Oslo, Norway's capital, has something for everyone. It is divided into two distinct areas, the wealthy West End, where all the elegant parks, chic boutiques and cafes are located, and the more vibrant East End, where you will find the city's nightlife scene.
Oslo is also a maze of forests, lakes and islands, and one of its great charms is that you’re never far from nature. And never far from culture.
Outside the capital you have the gorgeous towns of Bergen, Trondheim and Tromsø, the glorious north and, of course, the majestic fjords.
But a scroll through some of the reviews on travel website TripAdvisor suggests that the country isn’t to everyone’s taste. We were left baffled (and entertained) by some of the strangest reviews of the most popular tourist spots across the country.
The Vigeland Sculpture Park
Photo: Lukas Riebling via Wikimedia Commons
One of Oslo’s most visited spots is a tribute to the wonderful sculptures of Gustav Vigeland that celebrate the human body. Some visitors, however, were put off by the nudity.
“What ruined my whole experience was that people kept taking pictures of their friends touching the genitals of the naked statues. This made me feel very uncomfortable, and since some of the statues are displaying children this could possibly be illegal,” said one reviewer, who clearly had a shaky grasp of law.
Another tourist seems to have not quite understood the purpose of a sculpture park. “This is a strange park with lots of statues that are slightly odd – if you are into statues, you may like it.”
With its azure waters framed by jagged cliffs and snow-capped peaks, the magnificent Geirangerfjord is world famous and also bears a striking resemblance to the animated Kingdom of Arendelle from the film Frozen. It's a listed UnescoWorld Heritage site too – it's been regularly named as one of the most beautiful places on the planet. However, not all tourists are awed.
“The landscape isn't that extraordinary because there is a lot of the same around,” said one jaded and world-weary commenter who has clearly just moved into a new fairy tale palace on the harbour front of Arendelle and is therefore very hard to impress.
A second tourist was even less enthusiastic. “Although the travel guide promised us great scenery and nice walks, it was rather average. The reputation of the Geiranger fjord is overrated.”
Photo: Harvey Barrison, via Wikimedia Common
Tromsø has made the Lonely Planet guide's 2015 list of the ten best places to visit in Europe, with the report's authors praising the city's outdoorsy attractions. But that doesn’t satisfy some tourists, who feel that the compact, artsy little city is not trying hard enough to keep its visitors happy.
“There were not a lot of fjords in Tromsø itself,” noted one TripAdvisor commenter with admirable accuracy and a generous refusal to complain about the city’s authorities' failure to ensure a 24/7 northern lights display or to hire polar bears as waiters in the city’s bars.
Preikestolen (the Pulpit rock)
The wonderful scenery combined with dramatic rock formations make the hike to Preikestolen among the most popular trails in the country. Add the photo ops and the wow factor of standing out on these seemingly precarious rocks and you have a great draw. Not everyone, however, would agree. This Canadian chap makes the hike sound as dangerous and traumatic as the D-Day landings.
“If you are a North American don’t even try this – you are not like the Norwegians! Forget it! One teenager was having a meltdown because he was so afraid. One of our group got sick, with heat exhaustion I think, but she had to find the strength to get herself out on her own, it is so treacherous no one can carry you and there are no other options. People were falling and landing hard on rocks, I am sure there was some injuries.”
Another hiker took a rather more practical, if somewhat hysterical, view. His comment is below:
“Anybody notice the fine vertical crack forming on front precipice? People have evidently failed to reach the point beyond failsafe, but if and when they do it'll be far too late. Death defying thrills only appeal to people who are mentally deficient. Or just plain nuts. It doesn't matter which.”
Akershus Castle and Fortress
Photo: Tomasz Sienicki, via Wikimedia Commons
Dating from 1299, this medieval castle and royal residence was converted into a fortress in 1592, after which it was rebuilt into a renaissance castle in 1637-1648. The castle includes several magnificent halls, the Akershus Castle church, the Royal Mausoleum and, being in the centre of Oslo, boasts some lovely views. Not everyone will find a rich historical heritage very interesting but we can’t help feel that this tourist’s final words, in a one-star review of the castle, betray a certain basic lack of understanding of tourism itself.
“We visited the fortress thinking that we will really see something great! Not much to see but views…”