We have been asked several times “Why Norway?” Our answer to that question is usually “why not?” but really, Norway wasn’t on the shortlist. After Iceland, we fell in love with Scandinavia and knew we eventually wanted to see more of it but it wasn’t at the forefront of our minds. That was until I discovered that tickets were $450 dollars round trip. You can’t even go to the east coast for the price so we decided to move it to the top of the list and make it our next trip.
Norway is an amazing country and I am so glad we went. I am going to share with you our itinerary and hope that it persuades you to add Norway to your list or move it up if it’s already on the list.
There is quite a bit to do in Norway, every town has many museums and activities. We tend to just like to wander and hang out in new places, however, we do pick an activity or two. This itinerary worked out quite nicely for us. I do have to shout out Full Suitcase, our trip is loosely based off of the itinerary they recommend. Without further ado, here is how we recommend you spend your time in Norway.
Getting to Norway
First things first, you have to get there. Book your tickets well in advance. We tend to keep an eye out on google flights for when is the cheapest time to go. The cost of the tickets was actually the reason we went in the first place. But be warned, that’s pretty much where the savings stopped. Norway isn’t cheap, I mean they even charge you to pee some places. 😳Anyway. We ended up flying through Helsinki to Oslo from Los Angeles. We left at 7:30 pm.
Day 1 – Arriving in Oslo
We had a couple hour layover in Helsinki which ended up delayed a bit, so we got to Oslo about 8:30. Your arrival time will likely be different from ours, so you may need to adjust this day to fit your arrival time. Public transit is very easy to use. You can buy tickets for the transit system on the app or at the kiosks at the stations. There are two trains that will take you to the city center (Oslo S). One is an express train the other is a regular train. Express tickets cost almost twice as much and save only you about ten minutes, so unless you have a time constraint I would say opt for the slower cheaper train. Once at the city center, you can use the subway it the light rails to get around.
Our Airbnb was only a 10-minute walk away from the center so we just walked. We only bought a single one-way ticket since we intended to get around other ways the next day. If you plan to use the other modes a 24-hour ticket might be a better choice. Since we got in so late we pretty much just found some dinner that was open and went to sleep. Should you arrive before the stores close to grab a SIM card for your phone if you going that route. I went with Telia, great coverage, good customer service and it even worked in Finland!
Day 2 – Exploring Oslo
Today will be a long day. You will be taking the overnight train to Stavanger (Rhymes with “hanger” btw) later in the day. That train doesn’t leave until 10 pm so depending on how early you get started it’s quite the day. We set out about 9:30 and found breakfast along the way at a little place with coffees and pastries. Get a good breakfast for sure.
From there, walk on over to the Opera house. It’s a really neat building, designed in such a way that it lets you walk on the roof and get a great view.
Take a quick look inside and then head over to Akershus Castle and fortress, it’s pretty close to there. Walk around the grounds and then pop into the castle for a tour (100NOK). The entrance fee includes a little audio guide, we almost passed on it but then decided “why not?”, Since its included. It was actually really cool. Informative and full of good stories that brought the castle to life. Take your time wandering before heading over to the Edward Munch Museum.
This is actually across town, about a 30-minute walk. We opted to download the Voi app and hire a couple of those scooters to get over there. It was really fun! But if that’s not your speed, the public transit will get you there in a jif. Check out the famous “scream” maybe snap a selfie with it 😱 and take in his other work too. It’s really great. (Note. This museum is moving in the fall, so if you go after then getting there will be a little different.)
From there we headed over the Grundløkka Bryggus. It’s a brewery in the Grundløkka neighborhood with good food and some good local craft beers.
And because I have a sweet tooth we headed to Crepe de Mari for dessert. The Oreo one is delish. If you are watching your budget better than we did then maybe skip dessert.
Slowly make your way back to central station and get on the train.
A few things to note:
Oslo central has luggage lockers, in fact, all the stations do, so no need to carry around all your things after check out, for 80NOK you can toss all your belongings in the locker and it will be there when it’s time to get on the train.
As far as the train goes, the next day is a strenuous day with a 4-hour hike, I would recommend the $109 (USD) upgrade to a little (and I mean little) cabin so you can get some sleep.
