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Boasting some of the world’s most dramatic scenery, Norway is often touted as one of the most beautiful countries on the planet. It’s here that you can explore traditional villages nestled at the edge of spectacular fjords, then traverse from the cosmopolitan city of Oslo to the Arctic landscapes of Svalbard. From majestic mountains to famous fjords, here are the best places to visit in Norway.
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The Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are one of the most popular places to visit in Norway. The group of islands sit in the northern part of the country and offer a postcard-perfect landscape that includes small fishing villages that are nestled in fjords, which contrasts against the rugged coast and peaks that rise directly from the ocean. It’s often referred to as the most scenic part of Norway, where you can sample fresh seafood, then visit the Lofotr Viking Museum.
Norway’s second largest city after Oslo, Bergen has been the nation’s leading western port since the Middle Ages. Considered the gateway to the fjords, it offers a mix of living history with small-town charm. You can soak up mountain views no matter where you are or head up the popular funicular to get oriented with the city. The laid-back city is also dotted with quirky independent stores and excellent museums.
If you’re looking to participate in exotic, nature-based adventures throughout the year, head to the Svalbard Islands. You’ll find untouched landscapes at the archipelago that is located between the Norwegian Sea, the Arctic Ocean, Barents Sea and the Greenland Sea. Admire its craggy mountains and pristine glaciers, then go wildlife spotting to see polar bears, reindeer, walruses and polar foxes. It’s here that you can experience the northernmost permanently inhabited spots on the planet.
Geiranger boasts a beautiful village with traditional houses and a white timber church, but it’s the natural beauty that surrounds it that makes it really stand out. Sitting at the foot of the dramatic landscapes of Geirangerfjord, here you can marvel at views of sloping, craggy hills, steep mountains and cascading waterfalls. Hike up the scenic mountain paths to discover the Seven Sisters waterfalls with its crystal clear waters and panoramic views at the top.
Best known for its 18th-century wooden houses and beautiful natural surroundings, Tromso is the largest city in Northern Norway. Situated on the island of Tromsoya, you can spend your time exploring excellent museums and meandering through paths that wind through birch tree forests. Take an adventurous trip up to Storsteinen Mountain in the Fjellheisen Cable Car to photograph the surrounding fjords and mountains, then visit the Polar Museum and arctic aquarium Polaria.
One of Europe’s fastest growing cities, Oslo is a cosmopolitan destination with world-class restaurants, art galleries and a plethora of biking lanes. You can visit cultural attractions like the National Theatre and the National Museum of Art, while The Munch Museum is a must-see so you can get an up-close look at Edvard Munch’s “The Scream”. You can also visit Folkemuseet, an interactive outdoor museum with around 150 historic buildings, including the famous Stave Church.
Located in the southwest region of Norway, Stavanger boasts long sandy beaches that are popular in summer. The seaside city’s harbor sees cruise ships touring the fjords, with many of the city’s attractions found within a walking distance from the shore. Home to some of Norway’s main hiking attractions, you can explore the Lysefjord area and famous mountains plateaus like Preikestolen (“The Pulpit Rock”). Dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, visit the Stavanger Cathedral and admire Norwegian art at the Rogaland Kunstmuseum.
Established in the early 19th century, Alesund is nestled in Norway’s west coast. Considered the gateway to the iconic northwestern fjords and surrounding alpine mountains, it stands as a perfect example of Jugendstil design, Northern Europe’s version of Art Nouveau. Visit the Art Nouveau Center to learn about its unique style of architecture, then hike the 400 steps to the viewpoint Fjellstua to capture beautiful views of the mountains and nearby islands.
You can learn about Norway’s medieval past in the city of Trondheim, as it was the capital of the country under the Vikings for almost 300 years. See Sverresborg, the restored 12th-century castle, then visit Nidaros Cathedral, the northernmost Medieval cathedral in the world. Time your visit with the St. Olav Festival, the largest cultural and church event in the country or explore the farmer’s market, excellent restaurants, and local breweries.
One of the best-preserved fortresses in Scandinavia, Fredrikstad is a great example of an old European star fort. It showcases a beautiful, striking form of architecture, as the Old Town was built according to the Dutch model. See its wide moats that surround the six-star points and its high earth ramparts, then explore the bustling market square to discover narrow, cobbled alleyways and traditional ships selling unique handicrafts and souvenirs.
Head to the southernmost tip of the island of Karmøy in Norway to explore Skudeneshavn. Here you’ll find one the country’s best-preserved towns with its old town district comprising of almost 130 white timber houses that date back to the 19th century. Admire views of the North Sea and the beautiful houses that frame the clear blue waters, then watch as the boats cruise near the port or meander through handicraft markets that can be found on the streets.
The Sognefjord is actually Norway’s longest and deepest fjord, with the famous Nærøyfjord boasting a UNESCO World Heritage status. Connect with nature on the abundance of hiking excursions available from here, as the Sognefjord extends from the coast just north of Bergen to the mountains of Jotunheimen National Park and Jostedalsbreen glacier. Sample some of the region’s local delicacies, which are made from ingredients found in the nearby lush mountain pastures.
Jotunheimen National Park
Norway’s premier national park, Jotunheimen National Park is located in the nation’s south-central region and encompasses several mountain ranges, including Norway’s 29 highest peaks. It lures in hikers, cross-country and alpine skiers and cyclists from all over Europe and boasts a diverse array of flora and fauna where you can spot reindeer, fox, mink and rare golden eagles. Make sure to see the 900-foot Vettisfossen, the highest waterfall in Norway.