Norway—the northern land of trolls, reindeer, Sami, Vikings, and fjords. It is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and it boasts a charming culture.
Norway has a fascinating history, with people adapting to thrive in its arctic temperatures. If you have Norwegian ancestors, visiting Norway can help you understand the lives they led and your cultural heritage.
If you’re lucky enough to make the trip, the following list gives some of the best things to do in Norway.
Nordic Cultural Experiences
While you’re in Norway, take the opportunity to explore local life. Norway has a rich cultural heritage, with native Sami culture, Viking history, and unique farm culture.
If your trip aligns with any of the following events, look into them! They may help you understand and celebrate the lives of your Norwegian ancestors.
Sami Week in Tromsø
Gain an appreciation for Sami culture at this weeklong festival in February. The week is filled with activities, concerts, and talks celebrating Sami culture.
The Viking Festival of Avaldsnes
At the beginning of June, there is a 4-day festival with one of the largest Viking markets, traditional food, and theater. The festival is held at the Viking farm Avaldsnes.
The World’s Tallest Bonfire
Celebrating Midsummer’s Eve on June 23 every year, the people of Ålesund burn an impressive tower of wooden pallets on a man-made island. The festival has been around for generations and originated as a pagan tradition.
Outstanding Norwegian Architecture
Norwegian architecture uniquely reflects life in Norway because styles evolved to withstand the harsh winters and ocean winds. These noteworthy examples of Nordic architecture are worth visiting.
Bergen is a picturesque city with prime examples of traditional wooden architecture. If it looks familiar, that might be because it inspired the design of Arendelle in Frozen. You can also see the UNESCO World Heritage site of Bryggen, featuring Hanseatic buildings along the harbor.
Wooden Stave Churches*
Wooden stave churches can be seen throughout Norway. They reflect the Viking-era dragestil, or dragon style. The Urnes Stave Church is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Heddal Church served as an inspiration for Anna and Elsa’s castle design in Frozen.
Treehouse cabins can be found all over Norway, and they put you at the heart of its dramatic landscapes. It’s one unique way to live out any childhood fantasy.
The dramatic look of this cathedral was modeled after Norway’s arctic landscapes. One of its most striking features is a large glass mosaic.
Important Heritage Sites in Norway
Explore heritage sites to learn about how your ancestors experienced life in Norway. The following are some of the best museums and sites to check out on your trip.
Rock Art of Alta*
Thousands of paintings and engravings in the Alta Fjord date back as far as 5000 BC. There aren’t any other collections this size this far north in Europe.
The Viking Ship Museum
This museum in Oslo houses three Viking burial ships originally used in rituals for the wealthy.
Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
If you’re visiting Norway to connect with your Nordic heritage, this museum is one of the best places you could visit! It has 160 historic buildings, folk art, folk costumes, and more.
Vigeland Sculpture Park
Vigeland Park is the “largest sculpture park in the world by a single artist.” Vigeland, considered one of Norway’s best sculptors, contributed over 200 sculptures to the park.
The Steilneset Memorial honors those accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in the 17th century. It is located in Vardø, Norway.
Must-See Landscapes in Norway
One of the many reasons to visit Norway is to take in its miraculous beauty. There are many ways you can enjoy the great outdoors—hiking, kayaking, cycling, skiing, and even dog sledding. The following are some of the most outstanding landscapes that have been loved for generations.
The Western Fjords*
The drastic slopes, rugged cliffs, and serene waterways of Norway’s western fjords make for some of the most stunning landscapes in the world. The fjords are even featured in movies such as Frozen.
Romsdalseggen ridge is a challenging hike, but it rewards you with one of the most awe-inspiring views in the world.
Lands of the Trolls
The Northern Lights and Midnight Sun
Between September and March, you’ll have a chance of seeing the northern lights in northern Norway. In southern Norway during the summer months, you can experience a sun that never sets, known as the midnight sun.
As you explore everything Norway has to offer, indulge in Norway’s cuisine. Food is a fantastic way to experience a culture. It involves all the senses, and traditional foods reflect the natural plant and animal life, economy, and history of a place.
How do you plan on honoring your Norwegian heritage and ancestors on your trip to Norway? Take the time to discover more about your cultural heritage in your travels, and by doing so, uncover more about your family story.
*UNESCO World Heritage Site
Source: Family Search