Ask most Americans about what they think or know about Norway, and if they can find anything to say about this Scandinavian nation, it’ll probably be something about freezing cold or how many Norwegians there are in Minnesota. Well, believe it or not, despite being in the Arctic circle, Norway is a surprisingly diverse country, genuinely full of surprises!
As far as countries go Norway is pretty big, yet it has a national population about half the size of London – which is where the Norwegians send a Christmas tree every year to thank the British for their efforts to aid Norway during WWII.
Located in Northern Europe, the Land of the Midnight Sun shares borders with Sweden, Finland, and Russia, Norway. It’s famous for its quaint fishing villages of wooden houses, craggy mountains, and yes, MASSIVE cold. Thanks to this, Norway is also a beloved winter destination.
From its deep fjords and untouched glaciers to the deep valleys, and islands scattered throughout the Norwegian Sea and the Arctic Ocean, there’s a lot to explore in Norway. Arguably the best thing to explore in Norway is its history and culture. Akershus Fortress, the Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, and Trolltunga are all great places to learn about Norway’s story.
And despite its winter wonderland credentials, Norway has a bounty of both summer and winter activities to enjoy here, no matter what season you come. In the winter, skiing (both downhill and cross-country skiing) are king. Chasing the Northern Lights in northern Norway is another favorite activity for tourists.
The summer months bring with them beautiful hikes in the Alpine mountains and mountain biking alongside spectacular sunsets along Norway’s west coast. And the incredible natural beauty of the Arctic circle and its animal inhabitants like polar bears, reindeer, and wild huskies make for an experience like no other.
So, no matter what time of year you visit Norway, you’re in for a treat. And with that in mind, here are the best places to visit that Norway has to offer.
- Most significant landmark – Trolltunga
- Best park – Vigeland Park
- Best free activity – Akershus Fortress
- Best activity for kids – Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park
- Best activity for adults – Husky sledding in Tromso
- Best food – Reindeer stew at Mathallen Oslo
- Best all-around accommodation – Hotel Bondeheimen
Best Places to Visit in Norway & Things to Do
1. Lofoten Islands
The Lofoten Islands are situated just off northern Norway’s coastline and are considered one of the most beautiful places to visit in the country. The Islands are renowned for their dramatic natural surroundings of deep fjords, wooden houses, a vast array of beaches, and steep mountains – often with snow-covered peaks even during summertime! The islands are a popular destination for fishing, hiking, and soaking up incredible views.
For those eager to capture holiday snaps, there are some exceptional photo opportunities all over the islands. The rocky islets of Reine and Å offer amazing views of jagged peaks, as well as golden beaches that contrast perfectly with the aquamarine waters of Reinefjorden Bay.
A kayaking trip through Reinefjorden Bay is highly recommended, allowing you to get up close to the stunning landscapes of Lofoten. While this is definitely a summer activity for most, you can bet the locals go kayaking all year round.
The Lofoten Islands also have a rich history, which can be seen in the many old fishing villages that still dot its coastlines. The Lofoten War Memorial Museum is a must-see as well while on the island, as is the Norwegian Fishing Village Museum. Both offer a fascinating insight into the history of the Islands.
For those looking to stay a few days in the western Lofoten Islands, you should spend it there like a local. This lovely traditional home in western Lofoten provides a comfortable and welcoming base. Alternatively, there are several camping sites throughout the islands that offer a fantastic opportunity to be close to nature in one of the most beautiful places in Norway.
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2. Jotunheimen National Park
Jotunheimen National Park has long been a popular destination for adventure seekers in Norway. This sprawling park in southern Norway is home to ancient glaciers and some of the country’s most spectacular mountain ranges. It’s a paradise for hikers, boasting trails and peaks galore.
You can explore this park all year round, with your classic hikes in summer, and snowshoeing in winter. Nature lovers adore this park too as you can spot golden eagles, lynxes, and reindeer around the park.
The park is also home to Galdhøpiggen, the tallest mountain in Norway at 8,100 feet. The trek up to its summit is considered by many to be one of the best hikes in Scandinavia, and if you can brave the cold winds that blow across this region then you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes.
When exploring Jotunheimen National Park, make sure you also take a detour to Besseggen Ridge – one of the most famous mountain hikes in Norway. It offers up incredible views over two sprawling fjords and is definitely worth the effort if you have time.
3. See the Northern Lights
If you take a trip to Norway during the winter months, then you’ll be in with a chance of seeing the dancing Northern Lights – one of nature’s most incredible spectacles. The best places to see this phenomenon are usually far away from major cities and other sources of light pollution.
