Some people travel for food (completely understandable). Others travel for breathtaking vistas, fun activities or just the chance to create an Insta moment where they’re perfectly colour-coordinated with their surroundings. No two travellers are alike – but thankfully, Norway has something for all of us. Read on to find out where your own true north lies in the Land of the Vikings.
Other people might be vexed by the constant sight (and sound) of cranes around Oslo but, if anything, you’re just excited to witness the striking architectural evolution of this vibrant city. Oslo’s transformation started within this past decade – with iconic buildings like the Oslo Opera House, built to look like an iceberg that emerges from the fjord, really setting the tone – and continues tirelessly, as many of the city’s key museums and state buildings are undergoing a complete makeover. There’s The Barcode Project in Bjørvika; twelve buildings that, when seen from afar, resemble a barcode. There are the new and improved neighbourhoods of Vulkan, Tjuvholmen and Sørenga. There’s the new Munch Museum, the new Deichman Library, and the new Norwegian government HQ currently being built. And of course, there’s the Akrobaten bridge, stretching across the tracks of Oslo Central Station and giving you a vantage point from where to photograph everything. There’s a lot going on and you have work to do.
Sorry, but Oslo seems to be winning this one as well. The year 2017 was an especially good one for Oslo, gastronomically speaking. New restaurants kept popping up all over the city, especially in the up and coming neighbourhoods like Tøyen. In just a short stroll (as Oslo is a very compact and easy to walk city), you can find anything from Nordic fine dining and Peruvian ceviche, to gourmet cheese sandwiches, food trucks that serve anything from tacos to Japanese takoyaki (a wheat ball stuffed with octopus), and even authentic ramen. Still hungry?
Thanks to its location in the south of the country, Kristiansand is a favourite holiday destination for Norwegians: it has a beautiful beach, and tons of activities to do with your kids (or your grownup-but-not-so-grownup friends). There’s a dog cafe that serves treats for both your pup and yourself, a 1800s manor where you can take a stroll by the rose garden and pretend you’re in Downton Abbey, a Blue Flag beach where you can go for a swim and, of course, Dyreparken. Dyreparken is Norway’s largest zoo and amusement park: a gigantic entertainment area that comprises several different parks, a zoo, a water park and theme parks inspired by characters from children’s books or cartoons. If you’re not sure where to start, the Pirate Park is a favourite.
If this was Westeros, you’d rather live beyond the Wall. But this is Norway, so you’ll make do with visiting the Arctic circle. Svalbard should be your obvious choice: the Arctic archipelago is one of those places where, no matter where you go, you’ll find something to gawk at. Whether that something is jagged cliffs, icebergs, polar bears, the Vault that protects humanity’s seeds in case of an apocalypse, the northernmost human settlement, or simply the Northern Lights at night, one thing is for sure: Svalbard will take your breath away (while freezing it).
If a place looks like a post-card, then you want to be in it – preferably wearing matching clothes. The picturesque city of Bergen, with its signature yellow, blue, and red wooden houses, is just your cup of tea: stroll (and snap photos) around the historical Bryggen wharf, visit the Hanseatic Museum and then sit for a coffee or a beer and a hearty meal in one of the cute little cafes and restaurants. It will probably be raining, as Bergen is the European capital of rainfall – but that will only add to the charming atmosphere, won’t it?
Norway is not lacking in stunning beaches – and many of them are located in the Lofoten archipelago. Kvalvika beach, for instance, is situated on the northern side of the island of Moskenes (Moskenesøy in Norwegian). This is as isolated a beach as they get: it will take you about an hour’s hike to get there, but when you find yourself surrounded by mountains and greeted only by the clear waters and breathtaking views, you’ll realise it was totally worth it.
Not sure if you noticed, but nature in Norway is like love in Love, Actually: all around you. From the lace-like fjords to the glacier lakes, and from the lush forests to the hiking trails up the mountains, there’s almost nowhere in Norway where you will feel far removed from nature. If you can’t decide where to begin, just hop on the Flåm Railway and let the green scenery unfold around you, while you plan your next adventure.