Norway entices visitors with new places to stay and things to do

A room overlooking the Lysefjord at the Bolder StarLodges.
A room overlooking the Lysefjord at the Bolder StarLodges. Photo Credit: Henrik Moksnes

Europhiles know that being named a European Capital of Culture is a chance for some of the Continent's lesser-known cities to have their moment in the spotlight -- and reap the economic benefits from the tourism that follow.

A case in point is Bodo, in Norway's Nordland district, which will be one of three cities to hold the title in 2024 (along with Bad Ischl in Austria and Tartu, Estonia) and the first city north of the Arctic Circle to be so honored.

For clients who like to plan ahead, the countdown has already begun with a slate of activities already in the works for the year, which will kick off Feb. 3, 2024.

Grand opening ceremonies, which are expected to draw some 20,000 spectators, promise razzle-dazzle with a show in Bodo's inner harbor.

Subsequent highlights will feature festivals, including one that aims to be completely sustainable, as well as Nordland's first light festival, art and theatrical events, a concert in a cave, a pop-up Sami museum, Arctic food roadshows and an exhibition exploring the controversies around author and Nobel laureate Knut Hamsun.

And, as a nod to Bodo's location in the Nordland district, there will be fish --plenty of fish -- both on the table and as a dominant theme, including as the improbable basis for an opera.

In all, there will be upward of 600 events planned for the year, with the schedule still expanding, and organizers are preparing for a whopping 500,000 visitors overall.

The good news for clients who can't wait that long is that Norway also has plenty of tourism news to get excited about in 2023.

The Treetop Walk Hamaren Activity Park is set to open in June.
The Treetop Walk Hamaren Activity Park is set to open in June. Photo Credit: Illustration by EFFEKT Architects

Experiences: The Treetop Walk Hamaren Activity Park offers adventure buffs a half-mile-plus walk in the forest of Fyresdal at 50 feet in the air. 

The Tretoppveien wooden boardwalk ends at the summit of Klokkarhamaren, where the path ends at a circular viewpoint.

Set to open at the park in June is a wheelchair-accessible hiking trail that runs a mile and a half between two beautiful lakes in Telemark.

Meanwhile, adrenaline junkies can brave the new roller coaster at TusenFryd theme park. The Inverted Triple Launch Coaster, set to open in April, accelerates three times during the ride, reaching speeds of almost 60 mph.

The fjords: Hurtigruten's Norwegian Coastal Express is marking the company's 130th anniversary this year with two new cruises along the Norwegian coast: the North Cape Express and the Svalbard Express.

For the first time in the company's history, the North Cape Express will sail from Oslo to the North Cape and back to Bergen, stopping for excursions at 16 destinations.

There will be eight departures between October and March.

The Svalbard Express will sail between Bergen, the North Cape and Svalbard with eight departures between June and September.

The line is also making a northern lights promise, ensuring that passengers who don't experience the aurora borealis during their voyage will receive a free new cruise.

A winter day cruise from the coastal town of Alesund to Geiranger, a Unesco fjord region, is also make its debut.

Visitors can opt to go electric on the new Brim Explorer, billed as the first 100% electric ship purpose-built for tourism and sightseeing in Oslo. Options include dinner cruises, private charters, morning yoga, wine tasting, lectures and live music.

Rail and road: The Northern Lights Express, Norway's northernmost railway, runs along the Ofoten Line in Narvik, chasing the aurora borealis.

The journey takes four and a half hours, stopping in Bjornfjell and ending in Katterat station.

Meanwhile, road warriors can enjoy the scenery via the new summer schedule on the Arctic Route by Best Arctic, a bus network that includes Narvik, Lofoten, Vesteralen, Senja and Tromso.

Culture and cuisine: June will mark the soft opening of the Jossingfjord Vitenmuseum, a science museum in Dalane in the Stavanger region that showcases the area's unique geology, its connection to mining and its World War II history.

Think the French have a monopoly on great cheese? This year the World Cheese Awards will be held in Norway for the first time. The event, to be held in Trondheim, which was awarded the title of European region of Gastronomy 2022, will showcase 4,000 international cheeses, including entries from Norway that have already garnered some awards. 

The awards competition will take place Oct. 26 to 28 and will include such culinary events as a cheese-tasting wheel designed to teach about the tastes and aromas of various cheeses and how to pair them with drinks.

The Elva Hotel is set to open in June in Norway's Voss district.
The Elva Hotel is set to open in June in Norway's Voss district. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Voss Active

Hotels: The Bolder StarLodges, located on 420 acres of unspoiled countryside, recently debuted three new cabins overlooking the Lysefjord, considered one of Norway's most beautiful fjords. 

The three cabins were designed by the architect firm Snohetta, and accommodations feature kitchens, contemporary design and views of the fjords and mountains.

Also new on the horizon is the 14-room Elva Hotel, set to open June 9.

The guestrooms are all named for rivers in the outdoor activity hub of Voss, and accommodations are located in a main building and five cottages overlooking the lake, forests and mountains.

The Villa Inkognito, a former private residence dating to the late 19th century, is set to open in April.

Part of the Sommerro, a design hotel that debuted last year in Oslo, Villa Inkognito has its own dedicated entrance, 11 suites, posh living rooms, an open kitchen, a bar and a fitness room.


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