Unique experiences in Norway
Norway is a deceptively long country with thousands of kilometers of coastline, islands, and fjords. If you were able to pivot the country 180 degrees from Oslo, the tip of Norway would reach all the way down to the boot of Italy! In such a long and varied landscape, you are bound to find some truly unique experiences.
What resonates with people the most is the breathtaking nature to be found in Norway with UNESCO-preserved sites dotted throughout the country. The highest mountains in Northern Europe, Aurora Borealis, and snow-sure winters have lured and enchanted tourists for centuries.
Here, we try to capture some of the most unique experiences you can find in Norway.
The Norwegian fjord landscape, formed at the end of the last ice age when the glaciers retreated and the valleys were flooded by the sea. Geirangerfjord and Nærøyfjord are two of the most well known (and most visited) and have been placed on UNESCO's prestigious World Heritage List.
The fjords and coast have a relatively mild climate thanks to the Gulf Stream, and they remain largely ice-free even in winter. Seals, porpoises, and various fish species enjoy themselves, while eagles and other birds soar in the skies above.
The fjords are often very deep, Sognefjord the deepest, has depths down to 1,308 meters. This provides the perfect route for cruise ships to venture in from the open sea for an up-close and personal encounter with the mountains.
- Read More: The Fjords of Norway
Norway has between 230 and 300 mountain peaks over 2,000 meters. The exact number depends on the definition you use. There are 1000 mountain peaks in Norway of at least 1,650 meters above sea level.
Galdhøpiggen, at 2,469 meters above sea level, is Northern Europe's highest mountain and was first climbed in 1850 by a group of three men from the nearby village of Lom: a teacher, a church singer, and a farmer. The mountain is located in Jotunheimen National Park and Lom remains a popular gateway and basecamp to the mountains today.
A close second to Galdhøpiggen is Glittertind at 2,464 meters above sea level. Both can be climbed in different ways via different routes depending on desire and skill level.
At the base of the glacier below Galdhøpiggen, you will also find one of Norway’s three summer skiing destinations, Galdhøpiggen Summer Ski Center. National teams from around the world come here to train between May and September.
The Viking is probably one of Norway’s most famous (read infamous) exports. Reviving or at least preserving the history of the Viking culture is a popular theme in Norway and has catered to the purpose of tourism and marketing extremely well. Today, you can experience the culture of our forefathers in several places whether on a Viking cruise or in a museum.
Who were the Vikings?
A Viking was a merchant, farmer, or sea warrior from the Nordic countries in the Viking Age between 800 and 1050AD. The Vikings went on expeditions to Europe where they sometimes traded and often plundered, taking the goods home to the motherland.
The English were fascinated by the Vikings' style and copied their hair and clothing fashion. Many Vikings had symbolic tattoos and jewelry which remain popular themes in modern times. In fact, jewelry and other expensive items were often traded or exchanged as gifts within a Viking community which bound the community together. The chieftain would often distribute plundered spoils down the hierarchy to buy loyalty.
Hospitality was held in high regard among the Vikings, and when guests came, the sour milk was replaced with the festive drink mead. Meats, fish, and berries were laid out on tables in communal halls for all the village to feast and entertain guests.
Read more about the Vikings
Let’s be honest, most people have quite an unsavoury impression when it comes to the Vikings and most educational resources tend to portray the Scandinavians as fearsome, ruthless, and dangerous.
When most people think about democracy, they tend to go straight to ancient Greece. However, what many people are not aware of is the fact that fans of modern democracy can actually thank Vikings for its creation.
When most people think about the Vikings that once wandered the Norwegian fjords, they tend to picture chaotic and violent warriors that lived by no one's rules. However, the reality is that they had a complex honor system that they lived by.
Join in on an exciting and incredible journey which will take you back over a thousand years in time! The brand new Viking Village in Gudvangen is a perfect place to spend a day with the whole family!
Raundalen is a 25km long valley that stretches from the landmark of Rastalii, all the way to Upsete. Thanks to its wild nature and interesting history, Raundalen is the perfect valley for hiking. A rare gem, just a few minutes out of Voss!
At the Viking Ship Museum you will find the world's best-conserved Viking ships, the Viking graves, as well as the exquisite carving of the objects found in them, and the mystical dragon heads.
Troll is a term used to describe various supernatural beings in Nordic folklore and storytelling traditions and has roots in Norse mythology. Both appearance and characteristics can vary, but the creatures are often both dangerous and stupid. They tend to live in wilderness and areas inaccessible to men, such as mountain caves, dense forests, and the ocean.
The troll legends are many and very old. Those we are familiar with today feature in fairytales and folklore – in particular in Asbjørnsen and Moe's Norwegian folk tales from 1844 where the trolls often are the main characters.
Trolls were often described as strong, evil, and dangerous giants. They were ugly, with large noses and eyes "the size of plates", and often had several heads or just one eye. Gods and humans were their enemies, and they were angered by the “smell of Christian blood”. Most lived in the mountains or in a distant, cold country, but trolls living in the ocean or forest also existed.
For centuries, the belief that trolls existed was so strong that even early legislation had sections aimed at trolls.
How to reveal a troll
According to superstition and ancient Nordic scriptures, trolls have several hidden characteristics. If you see them, you are standing in front of a troll.
- Size matters - Trolls are normally larger than humans, but in some cases, they can also be significantly smaller. If you meet someone with unnatural body height, you should take a closer look.
- Rough features and big noses - Trolls have rougher facial features than humans. Longer noses for example lend a good sense of smell so that they can sniff out “Christian blood” from afar.
- Extra body parts - If you meet someone who is trying to hide the fact they have a tail, he or she is probably a troll. If a person has more than one head, you guessed it, they are probably a troll.
- Fear of church bells - Real trolls avoid crosses and the sound of church bells. In daylight, they risk being turned to stone. Therefore, pay particular attention to people who avoid going to church or stay indoors all summer.
Okay, we admit that trolls may only be found in fairy tales, but they have nevertheless meant a great deal to Norwegian history, and given names to many famous places, such as Trolltunga, Trollveggen, and Trollstigen.
- Interested in visiting Norway? Your Guide to Norway