So, you’re completely new to Norway? Don’t know what regions you want to visit, or what you want to do? In this post we will give you some introductory information about Norway and its regions.
NORWAY, A COUNTRY OF GREAT DISTANCES
With a population of just over 5 millions, and an area of 385 000 square kilometers, the population density of Norway is 73 300 square meters per person. This gives plenty of room to experience untouched spectacular nature in peaceful surroundings. However, Norway is a long country. It will take you about 35 hours to drive from north to south, and that’s just in a straight line, passing through Sweden. The long distances make it preferable to plan your visit and to prioritize which areas you want to cover, as most of us have limited time or a limited budget for our holidays. Let us tell you about Norway’s regions, and hopefully help you decide which ones you want to visit!
Norway is generally divided into five geographical regions; East- , West- , North- , South- , and Middle- Norway (also called Trøndelag). Each of these regions have a unique geography, and are suited for different types of activities and experiences.
WESTERN NORWAY – VISIT THE FJORDS:
Western Norway is a region along the Atlantic coast of southern Norway. It features beautiful fjords stretching far into the country, tall luxuriant mountains and picturesque cities close to the ocean. Bergen is the largest city of the region, famous for its fish market, “Bryggen”, and the seven mountains encircling the city. You can actually hike them all in one day! In May every year, the seven- mountain trip is arranged, and a crowd of both local people and visitors walk the approximate 35 km together. Bergen is our home town, so we are particularly fond of this city, providing urban city life, as well as spectacular nature experiences.
Stavanger is the second largest city of Western Norway, and like Bergen, it provides urban city life as well as great nature experiences. Ever heard of the pulpit rock, perhaps? It is within a 1,5 hours drive from Stavanger, so if you wish to visit the pulpit rock, Stavanger can be a nice base for your trip. Did you know, Stavanger is also famous for the surfing conditions? In both Stavanger and close by Jæren, you will find amazing wave conditions and long white sandy beaches.
In Western Norway, you will also find Avaldsnes, Norway’s oldest cashel with a rich viking history. In Avaldsnes we find the place that has given Norway it’s name, the narrow strait called Nordvegen (the north way), where all ship traffic was forced to pass through for nearly 3000 years.
Last but not least, we find Geiranger in Western Norway. The Geiranger fjord is, in our opinion, perhaps the most beautiful fjord in Norway. The hiking possibilities around it are magnificent, but unfortunately the city center itself can be a bit crowded during the summer months, as several cruise boats enter the harbour every day.
The list of amazing places in Western Norway is very long. It includes many more destinations than we have listed here, such as Trolltunga, Rallarvegen (Flåm), and Kjerag. There are too many to render them all in this short informational post, but some of the must see places are listed below, and you will also find dedicated travel guides to some of them, check them out here.
Must see destinations in Western Norway:
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- The Pulpit Rock
- Atlantic Ocean Road
NORTHERN NORWAY – THE REGION OF LIGHT:
Northern Norway is generally recognizable by the tall, dramatic mountains rising straight up from the ocean, the many picturesque fishing villages, and the amazing light. Northern Norway not only houses Norwegians, but also the indigenous sami people, making this region particularly culturally rich and diverse.
By visiting northern Norway during the winter months, it is very likely you will experience the northern light phenomenon (aurora borealis). Seeing the northern lights really should be on your bucket list. Staring up at the sky, watching the green and purple lights dancing can really take your breath away.
“Life is not measured by the number breaths we take, but by the moments that takes our breath away.”
Northern Norway is also great to visit during the summer months. In the summer you can experience the midnight sun, hike amazing mountains, and do coastal activities such as kayaking, boating, kiting or surfing. Northern Norway is Norway’s largest region, and you would have to drive for a long time to get through it all. Luckily, there are so many possibilities in the different areas of Northern Norway, that you can easily stay in one place for weeks, never wanting to leave.
Our favorite places and attractions in Northern Norway are:
- Whale safaris
- Northern lights
If Northern Norway sounds like the place for you, check out our travel guides about Northern Norway.
The Eastern part of Norway harbors a lot of culture rich cities, and is by far the most populous region in Norway. Over half the population lives on this side of the country. Even though there are a lot of bigger cities in the east, there are also great nature experiences to be found. Going a bit north or west in Eastern Norway, you will find glaciers and wild mountains areas such as Rondane. Norway’s tallest mountain, Galdhøpiggen (2469m), is located in this region, just a few hours outside of the capital Oslo. Some of the attractions worth seeing in Eastern Norway are:
- Lillehammer (Winter Olympics 94)
We have yet to release any travel guides from Eastern Norway, but they are coming soon. Stay tuned!
MIDDLE NORWAY/ TRØNDELAG:
Trøndelag is situated in the middle of Norway, and has several national parks well suited for hiking, cycling, hunting and fishing. The geography is characterized by a beautiful wild coast line, as well as mountains and lush plateaus perfect for hunting. Trondheim is the largest city of the region, and is Norway’s third largest city behind Oslo and Bergen. In Trondheim you will find the legendary Nidaros cathedral, many museums and concert venues, and a thriving student atmosphere. However, what we like most about Trøndelag is the amazing diving opportunities at Hitra. In our experience Hitra is the single best destination for diving in Norway. There is a vibrant marine life and wonderful currents to dive in. We are currently making a detailed guide about diving at Hitra that will be released shortly.
Southern Norway is a region along the Skagerrak coast of southern Norway. It is the number one summer destination in Norway, because of its steady climate and relaxed atmosphere. Here you can enjoy lazy days at the beach or stroll in one of the many picturesque small cities with charming white painted houses. You should also try the fresh shrimp, it is fantastic. Exploring the archipelago by boat is a popular activity along with fishing. In Southern Norway you also find the popular and historic Setesdalen, where you can go skiing in the winter, or hiking beautiful trails in the summer. We have yet to release any dedicated travel guides for Southern Norway, but stay tuned:)
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