One of my biggest regrets about leaving Prague so soon is that we didn’t see nearly as much of the Czech Republic as I would have liked. Determined not to let that happen this time, I immediately started a list of places I want to visit in Norway. Unfortunately, with a toddler in tow, we aren’t headed to some of the most Instagrammed places any time soon. (Trolltunga, anyone?)
So what to do when you have a little one or aren’t up for big hikes? Here’s a list of five places that I want to see this year while we wait for Luca’s endurance to improve.
This one is kind of a no-brainer. When my husband worked in Oslo a few years ago it was the one place outside of the city that I told him he absolutely must go. Norway’s second largest city, Bergen is perhaps best known for its wharf (Bryggen), which is an UNESCO world heritage site, and for being one of the end points of the Norway in a Nutshell tour (also on this list).
While I do want to go to Bryggen, let’s be real. The main reason I want to go to Bergen is to go the Aquarium and feed the penguins. But I’m also excited because I was told that if you take the right train, there is a car full of toys for kids. So not only will Luca be over-the-moon excited to be on a train, I won’t have to bring toys to keep him occupied during the seven-hour journey!
2. Norway in a Nutshell
This bus/train/boat journey through the fjords of western Norway is one of the main reasons that people come to Norway. So while it might be a little cliché, I feel like we have to do it. And there’s no doubt about it, the views are amazing. Just look at the photo above.
Like all good love stories, this one began over a stick of butter. I’m kidding. Butter probably doesn’t figure prominently in most love stories. But it does in this one.
Shortly after we moved to our new house, we were sitting around the table eating dinner and I could not stop eating the baguette that I had grabbed as a last minute addition to our meal. The baguettes here are very good, but that wasn’t what had me so entranced. It was the butter, which was probably the best butter I’ve ever tasted.
To be honest, when I picked it up at the grocery store, I didn’t expect it to be anything special. I knew the word for butter, but what was Røros? I assumed it referred to the method of preparation, or perhaps the animal whose milk was used. But no, it refers to the place where it’s from, which I’ve since come to consider to be foodie heaven in this country that for the most part lacks any culinary street cred.
To be honest, I don’t know that much about Røros except that the butter is sublime and the reindeer jerky tastes a little too much like reindeer. But I think going on a food safari in Røros would make for a pretty great day, even if they served reindeer.
I just hope it comes with lots of bread and butter on the side.
One thing that surprised me about Oslo is that it doesn’t have a zoo. I’m not a huge zoo person but I think they can be fun if the animals are well cared for. And given that elephant, monkey, and giraffe (or rather, his approximations) were among Luca’s first words, I feel that I should take him to one more often.
Enter Kristiansand. Located about four hours by car south of Oslo, this beach town is home to “the most visited attraction for families with children in Norway”—a zoo and amusement park combo called Dyreparken. (I always thought “dyr” meant pet, but I guess it refers to any animal. That or you are allowed to have a tiger as a pet in Norway, in which case I want to know where to buy one.) According to our neighbors, this place is especially good for kids under the age of four, so I’m putting it at the top of our list for next summer so that it’s warm enough to go to the beach while we are there.
5. Somewhere to see the Northern Lights
This is more an experience than a destination so the place isn’t that important. And it is possible we won’t even have to travel—they were visible from parts of Oslo when we were in Italy for the Grand Prix, so maybe we’ll get lucky and see them from the comfort of our own backyard. That’s pretty unusual, though, so just to be safe I want to book a trip to somewhere north of the Arctic Circle for March (which is when you are most likely to see them). Location is flexible, but I’m leaning towards glamping and dog sledding in Alta.
What is your favorite family friendly place to visit in Norway? (And don’t say your family’s hytte unless you plan on inviting us!)