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11 days - Boutique stays with hiking, fly-fishing and golfing surrounded by Norwegian scenery
The jewel in the crown when it comes to scenery up north is unquestionably Norway - let us show you why! Explore Norwegian fjords, mountains, villages and cities at your own pace and with active inclusions. Get ready for gentle hikes, invigorating climbs, biking, fly-fishing and more. Enjoy boutique historic hotels, mountain lodges and riverside cabins with included 3 course evening meals.
- Enjoy the trip along the Telemark canal from the deck on one of the historical canal boats M/S Henrik Ibsen & M/S Victoria - little has changed since it was done 150 years ago. Relax on-board after your hike as the historical landscape, steep mountains in the grand western fjords, narrow channels, open water and lakes pass you by.
- Hike Lårdalstigen - a fantastic walk with spectacular views from the edge of the mountain ridge above the Telemark Canal
- Hike Hardangervidda, staying in a lake-side mountain hut
- Stunning fjord-view drive to Bergen - waterfalls, fjords & mountains
- Stay in a farm near Aurland and hike in the valley
- Hike in Jotunheimen
- Golf at Valdres
- Most evenings you can enjoy an included 3-course evening meal.
- Day 1
- Pick up your hire car and head to the Dalen region
- Day 2
- Hike Lårdalstigen & take the Telemark canal boat back
- Day 3
- Drive to Haukelifjell - enjoying kayaking, fishing and more
- Day 4
- Hike Hardangervidda
- Day 5
- Stunning fjord-view drive to Bergen - waterfalls, fjords & mountains
- Day 6
- Day 7
- Drive to Aurlandsdalen via Gudvangen & Flåm
- Day 8
- Hike to traditional pasture farm
- Day 9
- Drive to Valdres region via Lærdal
- Day 10
- Hike the Besseggen Ridge in the Jotunheimen Region
- Day 11
- Return to Oslo
- Start/End Place
- Oslo, Scandinavia
- Destinations Visited
- 11 Days
Car hire 10 days; Toyota Yaris (manual) or similar with free mileage and CDW
- Accommodation 10 nights at good historic and well-located hotels
- Daily breakfast and half board where possible
- Car hire 11 days; VW Golf (manual) or similar with free mileage and CDW.
- One way voyage on the Telemark Canal on either MS Victoria or MS Henrik Ibsen after your hike
- During 29|2 Aurland stay: Full board, Hot tub and sauna, Waterfall hike/Stegastein drive with cinnamon rolls, coffee/Tea and full day hike to pasture farm and stroll among the hand crafters in Aurland
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
Accommodation in Oslo, international flights, lunches and items of personal nature.
This tour is designed to be flexible with your hiking options. We can organise hiking guides or you can speak to the reception on arrival and work out what you wish to do the next day. Hikes of all descriptions are available in the locations we have picked. You also have the ability to choose other options such as fly-fishing, kayaking, biking and gentle walks depending on your interests and abilities.
Day 1 - Pick up your hire car and head to the Dalen region
Pick up your car and drive out to Dalen. Stay at the historic Hotel Dalen built in a Swiss style in the late 19th century. The hotel is a landmark for Norwegian cultural heritage. Dinner is served in the hotel restaurant and is inspired by Telemark as a region with high quality products and long culinary traditions.
Transportation3.5 hr drive
Day 2 - Hike Lårdalstigen & take the Telemark canal boat back
In the morning, hike Lårdalstigen, a challenging, but fantastic walk with spectacular views from the edge of the mountain ridge above the Telemark Canal.
Along the hike, you will pass through old cultural landscape and historic sites. You can stop and admire the rugged silhouettes of Risen and Gygri, and read about the legend associated with these rock formations. Perhaps you will also spot ospreys?
From mid-May to mid-September you can enjoy the return one way from the deck on one of the ferry boats M/S Victoria or M/S Henrik Ibsen on the Telemark Canal.
Overnight Dalen Hotel with half board.
Day 3 - Drive to Haukelifjell - enjoying kayaking, fishing and more
A short drive today gets you to a wooden mountain lodge Haukeliseter by a lake. Allow plenty of time as we recommend you drive along the small, old, twisty routes that wind their way up the mountains. They were built long before the modern European roads and you will be able to enjoy fantastic, unspoilt mountain scenery, but please drive carefully - the roads are very narrow.
