In the United Nation’s 2017 World Happiness Report, Norway ranked first. So, it’s official. Norwegians are the happiest people in the world. But what is it that makes them so happy? Is it the fact that the crime rate is low? Is it the fairy-tale like landscape, which includes majestic fjords, crystal clear blue lakes, scenic cliffs or colourful coastal cities? Or perhaps the fact that you can soak in the midnight sun during summer months or admire the northern lights in the late autumn and winter? No matter the answer, one thing is clear. Norway ranks among the top destinations for world travelers and if you haven’t visited it yet, now’s the right time to do so.
Aurora Borealis is on many travellers’ bucket list. And few places on Earth are better to experience this amazing natural phenomenon than Norway. More precisely, Northern Norway; some scientists claim that the Northern Lights will fade and appear less frequently over the next ten years. But this does not hold true for Northern Norway, as it lies under the auroral oval. The best time to visit is between late September and late March, as night hours are much longer and last from early afternoon until late morning.
Did you know that the creators of the most successful Disney’s musical Frozen have modelled its fictional settings on the dramatic 64,000 miles long Norwegian coastline, which boasts as many as 240,000 islands? Since Frozen has been launched, the tourism in Norway has been booming, proving that one’s never too old for Disney. But let’s face it: once you experience the country’s stunning vistas, including spectacular mountains, deep fjords, breathtaking mountains and colourful coastal towns, it's easy to understand what inspired the artists behind Frozen: Norway is a real-world Disneyland.
Apart from being a birdwatcher’s dreamland, Norway is the last refuge for some of Europe’s most fascinating wildlife. It might happen, you’ll stumble upon a polar bear when you walk the streets of Svalbard, or get to see the mighty musk oxen, if you visit Dovrefjell National Park – one of the few places on earth where you can spot this animal. A whale safari will take your breath away, as you will have a chance to see different types of whales in their natural habitat. For adrenaline rush, opt for a diving tour and come face to face with the red king crab, which can measure up to two metres and weigh up to 15 kilograms.
If you want to step back in time and experience the life of the Vikings, Norway is the place to visit, boasting numerous places wort a visit to get that Viking feeling. But who were the Vikings? They were much more than just ruthless warriors, who spread terror along Europe's coasts. They were expert sailors and navigators, skilled traders and craftsmen and some of Europe’s best storytellers. This is how they earned their place in history. Funny enough, they did not have horned helmets, despite being constantly depicted wearing them. Must see Viking spots include the Viking Ship Museum, the Viking Settlement at Avaldnes, Stiklestad National Culture Centre and Lofotr Vikingmuseum.
When it comes to the Scandinavian countries, there aren’t enough superlatives available to describe their beauties. But with regards to Scandinavia’s most appealing city, the battle until recently seemed to be two-horse race: everybody talked about Stockholm and Copenhagen. Now, however, things have changed. It seems as if Cinderella moment has come for the Norwegian capital of Oslo. The rather small capital, which was long considered a city without attractions, now attracts a great number of tourists. It boasts cutting-edge architecture, world-renowned museums, including the Viking Ship Museum, the Kon-Tiki Museum located on the Bygdøy peninsula, the Royal Palace and the City Hall, the popular Vigeland park, which is the world's largest sculpture park made by a single artist, and Holmenkollen, the modern ski jump, located an hour’s drive from Oslo.
Thanks to the Winter Olympics in 1994, the Lillehammer region has become worldwide famous. Since then, the region has attracted a great number of winter sports enthusiasts. Many of the Olympic arenas are still in use and open to visitors. There are numerous activities you can experience if you decide to visit the region. From the Olympic bobsleigh track, rafting in Sjoa, alpine skiing or downhill biking in Hafjell, a trip to Peer Gynt’s kingdom or a visit to one of the area’s many museums. Combined with a great local cuisine, this is a spot in Norway not to be missed.
When it comes to Bergen, already getting here can be so much fun. If you opt for a train ride to get from Oslo to Bergen, you’ll get the chance to experience one of the world’s most scenic train routes. To spice it up, take a detour at Myrdal and ride the world famous Flåm Railway, which takes you an a 20 km journey through the fjord valley abound with history and breathtaking nature. Apart from being the gateway to the fjord of Norway, Bergen is also a European City of Culture and World Heritage City. During the early Middle Ages, the town was an important seaport as well as Norway’s capital – the well-preserved wooden houses of Bryggen, now UNESCO World Heritage Site, remind of these times. Today, Bergen is an ideal mixture of nature, culture and interesting urban attractions, which make it worth visiting whole year round.
Spitsbergen is the largest island of the Svalbard archipelago, located far in the north. Its capital, Longyearbyen is considered the northernmost city of the world. In wintertime, Aurora Borealis appearances are possible not only in the evening, but throughout the day as well. You can choose to travel around with a husky safari or a snow sledge or enjoy a hearty meal at the Michelin-star restaurant.
Never-ending summer days and dog sledding in the winter. This is the fastest way to describe the North Cape (Nordkapp), the northernmost point of Europe. It’s the place where the Atlantic Ocean meets the Arctic Ocean, the place where the plateau rises 307 metres above the sea level and its cliff jutes into the sea. The visitor centre of the North Cape Hall holds various exhibitions throughout the year, and the chapel St. Johannes Kapell is the world’s northernmost ecumenical chapel and a popular venue for weddings. The charming colourful fishing villages and treeless landscapes invite you to explore this mysterious area, which has long remained hidden, more precisely until 1664 when the Italian priest Francesco Negri visited the area. Today, the North Cape is a popular tourist destination, with over 200,000 tourists visiting it only in the summer.
Discover the best of Norway. See why the creators of the Disney’s animated film Frozen have found their inspiration here. And we guarantee: after your visit, you’ll understand, why Norway is the homeland of the happiest people on the planet.
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