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A woman smelling apple blossoms in Hardanger, Norway in the spring
Fruit blossoming in Hardanger.
Photo: CH / Visitnorway.com
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The light. The scents. Everything is coming back to life. In spring, Norway wakes up from its winter sleep, and here are some of the best ways to experience it.

  1. 1. Urban “utepils”

    As soon as the first signs of spring announce themselves – when the temperature rises above zero and the sun starts to carry some warmth – Norwegians pour out of every house and workplace to make the most of the new season. The pavements start to buzz with life as the locals go to great lengths to enjoy the first “utepils” (outdoor beer) of the year. Who cares if the temperature isn’t exactly tropical? If the sun is out, we will be too – preferably sitting on sheepskins and with blankets tucked around our legs.

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    Special tip: The most famous place to experience the phenomenon is the Hardanger region where you can visit a range of idyllic fruit villages like Lofthus, Kinsarvik, and Ulvik. The Sognefjord area is another excellent option. And don’t even consider leaving before you have tasted the result of last year’s blossoming – tasty Eplemost (pure apple juice) and cider from local producers.

  3. 3. See the waterfalls at their mightiest

    Witness how the dramatic Norwegian waterfalls roar to life in spring. May and June is the absolute best time to see them come to life, when the ice and snow melt away and join the cascades of water that already plunge down the mountainsides. Norway has a long list of waterfalls well worth a visit.

    Special tip: Vøringsfossen close to Eidfjord in Hardanger is one of the most magnificent waterfalls in Norway. From the new, impressive viewing platforms (a must-see for architecture buffs), you get a breathtaking view of the roaring water and the deep canyons.

  4. 4. The birds at their liveliest

    Spring is like steroids for birds! Norway’s long coastline is bustling with life this time of year, and the migratory birds that fled in autumn have returned home to breed and enjoy the warmer seasons. Bring your binoculars and camera, and maybe even your sound recorder, as this is an experience for the ears as well as the eyes. Just make sure that you behave respectfully towards all the newly hatched nestlings.

    Special tip: In the north, Varanger has become one of the most important destinations in the world to watch Arctic birds. The local architect’s office Biotope has designed award-winning sheds for the thousands of bird watchers that travel to the area to see species such as white-tailed eagles, gyrfalcons, Steller’s eider, and Arctic sea ducks. Bird lovers also flock to the small islands of RundeLovund and Røst from around mid-April, when thousands of Atlantic puffins return to their breeding grounds.

  5. 5. Farmers’ markets and food festivals

    All over Norway, you can attend farmers’ markets, and the earliest ones start already in March. Beware not to drool when you browse the wide range of fresh goodies, all produced by local farmers. Food festivals are also an absolute must, and together these two form a trendy part of Norway’s culinary activities.

    Special tip: You can find farmers’ markets many places in the country. Some of the best food festivals you can visit in spring before the festival scene really kicks off in summer are Spis & Drikk-festivalen in Oslo and Oslo Vegetarian Festival.

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    Special tip: Architecture lovers should seek out some of the treetop huts that have a very stylish and unique design. Yet another reason to go to Norway!

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    Special tip: Hattan in Fjord Norway is teeming with underwater life, and Saltstraumen near Bodø stands out as the place to experience exciting currents. Or, how about feeling like a real explorer and dive amongst the wrecks in Narvik?

  8. 8. First swim of the year

    Are you a real Viking? Prove it by taking at least a few bold strokes in the cold spring water. The earlier, the better, but for the standard Viking, it’s acceptable to start throwing oneself in around 1 May. You can, of course, jump off any pier that allows it, but how about taking it up a notch? Sweat your troubles away in a public sauna or rent your private one, before you renew your energy with a refreshing swim.

    Special tip: You can find some very special saunas in Norway, like The Arctic spa Vulkana located on a boat in Tromsø, or the saunas hidden in a drying rack for fish at Salt in Oslo, where you can also try one of the floating saunas KOK or Oslo Fjord Sauna. Or experience the fairytalelike gold shimmering Soria Moria sauna in Dalen in Telemark.

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    Special tip: Some glacier adventures that are both exciting and suitable for everyone are available at the glacier branches of Jostedalsbreen, like the Nigardsbreen glacier in Sogn og Fjordane, the Folgefonna glacier in Hardanger, and the Svartisen glacier in Nordland, amongst others. Most regular tours on the glaciers start in May or the beginning of June.

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    Special tip: Try out Narvikfjellet, a ski resort in the north where you can ski from the top of the mountain and down to the fjord, often until June. Or take the train to Finse between Oslo and Bergen for kiting (courses available) and cross-country skiing at the Hardangervidda mountain plateau.

There’s no time like springtime

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