Many countries are hard to grasp in only a week. Having only been to a couple regions, I can’t say with certainty that Norway is one of them, but I assume it is. Still, I feel this itinerary gives you a great taste of all that Norway is, in a short amount of time.
This is a non-hiker’s itinerary. There are some breathtaking views to be found in Norway that mandate very long hikes to get to them. This itinerary does not include those. There is a very good amount of regular walking, however. It also includes a change of accommodation almost every night, so light packing is highly recommended.
For vegetarian food recommendations for this itinerary, see this post.
At a Glance:
Day 1: Oslo
Day 2: Journey to Flåm
Day 3: Flåm
Day 4: Road trip from Voss
Day 5: Bergen
Day 6: Oslo
Arrive to Oslo before midday if possible. On the way out of the airport, buy tickets to Oslo S Station from the electronic kiosk, and then hop on the next train heading in the proper direction.
The area around Oslo S Station is really lovely and full of life.
Find your nearby accommodation. Oslo Citybox Hotel is great and pretty easy to find, although the front door is not super obvious.
Not too far from the Oslo S Station is Akershus Fortress. It was built in the 1300s and has lived through several sieges. In the summer, they do guided tours, otherwise the grounds are quite fascinating as well.
Spend awhile at Oslo’s Historical Museum for culture and history of Norway to get you going for the week. Or if it’s a Sunday, check out the Blå Sunday Market in Grünerløkka. Make sure you have a map there, because it’s hard to find, and not all the locals know about it if you ask them.
For a snack, find Harald’s Vaffel on Torggata for a traditional Norwegian waffle with jam, sour cream, and brown cheese.
Oslo is really clean and beautiful. You can spend time just wandering around and enjoying the views and energy of the city.
After that it should be time for a relaxing dinner and then maybe some jet lag sleep catch-up.
Take the first train of the day out of Oslo and to Myrdal. (Book all train tickets that you can in advance from the NSB website.) Make sure you are not at the very end of the train car, or you may not have a window. Both sides have great views, but I thought the left was slightly better. If the train isn’t full, you can hop back and forth periodically like we did. But with the tunnels and the forests right along the tracks, the views can disappear very quickly. Have your camera ready.
At Myrdal you will need to change trains to get to Flåm. Myrdal is 2,833 feet above sea level, so you might be seeing some snow!
Flåm is only 6 feet 7 inches above sea level, so the train ride down is pretty impressive. It took 16 years to construct it.
Once in Flåm, you can drop off your bags at your accommodation and settle in. We actually tried two here; The Brekke Garde Hostel is cute, but it is a fairly long walk from the train with bags,and the rooms are very small. The Fretheim Hotel is much more upscale, and might be worth the extra cost for space and proximity.
If you’re feeling energetic, there is a nice hike to Brekkefossen Waterfall. We were dealing with a foot injury flare-up, so we skipped this. You can also wander through all the souvenir shops in town and take photos of the water and mountains.
Hopefully the weather looks good, because it’s time to take a fjord tour! Book the first tour of the day (in advance) from Flåm to Gudvangen. Make sure your camera is ready to go!
You will end the boat ride in Gudvangen, where there is a cute cafe and Viking Valley, which you could have time for if there is a gap between your boat ride ending and your bus back to Flåm.
If you get back to Flåm and need some food, the Toget Cafe is a unique spot with seating in an old train car.
In the afternoon, have your shuttle van booked to go up to Stegastein Viewpoint. Although if you have a fear of heights or not being in command of the vehicle, you may want to skip it. The road up to the top is single lane, and if two vehicles need to pass each other, one of them has to stop while the other squeezes what feels dangerously close to the edge of the cliffs. Our driver had lots of confidence in his abilities, but I was extremely uncomfortable with it.But once you get up there, you forget about the ride, as the views are amazing. Hopefully it won’t be too foggy when you go, like it was for us.
When you get back down to the bottom, stop by the Flåm Railway Museum to see how the train track you took into town was constructed from 1924-1940.
It’s been a long day, and I think you’ve earned a nice leisurely dinner. If you’re up for a splurge, try out the buffet at the Fretheim Hotel. It’s the most expensive meal recommended in this guide, and you can stuff yourself really full with minimal effort.
Catch the train back to Myrdal and then change over to go to Voss. Again, keep your camera out!
Voss is a small-ish city that doesn’t have a lot of tourist draws. But it is the only city nearby this area that has car rental and also a train stop. The Hertz car rental is nowhere near the train station, however, so you’ll need to grab a cab. There is a taxi office several blocks away. Make sure you book your rental car in advance.
Your rental should have a GPS, which is a total lifesaver. Punch in Borgund and head in that direction. On the way, you’ll pass Tvindefossen, a huge waterfall with a little parking area and souvenir shop that you can see from the road.
There will be lots to see along the way, because it is Norway, after all.
There are also massive tunnels to drive through. And when I say “massive,” I mean the longest one is 25km and took 20 minutes to drive through!
