Norway, officially the Kingdom of Norway, is a sovereign and unitary monarchy whose territory comprises the western portion of the Scandinavian Peninsula plus Jan Mayen and the Arctic archipelago of Svalbard. Norway is a once-in-a-lifetime destination and the essence of its appeal is remarkably simple. This is one of the most beautiful countries on earth.
Norway offers visitors an incredible mix of cultural and natural wonders. From cosmopolitan Oslo to its endless snow-capped mountain peaks and deep fjords, there’s no end of choices for travelers in the land of the midnight sun and stunning northern lights. Getting around the country is easy, and the country’s top-notch transit systems offer some of the best sightseeing opportunities, too, whether by rail or the fantastic coastal steamers. Norway is also rich in spectacular scenery, from its stunning fjords to its spectacular mountains and glaciers, many of which are easily accessible to tourists.
Part of the spectacular Fjord Norway network – and regularly topping the UNESCO World Heritage Sites list – the Geirangerfjord region north of Ålesund offers some of the finest scenery anywhere in Norway. The eastward continuation of the Sunnylvsfjord, the Geirangerfjord boasts some of the country’s most spectacular views. One of the best is from the summit of Dalsnibba: at 4,905ft, the views of the surrounding mountains and the Geirangerfjord far below are simply breathtaking.
A sizable section of northern Norway is located within the Arctic Circle, a fact that provides the country with two of its most popular tourist attractions. The first, the Midnight Sun, is an impressive sight and experience. During the summer months, surrounding the summer solstice, these latitudes see endless days when the sun doesn’t set. However, it’s the spectacular Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, that really steal the show in winter. Caused when electrically charged particles emitted by the sun are caught up in the earth’s magnetic field and producing striking light effects in the thin ionized upper atmosphere at heights of between 40 and 620 miles, the sky comes alive with spectacular bluish arcs of light, glowing coronas and shimmering curtains of radiance flaring over the sky in constant movement.
Located above Lake Mjøsa at the south end of the Gudbrandsdal valley, Lillehammer is one of Norway’s best-known year-round tourist destinations. In summer, it’s all about attractions such as Malhaugen Park, an open-air museum consisting of more than 100 historic buildings, including 18th Century farmhouses, workshops and a stave church. Another notable landmark is Peer Gynt’s Cottage. Dating from the early 1700s, it’s said to have been the home of the prototype of Ibsen’s famed hero. But it’s when the snow flies that Lillehammer really shines.
The largest Alpine region on the Norwegian high plateau, the Jotunheimen covers an area of 1,351 square miles and includes Scandinavia’s highest mountains. It’s also home to many spectacular waterfalls, rivers, lakes, glaciers and wildlife, such as large reindeer populations. Two of this national park’s mountains rise to heights of over 8,000ft, the highest being Galdhøpiggen. Despite its tremendous height, Galdhøpiggen can be climbed in about four hours. Although a guide is required, the incredible views over rocky crags and fields of ice from the summit make it money well spent. Another four-hour climb in the Hurrungane group is to the 4,429ft Skagastølsbotn and the Skagastølsbre glacier.
Norway is indeed the place to be.