Check off a number of stunning summer gems in both southern and northern Norway with this 12-day adventure. The trip starts with two days in Europe's fastest growing capital for cultural sites, festivals, and hip restaurants. You'll then take a train and ferry to the fjord-side village of Balestrand for a kayaking tour in the Sognefjord. From here, head for Bergen and visit a nearby glacier before boarding a Hurtigruten cruise for several days of fjords, charming ports, and rare wildlife under long days of sunshine. Finally, make your way to the Lofoten Islands and explore these gorgeous islands by rental car at your own pace.

Highlights

  • Walk, jog, or bike along Oslo's new waterfront park
  • Ride on the Flåm Railway—one of the steepest train rides in the world
  • Explore the hilly, cobblestoned streets of Bergen, loaded with cozy cafés
  • Celebrate crossing the Arctic Circle on board the Hurtigruten
  • Drive to the Vesterålen district for a whale watching excursion

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo - City Tour Oslo
Day 2 Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand Balestrand
Day 3 Kayaking in Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen Bergen
Day 4 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 5 Fjordcruise to Rosendal - Guided Hike & Glacier Tour Rosendal
Day 6 Return to Bergen - Board Hurtigruten Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 7 Hurtigruten: Nordford - Ålesund - Geirangerfjord Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 8 Hurtigruten: Trondheim - Rørvik Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 9 Hurtigruten: Brønnøysund - Lofoten Islands Svolvær
Day 10 Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes Andenes
Day 11 Whale Watching & Snorkeling Safari - Drive to Svolvær Svolvær
Day 12 Ferry to Bodø - Depart Norway  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo - City Tour

Autumn leaves along the Akerselva River

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. A few ideas: 

  • 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. 

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

  • Taking the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway which offers an abundance of local history,

  • Going from fjord to forest by heading to a beautiful island just outside Oslo's harbor

  • Taking the light rail to Holmenkollen Ski Jump, where a wooded range of hills leads you to Holmenkollen Ski Museum & Tower with 4,000 years of snow sports history, and an observation deck offering panoramic views of Oslo.

Day 2: Train to Flåm - Ferry to Balestrand

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 3: Kayaking in Balestrand - Ferry to Bergen

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 4: Explore Bergen with a Local

Walk high above town for a panoramic view of 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. 
  • Hike Mt. Sandviken: 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!

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. 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!

Day 5: Fjordcruise to Rosendal - Guided Hike & Glacier Tour

Ferry 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. Embark for your fjord cruise 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. On board, 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 Hardangerfjorden, passing the waterfall called Furebergsfossen. From here, you'll start a nice and easy 2-hour walk 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 Bondhusbrea 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, you will be driven to your hotel in Rosendal where you'll have the rest of the afternoon and evening to enjoy on your own! If you're up for more walking, take a nice 20-minute stroll from the quay to the historic Barony Rosendal. Tour the rooms and halls offering different style periods shaped by various owners through its 250 years; the castle is still preserved as a home just as the last owners left it in 1927. Also check out the Rosendal Gardens—a 60+ acre Victorian landscape with an abundance of roses, herbs, vegetables, fruits, and berries.

Day 6: Return to Bergen - Board Hurtigruten

Bergen at sunset

Enjoy a relaxing morning and early afternoon in Rosendal before you take the fjord cruise back to Bergen, arriving in the mid-afternoon.

Upon arrival in Bergen, you'll head to the Hurtigruten harbor and check in for your multi-day journey. Relax with dinner onboard and enjoy the sail! 

Day 7: Hurtigruten: Nordford - Ålesund - Geirangerfjord

Nordfjord scenery

Early risers will have the chance to enjoy breathtaking views of the Nordfjord, followed by a delicious breakfast.

You'll continue sailing past the West Cape and out to the open sea where the ship navigates through skerries and islands before reaching Ålesund. Distinguished by its numerous spires, towers, and highly-ornate buildings, Ålesund is a town renowned for its beautiful architecture. It owes this to a devastating fire that burned a large proportion of the city to the ground in 1904. The entire town was subsequently rebuilt in the fashionable style of the time, art nouveau.

If you like marine life, join a visit to Atlanterhavsparken—one of Northern Europe’s largest salt-water aquariums. The tour includes a trip to the open-air pool to see the resident penguins. You'll then continue to Mount Aksla for an amazing panorama of the area. 

