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In Focus: 10 Must-Sees in Norway

By: Camila
Last Updated: 19/10/2021

The mere mention of Norway evokes images of dramatic fjords, flickering northern lights, sweeping mountain roads, and adventurous Vikings. If you’re interested in visiting its cities, wilderness and highlights, you may be wondering what the Norway must-see spots are?

Well, this Nordic nation has an abundance of scenic attractions and is recognised all over the world for its outstanding natural beauty. Here, you’ll find fjords, waterfalls, hiking trails, villages nestled between towering mountains, and vibrant cities.

To help you narrow down your bucket list items, we’ve put together this list of must-see places in Norway. Read on and choose a few (or all!) to create your magical Norwegian itinerary.



Contents:

  1. Oslo
  2. Pulpit Rock
  3. Geirangerfjord
  4. Bergen
  5. Flåm
  6. Ålesund
  7. Trondheim
  8. Lofoten Islands
  9. Arctic coastline
  10. Svalbard

1. The Oslo region

Oslo, the grand capital city of Norway, is a top destination to visit, especially for a city break or to get a taste of Norwegian culture. In addition to its rich heritage and attractions, it benefits from a “small town” feel with its scenic harbour and natural surroundings.

With traditional Scandinavian design and modern urban influences, you’ll find a perfect blend of both during your visit. Take it all in on a walking tour of the city centre and pop into the highlights you want to see.

Oslo town hall and nearby harbour with boats

Along the harbour, you could explore Aker Brygge and the Akershus Fortress. Or have a wander from the Royal Palace to Oslo Cathedral. Visit the Munch Museum for a dose of art. At Frogner Park, you could admire the many sculptures by celebrated Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland.

To learn a bit more about Norway’s ancient history and see real Viking ships, take a short ferry to the Bygdøy peninsula. Here you’ll find the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, the Fram Museum and the Viking Ship Museum.



2. The iconic Pulpit Rock 

Pulpit Rock, or "Preikestolen" in Norwegian, is another must-see sight in Norway for your bucket list. The name comes from its shape, a sheer cliff with a flat top, which resembles a preacher’s pulpit. Thanks to its scenic setting and stunning views from the top, it has become one of the most popular hikes in Norway.

people standing on Pulpit Rock with view of the fjord below

Located near Stavanger in the southwest of Norway, it’s an ideal day trip if you're a thrill seeker. The hike up will take you approximately 2 hours on a steep 3.8-kilometre (2.4-mile) trail with an ascent of about 334 metres (1,096 feet). Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the mountains and fjords.

If you’re a serious walker or are visiting the western fjords, don’t miss the other must-do hike, Trolltunga, near Bergen.



3. Geirangerfjord and the western fjords 

When you think of Norway, it may conjure up images of long fjords, steep mountains and draping waterfalls. Head to the western fjords if that’s what you want to experience.

Considered one of the most beautiful fjords in the world, make sure to add Geirangerfjord to your itinerary. It offers picture-perfect scenery, with still waters, majestic hills, and diverse flora. This is where you’ll find the Seven Sisters and Bridal Veil waterfalls

The Seven Sisters waterfall gets its name from its seven separate streams, the tallest of which measures 250 metres (820 feet). According to local folklore, the “sisters” dance playfully on the mountain while the Friaren (The Suitor) flirts with them from across the fjord.

Seven Sisters waterfall and fjord

Other fjords in Norway that you could visit include Sognefjord, Norway's longest and deepest fjord. It stretches more than 200 kilometres (124 miles) inland from Bergen on the west coast.

Finally, don’t miss sailing along Nærøyfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord and the narrowest fjord in Norway. Jointly with Geirangerfjord, it was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2005.



4. Trendy Bergen 

Talking of the west coast, visit Bergen for a taste of Norwegian culture, history and landscape. Bergen is Norway’s second largest city and affectionately known as the “Gateway to the Fjords”. You could visit on a city break and enjoy some day trips to the fjords from here.

Bergen is also home to another of Norway’s world heritage sites, Bryggen. In fact, this 900-year-old wharf is the oldest area of Bergen and one of its top attractions too. Considering how colourful it is, you literally cannot miss it.

colourful Bryggen wharf in Bergen

Stroll through the narrow cobblestone lanes and learn more about Bergen’s role at the heart of the Hanseatic league. The multi-coloured wooden buildings were carefully restored to their original medieval characteristics after a devastating fire in the 1700s.

