Traveling by train, boat, and coastal steamer, this summertime tour covers areas of Western Norway that are often overlooked by tourists. Start with a local tour of Oslo before boating along the River Rauma to Ålesund, known for its Art Nouveau architecture. From there, bike and hike on coastal islands, explore bustling Bergen, and ferry through the dramatic Sognefjord.

Highlights

  • Check out hip neighborhoods in Europe's fastest growing capital
  • Hike to Ålesund's hilltop for views of the Geirangerfjord
  • Get outdoors in Kalvag—one of Norway's best-preserved fishing villages
  • Explore Bergen’s colorful waterfront and UNESCO World Heritage site
  • Take a ride on the steep and scenic Flam Railway with waterfall sightings

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Train from Oslo to Åndalsnes - Bus to Ålesund Ålesund
Day 4 Explore Ålesund - Hurtigruten to Florø Florø
Day 5 Arrive in Florø - Explore Florø
Day 6 Ferry to Kalvåg - Explore Kalvåg
Day 7 Local Bus to Smørhamn - Boat to Bergen Bergen
Day 8 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 9 Fjordcruise to Hardangerfjord Bergen
Day 10 Ferry to Flåm - Train to Oslo Oslo
Day 11 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Oslo's waterfront is growing fast
Oslo's waterfront is growing fast

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

Many restaurants offer outdoor seating during summer months 
Many restaurants offer outdoor seating during summer months 

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 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.

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 from Oslo to Åndalsnes - Bus to Ålesund

A scenic train ride through Norway's interior 
A scenic train ride through Norway's interior 

Today, you'll take an epic train journey northwest of Oslo towards the mountaineering base of Åndalsnes, a scenic town located in the Romsdalen glacial valley. You'll pass some of Norway's most dramatic landscapes along the route, including a beautiful river (Rauma), steep mountains, waterfalls, and famous bridges. 

First, you'll take a 4-hour train ride through Lillehammer to Dombås, and then switch to a 1-hour, 20 minute-train from Dombås to Åndalsnes. In this particular section, your train conductor slows down to give passengers the best possible view with photo stops at the famous Kylling Bridge and at Trollveggen, Europe’s highest perpendicular mountain wall. The beautiful, emerald-green River Rauma follows the train route for much of your trip, and you can watch it shift between gentle sections and fierce rapids.

Once you arrive, you'll connect to a 1-hour, 40-minute bus ride to the town of Ålesund, where you will have time to wander the city's beautiful streets and have dinner.

Day 4: Explore Ålesund - Hurtigruten to Florø

Alesund will likely take your breath away
Alesund will likely take your breath away

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

Ålesund 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 is a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904. 

Today, the city 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. 

In the late evening, you will embark the Hurtigruten cruise from Ålesund to Florø. The journey will take about 7 hours.

Day 5: Arrive in Florø - Explore

Remote, unpopulated scenery on today's route
Remote, unpopulated scenery on today's route

Enjoy breakfast onboard Hurtigruten before you arrive in the charming coastal town of Florø. From here, you will have the rest of the day to explore the area on your own.  

Start by walking around the charming streets of Florø and visit the Kystmuseet Museum containing boats and an exhibition about daily life on the coast. You can also check out the nearby small island of Kinn, one of the westernmost points in Norway, with the oldest church in the area—a masonry building from the 12th century.

For further exploration, this off-the-beaten-path region of Norway is dominated by mountains and islands dotted with glaciers and tiny villages, with long stretches of fjords and coast that are untouched by roads. Bordering Nordfjord and Sunnfjord, fishing and fish breeding are major contributors to the local economy. The seaport environment is well preserved, while nearby Rugsund and Smørhamn, two trading towns from the 17th century, are both signs of a time when much of life took place at sea. 

The combination of scenic topography guarantees plenty of outdoor activities in the area as well, especially hiking and sea kayaking.

Day 6: Ferry to Kalvåg - Explore

Take part in hiking, biking, and kayaking
Take part in hiking, biking, and kayaking

This morning, you'll connect to a short ferry ride towards the village of Kalvåg (pay directly), located on Frøya Island. The ferry from Florø is a passenger ferry that takes about 25 minutes. 