If you’re ever in Norway during this season, then it may be worth booking a trip with one of the many tour companies that operate Northern Lights trips from cities like Tromsø and Alta. They’ll take you to some of the darkest places in Norway, where your chances of witnessing this beautiful phenomenon are increased significantly.
I recommend hopping on this Northern Lights hunt tour from Tromso which includes transportation and professional photography. This reindeer sledding Northern Lights tour gives you the best of both worlds – you can experience this magical phenomenon while also enjoying a traditional reindeer sled ride through the wilderness.
Alternatively, you can really push the boat out and book a luxury Northern Lights cruise, on a boat with a hot tub and a hearty reindeer stew dinner thrown into the bargain! While Tromsø is a popular spot to see the aurora borealis, you could also head to some of the northernmost permanently inhabited spots of mainland Norway such as Senja, Lofoten, or Vesterålen. Here you’ll find some of the darkest skies in the country and have a much better chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
PRO TIP: Make sure to check the Aurora forecast before you go – if it’s predicted to be particularly strong then you may be able to see them with the naked eye.
See Related: Best Places to See the Northern Lights
4. Vigeland Park
Address: Nobels gate 32, 0268 Oslo, Norway
From just a cursory glance (heck, even from just looking at the above image) it’s understandable why the Vigeland Sculpture Park is one of Oslo’s most well-liked and world-famous attractions. More than 200 bronze and granite sculptures can be found throughout this eclectic sculpture park.
Gustav Vigeland, a well-known Norwegian artist, created each piece – which is probably why they let him slap his name on the park. The sculptures reflect a variety of subjects, including love, life, death, and the emotional cycle of people. The tranquility of strolling around Vigeland Park allows you to take in the delicate or obvious nuances of each artwork.
Some of Norway’s most recognizable sculptures are here, such as The Monolith. At 46 feet tall and impressively intricate, it can be easily found in Vigeland Park. The Angry Boy and The Wheel of Life are a couple of the park’s other well-known sculptures.
Entrance to Vigeland Sculpture Park is free, and it is open every day of the year. With a million visitors a year on average, it is one of Norway’s top tourist destinations. Make sure to bring your camera because it’s one of the best spots in Oslo for pictures.
5. Viking Ship Museum
Address: Huk Aveny 35, 0287 Oslo, Norway
Norway is one of the former homelands of the Vikings, so be sure to stop by the Viking Ship Museum to learn about these ancient warrior-pioneers. Since its opening in 1996, this famous museum has served as an important landmark in Oslo.
It houses three Viking ships that were discovered in the late 19th Century that had been preserved and protected by peat and clay bogs for hundreds of years. These ships are thought to have been constructed in the 9th and 10th Centuries, giving them a lifespan of around a thousand years! Visitors can learn about one of Norway’s most intriguing eras and experience life as it was for the Vikings at sea thanks to these well-preserved ships.
These ships provide guests with a picture of Viking life. You can see how their boats were built, how their Viking crews sailed them, and examine remnants of common objects, tools, and artifacts the crew would have had with them.
The museum’s exhibition halls house historical relics, such as weaponry and jewelry. You can even go on a virtual reality tour to see what it was like to sail on a Viking ship a millennium ago.
Note: The museum is currently closed for renovation until 2025. However, you can still see the ships from outside and there are plenty of other attractions in Oslo.
See Related: The Thrilling Beauty of the Preikestolen, Norway
6. Akershus Fortress
Location: 0150 Oslo, Norway
Akershus Fortress, also known as Akershus Castle, is one of the most significant historical landmarks in Norway. This medieval castle was built in 1299 by King Håkon V as a defensive fortress and it served as a military facility right up until the Second World War. The fort has since become an important symbol of Norwegian history, culture, and independence.
Today, Akershus Fortress is open to the public and is one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions. The castle has a beautiful courtyard and visitors can explore its various halls, including the Great Hall and the Royal Residence. Tourists at the Akershus Fortress can take a self-guided murder mystery tour and learn about the castle’s history and its importance to Norway while solving the mystery.
While you’re here, don’t miss the chance to climb up to the top of the tower for a panoramic view of Oslo’s skyline and harbor. The fortress is also home to several museums and works of art.
The armory museum features displays of medieval weapons and armor used by Norwegian soldiers over the centuries. This fortress is also home to a number of other interesting artifacts, including coins, weapons, and statues from the Viking era.
The fortress also hosts many events throughout the year and is a popular spot for weddings and other celebrations. If you plan on paying a visit, check out Hotel Bondeheimen if you’re looking for an affordable place to stay near Akershus Fortress. This hotel has a rich history of its own and offers a combination of modern amenities, comfortable rooms, and historical charm.
