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Ten places to visit in Norway

Tromso

Tromso is the biggest city north of the Arctic Circle in Norway. It is a popular destination for viewing the Northern Lights. Tromso is a delightful city sitting on a small island, with a spectacular bridge connecting it to the mainland. Though the city is laid-back, it packs a lot of tourist attractions like the Arctic Cathedral, the Polar Museum, Polaria — the world’s most northerly aquarium, Fjellheisen Cable Car, and so on. The panoramic view of Tromso from the top of Fjellheisen is not to be missed. Tromso also houses the northernmost botanical garden in the world.

Henningsvaer (Lofoten)

While all of the islands in Lofoten are panoramic, Henningsvaer stands out. It is a small fishing village spread out over three-four small islands, a little away from the mainland.

The eight-odd-km side road to the village, with its rock formations on a turquoise-coloured sea, is as scenic as the place itself. Two single-lane, raised bridges connect the village to the mainland. Henningsvaer practically sits on the water, with many of its buildings being built on stilts, and has to be explored on foot.

Saltstraumen ‘Maelstrom’

Saltstraumen is a small village a few kilometres from the port city of Bodo, and is the site of ‘Saltstraumen Maelstrom’, which is reputed to be the strongest whirlpool in the world. The site of the whirlpool is a three-km-long narrow channel connecting the outlying Saltfjorden, with the large, inner fjord of Skjerstadfjorden. The strait is 150 metres wide at its narrowest point, and about 400 million cubic metres of water flows (or “funnels”) through the strait to either side every day, at a speed of up to 40 km/hr, causing strong whirlpools. This event happens twice a day, due to the effect of the tides, and the timings vary per day. The more adventurous can skim over the whirlpool on a speedboat.

Atlantic Ocean Road

This road is so popular that you cannot help but visit it, during a drive through Norway. The road is an 8.3-km stretch connecting the Norwegian mainland, with the island of Averoy. The road runs connecting many small islands of an archipelago through eight bridges, some of which, notably the Storseisundet Bridge, are spectacular. The Atlantic Road mostly runs through unsheltered open sea, which is its charm. But we came to realise (the hard way!) that the active support of rain and storm is needed to make the drive as exciting as it is made out to be.

Alesund

Alesund is a very interesting town, spread over seven islands. Alesund is famous as one of the centres of ‘Art Nouveau’ architecture, of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A few vantage points, like the one on Hessa island, across the harbour, and Mount Aksia viewpoint, provide panoramic views of the city. There is quite a bit to see in Alesund, like the Atlantic Sea Park (one of the largest aquariums in Europe), the Art Nouveau Centre, the Alesund Town Park, and the Alesund Church. A visit to the outlying islands, like the bird island of Runde, or Godoya, (sometimes through undersea tunnels) is recommended.

Trollstigen

Trollstigen was one of the best parts of our Norway trip. It is one of the 18 National Tourist Routes of Norway, and one of the most popular, with more than 3,000 vehicles passing through it in season. Approaching from the Andalsnes side, Road # 63 starts climbing steeply from the panoramic Trollstigen valley, and crosses the majestic Stigfossen waterfall, halfway up, over a beautiful arched bridge. Once we reach the top after negotiating 11 hairpin bends, the uniquely-shaped Trollstigen Visitor Centre greets us. The beautiful building seems to fully merge with the surroundings, in total harmony with nature. A couple of observation points have been created here, which provide breathtaking views of the valley below, and the winding road that snakes up right next to a thundering waterfall.

Geiranger Fjord

Geiranger is considered by many to be the most beautiful fjord in Norway. This fjord has some of the tallest mountains, and the snow-covered upper reaches provide some of the best views. Cruising on the fjord is a must for some breathtaking views of cascading falls — the Seven Sisters and the Suitor falls are the most popular. A few abandoned farms clinging to the cliffs provide a curious sight. Geiranger Fjord was bestowed the Word Heritage Site status in 2005.

Flam Railway

This 20.2-km-long railway running from Flam to Myrdal is regarded as one of the most scenic railways in the world. This railway ascends from sea level (at Flam) to 863 metres at Myrdal, at a maximum gradient of 5.5 per cent, making it the steepest standard gauge railway in Europe. The route passes above some pretty valleys, through numerous tunnels, and by a couple of majestic waterfalls. The copious Kjosfossen waterfall is right next to the track, and the train stops there for the benefit of tourists.

Laerdal Tunnel

Laerdal Tunnel, which is 24.5 km long, is currently the longest road tunnel in the world. It connects Laerdal and Aurland on the E16 highway, having been commissioned in 2000, to provide reliable, all-weather connectivity between Bergen and Oslo. There are three large caves constructed inside the tunnel, at six-km intervals, which have been illuminated using very colourful lighting, aimed at reducing the monotony for drivers.

Aurlandsfjellet

Aurlandsfjellet is the name given to the 48-km-long mountain road # 243, which was the one in use, before Laerdal tunnel came to exist. This scenic route has now been included as a National Tourist Road.

Starting at Aurlandsvangen, the road is very steep and narrow for about eight km, till we reach the magnificent viewpoint of Stegastein. The awesome view of Aurlandsfjord, and its surroundings, including the village of Aurlandsvangen, from the uniquely-constructed viewpoint, is out of the world!



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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 6:40:05 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Ten-places-to-visit-in-Norway/article16071197.ece

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