The Arctic Circle in Norway: Basking in the fairytale Glow
Get to know more about Norway's Arctic Circle Region on a train journey from Bodø to Mo i Rana.
November 9th, 2022
November 9th, 2022
The fast-growing legion of solo travellers can no longer be stereotyped as millennial backpackers. An increasing number of travellers of all ages, single or in relationships, choose to go solo. In fact, according to research by Flash Pack, the average age of solo travellers in 2022 is 47.
There are all sorts of reasons why you might want to travel alone. Maybe you feel the urge to get away from someone or some situation. Or perhaps you are longing for adventure, searching for meaningful growth, or feeling the need for a life change. Any of these can encourage you to go solo; it can also simply be that you prefer to travel independently without having to consider anyone else’s needs. You might want to spend time alone, or connect with new people. The good news is, if you choose to travel solo to Norway, we’re here to help.
In this article we share some facts on solo travel in Norway; how to find your best solo travel itinerary; and reveal our team’s top 5 solo Norwegian travel experiences.
Were you aware that Norway and the Nordic countries are among the top 25 safest countries in the world? And in the top 10 happiest countries in the world? As a solo traveller in Norway, you will feel welcome in a trust-based society where you can comfortably ask anyone at a neighbouring cafe table to look after your things while you use the restroom.
As you whizz around on our network of trains, buses, express boats and ferries, or venture out to sample the Norwegian ‘friluftsliv’ (life in the great outdoors), you will discover how our happy lifestyle correlates with our high ranking in environmental sustainability, as well as our no. 4 position in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
As a female solo traveller, you may appreciate the opportunity to spend quality time with female business owners who run their own passion projects – inspiring places to stay and eat in rural areas all over the country.
Whatever your sexual orientation, race, ethnicity or religion, you may find yourself inspired by the high degree of openness and social tolerance here. Norway is on a constant journey towards equality, and we encourage people to celebrate diversity with pride.
Another thing we celebrate is our rich food culture. As a traveller in Norway you can delve into our culture through regional food and drinks; and not only eating and drinking but taking an active part in foraging and harvesting. If you’re a solo foodie-traveller in Norway, you can rest assured that dining and drinking out alone is not at all unusual (often in the company of a good book or online news). And getting to know the locals is often easiest over a bottle of local brew, or while being served up a regional speciality for the first time.
This is where we come in. As travel curators and local insiders, we know Norway like the back of our hands. Planning bespoke itineraries in Norway is what we do best! When you give us insight into who you are and your reasons for travelling, we will in turn seek to match you with the ideal itinerary, taking in people and places we believe you’ll find interesting.
The truth is, Norway can be hard to navigate on your own. We have fjords, mountains, valleys, forests and, not least, weather that needs to be conquered. We don’t have an internal star ranking system, and some of the best experiences are only presented in the Norwegian language.
We all know how annoying it can be when a flight or ferry is cancelled, wasting your time while you decide where to go, where to stay or which activity provider to choose. Our strength is seamless logistics, with the goal of making sure you are always in the right place for you – and having a backup plan if and when it’s needed.
Our solo travellers report that what they like best is our digital itinerary application, which stores all their travel details and personalised recommendations. Best of all, they can use our chat function if they have any questions for our team. If you get lost, we’re here to help.
Picture yourself travelling through a new and unfamiliar country, but feel welcomed as a friend by people with whom you end up making meaningful connections. Arriving at a destination that turns out to be your ideal spot, with an authentic atmosphere and lovely, like-minded locals and fellow travellers. Sounds like what we’re all looking for, right?
Here’s the thing; at Up Norway, our reason for getting up every morning is to create journeys that enrich and inspire our travellers to make positive changes in their lives; the lives of people around them and for our planet. What if we told you that we’ve developed our very own transformational journey recipe, to achieve just that?
Transformational travel is defined by our partners in the Transformational Travel Council as ‘Intentionally travelling to stretch, learn, and grow into new ways of being and engaging with the world.’ Here we’ll share with you our team’s top five solo travel experiences in Norway, all of which involve opportunities for transformation to happen.
