Norway is a dream destination for everyone who has ever wanted to explore an icy fairy tale. It has spectacular natural wonders but also quaint small towns and an ultra-modern capital in Oslo. Here are some of the best places to add to your Norway bucket list.
The 16 Best Places to Visit in Norway
Norway is a land of extremes. A country where the sun either never rises or sets, where the midnight sun or the polar lights dance through the sky.
A country with ultra-modern cities such as Oslo, but where venturing too far into the wilderness might bring you face-to-face with one of the planet’s most dangerous animals, the polar bear.
Norway is also one of the most pleasant places to visit as a traveler. The infrastructure is well-developed. The cities are modern and clean, living up to the reputation for Scandinavian efficiency.
Plus, Norway is home to centuries of history and art, from Viking remnants to the modernistic works of Edvard Munch. Here are some of the best places to visit when you’re in Norway, hand-picked by our travel experts.
Every trip to Norway should start at the trendy, modern capital Oslo. The capital is best known for its ultra-modern architecture and design as well as its role as a trendy city. Check out the cutting-edge restaurants, trendy shops, and burgeoning coffee scene.
While most of Oslo is ultra-modern, the city itself has a history stretching back centuries, and there is plenty to do that will satisfy history lovers.
The Viking Ship Museum may be closed for renovations until 2026 but learn about Norway’s history at the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, which contains artifacts including entire buildings from all over the country.
Art lovers will want to make a pilgrimage to the Munch Museum (while jokesters will want to pose in front of The Scream.)
Even nature lovers will love Oslo. Not only does the city contain many parks, but it is also easy to take day trips to nearby small towns or take a boat out into the Oslo Fjord.
Oslo may be the capital, but Bergen is probably the prettiest town in all of Norway (don’t tell its rival). The colorful houses perched on the coast under a mountain make for a striking view, whether you arrive by land or by sea.
When you visit Bergen, make sure you take time to walk through the famous Bryggen, the UNESCO-protected wharf with its iconic wooden houses. The city was once part of the Hanseatic League, so many of these houses once belonged to the world’s most powerful merchants.
For a great view of Bergen and the surrounding fjords, hop on a funicular to the top of the mountain. Be sure to save your energy for bar-hopping at night as it has a lively nightlife scene thanks to the large student population.
Tromsø is referred to as the capital of the Arctic and makes a great base for exploring Norway’s northern polar region. From here, you can take expeditions into the countryside to see the Northern Lights in the best possible way.
Explore the surrounding hostile yet beautiful nature, including the North Cape, Europe’s northernmost point. For a luxurious Arctic expedition, book the Vulcana, a spa boat that cruises through the Arctic Circle.
Tromsø itself has a lot to offer. The city has many houses dating back to the 18th century, museums, and even miraculously this far north, a botanical garden.
Join the students as they party through the night (or the day in the summer when the sun doesn’t set) as Tromsø easily has the best nightlife this side of the North Pole.
Norway has so many beautiful fjords that you could spend your entire trip just exploring the coast and still not see everything.
This fjord in Norway’s northwest region is the most popular for a reason — few other places in the world can compete with the sheer cliffs closing in on either side of blue waters.
The best way to see Geirangerfjord is to take a ferry or cruise ship through the UNESCO-protected site. Keep an eye out for the many waterfalls that tumble down the mountains, such as the famous Seven Sisters.
5. Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands in Norway’s northwest seem as if they were placed there by giants. Craggy mountains rise up from the sea, while colorful fishermen’s houses cling to the shores.
The Lofoten Islands are a great place to come enjoy nature. In the winter, you can see aurora borealis. In the summer, you can go hiking on the mountain peaks or go on whale-watching tours to see the spectacular beasts that live in the waters.
In the summer, this archipelago has much milder weather than most other parts of northern Norway. The Lofoten Islands are also a great place to learn more about Norway’s traditional fishing culture by visiting quaint villages such as Hamnøy or Reine.
Stavanger, in Norway’s southwestern region, is one of the wealthiest cities in the world thanks to its role in Norway’s oil industry. However, the oil hasn’t rubbed away any of its charm. Explore traditional wooden buildings in Gamle Stavanger or check out the cultural scene.
Stavanger also makes for a great base to explore the nature of southwestern Norway. Check out some of the beaches nearby, such as Jæren, a surfing and kitesurfing destination.
Kirkenes in northeastern Norway is the last stop before Russia — or the Arctic Circle. The town is a great place to go to feel beyond the edge of the world.
Getting to Kirkenes is part of the fun. Many guides recommend taking the ferry from Bergen, which takes a few days as it goes through most of Norway’s coast, going from fjord to fjord, island to island.
It might take you a while, but you will see parts of the country you would not have seen otherwise. If you visit Kirkenes in the winter, try to book a reservation at the world-famous snow hotel.
Norway has over 1,000 miles of coast — but if you stretched out all the fjords, it would be over 63,000 miles long. With so much to see, the best way to take as much of it in is to go on a road trip.
The Atlanterhavsveien, which goes along a section of the road, is a great route for a drive. The road connects the mainland with the island of Averøya, passing beautiful wooden churches, bridges, and landscapes along the way.
9. Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock near Stavanger in the south is one of the best hikes in all of Norway. Pulpit Rock gets its name because it is shaped like a pulpit in a church. The rock is really a cliff that towers over the waters of Lysefjord.
You can hike to the top of the rock from the land side, which has a much gentler slope, and it takes 4–5 hours as a return trip. The views are spectacular, but you’re not the only person to think so — it does get crowded in high season.
10. Nordland Coast
Nordland, along the Northern edge of Norway, is another great destination for a road trip. Drive along to see spectacular vistas, beautiful towns, and even some polar animals, such as puffins.
Start or end your trip (depending on the direction you are going) in Bodø, the county’s largest city with a vibrant arts scene that made it a future European Capital of Culture. Check out smaller villages and nature reserves along the way, and detour onto an island or two.
11. Jotunheimen National Park
Fans of Norse mythology will probably recognize the reference in the name of this national park. Jotunheim is a place where giants and other mythical creatures live. You probably won’t see a troll or a giant in this park, but you will see dozens of glaciers, towering peaks, and dramatic fjords.
Daring hikers like to attempt to climb Norway’s highest mountain, Galdhøpiggen, but there are plenty of trails for hikers of all skill levels. Another popular destination is Vettisfossen, Norway’s biggest waterfall.
The Svalbard archipelago is the northernmost inhabited place on the planet. Residents live beyond the Arctic Circle and spend their days among the wild polar landscapes that draw visitors.
Nature is the biggest appeal of Svalbard. Venture out of the towns, and you can spot seals, walruses, polar foxes, and even polar bears.
Join a guided tour or activity such as dog sledding, ice caving, and more. However, Svalbard is hardly the Wild North, and the biggest settlement, Longyearbyen, has plenty of creature comforts.
Aalesund may not have Norway’s oldest architecture, but its buildings have the most interesting backstory. In 1904, a fire almost completely destroyed the town.
Young Norwegian architects banded together to rebuild the town and created one of the best examples of Jugendstil, Northern Europe’s equivalent of Art Nouveau.
Wander through the town and take in the richly decorated buildings as well as the trendy restaurant and culture scene. Aalesund is also a great gateway into the fjords and nature of the surrounding region.
Flåm is a small village, but there is so much to see and do. This town is a gateway into the mountains, with many landmarks, such as the Kjosfossen Falls, just a hiking trail away.
However, the most fun thing to do in Flåm is take the train. The Flåm Railway may only run for about 10 miles between Flåm and Myrdal, but it has some of the best views in the world as the tracks run through the mountains.
Big cities such as Oslo and Bergen are great, but some of the most fascinating destinations in Norway are actually small towns and villages that hide unique attractions. One of those is Notodden and its famous Heddal Stave Church.
Norway’s wooden churches boast beautifully carved decorations and achingly simple architecture. The Heddal Stave Church is one of the best examples of this style and is well worth a visit.
Many inhabitants of Norway’s far North are the indigenous Sami. The town of Karasjok is one of the best places to learn about their culture. Look at traditional Sami architecture, for example, the building of the Sami Parliament.
In Karasjok, take time to shop for local crafts such as silver and beautifully carved knives. Book a trip to a local reindeer farm to learn about how the Sami way of life has evolved in modern times.
Things to Consider
Here are some things to keep in mind when getting ready to go to Norway. First, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world, which means that prices will probably be higher than you’re used to. Budget accordingly.
Second, even in the summer, it can get chilly, especially if you’re visiting polar regions or hiking to higher altitudes. Bring layers if possible. And finally, although Norway is a polar country, you probably won’t run into a polar bear while crossing the street — unless you’re in Svalbard.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some things people often want to know when visiting Norway:
What Is the Most Beautiful Part of Norway?
The most beautiful part of Norway, according to most visitors, is the fjords region. The most popular fjords are Geirangerfjord and Sognefjord, but you can’t go wrong anywhere in this region.
What should you not miss in Norway?
You definitely should see the fjords, which are the most beautiful part of Norway, as mentioned above. Check out the northern region to get close to the North Pole. Finally, visit at least one city, such as Bergen or Oslo, to see how modern Norwegians live.
Where should I go for the first time in Norway?
If it’s your first time in Norway, ease in by visiting the capital. Then, go to Bergen and use that as a base to explore the fjords. Keep going North until you reach the polar region and finish your trip off with an excursion to Svalbard.
How can I spend three days in Norway?
Three days is really not enough to see Norway. The best thing to do is pick one city as your base, such as Oslo, Bergen, or Tromsø. Then, spend a day exploring the city and two days taking day trips to the surrounding nature. You won’t see the whole country, but you will see one region.
How many days is enough in Norway?
You should spend at least one week to ten days in Norway. There are many diverse regions of the country, plus Norway is big, so you have to give yourself enough time to travel around.
So, What Are the Best Places to Visit in Norway?
Norway has so much to offer intrepid travelers with its extreme polar regions and dramatic fjords. Relax after a long day exploring in one of the quaint towns or lively cities. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Norway today!