7 Best Places to Visit in Norway

Norway has something in it that blends the old and new with absolute grace. This vibrant place is just perfect and is one of the most beautiful places in the world to visit.

Norway is indeed underrated. Anyways Norway is the Westernmost, Northernmost and Easternmost (yeah take that, geography) of the Scandinavian countries.

It is one of the wealthiest and most modern countries in the world that scores highly on satisfaction and happiness. Many people think of just Oslo when going to Norway but that would be a tragic waste, as Norway’s beauty lies in it’s wilderness.

It is the land of Vikings and has fantastic pagan historical sights as well as early Christian and even neolithic historical sites, preserved by its lack of destruction caused by the encroach of large cities. Basically though, you don’t leave Norway without a profound appreciation for nature. The best part about visiting Norway is that you won't get bored with the place really fast.

Of course, the opposite is true in winter as Norway is one of the best places to visit in January. Norway offers tours, exciting museums, zoos playful and cool festivals. A holiday in Norway can really offer variety. Give yourself time and visit multiple places. Norway is long and the roads winding. The attractions are spaced out over a country as long as the distance from Copenhagen to Rome. The geography also varies.

As a solo traveler you will find the locals to be friendly while traveling Norway and most fluently speak English. The Land of the Midnight Sun is one of the safest places to travel in Europe alone. In fact, the place is completely safe, full of fascinating history, beautiful museums, and much more.

Try to find a route that’ll cover high mountain plateaus, cities — by Norwegian standard, though you may think of them as large towns — the valleys and woods of eastern, inland Norway, the fjords of the west coast, and the ragged, dramatic scenery and midnight sun of northern Norway.

Top Things to Do in Norway

There is a lot to learn about its Viking culture, and these are the top things to do in Norway.

1. Oslo

The capital Oslo is lovely – if expensive. Arrive in Oslo by plane. Most planes land at Gardermoen. You can take the train downtown, it takes about half an hour and you end up in Oslo S, the central railway-station of Oslo.

Right next to the station is the Royal Opera & Ballett, even if you're not planning on seeing any show of theirs, the building as such is worth a visit. It's built in such a manner that you can walk on the roof of the building, and it offers a nice view over the Oslo-fjord and interesting architecture.

Also within walking-distance you find the town-hall, near Akershus fortress which can be visited. From here you can take a boat across to Bygdøy. In Bygdøy you can visit the viking-ship museum and have a look at Kon-tiki and Fram from the time-period of the great Norwegian explorers.

Also worth considering is taking the subway (that becomes a not-sub-way outside town) up to Holmenkollen ski-jump area. It's located on a hill above town, and there is a platform at the top that you can visit if you like. It offers the best views over Oslo and the surroundings.

Have a walk up Karl Johans street, the "main" street in Oslo and you come across both the National Gallery, (includes some well-known works such as the Scream by Edvard Munch) the Storting and the all the way up to the Royal castle, all of which are pretty modest structures by international standards.

Norway does have a lot of mountain-ranges that are easily-accessible for hikers. You've got the right to go wherever you want in mountains and forests and such areas make up more than 70% of the area of Norway, so there's plenty to choose from.

If you still have energy for some fjord adventures, you can test your stamina in the Flørli Stairs, the world’s longest wooden staircase, with 4444 steps to the top.

2. Kirkenes

The whole of Scandinavia is underrated as a holiday destination and Norway has some gorgeous cities to get stuck into! Northern Norway is a trip all by itself. Another fantastic way to explore the country is a cruise on the Hurtigruten ferry that will not just take you around fjords but let you experience one of the best coastal journeys on this planet. The Fjords (sea valleys) that cut into the coast of the country are stunning and the North contains the great stretch of arctic tundra as well as the famous midnight sun.

Every summer in the northernmost part of the country days last 24 hours, making it the place where the midnight sun lasts the longest. You can check out for coastal streamers, popular name for the ferry from Bergen and travel to Kirkenes that will take you to some of the hardly explore parts of Norway.

The whole process needs 6 days or more to get completed that would take months of land. Also, you can hop on and off at any of the spectacular coasts you want to learn about or want to explore more.

In the north, it has enclaves of Sami people (a northern Inuit like culture, distinct from other Scandinavians and Finns).

