Norway, also known as the Kingdom of Norway, is a Nordic country part of the Scandinavia region. Known as one of the most mountainous countries in Europe, for its stunning fjords and outdoorsy people, you’ll enjoy getting to know it!
We’ve compiled a list of cool things about Norway to give you a taste, before you plan or depart on an upcoming tour of the Norwegian wonders. We know you’ll fall in love with Norway, as we have!
1. The natural landscapes are wonderfully diverse
From the west coast fjords to the snow-covered mountains, Norway takes you through all different seasons and geography. You can take a city break in Oslo or discover the Arctic with a real northern adventure. Did you know you can even stay in a snow hotel?
One of our favourite locations, the western fjords, encompasses the highest concentration of fjords in the world. You definitely will not get bored either as they often have such different backdrops and feels. The famous Geirangerfjord is considered the most beautiful fjord in the world.
The magnificent archipelago of the Lofoten Islands is also home to the largest coral reef in the world. Here you can walk the pristine beaches, admire the peaks that dominate the skyline and maybe even catch a glimpse of the northern lights.
2. You can see polar bears in the wild
You don’t have to worry about this while roaming the streets of Oslo, of course! However, head north to the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard and it’s a different story.
One of the northernmost inhabited places on the planet, Svalbard is a true Arctic haven. Two thirds of the surface are protected by national parks, reserves or sanctuaries. Nicknamed the realm of the polar bears, their population exceeds the human population.
The area is perfect for sightseeing other Arctic wildlife. This includes Svalbard’s only native land mammals the reindeer and Arctic fox, as well as birds, walruses and whales.
Fun fact about the capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen: you’re not allowed to die here! Because of permafrost, bodies must be shipped back to mainland for burial.
3. It’s one of the world’s happiest countries
Unsurprisingly, Norway often appears in the top happiest countries in the world. The World Happiness Report, published by the Denmark-based Happiness Research Institute, proves that the Nordic country is not just a beautiful place, but also a happy one.
Many other annual reports, such as the Global Peace Index, also state how Norway is a safe and peaceful country.
With their amazing natural environment and penchant for the great outdoors, it’s no wonder the country is peaceful and the people happy. Fittingly, the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held yearly in Oslo.
4. There’s a hop-on, hop-off cruise along the coast
Norway’s coastline is one of the most beautiful and rugged coastlines in the world. It is also one of the easiest to explore thanks to the Hurtigruten Coastal Voyage.
The classic voyage is a one-way journey of roughly 1,255 kilometres (780 miles) that will take you from Bergen in the south to Kirkenes in the north.
Taking 6 or 7 days to complete, passengers aren’t tied to the itinerary. You can decide to join a particular section, or take breaks along the way to discover the ports of call in more depth.
This is the ideal way to discover the Norwegian west coast!
5. The sun doesn’t set in summer
In the northern parts of Norway, if you travel in summer you may be able to enjoy the benefits of the midnight sun. Admire the night scenery in the shining sun, enjoy more daylight to take on outdoor activities and to live like a local.
In the northern city of Tromsø, to give you an example, in the months of May and July, the sun only sets between 3-5 hours each night. In June, nearer the summer solstice, the sun doesn’t set at all.
Don’t forget to bring a sleeping mask just in case!
6. Its capital is a modern art hub
Oslo, the capital of Norway, is an interesting blend of traditional Scandinavian design and modern influences. Having always been an art and cultural hub, this is the place to visit to discover modern Norwegian artists.
The city is dotted with art galleries allowing you to dive into this creative world. From Aker Brygge Wharf to Tjuvholmen, the harbourside is an interesting area with art museums and stunning modern architecture.
To learn more about history, you could also visit the Royal Palace in Oslo. It is the home of the Norwegian King and Queen.
7. Road trips in Norway are virtually unbeatable
There are different ways to see Norway’s natural beauty. You could travel by rail, by cruise or take on the road trip of a lifetime.
