Norway

Luxury holidays to Norway: luxury hotel holidays, touring holidays and special interest holidays

Norway is a fascinating destination for a luxury, tailor-made holiday. The land and the culture of Norway lend themselves to a diverse and rich array of holiday experiences and a choice of mode of transport. At first glance, Norway offers magnificent, dramatic, severe and wild natural surroundings in its glaciers, Arctic snow and ice, majestic fjords, crashing waterfalls and mystical natural phenomena such as the Aurora Borealis and Fata Morgana. However, Norway also offers cultural ties, a shared history dating from the days of the Vikings, a cosiness in its orchards and pastures, brightly-painted wooden houses, folk tales and mythology, world-class art, literature and music in the works of Munch, Ibsen and Grieg, to name but three, and international philanthropy as exemplified by the Nobel prize. Many towns have superb museums, ancient wooden stave churches are well-preserved, the heritage of the Vikings is visible not just in major centres such as Oslo but all around, and seemingly small places are rich with music and drama festivals. Whilst the length of Norway with is 2518 km poses a challenge to the visitor, this also means that it makes sense to use a variety of transport modes to travel around; scenic trains, sleeper trains, boat rides, coastal cruises and car-hire can all be incorporated. The landscape lends itself well to hiking and cycling and there are many national parks that offer a variety of conditions depending on your ability. Norway’s cities are vibrant and manage to blend modernity with tradition. The iconic Oslo Opera House sits a short distance from the Akershus fortress, the Old Town Hall dating from 1641 is a stroll away from the Akrobaten pedestrian bridge, a near-futuristic construction of steel and glass.

Oslo

Norway’s fjord-fronting capital divides itself into three noteworthy areas for the visitor: central Oslo west, central Oslo east and Bygdoy.
Central Oslo west contains many of the city’s most important institutions. This part of the city grew into the capital’s heart in the second half of the 19th century. As well as the Nasjonalmuseet and the Nobel Peach Centre, there is the Karl Johans Gate, a cobblestoned main thoroughfare, City Hall (Radhuset), Castle Park and modern architecture such as the Astrup Fearnley museum. Vintage sailing boats sit alongside stylish restaurants on the waterfront.
Central Oslo east is the mediaeval core of the city, founded by King Harald Hardrade in about 1049. Today this part of the city is a blend of ancient and modern, with many buildings dating from the 17th century but also with stunning new ones such as the Oslo Opera House and the Lambda Munch museum. Overlooking the water and clearly a strategic stronghold is Akershus Festning, a fortified castle dating from the reign of King Hakon V in 1299 and reconstructed over the years since. This part of the city is also home to many museums devoted to the history of Oslo and Norway throughout the ages, from the 17th Century to World War II.
Bygdoy, once an island in Oslofjord, is now joined to the mainland and is one of Oslo’s most exclusive residential areas but also home to a collection of museums that reflect Norway’s cultural history. The two most notable are the Norsk-Folkermuseum and the Vikingskipshuset. Others are the Kon-Tiki museum, the Norwegian maritime museum, and the Frammuseet (containing the Fram, a polar ship used for three expeditions including the one undertaken by Roald Amundsen). There is also a popular beach, Hukodden.
A short distance from the city are stunning green spaces including the Vigelandsparken with expressive sculptures and the Oslo forest to the north.

Around Oslofjorden

Oslo sits at the northern end of the Oslofjorden and on either side of this fjord can be found some of the oldest settlements in Norway, from the Stone Age and Bronze Age and it was in this area that the best preserved Viking ships in the world were unearthed. About one fifth of the population of Norway live in these ancient villages and towns along the shores of the Oslofjorden. Many burial mounds, castle and wooden structures remain as testament to the heritage of the region. There are many sheltered harbours, home to numerous fishing and sailing boats, quaysides, clapboard houses and islands just offshore. Notable towns to visit include Fredrikstad, which was once a stronghold but is now a lively creative centre of art galleries, bars and restaurants. To the north in the direction of Oslo you’ll find Jeloy with walking trails through woods and quiet sand and pebble beaches, then Son which is one of the best-preserved towns on the fjord, and Hvitsten with colourful wooden houses and beaches, frequented by Edvard Munch. On the western edge of the fjord there is a mixture of Viking remains such as at Borre with several burial mounds, a historical centre and the first national park in Norway, pretty towns such as Horten and Tonsberg, and the sun-drenched archipelago of Tjome and Verdens Ende, a popular destination for Norwegians in the summer months.

