Like any well-informed traveler, you're probably after a combination of what Norway's most famous for: adventure, views, history, culture, and the best seafood on the planet. While this hardly narrows it down, here are seven sample itineraries that will get you started planning an unbeatable ten-day excursion, whatever your tastes. Which one is your favorite?
Itinerary #1: Norway's Self-Guided Trek through Aurland Valley
This itinerary is a good taste of southern and central Norway. You'll get adequate time in both Bergen and Oslo (Norway's most populous cities), and still have plenty of reasons to keep your camera on landscape mode.
After spending your first day in Oslo, you'll take the train to Finse — the highest stop on the Bergen Railway — which takes around 4 1/2 hours, leaving you enveloped in the magnificent Aurland Valley. You'll hike through the valley (there will be cozy cabins all along your way) all the way to the Aurlandsfjord, where a boat will be waiting for you. On day five, you'll board the ferry for a fjord cruise — a destination in itself — to Bergen, Norway's second-largest city.
After exploring the former capital, you'll visit Kalvåg, an old fishing village as beautiful as it is historic. Spend time kayaking the port, or take another hike up to the top of Hornelen, the tallest sea cliff in Europe (not quite 3,000 feet). Before heading back to Oslo, stop in Otta for a hike around the fjords or take a detour to Jotunheimen or Rondane National Parks — the options are many. Then it's back in Oslo for a taste of city life before heading home.
Itinerary #2: Ultimate Winter Adventure in Norway's Arctic
Norway's cities are somehow more magical in wintertime, like a Christmas fairytale come to life.
With this itinerary, you'll start in Oslo, Norway's capital, taking in museums, opera houses, fortresses, and even Michelin-worthy dinners, should you like. On day two, it's off to Røros by train (about five hours), where you'll step off the platform and into narrow cobblestone streets, wandering between old courtyards. The entire town is a UNESCO site — its wooden structures have seen more history than any textbook could cover — and yet you'll be in good hands with plenty of restaurants, shops, and things to do.
After getting acquainted with a group of frisky huskies on a dogsledding adventure, it's off to Trondheim for a flight to Tromsø on day four. You'll sled with reindeer, sleep in a Sami tent, and (hopefully!) watch the auroras dancing above. Don't get too comfy lounging on your reindeer skin, though, as you've got a ticket on the Hurtigruten for a trip to the Lofoten Islands. You'll see Reine (the most famous of the cities, if not but visually), explore Andenes, and swim with a pod of Orcas. When 9 pm hits, jump on your horse to ride off into the Norwegian auroras, the perfect grand finale to your trip. Is this real life?
Itinerary #3: Norway's Outdoor Adventure: Oslo to Trondheim
If you've been approved for an adventure badge, this itinerary may be what you're looking for.
After exploring the ins and outs of Oslo on your first day, you'll head to Lom, a charming mountain village. Stop at the old stave church, go hunting for waterfalls, and take it easy in order to rev up for the week. Start day three with your first epic hike to the peaks of Jotunheimen — we suggest Storebjørn — before heading out to the famous Geirangerfjord. You'll paddle in the waters, drive the heart-pounding Trollstigen to Åndalsnes, and then hit yet another peak: Romsdalseggen. Trust us, and Google it.
But seeing Norway from the air isn't over. Then it's a drive to Innerdalen on day six of your trip to summit the Innerdalstårnet (it gazes over the entirety of Trollheimen). Hope you have just a bit of energy left because you've got one more adrenaline rush: river rafting down the Driva. Afterward, it's time to celebrate your last night in Trondheim, Norway's third-largest city. Stroll along the river, stop for coffee and relish all you've conquered.
Itinerary #4: Discover Norway's Cities: Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim
With this itinerary, you'll visit three of Norway's largest metropolitan areas, which are hardly the cacophony of noise, traffic, and neon that most "big cities" have become. Oslo, Bergen, and Trondheim are all surprisingly walkable (well, if you can handle Bergen's hills!) and pedestrian friendly. You'll see thousands of years of history, get entranced by Norwegian nightlife — and there will be time for some pretty amazing views, too.
