Situated in the fjord country, Alesund is spread over seven islands on the western coast and offer the picturesque background of the Sunnmore Alps. It is definitely a unique city to see. The wooden buildings were completely destroyed in 1904, but the city was rebuilt in stone, brick and mortar, in an even more beautiful style - Art Nouveau, known as Jugendstil. The medieval romantic facades include specific elements from the Nordic mythology. The surroundings offer a splendid natural seascape, with the unique fjord of Geiranger, added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Alesund is accessible by plane from Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim or Copenhagen; the islands are interconnected by roads, but also by a subsea tunnel.
Alta is the communication centre of the largest and less populated Norwegian region - the extreme northeast Finnmark. It can be easily reached by plane directly from Oslo or by highway. The local culture and traditions are a mixture of Norwegian and Lappish (Sammi) culture, as Alta belonged for many years only to Northern Scandinavia indigenous people and was under Finland's administration. Alta offers magnificent natural sites and views, being the perfect place to enjoy the unique aurora borealis. Take your time to admire the Altafjorden, the large canyon carved out by the river Altaelva and the prehistorical rock carvings nearby - the former being a cultural heritage protected by UNESCO.
The administrative center of the Rauma municipality is the small town of Andalsnes, which could be considered a very unfortunate location. It served to the royal family in their escape from the Nazis' invasion in 1940 and it was destroyed by bombs. Reconstructed piece by piece, Andalsnes is nowadays a modern town, visited by many tourists mainly because of its position. It is the starting point of Trollstigvegen, a motor way through a splendid mountain pass, that heads south; it is continued by another scenic route, named Orneveien (Eagle's Road), in the way to the Geiranger fjord. Close to Andalsnes, you can admire Trollsveggen, the highest vertical cliff in Europe, a true challenge for any climber. It can also be admired from one of the most scenic railways in Norway, which passes it back and forth through 180 degrees tunnels.
Arendal municipality was established in 1838 as administrative center of Aust-Agder district; still the town existed in the southern Norway since mid 1500's. This town used to be called "the Venice of Scandinavia", but its canals were replaced by wide streets after an unfortunate fire. Probably the most picturesque view is to be found in Tyholmen, where many 18th century original wooden houses preserve an ancient color. Nearby, there's the sheltered harbor Pollen, full of boats bringing tourists to one of the most popular center of Norwegian domestic tourism; Pollen is the starting point for boat trips that traverse the delta of the Nid River.
The city of Balestrand beautifully lies at the junction of Sognefjord and Esefjord, on the Norwegian south-western coast. The picturesque scenery of the fjords and the mountain landscapes were a magnet for important artists, like Alfred Heaton Cooper, Hans Dahl, Hans Gude. Their paintings became world famous and therefore Balestrand became an important tourist point of interest. Certain remarkable buildings well worth visiting are: St. Olaf's Church - an Anglican church built in a Stave Church style - or the Kvikne's Hotel - built in Swiss Chalet style and visited earlier by Kaiser Wilhelm II. As tourism is the main industry in Balestrand, a Museum of Tourism was opened here, together with the Songnefjord Aquarium.
Considered "the town of all towns in Norway" by locals and not only, Bergen is a great city with tradition and one of the most important economic centers in Norway. The famous hanseatic wharf of Bryggen will meet the tourists coming here by sea; tradition is the key-word in Bryggen, rebuilt in its initial form after many fire destructions; that's why it was named by UNESCO a World Heritage City. Bergen's natural scenery is amazing: the surroundings seven mountains offer scenic views and are accessible either by cable car of funicular railway; the unique fjords: Hardangerfjorden, Sognefjorden, Geirangerfjorden - invite you to a breathtaking boat trip. Bergen is also a cultural city and the splendid houses - today museums - of the famous composer Edvard Grieg and violinist Ole Bull are living proofs.
Bodo is the capital of Nordland and the second largest city in the North Norway, the last stop of the Nordland railway. The most "unusual" phenomenon to be experienced here is the midnight sun, visible on relatively few clear-sky nights between June 1 and July 13; the opposite Arctic extreme is the dark period when no sunshine is to be seen (December 19 - January 9). Take some time to travel 30 km east to see and hear the world strongest tidal current - Saltstraumen - created at the entrance of the tide into the Skjerstad fjord. Surroundings are dominated by natural reserves, designated to protect coastal forests and wildlife. If you like to continue exploring the Lofoten islands, various coastal and airplane connections are available.
