Norway is one of the last major countries of the world where you can experience a close encounter with nature in one of the last partially unspoiled wildernesses in the world. The country extends 1,770km (1,097 miles) from south to north (approximately the distance from New York to Miami). Norway is riddled with 20,000km (12,400 miles) of fjords, narrows, and straits. It's a land of contrasts, with soaring mountains, panoramic fjords, ice-blue glaciers, deep-green forests, fertile valleys, and rich pastures. The glowing red midnight sun and the Northern Lights have fired the imaginations of artists and craftspeople for centuries.
Experiencing "Norway in a Nutshell"
One of Europe's great train rides, this 12-hour excursion is Norway's most exciting. The route encompasses two arms of the Sognefjord, and the section from Myrdal to Flåm -- a drop of 600m (1,968 ft.) -- takes you past seemingly endless waterfalls. Tours leave from the Bergen train station. If you have limited time but want to see the country's most dramatic scenery, take this spectacular train trip.
Visiting the North Cape
For many, a trip to one of the northernmost inhabited areas of the world will be the journey of a lifetime. Accessible by ship, car, or air, the North Cape fascinates travelers in a way that outweighs its bleakness. Ship tours started in 1879 and, except in wartime, have gone to the Cape ever since. Hammerfest, the world's northernmost town of significant size, is an important port of call for North Cape steamers.
Exploring the Fjord Country
Stunningly serene and majestic, Norway's fjords are some of the world's most awe-inspiring sights. The fjords are reason enough for a trip to Norway. Bergen can be your gateway; two of the country's most famous fjords, the Hardangerfjord and the Sognefjord, can easily be explored from here. If you have time for only one, our vote goes to the Sognefjord for its sheer, lofty walls rising to more than 1,000m (3,280 ft.) along its towering cliffs. Sheer cliff faces and cascading waterfalls create a kind of fantasy landscape. As Norway's longest fjord, the Sognefjord can be crossed by express steamer to Gudvangen. You can go on your own or take an organized tour, which will probably include the dramatic Folgefonn Glacier.
Seeing the Midnight Sun at the Arctic Circle
This is one of the major reasons visitors go to Norway. The Arctic Circle marks the boundary of the midnight sun of the Arctic summer and the sunless winters of the north. The midnight sun can be seen from the middle of May until the end of July. The Arctic Circle cuts across Norway south of Bodø. Bus excursions from that city visit the circle. The adventurous few who arrive in the winter miss the midnight sun but are treated to a spectacular display of the aurora borealis, the flaming spectacle of the Arctic winter sky. In ancient times, when the aurora could be seen farther south, people thought it was an omen of disaster.
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