Dreaming of a vacation in Norway but you only have a week and you’re wondering if that is enough time?

The short answer is YES and no. Norway is massive, so covering the country as a whole takes a lot of time if you want to see it all. Add on top of that, the scenery is breathtaking. I mean, stop what you’re doing, sit outside your hotel room until 3 am staring at the same landscape, forget that you need to be up early the next day to get a move on beautiful.

So if you’re like me, or the above sounds like something you might also do, well, it either takes more time to see things, or you just aren’t going to be sleeping very much.

HOWEVER, with a week’s time, you can cover a lot of great places and sites. The beautiful country has everything that a tourist needs to have a good time; ranging from historic sites, stunning landscapes, and a rich culture among others. The truth is you can’t possibly visit every attraction in a week, but you can certainly visit the most important ones. Here are two different itineraries to help you make the most of your week adventure.

One day, one week, one year- Norway is definitely a trip worth taking.

Itinerary Option 1

Day 1: The train you don’t want to miss

Chances are you entered Norway through Oslo, its capital city. From there, start your trip with an incredible train journey to Bergen. The ride is so charming, scenic, and offers the best views all year round. It has been described by many as one of the best in the world, so that is an experience that you don’t want to miss out on.

Day 2: Bergen

Historic waterfront
Historic waterfront

Popularly known as the gateway to the fjords, Bergen is the second largest city in Norway and the only one surrounded by seven mountains and seven fjords in the whole world. That is an incredible place to stop before you explore the fjords. While there, you might want to check out attractions like the Old Bergen Open Air Museum, Fløibanen funicular, The Fish and Flower market, and the Bryggen Wharf. Bergen is also known for it’s music scene and a great place to see concerts or live performances.

Day 3: Stavanger

Norway’s fourth largest city, Stavanger is five hours away from Bergen (by bus), so chances are you will get there in the early afternoon. When you get there, you can either explore its collection of gabled houses (beautiful white washed traditional houses), busy markets or take a stroll down its cobblestone streets. Other sites to spare time for include Stavanger Old Town, Stavanger Cathedral, and the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. Culturally, Stavanger is widely diverse and holds great festivals throughout the year. Check out it’s food festival. street art designs or their tall ships race in the habor if you’re in town.

Day 4: Pulpit Rock excursion 

A single afternoon will not be enough for you to tour Stavanger, start your fourth day there. Book an excursion to the Pulpit Rock, where you will learn why it is arguably Norway’s most popular natural attraction. If you don’t fancy hiking, you can still view the impressive structure from below by taking a cruise on the Lysefjord or walking around Flor & Fjære.

Day 5: Depart from Stavanger

Head for Hardanger and the western fjords, a mountainous region known for its charm and  a true delight for nature-lovers. If you go by bus you will take about 5 hours to get there, but the journey will be worth your while. The road is so scenic that it is one of the most popular tourist routes in the country by locals and visitors alike. If you are feeling a bit exhausted this is your chance for some downtime.

Day 6 and 7: the fjords

Your visit to Norway isn’t complete without a tour of the fjords. The best place to start from is Hardangerfjord, a relatively gentle spot compared to the terrain that lies beyond. Next, head over to Sognefjord by train, but be sure to make a stop at Voss. It is a beautiful scenic spot that is also well known for it’s extreme sports week in the summer.

Parallel to the Hardangerfjord is the Nordfjord, the Jostedalsbreen glacier makes for a very enticing site. From there, make another short journey to the narrow and rugged Geirangerfjord (King of all the fjords) and then to stunning Hjørundfjord. Finally, head over to Åndalsnes via the serpentine like road that is Trollstigen before ending your trip in the small town of Ålesund. Spend your last night there soaking in the artistic atmosphere and enjoy some of the best cuisines Norway has to offer.

 

Itinerary Option 2

While the first option takes you North through Norway’s exciting mountains and fjords, this second option guides you to the coast and otherworldly landscape of the Telemark region. It also covers less distance so you won’t be hopping from place to place or constantly on the go.

Day 1: Spend the day in Oslo

One of the 212 sculptures at Vigeland Park. Photo: Trebz, Flickr.com
One of the 212 sculptures at Vigeland Park. Photo: Trebz, Flickr.com

Rather than rushing to leave Norway’s capital, spend your first day there and experience what it has to offer. Some attractions that are notable include the 212 sculptures at Vigeland’s Park, the Akershus Fortress, the city’s opera house, and a cruise on the Oslofjord.

Day 2: Road trip to Risør

Risør is 234 km away from Oslo, about four hours’ drive. Along the way, you can stop at Åsgårdstrand to see Edvard Munch’s summer home; tour Tønsberg, the country’s oldest town; take a detour to Tjøme Island, and visit the Kragerø village.

Day 3: Head to Kristiansand

Located about 2 hours from Risør, Kristiansand is a city with plenty of attractions for you to enjoy. The Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park is a great place for adults and kids alike. If you are a history fanatic you can visit the Agder Museum or the Chritiansholm Fortress. Other sites include Posebyen, Canon Museum, and Gimle Gård. Oh, and it’s along the coast in case you wanted some beach like views and great seafood.

Day 4: Road to Stavanger

Start with a short detour to Lindesnes Lighthouse, the country’s southernmost point. Then proceed to Flekkefjord where you will get a glimpse of what the, once thriving, harbor has to offer tourists. From there, head over to Orrestranda, the country’s longest sand beach and look for a particular spot known as Jæren. It is perfect for watching the sun as it sets over the North Sea.

Day 5: Explore Stavanger

Stavanger is famous for oil, but of course, that is not what you want to see. Luckily for you it is also home to a number of museums, including the Cannery Museum located in the Old Town, the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, and the Rogaland Art Museum. Stavanger is a perfect town to do your shopping as it features a wide variety of local and foreign products not to mention one of the best cities to break from traditional Norwegian food, due to its large international population.

Day 6: Hike and ride on a ferry

Photo: Ronny Randen
Photo: Ronny Randen

From Stavanger, head to Lysefjord and Preikestolen on your second to last last day in Norway. If you can get there early it’s even better, because you will get a chance to hike to Preikestolen, one of Norway’s most beautiful views. Norwegians pride themselves on how fast they can get up and the cliff, but for visitors, you can expect to budget 4 hours for a round trip, including time to take pictures and enjoy the view at the top.
After that, rest your feet, and see Norway from a different angle, as you board a ferry to Lysebotn and witness nature at its best thanks to the rugged Lysefjord.

Day 7: Telemark

As you start planning your return journey, make the best of your last day by visiting Telemark before you go back to Oslo. The way to Telemark has so many attractions, including the Norwegian Ski Museum, the Heddal Stave Church, and Morgedal. If you make your trip in July, you might want to consider attending the Country Festival in Seljord for a few hours. Otherwise, enjoy a ride on the Telemark Canal, the country’s longest man-made waterway. That will take you to Rjukan where can learn about Norway’s resistance to Nazi rule during World War II.

Now it just leaves your drive back to Oslo to fly home. Even if you only have one week in Norway, you’ll leave with memories and experiences for a lifetime.

If you’re having an even shorter stop over in Norway, check out how to maximum your time for a 2 or 3 day visit to the beautiful country.