It’s easy to picture pillaging Vikings and scenic fjords when thinking about Norway. This land of the summer midnight sun, however, offers much more than that, including picturesque waterfronts and well-preserved wooden churches. Quaint medieval towns, filled with modern amenities, are just waiting to be explored.
Norway’s landscape can easily be summed up in one word – stunning. From the steep cliffs of the glacier fjords to the tranquil seaside villages of the islands, Norway offers some of the most diverse range of natural attractions in the world.
Besides being home to spectacular landscapes, Norway is also a popular destination for outdoor sports and wildlife viewing. Not to mention, a large chunk of the country is north of the Arctic Circle, where you can enjoy two of the world’s most stunning phenomena – the Midnight Sun and the Northern Lights. Spend any amount of time taking part of these things to do in Norway, and you’ll see why it’s a destination that you won’t forget for years to come.
Roros is a good place to learn about copper mining as it occurred a few centuries ago. Copper mining started there in the 17th century and continued for more than 300 years, until 1977. The town has about 2,000 wooden houses that have been preserved in their blackened state, suggesting a medieval look.
The town itself was established in 1646 by the Roros Copper Works. Farmlands surround the former mining operation, which include the remains of a smelter. The town is on the Winter Transport Route that used frozen lakes, streams and rivers to move people and goods.
Overlooking the border of the Norwegian and Barents Sea, Nordkapp is the northernmost point of Europe that is accessible by car. Many believe that the cape is the northernmost point of Europe in general, but this is incorrect as the Knivskjellodden Cape extends several thousand feet past Nordkapp.
However, this plateau is still a popular tourist attraction in the summer; visitors can watch the dramatic midnight sun illuminating the night sky. If you’re planning to stay awhile to avoid the hordes of tourists, there is also a restaurant, cafe, gift shop, and museum to keep you entertained.
16. Skiing in Hemsedal
The snow-capped mountains of Norway make for a great adventure, and the ski town of Hemsedal is no exception. Affectionately known as the Scandinavian Alps, Hemsedal has three different peaks and over 20 lifts catering to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Even if you aren’t interested in mountain sports, you can still have a wonderful weekend away in Hemsedal. The town is littered with cafes, restaurants, shops, and even museums. They’re even world-renowned for their after-ski parties, with live music and bar hopping almost every weekend.
Situated in the heart of the Måbødalen valley is Voringsfossen, one of the most visited waterfalls in Norway. It drops almost 600-feet down the side of a mountain before winding through the crevices of the valley. Surrounded by jagged limestone cliffs and lush green forests, Vorginsfossen is guaranteed to be one of the most majestic sites you’ll visit in Norway.
You can admire the waterfall from either the top of the Hardangervidda canyon or at the base of the Måbødalen valley. Either way, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic sites of Norway’s most beloved natural landmark.
14. Alta Rock Carvings
Step back almost 6,000 years in history and explore the prehistoric rock carvings at Alta. Located in northern Norway, Alta is home to over 6,000 carvings, with many of them dating back to 4200 BC. You’ll find images of hunters and gatherers, boat building, and fishing. There are even some unusual paintings of shamanistic rituals that involve worshiping bears.
After visiting the site, you can also stop by the World Heritage Rock Art Centre, a museum dedicated to the culture and historic industries of Alta.
13. Heddal Stave Church
Ripped from the pages of a fairytale, the Heddal Stave Church is a wooden architectural masterpiece located in Heddal, Norway. Built in the 13th-century, the church is built in a triple nave style, which gives it a tiered appearance. It’s one of the only 28 remaining stave churches in Norway, making it a popular attraction for both tourists and locals.
Although it’s still a working church, you can book guided tours to learn more about its history and unique design. Don’t miss the rose paintings on the wall, which are from the church’s renovation in 1668.
Outdoor enthusiasts will want to add Jotunheimen to their Norway bucket list. This mountain range is home to over 250 different peaks, 29 of them being the highest mountains in the entire country. Popular with hikers, cyclers, and climbers, Jotunheimen is one of the best places to soak in the natural beauty of Norway.
Trek up Galdhøpiggen, the highest peak in northern Europe. Or head to the Jotunheimen National Park to explore the crystal clear lakes and spectacular frozen glaciers. If you visit during the winter, you’ll also be able to go skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing down the slopes.
11. Atlantic Ocean Road
Snaking through the islands of the Hustadvika and Averøy archipelago is the Atlantic Ocean Road. As one of the most iconic road trip routes in Norway, the Atlantic Ocean Road winds across different bridges, viaducts, and causeways, where you can enjoy stunning views through your car window.
Although it’s only five-miles long, you’ll still be able to see some of the country’s most striking attractions. Soak in your surroundings from the Kjeksa viewpoint, take a short hike along the Eldhusøya pathway, and cross the astounding Storseisundbrua bridge.
10. Nidaros Cathedral
The Nidaros Cathedral has stood in Trondheim for over 1,000 years and remains one of the most important cathedrals and pilgrimage sites in the country. It was built over the burial site for King Olav II and took over 230 years to complete.
