Experience jaw-dropping scenery and cool Scandinavian culture on this 7-day Norwegian itinerary. Start in Oslo, where you'll have two days to revel in the rich history, trendy cafés, and summer festivals of Europe's fastest-growing capital. Next, you’ll head west on the famous Flåm Railway to explore Balestrand and its majestic mountains. From here, take advantage of the warmer weather with a kayaking tour of dramatic fjords. Finish the adventure in Bergen, with a wander around its colorful wooden houses and a trip up Fløyen Mountain for panoramic views of the city.

Highlights

  • Explore vibrant Oslo with a local expert
  • Ride the scenic Flåm Railway past mountains and fjords
  • Relax in the picturesque harbor town of Balestrand
  • Kayak along the country's largest and deepest fjord
  • Wander through the cobbled streets and colorful houses of Bergen

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo's Hidden Gems with a Local Expert Oslo
Day 3 Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand Balestrand
Day 4 Kayaking Tour Balestrand
Day 5 Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen Bergen
Day 6 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 7 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

The Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo.
The Akrobaten 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. Jump on a tram, train, or bus and discover all that Oslo has to offer.

Take a half-day 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 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. Afterward, stroll 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.

For dinner, head to the city's historic core, which buzzes with restaurants and cafés that stay cozy in cold weather and offer outdoor seating during the warmer months.

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

Oslo's National Opera House.
Oslo's National Opera House.

Today you'll embark on an excursion to get to know the real Oslo in the most authentic way possible: with a local expert guide. And there's quite a bit to see in a relatively small space (it takes a mere 30 minutes to travel from one end of Oslo to the other by metro.) The city is known for its rich history and museums, some of which celebrate the macabre works of the Norwegian expressionist painter Edvard Munch. Others recount fascinating maritime history in the form of stunning Viking-era ships, while a few highlight music and even ski history. 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. Some popular choices include:

Oslo Hidden Gems: Visit the sites mentioned above as well as strolling the cobbled streets of Damstredet, in central Oslo. This historic road is lined with well-preserved wooden houses dating back to the late 1700s/early 1800s. Walk along the iconic Akerselva River, then visit Grünerløkka, a bohemian enclave that abounds with street art, funky cafes (which offer some of the best coffee in the world), dance clubs, and independent fashion boutiques. It's also the location of the Mathallen Food Hall, where you can savor the flavors of Norway and abroad at its more than 30 eateries. Here you'll find everything from paella and Southeast Asian street food to Norwegian cheeses and cured meats. 

Akerselva River Walk
(4-5 hours): On this tour, you'll take the tram to the Akerselva River, a vital waterway that offers an abundance of local history. 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 Oslo's history. The river is 5 miles (8 km) long and passes waterfalls, swimming areas, forested areas, and wildlife, so bring your camera!

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 for panoramic views of Oslo, and then walk down to the ski jump while your guide shares stories about local trolls, legends, and castles.

Day 3: Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand

Jaw-dropping views surround the village of Flåm.
Jaw-dropping views surround the village of Flåm.

After an early breakfast, catch a ride on the Flåm Railway, regarded as one of the most scenic train rides in the world. The journey is steep in places and passes through waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes. 

When you reach 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 catching your mid-afternoon ferry ride (approximately two hours) traveling through the SognefjordNorway's longest and deepest fjord—to reach the picturesque harbor town of Balestrand. As the mountains come closer and higher, keep an eye out for eagles and seals. 

You'll arrive with enough time to have dinner in the charming fjord-side town, known for its 19th-century architecture. Some great local restaurants include Vikingertreff, Pilgrim, and Ciderhuset.

Day 4: Kayaking Tour

Kayaking offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.
Kayaking offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.

This morning your guide will pick you up for a 3-hour kayaking tour of the fjord. Kayaking is one of the best ways to absorb the natural beauty of these magnificent mountains, which rise 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. 

After stopping for lunch, you'll have the rest of the day to discover Balestrand at your own speed. Go for a hike around the nature trails surrounding the town, visit Saint Olav's Church, or spend the afternoon exploring the local museum.

Day 5: Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen

Colorful houses line Bergen's waterfront.
Colorful houses line Bergen's waterfront.

Depending on your schedule, you'll catch the morning or afternoon ferry from Balestrand to Bergen today. Upon arrival, the rest of the day is yours to explore on your own. This picturesque and compact city is rich in culture and history with a great bar and restaurant scene, so get out and walk around the cobbled streets. 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 art gallery for art exhibitions and live music.

  • Matbørsen: three restaurants in one serving international cuisine in the gorgeous, airy space of the former Bergen Stock Exchange, built in 1862.

Day 6: Explore Bergen with a Local

Bergen's hilly, cobblestone streets ooze with charm.
Bergen's hilly, cobblestone streets ooze with charm.

Today you’ll meet up with a local resident for a custom private tour of Bergen. Your guide, who was born and raised in the city, will help choose the right activity based on your interests. Some suggestions include:

Walk Through History (3 hours): Start from the city center and travel through narrow streets up to the mountainside known as “Sandviksbatteriet” with panoramic 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 past and culture.

Explore Bergen's Parks & Architecture
(3 hours): This leisurely walking tour visits notable exteriors and city parks, starting with Saint Johannes, the largest church in Bergen. From there, walk through the botanic garden and onwards to the beautiful green spaces of Nygårdsparken. Wander the city's narrow streets lined with traditional Bryggen houses and eventually visit the waterfront Nordnes 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 Mount Sandviken (2.5 hours): Climb Mount Sandviken, one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, and visit Stoltzekliven—a favorite local spot 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 several key stops, including the top of Mount Fløyen for a gorgeous view of the sunset.

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. Consider picking up a 24-Hour Bergen Card, which offers free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions.)

Day 7: Depart Bergen

A summer sunset in Bergen.
A 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.

This trip was picked as one of Europe's best by kimkim. See the full list here

Map

Map of Norwegian Highlights: Oslo, Balestrand & Bergen - 7 Days
Map of Norwegian Highlights: Oslo, Balestrand & Bergen - 7 Days