- Warm-up with a five-and-a-half-mile waterfront walk in Oslo upon arrival
- Take one of the steepest trains in the world to a historic hotel inaccessible by car
- Hike to the Prest Summit in Aurland followed by a ferry ride to Balestrand
- Rent a car and drive to Fjærland to experience a glacier museum and in-town hike
- Consider a trail near Bergen that has 900 steps built by sherpas from Nepal
|Day 1||Arrive in Oslo||Oslo|
|Day 2||Explore Oslo's Nature Trails||Oslo|
|Day 3||Train to Myrdal - Flåm Railway to Vatnahalsen||Vatnahalsen|
|Day 4||Flåm Railway to Flam - Hiking in Aurland - Ferry to Balestrand||Balestrand|
|Day 5||Explore Fjærland - Fjord Cruise to Bergen||Bergen|
|Day 6||Explore Bergen with a Local||Bergen|
|Day 7||Depart Bergen|
Day 1: Arrive in 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's Nature Trails
Today is a free day to explore Olso any way you'd like! If you've had enough urban culture and want to get some fresh air, you can use this time to take a long walk along the river Akerselva. There are a number of stops you can make along the way including the Mathallen Food Hall and Norwegian Museum of Science & Technology.
If you've already done that, a great day-trip is to head outside of the city for a longer hike through Europe's largest urban forest, called Nordmarka, where you can enjoy a variety of views ranging from traditional wooden buildings, hilltop vistas, pristine lakes, and possibly fresh berries!
Check out the well-marked area on your own (trail maps are available) or join a guided hiking tour where you'll be led through dirt paths, rocky passages, and deep forests as you make your way to the viewpoint of Vettakollen—a locals' only destination for one of the best views in all of Oslo. This stop is perfect for a panoramic lunch (bring your own or purchase along the way at a café in a local forest cabin).
After lunch, continue through the forest until you get to the shores of Sognsvann, one of Oslo's prettiest lakes—great for a swim if the weather permits. The tour ends here, with easy access to a metro stop for your return to Oslo's city center where you'll have the rest of the evening to enjoy at leisure.
Day 3: Train to Myrdal - Flåm Railway to Vatnahalsen
After breakfast, you'll have a bit more free time to spend in Oslo before taking the 4.5-hour train to Myrdal, via the Bergen Railway. In Myrdal, you'll switch to the world-renowned Flåm Railway, one of the most beautiful and steepest train journeys in the world. The train affords panoramas of some of the wildest and most magnificent Norwegian mountain scenery in every season. Look out your window for rivers making their way through deep gorges, waterfalls rushing off steep mountainsides, and mountain farms clinging to snowcapped peaks.
At the first stop called Vatnahalsen, you'll disembark and take the short walk across the station to the charming hotel of the same name, located in a structure that dates back to the 19th century. Even today, the hotel cannot be reached by car.
From here you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to explore your surroundings. The area is popular with hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. In fact, biking is a popular mode of transportation along the old road that eventually became the Rallarvegen, which now attracts tens of thousands of riders each year.
In the evening, the hotel serves a 3-course dinner combining high-quality ingredients from local producers including organic vegetables and meats (pork, lamb, deer, and goat) from nearby villages and farms. Sit and relax in the restaurant and enjoy views of Reinunga Lake from the restaurant's large windows.
Day 4: Flåm Railway to Flam - Hiking in Aurland - Ferry to Balestrand
After breakfast at Vatnahalsen, get back on the train and make the one-hour journey to the village of Flåm along the Aurlandsfjord, an 18-mile (29 km) long branch stemming from the Sognefjord, the longest fjord in Norway. Your conductor will even stop at Kjosfossen Waterfall so passengers can get out and snap a few photos.
Once you arrive in Flåm, a driver will pick you up and drive you to Aurland—a short journey of about 10 minutes. You will then be dropped off at Vangsgaarden Gjestgiveri where you can store your luggage while you take a self-guided hike in the area.
A great option to consider is the Priest (or Prest) Hike (6 hours). Much more well known among locals rather than tourists, this steep hike offers plenty of beautiful scenery along the route uphill, eventually reaching the summit where you'll have a panoramic view to the surrounding mountains fjord from 4471 feet (1363 m) below. This is the perfect place to take in the breathtaking nature of Aurland.
For something easier, get a ride to the Stegastein Viewpoint where you can walk around the same trail close to the platform and enjoy stunning views.
In the afternoon, you'll take a scenic fjord cruise from Aurland to the village of Balestrand. You'll then walk from the harbor and check into your hotel where you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to relax at the property or explore the charming streets on your own.
Day 5: Explore Fjærland - Fjord Cruise to Bergen
After breakfast in Balestrand, pick up a rental car for a self-guided trip to Fjærland. The drive takes a few hours one way and includes a car ferry from Dragsvik to Hella.
Once you arrive in the Fjærland area, get out and explore your surroundings. The small village is situated along the Sognefjord and boasts the glacier Jostedalsbreen, the largest mainland glacier in Europe, as its nearest neighbor. To give you a sense of the quaintness here, there are only 300 residents in Fjærland.
A good place to start is heading to the town's waterfront where you can take in views of the Fjærlandsfjord. You can also head for Fjærland's village center, called Mundal, and visit the Norwegian Booktown, which consists of several second-hand bookshops, some combined with cafés, art galleries, and souvenir shops located in farmhouses and sheds. It's also worth visiting Hotel Mundal—an elegant wooden hotel from 1891.
Also not to miss (either today or tomorrow) is the Norwegian Glacier Museum, an award-winning architectural marvel situated at the head of the Fjærlandsfjord. This hands-on museum is the leading center in Norway for knowledge regarding glaciers and climate change.
You'll also have the opportunity to go on a hike. A good option is the Mundal Family Fjord Hike (2-hour loop). This short trail—perfect for families—is close to the village center where you'll walk up the hillside for views of staggering peaks surrounding the Fjaerlandfjord that rise towards the sky like giants. The hike spends most of its time on a trail in the woods, while the last bit traverses the road along the fjord going back to Mundal.
At the designated time, you'll drive back to Balestrand, return the rental car, and catch the fjord cruise to Bergen arriving in the mid-evening with enough time to explore restaurants and nightlife in Norway's second-largest city.
Day 6: Explore Bergen with a Local
After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with a local resident for a custom private tour of Bergen. 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 or hike ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:
- 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.
- Explore Bergen's Parks & Architecture (3 hours): This easy walking tour visits notable exteriors and city parks starting with the largest church in Bergen: St. Johannes. From there, you will walk through the botanic garden and onwards to Bergen`s largest and most beautiful park: Nygårdsparken. You'll then walk through the city's narrow streets lined with traditional Bryggen houses and eventually visit Nordnes, another great park. Your guide will share stories of life in Bergen, as well as offer lesser-known activity and restaurant recommendations not frequented by tourists.
- Hike Mt. Sandviken (2.5 hours): This hike heads to Mt. Sandviken, one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, including a visit to Stoltzekliven—a local favorite consisting of 900 steps built by sherpas from Nepal. This trail is home to the steepest race in the world and features spectacular views from the top!
The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. If you get a 24-Hour Bergen Card, that will allow you free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions), so take advantage!
Day 7: Depart Bergen
It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last moments in this beautiful city with a short hike, leisurely breakfast, neighborhood stroll, and/or souvenir shopping before you head to the airport for your return flight home.