Southern Norway – Sorlandet and Telemark

The regions of Telemark and Sorlandet combine to make up the southern lands of Norway and serve as a transition between Oslo in the east, the rugged North Sea coast and the fjords in the west and combine both the mountain plateau of the Hardangervidda in the north with its rich variety of wildlife including the country’s largest herd of wild reindeer, and the southern coastline of Sorlandet, composed of pretty villages, harbours, quaysides and a haven for fishing and swimming. Between valleys and lakes, the landscape is home to ancient fairy tales and folklore, historic buildings and well-trodden pathways dating back centuries. Kristiansand in the south is an attractive town and former stronghold on the coast, there is a particularly striking stave church at Heddal, dating from the 12th Century, and along the coast are charming towns such as Risor, Grimstad and Mandal, each with clapboard houses, narrow streets and secluded beaches. At Norway’s most southerly point is Lindesnes lighthouse, and where the Skaggerak and the North Sea meet, often with great force.

Eastern Norway

This large part of Norway lies to the north of Oslo and is bordered by Sweden to the east and Vestlandet, the land of the fjords to the west. This region consists of the three counties of Hedmark, Oppland and Buskerud and whilst being Norway’s most populated region, there are also vast areas of mountains, lakes and valleys offering many outdoor activities including hiking and canoeing in summer and ski-ing in winter. The Olympic resort of Lillehammer lies in this region as do the national parks of Rondane, Jotunheimen and Dovrefjell. Henrik Ibsen wrote Peer Gynt after hiking through the Gudbrandsdalen and over the Sognefjell mountains, and at Vinstra there is a museum celebrating the historical and literary figure of Peer Gynt, with the Peer Gynt Festival held usually at the end of July and the beginning of August with a celebration of Norwegian drama, music and nature. Galdhopiggen is Norway’s highest mountain and can be found in the Jotunheimen national park. The region is also home to several noteworthy stave churches: Lom, Ringebu and Uvdal.

Vestlandet

Vestlandet contains many of the archetypal sites the visitor associates with Norway: spectacular fjords, colourful fishing ports, stave churches and dramatic panoramas. Vestlandet is a long, thin region in the west of the country, bordering the North Sea and interspersed by jagged inlets from the sea into the mountainous interior: the fjords including Sognefjorden, Geirangerfjord, Lysefjorden, Hardangerfjorden and Eidfjord. Bergen is the outstanding jewel as a town in this region, a World Heritage City, with ancient history, attractive buildings, world-class museums and superb restaurants. Sognefjord is Norway’s longest and deepest fjord and is composed of five large arms with fingers, of which Naeroyfjorden is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To complement the dramatic natural scenery, there are ample man-made delights in the area too, with charming villages, waterfronts, well-preserved Viking heritage sites and local foodie specialities. You can witness the drama of the Sognefjord by boat from Bergen to Flam on a journey of about five hours. Just north and south of the innermost reaches of the Sognefjord are the outstanding stave churches of Borgund, unchanged since the Middle Ages, and Urnes, the oldest stave church in Norway. The Geirangerfjord is one of the best-known and justifiably so as it contains ten miles of dramatic natural beauty with numerous waterfalls tumbling down the vertical cliff face. The Hardangerfjord runs from the North Sea to the Hardangervidda Plateau and offers a wealth of attractive scenery and pretty towns, with numerous activities. There are also apple orchards and farmland, hiking and cycling. Towards the north of the region is the coastal town of Alesund, whose centre consists mainly of striking Art Nouveau buildings, constructed in the early 20th Century after a fire destroyed most of the old town centre.

Trøndelag

Trøndelag is the region at whose heart sits the city of Trondheim, ancient capital of the kingdom of Norway and a place of pilgrimage in Scandinavia. Trøndelag is north of Vestlandet and hugs the rugged coastline with interiors of coniferous and deciduous forests. Trondheim, once known as Nidaros, is where King Olav Haraldsson was canonised in 1031 and today contains a charming mixture of historic sights and stylish, modern architecture. There are interesting museums (Museum of Art, the Maritime Museum, the Trødelag folk museum and the Museum of Decorative Arts), the warehouses of Bryggen, the royal residence and the Nidarosdomen, Scandinavia’s greatest mediaeval building, built over the grave of Olav the Holy, the patron saint of Norway. Inland is the well-preserved mining town of Røros, with colourful, wooden houses with turf roofs. Since the 17th Century until 1977, the community combined agriculture with copper-mining. At Austrått you’ll find a beautiful white manor house dating from the Viking age, and one of the best-preserved mediaeval buildings in Norway. Just offshore are several islands including Munkholmen, Hitra and Frøya. The latter two are renowned for their deep-sea fishing.