The municipality of Eidfjord is located in the big Hordaland County, on the southwestern coast. The beautiful natural scenery attracts many visitors from Norway and abroad. Eidfjord is a real paradise for ice climbing; among many hiking ranges, the main attraction is the 182 meters tall Voringsfossen waterfall. Don't miss the opportunity of a unique fjord cruise, giving you the temptation to choose a nice place to spend the night in a small tourist village. A complete sightseeing tour of Eidfjord should include the Hardangervidda Naturecenter and a walk on the Europe's largest mountain plateau, Hardangervidda.
The small town of Geilo lies in the valley of Hallingdal, in the Hol mountain district; it can be reached by train from Oslo or Bergen or via the Dagali airport (only by internal flights). Geilo is best-known as a ski resort, and also a summer destination. The ski season lasts from late November to early April; you can practice here any kind of ski: alpine slopes cover 33km and are accessible by 20 lifts, cross-country skiing system offers about 200 km of tracks in the surroundings (including 5km under floodlight); you can also try traditional telemarking, or more modern snowboarding. Everything is perfectly organized in Geilo; although small, the accommodation options are varied - one of the most famous hotels in Norway is Dr. Holms, while Highland Hotel offers the best after-ski.
Geiranger is a small town in the western region Sunnmore, but raises above any other Norwegian town by its reputation. This is related to the nearby Geirangerfjord, the most majestic fjord and one of the best scenery world-wide. Geirangerfjord is a 292 meters deep and 16 km long branch of Storfjord. The Seven Sisters waterfall is one of the most impressive sights on the fjord rock face. Unfortunately, this unique place listed on UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 2005 is threatened by the erosion of the Akerneset Mountain, which risks producing a devastating tsunami. Geiranger tourist season lasts from May till early September; in June, the traditional sport event "Geiranger - From Fjord to Summit" consists of a half-marathon run and bicycle race from the sea level up to the top of Mount Dalsnibba (1500 meters).
On your way from Oslo to Lillehammer, take the chance of a stopover by the scenic Lake Mjosa to admire Hamar, the capital of Hedmark County. The main attraction here is the Hedmark museum in Domkirkeodden; this architectural masterpiece ingenuously conserves between glass walls a medieval church and an Episcopal fortress and also hosts a vast photographic archive. Winter-sports enthusiasts will find the famous Vikingskipet which hosted in 1994 the speed skating contests during the Olympic Games of Lillehammer. The city-centre is also a nice place for walking, offering pedestrian alleys, squares, a farmer's market and a cinema.
The Harstad municipality spans across two islands in the Northern county of Troms, as the city itself stands on the largest Norwegian island, Hinnoya. Although the city celebrated its centenary in 2004, the adjacent settlements of Trondenes go all the way back to the Vikings: a famous stone church from Late Middle Ages and the exhibitions within Heritage Centre offer a real journey through time back to the stone age. The streets of Harstad host the North Norwegian Festival of Culture in June. If you come here to have fun and relax, the unique Grottebadet Water Park offers a perfect tropical environment for this - 250 km inside the Arctic Circle. Be sure not to miss a unique experience aboard the world?s oldest sailing schooner, "Anna Rogde," also known as the "sailing queen of Norway."
The excellent ferries and roads network in the Haugalandet region make it very accessible to the visitor. The capital of the region, Haugesund is a nice and vibrant town which imposed itself as a center for cultural festivals and business conferences. The largest cultural events held here are: the Norwegian International Film Festival and Sildajazz, the former celebrating the herring - which was, for centuries, the main source for city growth. The architectural masterpiece of Haugesund is the pink city hall, built in 1931, designed in neo-classical style and painted by the famous Alf Rofsten. The stone cross at Krosshaugen is over 1000 years old and is a symbol of Norway conversion to Christianity; the holly mass used to be held here before churches were built.
Honningsvag is the world's northernmost village, centre of the Nordkapp municipality. With only 2600 inhabitants, this small town is nonetheless a modern fishing harbor on the south part of the Mageroya Island. Despite its high latitude of 71°N, Honningsvag offers a mild subarctic climate thanks to the Gulf Stream, good enough for nice green private gardens. The ice-free surrounding water is the perfect place for both a fishing fleet and an important cruise port, where the coastal steamer Hurtigruten calls. Main tourist attractions are the midnight sun visible here from middle of May until the end of July, the church that lasted here since 1884 despite town destruction during the war and the famous North Cape cliff, only 34 km away.
