Discover the Best of Norway: Fjords, Northern Lights, Oslo and More

Scandinavia gets so many things so right, and that especially applies to the Land of the Midnight Sun. When traveling to Norway be prepared to be amazed, from the iconic fjords and Northern Lights to the cultural and historic treasures.

Since many American travelers have a hazy picture of where to go and what to do in Norway, we decided to highlight some amazing things to do on a Norwegian vacation.

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Explore Oslo

Oslo is underrated compared to its Scandinavian capital counterparts, Copenhagen and Stockholm, but its dining and nightlife are up there with Scandinavia’s best. It’s extremely cosmopolitan, scenic, easy to get around, green, safe, and inviting.

History and art lovers can find plenty to keep them occupied at the Nobel Peace Centre and the Edvard Munch Museum (where you can see his iconic painting “The Scream”).

Lovers of the performing arts can get a backstage tour of the Oslo Opera House or spend time hobnobbing at the famous  Theatercaféen on the equally famous thoroughfare Karl Johans Gate.

And if it’s food you’re after, you can go upscale at eateries like Maaemo to specialty street food at the Mathallen indoor market.

Oslo is one of the world’s greatest cities. Fortunately, you can discover that for yourself.

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Spend time in Bergen

Bergen is Norway’s second most-famous city, though it trails Oslo in familiarity by a bit.

Bergen is an explorer’s delight and a UNESCO World Heritage site, both for its historic city center and its wharf district, where the rebuilt trade houses of the German Hanseatic League now serve as sites for fun shops, boutiques, and restaurants.

Bergen’s science center, the Vilvite, is also a must-see. Even people who don’t like science museums are captivated by the Vilvite’s green, innovative, and interactive exhibits.

Finally, take a short jaunt out of town to the picturesque Fantoft Stave Church, an interesting amalgam of Viking-inspired art, a multi-gabled exterior, and exquisite interior woodwork.

If Oslo reflects Norway’s dynamic present and future, Bergen shows off its fascinating past.

Also read: Best U.S. Historical Places to Visit with Kids

Explore Viking heritage

For a civilization that passed from the earth 1,000 years ago, the Vikings left plenty behind in Norway to examine and celebrate.

Start at the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo (you might have to bookmark it; it’s under construction until late 2025), where you can see the incredible Oseberg ship and many other incredible artifacts of a highly advanced society.

From there, head south along the coast to explore burial areas at Oseberg, Gokstad, and Borrehaugene.

You can also head north past Bergen to explore the restored Viking village of Njardarheimr, and wander through blacksmith shops and other period-correct dwellings.

Finally, cap off your adventure in the country’s far north at the Lofotr Viking Museum, built on the site of one of the longest longhouses in Scandinavia. If you’re game you can experience a Viking banquet or even Viking Fest, which is traditionally held in August. 

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Cruise the fjords

Many cruise lines offer cruises through along the rugged Norwegian coast, which extends hundreds of tendrils into the North Sea, creating the gorgeous bays and inlets known as fjords.

A Norwegian coastal cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that combines the luxury of a top-end cruise ship with the unmatched beauty of the fjords.

Choose larger ships for more opulence and onboard activities; choose smaller ships to explore more of the most scenic spots.

With either cruise type, onshore excursions can take you to charming seaside towns like Geirangerfjord, Eidfjord and Flam.

The pleasures are simple in these towns, like Stavanger’s small beach and Alesund’s Aquarium.

Many people find a cruise of the fjords more relaxing than a comparable Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise – which is just the way you should want it.

See our write up with all sorts of tips about taking a Norweigen cruise, then find out why travel insurance is crucial for cruise trips

Trundle the interior

Norway’s coast gets a lot of the press, and rightly so, but the country’s interior deserves some love, too.

Start your exploration of the country’s interior with the Lillehammer region. If the name sounds familiar it’s because the 1994 Winter Olympics were held there.

Lillehammer is a consensus world-class winter destination, but it’s also worth visiting in the spring and summer, when the lush Gudbrandsdalen valley springs to life with vistas reminiscent of Scotland at its best.

Take time to visit the Garmo Stave Church, and be sure to explore the Hunderfossen Adventure Park – a summer amusement park and a winter wonderland.

The interior is also a great place to go hiking, mountain biking, and climbing.

Also see: The Best National Parks For Family Vacations

Check out the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights

Some of the world’s best light shows aren’t supplied by drones or fireworks but by Norway’s skies.

Cruise the country’s arctic north in summer and you’ll experience the phenomenon of all-day daylight – the Midnight Sun. Wait until it gets dark (ideally in spring, but also in fall) and you’ll be treated to the mysterious glows and flashes of the Northern Lights.

Seeing either in the fjords or over open water is unforgettable. And in Norway, it’s right there waiting for you – and totally free.

Also see: The Best Countries to Visit for Breathtaking Ecotourism

Head north – far north

Is Norway’s extreme north brutally cold in the dead of winter? Yes it is – and dark, too.

But the dead of winter doesn’t last that long, and when it’s some other season the country’s northern regions are fascinating places to explore.

There are fjords in the country’s north, and some would say they’re even more spectacular than the southern fjords. In addition, there are polar bears and other elusive wildlife to see on guided tours based out of Svalbard.

If you’re more of a town person, there’s plenty to see and do in Tromsø, the unofficial capital of Arctic Norway.

However, there’s also – get this! – great surfing, particularly around the Lofoten archipelago 100 miles above the Arctic Circle.

Turns out there’s plenty of amazing things to do on a Norwegian vacation: everything from surfing, to investigating Viking ships, to seeing great art, to luxury cruising.

For more great Norwegian travel ideas, check out Visit Norway – and don’t forget to help protect your Norwegian vacation with a travel protection plan from Generali Global Assistance. Our plans go with you from the fjords to the Arctic.

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