Norway’s Mysterious Norse Myths and Legends
Norway is one of the most popular travel destinations in the world, with countless people ranking it at the top of the list of countries they want to visit. Behind Norway’s well-known and varied tourist attractions, there’s a wealth of culture and history, including interesting myths and legends. In this article, we’ll look at some of the Norwegian folklore and legends that provide the backdrop for some of the biggest attractions in the country.
You may be surprised to know that there are plenty of places you can go today to connect to old Norse mythology and Norwegian folk tales!
Norse gods and mythology have seen a resurgence of interest over the past few decades, as Hollywood movies and TV shows such as Thor and Vikings have had huge success. But Norse mythology and folklore legends are much more than what the average person may realize, with many interesting mythological creatures and stories. The folk tales and mythology of a country offer an interesting look at the history and culture of the place, and Norway is a fantastic example of this. Alongside the well-known and rich Norse mythology, there are plenty of folklore legends and mythical creatures passed down from generation to generation of Norwegians.
Folklore from Norway often centers around mythical beings like trolls and giants, but it also revolves around natural phenomena like the aurora borealis. One of the biggest attractions for people traveling to Norway is to see the fascinating northern lights in person. The aurora borealis is an interesting natural phenomenon, and since the north of Norway is a fantastic place to see these bright lights dancing across the sky, plenty of visitors come in search of this stunning sight.
These days, we understand the science behind the northern lights, but this natural wonder was shrouded in mystery in the past. It’s not surprising that the lights have inspired plenty of myths, legends, and folklore. In Norse mythology, the aurora borealis was believed to be Bifrost, the burning bridge connecting Åsgard (the realm of the gods) to Midgard (Earth). Popular myths and folklore also suggested that the lights were reflections of the bright shields of the mythical Valkyrie who would lead those who had fallen in battle to Valhalla.
One of the best places to experience the Northern Lights in Norway is in Tromsø. Although nothing is guaranteed, this Arctic city has a very high occurrence of the lights, and visiting at the right time gives you the best chance of seeing the lights. We have several Northern Lights Activities to choose from!
The mountain and cave-dwelling giants Jötnar feature prominently in Norse mythology and aren’t as well known in popular culture. The Jötnar, also known as Jotuns, were known as enemies of the Norse gods and lived in Jötunheimr, one of the nine Norse worlds. These days, you can walk in the footsteps of the giants by visiting the huge mountain region of Jotunheimen, which means “the home of the Jötunn”.
Jotunheimen is a hugely popular travel destination for those who enjoy hiking, climbing and cycling – here, you’ll find the tallest mountains in Norway and stunning landscapes. The stunning Sognefjord, Norway’s longest fjord, stretches all the way from the home of the Jotuns in the east to the coast along Western Norway. The incredible forces of nature that shaped Norway’s fjords are impressive, and it’s no secret that seeing the Norwegian fjords is at the top of many travelers’ wish list.
The scenic route Trollstigen is another big attraction for Norway that is connected to old Norse mythology. This is a windy stretch of road climbing up to the mountain Stigrøra, which sits 858 meters above sea level. Tourists travel from near and far to experience the interesting driving experience as the mountain road twists through hairpin bends with stunning views of Fjord Norway and its many tall mountains. We highly recommend checking out our UNESCO Geirangerfjord & Trollstigen tour!
Trollstigen is called The Troll’s Road in English, and many visitors may be confused about the unusual name. Trolls feature prominently in Norwegian myths and legends, and these mythical creatures are often portrayed in popular culture and Norwegian society. In fact, several places and landmarks in Norway are named after trolls – the Trollstigen mountain pass and the world-famous Trolltunga (Troll's Tongue) rock formation in Western Norway.