Norway is long and narrow, with a jagged coastline carved by deep, dramatic fjords. Oslo, Norway's capital, is in the east, only a few hours from the Swedish border. The coast, from Oslo around the southern tip of the country up to Stavanger, is filled with wide beaches and seaside communities. North of here, in Norway's central interior, the country is blanketed with mountains, creating dramatic valleys and plateaus. Bergen, on the west coast, is considered the gateway to fjord country. Moving north, the land becomes wild and untouched. Outside the north's two main cities, Trondheim and Tromsø, the land stretches for miles into the Arctic Circle and up to the Russian border.
Oslo. The Norwegian capital is home to just over 500,000 inhabitants, but it boasts great museums, top restaurants, and a stunning new Opera House. Check out the Royal Palace, at the end of Karl Johans Gate (Oslo's main thoroughfare) before ambling down to Aker Brygge, the trendy area by the harbor. Then visit Vigeland's statue park or Holmenkollen ski jump, before ending your day in one of Grünerløkka's many buzzing restaurants.
The Oslo Fjord. The islands dotting the Oslo Fjord make for a popular boat trip and a great day out in summer. Go on a mini cruise to explore the area, while away an afternoon fishing on the rocks, or laze in the sun in Drøbak or Åsgårdstrand, two of the many seaside resorts along the fjord. Fredrikstad's Old Town, northern Europe's best preserved fortress town, is well worth a visit, and so is Hadeland Glassverk, inland to the north.
Southern Norway. The southern coast, or Sørlandet, is a popular summer destination with Norwegians, not least because of its mild climate. Cute white wooden towns and thousands of little islands are dotted along the shore, making this a boating paradise. Inland you can take a cruise on the Telemark Canal, or see wild reindeers on the Hardangervidda, Europe's largest mountain plateau.
Bergen. The "Gateway to the Fjords," as it's known, is Norway's second-largest city. Built around a pretty harbor and surrounded by seven hills, Bergen has much to offer visitors, not least those in search of history and culture. Highlights include the UNESCO-listed Hanseatic wharf of Bryggen, the famous fish market, the aquarium, and the Fløibanen funicular. Nearby you can also visit the homes of composer Edvard Grieg and violin virtuoso Ole Bull.
The West Coast. Norway's spectacular fjords are what draw most visitors to the country, and it's easy to see why. Whether driving along the water's edge or taking the views in from a boat, you can expect fantastic scenery, whatever the weather. Stavanger, Norway's oil capital and one of its most cosmopolitan cities, is also worth a visit, as are Bergen and Ålesund.
Central Norway. Mountains and huge forests cover a great part of Central Norway, where you'll also find some of the best ski resorts in the country, including Trysil and Lillehammer (home of the 1994 Winter Olympics). The Jotunheimen, or "Home of the Giants," is popular with hikers in summer, as is Rondane National Park. If a gentler kind of landscape is what you're after, Mjøsa, Norway's biggest lake, or Gudbrandsdalen, one of its longest valleys, will both appeal.
Trondheim to the North Cape. Trondheim is home to the biggest cathedral in Norway, Nidarosdomen, an impressive early gothic-style structure, while Røros, 100 km (62 mi) to the south, is a picturesque old mining town famed for its wooden buildings and church. The region is also one of the best for angling, and salmon is plentiful in the Namsen River. Further north the Lofoten Islands, with their rugged peaks, quaint little fishermen's villages, and many bird cliffs, draw artists and wildlife enthusiasts, while the North Cape remains a goal for many travelers.
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