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A little northern Norwegian magic

Added 09 Oct 2012
A little northern Norwegian magic
 

Norway is a country bathed in myths and legends. From the battle-hungry Norse gods and Vikings to the trolls and ‘hidden people’ that Norwegians still believe live at the bottom of their gardens. Norway definitely has a magical quality that will grab you as soon as you get off the plane.

Norway-MountainsThe landscape is just as mesmerizing as the culture; ice-capped mountains, deep blue fjords and towering cliffs create vistas so majestic you’ll have to pinch yourself to believe it’s real.

With a coastline of more than 25,000km, dotted with over 50,000 islands, it’s impossible to see all that Norway has to offer in just a few short days. But if you play your cards right, you could end up seeing and experiencing more in a week than you would have thought possible.

Oslo has been the capital of Norway for over 700 years, so it’s a great place to begin your Nordic adventure. From the classical architecture of the Norwegian parliament building to the cutting edge design of the Oslo Opera House, Oslo is a striking city, packed with culture and history.

If Oslo is a little too metropolitan for your tastes, Bergen, Norway’s second city is a must. Built on the Bergenshalvoyen peninsula, Bergen briefly served as Norway’s capital in the 13th century. It has long been crucial to Norwegian maritime trade, and its port is still the country’s busiest. Colourful Hanseatic buildings line the Bryggen, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Norway-TrainsIf you’re a railway enthusiast, Norway definitely won’t let you down. Its mountains and fjords lend themselves perfectly to memorable train journeys. One of the most famous routes is along the Raumabanen Railway, which connects Dombas and Andalsnes.

This journey is a must for any train spotter, but even the non-initiated will appreciate the stunning landscapes that pass by. A highlight of the line is the Kylling Bridge, spanning 76 metres across the Romsdalen Valley, the granite structure is probably the most photographed railway bridge in all of Scandinavia.

Another great Nordic rail trip is along the Flam Line. With a gradient of 1:18 it is the steepest standard railway gauge in Europe. Running for 20km through the Flamsdalen Valley, the line’s picturesque beauty and steep gradient mean it is now almost exclusively for tourists, but it is still a great way to spend a few hours.

If you prefer your transport off the rails, Norway’s famous Troll road, or Trollstigen, is as hairpin as it gets. Eleven sharp bends take you up (or down), a 9% incline to an elevation of 850 metres. Viewing platforms along the road let you appreciate the full majesty of the landscape, and also to get a great view of the Stigfossen waterfall that cascades down the mountainside.

When you think of Norway, fjords are probably one of the first images that come to mind, and rightly so. Carved out by glaciers over thousands of years, the fjords form much of Norway’s iconic coastline.

Norway-LandscapeOne of the most famous is the Geiranger fjord. The best way to see the fjord is of course from the water. Boat excursions take visitors along the steep cliffs to get a great view of the waterfalls around the fjord. Legend has is it that one waterfall, ‘The Suitor’, is eternally trying to woo ‘The Seven Sisters’ - the falls directly opposite. There is also a car ferry which doubles as a sightseeing trip for those in a hurry or on a budget.

So whether you want to travel by rail, ferry or car, spend your days in vibrant cities or the peaceful countryside, climb a mountain or swim a fjord, Norway has everything you could wish for. Just don’t anger the gods, or you might find thunderbolts raining down just as you’re trying to enjoy your afternoon Smorgasbord (traditional Scandanavian buffet).


How to do it: Our eight-day Norwegian Fjords Adventure Holiday begins in Oslo and takes in Lillehammer, The Geiranger fjord, The Flam Line and Raumabanen Railway and ends in Bergen. Price includes internal travel, Tour Leader services and breakfasts.