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Norway is a country that perfectly combines nature and culture. It’s a huge place, with a lot of variety, so there are loads of fun, exciting and unique adventures to be had all over the country, from east to west and north to south. Read on to discover some experiences you can only have in Norway.
Kjeragbolten is wedged in a mountain crevasse on the edge of the Kjerag mountain in Lysefjord near Stavanger. It is a large block of stone suspended in the air at a terrifying height of 984 metres (1,077 yards), perfect for any thrill-seeking maniacs out there. The hike up to the boulder is difficult and requires good hiking boots as well as plenty of water and sunscreen. It does not require any other special equipment, however. Once you are up there, the boulder provides the perfect setting for a memorable photo.
Korketrekkeren, or ‘the corkscrew’, is a sledding hill just outside Oslo. Originally part of an Olympic venue, it’s now popular because of its handy location alongside two stops on Oslo’s Metro, meaning you can sled down the hill before taking the train back up again. As with skiing, be sure to check the condition of the snow before you set off.
Saltstraumen Maelstrom can be found in Nordland, 30 km (18.5 miles) east of the city of Bodø, in a narrow channel that connects the outer Salfjord with the large Skjerstadfjord. The channel has the strongest tidal current in the world, with water speeds reaching 37 km/h (23 m/h). When the current is at its strongest, huge vortices are formed. Saltstraumen has existed for over 2,000 years and is a really exciting thing to go and see if you need a reminder of just how awesome nature is.
Probably one of the most scenic roads in the world, the Atlantic Road, or Atlanterhavsveien, curves, dips and arches across the Norwegian Sea, connecting an entire archipelago to the mainland. The Norwegian Sea often crashes in over the road, and indeed, the road was subjected to 12 hurricanes just during its construction. The road connects islands in the Møre and Romsdal counties and features four viewpoints and seven bridges, one of which is specifically designed for fishing. The road also serves as a Cultural Heritage Site and was recognised as the Norwegian Construction of the Century.
For a long time, the Jostedal glacier defied global warming and continued to grow. Sadly, in 2006 it lost the battle and started to retreat. In the autumn of 2007, researchers found something phenomenal: a huge, pristine ice cave beneath the Nigardsbreen region of the Jostedal Glacier National Park. One scientist described it as an ‘ice cathedral’. The dome inside the cave is 8 metres (26 feet) high, 30 metres (98 feet) deep and 20 metres (65 feet) wide. The ice cave is easy to get to, but should never be entered without a guide, especially during the summer, when melting increases the likelihood of a collapse.
Going above the Arctic Circle does not necessarily mean being cold. You should not expect tropical temperatures, but the Lofoten Islands are surprisingly warm considering their position. The islands (and northern Norway in general) remain much warmer than other places on the same latitude due to the convergence of the Gulf Stream with two underwater currents, the North Atlantic Current and the Norwegian Current. Røst and Værøy, two towns in Lofoten, have average temperatures above freezing, even in winter.
This Viking church has been overlooking the neighbouring Lustrafjord for the past 900 years. Urnes Stave Church was built in a Norwegian style distinctive of the 11th and 12th centuries. About 30 stave churches remain in Norway, and all of them are worth a visit. Their look incorporates animal figures and delicate traditional Viking carvings within a Christian setting. The Urnes church has been in use ever since it was built. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and offers incredible insight into the cosmology of medieval Scandinavian Christians who combined Norse and Christian mythology.
Situated just north of Bergen, this hotel room was created by local architecture students and has won multiple awards since its completion in 2014. Tubakuba, or ‘rabbit hole’ as it is lovingly referred to, was built to try to get more children to discover the wild Norwegian woods. It is designed to be a place of exploration: you have to crawl inside, to be rewarded with fantastic views over Bergen. The building is deliberately hidden in the woods and is available to rent on a nightly basis for up to five people, with priority given to families.
Norway’s National Day is crazy. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at the normally fashionable Norwegians donning folk costumes that look like they’ve come straight out of the pages of a 19th-century fairy tale. On May 17 every year, on National Constitution Day, normal life is put on hold as people enjoy lavish champagne breakfasts and take part in enormous parades with marching bands.
A Norwegian high school near Oslo recently launched a new one-year course which will teach a small selection of students essential Viking skills, such as smithing, making clothes and accessories from leather and learning to sail in a real (well, reproduction) Viking ship. The course even includes a (hopefully friendly) visit to other Viking hideouts in Denmark. You’ll need to be very lucky, very young and possess massive amounts of enthusiasm and finely honed language skills to get onto the course, but this experience is so unique that we just had to include it.