Hiking, g p tur, is a national activity in Norway, ranging from simple walks in Oslo’s city forest to mountain climbs in Jotunheimen or Troms. Approximately 30% of Norway is covered in forest, more than 50% of Norway’s total land is barren mountain (little or no vegetation), and just 5% includes farms and other types of built-up regions (houses, roads, towns etc). A handful of places have been designated as national parks, but the majority of the country is equally appealing and accessible to the general population. The ski season lasts from mid-November to late April, whereas the bare ground hiking season lasts from mid-summer to late September. It is important to note that the hiking season changes significantly depending on location (and from year to year): Deep snow may last in the high mountains until July, while trekking season begins in the lower regions and along the shore in early spring. Visitors should be warned that the tree line in Norway is considerably lower than in continental Europe and the US Rockies, resulting in high alpine conditions (no vegetation, glaciers, extremely rugged surface may start even at 1000 to 1500 metres above sea level).
Even in the summer, proper mountain gear is required for treks in the uplands. A good pair of shoes is important for a successful trek. Hiking boots with ankle support and a strong sole are recommended for tougher routes and terrain, especially at high elevations (above 1000 to 1500 meters), where trails often traverse broad screes or blockfields.
Travelers in Norway have a right to access, which means they may camp freely in most locations for a couple of days as long as they are not on cultivated ground and are at least 150m away from homes and farm buildings. Leave no sign of your presence and recycle your trash.
Den Norske Turistforening (DNT) (The Norwegian Mountain Touring Association) maintains numerous staffed and self-service mountain cabins in Norway, designates mountain routes, provides maps and route information, guided tours, and a variety of additional services to mountain walkers.
Mountainous regions are popular among Norwegians as well as visitors. Tourists may climb Galdhpiggen (2469m), Norway’s highest peak, or go on a musk ox safari in Dovrefjell.
Google Maps may only be used for preliminary planning and not for on-the-ground navigation. Try the Atlas.no website, which corresponds with their excellent paper hiking maps. Hikers in the woods should carry a compass and a precise topographical map 1:50,000 (1:75,000 may also be used). GPS (satelite navigation) is meant to complement, not replace, conventional map and compass navigation.
Cross-country skiing and alpine skiing are popular winter activities, and the biggest regions, such as Trysil, Hafjell, and Hemsedal, compete well with the Alps at lower elevations. Telemark skiing is also popular. (This is the birthplace of cross-country skiing.) Other significant ski resorts are Voss, Geilo, and Oppdal. Norway has over 200 alpine ski resorts and numerous cross-country groomed paths, some with lights to enable exercising in the winter nights.
Winter sports destinations usually open in early December, while cross-country skiing may begin in certain uplands as early as November. Around Oslo, there is a huge park suitable for cross-country skiing, as well as slopes for alpine skiing, all within walking distance of the metro and city buses. There are alpine ski facilities at Stryn, Galdhpiggen, and Folgefonna that are only open in the summer (May–September), providing unique possibilities for alpine skiing in T-shirt and short trousers. Backcountry skiing is popular in late winter and early spring, and the season on the upper plateaus/central mountains lasts until late May.
In Norway, you can rent a bicycle almost everywhere. Cycling routes are typically found around larger cities; such trips may be found at Cycle tourism in Norway. Some routes and tunnels are off-limits to bicycles because they are dangerous. Some municipal landfills may have a designated area where you may pick up abandoned bicycles (and other items) for free. Used bicycles are sometimes available in charity thrift shops (FRETEX/ELEVATOR/NMS Gjenbruk).
There are few sandy beaches, and the water is usually chilly, both in salt and fresh water. However, certain fjords, such as sections of Oslofjord, may become delightfully warm in late summer. The shore is mainly rocky, but some places have lengths of softly rounded, polished slabs of rock known as “svaberg,” which dry fast and warm up in the sun and are a favorite summer hangout.
Norway has a thriving folk, classical, and popular music culture, and is particularly well-known for heavy metal music.