This place is like Alaska on steroids: Here’s why Norwegians are some of the happiest people on Earth

sk a person from Norway about the weather and they’ll tell you:  there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!  There’s no doubt about it – Norway is wild and beautiful.  It’s easy to see why a country with scenery that makes even Alaska look tame has some of the world’s happiest citizens.  In this week’s blog, we highlight some of the top reasons why Norway is the place to be if you want to catch stunning scenery.  Don’t forget to smile, the Norwegians’ happiness might just rub off on you!

Oslo:  Scenery right off the plane.  If you fly directly from the U.S. to Norway, you’ll likely encounter Oslo, Norway’s capital city of 700,000.  Nearly half of the city’s area is dedicated to green space, so it’s worth checking out the many sculpture parks and trails, as well as boating opportunities on the Oslo fjord.  Because of the “midnight sun” in the summer, rooftop restaurants and bars abound, and there’s a thriving local food culture thanks to the Mathallen food hall, which features fresh produce from over 30 vendors.  You’ll also find that Oslo residents love modern art and architecture – a stop at the Astrup Fearnley Museum is a must for art junkies. 

The Fjords:  Some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe.  The reason most people visit Norway is to experience the stunning beauty of the fjords.  If you’ve been on an Alaskan cruise and loved it, prepare to be blown away.  Norway has over 1,100 fjords, where eroded glaciers from the ice age have left behind narrow and deep inlets surrounded by towering cliffs and mountains.  A cruise is the best way to see the fjords up close.  While options abound, here are some places and stops you should consider when visiting the fjords.

Bergen.  Located in southwestern Norway, Bergen is usually considered the “gateway” city for those traveling up the coast through the fjords.  Bergen is known for cozy, colorful shops and cafes, and apparently was the inspiration for the movie Frozen.  Because Bergen’s climate is fairly mild but rainy, the ever-happy Norwegians have a word hygge (“HOO-ga”), which represents that cozy, warm feeling of snuggling up with a book during wet weather.  You might get to experience some hygge yourself with a visit here.

Flam.  Just northeast of Bergen, this tiny village packs in some real scenery.  Nearby, the Aurlandsfjord ranks as the world’s deepest fjord, the Naeroyfjord is a UNESCO World Heritage site as the world’s narrowest fjord, and the Sognefjord is a stunning 126 miles long and 4,300 feet deep.  Flam is also home to the 12-mile-long Flam Railway, which travels from the city to the nearby mountaintops for views of the fjords, towering waterfalls, and snowcapped cliffs. 

Nordfjord. About 1/3 of the way up the Norwegian cost is Nordfjord, a region with Europe’s deepest lake (Hornindalsvatnet) and largest glacier (Jostedalsbreen).  You’ll find 5,000-foot cliffs towering above the fjord and ocean, and every landscape from lush valleys to high-altitude mountains provides ample outdoor options.

Trollfjord.  If sailing above the Arctic Circle is on your bucket list, this is a must-see.  The mouth of the fjord is only 109 yards wide, so you’ll really get up close to the mountain cliffs!  The 2-mile-long fjord is so spectacularly narrow that larger ships have to detour around the fjord depending on the weather.  Luckily, the water is fairly deep at around 200 feet, allowing ships to squeeze through most of the time.

Svalbard: For the truly adventurous.  Svalbard is about as “off the beaten path” as it gets.  Located midway between the Norwegian mainland and the North Pole (yes, the North Pole!), it’s home to 2,000 hardy inhabitants.  Wintertime comes with 24 hours of darkness, allowing for the possibility of stunning northern lights viewing.  On the flipside, summers are light all day, providing ample time to discover the epic wildlife (think polar bears!) and scenery.  There is a daily flight here from Oslo, but flexibility is a must as the weather changes fast.  Svalbard is also home to the Global Seed Vault, a seed bank preserving spare copies of a wide variety of plant seeds.  If it’s “out of the way” enough to preserve the global food supply, surely it’s the place for the truly adventurous!

Norway’s scenery is diverse, wild, and beautiful – it’s no wonder why Norwegians are so happy!  We hope this gives you a taste of the many options that Norway has to offer.  In summer 2018, Denise is taking a group cruise tour to Norway, and you’re invited!  Reach out at (888) 958-1064 to get started on booking this wonderful adventure.

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About Denise

My goal is to simplify travel-planning through an equal exchange process where I acquire your ideas and expectations for your trip relieving you of the worry, hassle, stress and time that accompanies Do-It-Yourself planning.

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