For many Norwegians, summer is synonymous with sunny days in coastal cities with white wooden houses and narrow streets. We call these wooden towns "sommerbyer" (which literally means "summer cities") because they have a remarkable summer vibe.
Some of the most popular holiday destinations for Norwegians are located in Southern Norway, but there are also many other must-see destinations along the coast.
The Norwegian travel blogger Mette Solberg Fjeldheim has experienced the beauty of many of these places close up. She is the founder of Reiselykke (“Travel bliss”), and in 2017 she won the award "Travel blog of the year".
Here, Mette Solberg Fjeldheim lists ten of her favourite towns where you can experience that special Norwegian "sommerby" atmosphere.
130 white houses, sailboats, and the smell of freshly cut grass – Skudeneshavn has all the classic ingredients of a typical Norwegian summer destination. This old fishing town is located at the southern tip of Karmøy island in Fjord Norway.
“Here, you can take a walk along the flowerful and narrow streets that curves between the white houses. You should also visit one of the pleasant cafes in the town centre and enjoy a hot waffle”, Fjeldheim recommends.
Outdoor enthusiasts should check out Haugesund, located less than an hour drive from Skudeneshavn.
“If you want to see the surrounding nature of the region, there are plenty of opportunities. Explore one of the many islands nearby, or take a hike to the mountains surrounding Haugesund", says the blogger.
She also suggests a walk along the harbour where several eateries are situated.
If you are interested in film and music, you are in for a treat. Every August, Haugesund hosts the Norwegian International Film Festival, one of the most important film festivals in Scandinavia, as well as the music festival Sildajazz.
Nothing beats a sunny day in Bergen. Even though this is Norway’s second largest city, Bergen is known for its small-town charm and atmosphere. Fjeldheim suggests a walk in Bergen’s old town and Nordnes, a neighbourhood situated at a peninsula in the city centre. Nordnes has several dense clusters of wooden houses and narrow alleys worth exploring.
“In addition to the scenic streets, you should check out Nordnesbadet swimming pool, where you can choose between a swim in the sea or in in an outdoor pool”.
Traveling with children? At Bergen Aquarium, you will be introduced to everything from sea lions and crocodiles to snakes and lizards.
About 37 percent of Norway's land area is covered by forest. That is one of the main reasons why many of our houses are made of wood.
They are built in several different styles, but are often painted in white - particularly those located along the coast.
The colour became trendy in the 19th century, and is still popular all over Norway.
Did you notice all the white-painted homes captured in the top picture? If so, you might not be surprised to hear that no other European city has more wooden houses than Stavanger. This low-key destination, situated in Fjord Norway, has about 8000 wooden houses in several different styles.
There are few things that beat a relaxing walk in the city centre along the narrow streets. And if the sun is shining, you should stop for a coffee at a open-air café in Øvre Holmegate street, where you’ll find several candy-coloured buildings.
Foodies should also check out the Gladmat food festival, which is one of the leading festivals in Scandinavia. And if you eager to have a swim, or try your surfing luck, some of Norway’s most popular waves are found at Solastranden beach and along the beaches of Jæren.
In Tønsberg, history meets amusement. Norway’s oldest town is particular popular as a summer destination, with a long coastline and a variety of cultural events, such as concerts, stand-up shows and art exhibitions. Take a stroll on the harbour and get a taste of the vibrant pulse you will find there in the summertime.
“If you are in the Tønsberg area, you should make an excursion to Tjøme and Hvasser. Here, you will find the recreation area Verdens Ende (literally "World's End") and charming restaurants, such as Den Blå Brygge and Engø Gård”, says Fjeldheim.
Tønsberg isn’t the only place in Vestfold known for amusement and sun. Stavern has been singled out as “Norway’s best summer city” several times by different Norwegian newspapers. The highly walkable town, which is located close to the city of Larvik, features attractive buildings, art galleries and several eateries serving fresh local food.
Interested in music? In July, popular artists from all around the world perform at the local Stavernfestivalen, which is one of Norway’s most talked about festivals.