On arrival, you have plenty of leisure options - perhaps try your hand at fishing around Haukeliseter. Hardangervidda is described as one large fishing Eldorado. The different fishing areas are described in a fishing guide available in the reception. It is free to fish for anyone under the age of 16 and fishing licenses for adults are available in the reception.
The selection of hikes are large and there is something suitable for everyone - both by foot and on skis. Here are some examples:
Vesle Nup: The most popular day hike from Haukeliseter provides a fantastic view over Hardangervidda both summer and winter. The hike is suitable for most people and the trail is easy to find.
Nupsfonn: For those who seek a more challenging hike, the area around Nupsfonn is an exciting option. Nupsfonn is one of the most southern glaciers in Norway. The terrain is dramatic with peaks, cliffs and glaciers. The hiking options here are many both by foot and on skis.
Vassdalseggi: The highest top in Rogaland at 1658 meter above sea level is located south of Haukeliseter, and is a proper day hike for the more fit hikers. The hike can be done as a round trip both summer and winter.
Transportation1.5 hr drive
AccommodationHaukeliseter Fjellstue - Mountain room
Day 4 - Hike Hardangervidda
The highest peaks around Haukeliseter are never completely free from snow and should you opt to trek up to 1600-1700 meters above sea level you have to be prepared for snowy conditions. There are, however, plenty of trekking options that does not involve any snow for those who prefer that.
Speak to reception and get details of what you might like to do today - options are from a 4 hour return to a 7 hour return hike. Pack lunches can be organised at breakfast.
Day 5 - Stunning fjord-view drive to Bergen - waterfalls, fjords & mountains
A scenic 4 hour drive today to Bergen. Follow the road along the fjords and through the mountains to Bergen. Allow some time for stops as you pass by stunning waterfalls and beautiful views.
Day 6 - Bergen
Bergen offers many attractions and sights - many within walking distance. Recommended sights of interests are the Hanseatic harbour Bryggen, Fløibanen Funicular, Troldhaugen, the Fish and Flower market, Bergen Aquarium and Gamle Bergen (Old Bergen Open Air Museum).
The Fløibanen Funicular takes you directly to the summit of Mount Fløyen, which is an excellent vantage point for vistas of Bergen and its harbour and outlying archipelago. This is also the starting point for easy day walks in the mountains close to Bergen.
Day 7 - Drive to Aurlandsdalen via Gudvangen & Flåm
Ready for the fjords and tight turns! This drive is via the tourist route of Gudvangen and Flåm - take your time and enjoy the stops.
Arrive at your Norwegian riverside hotel, 29|2 Aurland.
Enjoy a bowl of hot soup, local organic bread and fresh apple juice in our converted Smokehouse. To top it up and to get you ready for the hiking adventure, we serve a lovely home made dessert. After dessert, we head on to a lovely waterfall hike to Turlidfossen. Here we enjoy a nice cup of warm coffee or tea and a cinnamon roll while we take in the view. After the hike, relax in the calm and quiet garden before dinner is served in our converted Smokehouse.
Transportation3 hrs drive - any tolls along the way will be automatically billed to you when you return your car.
Accommodation29|2 Aurland - Riverside farm lodge accommodation.
Day 8 - Hike to traditional pasture farm
The day starts out with a breakfast of champions, giving you a taste of the magic that is local, organic ingredients. After breakfast it is time for a calming and mindful session at the lake, trying your skills in a traditional Norwegian rowboat. After testing your skills at rowing we leave the boats and go ashore for a small hike to one of Aurlands traditional pasture farms. The region has a long and proud tradition with cheese, and up on the summer farms, Norwegians have been spending their summers producing cheese and taking care of livestock for generations. The tradition continues through hard working farmers and their love for natural and organic produce. On the summer farm you have a rich lunch in rustic surroundings, whilst enjoying the fantastic view. After the farm visit, the wood red hot tub and sauna awaits you. Sit back, relax and enjoy your surroundings with a glass of local drink before sitting down in the converted Smokehouse for dinner.
Day 9 - Drive to Valdres region via Lærdal
Situated at the end of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sognefjorden, Lærdal features dramatic mountain tops, unique wooden houses in Lærdalsøyri, and Norway’s best preserved stave church. Borgund stave church dates back to 1180. The church is built of 2,000 pieces of logs and planks, and although it is no longer used regularly for church functions, it is open to the public as a museum and well worth a stop.
