Norway, a country with cold winters, dark arctic waters and lots of potatoes… If you have ever read about Norway, my guess is that you have read about either our love for potatoes – or our mountains and fjords. But is that all that Norway can offer? Of course not. HOWEVER, as a first-time visitor to Norway I would recommend you to visit some of our fjords and mountains – as well as some of our cosy little towns along the coast. So, to get you wanderlust and ready to come visit our little Scandinavian country, here are 10 impressive places you should see on your first trip to Norway!
None of these pictures are mine! They are all found on tourism websites for Norway 🙂
1. Geirangerfjorden / The Geiranger Fjord
It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a popular tourist attraction and the inspiration for Disney’s movie Frozen. Surrounded by mountains, waterfalls and old, abandoned farms, this fjord will show you a side of Norway that we are very proud of – go on a cruise along the fjord, and behold the beautiful nature!
Read more about the Geiranger Fjord on VisitNorway’s site here.
Lying up north in Norway, and within the Arctic Circle, this archipelago is a must see if you ever go to Norway! Lofoten consists of lots of small island groups and fishing villages – among them is Reine, one of the most famous ones. According to Wikipedia, Lofoten is “known for a distinctive scenery with dramatic mountains and peaks, open sea and sheltered bays, beaches and untouched islands.” What more can you ask for?
3. Bryggen, Bergen
Bryggen (English: the dock) located in the city of Bergen, is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site, and a popular place to stop by if you ever happen to be in Bergen. The dock consists of a series of commercial buildings (museums, shops, restaurants and pubs) lining the eastern side of Vågen Harbour. It used to be the centre of Hanseatic commercial activities (it was a trading port) and is known as one of the oldest large trading ports of Northern Europe.
4. Trolltunga / The Troll Tongue
Located in Odda, in Hordaland County, this piece of rock has quickly become a popular attraction – and can be found on any wanderlust-travel board on Pinterest and Weheartit, as well as on Instagram. Trolltunga is a piece or rock that juts out horizontally of a mountain about 700 metres above a lake called Ringedalsvatnet. There is no safety railing constructed at the cliff (there’s usually no safety railing on any hike here), nevertheless, there are thousands of tourists there during the summer months.
5. The Northern Lights
Ahh the Aurora Borealis! It is often said that the northern parts of Norway are the best places in the world to see the northern lights, and while you can see the northern lights in some other countries as well, Norway have some of the most comfortable and interesting places to see it. Hundreds of thousands of Norwegians live in huge geographical areas where they see the northern lights every night, and in these cities we have hotels and activities to keep every tourist busy.
Now, I know the northern lights isn’t a place ( I know my post is about places you should see in Norway), but I will, however, mention some places where you are almost guaranteed to see them. Check out; Hammerfest, the Lofoten Islands, Lyngenfjord, Narvik, Svalbard, Tromsø and Vesterålen.
Also known as the Norwegian Coastal Express, this is a cruise/ferry that embarks on voyages between the cities Bergen and Kirkenes, all along Norway’s western and northern coast. Hurtigruten sails almost the entire length of the country, completing the trip in 11 days. The cruise has often been described as the “World’s Most Beautiful Sea Voyage”, and is definitely worth the money!
Go on a hike in Jotunheimen! Here you will find the highest mountain in Norway; Galdhøpiggen, as well as the popular mountain ridge Besseggen. Both offers beautiful scenery of Norway, and the chance to see waterfalls, lakes, glaciers and valleys. Popular activities in Jotunheimen include hiking, glacier walking, rafting, climbing, caving, canoeing and riding. Norway’s most popular national park is here as well, called Jotunheimen, and is ideal for cross-country skiers, alpine skiers, cyclists and climbers.
8. The city of Ålesund
Ålesund is a sea port located in the county of Møre og Romsdal, and has a beautiful setting across several islands stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. These days the city is the cultural centre of the region, and is the host of several festivals during the year. When it comes to activities you can go hiking, skiing, explore the fjords or relax and enjoy the city’s unique art noveau architecture, which the city is known for.
Svalbard, formerly known as Spitsbergen, is our very own archipelago up in the Arctic Circle. It is situated about midway between Norway and the North Pole, and features an arctic climate, as well as many seabirds, polar bears, reindeers and certain marine mammals. About 60 percent of Svalbard is covered with glaciers, as well as many mountains and fjords. Longyearbyen is the largest settlement there, with a population of a little over 2,000, and has become a town with increased tourism and research.
Want to read more about this beautiful island? Check out what Lonely Planet thinks of Svalbard here!
10. Wildlife safaris & National Parks
If you have lots of time to explore, or only have a certain amount of time in Norway and can’t go far, I would suggest to search around and look for any national parks or activities that are popular in the area you are in. Norway offers a wide range of wildlife safaris, and hikes in the many national parks around the mainland.
There is also a very famous road called the Atlantic Ocean Road, located in the county of Møre og Romsdal. It’s a long section of a country road, passing many unsheltered parts of the Norwegian Sea, as well as many islands and villages.
Oh! And if you find yourself in the county of Møre og Romsdal, and want to drive on a dangerous road with an amazing view, then go check out the road Trollstigen!
Another popular activity is whale safaris. Whales visit the coasts of Norway every year, showing off for tourists and locals alike. They are most commonly found along the Vesterålen coast during the summer months.
Hope to see you in Norway soon!
Do you have any places to recommend? Or any places you think I forgot? Please comment and let me know!