- Check out Oslo's sleek modern art museum on the waterfront
- Ferry to one of two hiking opportunities in Lysefjord (it'll be hard to choose!)
- Enjoy plenty of time in hilly Bergen and its seven surrounding mountains
- Take a day-trip to Fjærland, close to the largest glacier in continental Europe
- Sail through the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord and get up close to waterfalls
- Shop for New Nordic designs and go stand-up paddleboarding in Ålesund
Norway is an outdoor-lovers' paradise year-round, but June, July, and August make up the country's high season with long days of sunshine and bright summer evenings. Active locals and visitors take every opportunity to spend time outdoors during these months, especially around the fjords. A major portion of this itinerary focuses on three of the most famous fjords of which there are over a thousand along the coast. The entire west coast of Norway is a maze of waterways, cliffsides, and mile-long views, and you'll cover a lot of ground. In fact, with overnights in six destinations and two nights on the Hurtigruten, this itinerary is ideal for travelers who like to be on the move.
Starting in Oslo, you'll travel by train to Stavanger for a fjord hike: either Pulpit Rock, which towers nearly 2000 feet over the Lysefjord, or the longest wooden stairway in the world. Then catch a bus to Bergen, a historic wharf city surrounded by seven mountains before ferrying to quaint fjord-side villages for kayaking and more hiking. Return to Bergen on the Flåm Railway and set sail on the Hurtigruten, Norway's historic coastal steamer, to Geiranger and finally Ålesund, arguably the prettiest city in Scandinavia. Finish the journey exploring Trondheim's medieval roots on one of the city's iconic red bicycles.
Spectacular vistas aside, you'll experience plenty of cool Scandinavian culture in Norway's capital city. You'll start and end the trip with free time to explore Oslo's museums, modern architecture, cafés, New Nordic cuisine, and weekend summer festivals.
|Day 1||Arrive in Oslo||Oslo|
|Day 2||Oslo City Tour||Oslo|
|Day 3||Oslo - Train to Stavanger||Stavanger|
|Day 4||Lysefjord Adventure||Stavanger|
|Day 5||Bus to Bergen||Bergen|
|Day 6||Explore Bergen with a Local||Bergen|
|Day 7||Bergen - Ferry to Balestrand||Balestrand|
|Day 8||Explore Balestrand||Balestrand|
|Day 9||Balestrand - Flam Railway to Bergen||Bergen|
|Day 10||Bergen - Hurtigruten||Hurtigruten|
|Day 11||Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord - Ålesund||Ålesund|
|Day 12||Explore Ålesund - Hurtigruten||Hurtigruten|
|Day 13||Hurtigruten - Arrive in Trondheim||Trondheim|
|Day 14||Trondheim - Train to Oslo||Oslo|
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, wander around 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: Oslo City Tour
The opportunities for experiencing culture in this amazing Scandinavian city are endless! Oslo is located in the heart of Norway between the water and evergreen forests — and though it's the capital of Norway, it only takes 30 minutes to travel from one end to the other on its metro system.
If you really want to feel like a local and experience all that Oslo has to offer, hook up with a local guide and get an exclusive tour around town. 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 which 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 five 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 Holmenkollen 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.
For dinner, 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.
Day 3: Oslo - Train to Stavanger
After breakfast at your hotel, walk to Oslo Station and board a train towards Stavanger — the dynamic city on the southwestern tip of Norway. Although the journey is over seven hours long, this is no ordinary train ride: Sit back, relax and watch the changing coastal landscape of Southern Norway glide past you.
By evening you’ll be in Stavanger and will have the chance to explore picturesque narrow streets with white wooden houses offering charming restaurants and pubs before heading back to your hotel in the city center.
Day 4: Lysefjord Adventure
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, you'll get to pick one of three options on how to spend your day in the Stavanger area, located along the stunning Lysefjord, which stretches 26 miles (42 km):
- Ferry to Pulpit Rock and Hike: Get out your hiking boots! You'll take the Lysefjord ferry to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) for a moderately difficult trek on one of the most beautiful trails in the world. This is a self-guided seasonal hike (May through October), but you won't be alone as this is one of the more popular spots in the country. The trip takes about five hours roundtrip on hilly terrain and allows you time to enjoy and photograph the famous views from Pulpit Rock, which rises 1,981 feet (604 meters) above sea level. It is recommended that you start your hike early in order to conserve daylight and avoid crowds and be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes and base layers, as the climate in Norway is constantly changing.
- Visit Flor & Fjære: For a more relaxing day, you can experience Flor & Fjære's blossoming garden full of colorful flowers, exotic plants, and palm trees. To get to this beautiful island, you'll take a scenic 20-minute boat trip on the fjord, followed by a guided walking tour through the lush gardens (great for those seeking gardening tips!) Finish the experience with a gourmet buffet lunch before heading back to Stavanger.
- Climb to the Top of Flørli: Less visited than Pulpit Rock, Flørli is a roadless hamlet deep within the Lysefjord serviced by four ferries per day, popular for its 4,444 steps (yes, that many!) up the mountain -- in fact, the longest wooden stairway in the world! Flørli is also known for its hydropower history and you can learn more about this in the Power Hall, which hosts an exhibit. Pack a picnic for this journey or take advantage of the on-site café for lunch, or better yet, the pub serving beer.