Kalvåg has one of the best-preserved fishing village milieus in Vestlandet. The little houses stand closely together around the small bay to create a charming setting. Spend the day doing any number of outdoor activities that take advantage of the varied landscapes like hiking, biking, and kayaking, or visit some of the town's cultural sights. 

Some suggestions include (additional cost may apply):

  • Vamråk Herring Saltery: Get an exciting glimpse into how the fishing industry has evolved from the 1800s to today. Guided tours are available.
  • Smørholm Trading Center: Dating back to its heyday in the 1600s, this trading center was an important place for travelers, fishermen, and locals passing between Nordfjord and Bergen. Many of the original houses are still standing.
  • Art Galleries: Kalvåg is an artist community and has art exhibitions all year round, so poke around town. For instance, Galleri Frøya opened in the summer of 2003 and artworks include pictures and sculptures made from wool. Kalvåg is also home to permanent art exhibitions throughout much of the summer. 
  • Sea Kayaking: A relaxing activity, trips are available for both beginners and experienced kayakers. Take either a three-hour tour or up to a full-day trip that heads into a deserted island at the mouth of a fjord. 
  • Trek Hornelen: Hit the trail and climb the tallest sea cliff in Northern Europe.

Day 7: Local Bus to Smørhamn - Boat to Bergen

Bergen's colorful waterfront
Bergen's colorful waterfront

Today, you will take the local bus to Smørhamn and you'll then connect to the express boat towards Bergen (included).

Situated on Norway's west coast, this small wharf city (one of the oldest port cities in Europe) is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest.

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 wooden houses dating back to the 1700's (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.

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 8: Explore Bergen with a Local

Walk high above town for a panoramic view of Bergen.
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 (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 9: Fjordcruise to Hardangerfjord

Views of the Hardangerfjord
Views of the Hardangerfjord

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll head to the harbor to catch a lovely cruise ride to Rosendal. This trip will sail through the fjords of Bergen to the Hardangerfjord, known as the "queen of the fjords"; keep your camera close as you'll encounter spectacular views of steep mountains and cascading waterfalls along the route. 

Arrive in Rosendal for a 3.5-hour visit, which includes a guided tour of a manor dating back to 1665. For lunch, relax with a two-course meal prepared with fresh herbs and vegetables grown onsite, along with coffee, tea, and pastries. After lunch, continue your tour in the manor's romantic rose garden before returning to Bergen. 

When you return, the rest of the evening is yours to enjoy. Some great local restaurant options to consider for your last night in Norway include:

  • BarBarista: A funky coffee shop, restaurant & music venue.
  • Bryggeloftet & Stuene: A traditional mountain lodge restaurant.
  • Zupperia: An eclectic European restaurant right on the Bryggen wharf.
  • Bare Vestland: A basement-level eatery specializing in Norwegian tapas.
  • Pygmalion Økocafe and Galleri: A healthy, organic restaurant located in a historic space with a fireplace and an art gallery for art exhibitions and live music.
  • Matbørsen: Three restaurants in one serving international cuisine in a gorgeous, airy space—the former Bergen Stock Exchange, circa 1862.

Day 10: Ferry to Flåm - Train to Oslo

After an early breakfast at your hotel, you'll take a scenic journey by boat and train to Oslo, starting with a five-hour ferry ride to Flåm by way of the Sognefjord—Norway's longest and deepest fjord. 

When you get to the charming village of Flåm, sit back and have lunch at a café. Suggestions for dining include: 

  • Aegir Brewery & Pub for authentic viking culture inside the restaurant's historic wooden structure. 
  • Flåm Marina and Apartment Café for a peaceful atmosphere and lighter fare. 

Enjoy the serene nature or go for a stroll through town before you 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. After changing trains in Myrdal, you will continue to Oslo.

When you arrive at your hotel, take advantage of your last night in Oslo and head for any restaurant or neighborhood that you may have missed at the beginning of the trip!

Day 11: Depart Oslo

Sunsetting over the bay in Oslo
Sunsetting over the bay 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.

Map

Map of Western Norway's Rivers, Islands & Fjords - 11 Days
Map of Western Norway's Rivers, Islands & Fjords - 11 Days