The sun shines low in the sky just after midnight over a frozen coastline near the Norwegian Arctic town of Longyearbyen (Francois Lenoir / Reuters)
Norway, Europe's Nordic Country to the North and the Land of the Midnight Sun, is home to some of the most beautiful natural phenomenons and historical sights in the world. Norway's thousands of miles of coastline have cemented the country's relationship and dependence on the sea for thousands of years, and natives are proud of its awesome beauty. It may be cold in the winter, but despite what you may think, it doesn't snow all the time!
Vigeland Park, Oslo
A child toboggans down snow covered steps past sculptures in the Vigeland Sculpture Park in Oslo (Toby Melville / Reuters)
This park, designed by the famous Gustave Vigeland, is home to some 192 sculptures that are an artistic statement about the quintessential themes of life. The sculptures show man in different stages of development- physically, mentally, emotionally and politically. Visitors can walk along the bridge and look at the granite statues with names like angry boy, one of the parks most popular statues. Its other highlights include sculptures such as The Fountain, The Monolith, and The Wheel of Life.
Holmenkollen and Skiing
The city of Oslo is pictured in the distance on a winters day (Scanpix Norway / Reuters)
The Holmenkollen Ski Jump is a jaw-dropping sight as you stand at the bottom, looking up. You have to see it to understand the scale. It was part of the Olympic Hill for the 1952 Winter Olympic Games and has been used for professional ski jumping events ever since. While visitors can't attempt a ride down the slope, it's an awesome view from the top. To get your snow bunny fix in, visitors can ski at many of the surrounding slopes in Oslo, as well as the rest of the country.
Akershus Fortress and Castle
Akershus Fortress and castle (Flickr/ jimg94)
The fortress has been around since the 12th century, but was rebuilt in 1592 to include a renaissance castle. Guided tours of 15 rooms are available in English, once a day from June to August. Inside the fortress, there are many different museums containing centuries of historical artifacts and relics. Guests can also visit the free public park on the grounds. If you happen to be around at 13:30 (1:30 pm), be sure to watch the changing of the guard.
Vikingskipshuset (Flickr/ Kenny Louie)
In honor of Norway's ties to the sea, the Viking Ship Museum holds the massive Viking ships Oseberg and Gokstad. A few fragments remain of a third ship, The Tune, which was excavated in 1867. All three ships were built in the 9th century and were once used as tombs for nobility. Visitors can see the true size, grandeur prowess of these unique ships as well as other artifacts from the Viking era. Be sure to take time to read about Viking history and its effect on Norway, past and present.
Bygdoy Peninsula (danperry.livejournal.com)
The Bygdøy Peninsula holds some of Oslo's top attractions in one small place. Only a short drive from the city center in Oslo, Bygdoy remains a rural town full of history and quaint charm. The Norwegian Folk Museum is only a 15-minute walk from the Viking Ship Museum (mentioned above). Further down, the Kon-Tiki, Polarship Fram and Norwegian Maritime museums are clustered together to make seeing everything simple and easy. Besides the museums, visitors can wander around the town, take a walk along the shore, and dip their toes into the sea (if it's not too cold!).
Visit the Islands on the Fjord
Fjords in Norway (Flickr/ Shannon Kringen)
A Fjord is a long, narrow inlet with steep sides or cliffs, created in a valley carved by glacial activity. Norway, along with the other Scandinavian countries, is famous for them. The best way to see them is by boat. Many cruise ships offer special trips through the Fjords, but you can also spend a little more time admiring them by visiting one of the many islands inside the Fjords. Hovedøya, or the Main Island, is the closest to Oslo and has a sand beach, harbor, cafes, and the ruins of an old monastery- prefect for a relaxing day. Gressholmen og Rambergøya, or Bunny Island, is full of rabbits and is very popular with little kids. Visitors can camp on Langøyene Island, and Lindøya Island has seen the gentrification of its tiny, brightly colored cottages, which are now a hot commodity for millionaires.
Mount Fløyen, Bergen
Mount Floyen, Bergin (www.tripwow.tripadvisor.com)
Moving east to Bergen, the electric railway takes you 320 meters above the city in just 5 minutes. Riders can choose from different stops along the way, each with their own unique view of the town. Once at the top, visitors can see spectacular views of Bergen and the ocean beyond. There are cafes and gift shops and the top, and you can spend a day walking around the town, enjoying the ocean and the Norwegian Countryside.
The railway opens at 7:30 Monday-Friday, 8:00 Saturday, and 9:00 Sunday. Last trip down is midnight May-August, 11:30PM Semptember-April with departures every 15 minutes.
Fish Market, Bergen
Bergen fish market (luke72.it)
The houses on the Bryggen (wayfaring.info)
While you're wandering around Bergen, make sure to stop at the fish market on the Torget. Open every day, the market has a constant supply of every kind of fresh fish along the Nordic coast. Along with salmon, lobster, crab, trout and codfish, you can also find fruit, vegetables, flowers and souvenirs. The market is a meeting place for fishermen from all over the world, from Spain to Italy to Sweden. The market is also a short walk from the Bryggen (wharf) and the wooden houses dating back thousands of years to the times of the Hanseatic League.
See more of Norway
Trees are seen reflected in river Drammenselva during autumn (Scanpix Scanpix / Reuters)
If you want to see even more of this beautiful country (especially the northern parts, which don't usually see a lot of tourism) there are tours that make it easy. The "Norway in a nutshell" tour can be done in one day and goes by rail, bus and boat to take you through most of the types of nature Norway has to offer.
Norwegian farms are reflected in the still waters of a fjord in western Norway (Bob Strong / Reuters)
If you want to rough it for more of a Nordic experience, you can see glaciers, Fjords, Mountains, Stave churches, cities and much more by backpacking around the country. Groups like https://www.nordic-experience.no offer inclusive packages for the more rugged travelers.
Steam rise off the sea in Oslo harbour in Oslo (Toby Melville / Reuters)
Visitors can also take a train along the Nordic countryside to see Norway's beauty in style. Trains from Bergen to Geilo allow travelers to see gorgeous wintery mountainous views all year long.
For more information on visiting Norway go to: www.visitnorway.com/en/