Norway is a magical land of mountains and fjords, glaciers and waterfalls, northern lights and colorful troll folklore. Boasting a kid-friendly culture with sights and cities your whole crew will enjoy, this Scandinavian destination should definitely be on your short list for future vacations. Here are 7 reasons to visit Norway with kids!
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1.See breathtaking scenery by train, bus and boat
Norway is only slightly larger than New Mexico, but its rugged terrain makes crossing the country an Arctic adventure. Try a unique Norway in a Nutshell tour as a fun way to journey from Oslo to Bergen, passing through mountains and cruising around fjords. Kids will love traveling by a series of trains, bus, and boat, and parents won’t be able to stop taking pictures. Pack plenty of snacks for your travels, and remember to use the bathroom on every train (there isn’t one on the hour-long bus ride). As a bonus for families, kids age three and under travel free with Norway in a Nutshell, but they will still need a reservation.
2. Pay a visit to Star Wars’ ice planet Hoth
When traveling on the historic Bergen Railway, keep an eye out for the remote mountain village of Finse. This tiny town, which has no roads and can only be accessed by train, was the filming location for Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back. It’s amazing to see the small smattering of Norwegian homes nestled in a hillside, where there are no cars to get around – only bikes!
3. Step into the fairytale world of Frozen
Have a young fan of Elsa and Anna? The wintry kingdom of Arendelle was inspired by Norway’s natural beauty, architecture, cultural apparel, and forest folklore. While you won’t come across many direct nods to Disney in Norway, even the youngest of travelers will delight in exploring this real winter wonderland. To nurture your child’s enthusiasm for Nordic culture, take them to Oslo’s Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, an outdoor experience where they can step inside and explore traditional buildings. When in Bergen, don’t miss the opportunity take a (not very) spooky stroll through Troll Forest, where carved wooden trolls, witches, and magnificent playgrounds await!
4. Try to count the waterfalls
As snow-capped mountains and glaciers melt into the fjords below, waterfalls abound. So many, it’s impossible to count them all. For an amazing 90 minutes of waterfall spotting, take a fjord boat cruise from Flåm. (This is included in a Norway in a Nutshell tour.) You might want to pack hand-warmers and gloves because it is hard to stay in the heated interior of the boat with such glorious natural wonders outside!
5. Enjoy free fun in Oslo
Lonely Planet named Oslo one of the 10 best cities in the world to visit in 2018, and for good reason. You could easily spend a week wandering around Oslo without ever shelling out kroner for museum admission. Take a walk through the free Botanical Garden, tour the awe-inspiring Vigeland Sculpture Park, walk on the roof of the Oslo Opera House, explore the grounds of the Royal Palace, and discover Oslo’s history at the Akershus Fortress. Also, be sure to stop by the downtown waterfall at Mølla, and follow the river to the nearby Vulkan industrial district where you’ll find a fun playground and weekend activities for kids.
6. Climb a mountain with Bergen’s Floibanen Funicular
The harbor town of Bergen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can’t visit without climbing Mount Fløyen to get the best view! Ride the mountain railway up (or hike the lovely, winding mountain trail for free), and be rewarded with sweeping views of the city below. Also at the top, find playgrounds, goats, photo ops with oversized trolls, gift shops, and a restaurant.
7. Be dazzled by the Northern Lights
Northern Norway is said to be one of the most interesting places in the world to see the Northern Lights, from late September to late March. These aren’t the warmest months to visit Norway, but bundle up as it’s the the best time to view eerie green lights dancing in the sky!
Heidi Gollub is the founder of the award-winning website Free Fun in Austin.com. When not running around on adventures with her five children–ages four to 16–she volunteers for the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau and creates content for the local news. She frequently appears on television and was recently a speaker at Mom 2.0 and the Texas Conference for Women.