National parks in Norway, iconic fjords

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Norway's national parks are renowned for their breathtaking landscapes, diverse ecosystems, and opportunities for adventure and relaxation. Each park offers a unique slice of Norway's natural beauty, from the high mountains and glaciers to the deep forests and coastal archipelagos.

Fjords of Norway

Fjords are one of nature's most spectacular creations, formed when a glacier cuts a U-shaped valley while moving towards the sea and the weight of the subsequent ice sheet pushes the valley below the water line, after which the sea fills the void. Fjords are characterized by their deep waters, which are usually very still, mirroring the cliffs on either side, while their long shores are typically rugged, with waterfalls or glaciers tumbling down from some of the world's highest elevations. They serve as natural harbors and support rich ecosystems on land and in the sea that are home to a wide variety of marine and terrestrial animals. Fjords can be found in multiple countries, but they have become synonymous with Norway, where some of nature's most stunning and iconic landscapes are found.

Land of contrasts

Contrast is the essence of Norwegian landscapes, where nature plays out on a grand scale. Rugged coastline, formed by plunging fjords, give way to spectral northern lights dancing over the Arctic. There is both diversity and drama in the natural beauty of Norway, and central to it are the national parks that guard its most pristine and untamed landscapes.

Norway’s geography is a tale of two stories. To the south, you’ll find rolling fells and thick forests, teeming with a variety of animal and bird species. Further north, the landscape becomes more dramatic – the Scandinavian Mountains, for instance, offer some of the most challenging and rewarding hikes to be found anywhere in Europe. Then, to the north of the Arctic Circle, the flora, fauna, and terrain take on a whole new guise that of the tundra and ice fields of the High Arctic – a place where the midnight sun and polar night dictate the rhythm of life. Look how the National parks are located, on our map!

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Here are some of the notable national parks in Norway...

Jotunheimen National Park

National park in🇳🇴 Norwayrated
5

Jotunheimen National Park is one of Norway's true treasures. Its name means "Home of the Giants," for good reason – it's home to the tallest mountains of Northern Europe. Picture massive peaks, pristine lakes, and wide-open vistas stretching as far as you can see – that's Jotunheimen.

There are many reasons people come here, but above all, they come to hike and climb. With over 200 mountain peaks over 2,000 meters tall – including storied Galdhøpiggen and Glittertind – it's a haven for hardy souls who love the rush of altitude and endless views they've earned.

But it's not only for those who love heights. There are plenty of easier trails that allow you to get up close and personal with the park's beauty without the need for rappelling ropes. You can walk in the valleys, by the rivers, and around the lakes at a slow and easy pace, taking some time to just soak in the beauty of it all.

One of the coolest things in Jotunheimen is the fabled Besseggen Ridge. It's a hike that's not too tough, but what an experience it brings to you! The ridge walk gives you a view of two incredibly blue and green lakes, side by side. You must see this.

And if fishing is your thing, the clear waters of Jotunheimen offer a whole bunch of chances to catch the big one, no matter if you prefer fly fishing in the rivers or angling for lake fish. And the wildlife? It's everywhere. Along the way, you might see reindeer, mountain foxes, and an endless variety of birds.

In a nutshell, that's Jotunheimen National Park. Whether you're bagging peaks, strolling along a quiet trail or just looking out across the land, Jotunheimen captures the essence of Norway's wild and rugged heart and lets you take your love of nature and the outdoors to its farthest limits. And bring home a lifetime's worth of memories, too.

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Hardangervidda National Park

National park in🇳🇴 Norwayrated
5

Hardangervidda National Park is wild nature at its most dramatic. Europe's largest mountain plateau stretches as far as the eye can see — which, on this otherworldly landscape where earth meets sky, is quite far.

Why do people come? To answer the call of the wild. Hiking is huge in Hardangervidda, and trails crisscross this vast park. You'll walk over rolling hills, past glistening lakes and through a wilderness that goes for miles. And the best part? It's up to you — wander for an afternoon or push deeper for a multi-day trek.

Far better traveled are the graceful creatures that wander Hardangervidda — it hosts one of Norway's largest herds of wild reindeer. To see these dignified animals roaming free is a sight you won't forget, a connection to a world that's still untamed.

