Spotlight on Norway
From icy Hammerfest in the north to Bergen in the south, Norway is quite possibly the most beautiful country in northern Europe. Known best for the majestic fjords that span the western coast, Norway also harbor dramatic mountains, crystal clear seas, dense forests, farmland and sunny coves. Oslo is the nation’s capital and considered Norway’s cultural center. Exploring Oslo could take days visiting the numerous museums and parks scattered throughout the city. On the west coast is Norway’s second largest city, Bergen. Choose a city tour in Bergen or hop on a boat and tour the majestic fjords. Trondheim and Stavanger are other bustling cities in Norway that are ripe for exploring. Whether it’s visiting a big city or traveling to the farmland or a quaint fishing village of Norway, the country will dazzle with its beauty.
Oslo, Norway’s capital and largest city, is encircled by wooded hills and snowcapped peaks. The city displays a mixture of several architectural styles. A full range of activities includes art galleries, museums, restaurants, theaters and nightclubs. Other points of interest include Royal Palace; Frogner Park, known for its famous Vigeland sculptures; Holmenkollen, where international skiing events take place; imposing Åkershus Castle; and Bygdøy Peninsula, home to some of Oslo’s most important museums. Many attractions can be explored on foot. Oslo's City Hall ranks as the most distinctive part of Oslo’s waterfront. The art portrays the country's different historical and domestic phases. Munch Museum, which is dedicated to the life work of Norway’s famous painter, contains more than 5,000 drawings and paintings. National Gallery has the nation’s largest collection of Norwegian art and some of Munch’s best-known works. Åkershus Fortress & Castle, transformed into a Renaissance palace in the 17th century, houses Norway’s Resistance Museum
Flåm is the destination of the 12-mile branch line of the train from Myrdal, a 50-minute ride that plummets nearly 3,000 feet into Flåm Valley. The tiny village lies at the end of the Aurlandsfjord, amid meadows and orchards, surrounded by towering mountains. A trip on famous Flåm Railway is a thrilling experience. Its track took four years to complete and leads through breathtaking mountain scenery, past cascading waterfalls and through hand-dug tunnels. At one point the train travels through a reverse tunnel in order to negotiate a gradient of nearly a thousand feet, making it one of the steepest anywhere in the world. It operates year-round - a great tourist attraction during the summer and a local lifeline during deep winter. Strolling around the few souvenir shops or walking in the picturesque Aurland Valley are popular pastimes. Guests interested in exploring on their own would enjoy a hike in the countryside. The picturesque setting among orchards and meadows draws visitors to this serene and peaceful place.
Bergen - With its spectacular setting among seven hills, Bergen is one of the most beautiful and enjoyable cities in Norway. Most sites are within an easy walk from the harbor. From fine surviving medieval buildings to a series of good museums such as Fishery Museum and Old Bergen open-air museum, Bergen offers a wide variety of attractions. Its scenic beauty can best be appreciated from Mt. Floyen and is captivating. Enjoy this lovely city by taking a stroll to the old part of town, passing impressive 12th-century Bergenhus fortress. Old Hanseatic Wharf, called Bryggen, is where reconstructed gabled buildings house workshops, boutiques and restaurants. St. Mary's Church is Bergen’s oldest building and one of the finest Norman churches in Norway. Rasmus Meyers Collection is a rambling townhouse featuring one of the best collections of Norwegian art, including an upper floor devoted almost entirely to Munch. Bergen boasts numerous historic buildings dating from medieval times: Bergenhus Fortress; Rosenkrantz Tower; Haakon’s Hall.
Stavanger - Founded in the 8th century and one of Norway's oldest towns, Stavanger is situated along the Byfjord, an arm of the Stavangerfjord. A bishop ruled the city from the twelfth through seventeenth centuries. At the end of the eighteenth century, Stavanger had developed a successful merchant shipping fleet and during the next century developed herring fishing and canning industries. Appealing echoes of that proud heritage live on amid the evocative cobbled streets of Gamle (Old) Stavanger, whose whitewashed 18th century houses are probably northern Europe's best-preserved community of wooden houses. It has a well-preserved 12th century stone church.
Lillehammer - Site of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, Lillehammer is at the northern end of Lake Mjøsa. It is a commercial center for the fertile Gudbrandsdalen valley and is a popular summer and winter resort. Its open-air museum, Maihaugen (founded 1887), features complete farms, peasant cottages, workshops, and handicrafts of the region.
Geiranger - Nestled at the edge of the Geiranger Fjord, this charming town offers you the opportunity to observe amazing panoramic views from its famed mountain peak, Mount Dalsnibba.