3. Stavanger

Do you prefer more urban and comfortable vacations? In that case, visit some of the cities — Bergen, Stavanger, Kristiansand, Ålesund, Bodø, and Tromsø, for instance — and use AirBnB. Bergen and Stavanger ain't very far apart, about 250 km or something like that. You're in western Norway now though, so there will be numerous fjords on the way, and thus travelling between them takes about 5 hours because of 2 ferries. There's more fjord-crossings than this, but the remaining ones happen by way of bridges and a series of undersea-tunnels.

You can travel by bus, or by catamaran. The boat has better views and is worth it, especially in good weather, but the buses are cheaper and more convenient. You should pre-order a ticket a few days in advance for the boat, but the buses have a guarantee. You simply show up and they've always got place for you. If not, they'll find an additional bus, on highly popular days there's sometimes 3 buses driving the route normally done by one bus.

The buses run once an hour, but pay attention to the fact that every second bus takes a (40 minute) detour to Haugesund, so unless you want to visit Haugesund you're better of taking one of those buses that don't make the detour.

Located in the heart of the Norwegian fjords, a trip to Stavanger is synonymous with spectacular natural landscapes. Thus, it is not surprising that the main attraction of tourism in Stavanger is outside the city, in the rock mass of Preikestolen, also known as Pulpit Rock. The massif looks out over the Lyse fjord, which you can walk or bike through beautiful hiking trails or frequent cruises departing from the city.

As in the rest of Norway, spring and summer are the best times to visit Stavanger. If you travel at the end of July you can also enjoy the Gladmat, the largest gastronomic festival in the country. The city is home to the Norwegian Gastronomic Institute, where the most prestigious chefs in the country are trained, and hosts some of the best restaurants in Norway.

There is nothing better than walking through the old town (Gamle Stavanger). Its wooden houses painted white and brick roofs are one of the visual icons of the city. Come to the Domkirkeplassen square, to the Stavanger tourist information office, and do not miss any of the monuments and places of interest in Stavanger.

Some cities are best experienced as part of a group—but not Stavanger. This charming little town is perfect for solo travelers who want to get off the beaten path and see what it's like to live in Norway. Walk along the cobblestone streets, visit the local galleries and museums and make some friends over a beer at one of the many pubs tucked away throughout town.

The offers to travel to Stavanger are also marked by the wonderful beaches of Jæren and Mount Kjerag, one of the must sees in the area thanks to the famous Kjerabolten, a huge stone trapped between two mountains.

But it's also conveniently close to the Lysefjord and to Jæren. The former has some of the most spectacular landscapes of Norway, including a variety of hiking-trips depending on your physical shape and how active you're feeling while Jæren is wide, flat and open and have the best beaches by far in Norway.

20 minutes by car (or bus) south of Stavanger and you're on the beaches of Jæren. The Sola beach is the largest and the most crowded in mid-summer. Spend 5 minutes extra and get to Vigdel which is a smaller more secluded beach where there's usually not a crowd. Lay a route across to the west coast and then work your way north.

The Jostedalsbreen, or Jostedal Glacier, is the largest in continental Europe. The Nigardsbreen is one of the most spectacular parts of the Jostedalsbreen. Go to another part of the glacier, that of Bersetsbreen.

4. Alesund

If you have a car, you can drive the Trollstigen road, end up in Ålesund, home to the world’s largest bonfire, and from there drive the Atlantic Road north via Kristiansund. Alesund in the North is famous for its icy Norwegian scenery.

5. Lofoten

One of the best ways to experience Lofoten is to get there on the ferry from Bodø to Moskenes. You’ll get a taste of the open ocean, and approaching Lofoten from the seaside means you first see it as a wall of mountains rising up out of the ocean. You can also take trains as far as Bodø — the line goes through Hell — where you can take the ferry to Moskenes in Lofoten.

However, to get around up there, e.g. if you want to see Senja, Andøya, and Tromsø, you will either rely on regional buses, which could get complicated and time-consuming, or a car, in which case you can see whatever you want. Just be aware that roads are windy and narrow, and may include ferries, which means you should never judge distances by looking at the map.

Drives will take longer than you think, and you should give yourself time to stop at scenic points along the way. Moskenes is smack in the middle of the most-visited end of the Lofoten islands, between Å and Reine. It’s not itself much of a destination. You should visit the literal end of the road at Å. There is a fantastic little bakery in stately old building.

