With a backdrop of colorful foliage and fewer crowds, autumn is the perfect time to see southern Norway. This 11-day itinerary follows a circular route through Oslo, Bergen, and Stavanger, as you journey deep into the fjords by bus, train, and boat. By day you'll hike, kayak, or cruise to sweeping views and unspoiled wilderness, while evenings are spent discovering the Norwegian art of "koselig" in toasty saunas and cozy restaurants.

Highlights

  • Stroll through the blazing autumn colors of Oslo's Akerslacka River
  • Ride the world's steepest railway to the tiny village of Flåm
  • Cruise along the UNESCO-listed fjords of Nærøyfjord and Lysefjord
  • Explore one of Europe's oldest ports in beautiful Bergen
  • Take a full-day hike to the floating boulder of Kjerag

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo, Fjord Dinner Cruise Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo's Hidden Gems with a Local Expert Oslo
Day 3 Mountain Train Journey to Flåm, Floating Fjord Sauna Flåm
Day 4 Fjord Cruise to Gudvangen, Train to Bergen  Bergen
Day 5 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 6 Scenic Bus Ride to Stavanger Stavanger
Day 7 Kjerag Autumn Hike Stavanger
Day 8 Day Trip to Flørli Stavanger
Day 9 Fjord Cruise to Lysefjord & Pulpit Rock Stavanger
Day 10 Fly to Oslo, Akerselva River Walk Oslo
Day 11 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo, Fjord Dinner Cruise

Oslo's waterfront Akershus Fortress
Welcome to Oslo! You'll catch the scenic train from Oslo Airport to the city center upon arrival. Pass picturesque countryside and tidy suburbs before pulling into the station, where you can arrange for a taxi or private transfer to your accommodations. Surrounded by mountains and sea, Norway's rapidly growing capital still feels like a small city. Its charismatic center is made for walking, and as long summer days give way to the first chills of autumn, you'll find crowds thin, and Oslo is yours to discover.
 
After settling in, the rest of the day is free to explore this 1,000-year-old city at your own pace. You'll find plenty to see within a relatively small space (it takes 30 minutes to travel from one end of Oslo to the other by metro). Start with a stroll along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade), or spend your afternoon wandering around the wharf-front Aker Brygge for a buzzing selection of shopping and restaurants with great views across the Oslofjord

As evening falls, you'll board a dinner cruise to glide silently past the stunning Oslo skyline and landmarks like the Opera House, Akershus Fortress, and the new Munch Museum—all of which are best viewed from the water. As you leave the busy city behind, you'll enter the calm waters of the Oslofjord, dotted with small islands and reflecting the colorful foliage of the surrounding forests and mountains. Enjoy a delicious, locally-sourced dinner inspired by Nordic traditions and contemporary trends, paired with carefully selected wines to compliment the meal.

Day 2: Explore Oslo's Hidden Gems with a Local Expert

Oslo's Vigeland Sculpture Park
Get to know the real Oslo in the most authentic way possible today: with a local expert guide. The city is known for its rich history and plentiful museums, which feature the macabre works of the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch, recount the fascinating maritime history of the Viking Era and celebrate music and even ski history. For an open-air experience, the Vigeland Sculpture Park showcases over 200 sculptures scattered throughout a peaceful greenspace in the middle of the city.

Your guide will tailor the experience to your preferences and interests, or you can defer to their expertise as they lead you around the city on an impromptu adventure—perhaps starting with a stroll along the atmospheric cobbled streets of Damstredet, a historic road lined with well-preserved wooden houses dating back to the late 17th century.
 
Continue to Grünerløkka to discover a bohemian enclave that abounds with street art, funky cafés (which offer some of the best coffee in the world), dance clubs, and independent fashion boutiques. Here you'll find the Mathallen Food Hall, where you can savor the flavors of Norway and abroad at its more than 30 eateries—with everything from paella and Southeast Asian street food to Norwegian cheeses and cured meats.

