You know those places that are so hyped that there’s no way possible for them to live up to expectations? I was worried Norway would be like that. I mean, could anywhere really be that magically beautiful?
Yes, yes it can.
Turns out there aren’t really words to describe how stunning Norway is, so there’s no danger of overstating its beauty. It also turns out it’s a terrific place to take kids. Scandinavia in general is extraordinarily kid-friendly, and Norway is no exception. Here are 7 reasons to take your kids there!
1. NATURAL BEAUTY. If Sweden was beautiful and filled with outdoor activities, Norway is that amplified. It is even more dramatic and gorgeous.Truly, it might be the most beautiful place we’ve ever visited, and that’s saying quite a lot. Our kids loved hiking and boating and training through this majestic land.
2. PLAYGROUNDS AND OTHER CHILD-FRIENDLY ACCOMMODATIONS. This was also true in Sweden, but kids are such a valued part of Nordic culture. Even tiny places had accommodations for children – numerous high chairs, play areas in restaurants and on trains, children’s exhibits. It’s truly remarkable. Plus, Norway is extremely expensive (the most expensive place we’ve visited, in fact; there’s nothing like coming from Norway to make London feel dirt cheap), so it’s really nice to feel like you’re getting discounts with kids. The trains were half-price for our older two, and the younger ones were free. It’s just really nice being in a place where they’re clearly trying to cater to children.
Also, Norway had incredible playgrounds! So many little ones all over the place, plus some big and fantastic ones. One was at the top of Floyen in Bergen, and had all kinds of climbing stuff that I suspect wouldn’t fly in the US for safety reasons, but our kids absolutely loved.
3. NORDIC CULTURE IN MUSEUMS. Norway is extremely proud of its heritage and does a really terrific job of preserving Nordic culture. Everything from the Hanseatic Museum to the various KODE art museums do a great job of integrating Nordic history. The great thing for kids is that much of Nordic culture is FUN! The Fiskeries museum had kayaking lessons to learn about the importance of that in fishing, and the tiny little museum in Flam talked all about the importance of trains. The Bryggen area packed and sold fish, and people bunked there. Plus, trolls! Vikings! It’s all stuff that’s really exciting from a kid perspective.
4. CLEAN AIR & WEATHER. I have to say, one of my biggest pet peeves in much of Europe is how. much. people smoke. This probably makes me sound like a finicky American, but it gets really bothersome, especially with kids around. This was SO much less of an issue in Norway. People seemed to care a lot more about clean air, and we rarely encountered folks smoking, much less in busy public areas or near doorways. It was such a nice change of pace to not have to constantly feel like I needed to shuffle my kids away from being directly in the line of smoke.
And as for weather, if you’ve ever been with four children who are complaining, “I’m hoooooot!”, well, Norway is amazing for that. 😉
5. PUBLIC TRANSPORT. I touched on this briefly already, but the public transportation in Norway was just so so lovely! There was a tram from the Bergen airport that went cheaply and easily right downtown, and the train station is super accessible to get out to fjords or other parts of the country. It just all felt very convenient, and not at all stressful. I also feel like in some countries, the trains can get extremely crowded and that can be a bit anxiety-inducing with children and luggage, but in Norway, everything felt so spacious and clean and lovely. And I’ve gone on for too long about this already, but the longer trains have these incredible kid play areas on board with climbing structures and books and TVs. Most peaceful journey of my life. 😉
6. SNACKS. There’s an abundance of kid-friendly, cheap, filling, and portable snacks in Norway. They have a million hearty crackers, good dairy, and skolleboller. What more could you want?
7. PEACEFUL. Even in the height of tourist season in a fairly popular fjord town and also in Bergen (the 2nd largest city in the country), nothing felt overrun by tourists. Sure, the Bryggen area was busier than I’m sure it is in, say, February, and there were definitely cruise ship folks walking around during the day in the fjord area where we were, but it still felt SO much calmer and less crowded than almost any other country we visited. Especially compared to places like Venice, Paris, and London, where you sometimes fear losing your children or perhaps your life in the mad rush of people, Norway feels like a literal breath of fresh air. And that’s amazing, with or without kids in tow.