Now I’m not trying to say the Northern Norway is better than Southern Norway – oh wait no, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while then you know that I’m partial to Northern Norway. I’ve made the North my home and can’t imagine moving back South – there’s too much I would miss. And while Southern Norway is a wonderful place to visit and obviously you should choose it over boring places like Sweden, if you had the choice I would head up North instead.
Okay no, if you want to see those classic fjord views or Norway’s cities, then you definitely should visit Southern Norway. But ideally you would visit Southern Norway AND Northern Norway, because both have so much to offer.
And to help you plan your trip, I’ve just published my Northern Norway Travel Guide, which is a 98-page ebook that covers my top recommendations for places to visit in Northern Norway (both on and off the beaten path), the best times of year to visit, how long to visit for, the best accommodation choices, transportation, what to eat, what to pack, and tips for planning an itinerary you will love.
You can get more details and purchase the Northern Norway ebook here. And if you’re planning on visiting Southern Norway as well, you can purchase my Southern Norway Travel Guide here. And if you’re hoping to see the northern lights, you can purchase my Northern Lights Travel Guide here. I think that should have you covered!
But if you need a little more convincing, here are a few reasons why Northern Norway is definitely worth a visit:
I could probably just end this list here, because what better reason to choose Northern Norway than the chance to get to see the northern lights? While Southern Norway does sometimes get northern lights shows, it’s rare to see the aurora below the Arctic Circle.
And I mean, if you’re planning to visit Norway between September and March then you really might as well make it a Northern Norway trip so that you get to see the northern lights. How sad would it be to be hanging out under dark skies in Bergen when the northern lights are dancing above the Arctic?
If you visit Oslo in the wintertime you might be surprised by how dark it is. The sun is only up for a few hours, which is actually kind of cool because it means you’re really far north! But you know what would be even cooler? Imagine being so far north that the sun doesn’t rise at all in the winter. And that’s exactly what you can experience during polar night in the Arctic!
Okay maybe that doesn’t sound appealing but hear me out. Polar night is actually a really beautiful period and on mainland Norway we still get a few hours of blue and sometimes pink light, so you won’t be in total darkness the entire time. Though if you visit Svalbard in the middle of polar night you actually will be in total darkness all day, which personally I think is such a fun experience. It almost feels like being on a different planet!
I do sunburn really easily so maybe I’m biased.
Maybe the extremes of polar night intrigue you, but you really love the sun. In that case you could visit the Arctic during the Midnight Sun period, when the sun never sets. There’s something so special about hiking a mountain at midnight with the sun still shining.
Wouldn’t it be a shame to travel so far north to get to Norway but not actually make it all the way up to the Arctic? It sounds cool because it is cool – and not just literally.
The jagged mountain peaks
Okay yes, Southern Norway is home to Norway’s tallest mountains, but if you’re going for beauty over height I think the North definitely wins.
Turquoise water and white beaches
While Southern Norway is famous for its dramatic fjords with deep blue water, in Northern Norway you’ll find beaches so white and water so turquoise that you’ll wonder if you’re actually in the tropics – at least until you dip your toes in.
The Sami people have lived at the top of Europe for thousands of years and the majority of Norway’s Sami live in Northern Norway!
While Southern Norway might be home to the largest population of wild reindeer, in Northern Norway you’ll find lots of domestic reindeer herds wandering around, and they are way less shy than wild reindeer. You can even visit some Sami settlements to spend time with the reindeer and learn more about them.
Northern Norway is also a great place to go whale watching!
My (Southern Norwegian) mom was skeptical when I decided to move up here, saying that Northerners drink and swear a lot. I won’t say that she was necessarily wrong, but she did leave out one other key characteristic of Northern Norwegians: they are the friendliest Norwegians. It’s true!
If you don’t care about friendly locals because you don’t like people don’t worry, Northern Norway doesn’t have many! Call me antisocial, but I really do love how few people live up here. And the small population has been a definite advantage over the past couple of years, during which life carried on here almost as normal.
The dialect is more beautiful
Cursing aside, personally I find the dialects in Northern Norway to be so much prettier than the dialects spoken in Southern Norway. And don’t you want to listen to the prettiest version of Norwegian? Of course you do.
Svalbard might just be the coolest (though not coldest) place I’ve been, and it happens to be in Northern Norway! This group of islands is actually closer to the North Pole than to Oslo, and Svalbard’s towns are the northernmost permanently inhabited spots on the planet, aside from a few research bases.
I feel like that’s really reason enough to want to visit Svalbard, but probably its main attraction is the distinct landscape with pristine glaciers and the Arctic wildlife, including polar bears, walruses, humpback whales, orcas, and even narwhals!
You can read more about Svalbard in my Northern Norway Travel Guide!