The land of ice, fjords and Vikings, Norway has always held a prominent position in the history of Europe and its culture. Today, however, they conquer the world with beautiful landscapes and almost magical sights. Have you ever wondered how living in Norway would be like?
Not only is this country among the most gorgeous in Europe, but it is also an inspiration to contemporary arts, especially films. Fans of more classical masterpieces such as Empire Strikes Back will recognize snowy landscapes of planet Hoth. Younger crowd should know that it is Norway that inspired Disney’s huge animated film called Frozen. Many TV shows, most prominent of them being Vikings, shoot a lot of their scenes in this Nordic country that still holds true to its natural beauty. The entirety of this country is reminiscent of fairy tales we have listened to when we were younger. It’s incredible how they managed to amalgamate such raw, untouched natural world with that of the advanced technological era. If nothing else, Norway is extremely successful at showing other countries that preservation of life and nature doesn’t have to come as the price of progress.
It’s quite obvious they’re doing a lot of things right, considering their high living standards (which make it slightly more expensive to visit). Other countries can only aspire to reach their level of wealth and true happiness. We like to think that they owe at least a bit of that happiness to the natural wonders they’re surrounded with. That’s why every year droves of tourists descend upon their magnificent glaciers to discover what it is that makes Norway tick. Join us in discovering the most beautiful places in Norway to visit!
Historically a fishing village and the most wholesome representative of Art Noveau architecture, Ålesund is a sight to behold. It hasn’t always looked so colourful though, the town has been rebuilt after a devastating fire that engulfed most of it in 1904. Stay the night at one of the popular hotels, but if that is too fancy for you, go to the Molja Lighthouse and sleep there instead – it’s a unique experience that is not easily reproduced. Try some local pastries before climbing Mount Aksla. From there, you’ll be able to take in the beauty of the entire area, the sight is really marvellous to behold.
When you’ve had enough of this lovely town displaced on several small islands, go about discovering surrounding areas. Ålesund is also a great starting point for many tours heading out to nearby fjords. Geirangerfjord is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites and truly breathtaking, with many waterfalls to see and photograph.
In the west of the country, you’ll find Bergen, one of the largest and most beautiful cities in Norway. Wooden houses dot the picturesque streets with many locales and seafood restaurants to visit. Be wary of the rain which is usually quite heavy regardless of the time of the year of your visit. There are also many museums and churches to see, or you could just take the funicular railway if weather permits an excursion.
This lovely city also has so much history to it. Bryggen is a wharf in the city of Bergen that used to be the seat of Hanseatic commercial offices that were responsible for most of the trading conducted in the region. It is yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is definitely worth the visit. It’s such a spectacular location and one that attracts so many tourists each year. Are you a fan of Kygo? You’ll be happy to know you’re visiting his hometown then.
Fantoft Stave Church
Stave churches are wooden Christian religious structures that owe their name to ore-pine bearings supporting them. They were widespread in the north, which is not the case anymore. You can now find them in Norway mostly, with the exception of one stave church that remains in Sweden. These beautiful places are all but extinct, and us being able to visit them is a luxury that soon won’t be so easily afforded.
Fantoft Stave Church was originally located much farther from Bergen than it is today. It was rebuilt thanks to a local businessman that invested the necessary resources, only much closer to Bergen. The original, decrepit structure was scavenged for its supporting beams and other useful materials during times of hardships. These churches are true relics of the past and very rare, which is why you must visit Fantoft when you come to Norway, especially if you’re staying in Bergen.
This small village is very much visited, despite it basically being a flooded plain hidden away in Aurlandsfjorden, an extension of Sognefjord. The harbour of Flåm receives more than 150 cruise ships each year, with thousands of tourists aboard looking to take the train that goes from Flåm to Myrdal. Before boarding the train though, visit an excellent museum located at the site of the original train station of Flåm.
