Most of us think of France, Spain or Switzerland when planning a vacation to Europe, however, there are many other European destinations that are far less crowded and have much better views to offer. One such country is Norway. And what else? Norway surely is one the best Scandinavian places to experience the Aurora Borealis in all its glory.
Norway is located in the northern part of Europe and borders Sweden, Finland and few parts of Russia. The capital of Norway is Oslo, and most commercial and parliamentarian work is situated here and in Bergen, another important city.
Culture and Land
Norway is a place with strict egalitarian culture practiced under the Jante law, which is probably why the place was named the happiest by the UN. The Norwegian government has strict laws to protect the natural landscape of the country and sustainable tourism as well as development is practiced actively.
Norway is a country with dramatic landscapes, beautiful fjords and scenic glaciers. The place is ideal for travelers, trekkers, hikers and anyone who is a nature-lover and wishes for a respite from the fast-paced city life.
Places to Visit
Grimstad, Southern Norway
Southern Norway is ideal for a vacation in Norway during the summer months. Grimstad, at a glance offers you wooden houses, boat trips, skerries/islands and perfect hiking destinations. The place comes alive during summers with colorful flowers along hiking trails, serene boat trips and delicious seafood. Check out the Dommesmoen park for a walk, or the harbor for some tasty delicacies. You can also visit the nearby skerries and islands. Do check out Auesoya for a display of beautiful daffodils, and Marivold for sandy beaches to swim in and to catch some fish.
Alta, Northern Norway
Northern Norway is a different world altogether. The surroundings here remain untouched by many, and most locals have adapted to nature quite well. Alta is a great place to experience the most of northern Norway. Enjoy an unforgettable stay at the Igloo hotel here, and visit the World Heritage Museum that has over 4000 years old rock carvings of fishermen and hunters. Here you can walk through the rocks for some spectacular sights of the carvings and enjoy the panoramic view of sunset at the café.
Valdres, Eastern Northway
The district of Valdres is perfect for one to enjoy adventure activities. Valdres is perfect for hikers of all ages, as it offers all types of places to hike. You can venture towards the north to hike up till Bukkelaegret or stick to the south for a hike with children or family. Also known as a “Cyclist Welcome” destination, Valdres has over 15 routes that you can take to explore the place on a bike. During the winter months, you can enjoy alpine skiing and dog sledding, which is sure to enliven your senses.
Trondheim, Central Norway
Trondheim is located in the central county of Trondelag, Norway and is the third largest city in Norway. The place is usually bustling with students, cultural events and various other activities. Since this city is an extremely active one, a bike tour is the best way to explore the area around. Just hop on a bike and take the Lade trail to enjoy some breathtaking views across the city. If you’re looking for a livelier atmosphere, just go engage in shopping! The city has numerous shopping centres that are usually packed during weekends and the sale period. Some shopping centres that you can visit are Trondheim Torg Shopping Centre, Byhaven Shopping Centre and Sirkus Shopping.
This island isn’t exactly located inside the terrain of Norway, but rather, is a small island between Norway and the North Pole. The place has its own airport and the best way to travel is by catching a flight from Norway. Home to Polar Bears and various other exotic animals, Svalbard Islands are a dreamy destination for many all year round. You can enjoy ATV Safari’s, Kayak expeditions around Billefjorden and dinner in the wild during the summer months. From April till about late August, you can experience the beauty of the midnight sun and go on expeditions to the glaciers at night for an adventurous stroll. Winter months in Svalbard are even more exciting with the northern lights shining throughout from November to February and there are high chances of sighting the snow cat. One can also participate in various activities such as dog sledding, ice-caving, snow mobile trip and skiing trips.
Oslo-Bergen Rail Journey
This one isn’t a destination per say, but it is definitely one of the most scenic rail journey in Europe. You can catch sights of white snow-capped lands during winters, and be prepared to work your way through a high plateau. The Bergensbanen runs for about 371 km from Oslo to Bergen and is approximately a 7-hour journey. Be prepared to get some of the most spectacular views of your life, the entire train ride is filled with running streams, vast expanses of lands with one or two quaint cottages and rocky formations that transform into tunnels. You can book for this train ride in advance and catch the ‘minipress’ ticket which is way cheaper that the others.
Geirangerfjord, Fjord in Romsdal County
You know those amazing lush green/mountain/waterfall shots captured by travel bloggers on Instagram? Well, you can have that those too! Geirangerfjord is a UNESCO protected natural site that is for sure a photographer’s paradise. Imagine paving your way through a steep mountain, with waterfalls on either side and stone railings. Sounds thrilling? Well, you can certainly experience it when climbing the Trollstigen Mountain. This is one place that you just cannot afford to miss if you want to experience the true beauty of the Norwegian landscape.
Helgeland, Nordland County, Northern Norway
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One of Norway’s hidden gems, Helgeland is an excellent place for Puffin spotting, hiking and catching the Svartisen glacier along with the Arctic circle. The place is surely going to hold a special spot in the heart of all fitness enthusiasts as one can enjoy mountain cycling, sea kayaking and hiking the Seven Sisters. One can also visit the Vega Archipelagos, a UNESCO site which hosts at least 200 species of birds. Surely a sight you can’t miss!
Various airlines fly to Oslo, mostly with a stopover in London or Finland. British Airways, FinnAir are a few airlines that fly directly to Oslo. If you don’t mind taking the extra trouble, you can always fly to London and then catch a flight from there to Bergen, Oslo or Tromso through a local airline.
For Indians, the Schengen Visa is required to enter all Scandinavian countries. It’s advised to apply at least a month and a half in advance from the date of travelling as the visa can take up to 3-4 weeks to process.
Best Time to Visit
Norway is a destination that boasts tourism throughout the year. Due to its various range of summer and winter activities the country is always buzzing with tourists. However, if you’re one to shy away from winter then it’s advisable to visit Norway from April-August. If you want to catch the northern lights, then Autumn and Winters are the best time to visit Norway.