Modern Luxury In The Realm Of Norwegian Folklore
A curated road-trip through entrancing landscapes
April - October
Best suited for
Travellers seeking to be culturally inspired in spacious and spectacular sceneries and by entrepreneurial locals.
Norway is a country with a long and diverse history. Much of it can be found among the small villages and impressive nature along the coast and countryside. Some of the most popular Norwegian art of all time was made by creative people who were wowed by exactly the scenery.
On this journey, you will experience the same landscapes that have entranced Norway's most famous artists for centuries while travelling through mountains, fjords and coastal landscapes, and from cities to villages. But this journey is not all about the past; it also paints a portrait of how Norway has emerged as a modern welfare state with visionary art and architecture rooted in our rich cultural heritage.
On this journey we wish to highlight UN's SDG 11.4 - 'Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage'. Witness our UNESCO World Heritage protected Urnes Stave Church, deep dive into Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece 'Peer Gynt' and come to realise how this play from 1867 still teaches Norwegians and people worldwide relevant lessons even today.
Itineraries are designed by our travel curators in collaboration with our partners to give you the most rewarding experience possible.
Please note that itineraries can be tailored to your specific wishes when you make an inquiry.
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Welcome to Norway
Oslo: surprisingly rich in culture – and unusually close to nature.
Our capital has always been a city close to nature, and since the new Snøhetta designed opera House put us on the world’s architectural radar in 2008, the city has continued to become increasingly interesting for both green and urban visitors with recent additions such as the futurist Deichman Library and the new Munch museum along the fjord line.
After having settled comfortably into holiday mode at The Hotel Continental - one of Norway’s two Leading Hotels of the World - we invite you out for a city walk with a local insider who will give you a rather different introduction to Oslo than that of the average tourist.
With a focus on sustainable architecture and design, and through real examples, you will gain insight in why architecture and design is important when you create a capital. Your walk will include a guided tour of the brand new National Museum as well as a visit to the new Tullinkvartalet; our country's most ambitious circular building which also happens to be our office.
Lillehammer to Skåbu
Move into Mythical Terrain
In the morning, we’ll have a hybrid or electric rental car ready for you. First stop is the former olympic city Lillehammer in Gudbrandsdalen valley; the cradle of Norwegian art history. Here we invite you to visit either the Lillehammer Art Museum or the Maihaugen Open-Air Museum. Peek through the doors to historical rural houses and experience life in 1700 including an exhibition of folk art, the world’s oldest revolver and the large steam locomotive at the town railway station. See how the bourgeoisie lived around the turn of the 1900 century or check out the 1930s phone booth that rang for the last time in 2015.
Lunch recommendations will be available in your digital itinerary.
Continue on to Skåbu – Norway’s oldest village (and the highest settlement in Northern Europe). Hosts Jannicke and Henrik made the same journey in 2018 and never went back. Together they transformed the local grocery store into an incredible family mountain lodge which now prides itself on its excellent kitchen, warm atmosphere and modern facilities.
While staying at Skåbu, the hosts will gladly show you their mountain farm with 20 outbuildings that date back to around 1500. The area around Skåbu is very much the cradle of Norwegian trekking culture and was the birthplace of the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), founded in 1868.
The surrounding landscape is so enthralling that many of Norway’s most famous fables, books, paintings and music come from this area.
Back to Norwegian roots in the Gudbrandsdalen Valley
Dive into the Heart of Norwegian Literary History
Wake up in the realm of Henrik Ibsen’s most famous character, Peer Gynt. Visualise the folk hero leaping up the hillsides on his famously bucking ride, before striking out for a full day of exploring. Today this can be you. A local nature guide will introduce you to Jotunheimen National Park and engage in conversation on how Henrik Ibsen's writing is of so much interest - 200 years after his time.
For those wanting the full historical experience, we can offer a stay at a traditional 'seter' – a summer pasture in the mountains with small farm buildings where you can really get back to the traditional Norwegian 'roots'.
If you are travelling in the first half of August you can get to experience Norway’s most spectacular outdoor play: Henrik Ibsen’s masterpiece drama «Peer Gynt» is performed by Lake Gålå and has been celebrated since 1989 in one of Norway’s largest cultural festivals. This is a true insight into the Norwegian spirit; through nature, culture and traditions.
