This 9-day itinerary combines some of Norway's prettiest cities, villages, and mountains surrounding its biggest and most famous fjord: the Sognefjord. After a few days in Oslo, you'll travel by train, ferry, and rental car through several villages boasting scenic hikes, waterfalls, and UNESCO-listed architecture. Finish with a half-day cruise to get to 16th-century Bergen, a seaside city oozing with history and charm.

Highlights

  • Walk along Oslo's new 5.5-mile harbor promenade with modern architecture
  • Enjoy mountain views on one of the world's steepest trains as you travel west
  • Drive along a spectacular waterfall route with plenty of opportunities to stop
  • Choose between a range of hikes in and around Fjærland with glacier views
  • Cruise through the Sognefjord to get to Bergen's lively culture and restaurants

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Train to Flåm - Ferry to Leikanger - Drive to Gaupne Gaupne
Day 4 Visit Urnes Stave Church - Waterfall Hike Gaupne
Day 5 Drive to Fjærland - Mundal Valley Hike Fjærland
Day 6 Drive the Gaularfjellet Scenic Road to Balestrand Balestrand
Day 7 Drive to Leikanger - Fjordcruise to Bergen Bergen
Day 8 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 9 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
A new 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
See a local side 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: Train to Flåm - Ferry to Leikanger - Drive to Gaupne

Visit the sites in Flåm before taking the ferry
Visit the sites in Flåm before taking the ferry

After an early breakfast in Oslo, take a train to Myrdal where you'll transfer to the Flåm Railway, regarded as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The journey is steep in places and passes through waterfalls and stunning landscapes, so keep your camera close. 

When you get to the picturesque village of Flåm, sit back and have lunch at a café or the local microbrewery. Enjoy the serene nature or go for a stroll through town before you catch your mid-afternoon ferry ride to Leikanger through a portion of the Sognefjord—Norway's longest and deepest fjord. As the mountains come closer and higher, keep an eye out for eagles and seals. 

Following the ferry ride, you'll be picked up and transferred to a rental car company to pick up your vehicle for the road trip portion of your journey. From here, make the drive to Gaupne, beautifully located along a branch of the Sognefjord, where you will stay for the night.

Day 4: Visit Urnes Stave Church - Waterfall Hike

Urnes Stave Church
Urnes Stave Church

This morning, you'll drive to Solvorn and take the ferry to Urnes. This short ride will take you to one of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway, the UNESCO-listed Urnes Stave Church. It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and is an outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture with traces of Celtic art, Viking traditions, and Romanesque spatial structures.

After the visit, you will make the short drive to experience the powerful 715 foot high (218 m) Feigumfossen Waterfall. There is a marked path up to a lookout point under the waterfall. It takes about 45 minutes from the parking lot to the viewpoint which is 492 feet (150 m) above sea level.

From here, take the ferry back to Solvorn in time for lunch. If feeling energized, you can take a bigger hike—about four hours—with stunning views of the Lustrafjorden with Nes and Høyheimsvik in the foreground. As you begin, you'll eventually head along a path that rises steeply until you reach Svarthiller with its fine view towards Urnes on the other side of the fjord. The path winds its way past steep crags and then levels out where you'll continue to the cairn on the top of Molden, 3661 feet (1116 m) above sea level.

Following your hike (or hikes), return to Guapne.

Day 5: Drive to Fjærland - Mundal Valley Hike

Where the glacier meets the fjord: Fjærland

After breakfast today, you will drive to the fjord-side village of Fjærland, with Jostedalsbreen Glacier as its backdrop. The village with almost 300 inhabitants is officially an international Book Town, with 10 second-hand bookshops in a variety of abandoned buildings—from ferry waiting rooms, stables and local banks to post office and grocery shop.

When you arrive at your hotel, there will be time to relax and have lunch before you meet up with your guide in the reception area for a seasonal hike that is great for families (3-4 hours; easy to medium difficulty).

Then head into the Mundal Valley past green fields that have been farmed for generations (since the Viking Age). As you walk along gentle terrain, you'll be able to view staggering peaks that rise towards the sky like little giants. The hike traverses a loop, and most of the time on a trail in the woods while the last bit is on the road along the fjord going back to Mundal. 

Following your hike, you'll visit the Norwegian Glacier Museum, an award-winning hands-on museum, situated in Fjærland at the head of the Fjærlandsfjord. The museum is the leading center in Norway for the dissemination of knowledge with regard to glaciers and climate. Return to your hotel for dinner following the day's adventures!

Day 6: Drive the Gaularfjellet Scenic Road to Balestrand

A waterfall in the Gaularfjellet National Tourist Road
A waterfall in the Gaularfjellet National Tourist Road

Today, you'll have breakfast in Fjærland before beginning the next leg of your road trip. This time you'll drive towards Balestrand via a fantastic scenic driving route called Gaularfjellet.

This nationally recognized scenic road follows Gaularvassdraget, one of the few protected watercourses offering everything from wild rapids and waterfalls to calm stretches. Simply driving along the watercourse is a wonderful experience, but you can also walk along a continuous waterfall path of almost 15 miles (25 km), which has been established from Nystølen to Eldal. Take a short stroll along the path to admire the watercourse at close hand. For many people, the bridge over the Likholefossen waterfall is a highlight, since it provides a feeling of being in the midst of the swirling cascade.

When you arrive in Dragsvik, you will check into a hotel with an amazing view of the fjord. A recommended afternoon activity is to rent a bike and ride to Balestrand where you can visit Villa Street, Balestrand Beach, and Ciderhuset.

Day 7: Drive to Leikanger - Fjordcruise to Bergen

Bergen at dusk

Today marks the end of your road trip! At the designated time, you'll make the drive to Leikanger and return your rental car. Then transfer to the pier for your fjordcruise to Bergen.

Situated on Norway's west coast, this wharf city of about 300,000 residents (one of the oldest port cities in Europe) is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. Rich in culture and seafaring history, Bergen boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities. You will arrive in the evening with enough time to start exploring the great bar and restaurant scene.

Some great local options 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 8: Explore Bergen with a Local

Hilly, cobblestone streets ooze with charm
Hilly, cobblestoned streets oozing with charm

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!

  • Evening Segway Tour (2 hours): This fun guided excursion travels all over Bergen on two-wheeled motorized personal vehicles. You'll visit a number of key stops, including the top of Mount Fløyen for a beautiful sunset view.

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. If you purchase 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 9: Depart Bergen

A summer sunset in Bergen
Summer sunset in Bergen

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last moments in this beautiful city with a leisurely breakfast, neighborhood stroll, and/or souvenir shopping before you head to the airport for your return flight home.

Map

Map of Norway's Sognefjord Road Trip - 9 Days
Map of Norway's Sognefjord Road Trip - 9 Days