The old city centre in the picturesque village Lærdalsøyri is also a popular sight, with more than 150 well-preserved wooden houses that date back to the 16th and 17th century.
Arrive at Herangtunet, a boutique hotel within a historical open-air museum located on a wooded hill by the Heggefjord. This evening, sit down for exquisite local food, served by your host, Marie-José.
Transportation2.30 hr drive
AccommodationHerangtunet Historic Hotel
Day 10 - Hike the Besseggen Ridge in the Jotunheimen Region
The Besseggen ridge is one of the most popular day hikes in Norway and has reached a kind of cult status. “Everyone” wants to have done it once in their lives and therefore, it is busy during the summer months.
You need to be fit for this hike! With 6-7 hrs walking time (without rests, which quickly take about up to 2 hrs extra) and net 900 meters elevation gain/loss (both up and downhill), this is no walk in the park! The trail is mainly good, but very stony throughout. Wear hiking boots with solid soles that offer good friction. There are shorter versions and alternate routes for less trained walkers that still offer breathtaking views.
If you choose to do the Besseggen Ridge, there are quite a few logistics to negotiate with this walk and we can help you arrange your day. Other hiking options for today include Knutshø and Peak Bitihorn. We can arrange for these hikes to be guided but it is easy to follow the summer crowds.
AccommodationHerangtunet Historic Hotel
Day 11 - Return to Oslo
After breakfast, perhaps you might like to drop via the Valdres Golf Club for 9 holes of golf before returning to Oslo.
Transportation3 hrs drive
Price per person. For last minute bookings: prices are subject to availability.
30 Sep 2019
For a greener option, please ask us about changing your vehicle to a 'green' car; either a diesel or a hybrid.
Please note that this trip can easily be shortened or lengthened. Call us for more options, as it is just such a lovely place in the world to explore.
Driving in Norway during the peak season (July - early August):
Europeans love driving in Norway and during the summer months, the more popular tourist roads becomes crowded with European vans. This can slow the roads down, as it can be difficult to pass these vans. Norwegian country roads are often quite narrow. Having said this, these roads are incredibly scenic and have lots of picnic & photo spots.
If you are going to be using ferries during your drive, depending on the size of the ferry, this might involve a wait to get on. The ferries are reliable and regular but you may need to arrive early to secure a spot in the line. On some of the ferries, we suggest considering catching a ferry outside of the peak times. Your accommodation hosts can help with suggestions for your following days travel with the most up to date local information.
Interactive Tour Map
Packing List - Summer Trekking in Norway
Proper equipment is essential for hiking in the mountains. The weather can be unstable and may change quickly, so it is important to bring warm clothes, raingear as well as shorts. Mountain boots are recommended, and they should be well broken in. Bedding, dishes and cutlery are available at all lodges. A sleeping sack and towel are necessary for all tours. Correct packing requires good planning. Your backpack should not weigh more than 8-10 kilos. We suggest you bring the following clothes and hiking gear during your summer hiking in Norway.
wool, part wool or synthetic underwear
wind jacket/anorak or all-weather jacket
shirt or light sweater of wool or fleece
In pack or pockets
rain jacket (if your jacket isn't all-weather)
rain trousers (if your trousers isn't all-weather)
sweater/jacket, wool or fleece
wool, part wool or synthetic long underwear
sleeping bag/sleeping liner
first aid kit
extra underwear (trousers, shirt, socks)
extra indoor trousers (optional)
map and compass
map case (with pencil and paper)
thermos or water bottle
Total weight: 7 - 12 kg.
For tent camping you also need
cook set and fuel
plate and cutlery
you can leave out a thermos
Total weight can easily be 15 - 20 kg for tenting
Other useful gear
"Til fots i Norge" guidebook
In forests you can get along with less gear and need not have the quality needed for mountain tours. The same applies to sheltered areas along the coast.
Spring and autumn can have winter weather in the mountains, so extra warm clothing is essential.
Pack light and don't take too much!
