Norway is a beautiful country, with so much culture, history, and idyllic landscapes worth seeing. I had the pleasure of visiting last year with one of my best friends, and together we spent 5 days travelling around the country, exploring what Norway had to offer. Here are my top things to do…
1. Hike Preikestolen
This is an absolute must whilst in Norway. Otherwise known as Pulpit’s Rock, Preikestolen is a 1 hour ride from Stavanger by ferry and car. This 604m cliff is situated on the Lysefjorden and offers stunning scenic views of Norway’s fjords. It is a fairly manageable hike for those with average fitness and above, and takes approximately 1.5 hours to arrive at the famous plateau. The views along the way are equally as beautiful as those at the top, making the hike enjoyable from start to finish. Walking boots would be the preferred footwear, however trainers are equally appropriate for this particular hike. If hiking in summer, there is no need to pack a lot of layers, but be warned; it is ridiculously windy at the edge so be careful, I almost fell off running after my coat!
2. Visit the Viking Ship Museum
At over 1000 years old, the Viking Ship Museum is one of the most popular attractions in Oslo, hosting the world’s best preserved Viking ships and artefacts from around the Oslo Fjord. The Museum is part of the ‘Museum of Cultural History’ and boasts a wide range of archeological finds that will help you learn about life during the Viking Age (800-1100 AD). The highlight has to be the museum’s collection of ships; the most impressive being the Tune Viking Ship; the first ship excavated, and the Oseberg Viking Ship; the most complete ship recovered from the largest burial site in the world. This crucial advance in ship technology helped make the Vikings a dominant force in medieval warfare, politics, and trade.
3. Visit the Norsk Folkemuseum
The Norsk Folkemuseum is located about a 15 minute walk from the Viking Museum, Oslo. It is one of the world’s oldest and largest open air museums with 160 traditional historic buildings from all parts of Norway, including Gol Stave Church from 1200. Indoor exhibits feature folk art, Norwegian folk costumes, hand craft items, weapons, and Sami culture. This living history museum means you can meet real people working in the field, cooking traditional meals, and performing a range of traditional dances. We managed to catch a ‘Polska dance’ which was really cool to see!
4. Hike Kjeragbolten
Kjeragbolten is located in Southern Norway, around a 2 hour drive from Stavanger. It is an incredibly challenging, yet doable hike, and offers stunning views of the Norwegian landscape. This hike is definitely suited to those with a good level of fitness and a sense of adventure. I consider myself to be relatively fit, and I found this hike to be the most challenging I’ve ever done (and I hiked a 13,000ft volcano in Guatemala – see post). There are three main ascents that are incredibly steep which requires you to rock climb your way up, pulling yourself up the cliff face using the metal chains they have installed in place. I would also recommend hiking in good weather conditions, as when I did it, it was very rainy and cloudy, making the visibility quite poor. I ended up getting lost at the top, hiking 20 minutes in the wrong direction, before finally getting back on track, taking me a total of 5 hours to complete Despite the challenges, this hike is most definitely worth it. The views from start to finish are truly astonishing, and the infamous boulder at the end lives up to every thrill seekers dream!
5. Cruise the Norwegian Fjords
Most people visit Norway to see the Fjords, and why wouldn’t you? They make up Norway’s iconic landscape, and there is no better way to appreciate such stunning views than a boat ride through them! Summer time is the best time to cruise the fjords with warmer weather, longer days, and clearer visibility. We took a boat from Flam to Bergen which is part of the Sognefjord; the largest and deepest of the fjords, often referred to as ‘The King of Fjords’. The boat sails through wide open water and skerries, passing some stunning waterfalls that cascade their way down cliff faces. The journey lasts around 5 hours and is strictly between Bergen and Flam, however there are many different cruise types you can do.
6. Visit the UNESCO site of Bryggen
Situated in Bergen, Bryggen is one of North Europe’s oldest port cities, originating in the 12th century. It was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is renowned for its beautifully coloured 14th century Hanseatic buildings that face the wharf. There are a lot of narrow alleys and walkways to wander through, which is where you will find most of Bergens craft shops, museums, restaurants, and bars. Many fires have destroyed the characteristic wooden houses of Bryggen, leaving only 62 buildings remaining of this former townscape.