If you are seeking a rejuvenating break and want to experience Norway’s legendary spectacular fjord, mountain and coastal landscapes, our Give Me Møre!-itinerary gives you all of that! We call it the world’s most beautiful shortcut, and there are numerous reasons to take this trip:
Our German guest Stefan Meny has done two bespoke solo trips with us in Norway; both of them in September, when our landscapes are awash with autumn leaves and colours. Based on his love for the Norwegian mountains and passion for hiking, we designed an itinerary for him which included stays in fully serviced cabins, adventure lodges and iconic designer houses which gave him the perfect bases for outdoor adventures.
We asked Stefan to share what he felt were the benefits of going solo with a bespoke itinerary tailored to him. In Stefan’s words:
"On my recent trip with Up Norway, going all the way up from Oslo to Troms og Finnmark (Senja), I once again discovered that solo travelling with an insider company is so much more valuable than just heading out into mass tourism spots or discovering average city life.
I think I really got the most out of the trip because the travel curators and booking specialists reach out to the customer and find out what you really want to do and what you are interested in. To me this was very important because I wanted to do a lot of hiking, outdoor experiences and hidden gems like Manshausen or the Arctic Dome at Norwegian Wild. I don’t think I could have easily found out about world-class hikes like Romsdalseggen or Besseggen, or how to arrange such a great route between them, combined with superb hotels like Hotel Aak in between. And kayaking with Norwegian Wild on a solo trip would certainly not have been on my itinerary if I had planned this alone –not to mention cooking with Lisbeth at Marmelkroken last year.
The fact that Up Norway also knows about hidden spots and has insider knowledge about the country gave me that special access to concealed spots and first-class treatment at the same time.
Using an App called Trip Plans makes it even easier because you can travel greener (paperless) and reach out to the company with a chat function to communicate quickly and easily if necessary. I was very quickly able to contact the curators and planners – Trude, Pauline (a solo traveller herself), Henriette and Mari – it makes me feel like we’ve been friends for a long time, and that I’m more than just a ‘normal’ paying customer. As a solo traveller, this was pretty cool."
‘Regenerative’ has taken hold as the new buzzword (one step Up from ‘sustainable’). But what does regenerative travel really mean? Places run on regenerative principles seek to transform the outlook of the destination for the better, and to inspire visitors to adopt regenerative principles themselves. Such places are run by visionary entrepreneurs and hosts who genuinely want to share their visions with like-minded people. Lisbeth at Marmelkroken, Jannike & Henrik at Skåbu Mountain Lodge and Lindis at BesteBakken are great examples.
Our American guest Jennifer Davenport reported back to us a few months after her bespoke solo journey, which included BesteBakken:
"That was the best trip I’ve ever had, and I still think of it every day. It was magic. I love that you are encouraging people to travel alone. It is empowering and like nothing else. You all do such an amazing job of tailoring the journeys that it is worth every penny and I would do it again.
The tips you gave me in the Up Norway app were great, and it made it easy for me to figure out fun things to do. It was also so helpful to me to have everything booked, from hotels to ferries. All I had to do was show up! In addition, I felt safer having contact with them since I was travelling alone. I knew at any point I could reach out for help if something came up.
I loved all of the locations, and the ending at BesteBakken was so perfect. The owners of BesteBakken made me feel like a long-lost relative returning home, and the scenery was so amazing. I enjoyed hiking and exploring and just being in such a beautiful place.
Bottom line is I would recommend Up Norway to anyone who wants a tailored trip and especially to people travelling alone. Norway is such a special place, and I think I left a piece of my heart there!"
More than 500 km above the Arctic Circle, Kongsfjord Guesthouse is an amazing retreat for nature- and bird lovers. The cluster of 11 colourful wooden houses forms a rural community, the perfect shelter from the noisy storms and winds. This Arctic region offers an extraordinary diversity of ecosystems and bird life: home to more than 80 species, including the iconic King Eider.
If you take the coastal voyagers Hurtigruten or Havila and sail on the Barents Sea approximately five hours east along the Varanger peninsula, you will reach the town of Vardø, where the small uninhabited Hornøya island just off the coast is the easternmost point of Norway.
What makes this island truly special is its hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes, murres, razorbills, shags, cormorants, puffins and white-tailed eagles, all sighted within a couple of hours.
