I’ve written a lot about quirky things to do around the globe, like this salt and pepper shaker museum in Spain, or this gopher museum in Alberta, but I haven’t written much about the oddities that exist in Scandinavia — notably those to be found in Norway. The Land of the Midnight Sun as it’s called has long been on my radar, but as happenstance would have it, it’s still on my radar. While I’m certain I’ll get there one day, here are some activities that made it onto my wish list of quirky things to do in Norway. And boy does it have some doozies.
Visit Vigeland Installation Sculpture Park
Recently named one of the best sculpture parks in Europe, the Vigeland Installation situated within Frogner Park in Oslo is the life’s work of Gustav Vigeland, who donated his works to the city. It’s also the largest sculpture park in the world dedicate to a sole artist. Cut from bronze, granite, and wrought iron, the 212 sculptures depict the human form in various struggles, including the bizarre “Man Attacked by Babies” and the “Monolith,” which features 121 humans clawing their way to the top to reach out to the Divine.
Stay in a Lighthouse
While technology may have usurped the timely life-saving warnings that lighthouses provided, lighthouses in Norway are making a comeback — this time as accommodation options for intrepid travellers. The unique plan is the brainchild of the Norwegian government (most lighthouses are still owned by the state) to keep the lighthouses an active part of the nation’s history.
More than 60 of the once active lighthouses throughout the country have been transformed into boutique lodgings. Bookings well in advance are necessary since these one-of-a-kind accommodations are popular not only with foreigners, but also with Norwegians seeking an exceptional weekend getaway.
Step on the Troll’s Tongue
No quirky Norway travel guide would be complete without Trolltunga, or the “Troll’s Tongue” — a natural rock formation jutting dramatically out from a mountainside about 17 kilometres northeast of the town of Odda. The stunning view and the precipitous drop of 700 metres below the rock make for an Instagram lovers dream. Located at the north side of the lake Ringedalsvatnet, the hike is listed as “challenging” by the Norwegian Trekking Association, and can take anywhere from 10 to 12 hours in total, including selfie time at the top and the return back down the mountain.
Just be certain you and your group are well equipped for the hike, or go with an expert guide — Norwegian mountain rescue teams led by the Red Cross have been swamped this past summer with calls from tourists stranded on the hike down from Trolltunga. The trail is also only open from mid-June to mid-September, so plan accordingly.
Behold the Mini Bottle Gallery
Touted as the World’s Largest Collection of Miniature Bottles, the Mini Bottle Gallery in Oslo does not disappoint when it comes to kooky. Over 12,000 miniature bottles (out of a collection of more than 50,000) are housed in interactive displays sprawling over the 3-story building in the city’s downtown. A hobby of eccentric Oslo businessman Christian Ringnes, the bottles are stuffed with everything from jam to whiskey to worms and even mice. It’s creepy and campy and a blast for any quirk-hunter.
It’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00pm, and a visit will set you back 100 NOK (about $12 USD).
Insider Tip: check out the kitschy bathrooms, and don’t you dare leave without taking the slide (yes, a slide) down into the basement.