From here, you'll reboard the Hurtigruten for the night and set course for the spectacular UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord passing sheer cliffs and impressive waterfalls en route. Get a window seat and enjoy the view.

Day 8: Hurtigruten: Trondheim - Rørvik

Hurtigruten in Kristiansund

Wake up on the Hurtigruten and enjoy breakfast onboard as you make your way to Norway's third largest metropolis, Trondheim. The ship will remain at harbor for a few hours giving you time to explore this preserved ancient city, founded in 997. 

Join an optional excursion to Norway’s national shrine, Nidaros Cathedral, the country's only Gothic-style cathedral built over the burial place of St. Olav, Norway’s patron saint. Here you can marvel at the cathedral’s incredible architectural details and exquisite works of art. You'll then continue to the Ringve Museum of Musical History, where the history of Norway’s music is brought to life. This beautiful manor house is surrounded by a wonderful botanical garden and provides fantastic views of both the city and the fjord.

In the afternoon, the ship sets a northwest course, passing the beautiful Kjeungskjær lighthouse and numerous islets and rocky outcrops. After passing through the narrow Stokksund, you'll continue towards charming Rørvik.

Day 9: Hurtigruten: Brønnøysund - Lofoten Islands

Peaceful beach on the Lofoten Islands

Today, you'll sail across the Arctic Circle! This invisible line at 66 degrees marks the border of Norway's Arctic Region. In summer, this means 24 hours of daylight, often referred to as the ‘midnight sun’. Even if you aren’t awake to see the Arctic Circle, your Hurtigruten captain makes sure that this occasion is a memorable event. If this is your first time sailing in Arctic waters, you can participate in a daytime ceremony on deck. 

Once you reach Ørnes, look for Svartisen, Norway’s second largest glacier. Better yet, you can join an excursion to the Svartisen Tourist Centre and admire the beauty of this enigmatic ice world. Afterward, the journey continues along the beautiful coast of Helgeland to Bodø, where you re-join the ship. You'll then head to Saltstraumen in a small speedboat, where you can witness the world’s most powerful tidal current. On this exciting journey through the wild landscape, there is also a good chance to observe sea eagles. 

Later this afternoon, the sight of the vertical Lofoten Wall appears on the horizon. Tucked between majestic granite cliffs and white sandy beaches, Lofoten is an experience that is out of the ordinary. The charms of the Lofoten Islands are revealed in the small, picturesque fishing villages with their bohemian ambiance. Take a stroll between stockfish racks and ‘rorbuer’, the traditional fisherman’s huts. 

Once you reach Svolvær, disembark the ship and transfer to your very own fisherman´s hut located within walking distance from some great restaurants.

Day 10: Explore Lofoten Islands - Drive to Andenes

Scenery in the Vesterålen

This morning, after breakfast at your hotel, you'll pick up a rental car and have time to explore the Lofoten Islands before you drive north along the coast to the town of Andenes.

The driving distance to Andenes from Svolvær is about 3-4 hours. This is a great opportunity to see even more of the beautiful landscapes as you head to an even more remote archipelago: the Vesterålen!

Day 11: Whale Watching & Snorkeling Safari - Drive to Svolvær

Winter whale watching

After breakfast in Andenes, you'll be picked up for your snorkeling adventure with the orca whales! This extraordinary winter tour starts off with an educational lecture and security briefing about the whales. You'll then be suited up from head-to-toe for the safari—your guides will provide you with a dry suit and snorkeling equipment so that you stay warm.

To be in the water with the orcas while they're communicating is a powerful experience and an unforgettable meeting with nature. Bring your camera and wear long underwear, warm socks, a hat, and gloves — and perhaps bring an extra set of clothes in case you get wet. 

When you return from the excursion, around midday, you can have lunch on your own and then get back on the road. Return to Svolvær and have dinner in town.

Day 12: Ferry to Bodø - Depart Norway

Ferry to Bodø where you'll catch a flight to Oslo

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Today's journey starts with a car ferry from Moskenes to Bodø. From there, you'll return the rental car and fly back to either Tromsø or Oslo in order to connect to your departing flight home. Although it's time to say goodbye to Norway, the memories from your trip will surely stay with you forever!