Check off Norway's three biggest cities while traveling by train, ferry, and fjordcruise on this 12-day adventure. Start off in the country's buzzing capital followed by several days in Bergen on the west coast, surrounded by seven mountains. From here, board the Hurtigruten—a mighty coastal steamer—stopping in the Art Nouveau city of Ålesund before sailing to Trondheim by way of the Geirangerfjord. Circle back to Oslo by train for one more night on the town.

Highlights

  • Take walks along Oslo's river and fjord and visit the capital's best museums
  • Ferry to Bergen and explore its hilly neighborhoods with a local guide
  • Hike up to Ålesund's hilltop (Sugar Hill) for excellent views of the fjords
  • Sail through the spectacular Geirangerfjord passing impressive waterfalls
  • Check out Trondheim's 11th-century architecture, cafés, and live music venues

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Oslo - Train to Flåm - Transfer to Aurland Aurland
Day 4 Fjordcruise to Bergen - City Tour Bergen
Day 5 Fjordcruise to Hardangerfjord Bergen
Day 6 Free Day in Bergen - Board Hurtigruten Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 7 Hurtigruten - Arrive in Ålesund Ålesund
Day 8 Ålesund - Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 9 Hurtigruten - Arrive in Trondheim Trondheim
Day 10 Free Day in Trondheim Trondheim
Day 11 Trondheim - Return to Oslo by Train Oslo
Day 12 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo

Welcome to Oslo! Norway's rapidly growing capital is still considered a small city, helped by the fact that it's surrounded by mountains and sea. Not only is the city center made for walking, but outlying neighborhoods—filled with charm and character—are easily accessible by public transportation, so jump on a tram, train, or bus and explore all of what Oslo has to offer.

Suggested activities include: 

  • Take a half-day and wander around Aker Brygge, an area on the Oslofjord made up of beautiful, modern buildings where you can find bars and abundant nightlife. It acts as a sort of courtyard for the city of Oslo and brings together both tourists and locals alike to enjoy the great food, atmosphere, and entertainment.
  • Spend the afternoon visiting the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Open-Air Folk Museum by way of public transportation. Both museums are in the same area, so they pair well together! 
  • Walk along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade)—a new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park, which combines sightseeing, history, art, architecture, and a little bit of adventure.
  • Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where 200 larger than life sculptures are placed throughout this green lung in the middle of the city. 

For dinner, explore the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and cafés that stay cozy in cold weather, with several options that offer outdoor seating during summer months.

Day 2: Explore Oslo with a Local

Get to know more of Oslo on a half- or full-day tour
Get to know more of Oslo on a half- or full-day tour

After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with your guide for a custom private tour of Oslo. Your guide, a native of Oslo, will find the right tour for you based on your interests. Here are a few ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

  • Akerselva River Walk (4-5 hours): On this tour, you'll take the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway that offers an abundance of local history. You will start with the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology (on the north side of the river) and then head south to the Labour Museum (part of the Oslo City Museum) while your guide shares stories about the heart of Oslo's history. The river is 5 miles (8 km) long and passes waterfalls, swimming areas, forested areas, and wildlife, so bring your camera!

  • From Fjord to Forest (full-day): This outdoorsy tour takes you to a beautiful island just outside Oslo's harbor, reached by tram in about 30 minutes from the city center. No cars are allowed here, so the island is full of recreation options. Choose an activity depending on the season, or simply walk around one of the lakes while your guide shares local history.

  • Holmenkollen Ski Jump (2-3 hours): If you have less time to spare, this tour heads for a popular area called Holmenkollen, where a wooded range of hills can be reached by light rail from the city center in about 35 minutes. Open year-round, the Ski Museum & Tower presents over 4,000 years of snow sports, polar exploration, and an exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing. Head for the observation deck offering panoramic views of Oslo, and then walk down to the ski jump while your guide shares stories about local trolls, legends, and castles.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to explore on your own! For dinner, wander around the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and outdoor cafés. If you're looking for Oslo's trendiest local scene, head east for Grünerløkka, which many inhabitants refer to affectionately as "Løkka." This once-run-down sector of Oslo is now the site of refurbished apartments, fashionable cafés, and hip restaurants.

During summer months, Oslo comes alive to celebrate extended daylight hours, with various festivals and celebrations happening each week.

Day 3: Oslo - Train to Flåm - Transfer to Aurland

One of the steepest trains in the world
One of the steepest trains in the world

This morning, you'll have breakfast in Oslo and catch your train west to Flåm.

When you arrive in Myrdal, you will change trains and jump on the Flåm Railway. This is known as one of the steepest railways in the world, with spectacular views of mountainous peaks and fjords. Be sure to watch for the Kjosfossen waterfall (the train will stop here for photographs before departing again for Flåm.)

