Norway – Yes please!

The World’s Number One Unspoiled Travel Destination!

OK, so it is no secret that we are proud of our country. After traveling around here for 14 seasons of New Scandinavian Cooking we have seen a lot, but we never get bored of Norway. Here is a quick guide to the highlights we have found over the years.

Simply being in the midst of these awe-inspiring expressions of nature can revitalize, invigorate, and enrich even the weariest of travelers. Do as much or as little as you like; hiking and biking trips along ancient pathways are great options for an active vacation, as is a summer ski trip down a frosty glacier under the late setting sun. Or slow down and simply drink in the verdant scenery from the deck of a luxury cruise ship.

Whatever your pleasure, visitors find themselves suspended in harmony with the environment surrounding them as they float through a peaceful and tranquil world that’s miles away from reality. Like many of their relatives, Norway has wisely preserved its stunning, supermodel attributes and has a great attitude to boot—what else would you expect from the country that awards the Nobel Peace Prize? In a coup de grace to trump all, National Geographic Magazine ranked the Norwegian Fjords as the world’s number one unspoiled travel destination! That should be more than enough to book a trip.

Most visitors will fly into Oslo, a walking city of the first order, where they can take in the cultural sights and sounds while learning about Norway’s colorful past. Filled with the exploits of Vikings, as well as other critically acclaimed explorers, like Thor Heyerdahl, the various museum and exhibits around town do justice to these seafaring folk. Must see spots include the Viking and Kon-Tiki Museums, the opera house, Vigeland Park, with over 200 statues depicting the circle of life, and the Akershus Castle. The city is full of epicurean outposts ranging from Michelin rated restaurants to cafes serving traditional Norwegian waffles.

Shopping regions include Karl Johans Street, Bogstad Street, and Aker Brygge; the harbor, which is also a great place to enjoy a beer and a plate of peel and eat shrimp. From Oslo, the best way to get to Bergen, the “Gateway to the Fjords,” and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is to take the train. The Flåm Railway, which cost $20 million, has 20 tunnels, and took 20 years to build, is one of the steepest grades in the world and offers panoramic scenes from the top. Drink from any of the crystal clear streams or waterfalls here, and you’ll supposedly improve your complexion! Right outside Bergen is the world’s longest fjord, the Sognefjord, which is as spectacular as it is massive.

Traveling further west brings you to the art nouveau city of Ålesund and the dramatic Geiranger Fjord (photo), which is completely encased by snow-capped peaks. Of course, no visit would be complete without a journey to the north, especially when the Midnight Sun is working its magic. The Lofoten Islands are full of craggy peaks, bright white beaches, and small fishing villages that cling precariously to the steep cliffs that mark the island. Accommodations range from spruced up shacks to luxurious cabins, complete with fishing hatches right above the water.

Reaching even farther north, are Tromsø and the North Cape, taking you almost to the top of the world and most certainly into 24 hours of daylight in the summer months.