A day at leisure
Go to ‘Hell’ or travel down wild water
Let us arrange a day of leisure based on your preferences. We recommend a visit the giant potholes of Helvete (‘Hell’), to see up close how the forces of nature during the last ice age shaped Northern-Europe’s largest potholes.If you are after a more active experience, cycle on the road named after the legend of Peer Gynt. Experience the essence of the Gudbrandsdalen valley landscape which some have coined ‘the most Norwegian experience of all things norwegian’. There are several great lakes for canoeing in the area, as well as the Sjoa river; one of our best locations for river rafting.
Journey 1400 metres above sea level to the heart of fjord Norway
Before crossing the mountains, stop to visit a biodynamic farm dating back to the Viking age that bears the same name as another Norwegian folk hero; Aukrust Farm at the foot of the Lomseggen mountain. Located in Northern Europe's driest climate the farmers here used to say: “If Our Lord wants to give us sun, we will provide water ourselves' '. The winter darkness even inspired several philosophical and creative poets and painters. Despite the hardness of the past, the farm is currently in full bloom with a romantic herb garden, a cherry tree and a shop offering the country's largest selection of tea and coffee.
Now you are ready to zoom over one of the highest mountain passes in Northern Europe on Scenic Route Sognefjellet. This road is closed during winter time but becomes accessible again every year around the 1st of May.
When it opens every year around the 1st of May, it's almost worth the trip alone, as you drive between piled-up banks of snow that sometimes rise more than 10 metres (32 feet) above ground level.
Look for the iconic stone sculpture by artist Knut Wold at Mefjellet and stop to take some dazzling pictures.
Arrive at Bestebakken, where hostess Lindis will welcome you to her secluded farm situated by the beautiful Hafslo water. Make friends with BesteBakken’s cutest inhabitants – the alpacas! Rusti and his fellow alpacas love taking guests at Bestebakken for a walk – or is it the other way around?
Hop on hop off – Bike edition
Wake up and smell the coffee (and the exquisite homemade breakfast)!
Hop on an electric bike towards Urnes stave church, including a trip on the local ferry across the Sognefjord. The church dates back to 1140 and is architecturally and historically unique among the remaining stave churches in Norway. This is due to the intricate tree carvings and extensive interior decor. The Stave Church is on the UNESCO World Heritage list as an outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture, bringing together traces of Celtic art, Viking traditions and Romanesque spatial structures.
Cycle back to BesteBakken for a private lunch at a traditional 'stølshus' or 'seter' as it's also called. After lunch you’re heading out for an elevated culinary experience at Tungestølen – Norwegian waffles! One of many cabins run by the Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT), Tungestølen was refurbished after a storm in 2011 and opened by the Queen of Norway in 2019. The British mountain pioneer William Cecil Slingsby claimed the surrounding glaciers to be “The finest ice scenery in Europe”.
Drive back to BesteBakken – it’s time for some relaxing spa treatments before dinner. You can bubble away the evening in an outdoor jacuzzi, listening to the leaves rustling in the breeze and scenting the fresh grass and garden flowers.
Choose your own adventure
If you want a day to practise the art of doing nothing - this is it. If you still have the urge to explore we can arrange anything from local cider tasting, a privately guided hike to Mt. Molden or a fast pace RIB adventure on the King of all fjords - Sognefjord. Attractions along the fjord include the impressive Feigefossen waterfall as well as Munthehuset; know as the Norwegian ‘art centre’ in the first part of the 1800s.
Tell us what you feel like, and we’ll make it happen.
A Gentle drift to the Coast
A new day of road adventures lies in front of you as you travel the last stretch to Bergen on the Western coast; either via Balestrand or via Voss. It is even possible to go via Flåm to venture on the Flåm railway or cruise through the UNESCO protected fjord landscape in Nærøyfjord. Take a deep lungful of fresh fjord ozone before reaching hanseatic town Bergen, often referred to as the Gateway to the fjords.
Check into Opus XVI where hosts Britt and Alexander and their team will introduce you to their Grieg heritage in the city’s finest hotel. Our top recommendation for dinner tonight is a restaurant located in the venerable “Kjøttbaseren” (meat bazaar) just a stone throw away from the UNESCO protected Bryggen wharf where love and knowledge are the main ingredients.