Day 3: Mountain Train Journey to Flåm, Floating Fjord Sauna

Traditional cottages along the shore near Flåm
Today, you'll wind through Norway's countryside as you embark on one of the steepest and most scenic train journeys on earth. Sit back and enjoy the ever-shifting vistas as you cross Hardangervidda, Europe's highest mountain plateau, and pass nearly every iconic Norwegian landscape you can think of—mountains, rivers, valleys, hamlets, and fjords. Your adventure ends in Flåm, an idyllic village nestled at the innermost corner of the tranquil Aurlandsfjord

Spend the afternoon discovering this town at your leisure. Sit down to a late lunch at one of the many charming cafés or the local microbrewery, or stretch your legs with a short hike to one of the area's countless waterfalls. At the end of the day, unwind with the ultimate Norwegian experience—enjoying a steaming hot sauna at the water's edge before a refreshing plunge into the crystal clear (and cold!) waters of the Aurlandsfjord. 

Day 4: Fjord Cruise to Gudvangen, Train to Bergen

Sail through the Aurlandsfjord to the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord

If you're feeling adventurous this morning, start the day early with a moderate hike to the Brekkefossen Waterfall. This special spot is a favorite of the locals, affording breathtaking panoramic views across the Aurlandsfjord, Flåm, and the surrounding valley. Your guide can tailor the hike to your interests and entertain you with stories and history from this remarkable area between the fjords and the mountains.

Then it's time to bid Flåm farewell as you board a fjord cruise toward Gudvangen. Glide out of the Aurlandsfjord and into the narrow, UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord, passing dense forests ablaze with autumn colors and steep mountainsides cloaked in mist. Upon arrival at the small village of Gudvangen, you'll have time to stroll through its reproduction of a Viking settlement before catching a quick bus ride to Voss, where you'll board the scenic, one-hour train west to Bergen
 
Located at an intersection of sea and fjords, Norway's second-largest city is one of Europe's oldest ports, with a swashbuckling history dating back to 1070 BCE. Upon arrival, get settled into your hotel, then venture down to the beautiful Bryggen neighborhood, where you'll find colorful 16th-century houses lining the wharf and no shortage of lively restaurants and cozy pubs overlooking the waterfront.

Day 5: Explore Bergen with a Local

Bergen's historic Bryggen district
Meet up with a local resident today for a private tour of Bergen. Your guide will customize the day to your interests and lead you on a memorable journey through this vibrant, walkable metropolis. For an in-depth introduction to the city's highlights and hidden corners, opt for a leisurely walking tour that starts with the largest church in Bergen: St. Johannes. From there, stroll through the Botanical Gardens and onward to the vast Nygårdsparken. Continue through narrow streets lined with traditional Bryggen houses as your guide shares life stories in Bergen and recommends the best local hotspots and restaurants. 
 
If you're looking for more of a challenge, you could choose a hike that takes you from the city center up to the mountainside of Sandviksbatteriet, where you're rewarded with spectacular views over Bergen and a small, hidden cabin rich in World War II history. Or head to Mount Sandviken, one of the seven mountains surrounding the city, and visit the Stoltzekliven—a favorite local landmark of 900 steps built by sherpas from Nepal. This trail is home to the steepest race in the world and features dizzying views from the top!

Day 6: Scenic Bus Ride to Stavanger

Explore Stavanger Like a Local
Take your time as you get to know Stavanger like a local
Leave Bergen behind this morning as you take a bus headed south along the coast of Norway toward Stavanger, the gateway to the famous Lysefjord. The trip will take approximately four to five hours, and you'll want to keep your camera close—there's much to see on this scenic route. Views of the rugged Norwegian coast are interspersed with tiny fishing outposts and, eventually, a ferry and undersea tunnel. Stop in these picturesque hamlets for coffee, traditional fares like fiskesuppe (a seafood soup), homemade Norwegian bread, or locally-cured meats and cheeses. 

Eventually, you'll arrive at the port of Stavanger, a lively university city with a compact size that makes it easy to explore. Start in the historic center, where you can wander charming narrow streets, or head to the peaceful quayside neighborhood of Skagenkaien. Don't miss a stroll down Stroll Øvre Holmegate, where quaint, wooden buildings in shades of green, turquoise, and pink house trendy bars, cafés, and boutiques. Make sure to stop for coffee and baked goods to experience some authentic Norwegian koselig—a feeling of coziness and contentment.

