Northern Norway is by far the largest and most sparsely populated part of mainland Norway, and covers more than a third of the country. It stretches from the idyllic Helgeland region in the south to mainland Europe’s northernmost point near the North Cape.
In the old days, large parts of Northern Norway was inaccessible, but today there is an extensive network of both roads and small airports with regular flights between many of the small towns and villages. The coastal steamer Hurtigruten calls at ports all along the coast at least once per day, both northbound and southbound.
But the region is not only one of wild and untouched nature and quaint old villages. Tromsø, for instance, is Northern Norway’s largest city and lies far north of the Arctic Circle. A vibrant university town, it has a lively student scene with concerts and shows, and sports an international film festival as well as a multi-cultural community of more than 100 different nationalities.
The Sami are the northernmost indigenous people in Europe, and the attractions on the Norwegian tundra in Finnmark all reflect Sami history, heritage, and life today. Preserving both the region’s nature and its culture and tradition is a priority.
The light will play an essential role in your experience in the north. Summer nights are long and bright, and in high summer north of the Arctic Circle, the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon at all. Winter nights, on the other hand, are long and cold, but far from as dark as you might think. The northern lights will play across the skies, displaying bands and tendrils of red, purple, blue, and green light. Get the latest northern lights forecast on NorwayLights.no.
And by the way: The long and bright summer nights make for juicy and tasty vegetables and fruit, like nowhere else on Earth. The local strawberries, especially, are to die for.
Opportunities abound in Northern Norway, whether you want action or relaxation, fun in the snow or lounging under the midnight sun, seeing the sights or doing the deeds, kayaking or skiing, hiking or fishing. The choice is yours.
Even though Northern Norway hosts the prestigious World Championship in cod fishing, the pace is quite laid back most of the time. Here, you can relax with a round of golf at the world’s northernmost golf course, watch the whales cavort in the sea, and hike the mountains or fish in the sea at your own pace.
If you travel to the coast of Nordland, you can dive in the world’s strongest tidal current Saltstraumen, and explore the Lofoten and Vega islands. When winter sets in, so does the skiing season. Leisurely cross-country skiing is just as common as adrenaline raising alpine, off-piste and ski touring.
Northern Norway is also the place to go for dishes and ingredients you may not have tried before. Seawolf, halibut, rose fish, and king crab are commonly enjoyed, as are other forms of seafood such as sea urchins, clams, and mussels.
The more common types of fish such as cod, coalfish, herring, and saithe are also eaten here, traditionally prepared salted, dried or steamed. Reindeer are farmed throughout the region as well, an industry that form a cornerstone of Sami culture.
Some of the top ranked activities in Northern Norway according to TripAdvisor.
Not sure where to go or what to do when you get there? We have collected some trips and tips