A country of absolutely exquisite natural beauty, you’d better believe that Norway has it all. In the East, the capital city Oslo is brimming with cool culture, spectacular shopping and fantastic food.
Towards the West are towering mountains standing heavy with snow and dramatic cliffs that drop down into breath-taking fjords. Wildlife abounds, whether you are on land looking at reindeer and arctic foxes or at sea amongst a pod of orcas.
During the summer, the days are long and the many sunny days are celebrated by locals and tourists all enjoying the warmer weather. In the far north, adventurers can go take part in one of Norway’s essential experiences; sunbathing at lam under the weak rays of the midnight sun.
During winter, the stars are scattered across the inky heavens like a million diamonds. Those who are lucky will see the night skies splashed with dancing colors. The Arora Borealis, or the Northern Lights, are simply magical; a sight like no other.
There is nowhere like Norway!
Oslo as a city is cold, conservative and jaw-droppingly expensive. How is it then, that it is still consistently rated as one of the best cities in the world? Norway’s capital and largest city blossoms in the summer. A sunny summer’s day will liven up every street, and the charm of the city is revealed. Leafy parks are filled with people lazing on the green grass and the air is filled with the laughter of children. Cafes are packed with friends catching up, restaurants are buzzing, and the sound of live music drifts out of side streets everywhere.
02. The Norway Fjords
No words can describe the incredible feeling as you stand in awe, gazing down at Norway’s Fjords for the first time. On the west of the country, the unique landscape has created an area of wonder, recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status due to its rugged and naturally unspoilt beauty.
As tempted as you’ll be to stay staring at the first fjord you see, it is really essential that you visit several of the stunning strands which make up the network of fjords, in order to truly appreciate their magnificence as a whole.
Bergen is often described as the ‘Gateway to the Fjords’ and it is certainly one of Norway’s most beautiful cities. It is recognized as being the country’s Cultural Capital, and was celebrated as European City of Culture in 2000.
Filled with history and tradition, Bergen is a big city with small-town charm and an atmosphere which, despite the cold temperatures, warms the hearts of all who visit. Bergen is a great city to explore on foot. Cobbled streets and winding alleyways lined with wooden houses add to the magic of the city.
Trondheim is Norway’s original capital city, and these days it is the country’s third-largest city (after Oslo and Bergen). With wide streets and a partly pedestrianized heart, if s a simply lovely city.
The city is packed with educational institutions, including the renowned Norwegian University of Science and Technology, as well as St Olav’s University Hospital. The large student population means that Trondheim buzzes with life. Now throw into the mix some good cafes and restaurants, as well as several excellent museums, and you’ll soon see that Trondheim offers a lifestyle where you can really kick back and enjoy for a few days.
Lofoten is a collection of islands that lie inside the Arctic Circle. Their staggering beauty makes them a treasure, in a way which is unique in the world. From the distance, as you cruise in on the ferry, the islands look inhospitable; jagged rocks erupt straight out of the water, while the coastline is rugged with many sheer cliff faces.
Then as you draw near, and on closer inspection, you will discover pristine bays and postcard-perfect fishing villages on every island among the fjords. The crisp arctic air is about the purest you can find.
The Lofoten archipelago sits at about the same latitude as Greenland and the northern parts of Alaska. However, it enjoys a relatively milder climate due to the circulation of the Gulf Stream, and temperatures up to 230C in the summer are not uncommon. Still, while visiting you should bear in mind that the weather can change quickly, and even in the summer it may become suddenly cold.
Alesund has a pretty position between the high peaks of the Sunnmore Mountains and the flowing fjords. Famous for its Art Nouveaux building style, visitors with an interest in architecture will find plenty of buildings very pleasing on the eye. The myriad of turrets, spires and beautiful ornamentation on the building facades is no doubt part of the reason why it was voted as Norway’s most beautiful town in 2007 and 2009.
Just 25kms away from the city of Stavanger, Preikestolen is a sight of natural beauty which has attracted and fascinated visitors for decades. Far above Lysefjorden, an almost perfectly square formation of rock is jutting out from the surrounding mountainside.
Only 25 by 25 meters, this remarkable rocky plateau towers 604m above Lysefjorden. It receives a staggering 200,000 visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Norway.
08. Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park is a vast mountainous range, including 250 peaks, some of which reach over 2000m towards the heavens. Situated conveniently between Oslo, Bergen and Trondheim, it is a popular spot for holiday makers with a vast offering of winter and summer activities. Northern Europe’s highest mountain range also offers untamed wildlife, surrounded by unspoilt wilderness and breath-taking nature.
Positioned on the very southern tip of Norway, Kristiansand is an area which is increasingly significant with regard to its historical discoveries.
Kristiansand has always been important militarily and geopolitically; over the centuries it has served as a royal residence, then as a Danish-Norwegian fortress, and later as a garrison town. Even today, Kristiansand is a gateway to and from the European continent, with a regular ferry service to Denmark.
Longyearbyen is the largest populated area (although it has only 2000 residents) in the Norwegian Svalbard archipelago. Located high in the Norwegian Arctic, it is thought to be the northernmost permanent settlement in the world. The town is the de facto “capital” of the islands, featuring an airport, a school, a shopping center, hotels, restaurants, and more.