Read more: The ultimate Iceland packing list
The 20-kilometre long train ride will take you through some of the most luscious, green areas that Norway has to offer. It’s one of the most prominent tourist destinations in the country, so keep in mind that the train can get really crowded sometimes. If you want to avoid such an inconvenience, visit the town in spring instead of summer. You’ll be able to observe the spectacular nature in peace and avoid the crowds altogether. From the train, you’ll be able to spot some of the highest waterfalls in Norway.
Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park hides some of the most amazing creatures in entire Norway. You’ll be able to gaze at some very interesting species that call this area their home, such as lynx, reindeer and the extremely rare species of eagles. Besides enjoying the abundant fauna of the region, high mountain peaks seem almost inviting for any challenge-seekers. As a matter of fact, Jotunheimen has the largest cluster of high mountains in Norway, maybe even Europe.
There are more than 200 peaks that stand above 2,000 metres, which is why this area is known as ‘Home of the Giants’. You can attempt to hike, but if it proves too much for you, don’t worry – fishing is also a big deal here. After visiting all the towns in Norway, this will come as a totally different experience, as you will get very personal with animals that inhabit this country.
Jostedalsbreen, or Jostedal Glacier, is part of the national park that bears the same name. It’s the biggest glacier in continental Europe and is quite a sight to behold. Of course, if you’re interested in seeing and photographing it, don’t come during the snowy season. It will be buried too deep and all the beauty of it will be lost on you.
There are many such glaciers in Norway, but it’s definitely most impressive seeing one that’s so enormous. It provides its visitors with stunning views of its grandeur and beauty. Very rarely do people find it unremarkable. It is also an excellent reminder that our climate is changing, and not for the better. One of its many arms, Briksdalsbreen, threatens to break away from the main glacier, making the route far more dangerous for visitors.
Hidden away in the most spectacular inlet in the north, Lofoten archipelago is a place of untouched beauty, remarkable natural features and contradictions. Even though it belongs to the Arctic Circle, temperatures usually remain on the positive side! This anomaly is explained by multiple current colliding in the area, extensions of the Gulf stream. Towering mountain peaks surrounding the bay make this one of the most beautiful spots in Norway.
When you’re done tasting the local cuisine, which mostly includes lamb and seafood, grab your pair of hiking boots and head on out, up the slopes. If you find yourself near Unstad, you will be able to use that surfing board you brought with you to Norway! Yes, you’ve read that right, surfing is a thing here. Another interesting thing to mention is that some parts of the archipelago experience never-ending days from 25 May to 17 July, the opposite of what happens in December when you can forget about the sun for a whole month!
The European Green Capital of 2019, Oslo is the capital of Norway and also a modern city surrounded by unspoiled wilderness. From here, you can explore fjords, forests and hike up some amazing trails. But you’ve probably had enough of nature at this point and maybe you’re looking for a more civilized approach to Norway.
We would start you off with National Gallery, where you can see the famous The Scream by Edvard Munch, who is one of Norway’s greatest treasures. If you want some more culture, you can also visit the opera house in Oslo. When all else fails, there are plenty of restaurants and coffeehouses to enjoy. All in all, we’d say that Oslo sums up everything that Norway stands for – beauty, nature, modernism and overall cleanliness.
Six hundred meters above the Lysefjorden lies the Pulpit Rock, or Preikestolen. Also known as Preacher’s Pulpit, this incredibly flat plateau provides tourists and base jumpers with a very unique opportunity. At the moment, there is no easy way of getting to the plateau without hiking for about 4 kilometres, but it is definitely worth the trip. Since it’s getting more and more popular among tourists, plans have been laid out to make an actual path that leads to Preikestolen.
Aside from being such an unusual place, it also provides an excellent photo opportunity for all those looking to capture the natural beauty of Norway. The fjord below looks amazing from such a viewing place, and hundreds of thousands of tourists feel the same way. Despite a complete lack of fencing around Preikestolen, there have been no accidental deaths so far. However, there were cases of several people committing suicide by jumping into the abyss.