7. The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History
Address: Museumsveien 10, 0287 Oslo, Norway
The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, also known as Norsk Folkemuseum, was founded in 1894. It’s home to a wide variety of traditional Norwegian buildings and artifacts from different eras.
Perhaps the coolest part about the museum, though, is its open-air museum. The buildings it contains are from rural and urban Norway from the Middle Ages, right up to the 20th Century. The museum includes over 160 examples of buildings from across Norway, including a schoolhouse, a chapel, and a farmhouse.
Visitors to the museum can explore life in Norway throughout different eras. As well as traditional buildings, the museum features an impressive collection of Norwegian folk costumes, not to mention furniture, tools, and crafts that were used by Norwegians many years ago. And if you’re feeling peckish, there’s a cafe at the museum that serves traditional Norwegian dishes such as fish cakes and some hearty soups.
The museum’s extensive collection of artifacts includes an old Viking ship from the 9th Century, giving visitors a unique opportunity to learn about Norway’s maritime history. Visitors can explore the ship and get up close to its intricate carvings. The museum is home to the Norwegian Folklife Collection, which contains more than 100,000 artifacts from all over Norway.
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8. Pulpit Rock
Location: 4129 Songesand, Norway
Pulpit Rock in southwest Norway is the ideal location for those wishing to exercise while visiting Norway. This popular climb offers outstanding views of Lysefjord. The hike itself is not too challenging and lasts for around two hours along a route of mostly well-maintained pathways and steps – although vertigo sufferers will probably want to give this one a miss.
Pulpit Rock’s rock platform (which resembles a pulpit – hence the name), provides epic views of the Lysefjord below, which is its main draw. On the way up, you’ll pass through lush woodlands along the journey with the chance of seeing various animals, such as reindeer. If you’re making the hike in summer, bring along a picnic – and don’t you dare forget to being your camera to remember the scenic setting at Pulpit Rock.
9. The Royal Palace
Address: Slottsplassen 1, 0010 Oslo, Norway
The Royal Palace (or Kongelige Slott) is the official residence of Norway’s monarchy in Oslo. This grand palace was built in the early 19th Century and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the entire country. Visitors to the palace can take a guided tour that will take them through its impressive rooms, which are filled with antique furniture, artwork, and other artifacts from past Norwegian monarchs.
The Royal Palace houses the Royal Library, which contains a collection of over one million books and manuscripts. This is one of the largest libraries in Norway and it has been open to the public since 1825. Visitors can explore the library’s vast collection, which includes rare volumes, veritably ancient texts, and other fascinating artifacts.
But it doesn’t end there. The palace grounds are also home to the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum and the Norwegian Nobel Institute.
The Royal Palace is a must-see for anyone visiting Oslo. Its grandeur and impressive collection of artifacts make this all-day attraction an excellent place to learn about Norway’s royal past, the nation’s history, and culture.
PRO TIP: Planning on visiting multiple Oslo attractions? Get yourself an Oslo CityPASS and get discounted tickets to over 30 of Oslo’s top museums, landmarks, and attractions.
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Location: Bryggen, 5003 Bergen, Norway
Bryggen is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Norway. Located in Bergen, on Norway’s western coast, this harbor district is known for its colorful, wooden buildings, many of which were once used as warehouses by Norwegian merchants from the 14th Century up to the 19th Century. Today, Bryggen is a bustling seaside town filled with lovely restaurants, boutiques, and art galleries.
Visitors can marvel at the historic buildings around Bryggen, which include a mix of different styles including Art Nouveau architecture and Baroque. The wooden buildings have been very well preserved over the centuries and provide an incredible glimpse into Norway’s past.
The best way to experience all the beauty of Bryggen and Bergen at large is to join a guided tour of the city. On a tour, you can learn about the history of this vibrant area as you explore its charming cobblestone streets.
It’s also a great way of finding the best eateries. Be sure to taste the area’s famous Norwegian cinnamon buns and mountain trout while you’re here.
Another UNESCO-protected site, the Geirangerfjord is one of Norway’s most beautiful natural attractions. Located in the Sunnmøre region, this fjord stretches for 15 km and offers otherworldly views of snow-capped mountains, cascading waterfalls, forested valleys, and emerald green waters. It’s one of the best places to visit in Norway for hikers and nature lovers who can explore its surrounding trails or take a boat tour of the fjord.
