All About Norway
Norway is the land of fjords and vikings, the midnight sun and the Northern Lights.
The Scandi-Cool Capital of Oslo
On an island-dotted fjord, Oslo has Edvard Munch’s Scream in the National Gallery, the writhing stone sculptures of the Viglandsparken, the harborside Nobel Peace Prize Museum, and perfectly preserved ninth century longboats in the Viking Ship Museum on Bygdøy peninsula (also home to museums preserving Amundsen’s Polar Ship Fram and Thor Heyerdahl’s Kon Tiki rafts).
Outside of Oslo the entire country seems composed of impossibly dramatic fjords, postcard Nordic villages, and a vast, forested, mountainous interior so sparsely inhabited it feels like traveling back in time—certainly at Trondheim’s massive gothic Nidaros Cathedral, where Norwegian kings are still consecrated atop the grave of St. Olav. Even sunny Bergen, Norway’s second city and former capital, feels like an oversized town, a tidy line of colorful Hanseatic houses hugging the harborfront.
Norway in a Nutshell
Bergen is the jumping-off point for the famous “Norway in a Nutshell” tour, a combination of trains, buses, and boats past colorful hamlets, ribbon waterfalls, and stunning Norwegian scenery that includes one of Europe’s great scenic train rides, the Flåmsbana to Mydal. (For more spectacular scenery, take the slightly longer version that includes a transit of the famous Sognefjord—or take a coastal cruise all the way to Kirkenes near the Russian border.) Keen to see the Northern Lights? Head to Tromsø, well inside the Arctic Circle—and aim for winter.
When to Go to Norway: Norway is at its scenic best in spring and early summer—May to mid-June. Midsummer is when the northern latitudes experience Land of the Midnight Sun status (even in Oslo, the sun doesn’t set until 11pm and rises again at 3am). For the best chance to see the Northern Lights—and fall foliage—come in October, when the temperatures begin to plunge and the nights grow long.
Events and Holidays in Norway:
|Tromsø's Nordlysfestivalen celebrates the return of the sun from its midwinter nap with a week of classical and contemporary music concerts.|
|This is the largest music and cultural festival in the Nordic countries, with many concerts and activities related to contemporary and classical music, dance, opera, literature, visual arts, folklore, and more.|
|Excellent name for Norway's premier rock festival, three days of open-air concerts by local acts and international headliners in Oslo's Frogner Park.|
|The Gladmat festival in Stavanger is Scandinavia's leading food festival, with about 100 exhibitors offering a taste of both new and traditional foods to 250,000 visitors making their way around the grounds.|
|Oslo Jazz Festival showcases hundreds of jazz musicians in all genres of jazz.|
|Ultima is the largest contemporary music festival in Scandinavia—aimed at promoting artistic distinctiveness, trends, and innovation, and staged at venues all around Oslo, from established places such as the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet to small clubs and outdoor stages.|
|Norwegian schoolchildren parade with candles and hand out lussekatt buns to mark Lussinatten, the longest night of the year—ostensibly the feast day of Saint Lucy, but these days more of a kickoff to the Christmas season.|