Norway

Places to visit in Norway

Nowhere does outdoorsy fun like Norway. This long, narrow country is just 25 percent bigger than the UK but with only 5.5 million inhabitants. Its Fjordlands, national parks, rugged wilderness areas and picture-postcard islands, all provide a stunning setting for countless activities including hiking, cycling, kayaking, and whitewater-rafting in the summer months, and cross-country and alpine skiing, husky sledding and Northern Lights chasing in winter.

Stunning scenery in Norway

Norway’s fjords are the stars of the show

Oslo

Norway’s capital is a great place to start, with lots of venues in which to learn about this country’s fascinating city and culture, especially the Norwegian Maritime Museum, the Norsk Folkemuseum and Akershus Fortress. Other things to do include hopping aboard the light rail up to see the Holmenkollen ski museum and ski jump – part of the Oslo Winter Park Tryvann, the area’s main ski resort, but open all year.

And as well as offering great waterside dining on outdoor terraces, Olso’s newly developed docks with their lovely canals and colourful houses are worth exploring. Unmissable are the Sørenga sjøbad seawater fjord pool with its diving boards, the city beach outside the Opera House, and the distinctive MUNCH museum, one of the largest collections of works by one single artist.

Stavanger and Pulpit Rock

It doesn’t look like it from the map, but due to Norway’s geography, quaint Stavanger is seven hours by road west of Oslo. It’s worth the trip, though, if you’re in Norway in summer – this region has some of the country’s very best beaches, lots of fjords, and the Norwegian Children’s Museum with its cultural and historical exhibits.

Stavanger is also on hand for one of Norway’s most iconic hikes – the four- to five-hour (8km) jaunt to the top of Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen) with its flat top and breathtaking views down over Lysefjorden.

Norway Pulpit Rock

Pulpit Rock © Visit Norway

Bergen and the Fjords

North of Stavanger, Bergen is a great base for the fjords for which Norway is most famous. Right in the heart of the fjordland, this little city with its Gamle Bergen (Old Town) is a delightful spot in its own right, with steep cobbled streets descending to a wharf lined by brightly painted wooden buildings you’ll have seen in many an Instagram post. It’s perfect for exploring by bike, while its Kode Art Museum includes native works by Munch and Nikolai Astrup as well as global greats, and there’s a lively fishmarket providing local colour and the Floyen Funicular up to a lovely viewpoint.

The fjords themselves are the star, though, with the scope for mountain and glacier hikes, e-biking, whitewater rafting, kayaking, and more – and that’s just in summer. In winter there’s also skiing and sledding and hiking. Among the highlights of the Norwegian fjords are the Bergensbanen train over the Hardanger mountains to Myrdal to catch the famous Flam Railway, one of the world’s steepest and most scenic train rides, taking you in vintage compartments through spectacular tunnels and past waterfalls and ravines.

You might also take a RIB cruise through the UNESCO-listed Naroyfjord, looking out for seals and eagles, and go kayaking on the Aardalfjord and hiking in Upper Aardal, or cycling along the winding old road between Sletterust and Upper Aardal. Alternatively, Veitastrond is another beautiful emerald-green fjord for RIB tours.

'Hot tub with a view' in Norway
Tromsø and the Arctic

Capital of the Arctic, Tromsø is one of the most accessible destinations for seeing the Northern Lights – either from the city itself or in the surrounding Finnmark region, which is Norway’s section of the Lapland region. You’re just 2,000km from the North Pole here, surrounded by mountains, fjords and islands best seen from the top of the Fjellheisen cable car, and close to the low-key ski resort Tromsø Alpine Park.

Alternatively, if you come in summer, you can experience the Midnight Sun, while year-round sights include the Polaria arctic aquarium and the bold, 1960s-built Arctic Cathedral inspired by the nature of these parts. You can also take wildlife and fishing boat trips through the fjords off the city’s coast.

Tromso cityscape

Tromso

For the Arctic proper, with its polar bears, seals, whales, walruses, white foxes, reindeer, tundra, glaciers and ice-clad mountains, you’ll fly to Longyearbyen on the main Spitsbergen island of Svalbard, where week-long polar expedition cruises take adventurous folk in the footsteps of polar explorers, with Zodiac sorties and kayaking ensuring a fully immersive experience you’ll never forget.

Polar bears in Svalbard -Norway family holidays polar arctic cruise

Svalbard

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