Driving means being able to stop whenever you want to take in the incredible scenery.
Adepts of the open road will also enjoy the hairpin bends and ascents, like those of the famous Trollstigen. But read assured, the Norwegian roads have some of the highest safety standards in the world.
8. You can hunt for the northern lights
Norway is one of the best locations in the world to see the northern lights. Northern Norway falls right in the middle of what is called the “Northern Lights Belt”, a zone which is known for its auroral frequency and intensity.
To have the best chances of seeing them, make sure to head north during the winter, check the meteorological conditions and get out of the cities and towns. Also, stay up late as peak time is usually between 11pm and 2am.
As it pays off to be away from light pollution, visit the following locations: Lofoten Islands, Tromsø and Svalbard.
9. Norwegian cuisine is delicious
When you think of Norwegian cuisine, maybe nothing specific comes to mind. But trust us, you’ll adore discovering and tasting it!
The cities and towns are full of cool contemporary restaurants that focus on local and seasonal food. The whole country (as well as neighbours Sweden and Finland) have a love of foraging!
As is expected, seafood in Norway is amazing and fresh! And did you know that Norway introduced salmon sushi to the world? You could even visit the northernmost sushi restaurant in the world in Svalbard.
You’ll also find that breakfast is totally different to the United States, Canada or even Australia. It’s usually much more savoury, with rye bread, cheese, meat and smoked or pickled fish. And don’t forget to try brunost, a popular Norwegian brown whey cheese.
10. Norway’s rail journeys are voted the best in Europe
One of the best ways to see the Scandinavian countries is by rail. And in Norway you’ll be treated to some amazing journeys! This includes the Flåm railway, which has been deemed as one of the most beautiful railways in the world.
Taking on a rail journey is a great way to see the scenery, particularly between Oslo and Bergen. You’ll be able to admire the fjords and high mountains from the comfort of your seat.
5 interesting facts about Norway
Here’s more, just in case our top 10 coolest things about Norway didn’t convince you it’s an amazing country that’s worth a visit. We’ve made a short summary of fun facts about Norway:
1. Norway knighted a king penguin
Who knew you could find a ranked Norwegian officer at the Edinburgh Zoo? King Penguin Sir Nils Olav was originally appointed as the mascot for the Norwegian Guard. He then quickly moved through the ranks, from Corporal in 1982 to being knighted in 2008 and becoming Brigadier in 2016.
2. There are two official forms of written language
For those who live in Norway, Norwegian and Sami are the two official languages. But there are two ways of writing Norwegian, bokmål and nynorsk.
Bokmål is based on written Danish, which was the official language of Norway for 400 years. Nynorsk was created in the 1850s combining Western Norwegian regional dialects. The most widely used form is bokmål.
3. A Viking became the first king of Norway
Called Harald Fairhair, this Viking warrior succeeded his father Halvdan the Black at the age of 10. One of the greatest Scandinavian warrior chiefs of his era, King Harald became the first king to claim sovereignty over all of Norway.
4. Norwegians are pretty sporty people
With their spectacular winter season, it’s no wonder that Norway holds the most medals of any countries for the winter Olympics.
Modern skiing was also pioneered by a Norwegian in the 19th century. You can visit the world’s oldest ski museum, the Holmenkollen Ski Museum, near Oslo.
5. Norway has a sweet Christmas tradition
Every year, the Kingdom of Norway donates a Christmas tree to the UK. The Norwegian spruce stands proudly in Trafalgar Square in London. The annual tradition goes back to 1947 and is a token of gratitude for the British support to Norway during the Second World War.
Are you now curious about exploring Norway? Have we convinced you yet that it’s an amazing, diverse and culturally rich country? Come see for yourself!
If you want to start planning your dream trip to Norway, don’t hesitate to get in touch with one of our dedicated travel consultants. We’re here to help you make the most of your time in this Nordic gem of a country!