Don't think about what you know about the beach. It is a tale of Iron Age burial mounds and reveling under the midnight sun in Norway.

Many of the coves in Norway are pristine and remote. The idyllic spots aren't known for their on-the-sand bars, palm trees or tropical temperatures, but they each offer a Nordic seaside experience that will challenge what it means to take a beach vacation We picked the best beaches in Norway.

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The green lights of the Aurora Borealis light up the night sky above Skagsanden Beach, Norway.
Skagsanden Beach is a top place to see the northern lights © ProPIC / Getty Images

1. Skagsanden Beach, Lofoten

The best beach to take pictures of the northern lights.

Skagsanden Beach is often missed by travelers in favor of better-known shores. The dark patterns on the shoreline are created by rivulets and make for interesting shots. The weather can make you think of a dark expanse of sand with snowy peaks beyond.

The sideshows are for the main event. Photographers flock to this area for the chance to take pictures of the northern lights. They surge upward in the sky above the mountains. The flat stretch of glassy sand is mirrored by the light show in the sky.

2. Telegrafbukta, Tromsø

It's the best city beach.

The sun won't set on your summer fun at Telegrafbukta. The small crescent of blonde sand on the southern shores of Troms island is covered in ice-cold water all the time. The fringes of a forested recreation area draw city residents to its trails and beach volleyball court.

You can join the party-goers for the Bukta Open Air music festival in July when the sun is up. The shoreline is illuminated by the light show of the northern lights. You can see the northern lights reflected on the water of the fjord below.

A view of Furulunden nature park, with two sandy coves visible; both of which are lapped by dark blue seas. The hillsides are bright green, filled with plants and trees.
Sjøsanden is just one of half a dozen golden-sand beaches spread along the coast of Furulunden nature park © imageBROKER/Moritz Wolf / Getty Images

3. Sjøsanden, Mandal

For families, it's the best.

Sjsanden is the most famous sandy beach in Norway. There isn't anything out of the ordinary here. It's perfect for families with young children who like to splash in the water.

When the view gets tiring here, locals simply pack up and head to one of the other beaches in the Furulunden nature park, at least six of which include Sjsanden.

4. Orrestranda, Jæren

For walking, it's the best.

The 3 km stretch of pale golden sand is home to protected birds and plant species. The Orrestranda is one of the best beaches at Jren.

The joy here comes from simply strolling along the unspoiled shore, with the waves rolling in rhythmically on one side, while the grass sways on the other. If your visit coincides with a warm summer day, you can take a dip in the turquoise water.

5. Munkholmen, Trondheim

The best beach in the area.

The smallest beach is on this list. There aren't many other places in Norway where you can sunbathe on a viking-era execution site.

This islet has been used as a monastery, a fortress, a prison and a customs house. It pulls summertime day-trippers to its museum, who stay on the grass and eat ice cream before heading down to the sandy sweep for a bracing dip.

Two surfers wearing wetsuits and carrying surfboards walk along a beach in Norway with snow-capped mountains behind.
Norway has a number of great beaches for surfing © Mint Images / Getty Images

6. Hoddevik, Stad

It's the best beach for surfing.

The title of Norway's best beach for surfing is a tough one to win. The waves of Jren and Lofoten have great credentials, but the westernmost tip of the country is home to the most prestigious waves. The adventure begins on the narrow road that leads into the bay. There is a square inlet lined with light yellow sand before you get to the amphitheater.

The waves from the Norwegian Sea can be powerful and the mountains offer some protection against them. By autumn, the thrill-seekers have made way for the committed explorers in full hooded wetsuits. They dropped in to ride the waves, surrounded by snow peaks.

7. Mølen, Larvik

For history, it's the best.

Over 10,000 years ago, at the end of the last ice age, the vast pebble beach at Mlen was revealed. There are over 200 mysterious cairns on the beach, some as large as 25m. The bleak North Sea offers a glimpse of 2000-year-old end-of-life rituals.

Around 100 different types of rocks were dragged by the glacier from miles away. Mlen is now protected by a global park. Just as those who were buried here did centuries before us, join other visitors in pondering the landscape and our tiny place within it.

City beaches near Oslo and Bergen

If you can find space on a warm summer's day, you can cool off at the small city beach. There is a modern art gallery next to it.

The region's rocky geography makes it difficult to find a beach in Bergen. There are small stretches of sand, fjord swimming and a diving board for those brave enough to go.

The article was last updated about 5 hours ago.