Famous for its Viking history and as a place to visit to enjoy winter sports and other outdoor activities, Norway is a Scandinavian country in Europe. The landscape of this country is diverse, with mountains, glaciers, and coastal fjords. The capital o this country is Oslo, which is famous for its museums and green spaces. No matter whether you focus your visit to Norway on Oslo and other Norwegian cities or spend your time predominantly in the rural areas, you will find plenty of things to see and do in this fantastic country. To help you plan your vacation itinerary, here are the 20 best things to do in Norway for first-timers.
20. Drive Along the Atlantic Ocean Road
Driving may not seem like a fun activity to enjoy on vacation, but the Atlantic Ocean Road is as much a landmark and tourist attraction as it is a transportation route. It is a road like no other anywhere else across the globe, and it spans five miles of the rugged coastline of Norway. This unique and winding road bridges between large water-bound rocks and islets, and you can enjoy spectacular views as you drive.
19. Tour Akershus Castle
Built in 1299, Arkeshus Castle was constructed to protect Oslo from enemy invasion. Over time, the castle has had many uses, including being used as a prison in modern times. It is now used as a base for the Norwegian Ministry of Defense. It is open to the public for tours of the building, and this includes visits to rooms such as the chapel and the banquet rooms. The castle is also home to various antique collections that you will see as you tour the building. It is a fantastic place to learn about the history of Norway.
18. Visit Oslo Cathedral
One of the top attractions to visit in Oslo is Oslo Cathedral, and this structure will particularly appeal to you if you are interested in history or architecture. According to The Crazy Tourist, it was the first church to be established in Norway, and it was built in its original form in the 11th century. The structure has a baroque-style, and the interior has many interesting features. These include colorful murals, an ornate pulpit, and a large organ.
17. Absorb Yourself in Sami Culture in Karasjok
The northernmost indigenous people of Europe are the Sami. Of those living on the Norwegian tundra, the Sami make up 90 percent of the population. The Sami capital is Karasjok, which has 3,000 inhabitants. It is also home to approximately 60 thousand reindeer. If you want to learn about the Norwegian culture and the lives of the Sami, then Karasjok is somewhere that you should include on your vacation itinerary. There are many ways that you can absorb yourself in the Sami culture, including camping in a Sami tent, sampling the cuisine, seeing the reindeers, and trying dog sledding.
16. Have a Go at Cross Country Skiing at Trondelag
Those who enjoy outdoor pursuits should have a go at cross-country skiing, which is a popular activity in Norway. One of the best places to try cross-country skiing is Trondelag, which is a county in central Norway that has both coastal and inland areas that are both good for skiing. In this area, there are more than 500 kilometers of cross-country ski trails to explore. Cross-country skiing is different from downhill skiing, and it is a much easier activity for skiing novices to try.
15. Climb Galdhopiggen
You might think that mountain climbing is something that is only achievable by experienced climbers, but Galdhopiggen is accessible for novices if they are relatively fit. It is the highest mountain in Norway at 2,469 meters. It is also the highest mountain in Scandinavia and northern Europe. The guided tours have an experienced mountaineer who takes you to the summit of the mountain, crossing a glacier along the way. This mountain is located in the mountainous Jotunheimen area. If you are visiting in the winter months, you can also ski on this mountain.
14. Have Fun on the Zipline at Mount Ulriken
A fun activity that will give you an adrenaline rush is whizzing down the zip wires at Mount Ulriken. This mountain is the highest in Bergen as it is 643 meters tall. From the summit, you can enjoy uninterrupted views of the city below. In 2016, a zip wire was added to the mountain, and it holds the accolade of being the fastest zip wire in Norway. As you whizz along the zip wire at speed, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the landscape around you.
13. See the Sculptures at Ekeberg Park
Art lovers should set aside some time to see the sculptures in the Ekeberg Sculpture Park. This park is located just half an hour from central Oslo on foot. Throughout the wooded park, there are 31 sculptures. These are the work of various artists, including Salvador Dali and Damien Hirst. This park is also where the artist Munch got his inspiration for one of his most famous works, ‘The Scream.’ Even if you are not interested in art, it is a pretty park to visit with excellent views across the city. It is free to visit the park, so it is a budget-friendly activity.
12. Go Deep-Sea Fishing Around the Lofoten Islands
Many of the best activities in Norway involve taking to the water, and one popular activity is fishing. Not only is fishing a great leisure activity, but it has also played an important role in the economy of the country. It is possible to book a chartered fishing boat to take you out on deep-sea fishing trips. One of the best places to enjoy this activity is off the coast of the Lofoten Islands. Vestfjorden is an island that is famous for its cod fishery, and this island separates the mainland from the other Lofotus Islands, including Austvagoy, Flakstadoy, Moskenesoy, and Vestvagoy. If you are passionate about fishing, then you can even spend a couple of days of your vacation staying in a fisherman’s cabin on the island. After your fishing trip, there is the chance to eat your catch.
