If you haven't seen Frozen yet, chances are you're living under a rock (or a troll, as luck may have it). The blockbuster film secured Norway's reputation as a winter wonderland packed with snow-covered peaks and exquisite ice castles—all under the fluorescent green glow of the aurora borealis. But you don't need a parka, a reindeer or a talking snowman to find Frozen in Norway. In fact, the beauty of Norway's southern fjord region—the main inspiration for Frozen's Kingdom of Arendelle—is truly at its best during the summer months.
Per Disney, Arendelle gets its name from Arendal, a 16th-century shipping town about a three-hour drive southwest of Oslo. But the Southern Fjords along the country's lower western coast, 186 miles away by car, inspired Arendelle's verdant mountainsides and deep, granite-lined waters—as well as the kingdom's whimsical architecture, with its steep-pitched roofs and turreted, medieval-style castle. Disney Cruise Lines now offers Frozen-themed summer cruises to the region. But if you'd rather experience 'Arendelle' on your own, here are a few southern fjord stops not to miss:
Stavanger and Preikestolen
Both a vibrant port town and a great entry into Norway's 'Arendelle' region, Stavanger serves as the base for Lysefjorden—a long, narrow fjord that meanders through tall granite walls that occasionally sprout waterfalls. Walking along the cobbled streets of Gamle Stavanger, or Stavanger's old town, it's easy to feel as though you've been transported to another world. This section of town is one of Europe's oldest surviving wooden settlements, with approximately 1,000 18th- and 19th-century timber structures that butt up against the harbor. In summer, locals and tourists crowd the colorful waterfront restaurants, sipping brews at outdoor tables and sporting sunglasses well past 10 p.m. (Olaf would be in heaven!). Those looking to channel their inner Anna can make the two-hour trek up nearby Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock, a nearly 2,000-foot-high plateau that juts out over the Lysefjord. While the payoff isn't an ice castle, the slightly terrifying views are just as spectacular.