Where the locals go:
10 charming summer spots
Traditional white wooden houses, photogenic harbours, and the fresh scent of the seaside. Feel the Norwegian summer vibe in some of our most scenic wooden towns and cities.
Mette Solberg Fjeldheim
For many Norwegians, summer is synonymous with sunny days spent in coastal towns with white wooden houses and narrow streets. We call these wooden towns sommerbyer (literally "summer cities") because they have a remarkable summer vibe.
Some of the most popular holiday destinations for Norwegians are located in Southern Norway, but there are also many other must-see destinations along the coast.
The Norwegian travel blogger Mette Solberg Fjeldheim has experienced the beauty of many of these places up close. She is the founder of travel website Reiselykke, and has previously won the Norwegian travel blog of the year award.
Here, Mette Solberg Fjeldheim lists ten of her favourite towns where you can experience that special Norwegian "sommerby" atmosphere.
130 traditional white wooden houses, sailboats, and the smell of freshly cut grass – Skudeneshavn has all the classic ingredients of a typical Norwegian summer destination. This old fishing town is located at the southern tip of Karmøy island in Fjord Norway.
“Here, you can stroll among the white houses along narrow streets decorated with flowers. You should also visit one of the pleasant cafés in the town centre and enjoy a hot waffle,” says Fjeldheim.
Find things to do in Skudeneshavn
Outdoor enthusiasts should check out Haugesund, located less than an hour's drive from Skudeneshavn.
“If you want to see the surrounding nature of the region, there are plenty of opportunities. Explore one of the many islands nearby or hike in the mountains surrounding Haugesund," says the blogger.
She also suggests a walk along the harbour where several eateries are situated.
If you are interested in film and music, you are in for a treat. Every August, Haugesund hosts the Norwegian International Film Festival, one of the most important film festivals in Scandinavia, as well as the jazz festival Sildajazz.
Find things to do in the Haugesund area
Nothing beats a sunny day in Bergen. Even though it's Norway’s second largest city, Bergen is known for its small-town charm and atmosphere. Fjeldheim suggests a walk through Bergen’s historic wharf, Bryggen, and Nordnes, a neighbourhood situated on a peninsula near the city centre. Nordnes has several dense clusters of wooden houses and narrow alleys worth exploring.
“In addition to the scenic streets, you should check out the Nordnesbadet swimming pool, where you can choose between a swim in the sea or in in an outdoor pool, or just lounge in the sauna.”
Traveling with children? At Bergen Aquarium, you can see everything from penguins and sea lions to crocodiles, snakes and lizards.
About 37 percent of Norway's land area is covered by forest. That is one of the main reasons why many of our houses are made of wood.
They are built in several different styles, but are often painted in white - particularly those located along the coast.
White became trendy in the 19th century, and remains popular all over Norway.
Local weather and climate
The warmest and most stable weather usually occurs on the eastern side of the southern mountains, including the south coast between Mandal and Oslo.
Even further north, summer temperatures are rather pleasant – sometimes reaching as high as 25°C or more.
You will find the highest temperatures inland. A cool sea breeze will often refresh you along the coast.
However, the summer weather can also be wet and unstable.
Find out more about the Norwegian summer.
Find things to do in Bergen
Did you notice all the white-painted homes captured in the picture at the top? If so, you might not be surprised to hear that no other European city has more wooden houses than Stavanger. Situated in Fjord Norway, it is home to as many as 8,000 wooden houses in several different styles.
There are few things that beat a relaxing stroll in the city centre along the narrow streets. If the sun is shining, you should stop for a coffee at one of the open-air cafés in Øvre Holmegate street, where you’ll find several candy-coloured buildings.
Foodies should also check out the Gladmat Food Festival, one of the leading culinary festivals in Scandinavia. And if you're eager to have a swim, or try your surfing luck, some of Norway’s most popular spots are found at Solastranden beach and on the beaches of Jæren.
Find things to do in Stavanger
In Tønsberg, you can experience history and enjoy loads of activities. Norway’s oldest town is especially popular as a summer destination, with its long coastline and a variety of cultural events, such as concerts, stand-up shows and art exhibitions. Take a stroll along the harbour and take in the vibrant pulse you will find here in the summertime.
“If you are in the Tønsberg area, you should make an excursion to Tjøme and Hvasser. Here, you will find the recreation area Verdens Ende ("World's End") and charming restaurants, such as Den Blå Brygge and Engø Gård,” says Fjeldheim.
Find things to do in Tønsberg
Tønsberg isn’t the only place in Vestfold known for fun and sun. Stavern has been named “Norway’s best summer city” multiple times by the Norwegian media. The highly walkable town, which is located close to the city of Larvik, features attractive buildings, art galleries and several eateries serving fresh local food.
Interested in music? In July, popular artists from all around the world perform at the local Stavernfestivalen, which is one of Norway’s most talked about festivals.
Find things to do in Stavern
“It is here that I painted my best paintings for more than 30 years …,” Edvard Munch once said.
Åsgårdstrand could hardly get a better compliment than that. Munch, who is most known for his iconic painting The Scream, spent many summers in Åsgårdstrand, a small coastal town located in the Vestfold county.
Ever since the 1920s, people have been following in Munch’s footsteps and travelling to Åsgårdstrand during the warm season.
“The town centre offers everything from pleasant art galleries and cosy shops to restaurants and bakeries,” says Fjeldheim, who adds that Åsgårdstrand has small bays and parks suitable for swimming.
Find things to do in Åsgårdstrand
Located 50 kilometres south of Oslo, Son is a charming coastal gem and a popular holiday destination for Norwegians.
“Son is known for its charming streets and wooden houses from the Dutch period. The beach, harbour, and many of the local eateries are all worth visiting," says Fjeldheim.
If you want to relax and unwind, you are definitely in the right place. Son Spa is located at the seaside, just 500 metres from the town centre.
Find things to do in Son
This city draws visitors who enjoy long days of sunbathing, sampling delicious seafood, and walking along its rocky shores. Due to its bustling beaches and more secluded bathing areas, Sandefjord is often referred to as Badebyen ("the swimming city").
Start the day swimming in the clear water, then sink your teeth into some fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants.
Find things to do in Sandefjord
If you are dreaming of endless summer days, we have some good news: During summer, the sun never sets in Henningsvær in the Lofoten archipelago. You can enjoy this scenic fishing village around the clock and witness the midnight sun as it colours the heaven in a reddish yellow light.
“Henningsvær is beautifully located by the sea. The town features a peaceful harbour, traditional houses, charming cafés and lovely art galleries.”
A trip to Henningsvær wouldn’t be complete without a day at one of the white sand beaches located along the coast. Are you ready for a swim?
Find things to do in Henningsvær
Find your summer town
Get ready for lazy days and Norwegian small town charm.
Summer in the south
Don't miss Southern Norway! A popular summer holiday destination for Norwegians, this area remains a hidden gem for many international visitors.
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