15 Famous Norwegian People to Know About

Famous Norwegians

blog authorBy Johanna Hansen shield verificationVerified Expert

    Brimming with natural beauty and stunning landscapes, the magical country of Norway is the birthplace of many famous people who have gone on to make waves across the world in fields as diverse as science, art, music and exploration.

    Although Norway is a relatively small country in Northern Europe, there’s no doubt that this friendly nation has produced more than its fair share of influential individuals. How many famous Norwegian people do you know? Maybe more than you think!

    Let’s take a tour through some of the most famous Norwegian celebrities from ancient to modern times, discovering many inspiring and world-famous people from Norway and their stories.

    Influential and Famous People From Norway

    We’ve put together this handy list to answer the question ‘who are some famous people of Norwegian descent?’ and test your knowledge of Norwegian celebrities throughout history. 

    From Viking explorers, to pioneering authors of the modernist age, to contemporary music artists, this list of famous Norwegian people will most likely have some familiar names, as well as a few new names to learn about. Let’s jump right in!

    1. Edvard Munch

    Expressionist painter, sculptor and printmaker, Edvard Munch is most famous for his iconic masterpiece, ‘The Scream’. Munch was born in 1863 in a town called Adalsbruk in Eastern Norway, around 120 kilometers from Oslo.

    His childhood was filled with difficulties, including the loss of his mother at age five, leaving him and his four siblings to be raised by his very strict father. Munch studied art in Paris, exploring many psychological themes through his work. He subsequently returned to Norway and painted ‘The Scream’, which experts believe is set on a fjord overlooking Oslo.

    Munch is without a doubt one of the most famous Norwegians, with ‘The Scream’ selling for a record price of $120 million in 2012. With an entire museum dedicated to him in Oslo (Munch Museum), you can explore all about his life and works on your trip to Norway.

    2. Anni-Frid Lyngstad

    A founding member and lead singer of world-famous pop band, ABBA, Anni-Frid Lyngstad was born in Ballangen in Northern Norway. Her German father and Norwegian mother fled to Sweden in 1947 amidst fears of recrimination for fraternizing with the Germans during World War II.

    As a Swedish citizen, Lyngstad began her singing career in the 1960s. Since winning Eurovision in 1974 with ‘Waterloo’, ABBA went on to top the charts and become one of the most popular bands of all time!

    3. Roald Amundsen

    Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen, was the first person to reach the South Pole and the first person to sail through the Northwest Passage, which is the sea lane through the Arctic Ocean that runs along the northern coast of North America.

    Born in 1872 in Borge, in Southern Norway, Amundsen was the son of captains and shipowners. He first studied medicine, then dropped out to pursue exploration, becoming a key figure in what was to become the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration.

    This race to the pole led Amundsen to beat the British explorer Robert Falcon Scott to the South Pole by one month! Amundsen returned to Norway a hero and is renowned as one of the world’s greatest explorers. You can learn all about this famous Norwegian and other influential polar explorers at The Polar Museum in Tromso and Fram Museum in Oslo.

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    4. Edvard Grieg

    Famous Norwegian composer and pianist, Edvard Grieg was born in 1843 in Bergen and is considered one of the most influential composers of the Romantic era. After studying music at the Leipzig Conservatory in Germany, Grieg returned to Norway and composed many pieces that were to become famous across the world.

    You may have heard Grieg’s famous ‘Piano Concerto in A Minor’. Did you know that many of Grieg’s musical works were based on Norwegian folk tunes?

    5. Marit Bjoergen

    If you’re wondering ‘who is the most famous athlete in Norway?’, allow us to introduce you to Marit Bjoergen. One of the most famous Norwegian women, Bjoergen holds 15 Winter Olympic medals, which is the most of any athlete in the history of the Winter Olympics! Of these 15 medals, 8 of them are gold.

    A prolific cross-country skier, Bjoergen is ranked first in the Cross-Country World Cup rankings, where she holds 114 victories. Bjoergen has since retired but still remains the greatest female athlete in cross-country skiing of all time.

    6. Kygo

    Norwegian DJ and music producer, Kygo, was raised in the city of Tonsberg in Eastern Norway. His mother was a dentist and his father worked in the maritime industry.

    With over 14 billion streams on Spotify, Kygo has taken the music industry by storm ever since he decided to pursue music full-time. From studying business and finance at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh to headlining festivals around the world, Kygo is a music inspiration! 

    7. Fridtjof Nansen

    Humanitarian, diplomat, explorer and scientist, Fridtjof Nansen helped hundreds of thousands of refugees return home during World War II. He worked with the League of Nations to develop what was to become the Nansen passport, which allowed displaced people to travel internationally.

