Once visited, however, I’m never “done” with any specific place. I welcome the plane flights that take me back again and again so I may gain a fresh perspective and see something I may have missed the first, second or third time.
I often hear travelers say they’ve “done” a city or a country.
“I did Norway but can’t wait to see the rest of Scandinavia.” – not me, not ever.
What about the epic Trolltunga hike or the fjords of Lofoten or the midnight sun in Tromso or the museums of Oslo? So often we get caught up in ticking off boxes and checking off the bucket to-do list. I’m guilty of it, too, but I’ve come to learn that returning to a place multiple times is just as beautiful as touching down on virgin soil.
I was thrilled to be sent back to Norway this summer with my favorite booking platform. I waited for a Thursday to roll around to book flights & hotels on Ebates in order to receive 10% cash back to use towards epic northerly experiences – like relaxing in a Scandinavian spa in the arctic circle! Ebates gives passionate adventurers the gift of the summer – Travel Thursdays, a massive incentive to book travel anywhere in the world. Who turns that down?! Not I…especially since this field of dreams awaited my presence…
Population: 5.3 million
Currency: Norwegian Krone NOK
Drives on the: Righthand side of the road
Known For: Northern Lights on the winter, Midnight Sun in the summer, fishing, hiking, beautiful fjords, Viking history
Location: Westernmost, northernmost and easternmost of Scandanavia
Tagline: Powered by Nature (yeah go ahead and sign me up for a return trip year after year)
#1 for World Happiness Report in 2017
Travel Buddy: Ebates
Norway is a huge country. With over 50,000 islands and a coastline spanning over 51,000 miles, I completely understand the overwhelming sensation that comes with planning a Norwegian trip. Do you rent a car or could you ferry? Should you fly to cut time or can you take the scenic route? Would you rather see the Northern Lights or the Midnight Sun? My recent trip north was all too familiar: so much to do in so little time. I had to make a commitment to focus on one region and one region only…
Getting In – Bergen
Most international travelers to Norway fly into Bergen or Oslo, the two biggest cities in the country. After visiting both a few years ago, I chose to fly into Bergen on the southwestern coast surrounded by mountains and fjords with amazing seafood and colorful wooden houses. I landed around 5pm one fine day giving me just enough time to relax at the hotel before continued birthday celebrations!
Where to Stay in Bergen: Villa Charlotte
Villa Charlotte is close to the airport and about 15 minutes from the city center. I was only in the city for one night, so after a bath and a few glasses of champagne, my travel mate and I took a taxi to the center for some belated bday celebrations! The next morning, we headed north.
There are multiple ways to get from south to north and depending on how much time travelers have, they can opt to fly, drive or ferry. If I had days on end and a cashflow like Queen B, I’d rent a car and take my sweet time going from island to island but unfortunately time is of the essence for this traveler. From Bergen to Tromso, a direct flight via Widerøe Airlines is a little over 2 hours. Tromso is the largest city in northern Norway and where the arctic adventures begin! It’s where you want to be for Aurora Borealis or Midnight Sun (from May 20th to July 20th when the sun never sets) viewing, but seeing as how I visited between the two natural phenomenons, we rented a car (because public transport isn’t super reliable here) and headed for some epic viewpoints instead…but not before a few drinks at the northernmost brewery in the world – Olhallen. After some really amazing pilsners, we ventured into Bardus Bistro where burgers and ramen meet cozy library.
From Tromso city center, Senja Island should be about a 3 hour drive through Finnsnes if you aren’t pulling over every second taking photos and throwing drones up in the air 😉 We couldn’t help ourselves – the scenery is that good. There are a few different routes to Senja Island, and it’s important to note that you can definitely go the route that doesn’t take you on a ferry. I’ve heard horror stories about it being full and having to wait hours for the next one. The non-ferry route takes 45 minutes longer but in my opinion, it’s worth it.
Where to Stay on Senja Island
Mefjord Brygge is a hotel and restaurant in the most stunning setting of Noway. I knew I wanted to stay close to the trailhead of Segla, and this was a great option. Highly recommend!
What to do on Senja Island
Segla Hike – This is one of Senja’s most popular hikes, and for good reason. The 2,096 ft view from the top may have hit my Top 5 most epic views ever. You just can’t beat a fjord, ya know? The hike is about 2.3 miles out and back with an elevation gain of 1,935 ft, but don’t let that short distance fool you. Once you reach the Segla tip, the vertical gain gets tough. Keep going. You’ll thank yourself at the top.
