The Seven Wonders of the Land of Fjords
In order to see everything Western Norway has to offer, you’ll have to enter a cave, follow a winding road, reach a mountain top, and swim between some rocks
Even though it lost its capital city status way back into the Middle Ages, the ancient Bergen still undoubtedly remains Norway’s capital of tourism. Many interesting tours (like “Norway in a nutshell”) start here, but the city itself is a sight to behold as well: there are the historic Bergenhus Fortress, the Torget fish market, and Bryggen, the old quayside that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
2. Geiranger Fjord
The 15-kilometer long Geiranger Fjord is regarded as one of Norway’s most scenic fjords, which is why it also made UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The best way to enjoy its natural wonders is from the seaward side (and a small, nimble sightseeing boat would do far better than an unwieldy cruise ship): from this perspective, the waterfalls cascading down from the walls of rock, the rough cliffs, and the glaciers with collars of snow around their bases all look especially impressive.
3. Flåm Line
There is a good reason the Flåm Line is considered a marvel of engineering. The 20-kilometer long railway between the village of Flåm on Aurlandsfjord and Myrdal Station passes through twenty tunnels (18 of them were dug out manually), its highest point being at 865 m above sea level. Surrounding it are idyllic Norwegian landscapes: mountains, ravines, waterfalls, and snowy summits.
4. Caves of Gudvangen
The Caves of Gudvangen are also sometimes called ‘Lunar Caverns’ for their rich deposits of anorthosite, an ancient rock the Moon’s ‘continents’ are made of. In order to get inside, you’ll have to arrange a visit in advance. A walk in the neon-illuminated maze rife with mysterious grottos and subterranean lakes rather pleasantly ends in a bar where mulled wine is served.
5. Stegastein Lookout
Resembling an unfinished bridge over a 650-meter deep chasm, Stegastein Lookout offers fantastic views of one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords, Aurlandsfjord. A must-see for anyone who is travelling down the famous Snow Road connecting Aurland and Laerdal.
6. Gamle Strynefjellsvegen
The old Gamle Strynefjellsvegen, built in 1894 between the village of Grotli and Videsaeter for tourists, is a dangerous mountain road that unexperienced drivers would do well to steer clear from. Those who do find the resolve to conquer a 27-kilometer long road with 13 turns in total, will be rewarded, and their prize will be a huge adrenaline rush – and a chance to see two 100-meter high waterfalls.
7. Stave churches
Stave churches, or stavkirker in Norwegian, were erected en masse all over Norway during the Middle Ages. Borgund Stave Church is one of oldest of them, but it withstood the ravages of time: it is a multistory building with a triple nave and gables adorned with carved dragon heads resembling the figureheads of Viking ships. The church is a museum now, complete with a café and Wi-Fi access.
Text: Svetlana Troitskaya
Published on: December 28, 2017