This two-week adventure from late September to late March covers a great deal of Norwegian ground for an unforgettable winter trip. You'll experience snow-covered scenery as you visit Norway's lower half (Oslo, Flåm, Bergen) before flying north to the Arctic Circle. From Bodø, you'll catch a ferry to the Lofoten Islands—the southwestern point of this dramatic archipelago with granite mountains shooting up from the sea. Finish the tour with an overnight coastal steamer and enjoy unique activities in Tromsø and Alta before returning back to Oslo for one more night on the town.

Highlights

  • Check out hip neighborhoods in Europe's fastest growing capital
  • Take a scenic wintercruise through Norway's longest and deepest fjord
  • Drive through the Lofoten islands, home to quirky cafes, and artists
  • Take a reindeer sled while learning about Sami culture
  • Travel across Norway's northernmost tip in search of the Northern Lights

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Train to Flåm - Fjord Wintercruise - Train to Bergen Bergen
Day 3 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 4 Bergen - Fly to Bodø - Ferry to Moskenes Reine
Day 5 Explore Reine & Hamnøy Hamnøy
Day 6 Drive to Henningsvær Henningsvær
Day 7 Drive to Svolvær - Hurtigruten Onboard Hurtigruten
Day 8 Hurtigruten - Arrive in Tromsø Tromsø
Day 9 Explore Tromsø in Winter Tromsø
Day 10 Reindeer Sledding & Lavvu Experience Inner Tromsø
Day 11 Flight to Alta & Explore Alta
Day 12 Winter Activities in Alta Alta
Day 13 Alta - Flight to Oslo Oslo
Day 14 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Oslo's Opera house offers great views of the city
Oslo's Opera house offers great views of the city

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: Train to Flåm - Fjord Wintercruise - Train to Bergen

Take advantage of fewer tourists during the winter months
Take advantage of fewer tourists during the winter months

This morning, you'll catch an early train in Oslo which begins a lovely journey to the west coast passing one valley after the next. Once you get to Myrdal, you will change trains and jump on the quaint, old-timey Flåm Railway, considered one of the steepest railways in the world with amazing views of the Norwegian mountains. The train will stop at the Kjosfossen waterfall for passengers to disembark and take pictures. From small villages to remote countryside, the views from your window will be nothing short of spectacular. At its highest point, the tracks will take you 4009 feet (1222 meters) above sea level! 

When you arrive in Flåm, there will be some free time to explore this charming village situated on the Aurlandsfjord. Have lunch at one of the local restaurants, like Ægir microbrewery for authentic Viking culture in a historic wooden structure. 

After relaxing in Flåm, you will join a fjord cruise that sails through the UNESCO-listed Nærøyfjord, surrounded by steep mountains and snow-covered peaks. When you disembark at Gudvangen, take the bus to Voss and then connect to the train for Bergen.

When you arrive in Bergen, you'll take a short walk to your hotel from the train station. Once you're settled, you can head for the city's lively restaurants and nightlife options thanks in part to a young student population.

Day 3: Explore Bergen with a Local

Bergen is arguably even more scenic during winter months
Bergen is arguably even more scenic during winter months

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 (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.
  • Explore Bergen's Parks & Architecture (3 hours): 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 (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!

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 4: Bergen - Fly to Bodø - Ferry to Moskenes

Snowcapped scenery in the Lofoten Islands
Snowcapped scenery in the Lofoten Islands

After breakfast in Bergen, you'll take a short flight to Bodø. From here, you'll pick up a rental car before catching a 3-4 hour car ferry to Moskenes on the southwestern part of Moskenesøya Island—part of the Lofoten archipelago. 

Once you've checked into your accommodations, check to see if the skies are clear and look for the Northern Lights. Otherwise, head to a pub and think about how you'll spend the coming days undertaking some of the numerous activities available in the Lofoten Islands during winter months: 

Skiing/Snowshoeing: The combination of sea and mountain, snow, ice, and granite make these islands one of the most unique snow destinations on the planet.