Part of the aforementioned Lofoten archipelago, Reine is a fishing village quietly nestled between the mountains. Beautiful Norwegian nature is all around you, and all it takes to experience it is a little hike. Not only will you get to climb the surrounding mountains, but it will also provide you with views you will not soon forget.
In the village itself, there are several options available for you. You might want to try some local seafood, or maybe rent a kayak. Visit Reine Church, an adorable, white, wooden structure perfectly situated for some photos.
In the west, you’ll find the largest and the deepest of all the fjords in Norway – Sognefjord. It’s quite possible for tourists to hike up the slopes of this great fjord, or even rent a kayak and take the less scenic route. However, the view from vantage points at the top is so breathtaking that we strongly advise you not to go by boat. This fjord lies between Bergen and Jotunheimen National Park with its many arms stretching throughout the area. Hiking through the area will reveal such stunning locations that your photos will never be able to do them justice.
Sognefjord has a lot of smaller town scattered around its edges and you would do well to visit them. Even though they thrive on income that tourism brings in, they’re also very clean people who care about their environment. It would be wise to follow in their footsteps.
The northernmost region of Norway contains a group of islands known as Svalbard. It is possibly the most exotic place you can visit in Norway, due to the proximity of polar bears. These bears are known to be very territorial and people are prohibited from wandering the wilderness without a scare weapon.
As for getting to Svalbard, you can travel by plane to the airport in Longyearbyen. There are often guided tours into the area, so you can join one of those. Besides polar bears, other mammals that make Svalbard their home are foxes, reindeer and southern voles. The reason why you might want to travel to the area is to see the nature in its rawest form, devoid of any subtlety. That makes it one of the most beautiful places in Norway to visit!
If you take a look at Trolltunga formation and you see a tongue appearing, you won’t be mistaken. Even its name means Troll’s Tongue, a residue of an ice age long past. This narrow rock stands at 700 metres above the northern part of lake Ringedalsvatnet. Trust us when we tell you that it is not an attraction for the meek of heart. It takes not a small amount of courage to step onto it and walk towards the edge.
However, getting to the edge is not the most difficult part, believe it or not. It’s getting to the location itself, which requires a 5-6 hour hike up an ever-ascending cliff. Then you also need to find your way back! Boulders mar the entire area, so don’t even consider Trolltunga unless you’re healthy and endurant enough to face the challenging trek. It’s best to come here during the summer, but even then, the weather is very unpredictable. If all the stars align, pack a lot of supplies and start your journey as early as 9 o’clock in the morning. Your reward: the best photos and selfies ever.
The third largest city in Norway and also its original capital, Trondheim is the national centre of technology and research. Besides Norwegian University of Science and Technology and a scientific research centre, it also offers more historical landmarks such as Nidaros Cathedral where bones of Olav II rest.
Most tourists, however, come to enjoy the sight of cold and beautiful Nidelva river and warehouses on stilts lining its shores. Many restaurants serving local dishes provide places for people to take a break and savour some local specialities. Cafes are also well worth the visit. Rockheim and Ringve are museums dedicated to music that you ought to visit when you’re in Norway. If you’re looking for a great place to snap some photos of your trip, check out the Old Town Bridge with the famous red Lykkens portal. Make sure to capture the fair Nidelva running beneath!
One of the most relevant and beautiful places to visit in Norway if you want to see aurora borealis is Tromsø. If you’re arriving during the summer, keep in mind that you won’t be able to see it because of the midnight sun. This amazing natural phenomenon lasts from May to July, but it’s not visible in July due to mountains blocking the view. Because of the high latitude, the sun won’t really set until August, so you should only come after this period if you want to see the Northern lights.
Tromsø itself is known as the capital of the Arctic, and also the biggest city in Northern Norway. It hosts so many amazing festivals pertaining to movies, music and arts. Insomnia Festival is an event hosting electronic music that takes place in February. You can also meet the local Sami people and get to know their culture and traditions much better.