This zealous, yet relaxing — and unbelievably scenic — 10-day summer itinerary checks off Norway's three biggest cities (Oslo, Bergen & Trondheim) traveling by train, ferry, and fjord cruise for a true Scandinavian adventure. An added bonus: there's even a night the Art Nouveau city of Ålesund. You'll experience these clean pedestrian-friendly hubs like a local, exploring cultural sites and cool neighborhoods with plenty of opportunities for hiking, biking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding along the way.

Highlights

    • Walk or jog along Oslo's new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park
    • Get some serious fresh air with an overnight in the fjord-side village of Flåm
    • Visit Bergen's UNESCO World Heritage Site, part of the former Hanseatic League
    • Go stand-up paddle boarding in Ålesund surrounded by Art Nouveau architecture
    • Rent one of Trondheim's red-painted bicycles to explore this 11th-century city

Overview

First timers to Norway will love this itinerary as it covers a great deal of ground in 10 days. With overnights in four separate locations, not to mention two nights at sea, this itinerary is ideal for those who want to make the most of their time with a mix of urban experiences and jaw-dropping landscapes.

Start off in Norway's buzzing capital where you'll have free time to explore Oslo's museums, modern architecture, and New Nordic cuisine before you take one of the steepest trains in the world to the village of Flåm. You'll then ferry through the longest fjord in Norway and explore Bergen on your own and with a local guide. Perhaps climb one of the city's seven mountains and then reward yourself with a pint at one of the local pubs (Bergen stays fun with a young student population).

From here, board the Hurtigruten — a mighty coastal steamer — stopping in the Art Nouveau city of Ålesund for a night. This is one of Norway's most attractive cities, given the architecture, surrounding mountains, and coastal views. Back on the Hurtigruten, you'll sail to Trondheim by way of the UNESCO-protected Geirangerfjord with its steep cliffs and waterfalls. Walk the city's streets visiting the Nidaros Cathedral, and, if the weather is nice, consider taking a kayak tour on the river past colorful wooden wharf houses built for local fishermen, craftsmen, and small traders. From here, return to Oslo by train for one last night on the town.

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo City Tour  Oslo
Day 3 Oslo - Train to Flåm Flåm
Day 4 Ferry to Bergen - City Tour Bergen
Day 5 Explore Bergen - Hurtigruten Hurtigruten
Day 6 Hurtigruten - Ålesund Ålesund
Day 7 Ålesund - Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord Hurtigruten
Day 8 Hurtigruten - Trondheim Trondheim
Day 9 Trondheim - Train to Oslo Oslo
Day 10 Depart Oslo  

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

An up-and-coming area of Norway's capital.

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.
  • 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, and architecture.
  • Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where 200 larger than life sculptures are placed throughout this green lung in the middle of the city. 

Day 2: Oslo City Tour

Oslo's walkable streets enjoy extra daylight hours during summer months.

The opportunities for experiencing culture in this amazing Scandinavian city are endless! Oslo is located in the heart of Norway between the water and evergreen forests — and though it's the capital of Norway, it only takes 30 minutes to travel from one end to the other on its metro system. 

If you really want to feel like a local and experience all that Oslo has to offer, hook up with a local guide and get an exclusive tour around town. 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 which 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 five 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 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.

For dinner, wander around the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and outdoor cafés. 

Day 3: Oslo - Train to Flåm

Keep your camera close as you travel on the 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 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 set out on a nearby hiking trail, 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.

Day 4: Ferry to Bergen - City Tour

Bergen's colorful waterfront is surrounded by mountains.

Today, you'll be dropped off at the port to travel to Bergen by ferry along the Sognefjord — Norway's longest and deepest fjord.  

Bergen's cobblestoned center (one of the oldest ports in Europe) is rich in culture and seafaring history. This walkable city boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities, not to mention lively restaurants and nightlife thanks in part to a young student population.

Once you're settled, meet up with a local for a custom private tour of the city. 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 ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

Hidden Streets & Local Gems (3 hours): This walk starts from the city center and continues uphill toward one of Bergen's seven mountainsides through quaint neighborhoods along narrow streets. You'll walk up the Skredderdalen trail, and then to a hidden viewpoint behind Fløyvarden that only locals know about. After enjoying the magnificent vistas, you'll have the option to walk down to Fløyen for more views, or take an alternative way down which is called “tippe tue”.

