It was a bluebird day in Voss, the picturesque adventure capital of Norway, as I climbed into a plane with a handful of skydivers from around the globe. "Can we do backflips?" I asked. "We'll see," my instructor said. My fingers were crossed. This was the second time I had been skydiving, and I was ready to bump up the fun factor even more. And once we hit about 12,000 feet, my wish came true; we catapulted our way out of the plane and did five backflips before pulling the parachute. Better yet, after plunging through the clouds, I had a bird's eye view of the fjords, mountains and lakes.
Norway, is, hands-down, one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I was taking in all its topographical glory while falling through the sky. You see, in Norway, getting to know its natural side can certainly be an adventure. Skydiving is an extreme example, but don't worry, there is something for all levels, whether is's dog-sledding or snowshoeing in the winter; or hiking and rafting come summertime.
After my feet touched the ground, with the thrill of the skydive still fresh in my mind and the anticipation of so many more excursions yet to come, we left the Voss Skydiving center grinning from ear to ear. There are so many active pursuits to choose from in this Nordic land. But never fear we narrowed it down for you.
Hiking in Bergen
In the charming city of Bergen hop on the funicular to Mount Floien, which has great hiking trails gently leading you down to the bustling city below. Come evening, rest your head at Hotel Havnekontoret in the center of the city, where the decor is gorgeous and the waffles are a plenty. Bergen, Norway's second largest city, is nestled among lush mountains, brightly colored wooden houses, a historic wharf and cobblestone streets. In other words, it doesn't take long to fall in love with this place.
Paragliding above Oslo
People flock to Oslo for its architectural wonders, walkable waterfront and vibrant nightlife, but others head there for thrills. Just 20 minutes from the city center, you can tandem paraglide thousands of feet above the city. It's something all age levels can enjoy. And you'll definitely go home with bragging rights (and the photos to prove it). If you have energy left afterward, check out the waterfalls (also within the city limits) for more photo-worthy backdrops.
Kayaking along the coast
In Ålesund, kayaking is a popular way to see the scenic coastline dotted with islands and flourishing wildlife. There's no better way to get to know the marine life than by skimming over the surface of the water. It's serene and gorgeous to the nth degree. Ålesund is made up of three islands and is located between two stunning fjords. On land, the mishmash of streets are jam packed with buildings festooned with amazing architectural detail, including turrets, spires and dragon heads. In fact, these days it's considered one of the few art-nouveau cities in the world. If you prefer a walking tour, just pop by the tourism office.
Go hiking in Jostedal Glacier National Park, and you're in for a treat. The Nigardsbreen glacier is easy to get to. For starters, you can drive up to it, park and hike to the base of the behemoth in less than an hour. As part of the Jostedalsbreen ice cap, it is the largest glacier in Norway. In other words, this is a must-do. Not only will you see its soft-blue ice, but you can also bask in the glow of the lagoon nearby. www.jostedal.com
Take the famous Rauma Railway
Hopping on the train is a surefire way to soak in a load of scenic views in a matter of hours. Rauma Railway goes between Andalsnes and Dombas four times a day and takes less than two hours. The big panoramic windows allow for great views of the mountains and valleys and everything in between.
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