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10 June 2015

Norway: The Most Beautiful Country In The World?

From the first moment we arrived in Norway, we knew we had encountered somewhere magnificent – a country unlike anywhere else in the world.

Dan and Casey are two adventurers extraordinaire documenting their travel tales at A Cruising Couple – adventure travel with a dash of class.

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After a magical train ride from Sweden that took us past snow-capped mountains and majestic ravines, we arrived in Narvik. At this point we had no expectations for the country’s famed fjords and villages. The decision to travel to Norway had been based on a whim and Narvik was meant only to be a base from which to go deeper into the Arctic. But when we were greeted with spectacular scenery – jagged mountains and crystal-clear water – we knew that Norway would prove more dramatically beautiful than we could ever have imagined.

narvik sunset

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

The Lofoten Islands

Typically when we want an island paradise we head to the tropics. But sitting 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle are some of the most scenic islands we’ve ever visited – and one of Norway’s ultimate crown jewels: the Lofoten Islands.

LofotenIslands

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

The Lofoten Islands are intense, with tumultuous weather conditions and craggy mountaintops that tower above icy water. But despite the archipelago’s rugged nature, there are also plenty of charming details. Think: traditional stark-red fisherman cabins, rows of codfish hanging out to dry and boats that slowly sail through the fjords to deliver mail to the area’s unlikely inhabitants.

LofotenIslands2

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

Sleepy fishing villages dot the islands, all of which make perfect places to base yourself for further exploration. We chose Eliassen Rorbuer; it’s the oldest fishermen cabin village in Lofoten and located on the teeny-tiny island of Hamnøy. From here we could set out cycling, hop on a boat to explore the fjords, rock climb, kayak, or just enjoy a coffee and a surprise sighting of the Northern Lights from our cabin’s cosy interior.

The Picture-Perfect Villages

While it is certainly Norway’s epic natural attractions that makes the country so jaw-droppingly beautiful there are also plenty of quaint towns that warrant a visit for their picturesque appeal.

The northern city of Trondheim makes a sensible stop for those traveling from the Lofoten Islands to the fjords in the south. At over 1,000 years old, the city was Norway’s first capital, and historic charm still exudes from its old streets, churches and buildings. Don’t miss a visit to the Nidaros Cathedral, Scandinavia’s largest medieval building and our favorite attraction in the city.

Trondheim

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

Farther south, the town of Alesund is often considered to be Norway’s most lovely, largely due to its unique Art Nouveau architecture that will have you feeling straight out of a fairytale. We suggest putting down the map and getting lost amongst the spires and turrets, or setting out for a walk along the harbour. From Alesund, you also have easy access to some of Norway’s most famous fjords, including the Hjørundfjord and the Geirangerfjord. The magnificence of the fjords is best appreciated from the water, so hop aboard a boat to soak it all in.

Finally, no mention of Norway’s picture-perfect cities is complete without the town of Bergen. Though undeniably touristy, Bergen is popular for good reason. The city is surrounded by seven hills and seven fjords, promising plenty to see and discover in the region. If you’re on a tight schedule, Norway in a Nutshell packs a lot of attractions into a tiny schedule. In addition to the fjords, the Bryggen is an iconic stop for any visitor. The characteristic wooden houses around the wharf date back 900 years and today have been restored to feature cute shops and restaurants.

Bergen

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

The Epic South

There is no better way to experience fully the beauty of Norway than via a road trip – so that is exactly how we decided to explore the south of the country. Our ultimate destination was Pulpit Rock, but we took our time to arrive. Along the drive, we passed verdant green countryside dotted with baby sheep; expansive blue lakes with red country houses; and steep mountains that dropped off into mysterious ravines below. With each bend of the road, a new vista would reveal itself – each more beautiful than the last.

SouthernNorway

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

Finally, we made it to the south where our adventure to Pulpit Rock would begin.

Rising 600 metres above the Lyesfjord, the views from the top of Pulpit Rock – also known as Preikestolen – are said to be some of the best in all of Norway. We would have to agree. After a long but not overly exerting hike to reach the top of Pulpit Rock, we were astounded by the sheer magnificence of the surrounding fjord and the deep blue of the water that flowed hundreds of meters beneath us. Most hikers take advantage of the view to dangle their feet and arms over the edge of the rock. It’s not for the faint of heart, but it certainly results in a once-in-a-lifetime photo.

PulpitRock

Image Credit: A Cruising Couple

So is Norway the most beautiful country in the world? It’s definitely one of them. And perhaps the ultimate reason Norway tops the charts is because of its extensive array of exquisite places that are sure to please any traveller. See the Northern Lights and meet polar bears in the Arctic. Experience the unique merging of history and modernity in its cities. Hike to glaciers, cruise through fjords or simply experience the country’s astounding beauty from your car window as you drive by. However you choose to visit Norway, you’re bound to leave in awe of the immense beauty that is present around each and every corner

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