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Norway Travel Guide

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Fishing huts with sod roof, Norway (© harvepino - Fotolia.com)
Fishing huts with sod roof in Lofoten, Norway.

Introduction

Norway (Norge in Norwegian) is one of the four Scandinavian countries. Though not (yet) a member of the European Union, Norway is part of the European Economic Area and the Schengen Area.

Norway is the northernmost and longest country in Europe. A very mountainous land, Norway is home to Europe's deepest lake and highest waterfall, as well as many of the world's most spectacular fjords.

The Norwegians enjoy one of the world's highest living standards in terms of GDP per capita (highest in the world for a non-city-state) and Human Development. Like its Scandinavian neighbours, Norway is ranked as one of the world's freest, most democratic, most egalitarian and least corrupted nations. The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded in Oslo every year.

Famous people from Norway include (chronologically): playwright Henrik Ibsen, composer Edvard Grieg, meteorologist Vilhelm Bjerknes, painter Edvard Munch, polar explorer Roald Amundsen, Nobel laureate economist Ragnar Frisch, first UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie, and Nobel laureate economist Trygve Haavelmo.

Attractions

Western Norway

Bergen ※
Bergen (© dje2303 - Fotolia.com)
must-see Surrounded by seven hills like Rome, endowed with grand architecture and wide squares, pastel-coloured Bergen has the feel of a small European capital, without the hustle and bustle of big cities. Perfectly charming on a sunny day (never a guarantee), Bergen has enough museums to keep you busy the rest of the time. Bryggen, the old Hanseatic wharfs lining the eastern side of the Byfjorden, has been recognised as a World Heritage site. Bergen lies at the heart of the fjord country and makes a good base to explore the Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. The Bergen International Festival is the largest music and cultural festival in Nordic countries.
Lysefjord
Lysefjord, Norway
must-see Though only 42 km long (a fifth of Sognefjord), Lysefjord offers one of the country's most spectacular scenery, thanks to its rocky walls falling nearly vertically over 1000 m (3,000 ft) into the water, which makes it a popular place for BASE jumping. A short drive from Stavanger, it is one of the most visited fjords. The highlight is the two-hour hike to to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), a flat plateau towering 604 metres over the Lysefjord.
Sognefjord
Sognefjord viewed from Aureland, Norway (© Morten Normann Almeland - iStockphoto.com)
must-see Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway, and the third longest in the world. The fjord reaches a maximum depth of 1,308 metres (4,291 ft) below sea level, while the cliffs surrounding it rise to over 1,000 metres (3,300 ft). Sognefjord stretches 205 kilometres (127 mi) inland. One of its branches, the Nærøyfjord, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Popular viewpoints include the villages of Balestrand, Aureland and Flåm. The Urnes Stave Church in Lustrafjord, the innermost arm of the Sognefjord, is also listed by the UNESCO.



Hardangerfjord
Panorama of the mountains along the Ulvikfjord, a side arm of the Hardangerfjord, Norway (photo by Aqwis - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license)
outstanding Hardangerfjord, Norway's second largest fjord, is renowned for its fruit orchards and for fish farming (salmon and rainbow trout). Hardangerfjord was the birthplace of Norwegian tourism in the 19th century.
Stavanger
Stavanger (© M132 - Fotolia.com)
outstanding The largest city in southwest Norway, Stavanger has grown on the oil industry and is dubbed the Oil Capital of Norway. Stavanger boasts one of Europe's largest wooden city centres, dating mostly from the 18th and 19th centuries. The city has over 20 museums and is renowned for its International Jazz Festival, known as MaiJazz. Stavanger was designated European Capital of Culture 2008.

Central & Northwest Norway

Geirangerfjord
Geirangerfjord, Norway (© MicheleBoiero - Fotolia.com)
must-see Often considered the most majestic of all fjords, Geirangerfjord carves its way for over 20 km in the midst of some of western Norway's steepest mountains. One of its highlights are the Seven Sisters, a 410 m (1,350 ft) waterfall made of seven streams dripping on the flank of a cliff into the fjord, and the Bridal Veil Waterfall.



