Take flight to Norway, renowned for its fresh, inexpensive local delicacies and luxurious landscapes. From picturesque fjords dotted around the coast and luscious lakes sketched amidst domineering snow-capped mountains, it is often viewed as the ideal place to visit during the winter season. Groups seeking culture and heritage in particular should look no further, as Norwegian folklore is a fascinating complement to the spectacular beauty of the country. It is impossible for anyone visiting to be disappointed by the many attractions of this country

Bergen fish market

Bergen fish market

Bergen’s Fish Market is situated on the outskirts of the docking bay. Adjacent to the sizable shopping centre is one of the most visited outdoor markets in Norway, famous for a wide array of local produce including smoked whale meat, with its unique texture that resembles beef jerky with a fishy aftertaste. Open all year round, six days a week, this market has been specifically adapted to allow disabled access as well as offering a range of other general facilities. Similar markets are located nearby, selling fruit, vegetables, souvenirs and handicrafts.

The triangular pier in the docking bay near the fish market in Bergen. This picture was taken between 1890 and 1900

The triangular pier in the docking bay near the fish market in Bergen. This picture was taken between 1890 and 1900

Peppes Pizza is an exceedingly popular food chain developed in the country’s capital of Oslo during the 1970s by an American and his Norwegian wife. A restaurant that aims to be creative with their dishes at reasonable prices, visitors will be welcomed by a lively and sociable atmosphere. It is the only place in Bergen that offers salad as a topping or for the meat eater, steak and chips with béarnaise sauce. This cosy little restaurant is located just around the corner from the fish market; groups will enjoy its handy position at the top of the town.

The World’s Largest Gingerbread City aka “Pepperkakebyen”, based in central Bergen, is very much a national treasure that boasts free admission for any accompanying adult during school or day centre visits. Free access is also readily available to any school or kindergarten that has contributed to this miniature masterpiece, as they do every year. Since 1991, this Norwegian tradition has produced a unique novelty display specifically tailored to the Christmas season. Open in November and December, the amount of passion and creativity demonstrated in each piece means it is impossible not to feel inspired. Additional building stations have been set up alongside so everyone can get a taste, literally as well as figuratively.

Mountainous views are available in abundance from the Funicular, one of Norway’s best known attractions, where visitors embark upon a robust, quadratic tram which leaves every 15 minutes daily from 10am to 7pm. With a journey time of less than ten minutes, the Fløibanen Funicular passes sublime scenery above Bergen and beyond. Family tickets are available to purchase at a reduced rate and it is easily accessible to wheelchair users. After disembarkation, visitors are free to forage in forests and lonely lakes, dine in rustic restaurants and contemporary cafes, all overlooking the town centre and the docking bay. Families with small children can also reap the benefits of a playground inhabited by a grisly wooden troll.

The Edvard Grieg Museum in Troldhaugen includes the former home and practice hut of the famous Norwegian composer

The Edvard Grieg Museum in Troldhaugen includes the former home and practice hut of the famous Norwegian composer

Since 1928, the Edvard Grieg Museum in Troldhaugen remains a celebration of the Norwegian composer’s work, situated within the confines of his former home. Exhibits include the hut where he practised, designed to perfectly isolate sound without distraction. The concert hall “Troldsalen” also acts as host to an array of public and private concerts throughout the year, with seating for approximately 200 people. Currently, the site is preparing for the 14th International Edvard Grieg Piano Competition coming up in October, which further honours Grieg’s legacy. Opening hours are slightly different depending on the season. Groups of 15 or more get a reduced entry rate.

GETTING THERE:

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has a strong Norwegian heritage as the company was founded in 1848 in Hvitsten, a small town on Oslofjord by the three Olsen brothers, Fredrik Christian, Petter and Andreas. Now into the fifth generation of the family, Fred. Olsen cruises include itineraries which still visit the Norwegian fjords. Many of today’s massive cruise ships cannot reach the small coastal villages or navigate the fjords in the way that Fred. Olsen’s smaller ships can. Highlights on Fred. Olsen Norway cruises include visiting top ports such as Bergen, Flåm, Stavanger, Oslo and Olden as well cruising through Nærøyfjord, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

FACT FILE:

  • There are three distinct languages spoken in Norway. Norwegian Bokmål (which translates as “book tongue” – the official written standard most commonly taught to students), Norwegian Nynorsk (namely “New Norwegian”) and Sami (the common language of Scandinavian natives situated in the north of Norway).
  • The Norwegian Kroner (NOK), translated as “crown”, is the common currency, usually abbreviated to “kr”.
  • National Day (Norway’s “Constitution Day”) is held on 17th May with colourful celebrations taking place throughout the capital.
  • The Sami People are known for their colourful clothes and reindeer herding. They are said to have lived in northern Scandinavia for around 10,000 years and even have their own parliament.
  • Trolls play a significant role in Norwegian heritage as beastly, mischievous characters. Nowadays, visitors may notice that several places in the north have been named after them, such as Trollheimen and Trollhatten.

By: Amy Moore