Image: Howard Ignatius, Flickr

(Or The Seven Wonders Of The World, Part 1)

Lonely Planet has just published a list of 30 top destinations for 2022, and we wouldn’t be doing our job if we didn’t provide a little more context into what makes them so great! So, we’ve chosen our top 7 and will be dedicating a blog to each over the next couple of months in our Seven Wonders Of The World series. So, buckle up and get ready for the trip of a lifetime - our first stop is Norway.

A few general words about what makes this one of the top places to travel to, before we get stuck into specifics. There’s a lot going for it in terms of things to do, such as the beautiful fjords, mountainous views and polar bears, but - on top of all this - it is literally the happiest place on Earth (this is not just hyperbole - it was voted as such back in 2017!). The people are friendly, the crime rates are low and it’s an easy country to travel in - not only because English is spoken well here and there’s always someone willing to help, but because of an impressive public transport system across the country (its rail lines stretch more than 3000km, passing through hundreds of tunnels and thousands of bridges!).

And now, for some specifics:

1.Oslo

The Norwegian capital, which was named the European Green Capital in 2019, has something for everyone. A rich-in-art-and-culture urban city that is surrounded by dense forests, you can combine a cutting-edge food scene and tons of world-class museums, attractions and iconic buildings (the Viking Ship Museum and the Vigeland Sculpture Park, just a few examples) with more outdoorsy activities, such as skiing and cycling.

Other points of interest include:

  • The Akershus Fortress. A medieval castle-cum-royal-residence that offers breathtaking views over the harbor. Take part in a murder mystery here!
  • Oslo Fjord. Head out on a boat for the afternoon and enjoy the scenic surroundings of islands and lakes.
  • Private Edvard Munch Walking Tour. Book your tickets here!

2. Tromsø (& the Northern Lights)

A definite bucket-list topper, head to Tromsø - the base for many major Arctic expeditions since the 1800s - for whale watching and a whole host of other incredible nature adventures. Skiing is hugely popular here, as is a Midnight Sun Sailing Experience, bird watching, fishing and dog sledding. But, of course, it’s the natural phenomenon that is the Northern Lights that Norway is really famed for. Book your trip any time between September and March for the best chance of viewing the dancing, colorful lights.

There are several attractions that you can do in conjunction with the lights, such as the Polar Museum, which will help to explain the phenomenon, as well as give a history of the area and the effects of climate change on the Arctic.

Tromsø is also great for nightlife - bursting with endless pubs and clubs, thanks to its university.

3. Lofoten Islands

You may not have heard of the razor-sharp peaks, glistening fjords, picturesque beaches and abundant wildlife that make up the Lofoten Islands - one of Europe’s best-kept secrets - but we’re willing to bet you’ve seen images of this dramatic scenic spot on Instagram!

Highlights include:

  • Narvik. A skiing and hiking paradise.
  • Bodø. Set to be the European Capital of Culture in 2024.
  • The Coastal Route. Linking Trøndelag and Bodø, this has been voted one of the world’s most scenic drives.
  • Hamnøy. An idyllic fishing village that’s filled with charm and enveloped by spectacular scenery.  
  • Svolvær. The largest town here and home to art galleries, cafés and shops.
  • Mjelle beach. An actual paradise that must be seen to be believed.

This is also one of the best places to see the Northern Lights, so coming here is really a no-brainer.

Discover the Lofoten Islands

4. Bergen

Known as the gateway to the beautiful western fjords (the largest in Norway), picturesque Bergen - one of Norway’s prettiest cities - is filled with top museums, trendy restaurants and jaw-dropping mountain tops (seven in total!). Trolltunga is the most noteworthy - providing one of the best places in Norway for the ultimate scenic view. Some fjord must-sees in this part of the country include:

  • Flåm. This fjord village is best seen on the Flåm Line - one of the world’s most beautiful train journeys - and is a nature lover’s dream thanks to its steep mountainsides, waterfalls and deep valleys, perfect for hiking or kayaking through.
  • Fjærland, home to Europe’s biggest glacier, Jostedalsbreen.
  • Sognefjord. The ‘King of the Fjords’ is the largest, deepest and most celebrated, boasting spectacular views.
  • Naeroyfjord. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful parts of the fjords.

A popular place to go sightseeing is the stunning waterfront district (and UNESCO World Heritage Site)  Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf - a vibrantly painted area that was once the city’s center of trade and is, today, still full of historic wooden buildings and medieval churches that portray life during the Middle Ages. You can spend ages meandering down the cobbled streets, browsing the artisan boutiques, eating in the traditional restaurants and heading to the bars come nighttime.

And in case you’re still not convinced? Bergen was apparently the inspiration for Frozen, so if you’ve got young kids (or even if not!), it’s a dead cert.

“Let me go, let me go …” (Ahem. Sorry.)

5. The Geirangerfjord

Norway’s most famous (and most photographed!) fjord (and another UNESCO World Heritage Site) lies in the northwest of the country and is surrounded by the Seven Sisters waterfalls (among others!), epic cliffs and clear, tranquil waters.

Some noteworthy bases to explore the Geirangerfjord include:

  • Alesund - a thriving, picture-perfect art nouveau port town that acts as the perfect starting point, offering some of the finest scenery - and wildlife watching - in the whole of Norway.
  • Andalsnes. The mountaineering capital surrounded by jagged peaks. Visit Andalsnes.
  • Molde. A fun jazz town that you can drive The Atlantic Road from - regularly named one of the most beautiful stretches of coastal highway in the world, despite only being 8km long. It not only serves as a vital connection for a maze of tiny islands but is also a popular spot for fishing enthusiasts, divers and anyone else who just wants to get as close as possible to the sea.
  • Dalsnibba. 1,495 meters high, drive the iconic winding Eagles’ Road for breathtaking views of the alpine mountains and Geirangerfjord below.
  • Storseterfossen. If you like the idea of walking behind a waterfall!

6. Stavanger

An ideal starting point for ticking off some of the country’s signature attractions, such as the Lysefjord and Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen), which you can enjoy as part of a cruise but can also hike up - day or night! - for truly mind-blowing views. Other points of interest in this colorful city include:

  • Jæren. A coastal area that’s home to some of Norway’s biggest and whitest beaches.
  • Museums. An eclectic mix of everything, from art and archaeology to fishing and petrol!

7. Skudeneshavn

This well-preserved, picture-perfect port has oodles of charm, filled with white wooden houses, cafés, shops and galleries.

Book a private tour from Stavanger

Have a great time!