Beyond fjords, waterfalls and Vikings, Norway stows away enough natural beauty and history to shock any seasoned traveler. Brimming the Arctic Circle, I was able to cruise into the deeply mysterious and fabled Norwegian coastline a few weeks ago along with my mother (always a gem to travel with her). Sailing into the remote beauty of the northern European kingdom was a treat. Together we saw medieval sites too old to comprehend and natural vistas that could shock any lover of landscapes, all while relaxing together on board.
Seeing the epic mountains tumble into the cold, still waters below, it’s hard not to feel small. It’s a wondrous thing to see such natural beauty in stark contrasts. Skyscraper-like mountains emptying into low, undisturbed water. Quaint and colorful towns spilling into bare valleys of green grass. Boats lulling beside old and worn, wooden docks. These small details of contrasts add up with each passing glance from the ship’s edge.
From our sea journey, we were able to galavant throughout Norway’s delightfully quaint towns and fishing villages. How can you not feel like a Viking exploring a new world when you’re able to hop off of your boat to see exciting places?
Norway’s second largest city, Bergen is cuddles itself in between the gigantically large snowcapped mountains above, fjords below and in close distance to one of Europe’s largest glaciers. Steeped with deep Viking roots, this ancient city was founded in 1070 and served as the country’s capital for many, many years.
As we sailed into Bergen’s shoreline and saw the steeped houses on the waters, I was enthralled. Exploring the city center’s popsicle hued corners and mountainside vistas that opened to the blue waters was the perfect mix of urban and natural.
This small village nestled in the peaks of the grand-scale Geirangerfjord mountains is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for good reason. Geiranger’s town is a gem, with quaint and colorful wooden houses and its famous octagonal church resting on its shores, it’s hard not to fall in love.
The town is also very close to the famous Seven Sisters Waterfalls, which tumble a thousand feet into the cold waters below. We sailed through this absolutely epic waterfall series, cutting through the weaving waters and crystal clear blues dapped with sunlight and shadows.
This pristine town built on timber and textiles boasts one of the most gorgeous vantage points from its center. On a clear day, travelers can see 222 peaks of the surrounding mountaintops from the shore. This Medieval town is incredibly picturesque and has even been nicknamed the “Town of Roses” due to its charm. Molde is also the gateway to the Atlantic Road, a scenic route tracing coastlines to islands filled with medieval churches, fishing villages and lots of Viking culture, of course.
This sophisticated town is known as the Gateway to the Arctic. With architecture influenced by French, Swiss and neoclassical styles, this fairly newer city boomed into popularity and culture in the late 18th to 20th centuries.It’s also home to the northernmost botanical garden and brewery! All over the town there is a mix of old and new – wooden homes and sleek, modern architecture. Nevertheless, I loved exploring Tromsø’s waterfront areas. Of course, witnessing Norway’s reindeer herds was quite a moment.
This set of islands is the perfect summer getaway. With jagged peaks surrounding the land formations, a temperate summer climate and secluded bays, these islands stretch 118 miles into the Norwegian Sea. The island’s capital Svolvaer was the perfect Norse settlement during the Viking Age due to the large amount of cod that are harvested here.
Driving to Homnoy for the stunning view of the red housed fishing village below was a delight. It truly felt like a living postcard scene! Viewing the midnight sun here is a treat for the eyes, as the illumination of the waters lapped onto the shores.
Norway encompasses so much more than the iconic Viking culture we associate it with. Stocked with gargantuan mountains, icy glaciers, deep fjords, evergreen forests and remote fishing villages, this country is beckoning to be loved by anyone who gets a thrill from natural wonders.
Trip sponsored by Viking Cruises.