The Kinsarvik village is the administrative center of Ullensvang municipality in the county of Hordaland. Its name comes from a wild river, having the meaning of "the bay of Kinso"; the Kinso River falls in four spectacular waterfalls from the mountain plateau to the Kinsarvik fjord; the waterfalls are accessible along hiking routes of 4-6 hours. There are a couple of camping grounds in this village: Hardangertun offers, besides camping, trainings in rock climbing, canoeing and a family park; Kinsarvik camping offers a perfect view over the fjord. The nearby harbour is perfect for sailing amateurs, while you can admire the fjords from their thick shores full of fruit trees. A monumental project is ongoing in the area - the Hardangerbrua Bridge will be just 12 km from Kinsarvik and will regain the village importance in tourist traffic.
Standing on the Norwegian-Russian frontier, Kirkenes is the central town of the Sor-Varanger municipality. Kirkenes was settled around an iron ore mining company, and then the Bokfjorden branch of the Varanger fjord became an excellent harbor in the Barrents Sea for both oil companies and cruise ships. Hurtigruten (Norwegian Coastal Express) ends here its trip along the coast; you can also reach Kirkenes by air from Oslo or Tromso. Important tourist attractions are: Grenselandsmuseet (The Border Country Museum) shows both historical facts and Sami art exhibitions of John Savio; Andersgrotta bunker was witness to the World War II destruction of the now rebuilt town. Since December 2007, you may also stay at the world-famed Snowhotel. During summer, the midnight sun is a Northern specific attraction.
Named by its founder, King Christian IV, Kristiansand is also known as Kristiansand S, to indicate its Southern position (on the Sortlandet) - in contrast to Kristiansund N. The largest ferry port in Norway, it can also be reached by plane via the Kjevik airport, by car or by train. An interesting area within the city is Kvadraturen ("the quadrant"), built in Renaissance style, as a square gridlines of streets; if you're looking for a relaxing walk, Markens is the town's pedestrian zone. The tourist will usually find pleasant sunshine here, while the winters rarely bring much snow along the coast. Among the tourist attractions, the highlights are the Dyrepark (Zoo and Amusement Park), the music event Quart Festival (in July) and the Agder Theatre.
Kristiansund is a nice town in the fjord country, located in the Nordmore district and includes the islands of Frei and Grip. After being destroyed by World War II, Kristiansund was rebuilt as a modern city and became an important center for the activities in Draugen and Asgad oil fields. The tourist will find here a very friendly town, with nice and warm people, green parks and small forests. It is still a city of contrasts, with modern business centre next to the nature and various events taking place here. You'll find here a traditional shipyard (Vagen) and the "Viking ship of Nordmore" (Geitbaten), which may take you in a relaxing cruise. The cultural life is also very intense, many local institutions like Opera, museums and music companies hosting various events.
The small town of Lillehammer is one of the best resorts in Europe, located near the northern end of the Lake Mjosa and beautifully surrounded by mountains. Lillehammer is inevitably related to the best ever Winter Olympics hosted here in 1994. The Norwegians are taking full advantage of that big investment and therefore most of the infrastructure is in use nowadays. In the winter, feel the unique spirit of the Olympic Park and Museum and enjoy cross-country skiing on hundreds of adjacent tracks. If you're looking for adrenaline, take the chance to become a "5G Club" member by riding on a genuine Olympic Bobsleigh track. Lillehammer offers many leisure opportunities, like the greatest Norwegian outdoor museum of Maihaugen and the nice town centre with 19th century wooden hoses and warm local people.
Lofthus is a small village in the western Hardanger district. This small destination is a quiet place that was once a regular hangout place for important artists such as Edvard Grieg. It offers the perfect view over the marvelous Hardangerfjord and the Folgefonn glacier. The region is Norway's most important fruits source; the beautiful orchards in Lofthus can be an ideal place for a relaxing walk. The old stone church deserves a visit, if you happen to be in Lofthus from May to September 15th. Mountain amateurs may find it a good starting point for a trip on the nearby on the Hardangervidda mountain plateau.
Mo I Rana is the name of the centre town of Rana municipality, known as the Arctic Circle city, because it is crossed by this important parallel. The most exciting part of Mo is its natural surroundings, perfect for adventure amateurs. The beautiful Ranfjorden is just nearby and you can admire here the famous Havmannen stone sculpture; the west coast road is the most scenic in Norway. The Saltfjellet-Svartisen National park hosts the Svartisen glacier and occupies part of Rana. Make sure you don't miss the inside attractions: Rana Museum, whose main exhibit shows thousands of photos reflecting the 20th century local life, Natural History museum known as Mohomen, focused on animal life in the region. Important festivals are held here every year: Havmanndagene in May, Vikafestivalen pop-rock festival and the Arctic Circle Raceway.
