With its majestic fjords, quiet rural villages and sophisticated capital, Norway has become an unexpected favorite destination for many – including me. I start each visit in Oslo, the capital city, which has a beautiful location along the Oslo Fjord. Oslo is home to half a million people, including the royal family. The daily Changing of the Guards ceremony at the Royal Palace is a must-see.
Norway hasn’t always had such a regal history. It was once the land of Vikings. The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo celebrates the country’s fierce warrior past, and has some of the best preserved Viking ships in existence.
The Norwegians have long since given up their warring ways, but they are still explorers at heart. Many of the world’s top polar explorers have been Norwegians. Oslo’s Fram Museum houses the vessel used by early Norwegian explorers to the North and South Poles.
My favorite stop in Oslo is the Norsk Folkemuseum, an open-air museum which brings Norway’s traditions and culture to life. Historic homes, barns and a stave church have been carefully preserved here.
You can’t visit Norway without exploring some of its natural wonders. From Oslo, board the Bergen Railroad, which winds through the rich farmland of central Norway. Continue on the breathtaking Flåm Railway, a steep journey that winds past spectacular waterfalls and through dramatic mountain ranges. In the village of Flåm, board a boat for a cruise through the Sognefjord, one of the world’s longest and deepest fjords.
After cruising the Sognefjord, it’s just a short train ride to the port town of Bergen. The Bryggen District along the wharf dates back to 1360, when it was a center of the Hanseatic League. Today, its brightly colored wooden houses are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whether you visit the cosmopolitan streets of Oslo, the historic harbors of Bergen
or the majestic Norwegian fjords, Norway is one destination that you’ll want to return to.
If You Go
Author Bio: Janna Graber is a managing editor at GoWorldTravel.com. She has covered travel around the world for more than 40 publications, and is the author of three travel anthologies from WorldTravelerPress.com