Situated in Scandinavia, Norway is at the northern point of Europe. Known for its majestic landscape, Norway is a country that promises UNESCO status fjords, tranquil national parks and plenty of Viking history.
If you’ve ever wanted to see the Northern Lights, stunning fjords, and glaciers, Norway is the ideal destination for Arctic travel. Although the country is quite spread out, you can see the majority of the country within 2 weeks. I've spent more than two and a half months in Norway and absolutely love it. This is a list of my top must sees in Norway, some of which are still on my travel wish list. I hope it inspires you to visit.
See Bryggen in Bergen
This UNESCO World Heritage site is a must-see and one of Bergen’s most popular areas. Bergen was once an important part of the Hanseatic League’s trading empire, and these brightly painted wooden buildings are reminders of that era from the 14th to the 16th century. Today the colourful picturesque buildings are galleries, shops and cafes that make up one of the most iconic areas of the city. I visited at Christmas time and loved exploring the little alleyways and along the waters edge. It has a great cafe culture too.
Take a Fjord Cruise
The best way to see the fjords is sailing through this beautiful landscape. You can take a fjord cruise from various places in Norway but Bergen is the perfect place to hop aboard. If you are short on time you can still see the stunning scenery on a 3 hour cruise to Osterfjord. Pass green water, steep ravines and small farming mountain villages whilst getting up close to waterfalls and steep mountains.
If you're visiting Tromso between September to March, you can even take a cruise to spot the Northern Lights. Sitting in a jacuzzi with a glass of bubbles whilst sailing past stunning scenery is an indulgent and fun way to take a cruise.
* Check dates, prices and availability: Tromso Wildlife Cruise
Take The Flåm Railway
The Flåm Railway is apparently one of the prettiest train rides you’ll ever take. It is also Europe’s steepest. The railway was built in the 1920s and is now one of Norway’s most popular attractions. The 20 km ride will take you through some stunning scenery, pass waterfalls, mountains and picturesque villages, culminating at Aurlandsfjord. There are ten stations along the route and the journey takes one hour. It's definitely one for the Norway travel wish list.
See The Northern Lights
Known as the ‘Gateway to the Arctic,’ Tromsø is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights due to its winter darkness. This light phenomenon known as the aurora borealis is stunning and although sightings are never guaranteed anywhere, September, October, and March are some of the best months to visit. I visited in December for 5 nights and saw them on my last night.
You can book a tour when you’re there through the Tourist Information Office in Tromso but I recommend pre-booking in case the tours are booked up. Because the Northern Lights are never guaranteed, some companies offer a discounted tour for the following evening (or even a free tour) if you are unable to see them. I stayed at MelisHome Aurora Observatory and saw them from here! To check the sky conditions and best times download the My Aurora Forecast app.
Go Whale Watching
Tromsø is a known spot for whale watching with Humpback, Orca and Sperm whales within its waters from October to mid-February. Go whale watching on an inflatable boat and ride to Kvaløya Island to spot humpback, pilot and killer whales as well as seals and other sea life. You may even spot a White-tailed eagle, one of the largest birds in Europe. If you come at the right time of year you may be able to see the whales and the Northern Lights at the same time.
* Check prices, dates and availability: Tromso Whale Boat Cruise
Explore The Lofoten Islands
The ‘Lofoten Wall’ is a spectacular series of dramatic peaks that rise out of the sea. They are located 50 miles off the mainland and above the Arctic Circle. Visit in the winter months and you’ll experience permanent darkness.
Svolvær is the capital and main town on the island of Austvågøy where you’ll find red-painted fisherman huts on stilts, colourful fishing boats and a lively market square. Explore nature reserves, snowy crags and the village of Reine for its towering mountain.
Take a boat tour to the Refsvikhula cave to see prehistoric paintings dating back 3,000 years. Visit the small fishing village of Laukvik, an isolated but cosy island where you can stay in a traditional rorbu cabin or the tiny port of Sto, or Trollfjorden which is only accessible by sea.
Get Cultured in Oslo
Oslo is the capital of Norway and the country’s largest city. It’s the place to visit if you’re into art, museums and culture. The Vigeland Sculpture Park is the world’s largest sculpture park made by a single artist. Completed in 1949 inside its grounds you’ll find over 200 pieces of artwork created by Gustav Vigeland. The sculptures are made from wrought iron, bronze and granite and depict human life from birth to death. Don’t miss the fountain of life.
You can’t miss the Norwegian National Opera & Ballet. With a unique sloping roof this building is a sight for sore eyes. Even if you don’t watch an opera or ballet inside it’s worth a visit just for the architecture. Take a peek inside the lobby – which is free to visit – to see the Italian marble and white granite. The seats have their own personal screens too!
Get the Most Amazing View From Pulpit Rock
Situated in Southwest Norway is the Stavanger region, a beautiful area with deep fjords, mountains and valleys. Popular with tourists and cruise ships, this region is an ideal base to explore Pulpit Rock, one of Norway’s must-sees. Pulpit Rock otherwise known as Preikestolen is one of the most beautiful lookouts in the world with sheer drops and dramatic views. Catch a ferry (if you don’t have a car) then hike the two hours to the clifftop for a picture perfect view of Lysefjorden.
These are just our top must-sees for Norway and our pick of the best. Of course, there are other activities to do here such as husky sledding, learning about the indigenous Sami tribe, and skiing. It is a beautiful country with so much to offer a solo especially if you love nature. Just take your credit card as you don't want to miss out on any of these incredible experiences.
* Check prices, dates and availability: Preikestolen Tours
Have you been to Norway? What were your top must-sees?