As a solo birder in Varanger, you can always find company in other birdwatchers and wildlife enthusiasts if you want. We recommend travelling with a combination of car and coastal voyagers (you can bring the car onboard) to loop around the rugged peninsula, staying in accommodation that specially caters for birdwatchers.
Our local guides will introduce you to more than just the rich wildlife. Take a deep dive into Sami mysticism and second world war history, and connect with nature and its elements at a deeper level through insights into the lives of the Northerners who survive and thrive here all year round.
In our travel curator Pauline’s words: "In Varanger I realised we are all nature. Feeling the elements of the wind, the ocean and the land was the best way to be cradled back to peace and serenity in a blissful world, even if only for a moment. I already crave to return."
It became a natural response to the pandemic for urban dwellers to retreat to the wilderness. A growing number of architecturally amazing micro-retreats mean this will likely continue as a trend over the long haul. Our delight in reconnecting with the natural world has been one of the happier by-products of the pandemic, seeking ways to take breaks away from the crowd. As a leader in nature-based travel, Norway is home to a selection of outstanding remote places to stay. Combining a few days in Oslo with a few days in the wilderness can be a wonderful, personally enriching experience.
A luxurious and architecturally pleasing itinerary for the luxury solo traveller might combine:
Days 1-4: Sommerro House: Oslo’s most exciting hotel opening in 2022: a destination-in-itself boutique hotel and a modern tribute to Norwegian cultural heritage, with a strong focus on eco-conscious experiences. It has a gym and wellness space, and the city’s first year-round rooftop pool, sauna and terrace. The perfect base to discover Oslo, the newest capital of Nordic cool.
Days 4-8: The Writer’s Lodge at Juvet Landscape Hotel in Valldal: This magical place in the middle of nowhere was used as the location in Alex Garland’s 2014 science fiction movie Ex Machina, and in 2023 it will appear in the HBO series Succession. With views framed by windows that serve as landscape paintings towards the valley, the river and the mountains, this 70 m2 chalet is the perfect luxury escape from city hustle and bustle – to write, create or simply recharge your batteries.
Days 8-11: The Arctic Hideaway in Norway’s Arctic Circle Region: Architectural Digest presents the Arctic Hideaway under the headline 'Why Northern Norway Should Be on Every Aesthete’s Travel Wish List'. Conceived by jazz musician and composer Håvard Lund and designed by Norwegian architect firms TYIN Tegnestue and Rintala Eggertsson, this unbelievable place is a cluster of gorgeous eco-cabins on a tiny island in the Fleinvær Archipelago in the Arctic Circle of northern Norway, an hour’s boat ride from Bodø. If you crave complete creative contemplation – in a setting that’s hard to match anywhere else on Earth – the cabins at the Arctic Hideaway will reignite your soul and provide you with one of the most personally fulfilling retreats you have ever experienced.
We are experiencing an increasing number of travellers feeling proud to announce they are going solo. Yet for some, the thought of adventuring alone still feels intimidating.
If you are searching for inspiration and reassurance from other female solo travellers, we are fans of Conde Nast’s Women who Travel network, which we have been introduced to as one of their recommended Top Travel Specialists. We also share our expertise on solo travel in Norway through the El Camino Travel Clubhouse, a private community for bold women travellers.
Going solo can bring about transformation through connections to oneself, nature and others. Don’t forget that travelling on your own is often the most social way to travel, as it is much easier to connect with other travellers and locals.
In the words of our solo travelling guest Jennifer Davenport:
“People have looked at me a bit like I’m crazy when I’ve told them about doing this alone, but I think it makes people curious because they didn’t realise that was an option, especially as a woman. I met a young Norwegian woman in Bergen who, when I mentioned I was travelling alone, looked at me with wide eyes of amazement and said, ‘I have always wanted to travel alone but didn’t think I could because I am, you know, a woman.’ I gave her a lot of encouragement and I think I convinced her to try even just a weekend away to get a taste for it."
Ready to tailor your solo journey?
This is where to start.
Pauline SolheimTravel Curator
Get to know more about Norway's Arctic Circle Region on a train journey from Bodø to Mo i Rana.