We invited Innovation Norway’s manager of tourism, Audun Pettersen, to tell us about his favorites. Pettersen knows just where to go to get the best arctic experience.
- Northern Norway is so fantastic during the winter! It’s different from other countries in the sense that the experience you get is more authentic and not so commercialized, says Pettersen.
We asked him to pick his favorite destination, and he did not hesitate.
- I would start by flying to Alta and spend a night at the ice hotel. That’s a stay you will not forget. It actually is not as cold as you would think, considering the entire hotel is made of ice. And the silence is unique; the snow and ice makes it very quiet. I don’t think I have ever fallen to sleep as easily as when I spent a night there.
- The day after I would travel further in, to Karasjok and Kautokeino, to experience the Sami culture. It’s a unique culture and there are several places that you can go to get a high quality experience.
Pettersen says his next stop would be Kirkenes.
- I would take a king crab safari, and Kirkenes is probably the best place for that. Sometimes you get to dive in and catch them yourself, other times they catch the crabs for you, explains Pettersen.
Girl kissing a king crab, Kirkenes. Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/Innovation Norway
The huge creature can sometimes get a leg span of 1,8 meters. Discovery Channel also has an entire TV-series dedicated to catching king crab and Opilio crab, called “The Deadliest Catch”.
A wide range of activities puts Lofoten next on Pettersen’s list.
- There are many things to do in Lofoten. I would live in one of the cabins out by the ocean and start by going fishing or exploring the area. Something I really recommend is to go out on a boat to look for sea eagles.
- But one of my favorite experiences from Northern Norway is Orca (spekkhogger in Norwegian) safari in Tyssfjord. The day starts with a one and a half hour long lecture about the orcas, before you set out to find them. The last thing the captain tells you before diving in is “I hope you didn’t have herring for breakfast”! But not to worry, the orcas in Norway are not the kind that eats anything they come across and diving in is safe for anyone at any age.
- The same night, everyone meets up again to show a movie from your excursion, accompanied by scientists explaining the orcas behavior. And of course, you can buy the DVD.
- What I really like about this experience, is that it’s based on science and you learn a lot. Orca safari might be the most exotic thing I have ever done, and if you are in the area, go do it now! With the water temperatures rising, the herring population gets further away from shore and so also the orcas.
Sami man with reindeer, Finnmark. Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life/Innovation Norway
No winter experience in Norway is complete without skiing, and for Audun Pettersen Trysil is the place to be. Located two, three hours north of Oslo it has everything a ski tourist needs.
- Trysil is the largest skiing resort in the Nordic region and is also very suitable for children. It has many runs and also tracks for cross country skiing. And if you are unlucky and the weather is bad, you can take a swim instead. There are a lot of people in Trysil, especially in the winter break and Easter, but they have invested a lot of money in the area and the lines are short. With the new Radisson SAS, Trysil also has the high quality hotel it has been missing.
Northern Lights over Henningsvær in Lofoten. Photo: Stockshots.no/Innovation Norway
Pettersen and his colleagues at Innovation Norway are well aware of the current discussion about climate changes and the responsibility that is on the tourism industry to be as “green” as possible.
- We need to think of the climate, social issues and economical issues. It has to be possible to work with tourism in Norway. The goal must then be to do it as climate friendly as possible. For example, all hotels, big and small, are looking into ways of limiting emissions.
- So far, we have not seen many effects of the climate changes on the Norwegian nature, other than more vegetation by the fjords, but this is also a result of fewer animals. But it is clear that we need to limit our emissions to save the nature for the future, says Pettersen.