Best things to do in Norway
Updated: Sep 18
A 5-day itinerary
Wow. Where does one begin? Norway is just tremendous. Known for its sheer natural beauty, this country in Europe that makes up part of Scandinavia, is one of the most magnificent places I've visited. Fjords and glaciers abound - and the sights leave one speechless and pondering how these enormous wonders even exist. There is raw beauty all around, waiting to be discovered. With so much to do in this varied country, here's an epic itinerary for a five day trip, including some of the best things to do in Norway. This was a pretty quick trip and there are plenty more things to discover - but below is the perfect way to dip into Norway if you're tight on time (and if you have more days, you can use this guide as a base and add to it).
Winter can be a pretty magical experience in Norway and it is so different to the summer months; in winter you can expect frozen fjords and lots of snow - so make sure to wrap up warm and also be prepared for some unpredictable weather. In the summer, the temperature rises and the snow disappears but the crowds and tourists definitely increase! Norway is an adventure whatever time of year you decide to visit - I've only been in winter but I'd love to see the changing landscape when the snow finally melts. Norway, I'm not done with you 👀
Flying to the Fjords
We flew into Bergen, which is known as the gateway to the fjords. This is the closest airport to many of Norway's most famous fjords:
Sognefjord is about two hours away by car
Hardangerfjord is about an hour and a half away
Geirangerfjord - a UNSECO World Heritage Site - is nearly seven hours away by car; this can be done over several days if you road trip it
As we only had five days, we couldn't fit in all of the above fjords - so we focused on Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord. We flew from London Heathrow to Bergen with Wideroe Airlines - and heads up, the plane is tinyyy 😁 But the view flying into Norway over the fjords is fantastic! We rented a car ahead of our holiday and picked it up at the airport, ready to begin our road trip.
Driving in Norway in winter
In my opinion, this is probably the best way to get around Norway - allowing you to see lots of things and doing it at your own pace. We rented our car through rentalcars.com and went with Hertz. There are a lot of toll roads in Norway and the car company will just charge you at the end for any tolls (and ferries), so you don't need to worry about paying on the way. Heads up that some roads (such as the narrower mountain roads) won't be accessible in winter, so do check before you go.
Day 1: Beautiful Bergen
If you only have a few days in Norway, spending a day in Bergen is a good idea to immerse yourself in the culture and see a beautiful city framed by towering mountains and surrounded by fjords. We drove straight from the airport to our hotel in Bergen. Much of downtown Bergen can be walked - and we left our car by our hotel and spent the day in Bergen on foot. If your hotel doesn't have parking, there are a number of parking garages very near to the centre of Bergen (prices vary). Bergen is the second-largest city in Norway - but everything is more or less within walking distance once you're in the main area. We first headed to the waterfront to soak in the views of the shops and houses, and have a bite to eat.
This famous historic quarter is like walking back in time or entering a Wild West movie and is one of the more unique things to do in Norway. In summer, little stalls are opened here but in winter it's super quiet and almost eerie walking around. Add it to your list - it's really cool!
Mount Floyen is a must-do for anyone visiting Bergen. It takes an hour to walk up, and only about 6 minutes if you take the famous Floibanen funicular instead. We had planned to go on the funicular railway but it was closed for refurbishment during our trip, so we walked instead, timing it for sunset. There are a few different routes you can do but they all take more or less the same time - just follow the signs. It's very uphill and we were definitely huffing and puffing - but the views are great along the way, and especially beautiful at the top - with a panoramic view of the fjord and Bergen below.
The Vidden hike from the top of Mount Ulriken to Mount Floyen (or the other way around) comes highly recommended and is one of the most popular walks in Bergen. Depending on where you start, you can take the funicular to the top of Ulriken or Floyen, and begin your hike from either place (most popular is starting at Ulriken). It takes approximately 4-5 hours and requires a bit of scrambling and involves a few inclines. It's also advised to only do it if the weather is good.
