My last post about Norway was a bit of a downer, so today I thought I’d focus on something more positive: how beautiful Norway is!
I mean, everyone knows that already. And you know that especially well if you ever spend any time on Instagram, because Norway is all over that app.
But I’ve mentioned before that a lot of Norway’s most Instagrammed sites, like Trolltunga, Preikestolen, and Kjeragbolten, get so crowded in the summer that they kind of lose their appeal.
But then on the other hand, if you don’t mind standing in line during some of your hike (especially at the top while people are taking photos) then seeing those famous sites can be worth it. I mean, seeing this famous view of Lofoten did make me quite giddy:
But if you’re not into crowds and are looking for some alternative Norwegian hikes and places to photograph this summer, don’t worry, Norway still has loads of quieter gems left.
Whenever people ask me for tips about the most beautiful spots in Norway I’m often not sure what to say.
You see, I tend to think that the prettiest places in Norway aren’t the famous sites, or even necessarily on marked hiking or ski trails. I love just wandering around here, whether on foot or by car, and taking in how beautiful it is here – like, everywhere. I think it’s a reason why I’ve chosen the mountains over the more dramatic Norwegian coastline.
But! I also totally get the that people want a little drama sometimes too.
In fact I’ve been craving some more dramatic landscapes lately, but as summer is just about in full swing here I want to avoid the top destinations in Norway, so I took to Instagram to find some other spots worth exploring.
And it was kind of bizarre how difficult it was to find new views on Instagram! There are a lot of IG accounts dedicated to views of Norway, but most of them were showing the same shots of Geirangerfjord, Sognefjord, Trolltunga, and Lofoten, over and over again. But I did eventually come across a few places I’d love to explore:
Andøya on Vesterålen
I adored Lofoten, so now I’m really eager to explore more of Norway’s northern islands, especially the less touristed ones. Every photo I’ve seen from Vesterålen is stunning, and I think this view from the top of the Måtinden hike on Andøya, the northernmost island in the Vesterålen archipelago, could totally rival Norway’s more famous hikes.
The hike up here takes 2-3 hours roundtrip and is meant to be a medium level hike. Now I just need to get myself to Andøya!
The Swing in Trandal, Hjørundfjord
Trandal is a teeny tiny village – I think the population is something like 8 people – that you can only reach by ferry (you can take your car on the ferry) or hiking over the Sunnmøre Alps. It’s just a couple of hours from Ålesund, one of my favorite places in Norway, as well as near Trollstigen and Geiranger. The swing itself is on Christian Gaard, a farm that includes a pub and accommodation.
If you don’t stay at Christian Gaard, there is also an Airbnb in the village (click here for a discount on your first stay). Or you could stay at the Holiday Home in Måndalen in Sæbø, where you can get the ferry across to Trandal. Check current rates and availability here
Mogen, Hardangervidda National Park
Yes, I’m biased because I live at the foot of Hardangervidda, but this plateau really is magical. It’s the most Norwegian place I’ve been in Norway, which maybe doesn’t make any sense, but if you go there I think you’ll understand what I mean. The best way to experience Hardangervidda is to hike across the plateau, staying at tourist cabins along the way, but if you don’t have that much time (I still haven’t had the chance to do it!) then you can access Hardangervidda from Rjukan.
I find Rauland extra lovely in the summer, because since it’s a ski destination it has beautiful mountains that are great for hiking too, but we get a lot fewer tourists here in the warmer months. I imagine other ski destinations in Norway might be similar, and this photo of Hemsedal, one of Norway’s biggest ski resorts, confirms that suspicion!
A lot of the ski accommodation is open in the summer as well, often with lower prices than the winter, which is also a plus as it can sometimes be difficult to find accommodation up in the mountains here.
Jotunheimen National Park
What I love about Norway’s national parks is that even at the height of summer, when the fjords are full of tourists, you can hike into a national park and quickly get away from the summer crowds.
Jotunheimen is super popular, but it’s also big enough that you can still find peace and quiet here in the summer. And it is so, so beautiful. When I lived in Trondheim I drove along the outskirts of the park several times, and even the edges were stunning.
Inland between Stryn and Geiranger
Another good way to get away from the summer crowds and find some unique views is just to go inland from the fjords. The drive from Stryn to Geiranger is beautiful, especially if you take the longer route on Gamle Strynefjellsvegen – aka my favorite road in Norway.
And if you do go to Stryn, definitely check out the lake there – Oppstrynsvatn. Because who needs fjords when lakes are this beautiful?
And lucky for all of us, Oppstrynsvatn just happens to be home to one of Norway’s sweetest little hotels, Hjelle Hotel.
Byrkjelo on Sognefjord
And if you really do want to see the fjords, consider skipping the more famous towns in favor of some small, lesser known villages. Because while places like Flåm and Geiranger can get crazy crowded during the summer, a lot of the villages nearby will remain really quiet.
Anyone have any spots to add?