Of course, man cannot live on land-based adventures alone. The lakes and rivers of Hardangervidda are packed with fish, so don't forget your rod: This is a slice of paradise for anglers.

Perhaps the most unique thing about Hardangervidda is what it leads to — every autumn and spring, thousands of reindeer cross the plateau. The migration is an epic undertaking but, more than that, it's a genuinely epic sight, one that shows you all you need to know about the ancient rhythms still at play in the world to this day.

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Lofotodden nasjonalpark

National park in🇳🇴 Norwayrated
4

Lofoten may not be a “national park” by official designation, but this chain of islands in Northern Norway can match pretty much any national park in terms of stunning landscapes. The archipelago is a tableau of towering mountains, deep fjords, squabbling seabird colonies, and surf-swept beaches that draw nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers in equal measure.

For outdoors lovers, Lofoten is paradise. Hiking is a hugely popular activity, and there are trails to suit every ability, from easy walks suitable for families to challenging climbs that reward you with incredible views over the Arctic landscape and out to sea.

For centuries, though, it was fishing that was the lifeblood of Lofoten, and it remains a big draw for visitors today. The marine life in these waters is incredibly rich, particularly the cod that come here to spawn in winter. Join a fishing trip and not only will you be treated to a taste of local culture, but you’ll also stand a good chance of returning to shore with your dinner – all with a dramatic mountainous backdrop.

Or, for something completely different, why not surf beneath the midnight sun? Yes, that's right – surf above the Arctic Circle under the surreal light of a sun that’s just below the horizon. It’s a uniquely Lofoten experience.

There’s also the opportunity to kayak among the islands – navigating the crystal waters in the shadows of towering peaks is a serene yet exhilarating way to delve into the hidden corners of this archipelago, where the only access is by water.

The magical blend of raw beauty, outdoor adventure, and the warm hospitality of its fishing villages make Lofoten like nowhere else. And whether you’re out on mountain trails, fishing in ebullient Arctic waters, surfing beneath the midnight sun, or paddling through placid fjords, it’s hard not to feel that you are in a place where every activity and every view is imbued with the raw and untamed soul of the Arctic.

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South Spitsbergen National Park

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

South Spitsbergen National Park, on the remote Svalbard archipelago, is a place of wild, rugged beauty, where nature is in charge. This is a true frontier for adventure, with a landscape filled with untouched glaciers, stark mountains, and a coastline that is alive with wildlife.

A lot of people come to this corner of the world to experience the raw beauty of the Arctic wilderness and it is this dramatic beauty that provides the backdrop to the park and all kinds of outdoor activities, from hiking to skiing and far more rare, Arctic experiences. One of the more interesting of these is glacier trekking in South Spitsbergen.

Walking on these ancient ice masses you are immersed in a world of deep crevasses and blue ice so brilliant it almost hurts the eyes, and overwhelmed by the sheer scale of nature’s ice sculptures. It is an extreme ice experience that brings you into contact with the primal forces of nature.

Another way to experience this remarkable place is with a boat trip along the coast. From the water, you can see the huge, sheer cliffs, get close to glaciers as they meet the sea, and hopefully spot seals, walruses, and seabirds by the thousand. If you are really lucky, you might see a polar bear, the king of the Arctic, in his natural habitat.

Kayaking in the fjords of South Spitsbergen is a serene way to enjoy the simple beauty of the Arctic, as you paddle the icy waters, flanked by the huge ice machines of the glaciers and the massive mountains that loom over them. South Spitsbergen National Park is not all about wildlife, sea birds, and huge mountains; it has a human history as well, with the remains of early whaling stations and Arctic explorers’ stories adding another, human layer to its natural wonders.

For those who are looking for adventure, in one of the last true wildernesses left on earth, it is hard to imagine that South Spitsbergen National Park does not offer the greatest possible thrills. A place to step lightly on the edge of the world, with your ice axe in one hand and a camera in the other, ready to come back with a head full of stories of your adventure in a land that time seems to have forgotten.

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Rondane National Park

National park in🇳🇴 Norwayrated
4

Rondane National Park is a nature showing-off on a grand scale. As Norway’s first national park, it’s a landscape where wide-open spaces simply meet the sky, and ten towering peaks rise over 2,000 meters. It’s like entering some giant playground where every view is picture-postcard perfect.

