Norway – The land of fjords

Being born and brought up among the Himalayas, I’ve always been in love with mountains. Staring at them, while appreciating their sheer size and greatness, gives me immense peace. Although my main reason for visiting Norway was to experience the Northern Lights, seeing the pictures of Norwegian landscape was more than enough to visit this beautiful Nordic country and I’m so glad I did. Norway just blew me away with its stunning coastline, mountains, fjords and the Northern Lights.

In September 2014, I spent two weeks traveling through Norway as part of my trip across Northern Europe. I started with Tromso, a small and beautiful city above the Arctic circle. The whole city can be travelled on foot. There are a few museums and the world’s northernmost botanical garden. The most amazing view of the city can be seen from Mount Storsteinen. One can hike or reach there by cable car. I reached the top in the evening and stayed till it got dark.

Tromso

Tromso is a good place to see Northern Lights, which may or may not appear depending on how cloudy the sky is. I couldn’t see any the first two nights. The third day I took a day trip to Skjervoy, a small fishing village near Tromso. The bus goes through a very scenic route along the coast. While returning back to Tromso on a boat, I decided to go out to the deck hoping to see a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis or the Northern Lights. And there it was, spread all over the sky like threads of silk. Witnessing it for the first time in your life is indeed a magical moment. It was freezing outside and although chilled to the bone, I didn’t care about it anymore.

After having a wonderful time in Tromso, I took an 18 hour cruise to the Lofoten Islands. The ferry goes through the stunning landscape of Norwegian fjords, created during the ice age. The sheer amount of natural beauty throughout the route cannot be described in words. It feels so surreal that you wish you could capture those moments forever.

Fjords

In Lofoten, I couchsurfed at some locals who showed me around and took me to hiking. With hills all around and closeby, Lofoten is a great place for hiking. The sea is easily accessible so you could go diving or surfing. Just walking around the island was pleasant. You can experience amazing scenery, untouched beaches, mountains, sea, peace and serenity. At night, we went out to hunt the Northern Lights and both the nights, we got to see some intense display of colors.

Lofoten

After spending a couple of days in Lofoten islands, I headed down to Bodo by ferry. Bodo has the northernmost train station in Norway. From Bodo I took a train to Trondheim, one of the largest cities in Norway. There are quite a few museums and churches. I really liked the Nidaros Cathedral. The crowd is mostly dominated by students and there is decent nightlife as well. My main purpose of visiting Trondheim was to drive on the Atlantic Ocean road. If you like driving, I would strongly suggest you to rent a car and drive to Alesund. It’s a 600km roundtrip drive through the beautiful Norwegian landscape, the fjords, the Atlantic ocean road and the under sea tunnel. Definitely one of the best road trips in the world.

Atlantic Ocean Road
Image above is not owned by me

From Trondheim, I took a train south to Oslo, the capital and largest city in Norway. Oslo has a big city feeling with modern buildings, a metro system and quite a few good museums. I specially liked the Viking ship museum which houses the Vikings Age findings from 1000 years ago. Other interesting places to visit are the Vigeland museum park and the National Opera hall.

Viking Museum

After spending a day in Oslo, I left for Flam. The train route between Myrdal and Flam is beautiful. Flam is worth a visit but I did find it a little overrated considering the hype. I did not intend to spend the night in Flam and left for Bergen.

Bergen is a beautiful city surrounded by mountains and fjords. Even though it is the second biggest city in Norway, it doesn’t feel big. With picturesque houses and alleys, it has a unique flavour and feels cozier than Oslo. Like most other Norwegian cities, Bergen is nestled in nature with many outdoor and hiking opportunities.

The stunning landscape, pristine environment and untouched nature of Norway made it well worth a visit.