At the parking lot, take a short hike up the hill and get this view to the Vestfjord and the island of Værøy. You can continue further out than Å, but not by car. The outer islands of Røst and Værøy are served only by boat from Moskenes. They’re both settled and both worth visiting. Both have colonies of puffins and other seabirds if you’re into bird watching.

Going back in the other direction, 15–20 minutes up the road from Å, you have the most-photographed mountain formations in Lofoten surrounding Kirkefjorden (Church Fjord).

6. Reine

The short stretch from Reine to Hamnøy is usually thronged with tourists, for that reason, but it’s worth stopping by. From Reine, there are a few trips worth considering.

One is a guided tour to Refsvikhula Cave that takes you around the outer point to the north-facing side of the islands, now uninhabited. To get there, you’re traversing the Moskstraumen, a massive tidal current caused by the islands themselves funneling the tides through the strait between Røst and Moskenes.

The paintings in the cave have been dated back three to four thousand years, though the aforementioned Kjell insists they were done by a couple of local jokers a few decades back. Also on the outer side, you can reach Buvika beach from Reine. Take the local express boat the short trip to Vindstad. From there, you have a 45 minute to an hour’s easy walk up the gravel road and over the ridge.

If you’re of the adventurous type, you can also rent ocean kayaks in Reine and reach the Bunes hike that way. If you do, take a detour up the smaller fjord arm north of Hamnøy. There’s a beautiful little lake at the bottom in Festhælven, with trout in it, surrounded by soaring mountains. The shoreline is, or at least used to be, encrusted with mussels ready to pick.

Reine’s most popular hike is Reinebringen, which takes you up to a fantastic view of the whole area. The hike was recently rebuilt with a brand new path of stone steps — the old hike got so washed out from all the foot traffic that people were literally sliding down and getting killed. It is steep, so make sure you’re in shape for it.

The town of Sund itself is a gem, and even the drive is a treat. Continuing inward on the E10 toward Sund and Ramberg, if nature calls make sure to use the rest stop at Akkarvikodden. Epitaph is one of 35 works of art placed in the landscape of Nordland, five of which are in Lofoten.

Next, the beach! No hiking required in this case. You park and walk straight onto the wide, sandy beach. If you still haven’t had enough beaches, head back down the E10 and take the exit to Fredvang. The hike to Kvalvika beach is 30–40 minutes and only moderately tough, though it can get slippery in places it it’s raining or drizzly.

Continuing inwards along the E10, if you feel like surfing, hang left on Steinfjordsveien and follow the signs to Unstad Arctic Surf. Yes, that is a thing. Just up the road back on E10, you have Lofotr Viking Museum, a reconstructed long house and Norse farm at the town of Borg. Next, another artwork and a historic memorial to WW2 and the German occupation, at Eggum.

If you’re into climbing, you can tackle Svolværgeita (the “Svolvær Goat”). The climb itself is only about 50 meters and not technically difficult. There is at least one guide outfit in Svolvær that claims they take people up with no experience climbing.

Eye in Stone sits off the beaten path at Hustad, off Fv691 towards Lødingen. Keep in mind that Lofoten itself is the destination, so don’t hustle just to get from one “must-see” to the next. Every drive is full of “wow” moments, even if they’re not marked on the map. Make sure you have enough time to stop and take it in.

If you are one of those who loves being amidst the pleasing flora and fauna, don't miss visiting the most intriguing wildlife in Norway. You will get a chance to explore more about Arctic foxes, Polar Bears, and different other species. Also, you must try the safaris out there in the Norwegian interior where you may stumble upon musk ox and elk (moose).

Wait, that's not all. You can also witness bird life in Norway along the coast, which is absolutely amazing. Also, whale watching outing is one of the best things about Norway, especially around Lofoten and Vesteralen. Keep going another couple of days, and you’ll end up at the northern tip of Europe, at Nordkapp.

Do you want to fish? The west and northern coasts are teeming with fish, but you’ll want to make your way out to the outer islands to the extent possible if you want to go for large catches like halibut and big cod.

Located on the Lofoten Island, Moskenes, Reinebringen, which is located on the Lofoten islands takes one to two days. Both of these hikes are worth the effort as their views are some of the best in the world.