It’s hard to say what people love most about Rondane, but hiking has got to top the list. Trails for every level from easy walks that let you enjoy the scenery without breaking a sweat, to the most challenging treks that take you as close to the top of the world as it gets. Each path tells a different story of nature with mountains, valleys, and rivers as the characters.

But what sets Rondane apart from Norway’s other national parks is its inhabitants. Wild reindeer love every inch of this area and can be seen roaming freely through its forests and tundra. Each time you spot a member of this royal breed standing next to one makes you feel just a bit more Norwegian.

Everyone should have this experience at least once. Rondane also holds one of nature’s great mysteries – the Rondane River, which has segments that disappear into the ground and come out much further downstream – like a natural ‘whodunit’.

But the thing that will leave you starry-eyed about Rondane is the chance to go ‘starry-eyed’ for real. Rondane is famous for the dark, clear nights when the stars are at their brilliant best. Can you imagine lying back and watching the Milky Way…with shooting stars darting across the sky? It just goes to show how huge and how beautiful our universe is.

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Femundsmarka

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

Femundsmarka National Park is an adventurer's dream, located in the eastern portion of Norway. A huge wilderness, the park is full of deep forests, clear lakes, and rolling hills – where nature feels both grand and intimate – creating an enormous playground for lovers of the great outdoors.

Many people come to Femundsmarka to get away from it all and bask in nature's embrace. The park is a well-used location for hiking, with trails that traverse a diverse range of landscapes – meandering past ancient pine forests, skirting sparkling lakes, and crossing undulating hills, offering a variety of experiences for walkers of all abilities.

What differentiates Femundsmarka, however, is its water. The park is peninsular for anyone who loves canoeing or kayaking; blessed with a network of lakes and rivers, it is simply a tremendous place in which to paddle, its serene waters providing a wonderful visual contrast to the stunning natural surroundings. There's something deeply special about the peaceful motion of skimming across a lake's mirror surface, with nothing but the sound of a paddle dipping into a glassy sea and the call of birds in the air surrounding you.

The cozy waters aren't just for show – the fishing in Femundsmarka is excellent, with the park's rivers and rivers stuffed to the gills with so much trout, and grayling, that you're almost guaranteed to be satisfied that those who go in search of fish.

The flat-out biggest must-see? The Røa Watercourse – made up of a series of lakes and rivers connected by natural and man-made channels – enables you to paddle your way from one lake to another, through a system of beautiful and peaceful wilderness.

Culturally, the park has much to offer, too, with a rich history of logging and mining, and old cabins and sites dotted throughout that bear testament to the human history of this untamed region.

Femundsmarka National Park is a place of stunning natural beauty and rich outdoor experiences; whether you're threading your way through its forests, cruising its waters, casting a line, or seeking to learn something of a past; each visit will offer something fresh and through its gifting to you an essential feeling of reconnection. It is truly of a kind of a place to visit, where wilderness touches visitors' souls by its simple majesty.

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Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella nasjonalpark

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park is where the wild side of Norway comes out to play. This park is a wonderland of jagged peaks, sweeping valleys, and rugged terrain, making it a standout destination for adventurers and nature lovers alike.

One of the biggest attractions of Dovrefjell is seeing something you can't see just anywhere — and that's the regal musk oxen. These ancient animals, with their shaggy coats and powerful horns, are a regular sight in the park. Joining a guided tour of their habitat is the chance to safely see these giants in person, and with it comes the kind of connection to nature's raw beauty that lasts a lifetime.

Hiking here is a big deal, too. The park's trails welcome everyone from casual strollers to more seasoned hikers looking for a challenge and show off some of the finest scenery that Norway has to offer, with every switchback delivering another dramatic view of the great outdoors.

For something different, Dovrefjell is an extraordinary spot for bird watching. Home to hundreds of bird species amidst its striking and diverse ecosystems, it's the perfect place to angle for that special sighting.

History buffs will appreciate the chance to dig deeper into Dovrefjell's past. The park is home to ancient pilgrimage routes and historical sites that offer a window into bygone Norway. Traversing those old thoroughfares, it's easy to feel the history of those who once walked them centuries before.