11. Hike to Troll Tongue Rock
There are some amazing trails in Norway, and each offers a different experience. One of the best and most popular trails is the hike to Trolltunga, also known as Troll Tongue Rock. This is a spectacular sea cliff that juts out 700 meters above lake Ringedal. At the summit, there is a protruding ledge where you can enjoy spectacular views across the lake and of the surrounding cliffs and mountains. The hike is approximately 27 kilometers, and there is an ascent of 1,000 meters. Therefore, it is a challenging hike that is best-suited to experienced walkers.
10. Take a Funicular Ride Up Mount Floyen
If you visit the city of Bergen, then you should take the funicular railway, called the Flobanen, which takes you up Floyen mountain. The funicular railway was established in 1918, and it has become one of the most popular attractions in Norway. It takes less than 10 minutes to rise to the 320-meter summit of the mountain. Riding the historic funicular railway is fun, and there are impressive views of the city, harbor, and sea when you reach the summit of the mountain.
9. Kayak the Geirangerfjord
If you enjoy outdoor pursuits, then one of the best activities to enjoy is kayaking along the Geirangerfjord. This fjord is 15 kilometers long, and it is UNESCO-listed. It runs through a beautiful setting, and it has multiple waterfalls, including the Seven Sisters Falls. Although it is possible to enjoy this fjord on a boat trip, you will get a more immersive experience if you kayak.
8. Walk Across the Roof of Oslo Opera House
One of the most impressive structures in Oslo, Norway’s capital, is the Oslo Opera House. The design of the building is intended to look like a glacier rising from the fjords. Time Out recommends walking across the roof of this spectacular building during your visit. From a rooftop position, you can enjoy spectacular views across the city. This is also the best venue if you want to enjoy a ballet or opera performance.
7. Enjoy an Arctic Boat Safari
Those who enjoy wildlife should take the Arctic boat safari. These boat trips take you through the Svalbard archipelago, which is a hostile and remote environment. As you travel through the ice-covered fjords, you can see walruses, seals, whales, and various species of birds, including puffins and white pelicans. If you are lucky, you may even see a polar bear. You can also enjoy the unique surroundings that are unlike anywhere else in the world.
6. Walk the Jostedalsbreen Glacier
There are more than 1,600 glaciers in Norway, and they are one of the most impressive natural features of this country. While admiring these from afar is an impressive sight, you will get an even better experience up close. There are some glaciers that you can walk over, and the most famous of these is the Jostedalsbreen glacier. This is the largest glacier in continental Europe, and it is possible to take a guided walk across the mammoth peaks. If you enjoy glacier walks, then another popular option is Nigardsbreen.
5. Ride the Flam Railway
A highlight of a visit to Norway for many people is riding the Flam Railway. A trip on this railway takes approximately 50 minutes, and it showcases some of the best landscapes in the country. You will travel through a narrow valley that passes spectacular waterfalls, pretty and colorful farming villages, and magnificent mountain peaks. It is one of the steepest railways in the world, and you will climb to an elevation of 850 meters above sea level. You will also pass through 20 winding tunnels during the trip.
4. Visit Tromso- The Arctic Capital
Tromso is a city in the remote northern section of Norway, and it is considered the social and cultural capital of this region. It is a thriving fishing port and one of the best places to try some of the culinary specialties of the Arctic, including char and reindeer. One of the best attractions in this city is the botanical gardens, which are the most northerly in the world. Tromso also has a vibrant nightlife.
3. See the Northern Lights
The Northern Lights, also called the Aurora Borealis, are a natural phenomenon that occurs in the magnetic polar regions. They are caused by electrically charged particles from the sun entering the Earth’s atmosphere. Arctic Norway is one of the best places in the world to see this spectacular natural phenomenon.
2. Explore Bergen
Many tourists head straight for Oslo, but one Norwegian destination that you should visit during your trip is Bergen. This is the second-largest city in Norway, although it has the feel of a small town. The old wharf, called Bryggen, is UNESCO-listed, and the city is set against a backdrop of forested hills. Bergen is one of the oldest port cities in Europe as it originated in the 12th century, and it is considered a gateway to the western fjords. The layout of the city remains true to its medieval history, but the oldest of the colorful wooden buildings in this city date back to only the 1700s.
Cruise the Fjords
According to On the Go Tours, one of the best things to do in Norway for first-timers is to cruise the fjords. The fjords are one of the most significant natural features of the Norwegian landscape, so you should appreciate their beauty during your visit to this country. There are many cruises available that take you through the fjords so that you can admire the surrounding mountains and scenery. These cruises vary in terms of their length, and some packages include food, drink, and entertainment.
Written by Liz Flynn
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