Whatever the case may be, Norway is most definitely a land full of natural wonders - be it the fjords, mountains or the unbelievable Northern Lights that is on so many traveler's bucket list. Not many places on earth offer an opportunity to witness the spectacular ‘Aurora Borealis’ than Norway.
Our decision to visit this beautiful country with our family was mainly to explore the Norwegian Fjords. We traveled in August - a time of year that is too late for the Midnight Sun and yet too early for the Northern Lights.
Our first visit was to the charming city of Bergen, since it serves as a feasible and accessible gateway to the world's second longest fjords - The Sognefjord. I have seen countless pictures of these natural beauties and imagined myself at the peaceful lake, surrounded by tall mountains, gushing waterfalls and stunning scenery, and this place truly delivered.
The Sognefjord tour started with an Express Boat journey from Bergen pier (located at Bryggen) to Flam. The boat we were booked was quite large with a passenger capacity of 200 persons and two decks. The fjords are seen during this five hour ride with photo-stops made at some of the most spectacular sights.
By the time we arrived in Flam, it was noon. We were given an hour to marvel at the scenery, enjoy some lunch and take pictures. Following this, we boarded a slow train to Myrdal with breath-taking views of gently rolling hills and cottages. At Myrdal, we changed trains to return to Bergen.
The Hardangerfjord and The Geirangerfjord are also popular fjords that are worth a visit. The Geirangerfjord tour will take a longer time to complete when compared to Sognefjord or the Hardangerfjord.
Back to the city of Bergen, the Old Wharf (locally called Bryggen) is the oldest hub for trade in Norway. It goes back to almost a thousand years. It is located next to the world famous Fish Market and the characteristic parallel rows of old wooden buildings along the harbor front in Bergen is one of the most popular pictures associated with the place. Bryggen has its share of cafes, bars and some delicious seafood restaurants such as Two Chefs and Enhjorningen.
The Bergen Tourist Information Centre is located near the Fish Market if one needs any kind of help going out and about in this city.
After Bergen, our next stop was Oslo, regarded as one of the most exciting cities in Europe, and also easy to explore on foot. Longer distances however were covered by trams, trains and buses. The public transport there made the city easily accessible without a car.
Oslo is packed with lots of activities all year round. Some of them are free too, such as the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park, which is Oslo's top attraction. It is the world's largest sculpture park with over 200 sculptures, built by a single artist.
And if you are a nature lover, then check out Oslo's Botanical Garden that is designed as an arboretum or even better, the Nordmarka Forest (Oslo's giant forest within city limits) where you can spend an entire day hiking, trekking, swimming, fishing or simply chilling by the lake. There is guaranteed fun for even the little ones who can have an enjoyable game of hide-and-seek.
So if you are travelling with family, fear not for Oslo has something for everyone.
Besides, if you have missed Bergen and its fjords, then you can definitely make it up here at Oslo with a tour to the scenic Oslofjord to get an idea of what the fjords are all about. You could also take a tour of the Hardangerfjord starting from Oslo, but overnight stays in one of the stops along the route would be required.
To see some of the residential places in Norway, we decided to take a day trip to a little town called Snaroya. There was a tiny little cove with a beach, but the water was too chilly for us even in August. My daughter was bold enough to attempt a dive in, only to come out shivering. So we ended up spending the day sun-bathing, making sand-castles and relaxing while watching sail-boats drift by.
One of the places I wished to see was Tromso. It is considered as the best place to chase the Northern Lights if one were to travel in winter. Some of the most interesting activities here are whale-watching, husky-safari, reindeer-sledding and polar fishing with visits to the polar museum.
Summer in Tromso gives you the opportunity to experience beautiful Arctic landscape, white sandy beaches, troll-like mountains, historical old city of Tromso and the open sea. You might also encounter reindeers while here.
So, the next time you feature Europe in your holiday plans, do try out Norway.
- Staff Report