After you've had some supper and refuelled, it's always a good idea to take a stroll around Bergen at night. We hired electric scooters using the Tier app and zipped around the city, preserving some energy after our day of travelling. There are also a bunch of bars to choose from - check out Baklommen Bar within the wooden buildings of Bryggen for a cocktail and some good atmosphere. And if you want to feel colder than you already do, head to Magic Ice Bar where even the chairs and tables are made of ice. If it's a performance you're after, Grieghallen (Grieg Hall) hosts classical music concerts (as well as other shows); you can check their schedule here. After surveying the city, we then scooted our way back to our hotel in Bergen for the night, ahead of our journey to Flam the next day.
Drive from Bergen to Flam
And enjoy the scenery along the way...
This day was an example of when things don't go to plan when you're travelling! We started the drive from Bergen to Flam (just under 3 hours), drove through Flam and decided to continue on to attempt a supposedly beautiful hike to the top of Molden to see much-promised amazing views of the Luster fjord. This detour added an hour to our drive and involved taking the ferry from Fodnes to Mannheller. No bother, we thought, and sailed through the picturesque Lustrafjorden (it is a beautiful ferry journey and I recommend it if you're nearby). The ferry was easy to book and we checked the schedule on our way to the port at this link. The ferry leaves every 20 minutes and takes 15 minutes each way. The Molden hike is only 2 hours in total but it took us a while to find the correct trailhead - and when we finally started, the snow was so deep it was impossible to walk and we kept falling through the snow (even in walking boots), so we had to turn back. It's possible to do the hike with snowshoes (the ones that look like skiis) and walking poles - but if you don't have these, don't attempt this hike in winter! We did get to see lovely scenes on the ferry though, and the videos of us falling through the snow are now humorous in hindsight. So just be prepared - not all trails in winter are possible when the snow is so deep. If you're going to Norway in the warmer months, be sure to check out the Molden hike for one of the best things to do in Norway and nicest viewpoints in Sogn. We made our way back over the ferry with our heads hanging low, in search of a guaranteed good view from the famous Stegastein Viewpoint instead...
There's nowhere quite like Sognefjord to make you feel absolutely tiny! And the view from Stegastein Viewpoint will do just this. This viewpoint is a wooden structure jutting out of the landscape and affording the most amazing views. You'll be looking at Aurlandsfjord (a small section of Sognefjord) and the surrounding mountains. The actual driving route to get here, from Flam to Stegastein Viewpoint, is especially scenic and one of the best things to do in Norway - and we returned the next day just to see it again! If you're using Google Maps or similar, make sure you go along Bjorgavegen (also referred to as the snow road) - which is the mountain road from Aurlandsvangen to Stegastein. If you're going in winter, Stegastein will be the final stop on this route - but in summer (1st June - 15th October approx), you can continue along this road all the way until Laerdal. Make sure you drive slowly to take in the views (and navigate the hairpin bends) and allow yourself to stop in the byways along the way. We went in winter so the road was pretty quiet and we were the only people at the viewpoint - but in summer it fills up.
Naeroyfjord Boat Tour
This is hands down one of the most amazing things to do in Norway - and is definitely one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. The only way to see Naeroyfjord is by boat - no matter what time of year you are visiting. The stillness on the fjord is something else and if it's a bright day, the reflections on the fjord are unrivalled. Naeroyfjord - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - is a small section of the massive Sognefjord, and is described by UNESCO as "exceptional natural beauty". The only way to access this spectacular part of the fjord is aboard a cruise vessel - see handy diagram below where I've detailed the section that you'll travel along. And one of the best things about this tour is that the cruise vessel is fully electric - meaning no nasty emissions, and also no noise! We booked cruise tickets, and return shuttle tickets, through norwaysbest.com.
