Land of Vikings, fjords and the famous Norwegian Blue parrot (one for Monty Python fans, there). If you’re looking for landscapes and natural phenomena that will leave you breathless, Norway is a country that provides it in spades. It’s not just the Northern Lights that will leave you wondering at the power and beauty of the natural world, it’s the gushing blue waters, the white-tipped mountains and the brilliant flowers that come out during the nation’s warm summers.
But the country isn’t some sort of gorgeous wasteland – cool Scandinavian design floods the towns; so you can see old, brightly coloured villages along the coastline and cool architecture in Oslo.
And if you are going for the landscape, the different regions offer different experiences. The north is the best place to watch the Northern Lights, go on animal safaris to see king crabs and meet the indigenous Sami people with their bright clothes. The south is great to try the local foods, fish or swim in the sea and visit a music or cultural festival.
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Hiking through the majestic scenery is by far the greatest attraction that Norway has for visitors. You can camp out under the stars at the foot of a mountain or beside a lake; while the adventurous can hike on glaciers (best in summer) or dog-sled through the snows in winter.
For history and culture, visit the Unesco world heritage-listed wooden buildings on the waterfront in Bergen. You can call into the nearby fish market for lunch afterwards.
If you visit at Easter, you can watch the Sami festival, with reindeer races and other traditional events to mark the end of the polar nights.
If you’ve had enough of fjords, why not hop over to the Lofoten Islands, an archipelago that seems to take all the prettiest bits of Norway and cram them together. Most people start off on Austvagoy. You can drift through the narrow Trollfjord (yes, watch out for trolls) and visit cute little villages such as Henningsvaer.
Oslo, the capital, has many attractions, not least the Munch museum dedicated to the life and work of Edvard Munch, Norway’s most famous painter (all those prints of The Scream on student walls add up). If you fancy walking away with a copy of his most famous work, you won’t be the first. He painted four versions of The Scream, one was stolen from the National Gallery in 1994 and another in 2004. Both were eventually recovered.
Norway’s maritime history are commemorated in a group of museums including the Viking Ship museum and the Kon-Tiki museum, which holds the famous boat that Norwegian explorer Thor Heyerdahl used to sail from Peru to Polynesia in 1947.