Travel insurance is compulsory for all tours with 50 Degrees North. Please ensure that you have this organised as we will need to see proof of this upon issuing your tour documentation. Please contact us for a quote or visit http://www.suresave.net.au/
Practical information about Scandinavian Hotels
- Hotel rooms in Scandinavia are normally furnished with twin beds, which can be moved together to form a double bed or placed separately. Please note that single rooms are generally smaller than doubles, and are often equipped with a shower instead of a bath. Purpose-built triple or family rooms are likewise unusual in Scandinavian hotels. Whilst it is possible for 3 persons to share a room, this will normally be a double room with an extra bed, with correspondingly less space to move about in.
- It is also unusual to have a porter at hotels to carry your luggage.
- There is free wi-fi in many hotels in Scandinavia.
- Unexpectedly, all forms of Scandinavian accommodation rarely provide tea and coffee facilities in their rooms. If you are lucky, a kettle will be supplied but nothing else. Please ask at reception for some provisions when you arrive or just carry a small selection from home.
- Please also note that in Scandinavia - in particular, during winter - the included lunch will often be a hearty warm soup with bread.
- More remote hotels in Lapland will offer dinner at an additional cost. In some spots, there will be limited choices else where. Generally, you get a very nice home-cooked Scandinavian dinner. However, you may sometimes find only one or two choices only for your main course.
- In Scandinavia, it is normal for washing and laundry facilities to be in the basement. If you are staying in apartment type accommodation, check downstairs or ask for assistance.
Practical budgeting information before your departure to Norway
Norway has a few items that typically surprise travellers when visiting Norway for the first time. Alcohol and luxury items are heavily taxed and therefore prices are higher than you would expect. On the other hand, necessities such as bread and milk, are taxed low and therefore are great value.
We recommend that you bring all the alcohol you’re allowed to bring into the country when you arrive. There are many lovely parks and balconies where you can enjoy your duty free. However, be sure not to bring more than you’re allowed!
As of May 2014, the allowances according to Visit Norway are:
Minimum age: 18/ 20*
1 litre of beverages with more than 22% up to and including 60% alcohol per volume as well as 1½ litre with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume or three litres with more than 2.5% up to and including 22% alcohol per volume
2 litres of beer with more than 2.5 % or other beverages with more than 2.5% up to and including 4.7% alcohol per volume.
This means that you may for example bring with you five litres of beer provided you do not have any other alcoholic beverages with you.
*For importing alcoholic beverages with more than 22% alcohol per volume the minimum age is 20.
It’s illegal to bring extra alcohol into Norway and can end up costing you. Another thing you should bring and not buy in Norway is razor blades. Good razor blades in Norway are expensive.
Self-catering in Norway
Written by Jayde Kincaid, who married a Norwegian, and was happily (albeit with some hesitation) introduced to a world of Norwegian every day food habits.
At 50 Degrees North, we want to encourage our travellers to try local Norwegian food & drink. This may seem difficult in Scandinavia in general without a large budget, and in particular Norway. Some of the more remote villages you might visit have limited restaurants or cafes, some of which can be pretty expensive. There is certainly no street food! One way to get about sampling local food is by self-catering. You will find plenty of friendly locals in the small town grocery stores and supermarkets who will be happy to help you picking out local ingredients. Just don’t be shy – ask! And, don’t rush – make your local small town shopping part of your holiday experience. Read the local notice boards, and enjoy an ice cream out the front when you have finished. It is what the locals do!
Note: Statoil cups - a good idea to save money as you drive around Norway: purcahse a Statoil (petrol station) metal cup and you get free refills of coffee, tea and hot chocolate at the Statoil stations.
Norway has an extensive range of grocery stores, and in most small villages you will find at least one, if not two or three grocery stores. However, they do have limited opening hours, and except for ‘Bunnpris’, they are all closed on Sundays. You will see the weekend hours shown in brackets on the store sign out front. If you are arriving in a larger town, we do suggest you stock up with some staples before you head out into the mountains or on a coastal drive.
A few tips:
• Plastic bags are NOK1-2 and you will always need to pack your own shopping.
• You can recycle your bottles and cans for a receipt that you can cash in. Recycling points are found in all stores.
• Alcohol sold in food stores (mainly beer and cider) is restricted by government regulation to certain hours. This varies slightly, but on weekdays alcohol sales stop at 8pm regardless and on Saturdays at 6pm. Outside these hours and on Sundays you can only buy alcohol in licensed restaurants or bars.
• Any alcohol over 4.7% can only be bought at special government controlled liquor store (Vinmonopolet). These are very rare in smaller remote towns and villages, so stock up before you leave the city.