We took the cruise starting in Flam and ending in Gudvangen; it takes about 2 hours one-way, first sailing through the beautiful Aurlandsfjord and then through the narrow and mirror-like Naeroyfjord. You can choose to take the return cruise back to Flam (which would be another 2 hours) but we opted for the shuttle bus in the interest of time (the shuttle takes about 20 minutes and leaves by the stop near the gift shop). Doing the tour one-way is really plenty and most people on our cruise took the return shuttle with us. We booked the 9.30am cruise vessel starting at Flam, and the 12pm shuttle returning from Gudvangen. There isn't much to do at Gudvangen other than the gift shop, so I wouldn't recommend taking a later shuttle. Note: you can also start the cruise at Guvangen and end in Flam (we started in Flam because that's where we had stayed the night before).
If you're doing this in winter, wrap up warm with a hat and gloves as well. It is well and truly freezing on the open water - we kept going out onto the deck to take photos and quickly had to retreat inside to warm up again. If you're in Flam for only a short amount of time, I would definitely recommend prioritising this cruise - it is truly magnificent.
We had booked the scenic and famed train journey from Flam to Myrdal (and back) online in advance, and had a bit of time in Flam before the departure, so we drove back up towards Stegastein Viewpoint and stopped on the way to eat our sandwiches 😋 It is definitely one of the most scenic lunch spots I've ever stopped at! Then we headed back to Flam for the train journey (details below).
Hailed as one of the most scenic train journeys in the world, the Flam Railway - a 20km journey from Flam to Myrdal - is considered one of the most beautiful things to do in Norway. It is a steep railway line and a brilliant feat of engineering, as the track winds through 20 tunnels, of which 18 were built by hand! The train travels through the beautiful Aurlandsfjord and through Flam valley before arriving at Myrdal station, which is a neat little mountain station. Before you board, why not check out the Flam Railway Museum just by the station to find out more about the making of this route (entry to the museum is free). We booked our train tickets online ahead of time (it's about 50 minutes one-way and we booked the closest return ticket, so we could head straight back to Flam).
The Flam Railway is open all year round; it is magical snow-covered in winter but this also means that the waterfalls along the way are likely frozen. Spring and summer probably afford better views in general but I'd still recommend it on a nice winter's day. If you're going in winter and you're tight on time though, and the weather isn't good, I'd probably say give this a miss. But 100% recommend it in the summer months! Top tip: If you're taking the journey from Flam to Myrdal, sit on the right side of the carriage for the best views.
Whilst the railway line from Flam to Myrdal and back is open all year round, the activities nearby aren't. Ideally we would have taken the train from Flam to Myrdal and then cycled back - but you can only hire bikes between May - October. If you're going in the summer months, be sure to check this option out! Zip-lining is also another activity that can be done nearby in the summer.
Once we were back in Flam, we got our suitcases and our car and made the long journey to our hotel in Odda, ahead of a fantastic hike the next day.
Trolltunga is one of, if not the most iconic hikes you can do in Norway. It is a bucket list item for many and over 80,000 people take it on each year! The mountain scenery along the way and the views over Lake Ringedal are truly beautiful - and the opportunity to have your photo taken on Trolltunga is the icing on the cake. Trolltunga - which literally means Troll's Tongue - is a unique rock formation jutting out of the cliff face and hanging about 700 metres above Lake Ringedal. Despite the amount of people who hit the trail to Trolltunga, this hike shouldn't be underestimated! It's 17-miles of ups and downs throughout - so even on the descent, you'll still be tackling some harsh uphills. On a clear winter's day, the views are unrivalled as you gaze over the frozen Lake Ringedal, the snow creating a beautiful white backdrop. It is truly one of the most epic things to do in Norway. If you plan on hiking Trolltunga in winter, this can only be done with a guide (it's unsafe to do on your own, as there can be blizzards, avalanches, and the trail can be unclear at points). Otherwise, between 1st June - 30th September, you can hike without a guide and will likely meet many people on the way.