Don’t speed through them; we were told that they have cameras at both entrances and they make sure that you don’t get to the end too soon after entering. Apparently they will send you a speeding ticket, and the Hertz worker implied they could pass the ticket on to us later.
When you start to near the Borgund area, you will see signs for Borgund Stave Church. This site is the main reason to rent a car. It’s the best preserved stave church of its age in Norway, built around 1180. At one point there were around 1000 of these wooden structures, but now only 28 remain, and many of them have been altered. The stave churches are extremely flammable and susceptible to arson and vandalism, so they are very well guarded now. They were re-applying tar to Borgund while we were visiting.
Once you’ve had your fill of the stave church history, head back in the direction you came and pass through Voss again toward Eidfjord. There are more amazing views along the way.
Just past Eidfjord is Vøringfossen, which is not super easy to find; be prepared. We assumed there would be signs, but there are none. A gas station lady pointed us in the right direction and said it “wasn’t far,” but we drove so long it felt like we’d missed it somehow. We almost turned around, but there wasn’t anywhere to do that, so we kept going up. At the very top of the mountain is the Fossli Hotel, which closes in the winter. There you will find metal railing pathways to view the massive waterfall. The view is indescribable and one of the more difficult areas to photograph if you’re nervous about heights.
Hop back in your rental car and back to Voss for the night. It’s been a long day! The Store Ringheim Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel to stay the night, but be warned it feels like it’s in a very strange area for a hotel; The owners turned their old family farmstead into a fancy hotel, so it’s in a residential area up on a hill and quite easy to miss.
After breakfast, return your rental car, and hopefully Hertz will give you a lift back to the train station, where you will head on to Bergen.
At the Bergen train station, store your luggage in a locker for the day; you’ll be taking the overnight sleeper train tonight.
Because the overnight sleeper train leaves pretty late at night, you’re in for a long day with no home base to stop and rest at. It’s a good idea to plan some meals for this day where you can sit for at least an hour or two and recharge. Alternatively, you can leave Bergen the following morning and stay in a hotel this night. You would just miss out on some time in Oslo the next day.
Okay, off we go! Tip: the visitor center has maps of all the free restrooms in the city. Might be worth a quick stop there on your way to Bryggen, which is one of Bergen’s big tourist draws. There are narrow alleyways behind the wooden buildings that are fun to walk through.
Not too far from Bryggen are Rosenkrantz Tower and Håkon’s Hall, which are all that remain of Bergenhus Fortress.
Next, if you’re up for a hike, you can walk to the top of Mount Fløyen. If the 45-60 minute walk seems like too much, however, you can pay to take the funicular up. The views at the top are wonderful.
By the time you get back down, you should be hungry and in need of a rest. The Galleriet Mall has a cafe with good traditional Norwegian waffles and cafe food. Customers can also use the bathroom for free.
Chill out for a bit or shop to kill some time. Then head out for some Bergen sightseeing around the different neighborhoods.
Once everything starts slowing down for the evening, you’ll need a place to wait for your overnight train. A bar or cafe should work well, such as Chaos Cafe, The Flying Dutchman bar, or the Terminus Hotel bar which is near the train station. Think of it as waiting in the airport, and bring something to do.
Make sure you leave enough time to get back to the station and get your bags from the locker by around 10pm. They let you board the train at 10:15pm, and then you can go right to bed if you want.
The bunks on the train are pretty small, but compared to sleeping upright on a plane, it’s downright luxurious!
You should wake up in the Oslo train station. They give you until 7am to get up and repacked and out of the train. Then you may want to drop your bags at your hotel and head somewhere for a nice, slow breakfast to gear up for the day. Grilleriet is not far and has a breakfast buffet.
By the time you’re done with breakfast, the info center at the train station should be open, and you can get your Oslo Pass which will get you in to the museums. If you go to at least three museums and use any public transport, then the price is worth it, which is why I’m recommending them all in the same day. Also at the info center, buy your train ticket to get back to the airport for the following day.
Take the ferry (using the Oslo pass) to Bygdøy Peninsula. The Viking Ship Museum is a bit of a walk through a residential area. Check your map in advance, because it seems weird when you’re there. Check opening times before you go as well.
The Viking Ship Museum houses several real ships and their artifacts that were used in burials.
Next is my favorite, the Norske Folkemuseum. There are exhibits indoors, but the true wonders are outside, where buildings from Norway’s past have been collected and all brought together to form a little “village.” There are different sections from different eras.
Next is the Fram Museum. Take the bus if your feet are starting to get sore. The Fram was a polar exploration ship that went to both poles. The entire ship is inside the specially made building, and visitors can walk inside it.
If you can stand (literally) one more museum, right across the street from the Fram is the Kon-Tiki Museum. In 1947, a Norwegian named Thor set out to prove that early South Americans could have possibly populated Polynesia, by building and sailing a primitive balsa wood raft between the two regions over 101 days.
You’ve been at museums for hours and you should be ready for food and rest. Take the ferry back to where you started and enjoy your last Norwegian dinner.
It’s been a jam-packed week and you’ve made tons of memories and great photos. Use the ticket you bought the day before to take the train back to the airport. Hope you had a great time!