This active summer tour covers Norway's two biggest cities, as well as its longest and deepest fjord, using various means of transportation for a true Scandinavian adventure. After exploring Oslo, you'll take a train ride to Flåm — one of the most scenic in the world — followed by several ferries to fjord-side villages like Balestrand and Fjærland. There's also a guided kayaking trip and a longer ferry to Bergen, where you'll spend your last full day with a local who will show you the best of this charming city and its surrounding mountains.

Highlights

    • Check out Oslo's hip neighborhoods and sculptures in Frogner Park
    • Walk along the city's Akerselva River for museums and swimming areas
    • Kayak in the Sognefjord and learn about culture and history of nearby villages
    • Tour Norway's leading center on glaciers and climate change
    • Hike around Bergen and visit the city's open-air Fish Market 

Overview

Balancing urban experiences with outdoor adventures and jaw-dropping landscapes, this classic itinerary covers three major gems — perfect for Norwegian first-timers who want to make the most of their journey.

A large portion of the trip takes you to villages near the Sognefjord, Norway's longest and deepest fjord, one of a thousand along the coast. In between Oslo and Bergen, you'll visit Flåm and Fjærland along the Fjærlandsfjord, a branch going north off the Sognefjord while staying three nights in the village of Balestrand, known for its 19th-century architecture. From here you'll take day-trips and even have a chance to kayak through a portion of the King of Fjords.

Spectacular vistas aside, this trip includes plenty of cool Scandinavian culture in Norway's two largest cities bookending both sides of the itinerary. You'll start off with free time to explore Oslo's museums, modern architecture, and New Nordic cuisine before you meet up with a guide for a private tour of the city. Meanwhile, your last two nights will be based in Norway's historic Hanseatic wharf city, which stays young and fun with a large student population.

Brief Itinerary

Day Activity Overnight
Day 1 Arrive to Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand Balestrand
Day 4 Kayaking Tour Balestrand
Day 5 Ferry to Fjærland Balestrand
Day 6 Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen Bergen
Day 7 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 8 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

View of the Oslo Harbour and Akershus Fortress

Welcome to the capital of Norway! Surrounded by mountains and sea, this is a beautiful city for walking. Meanwhile, outlying neighborhoods 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.
  • 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. The sculptures depict the ups and downs of life and the raw emotions of human beings. Bring your camera!
  • During summer months, Oslo comes alive to celebrate extended daylight hours, with various festivals and celebrations happening each week. 

Day 2: Explore Oslo with a Local

Charming alleyways and outdoor cafés

After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with your local guide for a custom private tour of Oslo. Your guide, a native, 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): Start the tour by taking the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway which offers an abundance of local history. You will first visit 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): For outdoorsy types, this 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 like hiking, biking and swimming in summer months. 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.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to explore on your own! 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: Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand

Stunning views of Flåm from the Sognefjord

After an early breakfast, catch a ride on 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, have lunch and take a walk through town before you catch your mid-afternoon ferry ride (approximately two hours) to the picturesque harbor town of Balestrand 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. 

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

Day 4: Kayaking Tour

Take an unforgettable kayak ride near Balestrand

After breakfast, your guide will take you on a 3-hour kayaking tour (lunch included) in the Sognefjord. Kayaking is one of the best ways to absorb the natural beauty of these stunning mountains against the crystal-clear sea. After some basic instruction on how to paddle your kayak, set out on the water while an experienced guide shares his/her knowledge of culture and history of these surrounding towns. 

When back on dry land, your guide will bring you back to your hotel and you'll have the rest of the day to explore the town of Balestrand. Suggested activities include:

  • Hiking on the outdoor trails surrounding town
  • Visiting St. Olav's Church
  • Explore the Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism

Day 5: Ferry to Fjærland

Make your way north to Fjærland and learn about Norway's glaciers

After breakfast in Balestrand, you'll get back on the water and take a fjord cruise north through the Fjærlandsfjord (a branch of the Sognefjord) to the village of Fjærland. Keep an eye out for the largest glacier in continental Europe, called Jostedalsbreen

Once you've arrived, head to Fjærland's village center, called Mundal, and visit the famous Hotel Mundal — an elegant wooden hotel from 1891. Other noteworthy areas include 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.

Day 6: Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen

Bergen's scenic waterfront at dusk

After breakfast, it's time to decide which ferry to take to Bergen. This depends on whether you'd like more time in Balestrand (afternoon ferry), or if you're ready to get to Bergen (morning ferry). 

Either way, once you arrive in Norway's second largest city, the rest of the day is yours to explore on your own. Bergen has a picturesque and compact downtown with a fun bar and restaurant scene, so get out and walk around the cobblestoned streets.

Some great local options include:

  • BarBarista: A funky coffee shop, restaurant & music venue.
  • 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 7: Explore Bergen with a Local

Walk uphill to get the best views with a local guide

After breakfast, you'll embark on a custom tour with a private guide who was born and raised in Bergen. 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. 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.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the city on your own. Consider picking up a 24-Hour Bergen Card for unlimited bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions).

Day 8: Depart Bergen

Bergen's walkable streets. 

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

Map

Map of Norwegian Highlights: Oslo, Bergen & the Sognefjord - 8 Days
Map of Norwegian Highlights: Oslo, Bergen & the Sognefjord - 8 Days