Norway is the type of country that must be experienced once in a lifetime. Where else can you find this unique mix of history, nature, food and architecture? This otherworldly landscape, this ancient Viking heritage?
To this day, and despite having visited 20+ other countries, Norway still ranks pretty high up my list of favorite destinations. Let’s see what I did while I was there – besides eating my weight in smoked salmon and refinancing my house to pay for said salmon.
Old City of Bergen
I’ve declared my love for Bergen quite abundantly on this space – few places in Europe, heck, in the world, have made such an impression on me.
Bergen is home to one of the most famous architectural sights of Norway, Bryggen – dating back from the 14th century, they are some of the oldest and most colorful still-standing-albeit-slightly-crooked buildings in the country, and quite the sight. The fish market, the aquarium, and the fjord panorama from Mount Fløyen are also worth a stop, as are the many quaint coffeeshops scattered around the cobblestone alleys (like Knøsesmauet, pictured above) in the Old Town. A welcome shelter from the crazy weather of Bergen!
Cruise in the fjords
It would be like going to Paris and skipping the Eiffel Tower, right? There is no such thing as going to Norway and skipping the fjords. A cruise is the simplest and most impressive way to marvel at these natural beauties, and plus, there are much fewer crowds waiting to see the fjords than the Iron Lady. It’s just you, and nature, in a quiet contemplative moment.
Overnight in Flam
Most fjord cruises finish in Flam, for the simple reason that the famous Flam Railway starts there. But instead of hopping directly into the train, why not stay overnight? This small village – and it is not a hyperbole, there are roughly 4 houses – is not only strikingly beautiful but also relaxing, and gives the perfect opportunity to sit back, breathe the fresh air and appreciate Norway for what it is. There is a gorgeous luxurious hotel as well as a quaint brewery that will certainly make for a nice tranquil evening.
Hello, the most iconic train ride in the world! It may only be 20 kilometres long and you last only an hour, but is it a memorable experience nonetheless. The change in scenery is quite fascinating the closer you get to Myrdal, the final destination, and slowly morphs from luxuriant green mountains to lunar-like stone formations. A captivating journey, I’ll say that.
Welcome to Oslo’s medieval fortress! The stunning castle was built in the utmost Nordic fashion and has been miraculously well-preserved despite the nine centuries that have come and gone since its construction, successfully surviving every single Swedish force sieges. Walking on the castle’s ground is free of charge and is akin to time-traveling; on a crisp autumn day, few things are more enjoyable in Oslo than a simple stroll around this historic and photogenic landmark located directly on Oslo’s harbor – one of my favorite things to do in the city.
See “The Scream”
What better way to highlight the cultural scene of Norway than by seeing its most famous painting right in its birthplace? Indeed, why not go and see for yourself the celebrated « The Scream » by Edvard Munch at the National Gallery of Norway in downtown Oslo – for just 50 NOK (a bargain by Norwegian standards!)
And if you’re curious about the Norwegian museum scene, make sure to visit Oslo’s museum island! Also a good excuse for a boat ride in the harbour ;-)
Hang out with the cool kids in Grunnerloka
If you would rather sit on a sunny terrace and drink delicious Norwegian coffee instead of seeing the other landmarks of Oslo, the place to be is Grunnerlokka – a neighbourhood just north of the harbour. It’s the Oslo equivalent of Williamsburg or Shoreditch, meaning that it is filled with quirky boutiques, trendy restaurants and hip locals, and gorgeous lively squares that always seem to be bustling with activity. The perfect way to end a trip to Norway on a high note, and experience the famous Scandinavian allure that’s on everyone’s lips these days.