A place filled with dramatic landscapes and picturesque towns, Norway is ripe with cultural and natural beauty. This Scandinavian country’s charm is tangled in both the splendor of Mother Nature and rich traditions. From Oslo’s bustling city to the Northern Lights’ magical displays, Norway offers up a plethora of attractions for travelers hoping to experience something magnificent.
10 Unforgettable Sites to See in Norway
1. The Northern Lights
Norway is home to the incredible natural phenomena, the Aurora borealis or Northern Lights. At the right time of the year, visitors can enjoy a display of luminous hues of pink, green, blue, and violet. You are more likely to witness the magic of the Northern Lights between late September and late March – since most of Northern Norway is completely dark from early afternoon to late morning. The best places to catch nature’s own light show include the cities of Tromsø, Trondheim, and Svalbard.
2. The Fjords
It’s clear to see why these protected lakes are one of the most stunning places to visit in Norway. A fjord is a deep, narrow and elongated sea or lake drain, with steep land on three sides. It is formed when a glacier retreats and the sea fills the resulting valley floor. Eerily silent and surrounded by high mountains and waterfalls, these glacial valleys give the region an ethereal beauty. Two of the Fjords, Geirangerfjord and the Nærøyfjord are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites – but any of the Fjords are bound to leave you breathless.
3. The Atlanterhavsveien (The Atlantic Road)
Driving the Atlanterhavsveien, or Atlantic Roadis, a must for anyone visiting Norway. The road is an 8.3-kilometre (5.2 mi) stretch running through an archipelago and crosses an unsheltered part of the Norwegian Sea, connecting the island of Averøy with the mainland. Make sure to stop for pictures when you get to the Storseisundet Bridge section; a famous cantilever bridge which curves dramatically 23 meters (75 ft) above the sea.
A quaint port town scattered over a row of islands on the western coast of Norway, Ålesund thrives on its fishing industry – not to mention the breathtaking scenic backdrop! Rebuilt in a vibrant and colorful Art Noveau style after a fire in 1904, it boasts expansive views from Mount Aksla, charming shopping experiences, and a lively community. Ålesund is also the entrance to the aforementioned UNESCO listed Geirangerfjord – so you can tick two attractions off your list when you visit this incredible little city.
It’s not hard to see why this beautiful town inspired the Disney animation film, Frozen. Bergen is romantic and rainy, and possibly one of the prettiest cities to visit in Norway. Interspersed with medieval buildings, colorful timber houses, and Norwegian churches – this delightful place offers travelers museums, quirky local shops, and alfresco cafes. Perhaps Bergen’s biggest attraction is that it also happens to be the gateway to the famous Fjords.
Norway’s cosmopolitan capital had to be featured. Home to nearly 700,000 people, it is the largest city in this Scandinavian nation. Culture enthusiasts will delight in the bustling city’s collection of historical buildings and museums. The Akershus Fortress, Oslo Cathedral, and the Royal Palace are just some of the architectural gems the Norwegian capital boasts. In contrast, the city’s contemporary side is showcased in the designs of the Oslo Opera House and the impressive City Hall. Both the old and the new meet here in the capital – and there is beauty to be marveled at on every corner.
7. Lofoten Islands
A famously beautiful collection of Norwegian islands, the unspoiled archipelago called Lofoten Islands is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. However, it is also one of the most significant natural attractions to behold in the Scandinavian country. Although the islands are located within the Arctic Circle, they experience warmer temperatures due to the Gulf Stream. The islands’ community is beautifully traditional, and it’s where life is simple, and tourism is kept to a minimum. Whale watching on the still blue waters and splendid walks with dramatic mountain scenes await you on Lofoten Islands – and to amplify the experience you can stay in a cozy fisherman’s cabin.
Lovers of untouched landscapes will instantly fall in love with the frozen archipelago, Svalbard. Located between the Arctic Ocean, the Norwegian Sea, the Greenland and the Barents Sea – the archipelago makes for an extraordinarily mysterious and beautiful place – especially with the pristine glaciers and wild craggy mountains. Svalbard is one of the northernmost permanently inhabited areas in the world, with less than 3,000 people populating the area. A majestic destination to experience in Norway, visitors can enjoy the sight of polar bears, reindeer, polar foxes and walruses all roaming the wild, lonely lands.
9. Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
Just a short drive outside the lovely Norwegian city of Stavanger, Preikestolen is one of the country’s most beloved landmarks. Similar to Trolltunga, the Pulpit Rock is a natural panoramic platform suspended above a deep fjord. From the edge of the rock, you gaze down on Lysefjorden – a staggering 604 meters below. The flat rock surface measures about 25 by 25 meters, meaning you can take in some of the best panoramic views from this spot.
10. Nigardsbreen Glacier
Often viewed from afar, glaciers are incredible natural wonders that should be enjoyed up-close. That’s precisely what you can do at Nigardsbreen in Norway. An experienced guided tour of this vast glacier is an incredible attraction to take part in. The accessible branches of Josteldalsbreen glacier give you the chance to walk along and stare into the blue, crystal-like ice structure.
From the corners of its lively cities, the deep crevices of every Fjord, and the Northern Lights’ celestial beauty, the magic never ends in this Scandinavian nation; Norway is filled with it.