Trolls with dishevelled hair, red-headed Vikings, partly deserted areas and modern Oslo: Norway is an exciting country with picturesque nature, a lively capital and some curious cultural characteristics. Hotels in Norway are available for city travellers as well as for families, wellness and active holidaymakers.
A good 650,000 of the total of 5.3 million Norwegians live in the capital Oslo, and the greater Oslo area accounts for almost a third of the country's total population. Oslo is located in the very south of the country and can be reached from the sea via the impressive Oslo Fjord. The international airport of the metropolis is located about 50km outside the city centre. Oslo is a modern city that has preserved traditions and has a maritime character. The city centre is characterised by attractive shopping streets and numerous cultural facilities. Not far from the main railway station you will find the new, eye-catching opera house, the National Museum of Architecture, the Military History Museum and the Oslo Cathedral, whose construction dates back to the 17th century. The park around the Royal Palace to the west of the cathedral is a great place to take a stroll, especially in the summer months. The Norsk Folkemuseum is a great place to learn about the centuries of regional history. The open-air museum is located in the inner-city peninsula of Bygdøy and has many cultural and historical artefacts and everyday objects. Visitors get an authentic insight into the life and work of the people from the 15th century to postmodern times. The traditional clothing in the interior exhibition rooms are just as impressive as the faithfully reconstructed old town.
The further north the journey through Norway leads, the more isolated and natural the landscapes become. At some point one will find more moose than people, more trees than cars. The Sami, one of the oldest remaining indigenous peoples in Europe, live here in the north of Norway, as they do Sweden and Finland. Every year in the Norwegian province of Finnmark the Sami Film Festival takes place, one of the special features of it is the open-air snowmobile cinema; a unique take on the drive-in cinema. Another highlight of Norway’s far north, and one of the most visited destinations is the North Cape. Guests who travel here have already crossed the polar circle. Sometimes there is an arctic summer or arctic winter, thus sometimes completely daylight or almost continuous night and twilight atmosphere. The northernmost point of mainland Europe is marked with a metal globe monument. This region of Norway is also popular for those who want to be enchanted by the natural spectacle of the northern lights. Moreover, one can drive with a dog sledge through the dreamy, snow-covered landscape.
Fjords: the term is as mystical as it is picturesque. In Scandinavia, it primarily describes bays. But instead of geography like the wide Kiel Bay, fjords are long and stretch far inland. The Norwegian coast, especially the west, is home to around 1,000 of such bays. Some of them are small, difficult to access and reserved for nature. Others, however, are even passed by cruise ships and are real visitor magnets. Among the four most famous fjords in the country are the Geirangerfjord, the Lysefjord, the Sognefjord and the Nærøyfjord. The 15 km long Geirangerfjord was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2005 and is characterised by a mild climate and highly diverse flora and fauna. It is also home to the Seven Sisters. These are seven waterfalls, which are sometimes more, sometimes less, defined, depending on the previous rainfall. The Sognefjord holds two European records: it is the longest fjord on the continent at 200 km and the deepest at 1,308 m. Not far from the fjord is the Jostedalsbreen National Park with one of the largest glaciers in Europe.
The wide landscape and the sea location enrich and determine the menu of the Scandinavian country. Herring still plays a major role and is marinated, fried, boiled and enjoyed in many different ways. Also popular is the traditional stockfish. Norway is known worldwide for its famous export: salmon. Those who do not like fish will of course find various regional meat dishes on the restaurant menus. Often these include sheep, reindeer and elk, smoked leg of lamb and other game dishes. In many restaurants, both in the hotels in Norway's capital and in the rural areas, it should not surprise the guests if the menu also includes whale meat. Norwegians are allowed to go whaling. Some traditional carbohydrate foods include breads such as crispbread, potato bread, and a kind of baguette. Those who want to indulge in a truly authentic Norwegian traditional dish should not miss Smalahove, sheep’s head. For those who are not quite so keen on experimenting with taste, Oslo, has an international gastronomic scene with restaurants serving a variety of cuisines.
For a trip to Norway, the summer months from May to September are especially recommended, as it is warmer and brighter throughout the country during this time. While the west is characterized by a maritime climate with cool summers and mild winters, the temperatures in the east are more extreme. Those who want to experience Norway's nature, can best do so in May, when everything blooms. Winter sports enthusiasts should visit eastern Norway in March – the days are longer here and there is still enough snow. The northern lights are best seen in the winter months.
The Norwegian national holiday, May 17, is a big celebration. Traditionally, a hearty breakfast is shared with friends, and then the children's parades take to the streets. The International Jazz Festival in Molde is the oldest jazz festival in Europe and takes place annually in July. For one week the whole town pulsates to the sounds of music and enjoys art exhibitions and concerts. A special experience is also the Norsk rakfiskfestival in Fagernes: here they celebrate fish that is pickled in vinegar and then fermented. It takes place in late autumn.