Norway – a small country far north in Europe – have a lot to offer families and kids traveling : The nature is waiting just minutes outside the largest cities. If you like hiking in the woods, exploring the mountains, cross country skiing, downhill skiing or almost any other outdoor activity Norway can be recommended. Another thing for you travelling with kids, the biggest cities are small and easy to cover by foot (even small feet) but still have the feeling of bigger cities around Europe.
We will continue to fill in with Norway info and travel tips.
Ålesund – a beautiful town on the West Coast of Norway
Ålesund is a town located on the West Coast of Norway, a 6-7 hours’ drive north of Bergen. It is a good starting point for visiting Geiranger, Trollveggen and the Alps of Sunnmøre, but is also worth some attention for its own beauty. We think Ålesund is a good place to be when traveling with kids. We have been there many times, and have picked 5 activities for the whole family to enjoy.
If your kids are big enough, you cannot be in Ålesund without walking up the 415 steps to Fjellstua, on top of the Aksla, the “city hill”. Ask all to count the number of steps and see how the numbers differ from each other when you after a while reach the restaurant at top. Here you can buy the local “svele” (almost like an American pancake) and enjoy the view of the town, the fjord and the islands around. The stairs start in the middle of the small City park, where you by the way also find the best play ground in town. Why not stop here on your way back? If you are two or more grown-ups, you can let the kids play and take shifts to visit the Art Gallery just in the other corner of the park, Ålesund Kunstforening.
2. The Atlantic Sea Park – “Atlanterhavsparken”
Instead of showing fish from all different parts of the word, this aquarium is showing the local fauna – well, expect for the penguins that is, but they are so cute that we can understand why they made an exception. We recommend to time your visit to the scheduled feeding times or when they arrange for the kids to fish their own crabs (check http://www.atlanterhavsparken.no/english ).
3. Indoor playground – “Barnas Lekeland”
Norway, and particularly the west coast, has some rainy days, and even if the nature can be spectacular in a storm or you may be so lucky to see the fog rolling in from the ocean you most likely will prefer to stay most of the time inside. For kids with a lot of energy to burn we will recommend a stop at Barnas Lekeland, the indoor activity centre and play area especially suited for those from 0-12 years. Children may enjoy obstacle courses, slides and climbing walls. For the grown-ups they offer coffe, cakes and other snacks when waiting for the kids. If your kids are older, we recommend the local swimming pool, Moa Svømmehall, with pools in different sizes and waterslides for the ones liking little more action.
4. Learn more about the Jugendstil/Art Nouveau style of Ålesund
Ålesund is most famous for its architecture. Almost the whole town burned to the ground in 1904, and after a period of planning, the town was rebuilt in stone, brick, and mortar in Jugendstil (Art Nouveau), the architectural style of the time. To learn more about the town we recommend to test out the new HopperGuide, that can be downloaded as an app from Itunes. You follow a specific route, and when you are getting close to an attraction the phone will automatically turn itself on and inform you about the place. The kids will love the inter action with the phone and the hunt for the next stop.
5. Enjoy a coffee and the view of the port of Ålesund
Our favorite café in town is Invit, where they serve excellent coffee and homemade cakes. The tables by the window give you an excellent view of the port of Ålesund and the city life on the other side of the canal. They also offer free wi-fi. Afterwards you can walk out to the tiny old lighthouse at the entrance of the port. The lighthouse is now turned into a hotel room belonging to Brosundet Hotell. Why not try a different hotel stay for the family?
Enjoy your family vacation!
The centre of Ålesund ( photo taken just outside Jugendstil centre, in Brosundet)
Visit Fjellstua – on top of the hill – to enjoy the view of the town and the ocean.
The fog is rolling in from the ocean – facinating to watch
4 reasons for bringing your kids to Norway this fall
1. The nature is astonishing at this time of the year, and the capacity at the mountain cabins open for everybody to use are very good. Check out how you can travel with kids in the mountains for a very reasonable price. Turistforeningen has cabins all over Norway, and make it possible to walk from one cabin to the next. All cabins have fire wood available and food for sale. Kids love to explore the nature, but with cold nights it can be good to sleep inside in a warm cabin instead of in a tent.
2. Go for a night stroll along the rocky shores with a big flash light, a rake and a bucket – and pick your own crabs.
3. Be in Oslo when the next Peace Prize winner is announced and visit the Nobel Peace Center to learn about the stories of Nobel Peace Prize Winners, and teach the kids about the Nobel Peace Price. 12. October will the Nobel Committee announce this year’s winner. http://www.nobelpeacecenter.org/
4. Go to a place not too many have visited yet and bring home experiences and stories from “foreign land” ( if you follow our blog the rest of the month we will keep coming with more hints and tips since Norway is our focus for September.
3+ Kids tip: If you are coming to Oslo by air, you should know that you can bring all your kids for free on the Airport Express train (takes 20 minutes from Gardermoen Airport to downtown Oslo)
OSLO – a perfect destination for kids
Oslo is small enough to easy get an overview but big enough to give you and your kids plenty to do when you are here. We like to share the activities we do with the kids when we are here:
In addition to a lot of impressive stone statues of people in all ages and in all sizes which is we think the whole family will find amusing, the park also have one of the best play grounds in the city. We recommend to visit the playground at other times than Saturday/Sunday mid day since it at this time can be very busy and difficult to keep track of your kid(s).
Take the tram no. 1 to Frognerseteren (passing the Holmenkollen Ski jump on your way)
Take the Subway/local tram to Frognerseteren. Enjoy the splendid view and a cup of hot chockolate and the Norwegian “vaffel” cake from the local cafe. In the winter, rent toboggans and enjoy “Korketrekkeren”, a great toboggan slope ending very close to a tram stop further down the valley. This way you do not have to drag any kids or toboggans back up the hill but can have a nice rest in the tram heading back up to Frognersetern for a second round down the slope.
Explore the woods
Go for a long walk in some of the woods surrounding Oslo, both Nordmarka and Østmarka are so close you can take a local tram/bus to start your journey. Frognerseteren (subway/tram no 1) or Sognsvann (Subway/tram no 3) is a excellent starting point for entering into Nordmarka. If you like, you can also stay over in one of the many cabins open to the public.
Visit the Science Museum
Is the weather bad and your kids restless we suggest a few hours at the Science Museum (Norsk Teknisk Museum). Here are plenty of activities the kids can test out them selves in addition to info about Norway as an oil nation and how technology over time has effected our daily lives. If you visit Oslo often we recommend an annual membership, covering all family members.
Have a look at the viking ships and the Kon Tiki fleet
Combine a short but wonderful boat ride with a visit to the museums at Bygdøy. The ferry leaves from one of the piers by City Hall, and take only a few minutes over to Bygdøy peninsula, where you can see Fram Museum (covering the story of Fridtjof Nansen and Roald Amundsen) to the left and Kon Tiki Museum (with info about Thor Heyerdahls explorations) to the right. A short walk up the road you may also visit the Viking ship museum and Folkemuseumet. If the kids are tired you may jump on the “tourist train” going between the museums (only available in summer). Folkemuseumet shows the daily life of Norwegians from the seventeen century up to today, and also offer large outside areas for kids to run.
3+Kids Travel Tips: Many of the cabins have bed rooms with 6+ beds, making it easy to stay together even if you are a big family. Ruter, the bus, boat and tram service in Oslo, offers every weekend free rides for up to 4 children for every paying adult.
ENJOY your family vacation!