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Two people kayaking in the fjord city Ålesund, Norway
City kayaking in Ålesund.
Photo: Fred Jonny Hammerø / Møre og Romsdal fylke

Top 10 coastal cities in Norway

Experience the northern lights in Tromsø, go island hopping in Haugesund, or eat your way through Bergen. Take a look at the most popular coastal cities on Visitnorway.com.

Bergen

A large city on a Norwegian scale, the coastal city of Bergen is still known for its small-town charm and atmosphere. Take part in the Bergen lifestyle, and go for a scenic walk on the famous Bryggen (the wharf). Here, you will smell the fresh seaside scent blended with local food from some of the many top-class restaurants along the waterfront.

But Bergen offers more than just food and sea. Norway’s second largest city is known for the seven mountains surrounding the city centre, their many cultural events, and the world-famous popstars Kygo and Alan Walker.

Explore the coast outside of Bergen

Tromsø

Whether you want to experience the northern lights, go whale spotting, or have an Arctic seafood experience, Tromsø is the place to travel to. This scenic coastal city is located 350 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and is the largest city in Northern Norway.

Tromsø is an adventurous destination which offers many opportunities for activities such as fishing, hiking, dog sledding, and kayaking. From late May to late July, you can do all of these activities around the clock, thanks to the midnight sun.

Things to do along the coast of Tromsø

Stavanger

More than 170 wooden houses, long, white beaches, and breathtaking fjords – Stavanger is an excellent destination whether you’re going on a trip with your family, a partner, or friends. This low-key city located in Fjord Norway is one of the largest cities in Norway. Despite the fact that many people live in Stavanger, the city centre is rather compact. There are few things that beat a relaxing walk in the city centre along the narrow streets that curve elegantly between the wooden houses. 

Take a lunch break or stop for a photoshoot in Øvre Holmegate street, where you’ll find several candy-coloured houses. And if you feel adventurous, put on a pair of sturdy boots and go for a hike to the world famous Preikestolen (“the Pulpit Rock”). Travel time from Stavanger to Preikestolen is around one hour and 30 minutes by car.

Highlights along the coast of Stavanger

Ålesund

Ålesund is a city where the mountains and fjords meet the ocean. Do you want to know what that looks like? Climb the 418 steps up to the Aksla Viewpoint and be awarded with a panoramic view that will make your jaw drop (or just look at the picture below).

It’s probably no coincidence that Ålesund and the surrounding areas are amongst the most visited sites for tourists in Norway. The “art nouveau town” is beautifully set across several islands stretching into the Atlantic Ocean, and is an excellent starting point for your active holiday in the region.

Water adventures in Ålesund

Kristiansand

This idyllic city draws visitors who loves summer vibes and child-friendly activities, from every part of Norway. Kristiansand is a family destination that offers exciting attractions such as Dyreparken, a gigantic zoo and amusement park.

The highly walkable city features white wooden houses, culinary experiences and cosy shops. During summer time, you can take a dip from one of the many beaches and piers along the coastal line in the Kristiansand region.

Discover Kristiansand on water

Bodø

The largest city in the county of Nordland is situated on a peninsula surrounded by rough sea, majestic mountains and the world’s strongest maelstrom Saltstraumen. In the summer, you can experience the midnight sun from Rønvikfjellet mountain just outside the city centre. Bodø also has the densest population of white-tailed sea eagles in the world.

In other words, this area offers a wide range of fun activities both on water and hundreds of metres above sea level. Bodø is also just a boat ride away from both Moskenes in Lofoten and the old trading post at Kjerringøy. And if you are lucky, the northern lights will guide you all the way across the sea to the Lofoten Islands.

Find water activities in Bodø

Fredrikstad

This cosy coastal city close to Oslo is one of the best places to experience the Norwegian summer vibe. Join the inhabitants on the wharf in Fredrikstad and enjoy a cold “utepils” (literally “outdoor beer”). It’s easy to mingle with the locals in Fredrikstad, as they are known for being both friendly, open, and humorous.

In addition to the wharf, the Old town in Fredrikstad is a popular sight for visitors. Take a walk amongst historic buildings inspired by Dutch architecture, and visit some of the many museums located here.

Things to do in Fredrikstad

Kirkenes

The small town of Kirkenes is located in th north-eastern end of Northern Norway, close to the Russian border. As one of the country’s coastal jewels, it is a haven for adventurous travellers. The ocean outside of Kirkenes and Varanger is an excellent spot for deep-sea fishing. Here, you can get the catch of your dreams, such as cod, halibut, catfish, and king crabs.

One of the most popular attractions is the Kirkenes Snowhotel, a hotel which is built from scratch every year and is open between December and April. It’s a bit colder than a standard hotel, but it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Things to do in Kirkenes

Haugesund

If you want an authentic Viking experience, the coastal city of Haugesund is a great choice. For thousands of years, the Haugaland region was the home of several Norwegian Viking kings. One of the best sites to experience the Viking roots is Avaldsnes at the Karmøy island, where you can travel 1,000 years back in time and visit a farm that was re-constructed using original techniques.

Karmøy is only one of many idyllic islands located outside of Haugesund. During spring and summer, many tourists go island hopping in this region to experience the small, idyllic communities in the area. Film or jazz lovers should check out respectively the Norwegian International Film Festival and the Sildajazz festival, both in August.

Discover Haugesund & Haugalandet from the sea