Once you arrive, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore this small village along the Sognefjord. You may want to set out on a nearby hiking trail, visit the Flåm Railway Museum, or tour the local church, constructed from wood in 1667.

If there's time, sample traditional Norwegian cuisine at one of the cafes, pubs, or restaurants in town before you're transferred to the nearby village of Aurland for your overnight stay.

Day 4: Fjordcruise to Bergen - City Tour

Bergen's not short on scenery
Bergen's not short on scenery

After breakfast in Aurland, you'll be dropped off at the port to connect to your fjordcruise along the Sognefjord—Norway's longest and deepest fjord.  

The route takes about five hours and leads you to Norway's 2nd largest city: Bergen. This walkable city has centuries of history and boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities, not to mention lively restaurants and nightlife thanks in part to a young student population.

Once you're settled, make sure to check out the Bryggen area of downtown to view the waterfront wooden houses that characterize the city, dating back to the 1700s (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site).

At the designated time, you'll meet up with a local guide for a custom private tour of the city. Your guide, who was born and raised in Bergen, will find the right tour for you based on your interests. Here are a few walk ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

  • Hidden Streets & Local Gems (3 hours): This walk starts from the city center and continues uphill toward one of Bergen's seven mountainsides through quaint neighborhoods along narrow streets. You'll walk up the Skredderdalen trail, and then to a hidden viewpoint behind Fløyvarden that only locals know about. After enjoying the magnificent vistas, you'll have the option to walk down to Fløyen for more views, or take an alternative way down which is called 'tippe tue'.

  • Walk Through History (3 hours): This walk starts from the city center and travels through narrow streets up to the mountainside known as Sandviksbatteriet with spectacular views over the city. From here, the trail takes you to a small, hidden cabin rich in World War II history. During the walk, your local guide will offer local stories of Bergen's history and culture.

Day 5: Fjordcruise to Hardangerfjord

Spring blossoms overlooking the Hardangerfjord
Spring blossoms overlooking the Hardangerfjord

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll head to the harbor to catch a lovely cruise ride to Rosendal. This trip will sail through the fjords of Bergen to the Hardangerfjord, known as the 'queen of the fjords'; keep your camera close as you'll encounter spectacular views of steep mountains and cascading waterfalls along the route. 

Arrive in Rosendal for a 3.5-hour visit, which includes a guided tour of a manor dating back to 1665. For lunch, relax with a two-course meal prepared with fresh herbs and vegetables grown on-site, along with coffee, tea, and pastries. After lunch, continue your tour in the manor's romantic rose garden before returning to Bergen. 

When you return, the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy. Some great local restaurant options to consider for your last night in Norway include:

  • BarBarista: A funky coffee shop, restaurant & music venue.
  • Bryggeloftet & Stuene: A traditional mountain lodge restaurant.
  • Zupperia: An eclectic European restaurant right on the Bryggen wharf.
  • Bare Vestland: A basement-level eatery specializing in Norwegian tapas.
  • Pygmalion Økocafe and Galleri: A healthy, organic restaurant located in a historic space with a fireplace and an art gallery for art exhibitions and live music.
  • Matbørsen: Three restaurants in one serving international cuisine in a gorgeous, airy space—the former Bergen Stock Exchange, circa 1862.

Day 6: Free Day in Bergen - Board Hurtigruten

Explore the cobblestoned streets by foot or bicycle
Explore the cobblestoned streets by foot or bicycle

After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, you will have more time to explore Bergen and its mountainous surroundings on your own or with a local guide.

If you haven't done so yet, make sure to take the Fløibanen funicular (or hike the trail on foot) to the top of Mount Fløyen—one of Bergen's seven peaks—for the best views of the city. Then, take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way. 

You can also join a fun zip line adventure through the hilly forests near Bergen at a place called Mt. Ulriken Zip Line (seasonal/weekend activity).

Active types can choose between several hiking excursions in the surrounding mountains. There's even an evening Segway tour that spins around the city at sunset. 

More museums to check out: 

  • Old Bergen (Gamle Bergen) is a reconstruction of Bergen from the 18th century. It's best to take a bus to the stop called Gamle Bergen in order to arrive.
  • KODE 4 is an art museum with paintings by Munch, Astrup, Dahl, and other Norwegians, plus work by Picasso.
  • Bergen Maritime Museum offers exhibits of boats and ships, both historic and modern.
  • Bergenhus Fortress Museum reveals the military history of Norway, with exhibitions on historical wars, WW2 and modern warfare.
  • Magic Ice Bar is an ice-art gallery with sculptures inspired by famous works by Norwegian and international artists, all made in crystal clear ice. 