Bergen; a cultural treasure
Enjoy a relaxing and slow morning (or venture on a jog with a local running guide!). Around lunchtime, find your way to Troldhaugen, the former home of Norway’s national composer Edvard Grieg, and enjoy a classical concert. Get comfy and take advantage of the opportunity to reflect on the impressions you have gained on your journey.
Continue to Breivik farm; idyllically located in Fana, where Ruth and Jørgen Hafslun live with their dairy cows. The cows graze freely on the meadow all summer and can even have a bath in the sea if they feel like it. Through what you see, smell and taste you will easily come to understand why the cheese produced here has won the World’s Best Cheese Award (2018)
Spend the afternoon exploring Bergen icons and when the evening comes, head out by boat in the archipelago to Cornelius på Holmen; one of Scandinavia's most prestigious seafood restaurants, where a meteorological menu awaits.
A day for reflection
Loop back to the East via Geilo
Today’s drive is a journey of contrasts from the fjordscapes of Western Norway to vast mountain plateaus. You will pass Eidfjord village at the edge of the Hardangerfjord and continue Up the steep and wild valley of Måbødalen to where the road tolls gently across large plateaus. You will pass the loud Vøringsfossen waterfall where vast quantities of water plunge 182 metres down from the Hardangervidda plateau to the Måbødalen valley.
Your last stop before returning to Oslo is one of our favorite places to rest; Geilo Mountain Lodge run by father Jan and his charming daughter Julie. The historical building near the heart of the National Park village Geilo feels like visiting a private home with a warm and personal atmosphere.
A final cultural experience with a twist
Driving through Norway rarely gets boring! In the rural outskirts of Hadeland, we’ll arrange a final stop at Kistefos, near the renowned Hadeland Glassworks, where a local art curator will introduce you to cutting edge art. In 2020, Kistefos was named a “must-see cultural destination” by the New York Times. Why? Built on the grounds of a historical pulp mill, Kistefos offers world-class architecture, an Industrial Museum, two art galleries, and an impressive outdoor sculpture park with 49 sculptures in scenic surroundings. The art gallery The Twist is a gallery, a bridge and a sculpture all in one, and has won several awards for its signature design.
Your journey ends in Oslo. Right on the water, downtown Oslo you will find Tjuvholmen – the city district which was once home to criminals and shady dealings - is now a power centre in Oslo for contemporary art and good city living at the water’s edge. We will have a room ready for you at The Thief - a favourite boutique hotel with international art pieces, exciting designer furniture and not to mention a state of the art spa.
God tur og velkommen tilbake! (Safe travels and welcome back!)
Insider Tips: If it is more convenient for you to arrive and depart from Bergen, this journey can be made to start and end in the West!
Personalize and book the Modern Luxury In The Realm Of Norwegian Folklore journey
This journey has been curated to offer you your own journey. It can be booked as proposed or further personalized to you.
With our flexible terms, we hope to provide you with all the certainty and adaptability you need when booking a well-deserved escape.
Read more about our pricing here.
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Luxury at Up Norway is focused on the beauty of connection – to the people you will meet, the companions you travel with, to yourself and to the nature around you. We provide off-beat, rare, unique and visceral experiences for our guests. We tailor our journeys elegantly, by using expertise across various fields that give you the attention to detail that aim to make your experience seamless and transformative.
Sustainability has different meanings — for us as a company it's about making choices that maximise positive impact in each and every journey we sell. The UN sustainable development goal we truly connect with and strive to contribute to is 11.4: Strengthen efforts to+protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage. We design our journeys with the goal of sending our guests home enriched and insipred to take concrete action to make positive change in themselves and the world around them.
Ecological and regenerative travel quite explicitly means to keep defining, refining and designing travel experiences that can use the economic system to integrate the ecology within nature with the culture of travel. Striving towards an impact that helps regenerate local economies and conserve the environment. In the Norwegian context, this implies working with local communities that will benefit from economic development, preserving through showcasing their cultural heritage and focusing on the environmental impact that protects the ecologies of our diverse and wild nature.
Up Norway is very proud to be a certified B Corporation, the first travel company in Norway to achieve this. With the highest level of third-party verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose, these businesses support positive impact for employees, the communities that they work in, towards an ecologically minded future. As of June 2022, we are also still the only Norwegian travel company offering journeys in Norway to carry Travelife certification, a recognition of our long-term sustainability efforts and our corporate social responsibility leadership within travel.