This 12-day itinerary is ideal for travelers who prefer to skip the peak-season crowds. The adventure kicks off in Norway's up-and-coming capital where you'll explore Oslo's best neighborhoods on your own and with a local guide. From here, travel by train, ferry, and bus to get to Bergen with a peaceful two-night stay in Aurland along the way. After exploring Bergen's museums, Christmas markets,  and nearby fjords, you'll fly above the Arctic Circle to sled with huskies and hunt for the Northern Lights.

Highlights

  • Bundle up and check out modern architecture along Oslo's seafront
  • Ride the steepest train in the world to get to a branch of the Sognefjord
  • Take a cruise through a narrow UNESCO-listed fjord with dramatic views
  • Explore cozy restaurants and unique activities in Bergen's historic center
  • Choose between a range of unique snow activities in Northern Norway

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Train to Flåm - Transfer to Aurland Aurland
Day 4 Explore Aurland Aurland
Day 5 Fjordcruise - Transfer to Bergen Bergen
Day 6 Bergen Free Day Bergen
Day 7 Explore Winter in Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 8 Day-Trip to Mostraumen Bergen
Day 9 Fly to Alta & Explore Alta
Day 10 Winter Activities in Alta Alta
Day 11 Dogsledding & Northern Lights Excursion Alta
Day 12 Depart Alta  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
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, 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 cozy restaurants.

Day 2: Explore Oslo with a Local

Wander the colorful streets of Grünerløkka
Wander the colorful streets of Grünerløkka

After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with your guide for a custom private tour of Oslo in winter. Your guide, a native of the area, will find the right tour for you based on your interests. Here are a few ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

  • Oslo Hidden Gems: You could start this tour with a stroll around the historic, cobbled streets of Damstredet, in central Oslo, lined with well-preserved wooden houses dating back to the late 1700s/early 1800s. From here, you could 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. This is 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, 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!

Day 3: Train to Flåm - Transfer to Aurland

The famous Flåm Railway
The famous Flåm Railway

This morning, you'll have breakfast in Oslo and catch your train west to Flåm.

When you arrive in Myrdal, you will change trains and jump on the Flåm Railway. This ride is known as one of the steepest railways in the world, with spectacular views of mountainous peaks and fjords. Be sure to watch for the Kjosfossen waterfall (the train will stop here for photographs before departing again for Flåm.)

Once you arrive, you'll have the rest of the afternoon to explore this small village along the Sognefjord. You may want to walk along the waterfront, visit the Flam Railway Museum, or tour the Flåm church — constructed from wood in 1667.

Be sure to sample traditional Norwegian cuisine at one of the many cafes, pubs or restaurants in town. When you are ready, you will be transferred to Aurland and spend surrounded by peaceful winter scenery—in fact, this is a great time of year to visit with fewer crowds.

Day 4: Explore Aurland

Aurland Valley
Aurland Valley

Today, you'll have a free day to spend in Aurland. It is a quiet and magical place in winter for those who appreciate pristine scenery!

If you'd like to join some activities in the area, you can take a long walk or hike wearing snowshoes, visit local shops and cultural sites, or just relax with a good book.  

A trip up to Stegastein Viewpoint is also highly recommended in the wintertime. This 98-foot (30 m) long platform of steel and laminated pine overlooks Aurlandsvangen and the Aurlandsfjord. It was designed by Todd Saunders and Tommie Wilhelmsen and completed in 2006.

Day 5: Fjordcruise - Transfer to Bergen

Welcome to Bergen!
Welcome to Bergen!

After breakfast today in Aurland, you will transfer to Flåm for your next leg of the trip. 

Once you arrive in Flåm, you have some time to relax and enjoy a little snack, before you cruise through the Aurlandsfjord and the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord to get to Gudvangen. Along the way, you will sail through some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. The Aurlandsfjord is known for being picturesque, while the Nærøyfjord is known for its steep mountains and narrow inlets.
 
When you arrive in Gudvangen, you will connect to a local bus to Voss. After the bus arrives in Voss, you will continue your journey by train to Bergen. Upon arrival, set out and explore the cobbled streets of this historic wharf city, which offers lively restaurants and bars thanks to a large student population.

Day 6: Bergen Free Day

Bergen's UNESCO-listed waterfront setting
Bergen's UNESCO-listed waterfront setting

After breakfast, you'll have the entire day to explore Bergen at your own pace, perhaps taking advantage of any sites or walks you may have missed on your first day.

A few suggestions:

  • If you haven't done so yet, make 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. Then, take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way.
  • Visit the Bergen Christmas Market and gingerbread town.
  • Choose between one of several options for walking tours in the city center and/or hiking excursions in the surrounding mountains. 

Museums to check out: 

  • KODE 4 is an art museum with paintings by Munch, Astrup, Dahl, and other Norwegians, plus work by Picasso.
  • Bergen Maritime Museum offers exhibits of boats and ships, both historic and modern.
  • Bergenhus Fortress Museum reveals the military history of Norway, with exhibitions on historical wars, WW2 and modern warfare.
  • Magic Ice Bar is an ice-art gallery with sculptures inspired by famous works by Norwegian and international artists, all made in crystal clear ice. 