Meatballs or “meatcakes’: these come in all shapes, sizes and quality. They are generally really tasty and a bit better than what you find at IKEA. Also pick up a packet of dried ready-made brown sauce that goes with them. Be on the look out for Lingonberry sauce/jam, or even fresh lingonberries that you can use to make a fresh sauce (little red circular berries). Don’t add too much sugar, they are served quite tart.
If you want to try to make this brown sauce yourself, buy some ‘brunost’ (brown cheese), the required creams and follow the recipe below.
Hotdogs: known as ‘pølse’ in Norwegian, hot dogs are abundant in Norway. Cheap and cheerful – pølse is THE fast food of Norway. They are sold at service stations, newsagents, corner stores and fast food outlets. Pølse come with a dazzling variety of toppings and bread. Some of the pølse highlights would be the bacon wrapped ones, sprinkled with dried onion, mustards and mayonnaise. You will also find them wrapped in waffles (mostly in and around Fredrikstad) or the Norwegian pancake, ‘lompe’.
Note: there are strict requirements by the Food Safety commission for traditional pølse to be of the highest quality and they have even set requirements for what types of ingredients are allowed.
Like Norwegian beer, you will find seasonal pølse – Christmas pølse (Julepølse) is obviously found only in the lead up to the celebrations.
If you are planning to eat Norwegian style, use boil pølse on the stove and add to meals with potatoes and stew.
Note; steer away from tinned cheap pølse and meatballs.
Fish cakes: these also come in lots of variation and are generally served with a white sauce and lots of parsley. The Norwegians also use a basic white sauce on broccoli with cheese on top. These fish cakes are often found in fish shops, fried or steamed, ready to eat. A great fast snack.
Reindeer: we strongly suggest you try reindeer meat when you are travelling in the far north. It generally comes frozen, so look for finely cut reindeer meat in the freezer section. It is a more expensive option, but absolutely delicious albeit quite gamey. Be sure to get mushrooms, a small amount of brown cheese and rømme (crème fraiche). Fry it all up in a pan - a bit like a beef stroganoff. Serve with boiled potatoes or rice.
Mushrooms: if you are travelling in the chanterelle harvest season (mid/late August), be sure to try them. They are the yellow mushroom found in autumn. Or better still, have a look around the pine forests and pick some. Be sure to image search them before you head out so you know what to pick. They are really delicious with the brown cheese sauce and reindeer.
Salmon, prawns & fish: always be on the look out for a chance to buy fresh fish. Yes, it is possible to smooth talk a fisherman at the harbour. Or look for the local fish-kiosk or fish-shop. Be on the look out for small signs pointing you in the direction of fresh fish sales – ‘reker’ (shrimps, not prawns) or ‘fersk fisk’ (fresh fish) are the words you need.
Norwegians are very proud of their shrimps – and of course completely justified. Their shrimps are small and tasty and harvested from the cool North Sea. Norwegians traditionally serve them with mayonnaise and lemon. Peel them and pop them on a fresh white slice of bread. Mayonnaise is layered on top with dill, pepper & salt.
Smoked Salmon: Norwegian smoked salmon is the best in the world hands down. Be sure to try all the different varieties you see – often, in larger supermarkets or delis, you can try before you buy.
Tubed ‘kaviar’ (caviar): this is a must try. It is cheap and perfect for the travellers pantry. This is what my husband craves like an Australian abroad would crave vegemite.
Norwegian pre-made dips and salads: the Norwegian supermarkets have a large range of premade salads and dips. They last quite a while and are good fillers for sandwiches. Our favourite are the cubed beetroot salad and the potato salads. They come in easy-to-carry and pack-up containers – perfect for picnics. Tubed mayonnaise is also handy for picnics.
‘Leverpostei’ (liver pate) in many variations can also be found in the supermarket. This pate is normally served on brown bread then topped with sliced red onions or sweet pickles. Protein rich and very tasty if you like pate – it is found on most Norwegian breakfast tables.
Yoghurt: now – this is an interesting one. Norwegian yoghurt comes in a variety of styles - some can be very runny, sour and low fat. There are varying names/codes for each sort. You might like to check with a local when you are buying yoghurt to be sure you are getting what you want. Some of the yoghurt comes as though it is milk, in normal milk cartons - sour runny yoghurt is NOT nice in your coffee.
