10 Reasons to Visit Norway (by Melanie!)

10 Reasons to Visit Norway (by Melanie!)

Hi everybody! My name is Melanie and I’m a travel and lifestyle blogger with constantly restless feet and a huge desire to explore the world that I love to share on my blog, Melanie Fontaine. Margo and me live in the same town now (and she’s just as sweet in real life as on her blog!), but I’ve spent ten months studying abroad in Norway from August 2013 to June 2014 and have definitely lost my heart there. I’m convinced that it’s one of the most  beautiful countries in the world and should be on everyone’s travel bucket list, so I’m excited to share 10 places with you today that will definitely make you want to visit this amazing Scandinavian country. 

1 | Bergen

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I may be biased because Bergen was my home in Norway, but I honestly believe that this is one of the most charming cities in Europe – if you get to see it in the sun, that is. Often called the gateway to the Fjords, Norway’s second largest city lies on the country’s west coast and boasts an incredible array of outdoor-based activities. Take the iconic Floibanen up the Fløyen for a great aerial view of Bergen, go for a hike on one of the other seven mountains that surround the city and enjoy a delicious mixed seafood platter at the famous fish market.

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2 | Nærøyfjord  photo DPP_0006_zps13cfe77a.jpg

This wouldn’t be a post about Norway without mentioning a fjord, would it be? The Nærøyfjord is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the narrowest fjords in the country. The towering mountains create a mystical, at times gloomy, atmosphere, but in the best way possible – this is exactly the type of landscape Norway is famous for! As part of the popular Norway in a Nutshell Tour, the ferries can get super crowded, but the landscape still feels ethereal and incredible pristine.

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3 | Trolltunga  photo DPP_0012_zpsfc2347db.jpg

If you spend a lot of time on Pinterest, than you’ve probably got Trolltunga pinned to a board already. An iconic piece of rock shaped like a tongue and sticking out of the mountainside several hundred meters over the ground, Trolltunga is an adrenaline-inducing place to say the least. It’s a cruel 8 hour hike that occasionally left me feeling like there was no way I was going to survive this, but in the end the feeling of knowing that my body was stronger than my mind, was the best part of the trip. Even better than standing on Trolltunga itself. 

 photo DPP_0013_zps7b580ba7.jpg photo DPP_0015_zps281dba43.jpg I’ll be honest and say that the Trolltunga hike is way too hard to be worth it if you only want to take pictures to brag on your Facebook profile, but if you love hiking and a physical challenge, then this is THE place you should bookmark for the future.

4 | Tromsø  photo DPP_0007_zps3b38632e.jpg

Want to have a shot at seeing the Northern Lights? Head to Tromsø in Northern Norway in the winter! As the home of both the northern-most university and the northern-most brewery and subject to near constant darkness in the winter and light in the summer, this surely is one of the most unique and out of the way location you can visit. Take the Cable Car up the Storsteinen, marvel at the modern architecture of the Tromsø Cathedral and go dog-sledding to make your trip amazing, even if the Northern Lights decide to stay elusive.

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5 | Hurtigruten  photo DPP_0010_zps254c9fac.jpg

Granted, this is not quite a place, but a uniquely Norwegian experience nonetheless, so it had to be included. Going on a cruise with the Hurtigruten is a great way to explore Norway’s beautiful coast. The classic route leads you all the way from Bergen to Kirkenes – right on the Russian border – and back again and takes twelve days, but if you don’t feel like spending so much cash, you can always go for a shorter route. We took the Hurtigruten from Tromsø to Kirkenes with a stop at the North Cape in the middle of winter which took barely two and was certainly the most unique travel experience of my life.

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6 | Hardangerfjord  photo DPP_0016_zps2d118989.jpg One of the largest fjords in Norway and my personal favorite, the Hardangerfjord is more mellow than the Nærøyfjord and less overrun by tourists. What makes me love this fjord so much is the contrast between the soft shores of the fjord that are lined with fruit trees and the majestic mountains that are crowned by the Folgefonna Glacier, one of the largest in Norway. The Hardangerfjord has always been a favorite with artists and it’s hard to imagine not being inspired by the beauty it exudes.  photo DPP_0017_zps5dfaf362.jpg

7 | Preikestolen  photo P1110287_zps0b80a118.jpg Another bucket-list-worthy destination, the Preikestolen doesn’t require as strenuous a hike as Trolltunga, but still rewards you with jaw-dropping views and some serious bragging opportunities. It’s not a hidden gem by any means and you’ll likely end up sharing the moment with tons of after people, but everyone is there for a reason. In my opinion, the view is just as stunning as from Trolltunga, if a little bit less wild, but the four hour hike to Preikestolen is much easier on the mind and body.   photo 13_Preikestolen_zpsbf9ab96d.jpg photo 09_Preikestolen_zps70807966.jpg

8 | Jotunheimen  photo DPP_0020_zpse7bf708e.jpg

A national park in the heart of the country and home to the highest mountains in Scandinavia, Jotunheimen was named after the land of the Frost Giants from Nordic mythology and is probably my absolute favorite place in Norway. Out of the way of the typical tourist routes, Jotunheimen is popular with hikers and radiates a rough wildness that almost makes the fjords seem tame. The Besseggen Ridge is one of Norway’s most popular hikes and may make you doubt you’re still in Europe – Jotunheimen is definitely the perfect place to have a profound encounter with nature.

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9 | Trollstigen  photo DPP_0022_zpsd94574a1.jpg

While definitely no fun for nervous drivers, the Trollstigen – translating to Trollladder – is a national tourist route leading you up a mountain plateau in many tiny hairpin bends. The road can be so busy with tourist coaches and camping vans that you wonder how cars manage to pass each other by without leaving scratches, but the view over the valley is outstanding.

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10 | Geirangerfjord  photo DPP_0026_zpsae1fe34f.jpg

Only a short drive away from the Trollstigen, the Geirangerfjord is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tiny fjord that is set deep within the Norwegian landmass. Overrun by cruise ship tourists during the day – there were two massive ocean liners and another smaller one when we arrived – Geiranger becomes very quiet and sleepy by night. You can escape the masses by hiking along the peaceful mountain side, but do be early if you want to take pictures from one of the view points.

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I hope you’re convinced to visit Norway now! In my opinion, the best way to discover this country is to just rent a car and drive, drive, drive. There’s a scenic view at every corner and you may just be in visual overload. The best time to visit is the summer, when all the roads are open, the evening are long and you’re chance of having great weather is the best. This list is not exhaustive by any means – there is still so much more to discover  -, so please feel free to hop over to my blog to find some other beautiful destinations in Norway.