Norway is a huge playground for outdoor enthusiasts, and opportunities abound for adrenaline junkies to indulge in their favorite sport too. Or indeed try something new. From rock climbing in the stunning Lysefjord to a snow scooter safari on the vast Finnmarksvidda plateau or extreme surfing off the coast of Bodø, the options are limitless. On land, on water or up in the air – whatever gets your adrenaline pumping, you can indulge your wild side in Norway. Have fun, and be safe!
- Base jumping in Møre og Romsdal
- Extreme skiing in the Lofoten Islands
- Snow-kiting in Hardangervidda
- White-water rafting in Sjoa River
- Ice climbing in Rjukan
- Sky-diving (various locations)
- Bobsleigh and luge track, Lillehammer
- Bungee jumping in Åkrafjorden
- MTB (off road cycling)
- Snow scooter safari in Finnmark
Base jumping in Møre og Romsdal
The first base jumping record was set by Carl Boenish in 1984 when he leaped from Trollveggen (literally the 'Troll Wall') in the Romsdal Valley near the town of Åndalsnes in Møre og Romsdal. It was then the highest base jump. A short-lived victory for Boenish, who died attempting another jump from the same site only two days later. Today base jumping from the 1,100 metre-high Trollveggen (the tallest vertical rock face in Europe) is prohibited, but the mountains of Romsdalen and Eikesdalen are recognised as some of the best in the world for base jumping. Romsdalshorn, Kalskråtinden, Gridsetskolten and "Unionsveggen" (the Union Wall) are popular exit points in Romsdalen. In Eikesdalen try Strandkolvet (Katthammaren), Aurstupet, Vikesaksa and Goksøyra. In Julsundet, 10 kilometres west of Molde, it is also possible to jump from Ravnfloget. Other popular areas for base jumping include Stryn, Voss and the Lysefjord in Fjord Norway.
Watch a wingsuit video shot in Stryn, Fjord Norway.
Extreme skiing in the Lofoten Islands
The jagged peaks of the Lofoten Islands are almost irresistible for extreme skiers, with the steep mountains overlooking the fjords offering a breathtaking backdrop. The best time to go is late winter/early spring, when light comes back after several months of total darkness. This is also when the Lofoten Freeride takes place in Kabelvåg, southwest of Svolvær on the island of Austvågøy. Extreme skiing is also popular in the fjords and in the Lyngen Alps in Northern Norway.
Snow-kiting in Hardangervidda
Half-way between snowboarding and sky-surfing, snow-kiting (also known as kite-skiing) is a high adrenaline sport, and the Hardangervidda, Northern Europe's largest mountainous plateau, provides the perfect canvas for these aerial acrobatics. Fluidfeeling offers a range of courses – you can even become a qualified instructor if you so wish. Prices from 1,200 NOK per day, equipment hire and accommodation available. Oslo Kiteskole and Kitesurfing also have weekend courses in the Hardangervidda area.
White-water rafting in Sjoa River
The aptly named Sjoa River (it comes from the old Norse word "Hjó", which means "the shimmering, shining") is one of the top places for rafting in Norway. The Sjoa is a wild river, taking its source in Lake Gjende in Jotunheimen, and running all the way to the Gudbrandsdalen Valley. Because the river offers varying degrees of difficulty, from easily navigable stretches to long and tough rapids and narrow gorges, such as the Åseng and Åmot canyons, it attracts beginners as well as experienced river paddlers. Canyoning, kayaking and riverboarding are other activities on offer in the area. Local operators based in Heidal or Otta include Sjoa Rafting Senter, Sjoa Rafting and Go Rafting. The Sjoa Festival takes place here every year in July.
Ice climbing in Rjukan
There are many waterfalls in Telemark, and come winter these turn into huge ice walls clinging to the mountain side, much to the delight of local climbers. As it happens Rjukan boasts the world's tightest concentration of frozen waterfalls - more than 170 within a radius of 20 kilometres. Don't want to climb alone? Visit in February, during the Ice Climbing Festival, when hundreds of enthusiasts and professionals gather for guided climbs, lectures and more.
For the ultimate adrenaline rush, what about splashing out on a tandem jump and try sky diving? With stunning scenery as a backdrop, Norway is the perfect destination for this. Cheap it ain't (a tandem jump will usually set you back between 3,000-4,000 NOK, excluding photos and/or videos), but this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. You can sky-dive in a number of locations in Norway in summer, including Voss, Bergen, Tønsberg, Oslo, Oppdal and Bjorli.
Bobsleigh and luge track, Lillehammer
Boasting the only bobsleigh and luge track in Scandinavia, the Lillehammer Olympic Park, built for the winter games in 1994, is located in Øyer, 15 kilometres north of Lillehammer. Here you can try bobsleighing, bobrafting, skeleton (a type of sled) and in summer (April to September), wheel-bobsled. The ultimate option for thrill-seekers is taxibob (or four-man bob), where up to three passengers get to ride in a genuine competition bobsleigh with a skilled pilot. Speeds can reach up to 120 kilometres/hour, with a G-force of 5. Or try hi-tech tobogganing at nearby Kanthaugen, the former freestyle skiing arena, where you can slide down the kilometre-long slope on specially designed sledges (winter only).