Visitors to the Geirangerfjord will be impressed by its incredibly diverse landscape. It’s home to some of Norway’s most famous natural landmarks such as The Seven Sisters waterfall and the majestic Hornelen cliff. There are more than a few opportunities to capture some fantastic photos here, so don’t forget your camera.
Over the years, Geirangerfjord has become one of Norway’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s easy to see why, as its natural beauty is virtually unparalleled. To make the most of this beautiful landscape, I recommend sightseeing tours or hopping on a fjord cruise of the Geirangerfjord for a truly unique experience.
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12. Frogner Park
Address: Kirkeveien, 0268 Oslo, Norway
Frogner Park is the largest park in Oslo. This public park is known for the impressive Vigeland Sculpture Park, which is the world’s largest collection of sculptures by a single artist.
Frogner Park is the place to go if you’re looking for walking paths, cycling routes, and picnic areas. The lawns are neatly manicured and the park is surrounded by several historic buildings in an 18th Century Baroque style, adding to the prestige of this park.
There are a lot of cafes and restaurants located nearby so that visitors can enjoy a bite after exploring the park. The park is free to enter, so it’s an appealing option for those on a budget looking for free things to do in Oslo.
Frogner Park is in a wonderful neighborhood if you’re looking to stay in Oslo. You’ll find it’s near the Saga Hotel Oslo, which is a Best Western property – and not a bad one to boot.
Location: 5760 Røldal, Norway
This famous natural landmark has quickly become an Insta-famous spot in Norway. Trolltunga, which translates to “Troll’s Tongue,” is a unique rock formation jutting out from the cliffside that offers spectacular views of the surrounding landscape.
This hike isn’t for the faint of heart, but by golly, it’s worth it. It takes about 10 hours to hike from the start of the route to reach this incredible viewpoint, so it’s best to start early in the morning. Even if you’re a seasoned hiker, I’d seriously opt for a guided overnight hike to Trolltunga, which is a good option for those who want to take their time.
The hike itself is quite challenging, so make sure you’re prepared with the appropriate gear and supplies. Once you reach the top, however, the juice is well worth the squeeze.
The views here are absolutely awe-inspiring and you’ll be able to appreciate the beauty of Norway from a totally unique perspective. From the summit, you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of pristine waters, lush green valleys, and snow-capped mountains straight out of a fairy tale.
For a unique stay near Trolltunga, head to Hotel Ullensvang. This beautiful hotel is situated in a mountain valley, offering some of the most mesmerizing views in Norway.
With its cozy rooms, friendly staff, and delicious food, it’s little wonder that this hotel is so popular. Plus, you’ll be just minutes away from Trolltunga, making for an easier day trip.
See Related: Norway Cruise Packing List: What to Pack (Including PDF)
14. Go Dog Sledding in Tromso
Address: Fredrik Langes gate 2, 9008 Tromsø, Norway
If there’s one thing to do in Tromso, the largest city in northern Norway, it’s husky sledding. Nothing beats the feeling of being whisked away across a majestic snowy landscape in the Arctic Circle, with nothing but your team of huskies, and the sound of their barking, as they poop on the go (it’s kind of hilarious).
Tromso is an ideal city for a husky sledding tour as it’s located in the far north of Norway and has a lot of snow-covered terrain on its doorstep. You’ll be guided by an experienced musher who will teach you how to drive a traditional sled and provide information about the region’s history, culture, and wildlife. After, you’ll have the chance to interact with a kennel of over 130 Arctic huskies, making for some truly memorable moments.
You can learn more about dog sledding at the Polar Museum, which is a must-see in Tromso. Alternatively, if dogs just seem a little too small for your tastes, you can try reindeer sledding. This awesome tour from Tromso takes you reindeer sledding and introduces guests to the First Nations Sami culture.
Whale watching is another popular activity in Tromso. There are a number of different options for whale watching, from cruise ships to private yachts. Whatever you choose, don’t miss out on watching these gentle giants up close!
Address: Bergen Station, 5015 Bergen, Norway
The Flåm Railway is one of the most scenic train journeys in the world and it takes visitors on a breathtaking journey through some of Norway’s most beautiful landscapes. This railway follows the Aurlandsfjord and the Flåm Valley, winding through mountains, valleys, waterfalls, rivers, and tunnels. The views here are absolutely stunning and it’s one of the best ways to experience Norway’s gorgeous scenery.
The journey takes about an hour each way so you can fully soak up the sights from your seats. You’ll have the chance to get off the train at several locations and explore a bit more.
The small town of Flåm in central Norway is well worth visiting. It’s home to some interesting museums such as the Flåm Railway Museum.