Northern Norway

This northernmost region of the country, with the large part of it sitting within the Arctic Circle, is one that conjures up much of the magic for the visitor to Norway. This is the land of snow and ice, endless tundra, red-painted houses of fishing villages, the land of the midnight sun and the eerily mystical Northern Lights. Perched on the coast near Narvik are the idyllic Lofoten Islands, with craggy peaks, inlets and fjords, fishing villages and farms. Svolvaer is the gateway to the Lofoten Islands and from here you can visit the charming villages of Reine, Stramsund, Ballstad and Nusfjord. The main town of the region is Tromsø, situated about 186 miles inside the Arctic Circle and the place from where Amundsen started his polar expedition. The town is a popular place for viewing the Northern Lights. Other places you might visit depending on how you travel through this region are Mo I Rana, Bodø and Narvik. From Narvik you can take the train to Kiruna in Sweden and on to Stockholm (by sleeper train).

Our bespoke, luxury hotel holidays can be

● Single centre or multi-centre
● Long or short stays
● Combine a number of different hotels in different regions
● Utilise a variety of transport arrangements to Norway and within Norway, combining flights, trains, ferries and hire-car

Our special interest holidays to Norway

● Cultural tours for individuals
● Fjord cruises
● Scenic rail journeys
● Walking holidays
● Private guided sightseeing
● City breaks
● Ski breaks
● Family holidays
● Biking

Included in all our holidays

● Concierge service
● Handcrafted helpful hints and local information provided with all our holidays
● Personal service by your sales consultant who looks after all aspects of your holiday

Call us on 01392 441245

Highlights of Norway

The numerous fjords: Eidfjord – branch of the Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord – precipitous, one of Norway’s signature images, Hardangerfjord – rolling hills and pretty villages, Jossingfjord – vertiginous fjord in the flatlands of the south, Lysefjord – plunging cliffs, cruises and look out points, Naeroyfjord – narrow and very pretty, Sognefjord – Norway’s longest and one of the most beautiful, Trollfjord – very steep fjord on Lofoten, Vestfjord – sheltered bays and pretty villages separating Lofoten from the mainland. The Hurtigruten ferry that covers over 2500 km from Bergen to Kirkenes with over 30 stops. The Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. Stave churches, beautifully preserved in wood, dating from Viking times, for example at Borgund, Lom, Ringebu and Urnes. Viking ships and artefacts, burial mounds and trinkets in museums throughout the country. The red, wooden houses perched stilts over the sea on the Lofoten Islands. The modern architecture of Oslo. Picking wild blueberries, sampling aquavit made from potatoes and caraway, and tasting reindeer steak with cranberries. The charm of Oslofjorden with its pretty, arty village and towns, harbours with sailing boats, islands offshore and beaches. Hike over the Jotunheimen and relish the natural landscape of this stunning National Park.

Cultural highlights of Norway

The architecture of stave churches dating from the Viking era and Viking treasure in museums around the country. The literature of Henrik Ibsen and Knut Hamsun. Folk tales and mythology. The music of Edvard Grieg and the art of Edvard Munch. Contemporary jazz and folk music.

Gastronomy of Norway

Norway’s gastronomy is a clear reflection of its land and sea. From the land come reindeer, venison, lamb, cured meats and potatoes of all types: boiled, roasted and fried. From the freshwater lakes and streams come salmon served grilled and smoked, and freshwater fish. Sea fish is a vast array of cod, haddock, shrimps, mackerel, fish soup, fish balls, salt cod. From the orchards particularly around the Hardangerfjord come apples, cherries and plums as well as berries of all sorts including blueberries, cranberries, bilberries and, a great delicacy, cloudberries. Cheeses include Jarlsberg and brown cheese. Coffee is almost certainly the national drink, followed by beer, of which there are all sorts of craft beers brewed locally, and Aquavit is the national spirit made from potatoes and caraway.

