Featuring some of the world’s most dramatic scenery and characteristic architecture, Norway is easily one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From tiny, traditional villages on the edge of fjords, to colorful towns sprawled over several islands, discover Norway’s most unique and beautiful places to live.
Established in the early 19th century, Ålesund was destroyed in a large-scale fire which consumed most of the town. Like a phoenix from the ashes however, it renewed itself, becoming in the process, one of Norway’s most exquisite and unique towns. Today, its streets are lined with an incredible array of Art Nouveau architecture; with brightly colored houses, unusually peaked and arched roofs, and decorative flourishes on building façades. The town itself sprawls over seven islands, and is intersected with charming waterways and surrounded by the sea and mountains in the background.
Bergen is Norway’s second largest city, yet features as much charm and beauty as many of the country’s quaint towns and sleepy fishing villages. The town is known as the “gateway to the fjords”, and as such is surrounded by breathtaking, unspoiled natural beauty—steep mountains, dramatic waterfalls and astonishing views. Bergen itself lives up to its beautiful surroundings. Cobbled alleyways lined with traditional wooden houses fill the old town quarter, known as Bryggen, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO; while the rest of the town is filled with a unique juxtaposition of architectural styles, from medieval and Art Nouveau, to contemporary design.
Proudly claiming to be one of the best-preserved fortresses in Scandinavia, Fredrikstad is an excellent example of an old European star fort—a beautiful, striking form of architecture. The Old Town was built according to the Dutch model, with wide moats surrounding the six star points and high earth ramparts making it impossible to breach the city. Today the Old Town is filled with a bustling market square, winding, cobbled alleyways and charming, traditional shops selling unique handicrafts and souvenirs. Thanks to its unusual structure, the town is also filled with plenty of lush green spaces, making it a peaceful as well as striking destination.
One of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations, Geiranger has nevertheless managed to retain an unspoiled, authentic feel. While the village itself is beautiful, with charming traditional houses and a white timber church, its natural beauty truly sets Geiranger apart. The tiny village is situated right at the head of the dramatic Geirangerfjord, with sloping, craggy hills providing an awe-inspiring backdrop, and stunning blue waters and steep mountains unfolding at the foot of the village. Take a hike up one of the many mountain paths, past numerous waterfalls and take in the breathtaking views from the top.
Located in the Lofoten archipelago, a stunning cluster of islands off of the north coast of Norway, Henningsvær is a charming fishing village spread over several tiny islands in the vast ocean. The beautiful, traditional Norwegian houses, painted in bright colors or startling white, appear to emerge from the sea, and are reflected in the crystal clear waters. Thanks to its extreme northern location, Henningsvær experiences extraordinary weather conditions. In the winter, snow covers the island, turning the buildings into gingerbread houses, while in summer, the village experiences beautifully clear days and 24-hour daylight.
Longyearbyen is the largest town located on the Svalbard Islands, a cluster found in the Arctic Ocean, and is notable for being the northernmost settlement in the world. The surrounding landscape has an extraordinary, desolated kind of beauty; set in a flat, sweeping valley with steep mountains and a sandy bay bordering its edges, the town is a small, colorful spot amidst the dramatic rock and snow. Longyearbyen is largely made up of rows of charming houses painted a bright red, green, yellow, or blue, contrasting with the sparkling snow which covers the town eight months of the year.
A tiny little fishing village located on the island of Moskenesøya in the gorgeous Lofoten archipelago, Reine draws in thousands of visitors a year despite its diminutive size. The landscape surrounding Reine is simply stunning—the winding streets and brightly colored houses of the village cluster around the calm blue waters of the sea, with lush, sloping green hills forming an idyllic background. Meanwhile, all around the village for miles to see, enormous, snow-capped mountains rise like islands from the ocean, creating a formidable, awe-inspiring view.
Located on the southernmost tip of the island of Karmøy, Skudeneshavn is considered one of Norway’s best preserved and charming small towns. The old town district comprises almost 130 original timber houses, dating back to the 19th century and painted a striking white. Skudeneshavn’s advantageous location on the North Sea coast adds to its beauty; the idyllic-looking white houses frame the clear blue water, while numerous boats cluster busily near the port. Hundreds of boats fill the water in the summer during the annual boating festival, when handicraft markets and traditional folk performances pervade the streets.
Located over 200 miles inside the Arctic Circle, Tromsø greatly benefits from its extreme location. The area is considered one of the best places to view the Northern Lights, and the town itself is filled with nods to its Arctic culture, from an aquarium filled with examples of local wildlife, to the Polar Museum. The town’s surroundings are equally astonishing, with large birch forests and stunning views of the area’s numerous fjords and mountains.
Trondheim is the perfect town for uncovering Norway’s medieval past. The town was founded in 997AD, and was the capital of the country under the Vikings for almost 300 years. As such, there is plenty of beautiful architecture and heritage to be discovered. A stunning example of Gothic architecture, Nidaros Cathedral was one of the most important churches in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages, while the medieval fortress of Sverresborg boasts impressively preserved buildings and now serves as an open-air museum.