Up Norway Offers Travelers Unique, Personalized Experiences

From summit-to-fjord skiing to eco-minded slow-travel, this certified B Corp builds customized adventures all over the country

With a mission to show that Norway has more to offer than foreigners might realize, Up Norway customizes itineraries that treat travelers to whatever their hearts desire—be it staying in a lodge on the edge of a fjord in the Arctic North, kayaking in Mannshausen, dining at Michelin-starred restaurants in Trondheim, hiking in Lofoten, witnessing the Northern Lights or all of the above. Founded by Torunn Tronsvang, Up Norway began as a university thesis—one that she quickly realized was much more than a concept. While Tronsvang (who is Norwegian-born and worked in hospitality all over the world) was acutely aware of all that Norway had to offer visitors, she found that there was a disconnect within the country’s tourism industry. She wanted to create a coalescence for travelers who aren’t sure how to plan a visit to Norway beyond a few nights in one of the major cities. From architecture in Oslo to an island distillery on Fedje and the world’s northernmost surf resort in Unstad, Up Norway offers a diverse array of trips that will expand visitors’ minds and memories.

The shortest itinerary offered is four days (for summit-to-fjord skiing) and the longest is 29 days (with an emphasis on slow, eco-minded travel) but all are meticulously planned to suit the guests. Perhaps what’s most gratifying is that these itineraries aren’t entirely guided; there’s still an intrepid nature to them that seasoned travelers will appreciate. While all tickets, locations and times are visible and accessible in Up Norway’s app (and there’s a chat section for help from the team), there’s no hand-holding.

Courtesy of A-One

Our six-day visit begins by finding our way to the airport train to Oslo’s Central Station and strolling to A-One’s Little Venice apartments in the newly developed harbor promenade. With several hours alone, we explore: visiting the nearby Munch Museum, walking along the promenade and into the city for a drink at Territoriet and then dinner at Brasserie Rivoli. While in the capital, we take a walking tour (with the goal of a great coffee at Tim Wendelboe and snack at Godt Brod) before a cheese-making class at Siri Helen Winther’s Norwegian-meets-Italian restaurant, Winther. The two-story venue—located in the Aker Brygge district—also houses their cheese-production facility, which is visible from the restaurant.

Courtesy of Andrea Nuñez

It’s a two-hour flight from Oslo to Kirkenes, a town in Norway’s far northeast. Through the ice and snow, we drive another couple of hours to the small fishing village of Nesseby. Arriving in the dark, the charm of Varanger Lodge isn’t fully revealed until the sun rises and floods the bedroom through a skylight. Three lodges sit in a row at the edge of a fjord, each designed to echo the shape of a nearby mountain, crafted from natural materials and inspired by gamme—an ancient, semi-permanent Sámi home with a turf roof.

Courtesy of Andrea Nuñez

The middle lodge houses a traditional wood-burning sauna, while the other two provide simple, tranquil accommodation for up to four guests each. There are no TVs and cell reception is spotty, but watching the weather change outside during the day and gazing at the Northern Lights at night makes for mesmerizing entertainment. The owner and host, Edgar Olsen, wants Varanger Lodge to impart an authentic experience. Olsen, who is of the indigenous Sámi people and grew up in Nesseby, also offers fishing trips on his boat. Guests can join the skipper (who has fished all over the world) on a king crab or deep-sea fishing outing, with the catch served up at dinner the same day. This fresh, seasonal and hyper-local approach to food is not only sustainable, it’s also delectable—whether it’s cured salmon for breakfast or barbecued crab legs for dinner.

Courtesy of Andrea Nuñez

Depending on their interests, Up Norway guests who visit Troms og Finnmark county (the northernmost part of Norway) can visit a reindeer sanctuary, take a road trip with a local and learn about Sámi history and culture, go bird-watching, visit Louise Bourgeois and Peter Zumthor’s Steilneset Memorial in Vardø and more.

Courtesy of Andrea Nuñez

After several days in Finnmark, we fly to Bergen, drive to the Sævrøy ferry and head to Fedje Island, located on the east coast of Norway. Staying in an old sardine factory that’s been converted into apartments, we visit the women-owned Feddie Ocean Distillery, dine at Pernille and explore the island—from swimming spots to lighthouses and beyond.

Courtesy of Frescohallen

With a night in Bergen at Opus XVI, we again have time to wander. After the obligatory peek at the Bryggen and its iconic wooden buildings (behind which are mazes of restaurants, stores and galleries), we walk the narrow streets until grabbing a cocktail at the stunning Frescohallen in the city’s old stock exchange building, and dinner at Colonialen.

by Katie Olsen

The journey back to Oslo can be as quick as a 50-minute flight or visitors can opt for a stunning full day of trains, buses and boats. The Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord journeys and Flåm railway might be most popular in warmer months, but the snow and fog result in a moody atmosphere and cinematic photos. And back in Oslo, a night at Camilla’s Haus (complete with a super-deep, copper bathtub) provides all the cozy comfort necessary after six days of wild weather and adventure.

Hero image courtesy of Andrea Nuñez