WHAT ARE THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORWAY?
Norway is a country of spectacular natural beauty, with magnificent landscapes where you can discover beautiful fjords, mountains, forests and glaciers. It’s also an interesting country to visit for its Viking heritage and to discover the Sami people. It’s a pity that you’ll need a big budget to travel in Norway, because the cost of living is extremely high, whether for accommodation, food or transport. Another disadvantage is the very virulent mosquitoes in summer, especially in the north of the country.
To get around, Norway has a very efficient and comfortable bus network, as well as trains. Ferries are also a great way to discover the beautiful fjords.
Where is Norway? Norway is located in the far north of the European continent, in the western part of Scandinavia.
When to visit Norway? If you’re planning a trip to Norway, the best time to go there is the period from May to September, especially between June and August. It’s also the high tourist season and you will need to book your accommodation in advance. Winter is to be avoided unless you want to see the Northern Lights, ski or sleigh dog, but temperatures can drop to -40°C in some parts of the country and many hotels are closed.
Here are 10 must-see things to do and see during a trip to Norway:
1. OSLO, THE NORWEGIAN CAPITAL
Plan to stay several days or spend a weekend in the Norwegian capital for its many museums and galleries (the Viking Ship Museum, the Fram Museum, the Norwegian Folklore Museum, the National Gallery, the Historisk Mueseum, the Kon-Tiki Museum…), have a drink on the waterfront, stroll along Karl-Johansgate Avenue, admire the Citadel of Akershus, walk in the Vigelandsparken park… In summer, you can take a ferry to explore the islands of the Oslo Fjord.
- Book a hotel in Oslo now on Booking.com
2. PREIKESTOLEN CLIFF
One of the most important tourist sites in the country: also known as Pulpit Rock, it’s a rocky platform overlooking the waters of the Lysefjord and offering a superb panoramic view from its 600 metres altitude. It’s necessary to plan 3-4 hours of walking from the Preikestolen refuge and back to reach it (about 6km in total; bring good shoes and clothing). Be careful, there are no safety barriers! To avoid the crowd, you can hike at night to watch the sunrise from the summit. You can also see Pulpit Rock from the fjord by boat. More information here.
- Accessible from May to October (be aware of the weather)
- You have to pay for the parking (but access is free)
- Should be visited very early in the morning to avoid the crowd blocking the path!
- Located 20 minutes by car from Jørpeland
- From Stavanger: Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) Guided Hike: Book Now
3. THE TOWN OF BERGEN
Second largest city in Norway, very touristy but it’s the gateway to visit the fjords and a good base to explore the region. Plan a half day to visit Bergen, stroll along the old quay (Bryggen) to admire its typical wooden houses with their colourful facades and stroll through the narrow streets of the Sandviken district. Do not miss taking the funicular to admire the view from the top of Mount Fløyen (then walk back down). Also worth seeing: the Hanseatisk Museum. If you are driving, access to the city is subject to a charge
- Book your accommodation in Bergen on Booking.com
4. GO ON A FJORD CRUISE
The best way to discover the fjords of Norway is to take a boat cruise to get as close as possible to the cliffs and waterfalls that fall from the steep walls. You can take the Hurtigruten ferry (several departures from Bergen to Kirkenes – 12 days with stops at interesting places).
Geirangerfjord, a World Heritage Site, is considered to be the most beautiful in Norway (do not miss the Geiranger Skywalk platform on the top of Mount Dalsnibba, accessible by car or bus from the port of Geiranger – 2h A/R).
Other spectacular fjords not to be missed include Nærøyfjord (ferry from Flåm to Gudvangen) and Hardangerfjord (visit in May to see the flowers).
A very photogenic rocky language that can be reached by a rather long (23km A/R) and physical hike (especially at the beginning). That said, the hike is as beautiful as the destination itself. Plan about 10 hours of walking, check the weather forecast before leaving (ideally very early in the morning), be well equipped (warm clothes, boots and hiking poles), and expect to queue to take the picture on the cliff….
6. ADMIRE THE WOODEN CHURCHES
Called “stavkirke“, these wooden churches are typical of Norway, and are easily recognizable by their exterior architecture richly decorated with medieval sculptures. The Heddal Stavkirke, built in the 13th century, is the largest standing wooden church in the country. It’s located near the city of Notodden. Do not miss either the stavkirke of Urnes, the oldest, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the stavkirke of Borgund, one of the best preserved.
7. SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
In winter, the superb luminous streaks of the Northern Lights are visible everywhere in the sky. This phenomenon is caused by solar flares. It will be necessary to be far from cities and lights to fully enjoy this unique experience! The best time to see them is from February to April.
Another natural phenomenon happens only in summer, the midnight sun: the sun does not set and it’s daylight 24 hours a day! The North Cape is the best place to admire this phenomenon.
8. THE GLACIERS
Norway is full of glaciers, among those not to be missed: the Jostedalsbreen (or Jostedal glacier), the largest glacier in continental Europe, included in the Jostedalsbreen National Park and accessible on a guided excursion.
Also worth seeing: the Briksdalsbreen glacier, easily accessible from Olden, and the Nigardsbreen glacier (spectacular ice cave to explore!). You will find other glaciers to see on the Google Map at the bottom of this page, which includes the Kjenndal and Bøyabreen glaciers, as well as the Bødalsbreen glacier.
9. THE LOFOTEN ISLANDS
One of the most beautiful places in Norway, the Lofoten are an archipelago of several islands connected by bridges and tunnels, and renowned for the beauty of its landscapes and its typical fishing villages. You can stay there for several days and enjoy superb hikes. Not to be missed: the panorama from Reinebringen and the bird colony on the island of Værøy.
10. SEE WHALES
Boat trips are available to observe killer whales, dolphins, humpback whales and sperm whales. Departures are from Tromsø, Tysfjord or the fishing village of Stø. The best time to see cetaceans is from October to February. If watching animals in the cold does not motivate you too much, you can also observe cetaceans in summer in the Lofoten Islands from the port of Andenes. Be careful, the prices of the excursions are very high.
MORE THINGS TO DO AND SEE IN NORWAY
It’s difficult to limit ourselves to ten things given the impressive number of places to see in Norway. Here are some other places to visit that are worth a look:
- National parks: Hardangervidda (the largest mountain plateau in Europe), Varangerhalvøya, Femundsmarka and Jotunheimen
- Villages: Lofthus, Balestrand…
- Waterfalls: Langfossen, Tvindefossen, Steinsdalsfossen or the lesser known Jettegrytene waterfalls.
- Natural attractions: Kjeragbolten Rock, on Mount Kjerag (also a base jump spot); Kannesteinen Rock (a mushroom-shaped rock formation); the red sand beach at Mjelle (15 min by car from Bodø); the world’s strongest whirlwind in Saltstraumen Strait.
- Panoramic roads not to be missed if you have a vehicle: the Trollstigen road and the Stigfossen fall, the Geiranger-Trollstigen National Tourist Route (between Strynefjell and Romsdal): do not miss the Flydalsjuvet and Ørnesvingen viewpoints; also see the Atlanterhavsveien (the Atlantic route).
- Cities to visit: Tromsø: its museums, its cathedral, the view from Mount Fløya; the city of Åndalsnes: do not miss the view from the Rampestreken; Trondheim: the third largest city in the country (beautiful colourful houses and the cathedral of Nidaros); the former mining town of Røros (UNESCO World Heritage Site); the port of Ålesund and its buildings with Art-Nouveaux architecture (do not miss the view from Fjellstua).
- The landscapes of Senja Island
- The rock art site of Alta (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
- The longest road tunnel in the world (Laerdal Tunnel).
- The Svalbard archipelago: located 640 km north of the continent, you can see polar bears and walruses, sledding… The main city is Longyearbyen.
- The North Cape (some bad returns, be careful!): the northernmost place in Europe.
- Take the Flåmsbana train in Flåm (as for the North Cape, disappointing according to some feedback…). Not far from Flåm, don’t miss the Stegastein platform to enjoy the superb panorama.
- nor-way.no: Schedules and reservations for long-distance buses
- nettbuss.no Other reservation site for Nettbus company
- nsb.no Timetable and reservation for trains
THE BEST THINGS TO DO IN NORWAY ON GOOGLE MAP
You will find all the places mentioned in this article on this Google Map, which you can use to plan your trip to Norway.
POPULAR TOURS IN NORWAY