This active 9-day 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. Start off exploring Europe's fastest-growing capital before taking a scenic train and ferry to the village of Balestrand. Spend a few days here kayaking and exploring nearby villages before getting on another boat—this time to the UNESCO-listed city of Bergen, surrounded by seven mountains.

Highlights

  • Walk a five-mile river path for nature, history, and some of Oslo's best museums
  • Sit back and enjoy the views on one of the steepest train rides in the world
  • Explore Fjærland's historic Hotel Mundal and Norwegian Booktown
  • Take a guided kayaking excursion followed by a fjordcruise to Bergen
  • Spend your last day hiking with glacier views as you hunt for wild berries.

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 Balestrand Balestrand
Day 4 Balestrand Heritage Walk & Cider Tasting Balestrand
Day 5 Day-Trip to Fjærland Balestrand
Day 6 Kayaking in Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen Bergen
Day 7 Explore Bergen's Trails with a Local Bergen
Day 8 Rosendal Cruise & Bondhus Glacier Bergen
Day 9 Depart Bergen  

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, 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

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. 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 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 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 (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: Balestrand Heritage Walk & Cider Tasting

Pretty architecture in Balestrand
Pretty architecture in Balestrand

Enjoy a relaxed morning at your hotel before you spend the day exploring Balestrand with a local guide. There are many activities to choose from in the area. For instance, these two activities pair well together:

  • Heritage Walk: Join a local guide on this easy walk through the village, departing daily at 11:30 am from the Tourist Information Office. Learn about the history of Balestrand and the people who lived here in the artist colony. In cooperation with a local hotel, the walk starts in Høyviksalen (the Høyvik hall, with furniture made by Ivar Høyvik). It continues to the harbor, with its living artist scene, and then to St. Olaf’s Church (the English church), the statue of King Bele from the saga of Fritjof the Brave, and some of the characteristic dragon-style villas.

  • Cider Tasting: After the walk (or separately), join a 45-minute summertime cider tasting with a flight of five ciders. (For guests under 18, the ciders are replaced by juices.) The Cider House in Balestrand or Ciderhuset is a family-run business situated in an organic orchard by the Sognefjord with a range of different fruits. The locals produce cider, sparkling cider, fruit wines, and brandy, in addition to a range of juices. You will be guided by one of the family members through the process of growing and fermenting fruit for cider or brandy while sampling pours from the cider tanks or kegs. 

Following the tour, continue exploring Balestrand on your own.

Day 5: Day-Trip to Fjærland

Hiking in Fjærland
Hiking in Fjærland

This morning, you will board a fjordcruise* from Balestrand to Fjærland for a day-trip excursion. Upon arrival, choose between a variety of unique options for guided activities. 

Here are some suggestions:

  • Mundal Valley Hike (6.2 miles/10 km; 3-4 hours): This gentle and peaceful valley walk passes through green fields that have been farmed for generations since the Viking Age. The hike starts in Mundal, the center of Fjaerland, near the tourist office. You'll walk slowly up the valley to view the staggering peaks rising towards the sky like giant trolls. The hike traverses a gravel road, but the last bit is on a narrow track, leading you to an area in the meadow used seasonally for grazing milking cows and sheep. Here you'll have lunch before returning to Mundal.

  • Kayaking in Fjærland (2-4 hours): Paddle the calm fjord in Fjærland in sea kayaks while viewing the glaciers either with a guide or on your own. The Fjærlandfjord is well suited for beginners, as conditions are mostly calm and distances are fairly short. Skilled kayakers will be able to experience more estuaries, nooks, and crannies along the fjord.

  • Mundal Family Fjord Hike (2.1 miles/3.5 km; 2 hours): This short guided hike, perfect for families, is located close to the village center of Fjaerland (Mundal). The hike makes a loop where you'll spend most of the time on a trail in the woods, while the last section offers views of the fjord as you return to Mundal.

Before the ferry takes you back to Balestrand, there will be time to stroll around Mundal.

*The fjordcruise does not run in the offseason but you have the option to rent a car and drive to Fjærland—a wonderful and scenic route!

Day 6: Kayaking in Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen

Get up close to fjord views by way of kayak
Get up close to fjord views by way of kayak

After breakfast at your hotel, a private guide will pick you up and take you on a 3-hour kayaking tour of the fjord. Kayaking is one of the best ways to absorb the natural beauty of these stunning mountains, which rise against the crystal-clear sea. After some basic instruction on how to paddle your vessel, set out on the fjord while an experienced guide teaches you about the culture and history of the fjord and surrounding towns.  Enjoy lunch as part of your kayaking tour. 

When complete, your guide will bring you back to your hotel where you'll pack and get ready for your afternoon ferry to Bergen (arriving early evening). 

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.

The cobblestoned streets are compact and walkable, so get out and explore Bergen's lively restaurants and nightlife, thanks in part to a young student population.

Day 7: Explore Bergen's Trails with a Local

Pick between walks in town or trails in the surrounding mountains
Pick between walks in town or trails in the surrounding mountains

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 hike or walk for you based on your interests. Here are a few 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.

  • 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!

Following the tour, 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 (especially at sunset), and take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way.

Day 8: Rosendal Cruise & Bondhus Glacier

Cruise through the Hardangerfjord
Cruise through the Hardangerfjord

After an early breakfast at your hotel in Bergen, make your way down to the Strandkaien pier, next to the fish market in the city center. The ferry for Rosendal departs at the very end of the pier and is clearly marked. From here, board your fjordcruise and relax on this scenic journey through the deep and narrow fjords surrounded by steep mountains, dotted with a number of farms.

The one-way journey takes just under two hours. Onboard, there are drinks and snacks to purchase. Make sure to step outside on the top deck to feel the wind and snag some photos!

When you arrive in Rosendal, you will be picked up by your wonderful local hosts, Sjur and Laila, who will take you on your adventure to Bondhus Glacier

The trip starts with a drive along the beautiful Hardangerfjord, passing the waterfall called Furebergsfossen. From here, you'll start a nice and easy two-hour hike while looking for wild strawberries, blackcurrants and other seasonal berries on the way.

For the intrepid, you can take a path towards the Vetledalen valley, where you can make a closer approach to the glacier itself. Breath in the fresh air and enjoy the view! Also consider bringing your swimsuit for a dip in the fresh, brisk glacier water.

After the hike and lunch, you will be taken back to the pier in time for your return trip to Bergen.

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.