Getting Off-the-Beaten-Path in Norway

Looking to get off-the-beaten-path in Norway? Here are a number of great ways to experience Norway like a local, from lesser-known coastal regions to scenic train routes to local festivals that celebrate Norway's history and culture.

Oslo like a local

There's more to Oslo than its popular main street, Karl Johan, where most of the people you'll see are foreign tourists. If you want to experience Oslo like a local, best to take a stroll along Akerselva, the river that divides Oslo in east and west.

Alongside Akerselva river passing through city
Akerselva river passing through Olso

Start at Grønland, the colorful and multinational area, where even the shopping center has an exotic entrance resembling a local bazaar. The amazing fragrance of curry will invite you in for an early lunch at the corner restaurant.

Continue along the river and pass by stylish DogA, rainbow-colored sign and artistic Blå before you enter the area of Vulkan, where the food market of Mathallen hosts shops, cafes, and restaurants. You can find everything from traditional to international cuisine.

If small, old wooden houses make you nostalgic, you have to climb the little hill of Telthusbakken just behind Vulkan. You'll find a bit of history tucked away on this small street of Oslo. Grunerløkka, on the other side of the river of Vulkan, is considered the be the hipster area of Oslo, with concept bars like AkuAku and Ryes and great places for coffee-lovers to enjoy. You'll also find a Sunday market at Birkelunden.

Kopirettigheter:Innovasjon Norge
Kopirettigheter: Innovasjon Norge

Back on track at Akerselva, you'll head towards Sagene where you'll see signs of Oslo's industrial past. There are 20 waterfalls along the river that have been providing power to Oslo for the last century. This stretch of river is around 10 km long, and will also take you to Nydalen, a newly constructed part of Oslo centered around the business school. You can then take the local bus back to town when you enter Frysjavannet. After this experience, for sure you've seen more of Oslo than most other tourists!

Stay in Historical Hotels

Walaker Hotel, Solvorn
Walaker Hotel, Solvorn

When traveling, is where you stay just as important to you as the places you see? Norway has a number of great, local places to stay. De Historiske is a collection of the most charming historic hotels in the country. Imagine waking up in an old lighthouse, an old fortress, a traditional wooden farm turned boutique hotel or a 100-year-old countryside inn. 

Norway by Train

Flam railway (Flamsbana) line in Flam valley
Flam railway in Flam valley

The best way to meet Norwegians while traveling would be to use the public transportation system. Traveling by train is one of the favorite ways to get around for many Norwegians. In fact, more and more people travel by train nowadays. In Norway, the trains are modern and extend across most of the country. The northernmost Norwegian train station is in the city of Narvik.

Traveling by train, you'll be able to enjoy a number of breathtaking natural landscapes. If you book your ticket early enough, you can even get a minipris ticket, which often is half the price of regular tickets. The train lines of Norway go through more than 700 tunnels and stop at more than 300 stations. Long distance buses are also a good, cheaper alternative, and an another way to travel as a local in Norway.

Kyststien: The Norwegian Way

Innovasjon Norge
Innovasjon Norge (© Terje Rakke / Nordic Life)

The Norwegian way to explore nature is to do as Norwegians have done for decades — namely "å gå på tur", to hike. You can get off-the-beaten-path by exploring the area around the Oslofjord. You'll find marked trails called Kyststi (coast paths) to easily navigate. The Kyststi is mainly used by locals taking their everyday stroll along the fjord and it's a great way to meet the locals. Remember to say hi to everybody you pass; it's a Norwegian custom and compulsory when you går på tur!

Flø (Norway's West Coast)

Flø
Flø is known for its extreme weather (Photo: Rune Werner Molnes, Visitnorway.com)

The west coast of Norway is world-famous for its fjords, and a much-desired tourist destination. Despite its popularity, it's possible to find some hidden gems along the coast, far from the summer tourist crowds. Flø is a geat destination if you want to get off the beaten path, just a few hours drive from Ålesund. 

Less than 200 people live among the Viking graves, and its almost like you are camping at the sea. You are a part of the extreme nature elements at Flø. Many artists and people who enjoy the outdoors have found their home here, where you can find interesting little shops and a gallery that has even hosted works by Damian Herst.

Experience the Countryside

Mountain village in Norway
Local village on Norway's mountains

Wake up early to a roaster's call in a traditional storehouse on pillars and the join the local family for a breakfast out in the sun at the farm. More and more initiatives are taking place in the Norwegian countryside to preserve the old traditions. Locals come together and support each other to make the area more enjoyable for visitors. You can find everything from organic herbal production to courses in traditional food recipes, as well as artists who invite you into their galleries.

A very successful story when it comes to the concept countryside is Den Gyldne Omvei, or "The Golden Road", which lies outside the city of Trondheim. This is the perfect way to travel slow, get to know the people in the area and support local initiatives. In fact, this part of Norway has the least tourists and you are for sure off the beaten path! Nature is beautiful and you can travel at your own pace.

Northern Norway - Riddu Riđđu Festival

Sami culture, Honningsvag
Traditional Sami culture in the northern town of Honningsvag

Traveling in the north of Norway? Check out the proud Riddu Riđđu Festival, with its Sami roots, only 2 hours from Tromsø. The festival started in 1991 with a group of youngsters barbecuing and discussing their identity and their Sami Culture. The wish for celebrating their culture resulted in the creation of the festival. Today, it is recognized as one of the 12 main festivals in the country by the Norwegian government.

Be sure to bring your tent to really mix in with the local spirit and party mood. You'll get to know the great indigenous culture of the Samis, combined with the latest and most trending artists from the most northern parts of Norway as you enjoy the festivities under the midnight sun.