Bread: the Norwegian supermarket bread generally comes un-cut. You can either cut it in the shop – ask for help the first time you do it. They have industrial bread cutting machines near the bakery section. The bread can be quite plain in the main supermarkets so be on the look out for boutique bakeries in the larger towns if you enjoy fancy bread. Also keep an eye out for the Norwegian flatbread, Lefse, which is similar to Mexican tortillas. Usually served with butter and sugar, sometimes cinnamon too. Occasionally made with potato.
Waffles: Norwegian waffle stalls are similar to the sausage sizzle or hot dog stand. It is the most common fundraising or community building food product. Don’t expect sickly sweet jams or whipped cream – you will find these fresh chewy waffles served with sour cream and home made tart berry jams. Never go past one!
Chocolate: we recommend that you try the ‘FREIA’ milk chocolate during your stay. It melts in your mouth.
Berries: if you travel in early autumn (mid/late August) this is berry season. Forest berries that is. Ask a local and head up into the hills or forest in search for berries. You may find; blueberries, lingonberries, rasberries and if you are up north or in the central mountains; the rare yellow cloudberries.
On a self-drive journey, always be on the look out for small farm shops or stands along the road. Things you cannot drive past:
Strawberries: if you are travelling in the strawberry season – you MUST try Norwegian strawberries. They are seriously amazing. Grown in the nutritious earth that has the chance to rejuvenate through a long winter.
_And if you go past a self-pick strawberry farm, put everything else on hold and enter! Norwegians wait all year for this event. _
New potatoes: be on the look out for new season potatoes – they are often sold in little stands beside the road. Often on an honesty basis; i.e. grab a bag and put the money in an allocated tin.
Basic Brown Cheese Recipe – can be used with meatballs, reindeer, with added mushrooms.
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 2 tablespoons flour
• 3⁄4 cup light cream
• 1⁄2 cup chicken broth (optional - just use water if you cannot find this)
• 1 cup shredded gjetost or brown goats cheese
• 3⁄4 cup rømme (crème fraiche)
• 2 tablespoons chopped parsley or 2 tablespoons fresh dill
Using the meat dish that has been browned off, remove as much oil from the pan as possible and blend in butter and flour. Remove from heat and blend in light cream. Add chicken broth, bring to boil, stirring and cooking until thickened. Mix in Gjetost cheese. Turn heat low.
Blend some of the sauce into the rømme (crème fraiche), then return all to sauce. Add chopped parsley or fresh dill.
Happy shopping and cooking!
The Scandinavian Art of 'Hygge’
The Scandinavian Art of 'Hygge’ by Ivy Thompson
The Scandinavian term ‘Hygge’ is a word that’s hard to translate - in short ‘hygge’ means coziness. But it’s so much more. Some define ‘hygge’ as enjoying life’s simple pleasures, or the joy of creating a cozy environment.
As a born and bred Norwegian, my personal definition of hygge is the art of enjoying quality time by yourself or with family and friends. Hygge is as simple as the act of curling up under a blanket with a good book on a rainy Sunday. It’s peeling (and eating!) fresh prawns on a pier during bright summer-evenings by the coast with your relatives. Hygge is just as much the shared laughs, coffee and home baked cinnamon scrolls at your friend’s house.
‘Hygge’ brings back a concept we are losing touch with: to live in, and enjoy, the present. This is a balancing-act that Scandinavians are particularly good at: they value their ‘hygge’. Hygge allows us to take time out and create a setting that encourages either quiet reflection or shared conversation. Both are good for the soul. Could ‘hygge’ be part of the reason why Scandinavian countries keep topping the UN’s world-wide ‘Happiness Report’?
Hygge happens in all our very defined Nordic seasons, but is even more special in the cold, dark winter-months of November through to February. Hygge creates the perfect balance with the sometimes harsh environment outside, and the comfortable feeling of being snug and cosy inside after a day spent in the snow.
In my mind (and experience!), hygge often goes hand in hand with a nice bite to eat. Nordic cuisine is simple, tasty and honours local produce and seasonal availability. Make sure you try waffles with sour cream and fresh strawberries, a variety open top sandwiches or smoked and pickled fish as part of your Scandinavian experience- I have no doubt you’ll find it both enjoyable and ‘hyggelig’!