For more history, you could also visit the reconstructed Fantoft Stave Church, first built in 1150.

Looking for those sweeping views of the town and coastline? Hike up one of the 7 mountains surrounding the city. Or you could take the Fløibanen funicular railway up to Mount Fløyen. Mount Ulriken is also accessible by cable car.



5. The village of Flåm

From Oslo, you could take a scenic train journey to the fjords via the Flåmsbana (Flåm railway). From the Myrdal mountain station, hop on this little green train for a 20-kilometre (12-mile) ride. Take in the view from the window as you descend 865 metres (2,837 feet) into the spectacular Flåm Valley.

In fact, it has been named one of the most beautiful railways in the world. You could discover the fjords and Flåm as part of a Norway in a Nutshell® tour.

village of Flam and snowy mountains
©Fjord Tours

The tiny village of Flåm is a top location for nature lovers with its steep mountainsides, thundering waterfalls and deep valleys. There are a number of attractions and activities to enjoy here, including the 17th-century Flåm Church and the Flåmsbana Museum next to the railway station. 

From here, you could take hikes, kayaking tours, and boat trips to go spot the wildlife and local scenery.



6. Stylish Ålesund

Ålesund is a port town located along the west coast of Norway, about halfway between Bergen and Trondheim. Set amidst various interconnected islands, Ålesund gives you a taste of seaside life. This is the place to enjoy a wildlife-watching cruise, especially if you’re a keen bird watcher.   

The town is probably best known for its Art Nouveau architecture. After a fire devastated most of the town in the early 20th century, Ålesund had to be rebuilt almost entirely. Wander through the colourful downtown to notice the new style and architecture.

view over alesund and nearby islands

Another reason to take a detour or city break to Ålesund is its proximity to Geirangerfjord. Explore the most famous fjord in Norway from here. Ålesund is also a popular stop along the Hurtigruten coastal voyage.  

For the top views encompassing the town and surrounding archipelago, head to the Mount Aksla lookout.



7. Historic Trondheim 

The last city on our list is the ancient capital of Norway, Trondheim. It has a rich history dating back to its foundation in the 10th century. Then it was a Viking trading post before becoming an important Christian pilgrimage destination.

All of this means keen historians will feel right at home in Trondheim. You’ll get a taste of everything that has made Norway what it is today.

colourful houses by the water in Trondheim

Similarly to Ålesund, fire and wars have destroyed a lot of the ancient buildings here, but some remain for you to explore. Make sure to stop by the Nidaros Cathedral, one of Trondheim’s top highlights. You may also enjoy strolling through the Bakklandet district, with its cobblestone streets and colourful wooden houses.

For panoramic views, walk up to Kristiansten, a 17th-century fortress overlooking the city and coastline.

Trondheim is also recognised as a gastronomic hub. Don’t miss your opportunity to dig your teeth into Norwegian cuisine at one of the local restaurants and cafés.



8. The Lofoten Islands 

Norway is such a geographically diverse country. That means you could enjoy the fjords in the west and cities of the south, but also head north to experience the Arctic Circle.

Lofoten is an archipelago in Northern Norway characterised by natural beauty, idyllic fishing villages and unique lighting conditions ideal for photography.

view of village of Reine in lofoten under the snow

Svolvær is the main settlement and harbour of Lofoten. It is home to art galleries, shops and cafés. In the horizon, spot the Svolvær Goat ("Svolværgeita") mountain, popular with rock climbers.

Other villages you could visit in the archipelago include Reine and Henningsvær. They are both set along the sea, with mountains rising sharply, creating impressive backdrops.

These islands are also very popular for wildlife watching. The waters are rich with marine life, and you could spot otters, seals and whales. 



9. The Arctic coastline

Discover more of Arctic Norway by sailing or exploring along the northern coastline of the country.

Stretching from Tromsø to Kirkenes, passing by the North Cape ("Nordkapp"), Northern Norway is striking. In Tromsø, often nicknamed the “Paris of the North”, visit the Arctic Cathedral and take the Fjellheisen cable car up to Storsteinen for panoramic views of the area.

