Do you have wanderlust? Do you loving hiking, beautiful vistas, and a mix of mountains, lakes, and the ocean? Have you ever thought about traveling to Norway?
Steve and I spent our honeymoon driving, hiking, and camping around Norway. It turned out to be one of the most incredible places I have ever been. I get asked all the time about my recommendations for the best things to do and how to experience Norway. After writing multiple versions of the same email to different people, I figured I might as well pull all of my thoughts together into some blog posts! Since we spent three whole weeks in Norway, I won’t go into the details of each day of our trip, but I will instead share the highlights and some tips and tricks that we learned. This blog post will focus on advice and the next post will highlight our favorite hikes and viewpoints from the trip.
Here are some photos of us from the trip. Notice the huge variety in landscapes! From misty fjords, to white sand beaches, to dramatic mountaintops, to turquoise lakes, there is a never ending supply of natural beauty in Norway.
Our Kind of Honeymoon
Steve and I could never go on a typical honeymoon. All-inclusive resorts have never really been our thing. We knew that our honeymoon would have to involve camping, hiking, and breathtaking views. We were looking for adventure! We had both been drooling over photos of Norway for quite some time and it seemed just epic enough for a honeymoon. We had to wait from our September wedding until my summer break in July to go, which gave us plenty of time to extensively plan every moment of an unbelievable three week trip! We drew most of our inspiration from Instagram. I had saved dozens of amazing photos and created a google map full of pins…there were enough hikes to keep us busy for several years! We spent time researching, reading blogs, and eventually narrowed down our itinerary to a reasonable amount of activities for three weeks (though in reality we still ended up skipping a handful of things due to exhaustion!)
We learned so much during our planning process and on the trip itself. Here are some pieces of advice and tips and tricks for planning a trip to Norway!
1. Norway is not cheap. Okay, that’s an understatement. Norway is EXPENSIVE. It is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Food is expensive, drinks are expensive, and gas is very expensive. I want to say this first because if you’re a budget traveler like me, you really have to do your planning to make Norway an affordable trip. To do this we did a LOT of camping (read tip #2 for more details about camping in Norway). We also saved money by trying to avoid eating at restaurants. We brought our small camp stove and bought fuel when we arrived to make coffee and hot meals. We had a lot of granola bar meals, peanut butter sandwiches, and trail mix. Sadly, the food we did eat at restaurants was really delicious, especially the pizza, which made it all the more difficult to stay on budget.
2. You can pretty much camp anywhere for free. One wonderful thing about Norway is their law known as “allemannsretten” or freedom to roam, which essentially says that you can camp on public lands for free. We made use of this rule, and pulled over to camp on the side of the road in some beautiful areas. We did free camping on the beaches, on high mountain passes, and rocky areas alongside the fjords. This is such a huge contrast to our recent van travels in the United States where we had to check and double check where we parked for the night to make sure we didn’t get a ticket or a fine. Before you visit Norway, be sure to do your research to stay up-to-dates on their current camping laws! Here are some photos from random places we camped for free:
3. Plan your ferry rides in advance. If you plan on exploring the Lofoten islands or any coastal island areas, which I highly recommend, be sure to plan your ferry schedules ahead of time. For example, we really wanted to hike Rodoy, but the ferry only ran a few times and days of the week, so it ended up not fitting in our schedule. If we had known this ahead of time, we could have planned accordingly. There were also a few times when we just barely missed a ferry and ended up having to wait upwards of an hour for the next one. Also understand that ferries cost money, which can add up after a while. To get to some islands, it can take two or three ferries each way! Here are some photos from our ferry rides:
4. Prepare for some wild driving. Norway is famous for its unbelievable winding switchback roads like Trollstigen and Lysevegen. The main roads near big cities were fine, but the mountain passes and the descents down to the fjords were narrow, steep, and downright scary! There were times I was sure only one vehicle could fit on the road, and yet somehow we just barely squeaked past another car! I was tempted to slow down on the hairpin turns and narrow, foggy roads, but the locals in giant trucks were happy to slam on the gas and speed on through. Thankfully Steve took the wheel on most of those mountain passes. Here are some screenshots of roads in Norway:
Here is a photo I took of the famous Trollstigen road:
5. Bring layers and prepare for all types of weather. When we visited in July, the weather was typically in the 50s and 60s. It was perfect hiking weather, but got pretty chilly in the evenings and at high elevations. It even snowed on some of the high mountain passes! Bring a coat, gloves, and a hat…even in the summer!
6. Avoid crowds if you can. Some of the most beautiful spots in Norway are, as you might expect, incredibly popular. Even some of the long and challenging hikes were swarming with tourists! I highly recommend waking up early to visit the popular spots at sunrise, or go in the evening and plan to camp overnight to avoid crowds. We started our Trolltunga hike at 5am. When we arrived, only a handful of people were there and we were able to spend plenty of time walking out onto the precipice and taking photos. We had heard stories of people waiting in line for hours for their turn, and we were so glad we went early! Sunrise hikes can also lead to some stunning views! I had seen photos of hundreds of people up at Preikestolen, so we decided to camp up there. Only about 10 other people spent the night, and we practically had the whole place to ourselves at sunrise. Here are some photos from famous spots early in the morning, before the tourists showed up. I hope you’re not afraid of heights!
7. Prepare for a lot of driving. You could probably hit a handful of the best spots in Norway without too much driving and without leaving the southern part of the country. However, some of the most beautiful scenery and hidden gems were in the northern region. We ended up doing a ton of driving in order to make it to the Lofoten islands and Senja. While these areas had incredible hiking and scenery, I am not sure I would have done all of that extra driving if I were only in Norway for 1 or 2 weeks. This photo was from the remote northern islands:
8. Don’t plan on doing laundry. We learned the hard way that laundromats really aren’t a thing in Norway. Since we were there three weeks, we planned on doing laundry a few times (especially with all of the hiking we were doing). Laundromats were almost nonexistent and we ended up begging a hostel to let us use their laundry machines.
9. There are sheep everywhere. Watch out for sheep!
10. Bring your camera and extra batteries. Norway has some of the most incredible scenery you could imagine. I found myself snapping photos constantly! Stay tuned for my next blog post with details and photos of my favorite spots in Norway!