You're starting in Oslo, exploring as you see fit. See Edvard Munch's The Scream, witness one of the most well-preserved Viking ships in the world, or sit on top of an opera house, picnicking across the water. Grab a skillingsboller (cinnamon pastry) and a coffee before heading out on the famous Flåm Railway on day three (said to be one of the most beautiful train rides in the world), terminating at its namesake town. After spending an overnight in the fjords in Aurland — a peaceful village near Flåm — you'll be right on the waters you've spent hours marveling at, arriving in short order in Bergen. Spend days five and six exploring, taking time to stop at Bryggen (the famous UNESCO site), climb up one of Bergen's seven mountains, or take a one-hour jaunt outside the city to Øygarden and Sotra —an area of 550 islands and small reefs.
Afterward, it's back on the water and onto the coastal steamer Hurtigruten for a trip down the world-famous Geirangerfjord. You'll sail by the West Cape to the shores of Ålesund, continuing past the area's iconic cliffs and waterfalls to arrive in Trondheim on day eight of your journey. Don't miss the famous Nidaros Cathedral, and be sure to take a kayak tour on the river or take in the student-centered nightlife downtown. With fewer than 200,000 people, Trondheim has the history and culture of a big city — but you'll still feel like a local.
Itinerary #5: Western Norway's Rivers, Islands & Fjords
This 10-day itinerary allows you to fully experience some of Western Norway's lesser-known scenery during the warmer summer months where daylight hours extend far into the evening. That means there's much for travelers to discover, from the rapidly growing capital city of Oslo to picturesque fjords, snow-capped peaks, and emerald-green rivers.
Skip the peak season crowds and take a train ride along the emerald-green River Rauma toward the breathtaking city of Ålesund, known for its Art Nouveau architecture. Continue the journey through interesting coastal islands where artists reside and eat your share of fresh-from-the-boat seafood. From here, you'll head towards the lively wharf city of Bergen. Climb one of the seven surrounding mountains with a local guide before ending your trip back in Oslo (by way of ferry through the Sognefjord) for one last night of Scandinavian fun. Check out the city's hip neighborhood of Grünerløkka and keep an eye out for summer festivals that often fall during weekends.
Itinerary #6: Norway's Ultimate Fjord Road Trip
Active types who like to take the wheel — and who don't mind skipping Oslo — should check out this itinerary, which allows you to experience the best of Norway's spectacular fjords. The trip starts in Norway's second-largest city where you'll tour the streets and mountains with a local guide before you pick up a rental car. From here, head out of town and spend several days exploring charming fjord-side villages and stopping for outdoorsy activities.
This includes (but is not limited to!) climbing the spectacular Pulpit Rock above Lysefjord, called one of the most beautiful trails in the world. It's a tough call as you can choose between that epic trek or climbing to the 'Top of Flørli', a hike up 4,444 steps and the longest wooden stairway in the world. In coming days, you'll also hike to the Vøringfossen waterfall, go snow skiing at a summer resort, and kayak on the deep blue Lake Årdalsvatnet. Finish the adventure traveling along Norway's longest and deepest fjord towards Jotunheimen National Park — with more than 250 peaks — to see some glaciers. Head back to Bergen for your last night and reward yourself with the city's fun restaurants and pubs.
Itinerary #7: Southern Norway's Summer Adventure
For first-timers who love summer weather, you can't do much better than this relaxing 10-day itinerary, which creates a nice loop through Southern Norway.
Start off exploring Bergen on your own and with a local guide. This is the country's second-largest city, known for its fish market, Hanseatic League history, and stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. From there, you'll hop on a bus to the pretty port town of Stavanger, then ride a ferry through the Lysefjord to hike the longest wooden stairway in the world. Continuing east, you'll stop in charming island towns along Southern Norway's popular coast like Arendal — the "Venice of Scandinavia," which used to have a series of canals until they were turned into wide streets. You'll also ferry to Merdø Island and explore the car-free culture by sunbathing on a couple of small sandy beaches or climbing rocks and boulders.
Next, board a train to Oslo and soak up the pleasures of Europe's fastest-growing capital with a new waterfront promenade, hip cafés, and summer festivals. You'll finish the adventure on the steep Flåm Railway and ferry through Norway's longest and deepest fjord to get back to Bergen for one last night in this beautiful city surrounded by seven hills.