Dovrefjell-Sunndalsfjella National Park offers a heady brew of wild nature, unique wildlife, and a dash of history that's nigh impossible to top for anyone wanting to discover the pleasures of the great outdoors. Whether you're on the hunt for the graceful power of the musk oxen, a soul-stirring hike, the thrill of birdwatching, or to follow in the footsteps of history, Dovrefjell serves up a memorable adventure in the heart of the Norwegian wilderness.

[Editor's note: Musk oxen are wild animals and can be potentially dangerous. Be respectful and keep a safe distance. Make sure to check any park advisories and consult park rangers for guidance on how to responsibly visit the musk oxen.]

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Breheimen

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

An awe-inspiring slice of Norway, Breheimen National Park is a haven of rugged natural beauty. Glaciers, mountains, and valleys make up this astounding park, creating an outdoor experience that's as raw and powerful as it gets. Every serious outdoor enthusiast knows that Breheimen is among the world's ultimate hiking spots. From easy strolls in the valleys to strenuous treks that lead you through some of the most magnificent mountainous scenery on the planet, you're sure to find a trail that's right for you. Each path tells its own story, offering new and unexpected views of Breheimen's world of wonders with every step. One of the most thrilling things you can do in Breheimen is to go on a glacier walk.

Europe's largest glacier, Jostedalsbreen, makes up part of the Breheimen landscape, joining a collection of additional glaciers in the park. Experienced guides will lead you onto these moving rivers of ancient ice, creating an adventure through mammoth ice sculptures to remind you of the truly humbling power of natureThe park permits a handful of unique sporting opportunities, including world-class fishing and kayaking.

The rivers and lakes are crystal clear and full of frigid water that, in turn, is stocked with fish. That's great news for angling fans, but your hooks and lines aren't the only things that should hit the water. Kayakers can float beneath the serenest skies and besides pure, unpolluted shores, crisscrossing over epic landscapes and through the heart of Breheimen's harmonious artistic offerings.

Breheimen is packed with a huge range of plants, trees, and, naturally, wildlife. A rich and varied ecosystem, the park is a paradise for many different species, and it's home to quite a few rare and endangered ones too. As you wander through the park, you might see foxes, reindeer, and innumerable birds -- each of which adds a touch of wildness to your precious outdoor adventure.

Norway's Breheimen National Park is a portrait of raw and compelling natural beauty. Walking across its incredible and diverse terrain; traipsing through its incredible secrets of ice; throwing in a line in its deep, silent waters, and just sitting back and taking it all in -- each gives you an intimate and unforgettable bond with these striking landscapes. It's a land that captures both the spirit of what it means to be an adventurer and the timeless and massive force of nature that makes the adventure so movingly amazing in the first place.

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Saltfjellet-Svartisen

National park in🇳🇴 Norway

Saltfjellet-Svartisen National Park is a land brimming with adventure, an unspoiled wonder where you can lose yourself in the raw beauty of nature. This national park is renowned for its breathtaking landscapes, which encompass towering mountains, deep valleys, and the magnificent Svartisen glacier, the second-largest glacier in Norway. It is for the glacier that many visit, for the chance to stand face-to-face with this goliath of ice.

The deviously blue ice formations and fractured crevasses of Svartisen are a testament to the incredible power and beauty of the natural world. Opt for a hike and you can access fantastic viewpoints for surveying the entirety of the glacier, and trudge through some of Norway's most magnificent landscapes in the process. But Saltfjellet-Svartisen is no one-hit-wonder of the ice, no mere glacier with far-reaching outflow.

This is a place of incredible variety and beauty, a mountain utopia that is laced with routes plunging through the richest and most diverse terrains. You could wander from one lush valley to the next, cross through barren mountain plateaus, slipping occasionally over the odd rock field. As much as there's a trail for nearly every level of walker, there's something for every interest too.

The warmer months are an ideal time for caving here, and indeed the Saltfjellet-Svartisen area has some of the most unique geology in the world, giving birth to a cluster of caves ripe for exploration. These rocky, hollow networks offer a chance to peer into a shadowy world that few ever witness; revealing an underground world that remains mysterious and untouched.

Norway might be renowned for its wildlife and Saltfjellet-Svartisen is no exception: home to common hobbies, reindeer, and – if you're lucky – even the elusive wolverine, the park's diverse ecosystems carve out an area that supports a variety of life.

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