15 Best Places to Visit in Norway

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Picture perfect landscapes – from world-famous fjords, unbelievable mountain vistas, to fantastic cities – await you in Norway. Each region – south, west, interior, and arctic – is distinctly different and when you take in the wonder that is the northern lights or the sun glinting off an enormous glacier in one holiday, then you’re having a great adventure. In balance with its incredible natural beauty is the brilliant social and cultural life.  There are cosmopolitan cities that highlight modern Scandinavian life as well as its traditional past. Norway is one of the most appealing and beautiful countries on earth.

Lets explore the best places to visit in Norway:

1. Alesund

AlesundSource: Rudy Balasko / shutterstock

Alesund is on a narrow peninsula on the west coast and is considered the gateway to the majestic northwestern fjords and alpine mountains.  It’s home base for the countries massive cod-fishing fleet and is considered by all who visit to be a picturesque and quintessential Scandinavian town.

Alesund is built entirely in the Jugendstil art nouveau style of architecture after a fire in 1904. You can visit Jugendstilsenteret (Art Nouveau Centre) to learn more about this brick and stone style.  You can also take a quick hike up the 400 steps to Fjellstua lookout point to see absolutely amazing views of the mountains and nearby islands.

2. Tromso

TromsoSource: muratart / shutterstock

This is northern Norway’s largest city and is best known for the 18th century wooden houses and the gorgeous natural surroundings. Located on Tromsoya, one of many islands in the region, are beautiful forests to ramble through and the Fjellheisen cable car trip to the top of Storsteinen is highly recommended.

Visit historical and cultural spots like the Polar Museum and Polaria – the arctic aquarium.  And for those seeking the glory of the northern lights, Tromso is one of the best places to see them.

3. Trondheim

TrondheimSource: saiko3p / shutterstock

The third largest city in Norway serves as a perfect base for exploring the surrounding region. Trondheim has many faces – it’s known for culture, technology, students, food, and cycling! The city hosts year-round festivals like the St. Olav Festival – the largest cultural and church event in the country. It’s been called an “intimate big city,” which captures the modern and energetic atmosphere but also lets visitors know that history has not been forgotten.

Trondheim was the country’s capital during the Viking era and you can visit places like Sverresborg castle (12th century) and the Nidaros Cathedral – a pilgrimage site for almost 1000 years. Don’t forget the farmer’s market, the excellent restaurants, and the incredibly local breweries.

4. Jotunheimen National Park

Jotunheimen National ParkSource: Olesya Kuznetsova / shutterstock
Jotunheimen National Park

As the Home Of The Giants, Jotunheimen is Norway’s leading national park. The park is located in the south centre of the country and covers several mountain ranges; include the 29 highest peaks in all of Norway.

There are hundreds of hiking routes that take you to fantastic glaciers, clear deep woodland lakes, and to panoramic valleys.  At least one of them will take you to Vettisfossen, the highest waterfall in Norway (275m). The park is always busy with adventure seeking fun-lovers and tour companies will put together some incredible packages that showcase the best of what this well-loved park has to offer.

5. Svalbard

Longyearbyen, SvalbardSource: Kylie Nicholson / shutterstock
Longyearbyen, Svalbard

Svalbard means “cold coasts” and this small group of islands is known as the home of the polar bear.  Located in the Arctic Ocean between Norway and the North Pole, this is the northernmost spot that is permanently inhabited. Untouched arctic wilderness combined with rare and unusual wildlife creates an environment that is rugged and fascinating to travellers.

The majority of people live (and visit) Longyearbyen, which is the largest settlement in the archipelago. It’s a tiny yet energetic town that has grown from a traditional village into a surprisingly modern place complete with festivals, exhibitions, concerts, and other cultural activities. For the adventurer, this is the place to see striking craggy mountains, untouched glaciers, polar bears, reindeer, caribou, whales, walruses, and more.

6. Oslo

OsloSource: Madrugada Verde / shutterstock

As one of Europe’s fastest growing cities, the atmosphere in Oslo is confident, modern, and relaxed. It’s a cosmopolitan destination with world-class restaurants, and art galleries, but still manages to make you feel like you’re in a much smaller town. Sitting just inside the “U-shaped” Oslofjord, Oslo is two-thirds forest and green space which make this the perfect spot for biking and hiking.

Olso is Norway’s capital and home, not just to the royal family, but to major cultural establishments like National Theatre and the National Museum of Art, the Nobel Peace Centre, The Munch Museum (Edvward Munch’s The Scream is housed in the permanent collection), and the Norwegian Opera and Ballet. A must-see is Folkemuseet, an interactive outdoor museum that features 150 historic buildings like the famous Stave Church.

7. Stavanger

StavangerSource: Alena Stalmashonak / shutterstock

This town is different from the majority in Norway because of the sandy beaches and warmer climate.  Stavanger is the preferred summer destination for travellers who want a taste of Scandinavia mixed with sand and surf. Because of its location in the southwest of the country, the harbour here is a major stopping point for tours and cruise ships.

You’ll want to see Rogaland Kunstmuseum which has a fantastic collection of Norwegian art, as well as the country’s best example of a medieval church, the Stavanger Cathedral.  In the Gamel Stavanger district you’ll slip back in time to explore 18th century Scandinavia at its best.

