Ever heard of Lofoten? Probably not as it is tucked away in the far north of Norway. It’s well within the Arctic Circle, hell it’s even within the North Pole circle. It took me almost 2 days to get up there. A 5 hour bus ride to Oslo, then a 18hr train ride to Bodo and finally a 4 hour boat ride to the western edge of the archipelago. Surrounded by massive mountain ranges and the North Sea, this peninsula/archipelago provides some of the best scenery in all of Norway, both in the winter and the summer.
Since it’s so far up north with mountains and sea, you’d think it’s freezing cold all the time. That’s what I thought too, but thanks to the Gulf Stream coming from the warm south, this place gets some of the more moderate temperatures all year round. In the summer, temperatures barely rise above 20C with sun 24hrs a day for 2 months; in the winter, temps don’t drop less than -10C with darkness for 2 months straight.
Â All the way at the southern tip of the Norwegian peninsula and on the way to Oslo coming from the west, you will find the quiet town of Kristiansand. Most people who end up here are either on their way to the east or west, or heading to Denmark by ferry. IÂ was one of them,Â on my way to Denmark, I decided to stay here for New Years just to see how Norwegians celebrate the holiday, now that I’ve experienced Christmas. As my couchsurfing hosts live on an island that was 45 mins away from the city, I spent most of my time on that island.
Stavanger, Norway’s golden boy. Since the last 4 decades, the entire Norway’s economy exploded thanks to the discovery of oil. Today, Stavanger is considered the oil capital of Norway. Many large oil and gas companies are located in Stavanger. There’s even an Oil Museum in town dedicated to the natural resource.
Unlike Bergen, Stavanger does not have towering mountains surrounding it, but it does have many fjords very nearby. This city attracts a huge number of tourists because of its major attractions nearby. One of the most famous fjords in all of Norway is the Lysefjorden, which comprises of the popular mountains: Prekeistolen, Kjerag and Florli. For avid road-trippers, there are two National Tourist routes branching out from Stavanger, one outlining the coast of Stavanger, which is well-known among tourists and Norwegians alike as there aren’t many places in Norway with a beach; another takes you through the fjords north of the city with a plethora of different landscapes that make up the west coast of Norway, it also takes you all the way to Bergen by the longer but more scenic route.Â
I knew that coming here to Stavanger, it was inevitable that I did a few hikes in the fjords. Here comes reason no. 2 for coming in the off season but also bad reasons if you are backpacking. Prekeistolen or more commonly known as Pulpit Rock was the only realistically viable option as it was the closest one could get to without any car.
As there was only 6.5hours of sunlight in winter (1st bad reason), I had to leave early to give myself time to catch the ferry, get to the entrance of the park and hike the 3 hours up and down the mountain. I managed to successfully hitch hike from the ferry terminal to the town closest to the hike. The person dropped me off at the entrance of the road that led to the park. As I walked for the next 2 hours, I started to realise that I was not in the right place. I was walking towards somewhere else that had no signÂ of ending. I had been walking 2hours in the rain (2nd bad reason) towards an unknown location. When I finally got to the end, it was a quarry and a dam that had a small community living there. Disgruntled, I started the long hike back, hoping to make it back before sun down. Thankfully, two kind ladies gave me a ride back to town.
Bergen, the incredible little city that is surrounded by gorgeous and majestic fjords and islands. Because of this, it is a very popular spot for tourists and Norwegians alike for vacation. The city itself has much character thanks to the colourful buildings that are built on the slopes of the hills with the backdrop of green hills and white tip mountains.
What Bergen is most well known for is its rain. The longest recorded consecutive raining days was 85 days. It rained every single day for 85 days straight. It rained so much that they had umbrella vending machines (which didn’t last too long). However, because of the rain, the fields are extremely luscious and green and the mountain tops are white and fluffy.