In addition to its waterfalls, Norway has other attractions to keep you busy taking photos or admiring the scenery. I’ve singled out some of the features that you’re bound to see upon a visit to the Land of a Thousand Waterfalls. Read below to get a brief introduction to these features.
Oslo: It is the capital city of Norway and has many buildings, scuptures, museums, viking ships, and other attractions in the city that demand your attention. There are simply too many to go over here. Needless to say, you haven't seen and experienced Oslo without taking some time to explore this interesting city.
Stave Churches (Stavkirker): Constructed since the Middle Ages, these churches are uniquely Norwegian and worth a look. We happened to pass by the one in Heddal, but you'll have opportunities to see other churches in other parts of the country. The best preserved of the stave churches is the one in Borgund.
Lyse Fjord (Lysefjorden): This was one fjord where I regretted not spending more time. It is one of the most famous fjords in Norway because it features a pair of attractions - Preikestolen (the Pulpit Rock) and Kjerag. We didn't have time to visit these attractions, but they are on our must-do list for our next trip to Norway. Preikestolen is a flat rocky outcrop that juts out into the Lyse Fjord before dropping off vertically into the fjord! I'm sure if you've seen books or postcards of Norway, you've probably seen a photo of this. Kjerag is where a rock is wedged between two precipitous cliffs at the head of the Lyse Fjord. Many people test their fear of heights to prove that they stood on this rock to impress their friends and family back home.
Bergen: It is perhaps the most charming and most scenic of the Norwegian cities. Nestled in the middle of Fjord Norway, it features historical buildings, a bustling wharf, numerous bridges, and picturesque mountains backing this port city. Many famous Norwegians are also linked to this city. I tend to think of this place as kind of Norway's rival to San Fransisco, except it probably has more intimate charm than its metropolitan counterpart in the States.
The Lærdal Tunnel (Lærdalstunnelen): Running 24km under the mountains between Aurland and Lærdal, it is one of the longest tunnels in the world. In a country full of tunnels, this one is the cream of the crop. There are blue-lit "ice" sections at the 8km and 16km points in the tunnel giving you the sensation you went through ice (though it's real purpose was to break up the monotony of driving under conventional tunnel lighting). While I'm normally not big on man-made attractions, I have to admit this one impressed me.
Glacier Arms of the Jostedal Glacier (Jostedalsbreen): The Jostedal Glacier is the largest glacier in continental Europe. Branching off this massive ice field are several glacier arms that allow tourists to get a taste of what the glaciers are like. There are way too many glacier arms to mention in this section, which gives you an idea of just how big the Jostedal Glacier is.
Among the more popular glacier arms are the Briksdal Glacier (Briksdalsbreen) and Nigard Glacier (Nigardsbreen). To get to the terminus of these glaciers, you'll have to do some walking (though in some cases, you can pay for a ride to get closer). If you really want to get on the ice, you can book a glacier walking tour, where equipment is provided to ensure you can safely grip the ice.
Fjord Norway: Dominating the western coasts of Norway are dramatic fjords. A fjord, by the way, are steep-walled valleys gouged out by ancient glaciers and flooded by sea waters (from rising oceans at the end of the latest Ice Age). While most of Norway's waterfalls are found in these fjords, the sheer magnitude and shape are worth spending the money to take a cruise within them. Moreover, many of Norway's roads actually hug the shores and cliffs of these magnificent fjords.
While there are way too many fjords to mention and describe in this limited section (beyond the scope of this website), I will say that the fjords pictured here are the Luster Fjord (Lustrafjorden; pictured above) and the Geiranger Fjord (Geirangerfjorden; pictured to the right).
Rondane and Dovrefjell National Parks: In addition to being popular Norwegian hiking areas, these national parks are also habitats for megafauna such as the last remaining wild reindeer herds, lynxes, oxen, wolves, and even bears. While my experience here is only limited to waterfalls in Rondane, I can totally see why it's popular with the locals. Heck, I can even fancy following the famed Peer Gynt Trail (which you have to do part of anyways to see Vesleulfossen), which playwright Henrik Ibsen made so famous.
Roms Valley (Romsdalen): While this valley features numerous waterfalls, I have to mention some of the towering vertical cliffs you'll be passing under as you make your way through. Such cliffs have sparked comparisons to the incomparable Yosemite Valley. Among the monoliths and cliffs that watch over the valley are Trollveggen, which has the tallest overhanging cliff in Northern Europe at over 1000m. It poses quite a challenge for daring rock climbers. The valley also features the Norwegian Matterhorn in Romsdalshorn.
Trondheim: This charming city in Central Norway was once the capital of the country. It is a great city for getting around on foot to see its attractions and experiencing the essence of the mix of traditional and modern Norway. Among its greatest attractions is the Nidaros Cathedral, Scandinavia's largest medieval building.
The Midnight Sun: During the weeks surrounding the summer solstice in late June, a trip north of the Arctic Circle will allow you to experience the midnight sun. We've taken full advantage of the 24-hour daylight to start some of our hikes as late as 11pm! But peering into the deep orange glow of the sun against dark blue and purple skies over the fjords of the North Sea is truly something special that you can only experience in a place like Norway. There's nothing quite like it. I guarantee it will be one of the most unforgettable experiences during your visit to Norway if you make it up this far.
The Serpentine Roads: Given its rugged mountainous terrain, Norway is full of curvaceous, narrow, and steep serpentine roads. These type of roads test your nerves behind the wheel (as well as your brakes and transmission) while providing you with some of the best scenery the country has to offer. The most famous of these roads is Trollstigen (translated as the Troll Ladder) in Møre og Romsdal county and Stalheimskleiva in the northern boundary of Hordaland county.
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