In the evening, transfer to the pier and set sail on the Hurtigruten. You'll cruise overnight along the Norwegian coast while you enjoy a relaxing buffet dinner and a restful sleep in your private cabin. Also make sure to take in the spectacular landscapes, wither from on deck or in the panorama lounge.

Day 7: Hurtigruten - Arrive in Ålesund

Ålesund at sunset
Ålesund at sunset

Today, you'll wake up and enjoy breakfast with views of the passing Norwegian coast.

In the morning, your vessel will continue to meander north along the coast, taking you into more majestic fjords and depositing you in a quaint waterside city called Ålesund, known as one of the prettiest and most charming cities in Scandinavia. Distinguished by its numerous spires, towers, and ornate buildings, this town is renowned for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture—a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904. 

Once you deboard the Hurtigruten and check into your hotel, you'll have time the explore the colorful streets at your own pace.

Day 8: Ålesund - Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord

UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord
UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord

After breakfast at your hotel, you have the day to explore the city. 

Ålesund is the cultural center of the region with an array of museums, a sea park, a lighthouse (Alnes), and charming streets to explore on foot, not to mention numerous outdoor activities such as hiking and stand-up paddleboarding. 

If you're looking to get beyond the city's typical sites, take a hike up Ålesund's Sukkertoppen (Sugar Top) hill, which affords excellent views of the city, fjord, and coast. Plan at least 2.5 hours for this excursion.

For a hearty and authentic Norwegian meal, consider dinner at Café Lyspunktet—also a place to come for great coffee, live music, and local art exhibitions.

You'll board the Hurtigruten in the afternoon and set course for the spectacular UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord* passing sheer cliffs and impressive waterfalls en route. 

Enjoy a three-course dinner of local Norwegian food in the evening and stay overnight on board.

Please note: The season for sailing through the Geirangerfjord is between June and August. You'll sail through the Hjørundfjord if traveling during the months of September and October.

Day 9: Hurtigruten - Arrive in Trondheim

Walk through the intimate city center
Stroll or bike through the intimate city center

Today you'll arrive by boat to the city of Trondheim in the early morning, but the ship will remain in port long enough to enjoy breakfast on board before you deboard and transfer to your hotel.

Few large cities have managed to preserve their intimacy as effectively as Norway’s third-largest city. Today, you'll have time to explore Trondheim by foot, or by renting one of the red-painted bicycles at bike racks scattered around the city.

The streets are scenic with beautiful parks and cultural sights, including the slightly out-of-kilter antique wooden houses. Walk across the historic Old Town Bridge—a 17th-century iron structure—for photographs. Visit the impressive Nidarosdomen Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav, the King of Norway in the 11th century. Head to popular museums including the National Museum of Decorative Arts, the Trondheim Museum of Art, the Archbishop’s Palace Museum, and the Rockheim, Norway’s national museum of popular music. 

The intimate city center is also great for shopping with independent boutiques, along with local dining establishments, including pubs, cafés, and restaurants—many that serve locally-brewed beer.

Day 10: Free Day in Trondheim

Aerial view of Norway's 3rd largest city
Aerial view of Norway's 3rd largest city

Today, you'll have a full day to explore Trondheim any way you wish, perhaps taking advantage of any museums or sites you may have missed on your arrival. 

For a unique perspective, walk or bike around town and check out the local hot spots. For instance, there's a place called Antikvariatet, located among the wooden houses of the Bakklandet, that offers craft beers on tap and beautiful waterfront views. During summer months, you'll often find live bands drawing in students and hipsters. 

Other places in town offer live music, too, like Dokkhuset, situated in a former pumping station. The venue frequently features live acts ranging from chamber music to experimental jazz. In any case, there's a restaurant and a bar, as well as a roof terrace for sipping drinks and enjoying the views. 

Day 11: Trondheim - Return to Oslo by Train

An overhead view of Trondheim's cathedral
An overhead view of Trondheim's cathedral

Wake up with breakfast at your hotel in Trondheim before you take a relaxing train ride back to Oslo.

When you arrive, take advantage of anything you may have missed in Oslo at the beginning of the trip. Perhaps you'd like to head back to the waterfront and historic core for dinner. If you've already done this and want to try something new, head to the up-and-coming 'Løkka' neighborhood and check out a slew of hip restaurants and bars. 

During summer months, the city comes alive to celebrate extended daylight hours, with various festivals and celebrations happening each week, so keep your eyes and ears open.

Day 12: Depart Oslo

Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo
Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last few hours walking around Oslo's neighborhoods, relaxing in a café, or visiting local boutiques for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Map

Map of Discover Norway by Train and Boat: Oslo, Bergen, Aurland, and Trondheim - 12 Days
Map of Discover Norway by Train and Boat: Oslo, Bergen, Aurland, and Trondheim - 12 Days