8. Lofoten Islands

Lofoten IslandsSource: R7 Photo / shutterstock
Lofoten Islands

It’s a bit unbelievable just how beautiful the Lofoten Islands are. Best known among those who prefer to go off the beaten trail and get personal with Mother Nature, this wonderful wilderness outpost highlights untouched landscapes of deep fjords, grand mountain ranges, unique colonies of seabirds, and exquisite beaches. Though it’s located at about the same latitude as Greenland, the climate in this archipelago is rather mild thanks to the Gulf Stream.

If you want a truly unforgettable experience in nature, Lofoten is your place.  You can kayak between the islands, surf, fish, scuba dive, go ocean rafting, hike, ski, and more. Don’t forget to check out some of the oldest Viking relics in the entire country.

9. Bergen

BergenSource: Grisha Bruev / shutterstock

Bergen is the second largest city after Oslo and is considered to be the gateway to the fjords. It’s an appealing mixture of living history as Bryggen, the 15th century waterfront, is a major modern port for Norway as well as a popular tourist destination. Here you’ll find small-town values and atmosphere as locals happily direct you to the best meal in town (in their opinion!).

There are seven mountains that surround the city which lead to lovely views no matter where you are. Enjoy the fish market at Hanseatic Wharf and after you explore the town, head out to explore the most breathtaking fjords in Norway..

10. The Western Fjords

GeirangerfjordSource: Eva Bocek / shutterstock

It’s true that there are remarkable fjords all over Norway and all of them worth seeing.  But, the most famous and awe-inspiring are found in West Norway between Molde and Stavanger. The Western Fjords are home to both ancient and modern glaciers and deep sea drenched valleys that are marked by rocky terrain.

The two you don’t want to miss are Naeroyfjord and Geirangerfjord. Because of this beauty, this entire area is one of the most unique and sought-after destinations on the planet. And although you’ll go for the fjords, you’ll also fall in love with the sublime coast.  Travel around by ferry, where you’ll get the truly spectacular views, and enjoy trekking through forests and across glaciers.

11. Bodø

BodøSource: Dmitry Pistrov / shutterstock

Bodø offers a lively urban atmosphere and serves as the starting point to the true north of Norway – specifically the Lofoten Islands. You can tour the archipelago on a tourist speed boat, kayak at midnight when the sun is still out, or fish in the incredibly strong tidal currents of Saltstraumen.

The town itself, with the northern lights at your fingertips, has much to discover. Concerts in city park, shopping at charming boutique shops, cocktails on the quay with sea eagles soaring across the ocean, and the well-preserved trading post at Kjærringøy are all a part of this laid-back town. If you’re travelling in August, enjoy Nordland Musikkfestuke and Parkenfestivalen, Bodø’s two major music festivals.

12. Fredrikstad

FredrikstadSource: Eder / shutterstock

Fredrikstad is a quaint town with significant historical roots. Though much of Norway is cold for much of the year, the warmth of the locals is so sincere, that you won’t feel the temperature as much!  Home to the most well-preserved fortress in all of Scandinavia, Fredrikstad dates back to the 16th century and has a ton of history to discover.

Old town is a popular and charming spot for tourists.  You can relax over a bottle of wine or an Italian coffee before heading out to the Fredrikstad Museum, or one of many art galleries or shops in the market. The nearby Hvaler Islands are, geographically speaking, the sunniest part in Norway.  In the summer, domestic tourists love this region for a relaxing getaway and to explore Ytre Hvaler National Park.

13. Alta

AltaSource: Ev. Safronov / shutterstock

Perhaps the best Norwegian destination to view the northern lights, Alta has a ton of activates you’ll enjoy. For starters, try a snow mobile safari or dog sledding. The first ever observatory for the northern lights was built here at the end of the 19th century. Popular attractions include the UNESCO Word Heritage designated rock carvings of the Sami culture (dating to 4200 to 500 BC) and the Sorrisniva Igloo Hotel (yes, all interiors and exterior are made of snow).

The climate is mild but because of its extreme north location, Alta has 24 hours of daylight from May to August each year and “blue season” is from November to January. Take in the Alta Fjord, coasts, and mountains while you enjoying biking, hiking, and fishing in this dazzling town.

14. Røros

RørosSource: Roger Hjelmseth / shutterstock

Founded in 1644, Røros is an important mining town entirely made up of wooden buildings. It’s grown into a modern community even as it maintains its historical status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because it still has so much of its original character, it feels like you’re visiting a living museum.

Take a stroll through old courtyards and narrow streets where you’ll find craftsmen selling locally made clothing, ceramics, and delicious food. Named a Sustainable Destination in 2013, Røros is committed to reducing its tourism footprint and maintaining its history and quality experience for guests.

15. Helgeland

HelgelandSource: irakite / shutterstock

With so much natural beauty and top-quality outdoor adventure in Norway it’s no small feat that Helgeland stands out as distinctive in this area.  Explore countless white sand beaches on countless pristine islands when you visit the Vega archipelago, just off Helgoland’s coast. Island hop with a kayak or a bike through this UNESCO-protected area.

If you’re a bird watcher, you’ll have the chance to spot over 200 species in Lånan, including sea eagles and eider ducks. Each April locals help the ducks prepare the nesting site and after nesting season is over, they harvest the down in order to make their famous high-quality duvets. While there make a visit to Svartisen, the second largest glacier in the country and enjoy a long hike across the surface.

15 Best Places to Visit in Norway:

  • Alesund
  • Tromso
  • Trondheim
  • Jotunheimen National Park
  • Svalbard
  • Oslo
  • Stavanger
  • Lofoten Islands
  • Bergen
  • The Western Fjords
  • Bodø
  • Fredrikstad
  • Alta
  • Røros
  • Helgeland