Molde is the administrative centre of the More og Romsdal county, in the northern fjord country. It was nicknamed "town of jazz and roses" for the oldest European jazz festival (Moldejazz, in July). Molde beautifully lies in a scenic location, between 87 white-capped Romsdal Alps, on the north shore of Romsdalfjord. It is a perfect starting point for a trip along the "Atlantic road"; the islands of Molde archipelago will reveal important historic landmarks: the Bremsnes cave (heritage of the Fosna culture), the fishing community of Langoysund, the medieval church Kvernes. Splendid natural masterpieces can be admired in the proximity of Molde: the marble grotto Trollkirka, the tallest vertical mountain face Trollveggen, the famous twisted road of Trollstigen or the highest Nortern European waterfall Mardalsfossen.
Located 250 miles north of the Arctic Circle in Nordland County, Narvik is the Europe's most modern shipping harbor for the iron ore coming from the rich Swedish mines. The tourist will first remark the beautiful scenic routes in this mountain area, admiring the ridges and stone embankments. Narvik and its surroundings are perfect for various outdoor activities, like alpine skiing, mountain hiking and wreck diving from the sunken German warships in the Atlantic Ocean. If you look for relaxation, fishing may be a choice, while admiring the Ofotfjord, the lakes or the salmon rivers in Skjomen, Beisfjord and Bjerkvik. In early March, Narvik hosts a local Winter Festival (Vinterfestuka).
Oslo abounds with sights of interest, such as museums, parks, urban districts with listed buildings and a well-developed array of shops. As most sights are within walking distance of each other, you can leave your car behind. Oslo City Hall is located in the city center only a few hundred meters from the city's main street and overlooks Oslo Fjord filled with moored pleasure craft, shrimp trawlers, cruise ships, charter boats and ferries to all the islands. Oslo has a wide variety of restaurants, bistros and bars. Most are located within such a limited area that they are within walking distance of each other. In addition, each quarter of the city has an unusual atmosphere all worth visiting.
The small town of Roros is a picturesque tourist destination to be found in the eastern Norwegian mountains. During its over three centuries of its existence, the mining town has been growing in an unique style, based on houses exclusively made of wood. The Old Town perfectly preserves this traditional Norwegian environment and was named in 1980 on UNESCO's World Cultural and Natural Heritage List; besides, movie companies are drawn by this authentic scenery. Many tourists come here every year for the traditional "Rorosmartnan" market in February or for the outdoor musical performance played in the honor of fallen Swedish soldiers.
The 6 miles natural harbor in southeastern Norway made Sandenfjord the capital of whaling since the Middle Ages. Today, the Whaling Museum is unique for its exhibits showing the history of whaling in different cultures and Arctic and Antarctic animal life. The city symbol is also a monument related to whaling, that you can find at the end of the main street, Jernbanealléen; a replica of the Gokstad Viking ship also dominates the harbour, reminding of ancient times. The tourist will find a nice place to walk and relax in the nice parks and gardens in the waterfront area. Food is especially delicious; you should visit one of the best gourmet Norwegian restaurants near the harbour or you can enjoy a picnic along the coast by tasting the seafood from the local fishtraders; for this, a bike could be the perfect transportation in a sunny day.
Skien is one of the oldest towns in Norway, dating from 1100 and was established as a municipality in 1838. Today, it is part of the seventh largest Norwegian city, together with Porsgrunn and Bamble. It suffered big and repeated natural disasters, like fire and floods; after the last fire in 1886, Skien was completely rebuilt. Nowadays, tourists are coming here mainly to begin a journey along the Telemark Canal. The most famous name related to Skien is Henrik Ibsen, born here in 1828; you can visit the Ibsen Museum at the Venstop Farm. Shopping amateurs will find here four nice shopping malls.
Stavanger is the capital of southwestern Norway, the fourth-largest in the country and is known as the "Petroleum Capital of Norway" because of its strategic position, near the North Sea oil fields. Stavanger natural surroundings are really picturesque, with chilly beaches, deep-blue fjords and imposing mountains as background. The city centre opens in the colorful Vagen harbor. From here you can travel to the Kvitsoy islands to admire the magnificent Pulpit Rock in the Lysefjord. Stavanger's origin is related to the oldest cathedral in Norway, built starting 1125. It is a city of contrasts, a unique mixture of old and new, with narrow streets and wooden houses, but also modern shops, restaurants and galleries. Besides, the recreation areas nearby the lakes Breiavatnet, Masvatnet and Stokkavatnet could complete a perfect vacation in Stavanger.
