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.
Norway has more than a thousand fjords, but the really famous ones are located in Fjord Norway. The fjords might be the most important symbol of Norway, and are definitely amongst the most popular attractions. But as the midnight sun only occurs above the arctic circle, you need to plan carefully if you want to see both spectacles on the same trip.
First of all, take your time to figure out when and where you want to start. The fjords can be seen all year long, but the midnight sun only occurs during summer. The further north you go, the more nights of midnight sun you get. The closer to midsummer, the further south you will be able to enjoy the endless day.
Where and when to experience the midnight sun:
Map source: Kartverket (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 3.0)
Start your trip in Stavanger or Bergen and swing by Ålesund if you have the time. On your way, you can see the fjords from boats, trains or famous mountain plateaus.
Stavanger has excellent domestic connections and direct flights to and from much of Europe, as well as a car ferry connection to Denmark. Once there, a daytrip to the mountain plateau Preikestolen (The Pulpit Rock) is a must. The hike takes about two hours, and the view from the top is captured in more than 200.000 selfies every year.
If you prefer to skip the hike, you can see the majestic cliff from below by taking a fjord cruise on the Lysefjord. If you have a bit of extra time in the Stavanger area and want another hiking challenge, consider a trip to Kjerag and stand on Kjeragbolten, the famous boulder stuck between two mountainsides.
From Stavanger, make your way north towards Bergen. If you want to stay for a bit, the Hardangerfjord Region between Stavanger and Bergen, known for its towering mountains, steep waterfalls, blooming fruit trees and strong apple cider, is well worth the trip.
If you're driving, you can take the National Tourist Routes Ryfylke and Hardanger, both of which have lots of opportunities to make short detours or leave the car and explore small villages, high waterfalls and mountain plateaus with a view. Read more about National Tourist Routes.
If you want to explore the mountains on two wheels, you can rent a bike and conquer Rallarvegen (The Navvy’s Road), which is easily combined with the Norway in a Nutshell tour. With its steep descents and wild waterfalls, Rallarvegen is named Norway's finest bicycle road by the magazine Travel and Vacation.
If time allows, you should stop in Ålesund. The most relaxing way to travel from Bergen to Ålesund is Hurtigruten, the coastal steamer that serves the entire Norwegian coast north of Bergen on a daily basis.
From the art noveau style city of Ålesund, you can take a daytrip to Geirangerfjord, a jewel in the Norwegian fjord crown and Norway’s second fjord listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
There are two kinds of people: Those who have already experienced the midnight sun, and those who have yet to see it. Summer nights are long and bright in all of Norway, but to experience true white nights, you must go north of the Arctic Circle. It is a long drive from Ålesund, so you might want to fly or take Hurtigruten instead.
Few places are better suited to experience the midnight sun than the Lofoten Islands. Surrounded by the sea and largely untouched natural landscape, you can lean back and enjoy the peace and quiet.
But there are also plenty of activities available under the midnight sun for visitors with energy to burn. North of the Arctic Circle, the locals tend to make sure that you forget to go to bed.
It might be tempting to stay in Lofoten for the remains of your days, but Tromsø further north is a city you shouldn’t miss. From Bodø you can fly to the city with the nickname “Paris of the North” in one hour, or you can enjoy the midnight sun from the deck of Hurtigruten before it arrives in Tromsø late the following day.
If you have time to spare or want to extend your stay, continue north from Tromsø by plane, or use Hurtigruten as the hop-on, hop-off service it was meant to be. If you hop all the way to the turn-around port Kirkenes, you can fly back to Tromsø, Oslo or a number of smaller towns.
In the extreme north of Europe, the North Cape is one of Norway’s most popular tourist destinations and can offer a wide selection of attractions and activities. Here, only the Svalbard archipelago lies between you and the North Pole, and the sun never sets between the middle of May and the end of July. To get there, fly to Honningsvåg or take Hurtigruten to one of the towns in the region.
Like a prolonged sunset and sunrise all at once, the midnight sun colours heaven and earth in a reddish yellow light.
The UNESCO-protected fjords are symbols of the beauty of traditional Norway. Places where time moves in its own pace.
Planning your trip well helps you get what you want and find the experiences you wish for, without risking your hard-earned days off. And if you don't know what you want, we're happy to help you find some ideas.
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.