast of our region lies the island of Runde. The small island has no more than 150 inhabitants, but from February to August every year the nesting season takes place and more than 500.000 birds gather on the island.
The Art Nouveau town of Ålesund could be taken right out of a fairy tale. If you look up as you explore the town, you will discover an abundance of imaginative ornamentation on the fronts of the buildings. Walk up the 418 steps to the top of Mount Aksla and you will be rewarded by unforgettable panoramic views!