Stryn is a small town with about 7000 inhabitants, founded relatively late - in the 19th century - by British fishermen. Its great natural location, within Nordfjord, turned Stryn into an important tourist attraction. Maybe a bit surprisingly, the town is preferred during the summer, being known especially for the famous Sommerskisenter, an alpine skiing run on the Jostedal glacier; this is a real magnet for photographers excited to take pictures of local beauties skiing in bikini. Besides the ski facilities, what's real magnificent about Stryn is the nature of the surroundings; you can admire here the famous Briksdalsbreen glacier or you can enjoy the more peaceful Bodalsbreen. The whole area is the perfect place for glacier and mountain hiking, rafting or salmon fishing.
A trip to the beautiful Lofoten archipelago may perfectly start from the modern port of Svolvaer, on the northernmost island, Austvagoy. You will be surprised to enjoy mild weather here, although the island is being located within the Arctic Circle. The main attraction is the Svolvaer Goat, representing a real challenge for climbers. Art fans would find the Gallery at Svinoya very attracting - with the famous "The Battle of Trollfjord" of Gunnar Berg and a film about Lofoten history - and also the North Norwegian Artist Centre exhibitions or the amateur paintings from the Konrad Gallery. Nice hotels, rorbu cabins or camping places offers the visitor various accommodation options, while the fish restaurants are among the best in the Lofoten Islands.
The oldest town in Norway stands on the western bank of Oslofjord; its origin year is placed by the famous historian Snorre Sturluson around 871, when the Viking town Tonsberg became the royal coronation site. A rich historic heritage is found here, beginning with the city landmark - the tower built on the hill in 1888 as a stand-in for the old fortress - ruins of Tonsberghus, the Royal Castle or the Vestfold Museum. Still, modern Tonsberg has as much more to offer than the old town; especially in summertime, the tourist will find here one of the liveliest day and nightlife in Norway. The surroundings are also rich in tourist attractions, mostly old Viking graves and various museums.
The beautiful city of Tromso or "Paris of the North" was first established as a community on the Tromsoya Island back in the Middle Ages. Unique arctic phenomena can be admired here - midnight sun from May 14 to July 30, the winter total dark between November 25 and January 21 and the magnificent Aurora Borealis. The marvelous natural environment, surrounded by mountains, islands and fjords, offers great opportunities for outdoor activities. The most famous landmark is the Arctic Cathedral, but you can also find here a 13th century church, admire the permanent exhibit on the Lapps at the Tromso Museum or get familiar with various aspects of arctic life and nature at the Polar Museum and Polaria Experience Center. You can enjoy a good meal 420 meters above the Nordic Sea after admiring the city panorama from the Mountain Cable car "Fjellheisen".
Trondheim was founded more than 1000 years ago by the Viking king Olaf I Tryggvason on the south bay of the Trondheim Fjord. The third-largest city in Norway, Trondheim hosts a modern university and a high-tech center that preserves priceless heritage items from the Middle Ages. The city architectural masterpiece is the Gothic Nidaros Cathedral that hosts the shrine of St. Olav and became the fourth most important Catholic pilgrim city in the world. Trondheim was rebuilt in Renaissance style after the fire of 1682 and now is a green city, combining modern streets with narrow alleys and wooden houses - two of the biggest in Scandinavia are the royal residence Stiftsgarden and Singsaker studenterhjem. Don't miss a visit to various museums: Museum of Arts, the Sverresborg castle, the Science Museum, National Museum for Music and Musical Instruments.
The small village of Ulvik has about 1000 inhabitants and lies from the end of the Ulvik fjord up to 1800 meters above sea level. It is accessible by air through the Bergen airport (two hours away), then by train, at the highest railway station in Norway (Finse - 1222 meters - on the Bergensbanen route). Although small, Ulvik is still a destination for foreign cruise ships, especially in the summertime. Besides the fjord, the visitor could visit the old church dating since 1858 and decorated by Lars Osa with traditional rose painting. Ulvik is also host of Hjeltnes Gartnarskule, the oldest Norwegian horticultural college; guided tours of the park and rose gardens are available for groups, who can also ask for an overnight stay.
Voss is a municipality in the big county of Hordaland, with a perfect natural location - between the largest fjords in Norway: Sognefjord in the north and Hardangerfjord in the south. Voss is mainly famous as a year-round resort, as well as for its folklore. Surrounded by a rich relief, with fjords, mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, rivers and lakes, it is a perfect place for skiing (in the north area, accessible via the Hangursbanen cable-car), water sports, skydiving or paragliding. In the last week of June, Voss hosts the Ekstremsportveko (Extreme Sports Week), while in the winter you can follow interesting survival courses at Arctic Adventures. Skydive Voss is one of the largest drop zones in Norway. The traditional farm life is perfectly illustrated at the Voss Museum, with its both open-air and indoor exhibitions.
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