Travel tips from the royal couple

King Harald and Queen Sonja’s summer vacation

royal couple

Photo: Annika Byrde / NTB
King Harald and Queen Sonja visited Bindal municipality in Nordland in June, where they met the press and gave recommendations for vacationing in Norway.

Marius Helge Larsen

Have you visited one of Norway’s many geoparks? Queen Sonja recommends that you make the trip. The royal couple are vacationing in Norway this summer, via boat.

“We are vacationing in Norway,” King Harald revealed when he and the queen met the press in Bindal municipality in Nordland on June 7.

The king said that part of the holiday will be by boat­­—on board the royal ship Norge.

After completing their trip to Nordland, the royal couple will have made an official visit to 338 of the country’s 356 municipalities—and only 18 are “missing.”

So, they have a good sense of Norwegian destinations, and NTB took the opportunity to ask for tips for Norwegian vacations. With the extremely weak krone at the moment, it may be a good idea for Norwegians to spend the summer close to home.

“The coastline is full of destinations,” the king pointed out.

Geopark opportunities

The queen had more specific advice:

“I just found a book about geoparks,” she told NTB.

She listed municipalities that are part of the Trollfjell geopark in Nordland: Brønnøy, Vega, Vevelstad, Sømna, Leka, and Bindal.

The geopark is recognized as a global UNESCO geopark. It consists of an archipelago with thousands of flat islets and islands, the well-known landmark Torghatten­—the mountain with a hole through it­—in addition to the red island of Leka, which has been named Norway’s Geological National Monument.

“Several municipalities have joined forces. Walking paths have been drawn up at each location, with the geology as a companion,” said the queen.

“I wish I had experienced it 30 years ago. I would have experienced a lot of rock and geology,” she said, and added that there probably won’t be much mountain hiking on this year’s vacation.

Several locations

According to the Geological Survey of Norway (NGU), Norway has four UNESCO geoparks.

To receive such recognition, the park must have geological heritage of international importance and convey the connection between geology and cultural and natural heritage.

Norway’s geoparks are spread across the country. Here are the other three:

Gea Norvegica in Vestfold and Telemark:

Scandinavia’s first geopark includes the municipalities of Bamble, Kragerø, Larvik, Nome, Porsgrunn, Siljan and Skien. NGU writes that the area offers the unique larvicite, as well as the Oslo field with great mineral wealth and the “world-famous” Fen volcano.

Magma geopark in Rogaland and Vest-Agder:

This geopark extends over the municipalities of Bjerkreim, Lund, Eigersund, Sokndal, and Flekkefjord. The area is characterized by bare and rounded knolls consisting of the rare rock type anorthosite, according to NGU.

Geopark Sunnhordland in Vestland:

The park has its headquarters in Bømlo municipality in Vestland, and received UNESCO status on May 17 this year. It contains several quarries from the Stone Age, where greenstone axes were produced. Production started 10,000 years ago, and the quarries were more or less in continuous operation for 5,700 years, according to NGU.

Boat vacation

The royal couple has made it a tradition to vacation by boat on board the royal ship Norge.

“We are very lucky to have that opportunity. That is for sure,” said the queen.

The king also praises life on the boat:

“It is completely incredible. It is from the coast that you can see most of Norway. It is a completely different experience from traveling around by car.”

In early June, the royal couple used the royal ship on an official visit to Nordland.

In four days, they visited six municipalities. They gave speeches, greeted the local population and stayed busy. And this happened only three weeks after the king, 86, was admitted to the hospital with an infection.

“I will go so far as to say that without the royal ship, a visit like this would not have been possible. It would have been too tiring to stay in a new bed every night, pack and unpack, and arrive in a new place. When we board the royal ship, we are suddenly at home. It is something else entirely. We can sleep our way from place to place,” he said.

“Lucky to have beautiful nature”

The two have only good things to say about what Norway has to offer as a travel destination.

“It’s just a matter of picking and choosing,” said the king.

“We are lucky to have beautiful nature everywhere,” emphasized the queen.

Later in June, the royal couple traveled abroad—on an official visit to Denmark, with stops in Copenhagen and Aarhus. They traveled there with the royal ship Norge.

This article originally appeared in the July 2023 issue of The Norwegian American.

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NTB (Norsk Telegrambyrå), the Norwegian News Agency, is a press agency and wire service that serves most of the largest Norwegian media outlets. The agency is located in Oslo and has bureaus in Brussels, Belgium, and Tromsø in northern Norway