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.

Day 5: Explore Bergen - Hurtigruten

Explore the narrow alleyways of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

After enjoying breakfast at your hotel, you will have the day to explore Bergen on your own. Rich in culture and seafaring history, this city boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities.

If you get a 24-Hour Bergen Card, that will allow you free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions), so take advantage!

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.

In the evening, you will transfer to the pier and set sail on the Hurtigruten. Cruise along the Norwegian coast while you enjoy a buffet dinner and a restful sleep in your private cabin. 

Day 6: Hurtigruten - Overnight in Ålesund

Ålesund in full bloom.

If you wake up early the next day, you'll have the chance to enjoy the breathtaking beauty of the Nordfjord, followed by a delicious breakfast. You will sail past the West Cape and head out on the open sea. The ship then navigates through skerries and islands before reaching the city of Ålesund.

This is known as one of the prettiest and most charming cities in Scandinavia with a breathtaking location stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. The heavy presence of Art Nouveau architecture — the fashionable style at the time — distinguished by its numerous spires, towers, and highly-ornate buildings, is a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904. 

Day 7: Ålesund - Hurtigruten - Geirangerfjord

Travel through the deep-blue water of the Geirangerfjord.

After breakfast at your hotel, you have the day to explore the city. 

Ålesund is the cultural center of the region with an array of museums, a sea park, a lighthouse (Alnes), and charming streets to explore on foot, not to mention numerous outdoor activities such as hiking and stand-up paddle boarding. 

If you're looking to get beyond the city's typical sites, take a hike up Ålesund's Sukkertoppen (Sugar Top) hill, which affords excellent views of the city, fjord, and coast. Plan at least 2.5 hours for this excursion.

For a hearty and authentic Norwegian meal, consider dinner at Café Lyspunktet — also a place to come for great coffee, live music, and local art exhibitions.

You'll board the Hurtigruten in the afternoon and set course for the spectacular UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord passing sheer cliffs and impressive waterfalls en route. 

Enjoy a three-course dinner of local Norwegian food in the evening and stay overnight onboard.

Day 8: Hurtigruten - Arrive in Trondheim

Many sites from Trondheim can be seen by bike or kayak.

Today you'll arrive by boat to the city of Trondheim in the early morning, but the ship will remain in port long enough to enjoy breakfast onboard before you deboard and transfer to your hotel.

Few large cities have managed to preserve their intimacy as effectively as Norway’s third largest city. Today, you'll have time to explore Trondheim by foot, or by renting one of the red-painted bicycles at bike racks scattered around the city.

The streets are scenic with beautiful parks and cultural sights, including the slightly out-of-kilter antique wooden houses. Walk across the historic Old Town Bridge — a 17th-century iron structure — for photographs. Visit the impressive Nidarosdomen Cathedral, built over the grave of St. Olav, the King of Norway in the 11th century. Head to popular museums including the National Museum of Decorative Arts, the Trondheim Museum of Art, the Archbishop’s Palace Museum, and the Rockheim, Norway’s national museum of popular music. 

The intimate city center is also great for shopping with independent boutiques, along with local dining establishments, including pubs, cafés, and restaurants — many that serve locally-brewed beer.

Day 9: Trondheim - Train to Oslo

Visit Trondheim's famous cathedral before you head back to Oslo.

Wake up with breakfast at your hotel in Trondheim before you take a relaxing train ride back to Oslo for your last night in Norway.

When you arrive, take advantage of anything you may have missed in Oslo at the beginning of the trip. Perhaps you'd like to head back to the waterfront and historic core for dinner. If you've already done this and want to try something new, head to the up-and-coming "Løkka" neighborhood and check out a slew of hip restaurants and bars.

During summer months, the city comes alive to celebrate extended daylight hours, with various festivals and celebrations happening each week, so keep your eyes and ears open. 

Day 10: Depart Oslo

Street art in Olso's Grunerløkka neighborhood.

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last few hours walking around Oslo's neighborhoods, relaxing in a café, or visiting local boutiques for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Map

Map of Discover Norway's Cities - 10 Days
Map of Discover Norway's Cities - 10 Days