    Born in 1861, Nansen also led a number of Arctic expeditions. In 1922, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his humanitarian work.

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    8. Morten Harket

     

    Famous Norwegian singer, Morten Harket is the lead singer of the world-famous synth-pop band A-ha, which was formed in Oslo in 1982. A-ha’s hit ‘Take On Me’ was released in 1984 and reached number one in 27 countries. 

    Harket was born in the town of Kongsberg, close to Oslo, in 1959. He started playing the piano and writing music at the age of four. 

    Norway’s King Harald named Harket a Knight First Class of the Order of St Olav for his services to Norwegian music and his success internationally. Harket has also released three solo albums and, although A-ha have broken up, the band still tours together from time to time.

    9. Henrik Ibsen

     Henrik Ibsen was a famous Norwegian playwright and theater director. Born in 1828 in Skein, just south of Oslo, Ibsen is regarded as one of the founders of modernism in theater, often being referred to as the ‘father of realism’. 

    His first successful play, ‘A Doll’s House’, was a huge success when it was first staged in Copenhagen in 1879. The most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare, Ibsen is one of the most influential playwrights across Europe.

     

    10. Ole Gunnar Solskjær

    Famous Norwegian soccer player, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, was born in 1973 in Kristiansund, Norway. He played for Manchester United for 11 years from 1996 to 2007, helping the team to win the Champions League in 1999. 

    He has since managed the Norwegian team Molde FK and Manchester United. His nickname on the field was ‘the Baby-faced Assassin’ and he was famous for coming off the substitute bench to score late goals during games.

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    11. Leif Eriksson

     Now, let’s turn the clocks back a bit to discover the story of Leif Eriksson, the first known European to have set foot in North America. Born around 1970, Eriksson is a famous Norwegian explorer whose name and story have survived all these centuries. 

    He is believed to have established a Norse settlement in Vinland, which is now known as North America. He was the son of the Viking King, Erik the Red, who founded the first Norse settlement in Greenland.

    12. Knut Hamsun

    Famous Norwegian author, Knut Hamsun was born in Lom, Norway in 1859. Despite growing up in poverty, Hamsun became one of the most prolific authors in Norway and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1920. 

    His novels displayed a new psychological writing style, exploring stream of consciousness and interior monologue. As a pioneer of modernist literature, Hamsun’s work went on to influence writers including Ernest Hemingway and Henry Miller.

    Famous norwegian

    13. Magnus Carlsen

     As a chess grandmaster, the famous Norwegian, Magnus Carlsen, has won the World Chess Championship five times. The highest-rated player of all time, Carlsen was born in 1990 in Tonsberg in the south east of Norway. 

    At just 13 years old, Carlsen became the youngest chess grandmaster ever (at the time). Since then, he’s become a four-time World Rapid Chess Champion and six-time World Blitz Chess Champion.

    14. Lene Nystrom

     Also born in Tonsberg, famous Norwegian singer and musician, Lene Nystrom, is the lead singer of band Aqua. Their debut album ‘Aquarium’ sold over eight million copies, with the most famous single being ‘Barbie Girl’. 

    Nystrom worked as a singer on a Norwegian cruise ship, before being spotted by musician Rene Dif, who recruited her as a singer for Aqua. Although Aqua split up in 2001, they have since reunited and continue to tour around the world.

    15. Gustav Vigeland 

    Renowned sculptor, Gustav Vigeland, was born in 1869 in Mandal on the southern coast of Norway. He learned wood carving at a local school, before going on to study in Oslo, Paris, Florence and Berlin. His first personal exhibitions were held in Norway in 1894-96 and received notable praise. 

    You can explore more about his life and works at the Vigeland Museum in Oslo. The capital’s Vigeland Park, which is home to over 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and iron, is the largest sculpture park by any single artist in the world and remains the most visited tourist destination in Oslo.

     Norwegian artists

    16. Erling Haaland

     Despite being born in England because his father, also a footballer, played there, Haaland is one of the most famous Norwegians in the world today. 

    Considered one of the best players in the world despite his young age, Haaland has become popular all over the world. This celebrity is destined to be one of the best strikers in history and one of Norway's most recognizable celebrities.

    Explore All That Norway Has to Offer!

     Inspired to take your own trip to see where these famous Norwegians were born and raised? You can explore the stunning fjords, vibrant cities and lush greenery across Norway on your very own vacation in this beautiful country. 

    All you need is to book that well-deserved time off work and get planning for your dream Norway trip. We can help you out with both accommodation and the best travel solution for exploring up and down Norway’s coast with our range of affordable and comfortable campervan rentals in Norway. 

    With a campervan, you can take your home with you as you go and explore Norway to your heart’s content. We can’t wait to visit the birthplace of these famous Norwegians! Can you?



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