Ålesund
Ålesund (© cybrflower - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Spectacularly sited on a narrow peninsula at the mouth of the Geirangerfjord, Ålesund is unique and charming city, filled with colourful pastel buildings. Entirely rebuilt after a fire in 1904, Ålesund has one of the largest concentration of Art Nouveau architecture in the world. Built mostly of brick and stone, it contrasts with wooden cities like Stavanger.
Jostedal Glacier National Park
Climbing the Jostedal Glacier, Norway (© pmac - Fotolia.com)
outstanding Jostedalsbreen is the largest glacier in mainland Europe, with a total area of 487 square kilometres (188 sq mi). Its highest point is Høgste Breakulen at 1,957 metres (6,421 ft) above sea level. The thickest part of the glacier is 600 metres (2,000 ft).
Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park, Norway (© Marina Ignatova - Fotolia.com)
outstanding The Jotunheimen National Park is Norway's most popular hiking and fishing destination. The park covers 1,151 km² (444 sq mi) and comprises over 250 peaks above 2,000 metres (6,000 feet), including the 29 highest mountains in Norway. Among them, Galdhøpiggen (2469 m) and Glittertind (2452 m) are Northern Europe's two highest summits. Wildlife include the reindeer, elk, deer, wolverines and lynx.
Nordfjord
Oldedalen Valley, Nordfjord, Norway (© Vitaly Romanovich - iStockphoto.com)
outstanding 100 km south of Ålesund, Nordfjord is the gateway to the Briksdal Glacier, the country's most visited glacier. It is a popular destination for hiking and skiing, even in summer.
Trondheim
Trondheim (© Alexander Mertz - iStockphoto.com)
outstanding Founded in 997 under the name of Nidaros, Trondheim served as Norway's first capital just after the Christianisation of Norway, and remained it until 1217. Today, it is Norway's third most populous city. Trondheim is renowned for its colourful wooden buildings, notably in the 19th-century Bakklandet neighbourhood.

Eastern & Northern Norway

Lofoten Archipelago
Fishing village of Reine, Lofoten Islands, Norway (© Ben Burger - Fotolia.com)
must-see Lying in the remote north of Norway, within the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands are nevertheless a magnet to visitors thanks to the sheer scenic beauty of those majestic rocks rising sharply out of the sea and the pretty harbours lined with red wooden cottages. Ferries link Stamsund and Svolvær to Bodø on the mainland, but the most picturesque towns are Reine, Sakrisøy, Hamnøy, Henningsvær and Værøy, at the southern extremity of the archipelago.
Oslo
City Hall and harbour, Oslo (© ajwk - Fotolia.com)
must-see Norway's capital and largest city, Oslo is a must-see for its world-class museums and vibrant cultural scene. Named Christiana until 1925, Oslo is one of Europe's greenest capitals. The city grew on an arc of land at the northernmost end of the Oslofjord and is surrounded by lakes, wooded hills and mountains. Most of the sights are at walking distance from Karl Johans gate, seat of the parliament, just opposite the royal palace.
Røros ※
Røros (© Inger Anne Hulbækdal - Fotolia.com)
must-see Røros is a historical copper mining town, which operated from 1644 to 1977. Its well-preserved authentic 17th and 18th century architecture owed it World Heritage Status in 1980. Røros is sometimes simply referred to as Bergstaden, meaning 'mountain town'.
Tromsø
Tromsø (© vichie81 - Fotolia.com)
very good Tromsø is the largest city in northern Norway and the main hub for tourists coming to watch the midnight sun or the aurora borealis. The city has a few museums to occupy visitors, as well as four annual festivals.
Lillehammer
Lillehammer (© Hubertus Kints - iStockphoto.com)
very good Lillehammer is a ski resort that hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics and will host the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics.

Other attractions

very good Åndalsnes
very good Vesterålen Archipelago
good Alta ※
good Bodø
good Hammerfest
good Karasjok
good Kautokeino
good Kirkenes
good Narvik

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Eupedia's Rating System

Cities, towns, villages & historic buildings

  • : Moderately interesting - nice for a quick stop
  • : Recommended - to visit if you have time
  • : Outstanding place - really deserves to be seen
  • : Best of the country - shouldn't be missed
  • : Best of Europe

Natural attractions

  • : Moderately interesting
  • : Recommended
  • : Highly recommended
  • : World-class natural attraction
  • ※ : UNESCO World Heritage site


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