Norway Travel Guide

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You need only have a quick glance at a map of Norway to guess where the main attractions are: that jagged coastline is home to Norway's world famous Fjords. Almost 22,000 kilometers of dramatic coastline, glacial melting waters plunging down cliffs into fjords more than 100 kilometers long, tens of thousands of islands and skerries, and none of it is off limits. If the outdoors is where you feel comfortable, and if you would rather not stand in line to look at nature, welcome to Norway!

Located on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northwest Europe, Norway's geography is a constant reminder of the last Ice Age. In the central high plateaus of Southern Norway, the alpine terrain culminates at the peaks of Galdhøpiggen (2469m) and Glittertind (2468m). Several glaciers, most famous of which are Jostedalsbreen and Svartisen ("The Black Ice") are present day remains of ice that carved the many deep fjords and left behind fertile valleys with meandering rivers.

 Although home to the northern tip of Europe - Nordkapp, or North Cape - the country enjoys a mild climate for its latitude, in part due to the warm currents from the Gulf of Mexico. Apart from its awe inspiring fjords (the biggest of which are Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord), popular sights are the Lofoten islands, the beautiful Sørlandet (the South Coast), and the many charming towns and cities, most of which are found along water's edge. Norway is home to 4.5 million people, and occupies an area of 323.759 square kilometers.

Most tourists visit in summer, when the days are long, or even never-ending as the midnight sun appears in much of the northern parts of the country. Popular destinations such as boating towns in the South, the big fjords on the West Coast, and the Lofoten islands in the North see their fair share of tourists, especially in June, July and August, but crowds are never much of a problem. In the winter months, travelers can enjoy winter-sports in the mountains across most of the country. Norway's reputation as a pricey destination stems from high prices on dining and other tourist necessities. However, with some planning it is quite possible to experience this country on a budget. Public transportation is both well developed and affordable, accommodations are usually reasonable (inexepensive "hytter" or rooms to let are often available), and most scenic destinations are free. Almost all Norwegians speak English, and most are happy to talk to or help tourists.

The principal cities are Oslo, the Capital of Norway; Bergen, the historic port city on the West Coast, and Trondheim, the Viking Age Capital and home to Northern Europe's only medieval Gothic Cathedral. Tromso, the "Gateway to the Arctic" is a lively city, centrally located among Northern Norway's spectacular scenery; Stavanger, "The Oil Capitol" of Norway is a scenic town in the far Southern part of the country.

If you want even more adventure, head for the Arctic islands of Svalbard (a.k.a. Spitsbergen) where Polar Bears frequent the (usually snowcovered) streets of Longyear City.

Contributors

April 13, 2007 change by lpx

June 30, 2007 change by halv7k

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