Day 3 – The Night Train to Stavanger
The train will arrive early. Ours was 7:20 am. Make sure you have all of the things you need for hiking since it will be too early to check in to most Airbnbs and then use the lockers to store all of the rest of our things (If you got the hotel route then they probably have a bag storage option, you would need to check with them.) Not much is open that early save for a few cafes and the 7-11. If you haven’t stopped for snacks the 7-11 is a good place to grab a few things for the hike before you go. We went with the Starbucks for breakfast, as a barista myself I wanted to see how the Norway ones compared and the sandwiches were different and tasty. Get something to eat for sure, it’s a long hike ahead!
You should buy a combo ticket for the ferry/bus to the trailhead of Pulpit Rock, Preikestolen, online in advance (gofjord.com 720NOK). I did not do this, so we paid a little more (800NOK), and we didn’t know the schedule in advance so we had to wait a little for the next ferry. This wasn’t an issue. We walked around the harbor and the city a little then reported back. I recommend you do the same either before or after. The area is really charming.
The ferry is about 25 minutes and then you hop on a bus for another 30 before arriving at the trailhead. Pay the water closet a visit and make sure your water bottles are full. Then head to the start of the trail.
If you have hiking poles/sticks, I recommend them, if not you can do what we did and find a nice sturdy stick on the trail. A nice man was actually cutting some as we were walking up. It came in very handy. The whole hike is about 4 hours depending on fitness and how much you stop and take in the views. I wouldn’t call it easy but it’s not too difficult either.
There were plenty of younger children rocking it so I would say anyone of average fitness can handle it. A lot of steep hiking but the rocks form make-shift stairs much of the way so it’s a little easier. There are plenty of places to stop take in a good view and get a break also. It was absolutely worth it. I recommend giving it a go, for sure. Especially since it’s one of the only shorter hikes in Norway, so if you aren’t much of a hiker but want to do a little, this one is probably for you.
After the hike, you can grab some soup of the day in the cafe at the car park then grab the bus back to town. By now you should be able to check in to your accommodation so stop into the station and grab your things. Our Airbnb was just a short walk from the station. Once settled you can wander the town for the evening. There are charming buildings and old churches all around and it’s a pretty small town so you can see most of the important stuff on foot.
Day 4 – Cruise to Bergen
There are plenty of ways to get around in Norway: car, bus, train, boat… I recommend hitching a ride on the Fjordline cruise. For us, it left first thing in the morning and arrived in Bergen at 12:30, I am sure the times will be similar for you.
Once you arrive, spend the rest of the day exploring the town. Breakfast on the boat is ok but pricy. So keep it small or, better yet, bring your own with you, and then you can grab some lunch in town.
We went to a place called Holy Cow. It is a great little burger place, reasonably priced and quite good. If you have a Norwegian number while you visit you can get the mobile app to order, which will save you 10 percent on your lunch. That should kill enough time till you can check in to your accommodation. Our Airbnb was in the North part of town.
Once checked in explore some more. You will come across the iconic Byrggen along the way. You will find charming stores and interesting street art.
For dinner, save a buck and make something in your accommodation if that is an option but if you want to eat out I can recommend Naomi. It’s an Ethiopian Food place. If you haven’t had Ethiopian, it’s very different but quite good, and this place was very good. It was also quite affordable.
Day 5 – Exploring Bergen
Get an early start, there is plenty to do in Bergen, Norway. Start with the Cable cars. There is a bus that takes you to the foot of the mountain. You can choose to ride one way to both. I recommend both ways so you have time for the other things.
The view at the top is incredible, they have nice pastries in the cafe if you need a snack. Once you get back to the city, head over to get your rental car. After much research, it seemed the best way to see the coast of Norway was by car.
If you are into classical music at all, head just out of town to the Grieg Museum and house. You are sure to recognize a song or two about this famous composer.
Then stop at the Fantoft Stave church on the way back. It’s a smaller stave church, which actually burned down in the 90s and it was rebuilt to exact specs of the original, it is amazing to see the attention to detail in the recreation of the church. However, it’s a very small church. Check it out but I would save your money and not go inside.