Return to Stavanger and explore more of the sites if you have time. In the town center, visit Stavanger Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th-century. Meanwhile, the shopping street Øvre Holmegate is known for its boutiques and colorful houses.
Day 5: Bus to Bergen
After breakfast in Stavanger, get ready for another scenic transfer. This time, you'll take a five-hour bus ride along the coast to Bergen — a small wharf city (one of the oldest port cities in Europe), which is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including the Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest.
Be 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, and take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way.
Not to miss: Walk around the area of Bryggen's narrow streets to view old wooden houses dating back to the 1700s (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site).
For dinner, the cobblestoned streets are compact and walkable, so check-out Bergen's lively restaurants and nightlife, thanks in part to a young student population.
Day 6: Explore Bergen with a Local
After breakfast, meet up with a local 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.
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!
Hike Three of Seven Mountains (5-7 hours): On this longer hiking trip, you will have the opportunity to climb three of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen: Mt. Ulriken, Mt. Rundemannen, and Mt. Fløyen. Lunch will be served at a scenic spot along the trail along with the Norwegian treat “Kvikk Lunsj”, plus coffee or tea.
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: Bergen - Ferry to Balestrand
After an early breakfast at your hotel, you'll walk down to the port where the ferries depart and take a scenic journey by boat to the fjord-side village of Balestrand.
There's plenty of time (nearly four hours) to marvel at the majestic mountain views along the Sognefjord. Once you've deboarded in Balestrand, check into your hotel and explore this lovely place along the water with its 19th-century architecture, crafts shops, and art galleries, as well as the Norwegian Travel Museum.
After dinner in town, take advantage of the long summer hours and catch a late sunset.
Day 8: Explore Balestrand
After breakfast at your hotel, you’ll have the whole day to enjoy Balestrand and the fjord, perhaps by kayak or day-trip to Fjærland.
Kayak Tour: If you'd like to sign up for a kayaking excursion, your guide will pick you up and take you on a three-hour tour of the fjord. Kayaking is one of the best ways to absorb the natural beauty of these stunning mountains rising against the crystal-clear sea. After some basic instruction on how to paddle your vessel, set out with your group while an experienced guide teaches you about the culture and history of the fjord and surrounding towns. (Lunch is included.)
Day-Trip to Fjærland: Another option is to take a ferry north through the Fjærlandsfjord (a branch of the Sognefjord) to the village of Fjærland. Keep an eye out for Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in continental Europe. When on dry land, check out the Norwegian Booktown, which consists of several second-hand bookshops, some that are combined with cafés, art galleries, and souvenir shops. Also not to miss 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.
In the late afternoon, return to your hotel and spend the rest of the day learning more about the town of Balestrand. Suggested activities include:
- Hike through easy to moderate trails surrounding Balestrand
- Visit St. Olav's Church
- Explore the town's local museums
Day 9: Balestrand - Flam Railway to Bergen
Today, you'll return to Bergen by way of Flåm in order to experience one of southern Norway’s most popular attractions: the quaint, old-timey Flåm Railway, considered to be one of the steepest and most beautiful rail journeys in the world. The route passes through waterfalls and stunning landscapes, so keep your camera close.
But first, you'll cross the fjord by boat from Balestrand to Flåm, yet another charming fjord-side village, where you can sit back and have lunch at a café. Suggestions for dining include:
- Aegir Brewery & Pub for authentic Viking culture inside the restaurant's historic wooden structure
- Flåm Marina and Apartment Café for a peaceful atmosphere and lighter fare
Enjoy the serene nature or go for a stroll through town before you catch the train, arriving in the late afternoon.
Day 10: Bergen - Hurtigruten
After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, you will have more time to explore Bergen and its mountainous surroundings on your own. If you'd like to take a day-trip excursion near the city, consider the following:
- Boat to Mostraumen: This day-trip departs from Bergen's port and takes you through a deep fjord to Modalen, which is one of the smallest municipalities in Norway with about 380 residents! You will sail along Osterfjorden and pass steep mountains and spectacular waterfalls.
- Mt. Ulriken Zip Line: This fun zip line adventure through hilly forests is located close to the city center.
In the evening, transfer to the pier and set sail on the Hurtigruten. Cruise 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 11: Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord - Ålesund
Today, you'll wake up and enjoy breakfast with views of the passing Norwegian coast. Make sure to spend as much time you can on the deck for great views, especially when the ship cruises into Geirangerfjord — arguably the world’s most famous fjord. The landscapes of these UNESCO-listed landscapes are stunning in any weather, and your pictures today will likely be among the best of your entire trip.
Your vessel will continue to meander 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.
Deboard the Hurtigruten and stay overnight in a hotel in the city center.
Day 12: Explore Ålesund - Hurtigruten
After enjoying a delicious breakfast at your hotel, you have the day to explore this flowering city with its breathtaking location stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean.
Ålesund is the cultural center of the region with an array of museums, a sea park, a lighthouse (Alnes), and elegant streets to explore on foot, not to mention numerous outdoor activities such as hiking and stand-up paddle boarding.
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.
In the evening, board the Hurtigruten (again!) as you set sail for Trondheim, staying overnight in a private cabin.
Day 13: Hurtigruten - Arrive in Trondheim
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 onboard 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 14: Trondheim - Train to Oslo
Wake up with breakfast at your hotel in Trondheim before you take a relaxing train ride back to Oslo for your last night in Norway.
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.