A natural high in Norway


By Harriet Cooper for High Life magazine

Photography by Terje Rakke/fjordnorway.com

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September 2016

Some get their kicks from Champagne, while others seek an adrenaline rush. And where better for thrill-seekers to indulge than Norway, with its craggy cliffs, snow-capped mountains and crystal-clear fjords?

Off the rails

Hop onboard a train to Myrdal from Bergen (a two-hour journey northwest) to experience the Flåm Railway. One of the steepest trainlines in the world – almost 80 per cent of the journey has a gradient of 5.5 per cent – it’s the perfect introduction to Norway’s exhilarating landscapes, from fjords and waterfalls to wild forests and mountains.

Flåm Railway – one of the steepest trainlines in the world – is the perfect introduction to Norway’s exhilarating landscapes, from fjords and waterfalls to wild forests and mountains

Rock on

Preikestolen – the ‘pulpit rock’ – is not for the fainthearted. Located south of Stavanger, 600m above the Lysefjord, this 25sq m plateau is the perfect spot to catch your breath and soothe sore muscles. The four- to five-hour hike is best done with an experienced guide. Book through Outdoor Life.

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  • Urban adventures: get a dose of culture in Old Stavanger © Visit Norway

    Old school

    Home to hundreds of 18th- and 19th-century white timber houses, Stavanger’s fully pedestrianized Old Town is the largest surviving old wooden settlement in Northern Europe.

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  • Climbing Lysefjord’s Kjerag boulder is not for the faint-hearted © Ingram Publishing/Getty Images

    Cruise control

    See the majestic rock from the comfort of a fjord cruise, where you can also immerse yourself in the waterfalls and islands of Lysefjord.

    Explore Norway
  • Bryggen – the row of coloured, tall townhouses that sit by Bergen’s Vagen harbour – is a Unesco heritage site © Zarnell/Getty Images

    Did you know…

    ‘Bryggen’ means ‘the wharf’ in Norwegian. An important trade centre since the 1100s, all the buildings are similar in style, often three storeys high with timber cladding and tiled roofs. Fly from London to Bergen from:£44 each-way

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Peaky blinder

Take the Fløibanen funicular up Bergen’s Mount Fløyen to hike back down – but if you’re feeling energetic, why not scale its 320m yourself? The two-mile hike takes you through pine-scented forests. Go with a guide, who can enlighten you about the local fauna and flora on the way, and you’ll be rewarded with views of Bergen.

Hang on

See the sights of Stavanger before heading east in search of envy-inducing snapshots of the 26-mile Lysefjord. Hire a local guide and head to the top of the Kjerag mountain peak. The views at the summit are spectacular, including the famous Kjerag boulder – a gigantic egg-shaped rock delicately suspended nearly 1,000m above the fjord.

On the road

Got nerves of steel? You’ll feel at home on Stalheimskleiva, the half-mile highway that’s two hours northwest of Bergen. With a 20 per cent gradient, 13 hairpin bends and, in parts, sufficient width for one car only, this is Norway’s ultimate white-knuckle ride. Don’t forget to enjoy the view of Sivlefossen and Stalheimsfossen waterfalls.

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Space mountain

If you’re on the lookout for something a little less extreme, try Magma Geopark, located just outside Egersund, about an hour’s drive from Stavanger. The undulating rock formations, with their lunar appearance, provide gentle-gradient walking routes – and have you wishing you’d paid more attention in geography class. Don’t miss the cycle tours through the depths of the 19th-century Blåfjell mines either.

Urban adventures

It’s not all about outdoor pursuits. Bergen is home to the Unesco heritage site of Bryggen (the old wharf) and its Kode Museums feature works by Edvard Munch and Paul Klee. Foodies will love Stavanger, where you can find a host of restaurants serving Norwegian specialities and local delicacies such as halibut, herring and lamb.

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  • Snowshoe hiking with views of the Aurlandsfjord © Sverre Hjørnevik/fjordnorway.com

    Walk this way

    The 29km Aurlandsfjord is a branch off Norway’s longest fjord, Sognefjorden. Deep and narrow, and surrounded by mountains that scale up to 1,800m, it’s the perfect place to take a hike.

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Norway travel essentials

Stay

Located in the heart of the city, Clarion Hotel Stavanger has 249 comfortable rooms and jaw-dropping fjord views. Look out for the colourful work of local artist Kjell Pahr-Iversen.

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Eat

Dine on the best dishes and ingredients the region has to offer at the Michelin-starred Renaa, by chef Sven Erik Renaa.

Don’t miss

Bergen is home to one of the oldest orchestras in the world. Catch the Bergen Philharmonic’s magical concerts at Grieghallen every Thursday from late August through to May.