A recent survey shows that many Norwegians spend the summer holidays in Norway, and lists the 15 most popular attractions and destinations. Experience Norway as the Norwegians themselves like to do it:
1) The Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park
Also known as Frognerparken, the Vigelandsparken Sculpture Park is in many ways Oslo's answer to Central Park in New York. This is where many residents go to barbeque or have a relaxing picnic with family and friends, or just enjoy a quiet stroll among the 212 statues that the park is famous for.
According to the survey, a whopping 78% of Norwegians have visited the park, making it a must-see for visitors who wish to experience Norway the Norwegian way.
2) Kristiansand Zoo and amusement park
Only 11 kilometers from downtown Kristiansand, the Kristiansand Zoo and amusement park is one of the most visited attractions in Norway. In fact, as many as 74% og all Norwegians have at some point been here to experience some of the over 800 animals the park houses in what is as close to their natural environment as possible.
As the name suggests, only part of the park is a zoo. The rest can offer more traditional amusement park attractions and activities, and with an extra ticket you can also enjoy the wet park, a "park within the park", which offers all sorts of water activities for both adults and children.
3) TusenFryd amusement park
TusenFryd is perhaps Norway's most famous traditional amusement park, and caters to both families with children and the adrenaline-hungry visitors. Rollercoasters and over 30 different rides and games of all sorts are on offer, as are over 20 different restaurants as well as a water park and a special play park for the smallest children.
According to the survey, around 71% of all Norwegians have previously taken part in TusenFryd's delights and services, making it a destination not to be missed for foreign visitors either.
4) Nidarosdomen Cathedral
You don't have to be a pilgrim to visit Norway's biggest pilgrim destination. Allegedly built where Saint Olav was buried in 1030 AD, the Nidarosdomen Cathedral is today one of Norway's most popular tourist attractions and has been visited by 70% of all Norwegians.
Nidarosdomen Cathedral took 230 years to finish and became Norway's national sanctuary and the traditional location for the consecration of the King of Norway. It has been hit by lightning and ravaged by fire at many times throughout history, and the last restoration so far was officially completed in 2001.
5) Holmenkollen and the Ski Museum
Made of 100 tons of steel and soaring 60 meters above the hill it sits on, the Holmenkollen ski jump is an obvious attraction for all visitors to Oslo. It is lit by floodlights at night, and in the base of the tower you'll find the Ski Museum, where the 4000-year history of skiing is presented. The museum was opened in 1923 and is the oldest of its kind in the world. Not surprising, since Norway is also considered the birthplace of skiing.
Maybe this is the reason for its popularity to the natives as well; almost two thirds of all Norwegians have visited Holmenkollen and the Ski Museum at one time or another.
6) Fløibanen Funicular
For almost a hundred years, the Fløibanen Funicular has ferried people between downtown Bergen and the peak of Mount Fløyen, one of the seven mountains surrounding the town. Mount Fløyen is by no means the highest of the peaks, but offers one of the best views over the city and the fjords and islandsbeyond.
Once you've taken the funicular to the top, the view is not all there is to enjoy either. Fløien Folkerestaurant is one of the most well known restaurants in Bergen, and offers quality food at 320 meters above sea level. Nearby there are also manyscenic paths and trails of all lengths, including some leading to the other peaks in the area.
7) Hunderfossen Family Park
A place of fairy tale joy and farm attractions, Hunderfossen is a favourite amongst families with children. In the wintertime the park transforms to Hunderfossen Winter Park, with a fairy tale castle and Scandinavia's southernmost ice hotel.
8) The Geirangerfjord
Nearly half of all Norwegians have visited the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord and seen the breathtaking sights it has to offer. The mountains are equally impressive whether seen from above or below, and the fjord just as beautiful. Watch one of the many waterfalls cascading down the mountainside, go fishing or kayaking on the fjord, or bike or drive up the Trollstigen Mountain Road.
9) Vøringsfossen Waterfall
With a direct drop of 145 meters and a total fall of 182 meters, Vøringsfossen Waterfall is understandably the most famous of its kind in Norway, and a popular destination for Norwegians and visitors alike. Although there are numerous ways to experience the waterfall and the vertical-walled valley, most people will view the falls from the upper and lower lookouts.
10) Fredriksten Fortress
Built in the latter half of the 17th century to protect Norway against Swedish incursions, the fortress is now a national monument and no longer holds any military value. Relations with Sweden are, after all, significantly improved since then. Today, a variety of attractions are available in the fortress, from exhibitions and guided tours to dining experiences in 17th century style.
11) The Lofoten Islands
Famous for their natural beauty, the Lofoten Islands are where you can step out of the hustle and bustle of modern life and just enjoy the peace and quiet and natural scenery, while at the same time stay in comfort and eat well. Untouched yet popular, modern yet traditional, the Lofoten Islands tend to charm those that visit them and leave them wanting to go back.
12) The National Gallery
Nasjonalgalleriet, Norway's National Gallery, is situated in Oslo, and was established in 1837. Today, it holds the country's largest collection of paintings, drawing and sculptures, with works by Munch, Manet and Cézanne as the highpoints. More than four out of every ten Norwegians have visited Nasjonalgalleriet previously, making it one of the major attractions for visitors to Oslo and Norway.
13) The Flåm Railway
Named "the world's best train ride" by Lonely Planet Traveller, it is no surprise to find the Flåm Railway among the Norwegians most popular attractions in Norway. This scenic railway winds its way into, out of, and along the steep valley sides on its way from Myrdal high in the mountains to the village of Flåm down by the sea.
You might think that a railway like this is hard to get to, but that's not the case. Its upper station is often served by a multitude of daily trains, and there are ferries departing and arriving in Flåm several times per day. The trip is part of the Norway in a Nutshell tour, and can also be combined with biking Rallarvegen in the summer time, and a visit to UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjorden.
14) Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock)
This rocky formation just squarely out from the mountainside above the Lysefjord, and it's not hard to see where it got its name. Here you can enjoy a truly unique view over the Lysefjord 604 meters below, and with rocky stairs made by a team of Nepalese Sherpas, the hike to Preikestolen ("The Pulpit Rock") is not a difficult one. No wonder it's one of Norway's most popular attractions to both natives and visitors alike.
15) North Cape
The North Cape Plateau rises 307 meters from the sea, and was previously thought to be the northernmost point of Europe. It was later discovered that a nearby peninsula has a better claim to that honour, but the North Cape has remained the attraction to visit even so. Every year, over 200 000 visitors stand on the plateau and admire the surroundings. Between 14 May and 29 July, you can also experience the midnight sun here, which perhaps explains why most visitors come during the summer.
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