Travel Weekly senior editor Andrew Compart visited northern
Norway, taking in scenery and adventure. His report follows:
ean and Michael Adams of
Plymouth, Mass., dining at a "fjordside" restaurant at Stamsund in
the Lofoten Islands, said they didn't come to Norway for a typical
"Obviously, what intrigued us was the adventure," said Michael
Adams, as he and his wife finished their meal, which included fish
soup and a salmon-and-blowfish special. "To [sell Northern Norway],
you've got to market [adventure] -- and the food."
Minneapolis-based tour operator Borton Overseas did a good job
of promoting the location, Adams said, adding he hoped to get in
some kayaking, horseback riding and fishing.
With thousands of miles of coast, Norway has abundant angling
options, and ocean fishing doesn't require a license. Other
activities here include canoeing, mountain hiking (there are
cabin-to-cabin hiking networks in Bodo), biking (Norway has a
national program), glacier climbing, scuba diving, and whale- and
While hotels are available, renovated and refurbished former
fishermen's chalets have become a popular option. And tourists can
visit Vikings (well, sort of) at a chieftain's hall.
At Borton Overseas, general manager Robert Swan said his
business sells Scandinavia by marketing a variety of tours. The
company advertises in Scandinavian tourist offices and gets the
word out via the Sons of Norway and other similar heritage
In fact, 50% of the U.S. travelers to Norway have some
Scandinavian background, according to tourism officials. Swan said
it also helps that all of Borton's Scandinavian specialists lived
in Norway at some point and know about its "nooks and crannies and
unusual and special areas."
On my visit, I -- like the Adamses -- sampled culture, nature
and adventure in northern Norway, a region of rolling hills,
plateaus, mountain peaks and fishing villages.
With the area's location above the Arctic Circle, visitors also
will experience sunlit nights from mid-April through mid-August --
with a midnight sun from about late May to mid-July, depending on
picturesque harbors feature wooden houses in vivid colors, the
boats and homes reflecting off the water with mountains as a
There's a lot of open space. Bodo, the second-largest town in
northern Norway, is home to only 40,000 or so people, and those you
do happen to encounter are friendly.
Another common sight is racks of fish hung out to dry, sometimes
hundreds at a time. In the Lofoten Islands, 35 million pounds of
cod are hung out from March or April to mid- to late June,
preserving them and reducing their weight by 80%.
Operator Destination Bodo took us on a late-night fishing trip
on the Faxsen, a 70-foot, pine boat built in 1916. At the end of
our trip -- which costs about $172 per hour for up to 23 people --
Capt. Idar Henriksen turned our catch into a tasty soup.
On another short trip from Bodo, we climbed the Svartisen
glacier -- the second-largest in Norway, at about 80 miles long.
Just getting to the glacier from its cafe and tourist center is
about a two-mile hike.
Special climbing gear is provided, but visitors already should
be wearing hiking boots, gloves, hat and layered clothing. Led by
our guide, we dug metal spikes into the glacier, using an ice pick
for balance and leverage when necessary, as we slowly made our way
The cost of this trek is about $46 per person for four hours,
with a $460 and four-person minimum per group. An outdoor,
post-climb meal (reindeer meat, in our case) costs about $17 a
person, and there is another $17 charge for use of the outdoor hot
Both Destination Bodo and Svartisen Glacier and Guiding operate
the icy excursions.
We also visited the Viking chieftain's hall and museum at Borg
with operator Destination Lofoten. The Lofotr museum is a
reconstruction interpreted from the archaeological finding nearby.
At 270 feet long and 30 feet high, the original would have been the
largest known Viking Age building.
The tour demonstrates and reveals Viking daily life, culture and
history. For an added charge, clients can eat a traditional Viking
feast in the ceremonial room. It must be arranged at least two days
in advance with a minimum of 12 people. Another extra-cost option:
mealtime entertainment by a Viking choir.
It can take some doing to reach northern Norway. Travelers
usually must stop first in the capital of Oslo, from where there
are 90-minute flights to Bodo.
From Bodo, flights are available to points farther north, but
boats are a more scenic option. Our group took a Norwegian Coastal
Voyage steamer from Bodo to Stamsund. Ground transportation also is
possible to some points.
However, the sheer remoteness of northern Norway may be part of
Swan said demand seems to have increased for what is perceived
-- correctly, he believes -- to be the region's peaceful, natural
For more on northern Norway, contact the Norwegian Tourist Board
at (212) 885-9700 or on line at www.visitnorway.com. The Nordland County Web site, at
www.nordlandreiseliv.no -- click on the U.K. flag for
English -- is full of information and contacts for the region.
Book It: Operators and Sites in Norway
Phone: (011) 47-7 554-8000
Phone: (011) 47-9 186-8564
Phone: (011) 47-7-606-9800
Phone: (011) 47-7-608-4900
Phone: (800) 462-2848
Phone: (800) 843-0602
Phone: (800) 572-8747
Phone: (800) 423-8868
Phone: (800) 542-1689
The Nordic Company
Phone: (888) 806-7226
Phone: (800) 223-7226