The Flam Railway train also connects with trains running between the country’s capital of Oslo and Bergen, so it’s easy to add it to your itinerary from wherever you are. This self-guided day trip from Bergen to Oslo takes you along the Flåm Railway and is an ideal way to experience the beauty of Norway via rail.
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16. Oslo Opera House
Address: Kirsten Flagstads Plass 1, 0150 Oslo, Norway
To really appreciate the art and culture scene of Norway, a visit to the Oslo Opera House is one of my best recommendations. This crisp, modern building is situated near the harbor in Oslo and has become one of the city’s most recognizable new landmarks. It was designed by the Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta and features a unique angular shape meant to resemble an iceberg floating on the water.
The lobby is filled with light from the large windows that offer stunning views of the harbor and city. Visitors can explore several floors of the Opera House, which include various art exhibitions, galleries, and more.
The main auditorium is a work of art in itself and hosts operas, ballets, concerts, and special events throughout the year. The opera house is home to the Norwegian Opera and Ballet and is definitely worth adding to your list of places to visit in Norway.
The Oslo Opera House is worth tracking down, and you can admire it on a guided tour of Oslo. Of course, the main appeal is that there are performances! Be sure to check their calendar and see what’s showing.
17. Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park
Address: Kardemomme By, 4609 Kristiansand, Norway
Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park is one of Norway’s most visited attractions and is home to some of the country’s most iconic native species – not to mention a few non-native species. This zoo boasts over 650 different species of animals, including elephants, polar bears, tigers, lions, giraffes, and more. There are plenty of interactive exhibitions and shows throughout the day that will keep your kids entertained for hours.
Covering over 150 acres of gorgeous Nordic terrain, Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park is the place to go for a fun day out with the family. While exploring, you’ll have opportunities to get up close and personal with the animals – from feeding wild reindeer to petting lemurs.
The park features amusement rides and an outdoor cinema that shows classic films throughout the summer months. If you’re looking for a fun day out or want to learn more about wildlife, then Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park belongs on your list.
See Related: Best Theme Parks in Europe to Visit
18. Mathallen Oslo
Address: Vulkan 5, 0178 Oslo, Norway
Foodies unite! Mathallen Oslo is the perfect place to experience Norway’s culinary culture. It’s a large food hall located in the Vulkan area of Oslo and brings together local producers and international ingredients under one roof.
Here, you’ll find everything from artisanal Norwegian cheeses and meats to fresh seafood and traditional local dishes. Treat your tastebuds to local favorites like reindeer stew and braised lamb or go crazy with some of the international options.
There are lots of bars and restaurants to explore, so you can sample some of the city’s best cuisine. The atmosphere in Vulkan is typically lively, and it’s a great place to mingle with locals or just relax and people-watch.
For extended food-related fun, join a street food guided walking tour of Oslo. Not only will you stop at Mathallen, but you’ll also get to sample some of the city’s best street food. The guides will provide interesting insights into the local culture and history, so it’s a fun way to learn about Norway while enjoying some amazing cuisine.
19. Låtefossen Waterfall
Address: Låtefossbrua 5763, 5763 Skare, Norway
Låtefossen is a magnificent twin waterfall, near the towns of Skare and Odda, and it’s sure to take your breath away. The view from the bridge that connects both sides is simply breathtaking and another perfect spot for taking incredible photos.
The two powerful cascades originate from the river Austdølo at an altitude of over 1000 feet, before they plunge down into a deep ravine. If you’re looking for an adventure, then Låtefossen is definitely worth adding to your list.
The best time to visit is in early summer when crowds are low and weather conditions are favorable. And if you’re looking for a spot to hang your hat nearby, check into Trolltunga Hotel.
PRO TIP: For the best photos of Låtefossen, wait until early afternoon when the sun is at the perfect angle. Be prepared to be awestruck by its natural beauty.
What are the most popular places to visit in Norway?
Some of the most popular places to visit in Norway are the fjords, Oslo, Bergen, and Lofoten Islands. These locations offer outstanding natural beauty and an ideal way to experience Norway in all its beauty.
What are some fun things to do in Norway?
Norway has lots of fun activities for people of all ages. You can take a guided tour to explore some of the country’s most iconic places, experience the great outdoors, or visit Mathallen Oslo and sample some delicious local cuisine. And don’t forget about Låtefossen – it’s one of Norway’s most beautiful waterfalls and you won’t be disappointed.
What is the best thing to do with kids in Norway?
Kids are sure to enjoy the Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park. They can get up close with tons of animals, explore the amusement rides, and watch classic films in the outdoor cinema. The atmosphere is family-friendly making it an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
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