Bungee jumping in Åkrafjorden
Those feeling really brave can try bungee jumping at Trolljuv Adrenalin Park in Åkrafjorden in the Haugesund region. The bridge from which the jumps take place (weekends only) stands 115 metres over the fjord and its turquoise waters. If a bungee jump is not enough excitement, there is also a zip line (the highest in the region) to try.
MTB (off road cycling)
Norway's varied terrain offers myriad opportunities for off-road cycling, whatever your fitness level, age or experience. While the gentle, relatively flat countryside around the Oslofjord offers ideal conditions for beginners, more challenging landscapes can be found in many other parts of the country. The Hallingdal Valley is a popular destination and offers a great choice of itineraries, but there are many others. Rallarvegen, or Navvies' Road, is Norway's most popular cycling route – although not strictly speaking "off road", it is a great one for anyone wanting to cycle off tarmac.
Snow scooter safari in Finnmark
Winter activities abound in Norway, but for a real adrenaline rush not involving too much physical effort, few top a snow scooter safari. And Finnmark, with its wide open landscapes, is a great place to give it a go. Feel the wind on your face as you travel at speeds up to 60 kilometres an hour through an immaculate landscape, making your own tracks in the snow and venturing much further into the wilderness than you would on skis. A memorable experience.
A selection of festivals and events
Ice Climbing Festival (Rjukan, Feb)
Lofoten Freeride, extreme skiing festival (Kabelvåg, Lofoten Islands, Mar)
Varanger Arctic Kite Enduro, snow kiting competition (Finnmark, Apr)
4 Summit Race, which takes in four mountain tops in the course of 24 hours, combining cycling with jogging (Røros area, Jun)
Ekstremsportveko, international extreme sports competition (Voss, Jun-Jul)
Norseman, extreme triathlon (Fjord Norway, Aug)
Red Bull Ragnarok, snow kiting endurance race (Haugastol, Apr)
Did you know?
Ekstremsportveko, the extreme sports festival taking place in Voss, has been arranged every year since 2003. The festival had a record year in 2010, with 9.7 million in revenue and ticket sales increased by 700,000NOK. The company has only two employees, but each year receives the help of 300-400 volunteers.
Ekstremsportveko attracts hundreds of top national and international athletes to Voss, one of Norway's most active centres for extreme sports, every summer. Sports represented include sky-diving, rafting, kayaking, paragliding, hang-gliding, climbing, BASE and MTB Freeride. There are also concerts throughout the festival.
Hafjell Bike Park is known as the best bike park in Norway for downhill riding. Some of the trails have a vertical drop of 830 metres. There are varying levels of difficulty with jumps and drops for the brave-hearted and easier lines for beginners.
Rjukan Ice Park opened in 2011and is Europe's first artificial ice climbing wall.
The ski and sail formula, where visitors stay on a boat and use it as a base from which to ski on a different mountain every day, is popular in the Lofoten Islands and in the Norwegian fjords. Lyngen Lodge in the Kåfjord area, some 80 kilometres east of Tromsø, is a very popular place to stay among extreme skiers in the Lyngen Alps.
Ever wondered what sky diving felt like, but never plucked up the courage to jump? Now there is an alternative for would-be-daredevils, or the ones too young to attempt a real jump. Voss Wind Tunnel, the first of its kind in Scandinavia, opened in spring 2012. Three minutes in the wind tunnel correspond to four free fall ski-diving jumps from 12,000 ft each.
Sandnes BMX Club is widely known in the BMX world and has hosted the World Championships in 1991 with great success as well as hosting the 1994, 2000, 2004 and 2009 European Championships rounds.
Ski jumping has a long tradition in Norway. The sport originated in Morgedal, Telemark, when Olaf Rye, a Norwegian lieutenant, launched himself 9.5 metres in the air in front of a group of fellow soldiers. The year was 1809, and he had become the first known ski jumper. The first known competition was held in Trysil in 1862, and the first official one in Husebybakken, Ullern, Oslo, in 1879. The latter was eventually moved to Holmenkollen in 1892, and Holmenkollen has since been regarded as a mecca for ski jumping in Norway. The brand new ski jump, unveiled in 2011, is the most modern in the world, and one of the top attractions in the Norwegian capital. Vikersundbakken at Vikersund, some 80 kilometres west of Oslo, is the largest ski jumping hill in the world, and the only ski flying hill in Scandinavia.
For those who would rather spectate than participate, preferably enjoying the sunshine on a hot July day on the Norwegian Riviera, then the Norwegian Grand Prix Arendal Class One might be just the ticket. The action on the water features some of the fastest men and machines around – namely catamarans with top speeds of 250 kilometres per hour. This off-shore power boat race in Arendal is a top sporting event in Norway – 150,000 are expected to attend this year. In addition to the boating itself, there is also entertainment in town throughout the weekend.
For a different kind of hike try the via ferrata in Tyssedal. It starts at the Norwegian Museum of Hydro Power and Industry (NVIM) and the Tysso 1 power station, follows the steep maintenance stairs along the pipeline and ends at the dam warden's house at the top of the mountain, Lilletopp. Can easily be combined with the hike to Trolltunga (see "Hiking"), also in the Odda region in Hardanger.