Day 7: Kjerag Autumn Hike

A sign marks the trail toward Kjerag
Lace up your hiking boots and fuel up with a hearty breakfast before setting out on a colorful autumn hike to the famed Kjerag boulder. Your journey begins with a transfer to the trailhead as you take in the area's dramatic fjord scenery. Your guide will navigate over the Sirdal Mountains en route, where you can experience a moon-like, glacier-scoured landscape. This demanding, full-day trek leads you up to a mountain plateau at over 3,000 feet (1,000 m). Along the way, enjoy views of the village of Lysebotn, which sits at the head of the Lysefjord, and sweeping vistas of the fjord and its surrounding mountains. 
 
If you're feeling brave, pose for a photo atop the iconic boulder, which sits suspended above the fjord between two cliffs. After a picnic lunch, your guide will lead you back down to the trailhead. The return trip to Stavanger takes you around 26 hairpin turns along the only road to Lysebotn, where you'll catch a high-speed ferry through the fjord, passing waterfalls, abandoned farms, and Preikestolen, the famous Pulpit Rock. 

Day 8: Day Trip to Flørli

See more of the Lysefjord with a day of hiking or kayaking
More outdoor adventure beckons today, starting with a boat cruise deep into the Lysefjord toward Flørli. This roadless hamlet is best known for its tough climb to the top, via 4,444 steps up a steep mountain on the longest wooden stairway in the world. Flørli is also famous for its hydropower history, and you can learn more about this in the Power Hall, which hosts an interesting exhibit. Pack a picnic for this journey or take advantage of the on-site café for lunch; better yet, finish the climb with a rewarding beer at the pub.
 
If your legs need a break today, you can opt to rent kayaks or canoes instead and paddle at your leisure around this stunning area of the Lysefjord. Then, in the afternoon, return to Stavanger by ferry.

Day 9: Fjord Cruise to Lysefjord & Pulpit Rock

Autumn reflections in the Lysefjord
Today's popular fjord cruise takes you on a day trip through the dramatic scenery of Lysefjord to see Preikestolen (Norway's famous Pulpit Rock), towering 1,981 feet (600 m) above the water. Pass small islands and cut through deep fjords to admire the magnificent sheer mountain walls created by retreating glaciers. Along the way, you can sit back and relax on the comfortable boat, which features panoramic viewing points from inside the cabin and on the deck.

Make a stop at Vagabond's Cave, a secret cove named for a local legend involving outlaws hiding out from the authorities in this sheltered sanctuary. Before returning to Stavanger for the afternoon, you can also try a taste of the clear mountain water of Hengjanefossen (Hengjane Falls).

Day 10: Fly to Oslo, Akerselva River Walk 

Akerselva River in autumn
Oslo's River in autumn
Enjoy a final morning among the quaint streets and cozy cafés of Stavanger. You'll transfer to the airport and catch a short flight back to Oslo when the time comes. After downtime at your hotel, join your local guide for one of the capital's loveliest autumnal experiences. Take the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway that winds through the heart of Oslo's center and offers abundant local history. As the weather cools, the surrounding forests come alive with bright foliage and create one of the most beautiful walks in the city.
 
Start at 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 of Oslo's rich and fascinating past. The Akerselva is 5 miles (8 km) long and passes waterfalls, swimming holes, forested areas, and wildlife, so bring your camera! 
 
As night falls, celebrate your last evening in Oslo with an exploration of the city's thriving food scene —whether enjoying a meal of elevated Nordic cuisine at one of its innovative, Michelin-starred eateries or heading to a favorite local haunt for Norwegian comfort food favorites like kjøttkaker (meatballs) with rødkål (braised red cabbage) and potatoes.  

Day 11: Depart Oslo

Sunset over Oslo
Your Norwegian adventure draws to a close today as you savor your final morning in Oslo. When it's time to make your way to the airport, you can spy one last glimpse of the countryside by train or opt for a taxi or private transfer to catch your departing flight. Safe travels and ha det bra!

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Map of Norway Autumn Adventure: Cities, Fjords & Hiking: 11 Days
Map of Norway Autumn Adventure: Cities, Fjords & Hiking: 11 Days