Pristine natural beauty, stunning fjords, and art masterpieces will leave a lasting impression. Unplug and recharge in Norway this summer.
Prized for its high quality of life, Norway offers its own version of the dolce vita, one marked by breathtaking natural beauty, epic outdoor adventure, peace and quiet, and of course, fjords. Starting in the capital, Oslo, home of the Nobel Peace Center, Norwegians seem to have truly perfected the town-and-country lifestyle; you can hop on a bus and be hiking in less than an hour from the city center or cruise through a fjord and be on a beach in a half-hour. Likewise, you can tour the Munch Museum or catch a ballet at the iconic Opera House. The great outdoors are woven into everyday life, especially on summer weekends, when many locals soak up the countryside at barebones hytte cabins, which are prime spots for digital detoxes. Nowadays, you can experience this Norwegian tradition in style at a luksus or luxury version updated with modern amenities.
Surrounded by forested hills, Oslo is a city where culture and nature meet—and all the more so once the expansive Oslo Sommerpark amps up for the season. Inside this massive outdoor wonderland, you’ll find a thrilling aerial ropes course, ziplines, and family-friendly activities, as well as bike trails and more. Even city streets become the backdrop for summer games starting with the extreme sports Oslo Games competition in late April. At the city’s cultural hotspots, nature also comes into play, from the Vigeland Installation sculpture park located in the city’s largest park, Frogner, to the modern Opera House, which opened in 2008 overlooking the waterfront at the head of the Oslofjord. Even reflecting on the masterpieces of legendary Norwegian artist Edvard Munch at the Munch Museum’s landmark "Van Gogh + Munch" exhibit this summer (May 9-September 6, 2015) brings Norway’s rustic scenery to the forefront.
For a weekend in Norway, Oslo has much to offer, a sampling of the fjords, a taste of Viking history, and a bevy of stylish hotels, modern restaurants, and chic nightlife. However, for those with a few days to explore, Bergen is your gateway to Norway’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed fjords. Situated between the longest fjord Sognefjord to the north and the Hardangerfjord to the south, Bergen is a charming starting point with its historic Bryggen district listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its bright trading houses. On a tight schedule, it is possible to see the fjords in a day on the Norway in a nutshell® excursion from Oslo to Bergen, but the ideal way is to take your time. While many choose to fly between Oslo and Bergen, which is the fastest option, the seven-hour train ride or drive follows a visually stunning route. However, if you take one train in Norway, make it the Flamsbana, or Flåm Railway, hailed by some as the most spectacular train ride in the world.
Forget what you know about trains, the Flamsbana is one of the steepest trainlines in the world on regular tracks. Passing through some of the Norway’s most wild and magnificent scenery, it’s a journey for the bucket list, traveling alongside waterfalls and through some 20 tunnels, going from ocean level at the Sognefjord in Flam to the mountaintop of Myrdal station in an hour. Delving further into fjord country, less than three hours from Bergen, Stavanger is Norway’s third largest city, and a connection point to discovering the Lysefjord and the Preikestolen and Kjerag mountains. Recharge and see why Norway is powered by nature this summer with more information at visitnorway.us or connect via Facebook and Twitter @VisitNorwayUSA.