Last week I traveled to Norway! And the first thing I have to say: It truly is a winter wonderland. If you ever have the opportunity I HIGHLY recommend a trip to this beautiful place!
Norway is quite possibly the most beautiful place I have ever been, especially with the snow-covered fields and mountains. It looked like life on a cloud (out in the country). While it was beautiful in the winter, I would recommend that most people go during their tourist high season in summer when you can partake in all the wonderful coastline cruises and tours through the Fjord!
But for those who like snow (or snow sports): WINTER WAS AMAZING! The first part of my travel was spent in Oslo (a work conference for Caleb). We didn’t have much time to “tour” around the city because Caleb was working, but the one full day we did have we definitely took advantage of. Oslo has A LOT to offer to those who like to do “tourist” things (museums, sights etc.). Sadly we had to pick our top sights and try to fit them into the short winter day.
Our first stop: Oslo City Hall…now this building doesn’t look like much from the outside, but the inside is completely Art Deco, every wall a different art piece and every room a different theme! It was like walking through a living art museum where the walls, furniture, decor, and ceilings were the art (this building is where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded)! The Nobel Peace Center is adjacent (for anyone wishing to visit)
Our next stop was the Opera House, which is designed to look like an iceberg jutting out from the harbor! With all the construction going on around this picture really does not do it justice! This building (inside and out) was amazing! With all the snow and frozen water surrounding it, it really did look like an iceberg. What’s even more fun about this building is that you can walk all the way up to the top and see the cityscape from the rooftop! It was breathtaking and such a fun adventure with the slippery slopes from the ice and snow!
Next we were off the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History (a.k.a. Norsk Folkemuseum). This “museum” lives up to its name, taking you on a tour through Norwegian culture. Along with museums on the grounds they have replicated architectural styles from the region for visitors to wander through and for glimpses into life in Norway from the present all the way back to the 14th century! Of course, the pièce de résistance is the Stave Church!
Warning: this museum is HUGE, you could spend hours wandering the grounds! For us we didn’t have much time so we hurried through (only catching a few streets of homes). I advise that you give yourself A LOT of time to tour the grounds. It does start to get redundant after a while, but with snow on the ground it really was magical walking through old “village” life…truly a Norwegian experience!
Right next door to the Folk Museum is the Viking Ship Museum! This was the favorite of the day! I am seriously undereducated about their culture and grossly underestimated their artistry. The elaborate carvings not only of their massive ships but of their sleds and the intricate textiles they produced were all a sight to see! This museum is small but definitely has a lot to offer!
After we finished up with the museums we headed to Frogner Park, which is a giant park known for the Vigeland Sculptures that are displayed within its center. Again for us, it was more beautiful snow filled winter scenery!
This monolith was the highlight of all the Vigeland Sculptures displayed within the center of the park. These sculpture installations are a must see when traveling to Oslo. They are so interesting and portray beautiful imagery of the “circle of life”.
Oslo truly is a gorgeous city! I wish we could have spent more time here because there are numerous attractions to see, as well as a beautiful city to take in. Luckily that night it snowed and really became the beautiful winter wonderland we had dreamed of!
The next morning we headed off to Bergen to visit my friend Ashely for her birthday! To get to Bergen we took the Bergen Railway…which is a direct train route from Oslo to Bergen. Everything we had read online claimed that it was one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. And (not that I have taken so many trains) it really was! We saw some of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen…like I said: the countryside looked like living on a cloud! (I recommend this scenic journey for anyone traveling to Norway)
Our first day in Bergen was spent venturing around the city with our friends who don’t even recognize the beauty of the city they live in! We were stopping to take photos everywhere, and they honestly thought we were being weird! But look, this picture is a scenic view from a bridge near one of the harbors…AMAZING!
The top attraction, Bryggen, had to be first on our list. This important wharf is a sight to see with all the old buildings (reconstructed after a fire in 1955) standing at a tilt. This historic wharf is amazingly charming and a main attraction of Bergen, frequented by many visitors from cruise ships through out the summer time! You can walk down the wharf and enjoy the architecture of these old wooden buildings and end up at the Bergen Fortress, another great attraction to visit!
We walked all over the city, just exploring the beauty that is Bergen. Of course we came across some amazing churches (all of which were closed). Here is Johannes church, a red brick building that stands out among the skyline. There is also the Bergen Cathedral near the fort that still has a cannonball stuck in its outer wall (it was under construction while we were there), a must see when visiting.
I found Bergen to be a Norwegian San Francisco. With all the colorful homes & buildings and even similar architecture, it has a Bay Area vibe to the city! Across the harbor from the fort they even have a winding street similar to Lombard Street! Tell me this row of houses doesn’t directly remind you of the intro to Full House.
The highlight of the day had to be going up to Mount Floyen…Check out that view! A full bird’s eye view of all of Bergen (and some more). It was such a clear day (rare in rainy Bergen). We took endless photos! Up on the hill there is a great park and a troll forest for kids (and some 20-something adults) to play in. Naturally I have pictures of every troll carving displayed, but this girly with her long hair caught my eye. These trolls were not the scary trolls of Scandinavian folklore, but they were more like a Snow White and the 7 Dwarves-version of the creatures (more child friendly). However, you can find some menacing, giant troll sculptures throughout different parts of Norway.
That night we went out to a local bar to celebrate Ashley’s Birthday! We had fun dancing the night away. Bergen had some amazing nightlife so don’t skip out when you visit. Just remember a drink will set you back $10-12 so come prepared!
Like Oslo, Bergen had too much to do for one day! My best advice is to plan a LONG vacation to be able to enjoy the beauty that is Norway. Then you will be able to do soooo much more and see all that this amazing country has to offer! Also remember to plan ahead, we went into Norway blind (for work and to visit friends) not realizing just how much there was to see and do! But it’s always an excuse to go back! (My main regret is not partaking in outdoor snow activities: boarding!)
Needless to say I am in LOVE with Norway (trying to convince Caleb we should move there). Norway is a MUST for any traveler!
What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled and why? Let me know in the comments.