Wherever you are, unspoiled nature is only a few steps away
The Norwegian government has recently announced that Norway’s borders will remain closed to foreign visitors for the foreseeable future. So, because it’ll be a while till we can visit the land of fjords again, we thought we’d recall the things we love the most about it. Here’s our love letter to… Norway.
Country of nature
It would be hard to talk about Norway without starting from its most spectacular feature: nature. Jagged mountains, deep river gorges, steep fjords, secluded beaches, tiny islets, beautiful waterfalls… Wherever you are, unspoiled nature is only a few steps away.
National parks are everywhere, Hardangervidda and Jotunheimen being two of 47 scattered all over the country. Yes, Norway takes the preservation of its nature and diverse wildlife very seriously — and thankfully so.
Cities of Norway
Oslo’s reputation as a multicultural city is well deserved. The Norwegian capital is young, diverse and innovative. Hipster and quirky bars effortlessly mingle with museums, a fortress, a sculpture park, and an opera house like no others. The Oslo region as a whole has a lot to offer, from hiking trails to rocky beaches and coastal villages resting along the Oslofjord.
There is so much more to Norway than its cool, funky capital. Take Bergen, the old capital and second-largest city in the country. Not only is it incredibly rich in history and culture; it also makes for the perfect gateway to the fjords.
Trondheim will charm you instantly thanks to unforgettable fjord views, a colorful city center, and Nidaros Cathedral, one of the most important religious buildings in Norway and the site of the “St Olav Ways” pilgrimage.
How about Stavanger? The country’s oil and energy epicenter is home to the Petroleum Museum, an Old Town all cobbled streets and white wooden houses, and a striking street art scene. Spectacular sights like Preikestolen and the Lysefjord are easily reachable from the city.
The southernmost part of the country is scattered with picturesque towns and bathed in a strikingly Mediterranean atmosphere. No wonder the area is known as the “Norwegian Riviera”. If you choose to head south, we recommend you include Kristiansand in your itinerary. Its unique urban layout and sunny waterfront are definitely worth a visit. Make sure you don’t mistake it for Kristiansund, a lovely harbor city located further up north!
Unlike the rest of the country, Arctic Norway alternates between long, dark winters and summer nights when the sun never sets below the horizon. Incidentally, it’s also where you’re likely to spot one of the most mesmerizing natural displays of all: the northern lights.
Tromsø is the largest urban area above the Arctic Polar Circle. The “Paris of the North” will surprise you with unique architecture, a vibrant bar and music scene, and a funicular that guarantees stunning bird’s eye views over the city and the surrounding area.
An extra plus is the city’s proximity to the Lofoten Islands. Arguably one of the most popular destinations in the country, the Lofoten archipelago offers mesmerizing natural sceneries, rich wildlife, and countless hiking opportunities.
The Svalbard Islands are a chapter in its own right. Often referred to as the “realm of the polar bear”, the archipelago is as close to the North Pole as you can get. Its sceneries largely consist of glaciers, snowy peaks, icebergs, and frozen tundra. Exploring Svalbard qualifies as more challenging than touristy, but it certainly makes for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Norway by car, by train or by boat?
Norwegian roads make for memorable drives thanks to scenic routes and stunning views along the way. Take the National Routes, eighteen highways officially recognized for their scenery and infrastructure.
Train rides are by no means less fascinating. Just remember that, if you’re traveling by train, you will only be able to reach as far up north as Bodø, the final stop of the Norwegian railway network. If you’re in for a truly special treat, take the Flåm Railway. The railway connecting Myrdal and Flåm is only 20 km long, but it’s one of the steepest in the world, and will exceed any expectations you might have.
Experiencing Norway by sea is no less rewarding. Why not go on a day-trip cruise down the nearest fjord? Or you can opt for a long-distance cruise, like the 4,000-km voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes onboard the historic Norwegian Coastal Express (better known as Hurtigruten).
Rich culture, friendly people
A strong community of Sami (the indigenous people of the North), influences from neighboring countries, and a multicultural soul make Norway a place of great cultural diversity. Norwegian people are open-minded, tolerant, and respectful of visitors.
Whenever I was lost somewhere, locals always helped me out. Whenever I met someone during a hike, they would strike up a conversation or offer to share homemade hot chocolate in the heavy snow (true story!). Their English is flawless, and their love of nature and the outdoors is genuine and refreshing.
Whichever the time of the year or the area you visit, make the most of your Norway experience. If nothing about it blows your mind at least a bit, then I’m sorry, I don’t know what will.
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