Skiing and Sailing: After skiing in the morning you can sail in the afternoon towards the next mountain for the next day. This is an active trip where the outdoor experiences are either the wheel of the boat or with skis on your legs.

Fishing: You can join local excursions on either small or large boats. The main season for cod fishing is February-April.

Surfing: With consistent waves and the rugged beauty of the islands, Unstad has a thriving surf scene. There are only a few dozen residents but thousands of more people visit the town each year to surf; the village is relatively easy to reach by car.

Day 5: Explore Reine & Hamnøy

Spend the day getting to know both of these villages
Spend the day getting to know both of these villages

After breakfast, hit the road and explore the islands at your own pace. One of the best ways to appreciate the stunning natural scenery of the Lofoten Islands is to follow the E10 road, which runs along the archipelago allowing you to stop and admire the dramatic landscape along the way.

Two fishing villages on Moskenesøya Island worth exploring are Reine and Hamnøy. Reine is particularly breathtaking from the highway with red and white fishermen’s huts from the late 1800s — called rorbuer — dotting the shoreline and surrounding peaks of granite shooting out of the Reinefjorden. It is a quiet village, but many of the best hiking trails on the Lofoten Islands are within a short distance. You can also arrange kayaking, biking, and skiing trips in the winter. Stop at the Coop market and stock up on edible supplies if you're headed on an outdoor adventure.

The small neighboring town of Hamnøy is the oldest fishing village (cod is in season during winter months) in the Lofoten archipelago and unbelievably beautiful.

Visitors can stay in the original fishermen cabins (the oldest one is from the 1890s), which have been modernized with indoor facilities and Wi-Fi, providing a cozy place to stay. Local museums and galleries provide history and culture of the region; there's even an annual jazzfest!

Day 6: Drive to Henningsvær

A quirky village with cozy cafés and local art galleries
A quirky village with cozy cafés and local art galleries

Today, you'll make your way to Henningsvær, home to some of the most well-preserved architecture of the traditional Norwegian fishing villages. Moreover, Henningsvær is considered to be the Lofoten’s liveliest spot and the artistic heart of the islands, home to quirky cafes, restaurants, and local artists. Despite the growth, Henningsvær maintains its authenticity with fishing still being the main industry (rather than tourism).

Henningsvær consists of a number of islets spread peacefully among the waters of Vjestfjord. An adventure capital, the village's own climbing institution offers everything from a beginner's climb to a demanding ascent of Norway’s national mountain, Stetind. 

For a memorable experience, book a private dinner with a local fisherman who will share the history of the islands over seafood.

Day 7: Drive to Svolvær - Hurtigruten

Take a hike above town for these views
Take a hike above town for these views

After breakfast, drive to the popular hub of Svolvær with about 2,000 residents. Spend the day soaking in the history while walking through the windy streets with centuries-old wooden houses and buildings, surrounded by majestic Lofoten mountains and sea. 

Stop into Foto Galleri for spectacular photos of the Lofoten Islands where the work of photographer Anders Finsland is for sale (pay a visit even if you don't plan to buy.) 

Sample traditional Norwegian cuisine at one of the local restaurants and then have a pint at Bryggabaren — a cozy, low-beamed pub made from a WWII Polish troop ship that washed up in Svolvær in 1946. 

Make sure to check out the vibrant fishing village called Svinøya — a little section of Svolvær on an island across from the main part of town. This is the oldest part of Svolvær and has been a thriving fishing hub since 1828. Keep an eye out for the fish processing plant, as well as iconic stockfish racks, fishing cabins (rorbuer), art galleries, old wooden houses, and the fish restaurant called Børsen Spiseri. 

You can also spend time with a local English-speaking guide who will show you around town sharing stories and historical bits, with plenty of opportunities to ask questions. 

Have dinner and then drop the rental car off before boarding an overnight Hurtigruten coastal steamer towards the city of Tromsø, arriving the next afternoon.

Day 8: Hurtigruten - Arrive in Tromsø

Aerial view of Tromsø
Aerial view of Tromsø

Today, you will arrive on the Hurtigruten in the afternoon and have the rest of the day to enjoy Tromsø, perhaps taking advantage of any sites or activities that you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. 