Getting here/starting point:
☀️ Summer (1st June - 30th September): You can get the shuttle bus from Odda or Tyssedal to Skjeggedal, or drive and park in P1 Tyssedal, or P2 Skjeggedal car parks. You can then take a shuttle to P3 Mågelitopp (the upper parking lot), which is the official starting point of the hike; this shaves 5k off your hike, and saves about an hour of walking each way (you could also park at P3 Mågelitopp but it is limited to only 30 spaces, so you aren't guaranteed a spot).
☃️ Winter (October - May): You'll need to either take the shuttle bus from Odda or Tyssedal to Skjeggedal, or drive and park in P2 Skjeggedal yourself - the hike will start from here (this is also where the tour guide company - Trolltunga Active - is based). In winter, due to the heavy snow there is no shuttle from the car parks to P3 Mågelitopp, which is why the hike begins at Skjeggedal. Note that this adds 5km to the hike and adds about an hour of walking each way.
As we went in March, we booked a guided hike with Trolltunga Active and they were the most fantastic guides. Great local knowledge, with the right amount of motivation to keep us going! It takes approximately 10-12 hours to complete the hike, with a distance of about 14km each way, and 800 metres ascent (it took us 12 hours in total - we were a group of 20 people, with mixed abilities).
Trolltunga Active provide walking poles - and for the winter hike, they also provide snowshoes (kind of like paddles that strap to your hiking boots). These are essential when hiking through the thick snow, and it's near impossible to walk without them. There is a comprehensive list that gets sent with your booking confirmation, detailing what you'll need to bring with on the hike - but most importantly, make sure you wear layers and have at least 2 litres of water and lots of food, protein and snacks. Some of the hikers in our group ran out of water and had to fill their bottles with snow; remember, just because it's winter doesn't mean you don't dehydrate! There is also an information evening at 9pm the night before, at the Trolltunga Hotel in Odda. We couldn't make this as we were staying in a different hotel and it didn't work with our timing from Flam - but I would say it isn't essential to attend, as you get briefed on arrival to the hike anyway - and we were very prepared with the gear we had brought with us.
Conditions were truly perfect the day we hiked; the sun was shining and there were clear views throughout the trek. The weather in Norway can be unpredictable, so we were really lucky to have such a clear (albeit very windy) day in March. But doing it in winter means the route is so much quieter - we pretty much had the place to ourselves. Other than three or four hikers along the way, our group of twenty people were the only others doing it. Keep in mind that in spring and summer, this is one of the busiest hikes in Norway and you will have to queue for your photo on the Troll's Tongue. Note for the winter: if you've been dreaming of one of those super cool Instagram shots on the Tongue, you have been forewarned ⚠️ The guides won't let you stand on the tongue if the conditions are icy (probably most of the winter months)! So if it's the shot you're after, save this hike for summer 🤓
Note: Only take this hike on if you have a very good level of fitness - it's a struggle, especially in winter when the snow on the ground is thick! All in all it's a great hike - but just be prepared for a physically (and mentally) exhausting day. And don't attempt it if you aren't in good shape.
No matter how long you're in Norway, I'd recommend doing at least one hike. The landscape is like something from a different world - especially in winter - and although you can drive and stop in many places to get out and see the view, taking a hiking will allow you to see things that are a bit more remote and off the beaten track. Some other super popular hikes include:
Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock)
And a whole load more in Lofoten Islands
We were pretty tired the next day, so we lay low and spent time in our hotel (the beautiful Hotel Ullensvang, Lofthus - a waterfront hotel on Hardangerfjord, offering superb views of the fjord and Folgefonna Glacier). That afternoon we started the drive back towards Bergen to catch our flight home, stopping along the way to take a look at the famed Hardanger Bridge and take in the sights one final time.
Well that's a wrap! I hope this blog post was useful and has given you some inspo for your trip to Norway. Whatever you do manage to see during your time here is sure to be spectacular, so don't stress too much about getting to everything (especially in winter when daylight hours are shorter). Just make sure to prioritise three or four things that you most definitely want to do - and focus on those. Also, if you're driving, there are so many places you'll stop along the way just to inhale the scenery 😇 so you are definitely guaranteed an awesome trip.