The facade of this gothic cathedral is intricately carved and depicts many historical and religious figures in the archways. You’ll also notice the beautiful stained glass windows, including the western-facing rose window. Although they were added in the 20th-century, they still remain the prominent feature of the cathedral.
Stacked side by side, the charming, colorful houses in Bergen are quintessentially Norwegian. Located on the eastern side of the Vågen harbor, this historic portside village is a wonderfully preserved example of 14th-century Norway.
The 62 buildings in the Bryggen area are painted in different colors ranging from bright red to glowing yellow. Many of these homes were converted to shops, restaurants, and museums over the last few decades. Highlights of Bergen include the 300-year old Bellgården building, the fascinating Hanseatic Museum, and Schøtstuene, as well as the iconic St. Mary’s church.
The steep cliffs of Preikestolen are guaranteed to wow you with some of the most panoramic views you’ve ever seen. It extends almost 2,000 feet above the sparkling Lysefjord in southern Norway and offers unparalleled views of the Ryfylke valley and Kjerag mountains.
To reach Preikestolen, you’ll need to embark on a 3.7-mile hike, which can be difficult and steep in some parts. If you’re planning on making the trek, you should be in relatively good shape and allow three to four hours for a roundtrip. Another option to view Preikestolen is via a boat trip through the Lysefjord.
7. Oseberg Ship
Many centuries ago, the Vikings sailed the northern seas, striking fear in the hearts of the region these fierce warriors were about to invade. Today, visitors can view, unafraid, some of these terror-causing vessels as the Viking Ship Museum in Oslo showcases some of these great ninth century ships.
The 70-foot long Oseberg ship is the best preserved and was found in a burial mound on a farm near Oseberg. You can still see the distinct carvings in the wood along the bow and stern, as well as the steering oars and iron anchors. The museum also displays textiles, tools and household items as well as items found in Viking tombs.
When it was excavated in 1904, human remains were found buried along with the ship. These remains have also shed light on what daily life was like over 1,200 years ago.
6. Svalbard Wildlife Safari
As the world’s most northernmost settlement, Svalbard is a destination to spot some of the county’s most fascinating wildlife. By booking a Wildlife Safari, you’ll be able to see a variety of arctic creatures that roam through this polar region.
A safari trip is your best shot for seeing polar bears. It’s also common to encounter walruses, arctic foxes, puffins, and even reindeer. Besides wildlife, Svalbard is also a popular destination for viewing the Northern lights from November to February.
5. Jostedalsbreen Glacier
No trip to Norway would be complete without a visit to Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier in Europe. Nestled between the Sognefjord and Norfjord, Jostedalsbreen is actually relatively easy to reach, thanks to the many protruding arms that sprout from the center. Whether you’re hiking, kayaking, or simply admiring the jaw-dropping view, Jostedalsbreen Glacier is worth a visit during your trip.
However, this ice cap is slowly disappearing. In the last 50 years, the glacier has lost over 12% of its mass. If you’re eager to see this stunning natural wonder, then make sure to visit the Jostedalsbreen Glacier before it starts to melt away completely.
The charming city of Tromsø is a perfect destination for both city-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. Despite lying north of the arctic circle, Tromsø is considered to be the thriving cultural capital of Norway. Between the plethora of museums and churches, as well as its proximity to the fjords and mountains, Tromsø remains a popular destination for visitors.
Popular attractions include the Arctic Cathedral, a striking modern glass church built in the mid-1960s. You can also take the cable car up to the Storstein mountain for sweeping views of the entire city. Tromsø is also home to several fascinating museums, including the Polar Museum and the Northern Norwegian Science Center.
3. Borgund Stave Church
Unique is one word often used to describe the Borgund Stave Church. This wooden church was built in a triple stave style more than 800 years ago in the village of Borgund. The sight of the church is awe-inspiring with its dark wooden panels are juxtaposed against the rural pastures of the countryside.
Although it’s no longer used as a church, you can still visit the Borgund Stave Church to learn more about its history. The exhibit inside also explains the influential style of stave churches and their impact on Norwegian culture. You will also find a restaurant and gift shop on-site.
2. Lofoten Islands
For a bit of peace and quiet, head off the beaten track to the tranquil Lofoten Islands. Located far above the Arctic Circle, the Lofoten Islands are lined with peaceful villages, rolling hills, rocky cliffs, and bobbing boats.
During your visit to the Lofoten Islands, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to outdoor activities. Not only can you hike, ski, raft, and scuba dive, but you can also spend your days surfing picture-perfect waves off the coast. Best of all, its northern location is also a prime spot for viewing the midnight sun and northern lights.
The most famous tourist attractions in Norway are probably it fjords. Among the most beautiful of these fjords is Geirangerfjord, located in southwestern Norway near the coastal town of Ålesund.
The picturesque Geirangerfjord will take your breath away from the very first time you lay eyes on it. The lush green hills and the bright blue waters are truly one of Norway’s most stunning landscapes.
Geirangerfjord is also home to many of the country’s most striking waterfalls. Visit the cascading Seven Sisters to see seven unique streams floating down the sides of the cliff. Or make the trek to the Friaren falls, where the water splits in the center, outlining the shape of a bottle. No matter what activity you do, Geirangerfjord is an outdoor lover’s dream.