The North Cape is mainland Europe’s northernmost point. That’s one for your bucket list!

Finally, Kirkenes is the last stop on a coastal voyage. It is located near the borders with Finland and Russia and is a great place to learn about Sami people and try Arctic excursions. Kirkenes is also the home of the famous SnowHotel.



harbour of tromso under the snow

This region is a gem to discover in summer or winter alike. Experience the midnight sun during the summer months, with never-ending days for excursions, thrilling hikes and boat tours. During the other half of the year, expect a winter wonderland and snowy adventures.   

A highlight of visiting this far north between October and March is of course the northern lights. As the Arctic Circle experiences polar nights at this time of year, it means you’ll get the best opportunities to witness nature’s best light show.

10. Svalbard

Interested in an even more polar adventure? Visit Svalbard, an archipelago located halfway between mainland Norway and the North Pole.

It is one of the world’s northernmost inhabited places and the kingdom of polar bears. They indeed outnumber their human counterparts! Here you could marvel at the splendid glaciers and vast, untouched Arctic wilderness.



person standing in front of tall glacier

FAQs about visiting Norway

1. What is the prettiest place in Norway?

There are so many pretty places in Norway, from quaint fishing villages to glistening waterfalls. We can’t pick just one, but we recommend the following if you’re looking for a picture-perfect destination in Norway:

2. What is the best view in Norway?

It depends what you want to look at, of course! But many adore the feeling of reaching the heights of Pulpit Rock and taking in the views from this high point.

If you enjoy hiking, you’re in for a treat on your holiday to Norway. Explore the national parks and vast coastline and you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of sharp peaks, majestic glaciers, shining seas and long fjords.



man standing at the top of mountain looking at fjord

3. What is the best way to visit Norway?

There are many different ways to explore Norway, but yet again it’ll depend on your preferences.

Want to be at the wheel of your very own road trip? A self-drive tour around Norway is probably best for you.

Don’t want to bother driving but want to travel at your own pace? Try a cruise along the coast, or a mix of cruise and train travel to discover the cities and seaside.

Interested in hearing from a local first-hand? You could travel with a tour guide and a small group of like-minded travellers to discover the top sights in Norway.

Are you keen to explore the greater Scandinavian region at the same time? Look up a Scandinavian itinerary to visit Norway along with Sweden and Denmark.

4. What is the top driving route in Norway?

Norway, with its winding roads and spectacular backdrops, lends itself well to a road trip.

You could drive along the coast, from city to city, also taking in the fjords. Enjoy a few days driving through the Lofoten Islands and charming villages. Or how about starting in Oslo and discovering the central region of Norway at your own pace?

The top circuits to experience are:



cars on winding bends of trollstigen road

5. What is the best time to visit Norway?

It’s hard to go wrong when visiting Norway. It’s a country worth seeing all year long, with advantages in summer and winter. Pick what you’d rather see and that’ll help you settle on a season or month.

In summer, you could go hiking, enjoy leisurely cruises, wander through lush parks, and bask in the glow of the midnight sun.

Wintertime is the period to enjoy thrilling excursions in the snow, such as dog sledding. You could also visit Christmas markets and spot the dancing northern lights in the dark sky.



Northern Lights over tromso and snowy mountains

Has this inspired you to visit Norway? You now definitely have some fantastic spots to add to your bucket list. When you’re ready to start planning that Norwegian adventure, browse our top vacation packages in Norway.

Whether you pick a cruise and train package, a self-drive trip, or a group tour of Norway, you’re in good hands when you book with Nordic Visitor. Our routes are tried-and-tested, and we handpick each accommodation and excursion so we know you’ll like it.

Your personalised service includes a dedicated travel consultant based in Scandinavia who will organise your whole trip before you arrive. They can tailor a route as per your preferences and give you recommendations based on their insider knowledge.

As an added bonus, you’ll also benefit from our 24/7 helpline while you’re in Norway. With this, you have peace of mind knowing we’re only a call away.

Get in touch with our Scandinavian experts to start planning your Norwegian getaway.

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Post by: Camila

 Camila grew up between the French Canadian and Chilean cultures, before moving to Scotland in 2012. When she’s not travelling or writing about travels, Camila loves to read, run, and puzzle. Her favourite destinations have been Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Estonia and Cape Town. 

Find Camila on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.