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Holiday in Norway



Geiranger fiord
Norway is well known for its amazing and varied scenery. The fjords in the west of the country are long narrow inlets, flanked on either side by tall mountains where the sea penetrates far inland. Norway was an old Viking kingdom.

Norway is a sparsely populated country, roughly the same land size as Great Britain or Germany. It has a population of only 4.76 million people but a land area of 385,155 square kilometers. Thus, for each inhabitant there is 70,000 square meters of land, but the vast majority of this land is a rocky wilderness which is completely unusable for agricultural purposes. As a result, Norway has a large number of completely unpopulated areas, many of which have been converted to national parks. Even outside the national parks, much of the land is unspoiled nature, which Norwegians strive to keep unspoiled.
Norway (Norge) is the westernmost, northernmost - and in fact the easternmost - of the three Scandinavian countries, located in Scandinavia west of Sweden. Best known for the complex and deep fjords along its west coast, it stretches from the North Sea near Denmark and Scotland into the Arctic Ocean where it borders northern Finland and the northwestern tip of Russia.

In winter, cross-country skiing, alpine skiing and snowboarding are very popular. In summer, hiking and biking are obvious ways to enjoy the enormous mountain areas. For the adventurous, kayaking, wildwater rafting, paragliding, cave or glacier exploration are possible. Car tourists will enjoy driving along the fjords and mountains in the west or to the midnight sun in the north. In short, Norway has a lot to offer in terms of nature. Norwegians take pride in keeping fit and being sporty (a Sunday walk is not 20 min to the pub but rather three-four hours or more in the forest or up a mountain).


A rugged landscape shaped by the Ice Age, shows forested hills and valleys, mountains, waterfalls, and a long coastline with fjords, islands, and mountains growing directly up from the sea. Norway's highest point is Galdhøpiggen, 2469m (8100ft) in the Jotunheimen region that lies midway between Oslo and Trondheim, but away from the coast. In the far north (Finnmark), you will find flatter open spaces. Several of the worlds greatest waterfalls are in Norway, particularly in the western fjords and the mountain region.

Because of the gulf stream, the climate in Norway is noticeably warmer than what would otherwise be expected at such a high latitude. Almost half the length of Norway is north of the arctic circle. Summers can be moderately warm (up to 30 degrees C), even in northern areas, but only for limited periods. The length of the winter and amount of snow varies. In the north there is more snow and winters are dark; on the southern and western coast, winters are moderate and rainy, while further inland the temperature can fall below -25 degrees C. Some mountain areas have permanent glaciers.

In Northern Norway there is 24 hour sunshine in the summer and no sun at all at mid-winter. Although Southern Norway can not enjoy the midnight sun, at midsummer the night is very short even in Oslo - it doesn't get really dark at all.

Norwegian weather is most pleasant during the summer (May to early September). If you like snow, go to Norway in December to April. Along the coasts and in southern part of West Norway there is little snow or frost and few opportunities for skiing even in winter. In the mountains there is snow until May and some mountain passes opens end of May. If you come in the beginning of May some passes can be still closed, but since the snow is melting very quickly, you will get a possibility to enjoy plenty of waterfalls before they shallow or disappear. And in this time the number of tourists is very small. Spring in Norway is quite intense due to the abundance of water (melting snow) in conjunction with plenty of sunlight and quickly rising temperatures (typically in May).

Regions:
East Norway
actually southeast, the region surrounding the capital Oslo, where the largest number of people live
Middle Norway
with the ancient city of Trondheim
Northern Norway
also with great fjords, the midnight sun and the ancient Sami culture
South Norway
the gentle coastline
Svalbard
Arctic islands near the polar ice
West Norway
with the famous fjords and Bergen

