The natural icons of Norway
By Dana Yu
A road trip outside of Norway’s capital, Oslo, will introduce rich mountainous terrain and a well-preserved rural life. Norwegians have historically retained a unique connection to the raw nature that defines their country’s landscape. Several times a year, Norwegians break from their lives in the cities to spend time outdoors, sailing, hiking or climbing mountains. Many families own cabins in the countryside, sometimes even in the most remote areas with no water or electricity. As Norway continues to urbanize, though, more modern cabin homes are being built.
Renting mountain cabins for New Year’s with a group of friends is a popular tradition for young people. They can ski or snowboard during the day and celebrate at night. It is tradition to look nice and dress up; guys sometimes even wear tuxes, and they celebrate at midnight with champagne.
Internationals have taken notice of Norway’s beautiful landscapes as well. The famous fjords that line Norway’s western coast were named the number one world heritage site by National Geographic in 2010. At Geirangerfjord, visitors can take ferries out into the water passing waterfalls and deserted, isolated farms on steep cliffs. Scenic hiking trails are marked and mapped out, and tourists can go kayaking on the water. Nearby is also the mountain road, rollstigen, famous for its 9% incline, 11 hairpin bends, and great views of Isterdalen Valley and the Stigfossen Waterfall. Though Trollstigen is closed during the fall and winter due to dangerous weather conditions, some fjords, like Geirangerfjord, stay open year-round offering spectacular views in winter and spring.
Tourists may frequently come across large ugly stone trolls in mountainside towns. Norse mythology plants evil trolls in mountains who turn to stone in sunlight, and these trolls make appearances in bedtime stories parents tell to children. If wild animals are your thing then watch our for those that roam the Norwegian landscape: these include reindeer, muskox, polar bears in the Arctic Circle, and whales in the Norwegian Sea.