7. Senja

Ar couple of days drive will take you across Saltfjellet and the Arctic Circle to end up in ridiculously scenic places like Lofoten and Senja.

She’s feral, jagged, and largely untamed. Massive granite walls dwarf the scattered towns and farms carved out along the fjords. She’s also lush and teeming with life. The greenery is more lush and dense than it has any right to be, this far north. Ferns and mosses, wildflowers, birches, grasses, and, higher up, heather thrive.

The seas around Senja are thick with cod, coalfish, halibut, and ling. Get out on a boat and you’re likely to see seals pop up to look you over and harbor porpoises breaking the surface around you. In the winter, orca and humpback whales follow schools of herring into the fjords. There are white, secluded beaches surrounded by azure water, clear enough to see the pristine bottom in crisp detail below you.

From that bottom, no more then 2–5 meters deep, you can harvest entire meals’ worth of mussels, whelks, and, if you have the patience to spoon out the roe, sea urchins. Senja’s mostly uninhabited interior offers days’ worth of hiking in everything from lowland forest, lakes, streams, wetlands, and marshes to unforgiving Arctic mountain plateaus, all contained in an area smaller than Houston city limits.

Many of the mountain peaks are impossibly ragged. Okshornan (the Ox’s Horns), also called the Devil’s Jawbone, reach for the clouds so steeply and so hard even the tough and resourceful nordlendinger, the north Norwegians, have not been able to scratch out roads or settlements below them. And that’s saying something. If you look very closely, on every strip of coastline that’s not approaching vertical, there are farms and homes.

It’s the Norwegian way. You take the land you get. Even if it’s a few bouldery skerries jutting out into the open Atlantic, with nothing between you and Spitsbergen but ice and ocean swells. Kråkeslottet, the Crow’s Castle, is a former fiskemottak, receiving and processing the catch from the local fisheries. Now that fisheries are mostly industrialized, it’s been bought and renovated by a group of artists, who run it as a studio space and gallery.

There’s an art festival every year, Artijuli. It sits, by the way, next to a cool beach at the literal end of the road, about 20 minutes north-west of Skaland. In the summer, the sun doesn’t set. Senja even has its own gilded outhouse, known locally as Gulldassen, the Golden Crapper. Oh, and of course it’s surrounded by steep mountains on three sides and a beach on the fourth.

The weather can be rough. This changes day to day. You don’t go north of the Arctic Circle to get a tan; tough weather just adds to the drama of the landscape and is part of the experience. Bring layers and a good rain shell. The clouds just serve to remind you how tall these crags are and put things in perspective.

Speaking of tunnels, there are a lot. At either end, there’s a box containing reflective vests. They’re for cyclists and hikers to don at one end and deposit at the other, on the honor system. Why? Because the tunnels are narrow and somewhat dark; building, maintaining, and lighting all these tunnels on a sparsely populated and geographically uncooperative island is expensive, so you’re not going to get two full lanes bathed in light.

If you’re on foot or a bike, it’s wise to make yourself as visible as possible. You get to Senja from Bardufoss (hour and half) or Tromsø airport (two and a half hours). Rent a car, unless you’re hard core and load up a bike. People can and do this. Camping is cheap or free, if you follow the basic rules of Norway’s right to roam. For example, you can pitch your tent right on Ersfjord beach, where Gulldassen sits.

The entire outer road is declared a National Scenic Road. There is not a dull spot anywhere. Senja even has its own micro-brewery, for that quiet moment at midnight, when the sun’s still up and you’re not ready to sleep. Senja is every bit as majestic, rugged, and beautiful as its more famous cousins, the Lofoten islands, but it’s far less overrun with other tourists.

Senja’s most photographed peak, Segla, on Senja island is also popular, but more of a local and insider’s secret. Senja doesn’t have the name recognition and tourist traffic of its sisters, the Lofoten islands. And yes, people hike all the way up Segla. The path to the top follows the less aggressive slope on the opposite side.

If you want to experience an Arctic landscape that boils north Norway down to its essentials, and you don’t want to rub elbows with an armada of tour buses, give Senja a shot instead; it’ll stay with you forever.

There are a lot more scenic routes, things to see, and things to do. Decide what it is you want out of this. Is it a range of natural scenery? All in all, the ideal way to make most of this trip is to book a tour in order to witness all the great spots in the region.
Kalyan Panja