We can’t talk about hygge without mentioning Christmas- the possibly most ‘hyggelig’ (cosiest) time of year in Scandinavia! This is where the epitome of hygge really shines: Christmas is about family, catching up with friends, celebrating the end of another year, food, festivities, candles, open fires and spending time in the countryside (it's common to own a family cabin in the forest or the mountains).
A guide to berries of Scandinavia
Take a Hike: The Berries of Scandinavia by Ivy Thompson
Scandinavian summers are magic. With their long, bright days and midnight sun you have the amazing opportunity to experience Nordic nature at it’s best. What would it taste like if you could bottle some of that magic?
To me, the taste of Scandinavian summer is found in the abundant wild, seasonal berries. They ripen throughout early summer till late autumn and are an important part of Nordic cuisine. Best eaten fresh straight off the bush- but also lovely as jams, jellies, cordial, juice, pies and cakes- or my favourite: sprinkled on top of freshly made waffles.
One of the greatest joys of hiking in Nordic forest and bush-land during the summer-months is without doubt the berry-picking. Like most Scandinavians I’ve enjoyed it since I could barely walk. It's a wonderful way of fuelling long hikes whether you’re going at it hard and fast, or slow and leisurely. Here’s everything you need to know about the delicious berries of Scandinavia:
Season: early June till July
Wild strawberries are tiny but incredibly sweet and flavourful. You’ll be lucky if they last till the end of your hike - these are like nature’s own lollies! In Norway we serve them crushed/ stirred as a sugar-free alternative to traditional jam. It’s amazing topped on anything from buttered toast to pancakes and waffles. Another summer dessert-favourite is simply wild strawberries topped with a dash of cream.
Season: Mid-July till August
Unlike the oversized store-bought, pale-fleshed blueberries we get at the supermarket; Scandinavian blueberries are small and deep purple all the way through. Their low-growing bushes cover entire forest floors during summer. Eager locals get in early to fill their buckets with fresh berries, ready to freeze them for later in the year. Wild Nordic blueberries are tart but more flavourful; they taste absolutely amazing topped with cream and a sprinkle of sugar. They’re also beautiful in a pie or a berry-crumble. Wild blueberries pack a serious antioxidant-punch too; eat till your heart's content.
Season: Mid-July till August
It’s not unusual for us to find wild raspberry-bushes next to a bus-stop or on the side of a quiet residential street. It’s always a pleasant surprise; wild raspberries are tasty although slightly less sweet and smaller than their farmed, store-bought relatives. My kids all love them and eat them up on the spot. These are commonly found growing on the edges of forests and fields.
Season: Late July till September
If you’ve been to IKEA you’re probably familiar with their meatballs and side of lingonberry-jam. Lingonberries are quite sour and the jam is made with large amounts of sugar to make it more palatable. In Scandinavia you’ll find the homemade jam-varieties are less sweet. Lingonberry-jam offers an amazing balance to rich red-meat dishes such as meatballs, venison-roasts and meatloaf. Don’t knock it till you try!
Season: Late July till September
Gooseberries tastes similar to kiwi-fruit and look like a small, somewhat hairy grape. They commonly grow in Scandinavian gardens as the bush does well in cooler climates. They might not grow abundantly in the wild but if you see them at a local grocer or on a cafe-menu, give them a go. Gooseberries have a grape-y, floral-like flavour, and taste best when ripe.
Black/ Red currants
Season: Late July till September
Black- and red currants can be quite sour but really makes a dessert, pie, cake or jelly “pop” with their refreshing fruitiness and flavour. Commonly used as a base in both home-made and store-bought cordial-mixes In Scandinavia, currants remind me of the picnics, warm toddies and long summer-nights of childhood. They commonly grow in gardens but you can also find them in the wild in and around residential areas.
Season: August till September
Cloudberries look like small orange raspberries, and are often called “Mountain Gold” due to their golden skin and expensive price-tag. They grow in mountainous areas spanning from from mid-Norway/ Sweden/ Finland all the way up north towards the Arctic. They are notoriously fussy and a good cloudberry season depends on many, many factors. A typical Norwegian Christmas-dessert is cloudberry whipped cream piped into “krumkaker”; a light, crisp waffle shaped into a cone. Cloudberries are considered a Norwegian delicacy, and if you are lucky enough to come across them during a hike or trek, make sure you try them for yourself.