Norway may not have been on your radar as a must visit destination before you started reading this overview – but I bet it will be by the time you are done!
I recently had the pleasure of having my favorite colleague from Norway join me for a video chat and that colleague would be Mats Fredriksen from Lost in Norway – which is a destination management company / tour operator based in Norway. Mats presented us with a fabulous look at what Norway has to offer as far as culture, gastronomy, adventure and so much more.
But don’t take my word for it – read on to see just why this small country made such a huge impact on me! On your marks, get set, go!
Company Background: Mats first made it clear that Lost in Norway doesn’t focus on the entire country – but rather six destinations where you can explore mostly everything that’s considered a highlight – or something you would want to experience - in the country. But that doesn’t mean they won’t create itineraries for you elsewhere – it’s just that their main focus is on the six we are going to explore below.
Country Background: As Max referred to it – it’s a magic little kingdom that is a hidden gem in Northern Europe. And he pointed out that a lot of Americans love Norway due to the fact that a lot of Norwegians left to become Americans in the past and thus there is are deep connections between the two countries. Fun Fact: He had twenty-five families looking to reunite with their Norwegian roots just last summer alone! The country itself is very small – just five million residents – but it is an exceptionally long country – with the second longest coastline in the world – only beaten by Canada. As for its topography – the roads in Norway were built by Germany during World War II and hence they didn’t have time to blast through the mountains and fjords - so you’ll find many of them zig zagging through the mountains making for some interesting drives!
Destinations: As I previously stated, Lost in Norway focuses on six major destinations within the country where they offer their experiences. Let’s check them out!
Oslo: Mats advised that the best way to travel to Norway is to fly into Oslo – as it is a major hub and easily accessible to the rest of the country by train, bus or flight. It has the distinction of being the only major city in the country and has a population of about 700,000 residing within the city and 1.5 million residing in the Oslo region.
Bergin: There are three ways to get to Bergin from Oslo. You can travel by car – which is about a six to eight hour ride depending on how many stops you make, you can fly – which is about a forty minute flight or you can take the train – which Mats assured us it the best way to go!
Stavanger: Stavanger is known as The Oil City due to the fact that a lot of the oil workers live here. To get to Stavanger you can take the train from Oslo (in fact the only train to here is out of Oslo), you can drive, you can take a flight or you can take a boat ride from Bergen. Stavanger is home to many different soft adventures.
The town also contains a historical section called Old Town. Here you will find numerous wooden buildings from the turn of the 18th century with most of them being small, white cottages. The area also has many galleries and arts and crafts shops.
You can spot The Swords of Stavanger on the coastline – which is a monument composed of three gigantic bronze swords that are in homage to a Viking battle of the past.
Pulpit Rock is extremely popular tourist attraction. Preikestolen (which means pulpit rock) is actually very steep cliff with a very flat top. One nice thing about Pulpit Rock is that you can take guided tours to the top that will take you off the beaten path, so it’s not so crowded on the way up. And here is a great time to point out that Norway is very conscious of over tourism and implemented tours like these to get a handle on it. Fun Fact: Pulpit Rock was featured in a scene from the last Mission Impossible movie.
The Fjords: I’m quite sure you heard of the term fjord before – maybe you aren’t sure exactly what a fjord it? No worries! According to dictionary.com a fjord is “a long, narrow, deep inlet of the sea between high cliffs, as in Norway, typically formed by submergence of a glaciated valley.” You’re welcome! In Norway there are numerous fjords – all breathtakingly beautiful – each with their own history.
The most popular ones are Sognefjord Fjord and Hardanger Fjord, and both are close to Bergen which is why Bergen is referred to as the Gateway to Fjords. Mats told us he is actually from a small village in Sognefjord and that those magnificent views meant nothing to him growing up. That all changed once he started working in travel and began to appreciate them in different way. He also is in awe of the history of it all – the fact that glaciers formed these fjords as they were retracting, and the result was this gorgeous landscape.
Via Ferrata is a steel cable that runs along the mountainside that enables you to climb it as they did in the old days. However – if you are not up for that kind of adventure there is a cable car that goes to top. Your reward is a restaurant that is 1000 meters above sea level (0.62 miles) with incredible views The views are an amazing part of the wellness that resides in Norway as they are a spiritual experience that really bring you back to being one with nature.
History: Also, in Sognefjord you can visit Urnes Stave Church a 600-year-old wooden structure. Side Note: According to Wikipedia a stave church is “A medieval wooden Christian church building once common in north-western Europe.”
Alesund: Alesund is known as The Adventure Capital – soft adventures that is! It is also a great place to recharge your batteries and make a spiritual connection to nature – offering a host of meditational views - which used to be inaccessible - but thanks to cable cars it is easier for those who don’t hike to reach them and thus to take advantage of them.
Tromso: So because Norway is so long it actually has two high seasons – one in the northern part of the country and one in the southern part of the country. Turns out that Tromso is good for both seasons! Why? Well in the winter from September to March it is a great opportunity to spot the northern lights – with the end of January to March being the best time thanks to not much rain or snow. And in the summer? The chance to experience the midnight sun – which means no darkness as the sun does not set - which runs from mid-May through to mid-July.
Sightseeing and Activities: This is also the most professional destination in Norway according to Mats as everything is interconnected. There are lots of activities that are created around northern lights viewing such as snowshoe hiking under the northern lights, eating dinner at a reindeer camp and catching a glimpse of the norther lights, evening dog sledding with the northern lights or – my favorite - renting a small cabin about two hours south that features a glass roof so you can lay in bed and watch the northern lights!
You can go whale watching in Tromso too! It is seasonal and the highest chance of seeing them is from November 1st through to the end of January.
And all my dog lovers out there - you must visit Tromso’s wilderness center to see and pet 300 adorable huskies!
Accommodations: The hotels tend to be smaller hotels in small villages and can be likened to a 3- or 4-star property – however Norway does not use star ratings. Mats was quick to point out – proudly – that the level of service is always 5-star in any of the accommodations he uses.
Updated COVID-19 Information: As of this writing travel the CDC recommends travelers avoid all nonessential international travel to Norway.
For the CDC’s most up to date information on COVID-19 click here. And for the most up to date entry requirements click here.
Thoughts? I know you just added it to your list! Wink, wink. Besides the awe-inspiring views the mountains and fjords offer Norway is very accessible. It’s super easy to get around the country via train or ferry making it a country that you can see in just one trip there. And remember – Mats is my on the ground contact and together we can curate the perfect itinerary for your Norwegian adventure!
For more details on things to see and do in Norway, where to stay, it’s price points and more - contact your Travel Guru! Oh, and if you need a payment plan to fund your travel adventure – we got those too!
During the shutdown of Covid19, Loulu Lima began interviewing many tourism boards, destination management companies and suppliers whom BHGH works with in the curation of your itineraries.
Here you will find the videos as well as written summary of each. Summaries are transcribed by Carole A. Peck.
Video post production managed by MotionDash.Media
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