After, go ahead and park the car at your accommodation and head back out on foot. The downtown area is small enough to walk and parking isn’t easy or cheap.
Head over to the famous Funicular. It will take you up the mountain to another great view. Take a one-way trip and walk back down. It’s a nice downhill walk from the top. There is a nice lake on the way. The top has a park for kids and a cafe.
You can’t visit harbor towns without eating the fish! Well, at least I can’t. The famous Fish Market right in the center of town on the waterfront is amazing. More fresh fish than you could ever need. We chose a stand on the end that offered to make a plate for us of a variety of fish and did so on a budget we set (still a little pricy but we had to try it all!) I can recommend the king crab, monkfish, scallops and salmon.
Then head over for a unique experience at the Magic ice bar, it’s a kind of pricy and gimmicky but worth a stop in. It’s a bar that’s freezing, literally. They have a special welcome drink that’s unique to the area. They give you a warm poncho and gloves and you drink from a frozen cup.
Day 6 – Road trip to Flåm
Getting out early is a good way to avoid the tour buses hitting the popular spots today. Head out towards Flåm, which is about 3 hours out if you these stops, which are worth the delay.
The first stop you will come to is Steinsdalsfossen. It’s a waterfall that you can safely and dryly walk behind that has a fabulous view of the valley.
Next up is Skjervsfossen. It’s probably the coolest pee you will ever take, seriously. You will drive past the waterfall to the top parking lot that has bathrooms with a window that goes all the way on to the floor that you can view the river leading to the waterfall from. There is a walking trail to the bottom but depending when you booked your train ride in flam you may need to just drive back to the bottom for a picture.
The last stop before the Viking Village is Tvindefossen. This waterfall is literally off the side of the road. You can’t miss it. It’s a quick stop but worth it.
Next up is Viking Valley. It’s not huge but if you are into Vikings and their culture you will probably spend a couple hours here. The tour is very informative and entertaining and there are several fun activities to do in the town. (200NOK).
You should have booked your ticket for the famous Flåm Railroad, Flåmsbana. Be sure to book enough time to get there and then ride it back. It’s as beautiful as they say. You will get the best and most views from the right side of the car (the side where the rows have 3 chairs) and only 2 rows on each side have windows that open. If you want to take photos try to grab one of these spots.
When you get back, right there near the station is a great pub called Aegir Brew Pub. The food was great (but not cheap, unfortunately) and they have great beer if that’s your thing.
There are a few places to stay in either Gudvangen or Flåm. However, Flåm is quite pricy. We found a great little Airbnb that wasn’t too expensive right between the two towns.
Day 7 – Road Trip to Ålesund
Today is quite a bit of driving, the longest of the trip. First detour off the route to head up to the Stegastein Viewpoint.
This viewpoint is crazy and amazing. A long bridge takes you to the end that drops off. You can see the whole fjord from the viewpoint.
From there, head to Borgund Stave church. This one is worth the ticket to get inside. This is a large church and it’s one of the most original. The ticket office has a mini-museum with history of Stave Churches.
Continuing up the road you will come across the Bøyabreen Glacier. This is absolutely worth the stop. It’s awe-inspiring. The cafe has a great view of it as well.
There are plenty of places to stop and grab a great photo and stretch your legs, one last notable quick stop is the Jutlamannen, it’s a little waterfall and troll rock, with a cute little story on the rock.
Note: Road trips in Norway mean many tunnels and ferries. The ferries come every half hour or so. You can find the exact times here you will need to plan accordingly.
Oh, and if you need a bite, Marias in Volda had good pizza and a nice view.
Once in Ålesund get comfy in your accommodation, which you can book for two nights.
Day 8 – Day Cruise to Geiranger
Today spend the day in Geiranger. This is the cutest little town. Take the Geirangerfjord – Briksdalsbreen glacier ferry. It leaves right from Alesund and takes about 3 hours to get to Geiranger. You get a great look at the fjord and glacier as well as the 7 sisters’ falls.
There is a 2-hour break in town. I highly recommend getting a Twizzy! They are cute little electric cars you can take a tour around Geiranger in. When I say little, I mean little, think like half the size of a golf cart. They are so fun though. There is a little GPS installed with a preset tour and tour guide so you learn a lot about the town in a small amount of time.