Surrounded by snowcapped mountains, Tromsø is a lively place with 65,000 inhabitants. In addition to its lovely scenery and rich history, the city has a large student population and is famous for its robust music and film culture, so get out and explore this self-proclaimed 'Gateway to the Arctic'.

A good place to start is taking a ride on the cable car, which runs up to a mountain ledge in just four minutes. The two gondolas, known as Seal and Polar Bear, each have a capacity of 28 passengers. From the viewing platform at the upper station, you can enjoy spectacular panoramic views of Tromsø and the surrounding islands, mountains, and fjords. 

If you want to stay for dinner, Fjellstua restaurant on top offers dinner with views. Otherwise, head back down to Tromsø for a variety of pubs and restaurants. Often called, 'Paris of the North', a sample of options includes Fiskekompaniet for seafood, Presis Tapas for Spanish food, and Bardus Bistro for the locally harvested Arctic seaweed cocktail.

Day 9: Explore Tromsø in Winter

Beautiful winter landscape of snow-covered Tromso
Beautiful winter landscape of snow-covered Tromso

After breakfast, you will have the whole day to explore Tromsø. Here are a few suggested tours and activities that can be arranged with local guides:

  • Walk Through History: Meet your local guide and set off on a three-hour walking tour of Tromsø. Visit the largest city in the north—street by street—and take in its rich culture and beautiful architecture, including historic wooden houses dating as far back as 1789. View relics and buildings dating back to medieval times, and learn about the city’s extensive fishing culture, which was established when trade in Norway was at its peak. You will also tour the stunning Arctic Cathedral. 
  • Dogsledding: After breakfast, get ready for an active day of dogsledding in the Norwegian countryside. (This is a half-day trip, lasting about 4 hours). You'll sled along a 2.4 mile (4km) trail and have a meet-and-greet with 300+ huskies and their puppies. Stop for hot coffee, tea, and biscuits along the route and have time to hear more about the history of dog sledding from experienced guides. At the end of your journey, you will sit around a campfire and have a traditional Norwegian meal of Bidos—hearty stew made of reindeer meat with broth and veggies (vegetarian meals are available upon request.)
  • Northern Lights Chase: In the evening, get ready to chase the Northern Lights*! Your guide will pick you up in Tromsø and take you on this fun after-dark excursion as they find the best locations away from the city lights for viewing and photographing this spectacular natural occurrence. Throughout the evening, your guide will offer interesting information about the Northern Lights, including why and how they occur, as well as legends and folklore of the indigenous Sami people. Your guide will even be able to assist you in adjusting your camera settings for the best photographs. If the weather allows, there will be a campfire with hot chocolate and marshmallows to end your night. 

If you remain in the city in the evening, great restaurants and lively nightlife await.

Day 10: Reindeer Sledding & Lavvu Experience

Spend a day with these magnificent creatures
Spend a day with these magnificent creatures

After breakfast at your hotel, enjoy more time in Tromsø before you are picked up for a unique overnight stay in the wilderness, part of a custom-built Sami village (the indigenous people of the north). 

These native tents, called lavvus, can sleep groups of up to six people. This is not only an important and fun cultural experience, but you'll also have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights this far from the city lights.

Once you're settled at camp, enjoy the one-on-one time with the reindeer as you take a sled ride through the snow. Back at home base, you'll be served a traditional Sami dinner with hot beverages as you look for the stars. Your guides will also provide warm layers, boots, and winter-insulated sleeping bags.

Day 11: Flight 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 12: 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 13: Alta - Flight to Oslo

Holmenkollen Ski Jump
Holmenkollen Ski Jump

This morning, you'll have breakfast in Alta and then make your way to the airport for a short flight to Oslo. Once you arrive, you'll be transferred to your hotel for your last day (and night) on the town! 

Depending on what time you arrive, you can hook up with a private guide and get an exclusive tour around town. Here is a shorter tour option that past travelers have enjoyed:

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, 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.

Day 14: Depart Oslo

Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo
Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo

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.