7. Ride the Flam Railway
The Flam railway is arguably the most breathtaking train ride in the world. The journey takes 50 minutes from the town of Flam, to the railway junction of Myrdal. The gradient of the railway is one of the steepest in the world, with 20 twisting tunnels, and an elevation of over 850 metres. Along the way, you will pass waterfalls, dramatic mountain peaks, farming villages, and a view of the stunning valley below. During the journey, there is a photo stop at the impressive Kjosfossen waterfall where a local legend is told of a woman-beast named Huldra, who lures men into the mountain with her song. Huldra then appears and gives a short singing and dance performance as she tries to lure some of the male tourists up into the mountains! The Flam railway is open all year round so can be enjoyed throughout all seasons.
Top tip – Sit on the right hand side of the train on your way up!
8. Cycle back down the Flam valley
Once you have taken the train ride to Myrdal, a lot of people stay on and head back into the town of Flam. Want a better alternative? You can rent a bike at Myrdal station and cycle your way back down the valley, where you can drop your bike off at the train station in Flam. This is a great way to truly explore what the Flam valley has to offer. It also allows the opportunity for you to stop at viewpoints along the way, and adds a sense of adventure and fitness to your day. The first 20 minutes of the journey down takes place on a steep gravel path, which we found to be a nightmare when trying to control our bikes. However, once you get onto the main road, it is a relatively easy cycle down, and takes between 2-3 hours to complete.
9. Have a drink in an Ice Bar
I had never been to an Ice Bar before, so it seemed quite fitting to make the largest Ice Bar in the world my first experience! Magic Ice is situated in Oslo, and you guessed it – is constructed entirely of crystal clear ice. The bar consists of dramatically lit sculptures and installations with colourful LED lighting that further enhances the experience. We were provided with satin blue hooded robes and gloves before we entered, and our tickets included a drink token. The bar was pretty empty which allowed us to have a wander around and admire the incredibly impressive ice sculptures. Obviously there is not much of an atmosphere, and after about 30 minutes, we were ready to leave. Magic Ice is however, a true winter wonderland, and worth a visit if you have never been to an Ice Bar before.
11. Hike Trolltunga
Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to take part in this hike, but I wanted to include it in my top things to do whilst in Norway, as the pictures alone look absolutely incredible, and it is top of my list of things to do when I next visit. It is said to be a very difficult hike, with an ascent of over 1000 metres, taking between 10-15 hours to complete. Some people choose to camp at the top, before hiking back down the following morning. The town closest to the site is Odda, which is the recommended place to stay before your trip. Just look at that view though!
11. Take a stroll down Vigeland Sculpture Park
Vigeland Museum and Park celebrates the work of Gustav Vigeland; one Norway’s most well respected sculptors. The park includes more than 200 nude sculptures in bronze, granite, and cast iron, and includes the famous ‘Angry boy’, ‘The Monolith’ and ‘The Wheel of Life’. Not only did Gustav make the sculptures, he also designed the entire park, making it the largest sculpture park designed by a single artist in the world. This is definitely worth a visit if you have a spare couple of hours in Oslo.
12. Visit the Royal Palace, Oslo
The Royal Palace is the official residence of Norway’s monarch. It is pretty difficult to miss, situated at Bellevue; a rise at the end of one of Oslo’s main thoroughfares. The building is of neo-classical style with a facade of stuccoed brick, and was completed in 1849. The Royal Palace park surrounds the palace on all sides, featuring statues, ponds, and trees. You can catch the changing of the guard every day at 1:30pm, and if you would like to explore the inside, guided tours are available during the summer and last for an hour.
13. Admire the original painting of ‘The Scream’
The Scream is the best known and most frequently reproduced of all Edvard Munch’s paintings. The painting shows a figure with an agonized expression against a landscape with a tumultuous orange sky. Located in the National Gallery, Oslo, this iconic painting is definitely worth a visit. Edvard Munch created four versions in paint and pastels, two of which are held at the National Gallery, Oslo. This is something I only just found out about, so will definitely be visiting when I return. I wanted to include it in this post, so you guys don’t miss out like I did!
So there you have it, my top things to do whilst travelling in Norway. If you have anything you think should be on this list, please leave a comment below and I can add it to my itinerary for when I next visit!
Check out my Norway Travel Video below 🙂