Norway is a country of great variations and vast distances. If you want to have it all, you will need time –
or simply take the easy way out and do a round trip.
Phileas Fogg, the main character in Jules Verne’s famous story, travelled the world in 80 days. So seeing most of Norway in about a week should be small potatoes, right?
Well, at least it can be done – with a little planning. But at the same time it’s worth noting that Norway is a long country with large differences in culture and scenery, so where to start and when to go are both important choices that you should probably make in advance.
Western Norway is famous for the scenic fjords, mountains and waterfalls.
Northern Norway has a unique coastline with archipelagoes like Lofoten, in addition to nature attractions such as the northern lights in winter and the midnight sun during summer. Oslo is located in the east, while many of the best skiing destinations are located in the mountains in central and Eastern Norway.
So is it possible to experience it all? Well, below you can read about a few alternatives of how you can travel different parts of Norway in a limited amount of time. Some suggestions are for driving, others for cycling, boat and train.
Slow tv is a phenomenon often attributed to Norwegian tv, and a tv show has seldom been more slow than in 2012, when The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation had a live coverage of Hurtigruten’s 134-hour voyage from Bergen to Kirkenes.
It is a beautiful trip, though, and over half the Norwegian population tuned in to see the broadcast). The ships sail almost the entire length of the country, completing the round-trip journey from Bergen in the west to Kirkenes in the north-east and back again in 12 days, calling 34 ports.
The ships offer all modern conveniences, and along the route you will be able to see several of Norway’s top attractions – Lofoten, the Seven Sisters mountain range, several fjords and – depending on whether you travel during summer or winter – the midnight sun and the northern lights.
Hurtigruten brings you close to Norwegian arts and culture as well, from Norwegian food (often local, organic produce) to entertainment offerings.
If you’re going cycling through Norway, you may have to do a bit of planning as many roads and mountains are best suited for experts. However, you can choose one of Norway's national bicycle routes if you want to keep it convenient.
The national bicycle routes connect all mainland parts of the country. The routes are designed to take you between cities and towns while avoiding most roads with heavy traffic.
The routes include everything from major trial of strengths such as the extensive trip from Lindesnes in the south to North Cape in the north, to more family-friendly trips such as the trip from Oppdal through the valleys and mountains of Trollheimen to the coastal city of Molde.
While Norway is known for its natural beauty, its distinct architecture and design is now gaining attention as well.
To create something truly unique, The National Tourist Routes initiative has set out to combine them into one and the same experience. Along 18 separate routes across Norway, striking architecture, creative engineering solutions and brilliant designs have been constructed to expand and enhance the experience of their surrounding landscapes.
Several of the routes are located along magnificent coastlines, archipelagos, mountains, and cliffs, and, of course – the fjords, so a round trip by car in these areas is highly recommended.
See where you can find The National Tourist Routes at nasjonaleturistveger.no.
A snapshot of the Norway you have dreamt to see. That’s a way to describe the “Norway in a nutshell” tour. Through a series of trains, boats and bus journeys, you will be able to experience some of the country’s most spectacular mountains, fjords and sights.
The round trip (that will take one or two days, depending on your starting point) will bring you across Northern Europe’s largest mountain plateau, Hardangervidda, and down the extremely steep Stalheimskleiva Road, which twists and turns up through 13 hairpin bends offering views of the Sivlefossen and the Stalheimsfossen waterfalls.
You will also ride the Flåm railway, one of the most famous and picturesque railway journeys in Norway, where you will pass the majestic Kjosfossen waterfall. The icing of the cake is possibly the boat trip out to the Aurlandsfjord and the Nærøyfjord. The former – one of Norway’s narrowest – is an arm of the Sognefjord, and is on UNESCO's World Heritage List.
In 2013, Lonely Planet named the most scenic rail journeys in Europe – and both the top spots were train routes in Norway.
The top spot was given the Rauma Railway from Dombås to Åndalsnes, a trip that takes you through the beautiful Romsdalen to famous natural attractions like the Trollveggen cliff face and the Kylling bridge. The Rauma Railway runs as a sightseeing train from the end of May to the end of August.
The runner-up on Lonely Planet’s list was the Bergen Railway between Oslo and Bergen.
Here you will roll through craggy mountain landscapes and across the beautiful Hardangervidda plateau to Norway’s highest station, Finse.
If you’ve got time, we highly recommend you stop at Myrdal and connect with the Flåm Railway. The round trip runs through scenic nature, past the Rallarvegen road, steep mountains and breathtaking waterfalls.
Check the website of the Norwegian state railways to see departure times and buy tickets.
Plan three days in Fjord Norway south of Ålesund, based on inside information from the director of Nordfjord Folk Museum.
“Our fjords have numerous natural attractions that are well-suited for the whole family””, says Julie Strandheim at the Bergen-based Fjord Norway, the official tourist board of the fjords. Here are a few highlights to start your planning.
You want to see both the legendary fjords and the midnight sun, but only have one week. It may seem out of reach, but with a bit of smart planning, it can absolutely be done.
We want you to be happy in Norway, and enjoy your time here as much as you possibly can. Happy guests come back, and before you know it we have made friends for life. Makes sense, then, to share our best tips to make your stay a good one.
A long and craggy country, Norway has not always been as easy to get around as we'd like it to be. But modern conveniences have made it much easier than it once was. These days, there are trains, boats, roads, and a network of small airports, all making it quite practical to see any part of the country.