Before the ferry takes off head to the Geiranger Chocolate shop, Geiranger Sjokolade, get some chocolates to go, a chocolate-dipped waffle and, of course, a hot chocolate. They mix white chocolate, dark chocolate, and milk chocolate. Yum!!
Back in Ålesund, you will have plenty of time to get some dinner and walk around town. I can recommend Lyst for some tasty food and a stroll to Molo for a beer or a cider.
Day 9 – Ålesund to Kristiansund via the Atlantic Road
Spend the morning in Ålesund, there is so much to see in this little art nouveau town. This is probably the most unique town in Norway. After a large fire, the town had to rebuild and it fully embraced the art style of the time. I recommend grabbing coffee and breakfast at Raccoon Coffee and more.
After, head up the 422 stairs to the Mount Aksla viewpoint. The stair master workout is worth it, the views of the town are exceptional. Ålesund is a neat little town that spans across 7 islands, you can see this clearly from the viewpoint.
Make your way back down and grab some gas. Then head out the long way to the Atlantic Road.
Stop in a little fishing town called Bud, there is an interesting museum there and a great view of the docks. Not far past Bud, you will reach the Atlantic road.
There are plenty of places to stop and get a look. Take in the view as you head to Kristiansund. It’s a small town, so you won’t need that much time to check it out, there is a park worth a wander through. The Vanden lookout is in this park, there are great photos from its history and views of the whole area. (Also great shelter if happens to start raining, true story!)
Day 10- Tronhiem
Grab some breakfast to go and head out of town. If you want the scenic route take the 680. It adds about an hour to the drive but it’s worth it. The scenery changes gradually from the ocean beaches to lush trees and green hills.
You will arrive in Trondheim midday depending on your route of choice. Parking is hard to find and often costs so I recommend ditching the rental once you get to town.
The town, while large, is very walkable. A few stops I recommend while you wander would be the Nidaros Cathedral, the neighborhood of Bakklandet, and stopping for a chili mocha at Dromedar Kaffebar. There is plenty to see eat and do here it’s nice to just wander around and see where it leads you.
One note I should make. I did not do much research on Trondheim before going. We wanted to try out hand at “winging it” this wasn’t the best choice, we quickly found that during the shoulder season all of the museums and many attractions close early. So keep this in mind when planning, if you are traveling off-peak you will want to make sure you plan to be in town early enough to see what you want to see. Some closed as early as noon. Most closed at 2 or 3, not 5 as we had thought.
Because we wanted more time in Oslo the next day we opted for the overnight train instead of staying there the night. Depending on your flights out or how long you are staying you can opt to stay overnight and head back to Oslo later. It’s about 6 hours by train. There are lockers at the train station to store your bags for you.
Day 11 – Vigeland Park and the Peace Center – Olso
If you opted for the overnight train you will arrive in Oslo pretty early. Luckily Vigeland Sculpture Park is always open so we began the day there and I recommend you do the same. It’s a pretty famous park full of statues by Gustav Vigeland. I will admit these sculptures are a bit bizarre, especially one of them man seemingly juggling babies but it is worth seeing since it is so famous. It’s also a nice peaceful walk, especially in the early morning. There are not really any tours going on and its mostly locals on their morning walks or jogs.
From there head over to the Peace Center. Here you can learn all about the Nobel Peace prize and all of its many recipients. It is really eye-opening and interesting. There are other exhibits on the bottom floor, at the time it was all about sustainability. Depending on your interest level in the Peace Prize you will spend anywhere from an hour to 3 here.
After the Peace center, walk down the road stopping at the Royal Palace and maybe doing some last-minute shopping. We left Oslo in the evening. You will need to adjust this day to fit your departing flight.
There you have it. 11 action-packed days in stunning Norway. We crammed a lot in like we usually do but it does ensure seeing the most of what Norway has to offer in a short amount of time. As I mentioned before, Norway was unexpectedly moved to the top of our list and I could not be happier that it was. It is a wonderful country and I wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.
Our trip ended in almost a whole day layover in Helsinki. You can read all about it here.
Have you been to Norway? Are you thinking about going? Let’s chat in the comments!
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