Cities:
Oslo - the capital and largest city of Norway, with museums of national importance, a beautiful setting and lively nightlife and cultural scene.
Bergen - Once the capital of Norway, old Hanseatic trading center with a rich culture and dramatic scenery, Norway's second largest city. Wonderfully cute wooden buildings, a magnificent mountain setting and tons of nightlife and atmosphere make Bergen the most enjoyable city in Norway. This is your gateway to the western fjords. The city has been dubbed "the rainiest city in Europe" with an average of 250 days of rainfall a year. Bring an umbrella.
Bodø - The gateway to the magnificent Lofoten islands. And the place of Saltstraumen, the worlds strongest maelstrom.
Drammen - Once known as industrial and grimy, but recent refurbishing has made Drammen an enjoyable side trip from Oslo.
Fredrikstad - A magnificent old town stands out from the rest of the rather nondescript city. Brilliant as a day trip from Oslo.
Kristiansand - The jolly capital of the South.
Stavanger - The fourth largest city, the third largest urban area, and the prettiest city in Norway. Commercially important due to the oil business. The wooden, cobbled central area is one of the most charming places in Norway. Home to one of Norway's medieval churches, you can also visit Iron Age homes, stone age caves, and sites where the Viking kings used to meet at Ullandhaugtårnet. Stavanger is where Erik the Red was born.
Tromsø - City with the northernmost university in the world, a magnificent, modern cathedral and absolutely no polar bears roaming the streets.
Trondheim - Famous for its stunning cathedral (Nidarosdomen). Wonderful riverside wharfs, wooden buildings and the best student nightlife in Norway give beautiful, leafy Trondheim its charm.

Other destinations:
Ålesund - A splendid Art Nouveau centre in the very western coast of Norway
Geirangerfjord - Part of the Storfjorden, with perhaps the most stunning fjord landscape in western Norway. The fjord is on the UN's list of World Heritage places
Jostedalsbreen - The largest glacier on the european mainland.
Jotunheimen - A majestic landscape and home of Norway's highest mountains.
Lillehammer - Picturesque 1994 Winter Olympics site
Lofoten - Experience the midnight sun in this traditional fishing district in the northern province with islands and mountains.
Nordkapp - This cliff is the northernmost point of continental Europe. Excelent place to experience the midnight sun.
Sognefjorden - Glaciers, mountains and picturesque towns are but a few of the sights on the Sognefjord. Flåm and Nærøyfjorden (also a UNESCO World Heritage site) are parts of the mighty Sognefjorden system.
Røros Old UNESCO protected mining town.

Norway is a big country and getting around, particularly up north, is expensive and time-consuming. The best way to see the Norwegian wilderness and countryside is by having access to your own vehicle. This way you can stop wherever you want, admire the view and venture onto smaller roads.

The bicycle seat is a one of the best ways to experience the landscapes of Norway. The sport is becoming increasingly popular in Norway, especially since the success of Norwegian cyclists like Thor Hushovd. As a result, Norwegians generally have a very positive attitude to bicycle tourists, so you'll have a lot of small talk.

Hiking
Norway has endless opportunties for hiking in it's wide wilderness, from easy walks in Oslo's city forest to alpine climbing in Jotunheimen or Troms. A number of areas are protected as national parks, but most the country is equally attractive and available to the public.

In Norway, travelers enjoy a right to access, which means it is possible to camp freely in most places for a couple of days, as long as you're not on cultivated land and provided you are at least 150 m away from houses and farm buildings. Don't leave any traces and take your rubbish away for recycling.

Den Norske Turistforening (DNT) (The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association) operates many staffed and self-service mountain cabins, marks mountain routes, offers maps and route information, guided tours, and several other services for mountain hikers in Norway.

Skiing
Both cross country and alpine skiing are popular sports in the winter, and the largest areas, Trysil or Hemsedal for example, compete well with the Alps. Telemark is also a nice area to ski in. (The birth place of cross country ski.) Voss, Geilo and Oppdal are other major ski resorts. Around Oslo there is large park ideal for cross-country skiing. In Stryn, at Galdhøpiggen and at Folgefonna there alpine ski centres that are open in summer only (May-September), offering unique opportunities for alpine skiing in T-shirt and short pants.

First time visitors not familiar with the country tend plan a trip in Norway from city to city. Although Norway has many nice cities the country's main attraction is the land itself, the nature, the landscapes, the wilderness, as well as a number of man-made sights in rural districts, notably road constructions and cultural treasures such as the stave churches. Unlike many other countries in Europe, a trip to Norway should ideally be planned according to types of landscapes to visit as well as a selection of cities. Norway is wide country with long distances and complex topography, and traveleres should not underestimate distances.

For longer stays (one week or more) consider renting an apartment, a holiday house or a high quality cabin. Several agencies offer reservations on houses or cabins owned by farmers or other locals. This type of accommodation is frequently more interesting than a standard hotel.

Most Norwegians below 60 speak English well. So, learning any Norwegian before your travel is not necessary.


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