There are many attractions in Norway that make it popular with millions of visitors every year. It is mostly the unspoiled wilderness that makes the country so appealing, but the fjords that dominate the western coast are definitely the country’s greatest asset. With a large portion of the country falling within the Arctic Circle and outlying islands forming inimitable wildlife reserves, Norway is equally attractive for visitors seeking a unique nature experience in this winter wilderness. Norway also has its fair share of cultural gems, and the country’s association with the seafaring explorers of the past, the Vikings, affords an interesting historical experience.
The steep and stark vertical cliffs that surround the fjords dominate the landscape if you enter the country by cruise ship. With ethereal clouds floating across the sky and verdant vegetation hugging the rising slopes, a trip to the fjords of Norway is undoubtedly an unforgettable experience. Formed millions of years ago by glaciers carving their way through the rock face, these long, narrow channels are filled with blue-green waters as the rainwater rolls off the mountains and down streams to reach the sea. The fjords are the main attraction in Norway, bringing several hundred thousand visitors to one of the many inlets along the west coast. Two of the most popular are Geirangerfjord and Naeroyfjord, which were awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2005 due to their geographic importance, and to preserve their sheer beauty.
Address: Geirangerfjord and Naeroyfjord, western Norway
Website: http://www.geirangerfjord.net/ and http://www.naeroyfjord.com/
The Arctic Circle covers a wide area of Norway, with plenty of things to see and do. Known for its snowy wilderness, the most popular activity is viewing the midnight sun in the summer months, a sun that never sets thanks to the extreme latitude. In the winter, many people take the opportunity to go dog sledding or go offshore for whale watching trips to seabird colonies.
Address: Arctic Circle, far north Norway.
Svalbard is a small archipelago of islands located about 400 miles north of mainland Norway. Still attached to the country, the islands are about half way to the North Pole, situated firmly in the Arctic Circle. They are surprisingly populated by about 3,000 people, and legacy tells they were first used as a whaling base during the 17th and 18th centuries, and then for the coal mining that began in the early 20th century. Today its biggest draw is the Arctic wilderness which attracts keen eco-tourists. The Svalbard is home to polar bears and 16 other rare and endangered animals. Bird lovers will relish the opportunity to witness colonies of puffins and Arctic terns.
Address: Svalbard, dependent territory of Norway.
The dazzling display of the Aurora Borealis, more commonly known as the Northern Lights, continues to dazzle and awe everyone that gazes up into the sky. A phenomenon of galactic proportions, it is only possible to see the spectacle in the high latitude Arctic Circle, so Norway provides one of the few places in the world where you are able to view the natural lights show. The best time to see the affects are during winter in northern Norway. For one of the coolest experiences (literally and figuratively), a visit can be combined with a stay at one of the iconic Ice Hotels.
Address: Arctic Circle, northern Norway.
The largest glacier in continental Europe, Jostedalsbreen covers an area of 188 square miles. Its highest point is 6,421 ft. above sea level, although unless a supreme mountaineer, visitors usually head to Briksdalsbreen, an extremely accessible arm of the glacier at 1,135 ft. The glacier lies about 16 miles south of the village of Olden and is reachable via road through Jostedalsbreen National Park.
Address: Jostedalsbreen National Park, Sogn og Fjordane county, western Norway.
There are a number of these memorable accomodations in Norway. The furthest north and the largest is the Alta Igloo Hotel in Finnemark, which offers 20 rooms and a high degree of comfort along with various organized activities like husky trips and viewing of the Northern Lights. There is a "warm" room to store your stuff, shower, and sauna, but you sleep under the night sky cozying up under a reindeer-hide mattress.
Address: Finnemark, northern Norway
Lofotr Viking Museum
Located at the end of a westward peninsula in the far north of Norway, this cultural center provides great insight into the Viking colonies than dominated northern Europe in one of the earliest attempts at building a seafaring empire. History will come alive as you learn about the brash Viking past through visual displays and activities.
Address: Lofotr Viking Museum, Prestegårdsveien 59, Bøstad, northern Norway