Travel through history, nature, and culinary adventures to arrive at an understanding of both ancient and modern Norwegian life with this trip on the Viking trail. In ancient times, Viking was a type of adventurer, with people leaving their traditional settings for remote areas to learn from new cultures and trade. Later, the Vikings developed an image more associated with plunder and pillaging. But is this the whole story? Find out for yourself as you explore the old streets of Bergen, as well as ancient political gathering spots, isolated islands, and even a recreation of a Viking village.

Highlights

  • Stroll some of Norway's oldest streets on a heritage walk through Bergen
  • Visit the ancient political site of the Gulating, once a Viking meeting place
  • Follow the footsteps of Eirik Bloodaxe, one of the most famous Vikings
  • Enjoy a Viking dinner in a Norse microbrewery along the Nærøyfjord

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Bergen Viking Heritage Walk Bergen
Day 3 Bergen to Gulen & Gulating Ancient Meeting Ground Gulen
Day 4 Gulaten to Svanøy & Explore Svanøy Svanøy
Day 5 Viking History of Svanøy & Svanøy to Lusterfjorden Lusterfjorden
Day 6 Stave Church Heritage Tour & Lusterfjorden to Gudvangen Gudvangen
Day 7 Viking Valley & Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bergen

Bergen's historic waterfront
Bergen's historic waterfront

Welcome 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.

A few suggestions for your first day:

  • 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.
  • Check out the Bryggen area of downtown to view old wooden houses dating back to the 1700s (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site), along with Bergen's best historical sites and museums. For a rest, stop in one of the charming local cafés and bakeries.

If you'd like to visit a museum, try out:

  • Old Bergen (Gamle Bergen), a reconstruction of what Bergen was like in the 1800s.
  • The four buildings of the KODE art museums, home to works from Norwegian and international artists like Edvard Munch, Nikolai Astrup, J.C. Dahl, and more.
  • Bergen Maritime museum, showing boats and ships both historical and modern.
  • Bergenhus Fortress, which shows the military history of Norway, with exhibitions on historical wars, WW2, and modern warfare.
  • The Magic Ice Bar ice art gallery.
  • Fantoft stave church in Trollhaugen, outside of Bergen.

Day 2: Bergen Viking Heritage Walk

Photo by Fridtjof Fure
Along the water. [Photo by Fridtjof Fure.]

Time travel back to Alrekstaðir, the King’s residence in Norse times in the kingdom of Norway.

You'll take a three-hour walking tour back to the times of Vikings and kings. Bergen was once known as the cultural center Bjørgvin and appears in the classic Norwegian saga of Heimskringla, also known as Norske Kongesoger (Norwegian King sagas), by Snorre Sturlason. Experience some of Norway’s oldest streets and original city planning, along with the stories, the spectacular views, and where we have come today: Bergen, the city among the seven mountains filled with culture and soul.

Stops include the old king's residence, where you can take in the same views as royalty as you walk through the Kalfaret neighborhood toward the remains of the Nonneseter Monastery in the city center, as well as the fortress.

Day 3: Bergen to Gulen & Gulating Ancient Meeting Ground

Fjord views in western Norway
Fjord views in western Norway

Get on the road today for a scenic journey along Norway's western coast. Leave plenty of time to stop for photos on the drive, including a potential detour to Byrkens, where you'll pass several picturesque bridges on narrow roads. If you're feeling extra ambitious, you can even stop for a swim.

Eventually you'll reach Gulating in Gulen. The Gulating was a legislative body, a court of law and a political assembly. It started as an alting, where "all free men fit to bear arms" had the right to assemble and participate in the procedures. Free farmers met to deliberate amongst themselves, and later in direct negotiations with the king. It was once a juridical settling location in the Viking era, as well as a meeting place where trade happened and people came together for the latest news and to meet old friends. 

Today, you'll find historic attractions on the site including stone crosses from the 10th and 11th centuries as well as modern monumental artworks.

Plan your trip to Norway
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 4: Gulen to Svanøy & Explore Svanøy

Island sunset

After breakfast, continue on the scenic road to Florø and the island Svanøy. Once you arrive in Florø, take some time to walk around this lovely little town, the gateway to many of the neighboring small islands.

Leave your car in Florø and hop on the ferry to Svanøy, the birthplace of Eirik Bloodaxe. Not only is this island home to Viking history, it's now a glimpse into rural Norwegian life. It has just 70 inhabitants, most of whom make a living by fishing or on the local deer farm. Spend your day walking around or just relaxing on the pier.

Day 5: Viking History of Svanøy & Svanøy to Lusterfjorden

Islands off the coast of Florø

Meet your guide in the morning for a tour of Svanøy, believed to be the birthplace of Eirik Bloodaxe (also known as Erik Blodøks). You'll visit the famous Viking's birth place as well as other graves, learning about boat building, the christening of Norway, and over 1,000 years of Norwegian history along the way.

Eirik Bloodaxe was one of the most famous Vikings, son of Harald Hårfagre and Ragnhild, born around the year 900. Harald made it his mission to do what he could for his son, and decided early on that Eirik would be king, even though he was not first in line to inherit the throne. In the year 930, the people of Hordaland county accepted Eirik Bloodaxe as a king. It wasn't an easy path though, as you'll learn.

You'll return to Florø via ferry after your tour to set out for Lusterfjorden via scenic Fjærland. Lusterfjorden is a branch of the Sognefjord, also a popular destination during the Viking era. It was rich in resources with robust agriculture, fishing, and trade. The fjord gave boats quick access to the sea, and it also had easy access to mountain passes where goods such as iron from Valdres came through.

Sognefjorden was also known to be the place where the wise men could educate the king’s son into the necessary knowledge to become a king. Harald Hårfagre, Eirik Bloodaxe's father, was born in Sogn, most likely in Leikanger.

Once there, you can stay at a historical hotel along the fjord. The hotel has been owned by the same family since 1690 and is the oldest family-run hotel in Norway, with more than 370 years of history.

Day 6: Stave Church Heritage Tour, Lusterfjorden to Gudvangen & Fjord Cruise

Urnes Stave Church

Start your day with a ferry ride to Urnes Stave Church. The church was built around 1130 or shortly thereafter, and still stands in its original Viking form. It is known to be the oldest stave church and is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its architecture and art forms from the Viking age, combined with Christian architecture. 

Afterward, set out toward Flåm and Gudvangen. Once you arrive, you'll board a fjord cruise from Gudvangen to Flåm, sailing through UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord, which also played a significant part during the time of the Vikings. In Flåm, you'll dine in a Norse-style microbrewery that serves food in the Viking style alongside its famous beer.

Day 7: Viking Valley & Depart Bergen

Photo by Tomasz Furmanek
Bergen at dusk [Photo by Tomasz Furmanek]

The Njardarheimr Viking Valley lies in the heart of the unique UNESCO-listed Norwegian fjord landscape, the ideal setting for the town of Njardarheimr to bring to life the real history and culture of the Viking age. Here you can experience how the Vikings lived and worked and their impact on the world. The streets of this valley are populated by an international community of Viking enthusiasts.

After your visit, you'll make the roughly two-hour drive back to Bergen, where you'll depart for your return home or on to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Norwegian Viking Heritage Tour: Bergen & The Western Fjords - 7 Days
Map of Norwegian Viking Heritage Tour: Bergen & The Western Fjords - 7 Days