Segla Grill – Restaurant in Fjordgård below the parking lot for the Segla hike. Get the waffles or burger. On second thought, get both. Especially if you hiked Segla that day, and even if you didn’t 🙂
The Lofoten Islands make up a small archipelago with dramatic landscapes and are known as a mecca for hiking, climbing, fishing, kayaking, skiing and surfing (even in freezing temps)! The tourism scene there has a very young vibe compared to the popular thought that Norway only sees older tourists on cruises. False. Again, travelers can decide to drive, ferry or rent a car from Tromso/Senja towards any southerly destination. I was short on time, so I boarded a plane in Tromso and was in Lofoten in less than an hour. Then, you guessed it, we rented another car.
Where to Stay in Lofoten
This is a tough one since I loved many different areas of these islands. Night 1 was spent at Solsiden Brygge Rorbuer in Ballstand (cozy fireplace, comfy beds, insanely good restaurant), about a 15 minute drive from the Leknes airport. Easy peasy. The next two nights were spent at Reine Rorbuer (cute restored traditional fishermen’s cottages) in western Lofoten.
What to do in Lofoten
What’s not to do in Lofoten? I meeeean. I could wander this archipelago for weeks and find something new to uncover and a new fjord to climb.
Henningsvear – If you haven’t seen the soccer field that’s basically in the middle of the ocean, you haven’t see pure sport gold yet. Allow me to introduce to you something out of an athletic storybook.
Besides the athleticism happening here, the colorful harbor will pull at your heartstrings, too. You can’t miss it as you must pass it to get to the field.
Reine – Oh, Reine. How I love thee and your fishing boats and peaks and coffee and cappuccino delights.
Nusfjord – Think quaint fishing village meets retro restaurants inside convenient stores meets steamy spas on the banks of the Norwegian sea. Have I sold it yet? Yep, thought so.
A few years ago, I was lucky enough to see Norway for the first time and experience the ever popular Norway in a Nutshell tour. Taking me from Bergen to Oslo, I hopped on and off planes, trains, automobiles and ferries for an epic adventure to some of the world’s greatest natural settings. My camera was on overdrive as I frantically took picture after picture of the magical Norwegian fjords.
But what’s a fjord? If you read the above paragraph and couldn’t revert back to your robust knowledge of geology from yesteryear, don’t worry – I’ve got you covered. A fjord is a glacially overdeepened valley, usually narrow and steepsided, extended below sealevel and naturally filled with seawater and formed when a glacier retreats, after carving its typical U-shaped valley. Yay, geology!
I traveled the routes of the Vikings through mighty glaciers and deep green forests. I ferried between the fjords of Naeroyfjord and the Aurlandsfjord. I made tracks to Oslo’s Royal Palace and basked in its adventure sports. And then of course there’s Bergen, one of Norway’s prettiest cities encircled by seven mountains.
More in Southern Norway: Trolltunga, Preikestolen, Kjerag, Manafossen Waterfall, Skomakarnibba, Lysefjorden
What to Know Before You Go
Getting Around: As previously stated, Norway is a big place, and adequate time is necessary for seeing a good portion of it. Far more regions exist than explained inside this post. Consider my two cents as highlights 😉
Pack Light: If you plan on seeing a good portion of Norway, consider packing in a carry-on. Otherwise, you’ll be guaranteed a great workout with the luggage you lug up and down stairs, on and off ferries, in and out of overhead bins..
Food: Be prepared for lots of cod, lamb, bacalao (Portuguese fish stew), smoked salmon, stockfish and even whale meat – a delicacy not considered controversial there. I found the seafood to be so delicious and fresh, and I’ll be on a smoked salmon kick for months to come.
Content Creators: Norway may just be the most content friendly place on the planet. With three drones constantly in the air, we were never told to take them down or even approached by confused tourists. A handful of countries have confiscated my drone at customs and immigrations and even kept it until I departed. Other countries have multiple no-fly zones or have banned them altogether. Apart from the ease of electronic devices (even though you have to take out every battery and charger during security), you simply can’t take a bad photo in this breathtaking country. Norway continues to light up my life in multiple ways..
Weather: It can change in an instant to rain or shine or strong winds. If you get caught in a rain shower, just wait 10 minutes. There’s a good chance the sun will be back momentarily. As much as I’d like to commit to becoming a Norwegian citizen one day, one thing is for sure – this country can’t commit to a weather pattern.
Pricing: Norway is pricey. Budget accordingly!
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