Norway travel information

You’ll probably arrive at Oslo or Bergen airports if flying from the UK, or if travelling by train from the UK to Norway, you’ll probably arrive from Gothenburg in Sweden. Within Sweden we recommend a mixture of train services, the Hurtigruten coastal ferry service and hire-car for exploring in more depth

By rail

Due to the terrain and the distances involved, some of the train journeys can be long. For example, Oslo to Bodø takes 19 hours by train, and Oslo to Bergen takes 7.5 hours. One of the most spectacular rail journeys is from Flåm to Myrdal taking 2 hours for example. Narvik to Kiruna in Sweden on the Polar Express is also a scenic route.

By boat

The Hurtigruten line is one of the most famous and covers the coastal distance from Bergen to Kirkenes (over 2,500 kms) with 34 stops. Bergen to Kirkenes takes seven days and you can choose from a variety of cabins on board. We recommend that you do part of the journey by boat, perhaps Bergen to Trondheim, which takes 3 days, or Bodø to Svolvaer in the Lofoten Islands which can be done within one day. You can time your voyage to do parts of it by day and parts overnight. There are also ferries along the fjords, for example from Bergen to Flåm along the Sognefjord, which takes about five hours.

By hire-car

To explore within an area or to cover parts of the country, it’s recommended to have the use of a hire-car. Roads in Norway are good, and you will need to board ferries for many routes. In fact, over 100 public roadways require cars to board a ferry. You don’t book ahead for these but you need to allow for extra time but this is part of the charm of driving yourself around Norway.

Our bespoke, luxury hotel holidays can be

● Single centre or multi-centre
● Long or short stays
● Combine a number of different hotels in different regions
● Utilise a variety of transport arrangements to Norway and within Norway, combining flights, trains, ferries and hire-car

Our special interest holidays to Norway

● Cultural tours for individuals
● Fjord cruises
● Scenic rail journeys
● Walking holidays
● Private guided sightseeing
● City breaks
● Ski breaks
● Family holidays
● Biking

Included in all our holidays

● Concierge service
● Handcrafted helpful hints and local information provided with all our holidays
● Personal service by your sales consultant who looks after all aspects of your holiday

Capital Oslo

Airports Oslo Gardermoen

Currency Norwegian Krone

Size 323,878 sq km

Population 4.4 million

Average temperature The climate in Norway is relatively temperate considering its latitude. This is because of the influence of the Gulf Stream which keeps the north Atlantic and Arctic oceans free of ice in the winter and it warms the westerly and southwesterly winds that blow in from the sea. Average summer temperatures are about 16C in the south(although they can be double that) and about 13C in the north. In the winter the average temperature in the south is 1c and in the north -1C. Bergen attracts the most rainfall, with Gudbrandesdal and Rondane amongst the driest areas.

National holidays 1 January, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, 1 May, 17 May, Ascension Day and Whitsunday, Christmas Day

Call us on 01392 441245

Here you will find a map of Norway showing the locations of the hotels that we offer

Our bespoke, luxury hotel holidays can be

● Single centre or multi-centre
● Long or short stays
● Combine a number of different hotels in different regions
● Utilise a variety of transport arrangements to Norway and within Norway, combining flights, trains, ferries and hire-car

Our special interest holidays to Norway

● Cultural tours for individuals
● Fjord cruises
● Scenic rail journeys
● Walking holidays
● Private guided sightseeing
● City breaks
● Ski breaks
● Family holidays
● Biking

Included in all our holidays

● Concierge service
● Handcrafted helpful hints and local information provided with all our holidays
● Personal service by your sales consultant who looks after all aspects of your holiday

Capital Oslo

Airports Oslo Gardermoen

Currency Norwegian Krone

Size 323,878 sq km

Population 4.4 million

Average temperature The climate in Norway is relatively temperate considering its latitude. This is because of the influence of the Gulf Stream which keeps the north Atlantic and Arctic oceans free of ice in the winter and it warms the westerly and southwesterly winds that blow in from the sea. Average summer temperatures are about 16C in the south(although they can be double that) and about 13C in the north. In the winter the average temperature in the south is 1c and in the north -1C. Bergen attracts the most rainfall, with Gudbrandesdal and Rondane amongst the driest areas.

National holidays 1 January, Good Friday and Easter Sunday, 1 May, 17 May, Ascension Day and Whitsunday, Christmas Day

Call us on 01392 441245