Recommended restaurants include: 

  • Altona Vinbar & Kjøkken is Bergen's oldest known tavern.
  • Pingvinen is an intimate eater/bar in the heart of Bergen, featuring traditional Norwegian food.
  • Restaurant 1887 is a modern eatery in Bergen's old meat market.
  • Cornelius is one of Norway's best seafood restaurants.
  • BARE Vestland offers traditional western Norwegian food in a modern gastropub.
  • Skyskaperen is Bergen's highest restaurant, with spectacular views from the top of Mt. Ulriken.

Day 7: Explore Winter in Bergen with a Local

Mountains surrounding Bergen
Mountains surrounding Bergen

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: 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: 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. 

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. As it is December, the city will be beautifully decorated for Christmas, so now is a good time to get into the holiday spirit!

Day 8: Day-Trip to Mostraumen

Snowy landscapes near Bergen
More spectacular views in Western Norway

After breakfast in Bergen, you'll explore some of the best scenery in Hordaland. The fjordcruise begins from Bergen's pier and takes you into a deep fjord called Modalen which is one of the smallest municipalities in Norway with about 380 residents!

Along the way, you will sail along Osterfjorden and pass steep mountains and spectacular waterfalls. You can sample ice-cold mountain water from one of them before heading back to Modalen while enjoying the beautiful landscape.

The excursion lasts about hours and departs from Bergen at 10 am. There's also an early afternoon option for those who prefer a later sailing. Either way, the modern boat you will be taking offers kiosks and decks for those brave enough to head outside. In other words, bundle up!

Day 9: Fly to Alta & Explore

Snowcapped coastline near Alta
Snowcapped coastline near Alta

After breakfast, you'll take a short flight to the small city of Alta, which stands at the head of Altafjord

This gorgeous area offers forests, mountain plateaus, and dramatic coastal landscapes. While traveling with your own car, you'll have numerous opportunities to stop for photos or short hikes along the route, but be sure to wear warm layers and plan accordingly based on the type of activity you'd like to enjoy during the winter months. 

On arrival, visit the Alta Museum, featuring Northern Europe’s largest concentration of rock art made by hunter-gatherers. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is comprised of rock carvings and rock paintings made from 7,000 to 2,000 years ago and depicts rituals, symbolism and religious beliefs from the pre-Christian ages. If there is snow on the ground, you will not be able to view the rock art itself, but the museum still makes a worthwhile stop on your way into Alta.

The northernmost hotel in the world made entirely of ice and snow is located just outside of Alta, which also makes a memorable stop. For the adventurous, it is possible to spend the night!

Day 10: Winter Activities in Alta

Cross country skiing in Norway's Arctic wilderness
Cross country skiing in Norway's Arctic wilderness

After breakfast at your hotel, you will have a free day in the Alta area to enjoy some outdoor activities. Some ideas include:

  • Skiing: Just outside of Alta, you’ll find an alpine center that offers downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and even ice skating. A café on-site serves hearty food, hot drinks, and lounge areas to warm up and relax before heading out again.
  • Snowshoe tour: Take a trip into the wilderness using the ancient method of snowshoes (although the shoes themselves are thoroughly modern). You'll feel part of the nature that surrounds you as you tramp along. Keep an eye out for animal tracks from animals like reindeer and moose as you go along.
  • Winter hiking: Alta has extraordinary nature, and winter offers hikes and tours that range from moderate to strenuous in many locations and destinations in the Arctic wilderness. Hikes can be arranged for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours.
  • Snowmobiling tour: Snowmobiling is a favorite activity for the area. Join the fun, whether you are experienced or a newbie. With a tutorial, climb aboard your snowmobile and follow the guides along the forest trail. 

Day 11: Dogsledding & Northern Lights Excursion

Northern Lights
Chances are high that you'll see the Northern Lights

Today you will have free time in Alta before your afternoon dog sledding adventure including a Northern Lights hunt!

Alta is called  Europe's dogsledding capital for a reason—the city hosts a major race called the Finnmarksløpet race every year—so this is a great place to discover the fun and excitement of traveling by dog power.

At 5 pm, you will be setting up your own dog team, and then heading off on a fast and exciting adventure through the snow-covered pine forest, with the Alta River as the nearest neighbor. This is an extremely peaceful experience with only the sound of many paws in the snow and of energetic dogs panting.

After an enjoyable dog sledding adventure in the Alta Valley, you will return to the kennel. There, you will sit around the fire and hear stories about training the dogs, competing in sled dog races and what it’s like to live with 40 Alaskan Huskies in your backyard.

Next, get ready for another adventure: hunting for the Northern Lights. You will be transported from the kennel and down to Gløds basecamp. After a brief presentation of this mystical phenomenon, the local guides will use the weather forecast and local knowledge as background information to determine the best place to head on this particular evening. Sometimes it will be a short drive, other times it can be longer.

The experienced guides don’t give up easily. They will happily drive 62 miles (100 km) each way if that takes you to the place with the best chances of experiencing the natural phenomenon! There are no guarantees of seeing the Northern Lights, but chances are good. Either way, you will return to your hotel before midnight.

Day 12: Depart Alta

Alta Harbor
Alta Harbor

It's time to say goodbye to Norway! At the designated time, transfer to the airport for your departure flight home. Safe travels!

Map

Map of Oslo, Bergen & Alta Winter Tour - 12 Days
Map of Oslo, Bergen & Alta Winter Tour - 12 Days