The green flowing aurora on the night sky over the snow capped mountains of Tromsø Norway

113+ Incredible Things To Do In Norway By Destination! (2024)

When you are visiting the land of the fjords, the Aurora, the midnight sun, the Vikings, and the polar bears (although they are only in Svalbard), you need to know what things to do in Norway so you can PLAN your perfectest holiday.

Norway is a very long country and reaches from the mild south with hundreds of sweet summer oases in the skjaergaard, to the majestic west with the mountains and fjords, and all the way up to the rugged and wild Polar north.

I have lived in Norway most of my life, both in the capital Oslo and the polar north, and I have traveled my country extensively for decades.

Here are the best things to do in Norway, listed and divided by location, from the south to the north. And when you choose where to go and what to do, remember to take into account the time of year.

Norway gets really cold in the winter!

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What Is Special About Norway?

Summer in Bergen Harbor with colorful wooden houses by the sea, and boats docked.

Norway is a tiny country in the north of Europe that struck luck in the 50ies and found oil in its waters.

Today, it is a wealthy nation that ranks in the top 5 in the world every year for being one of the best places on the planet to live, according to its citizens.

What travelers find most special about Norway is the incredibly versatile nature that offers spectacular experiences any time of year. There are many ways to see Norway, and lots of things to do at each destination.

Norway, in the summer, has long sunsets and a light blue night sky that never gets completely dark. In the north, you will experience the famous midnight sun, where the sun simply does not set at all!

The western fjords can be explored in a kayak or from a cruise ship. In the middle and north of the country, the mountains and valleys are vast and wild. You can hike for days without seeing people or climb a summit in the Jotunheimen or Rondane mountains.

If you visit in the winter, chances are you will see the magic Aurora in the night sky and go skiing in winter fairytale surroundings.

So what you will experience will very much depend on when you visit, and where you choose to go along this long country.

Let us start with the Capital, Oslo.

Best Things To Do In Oslo

The skyline of the City of Oslo seen from the fjord
Oslo City Skyline

Although Oslo is not in the center of Norway, it is the capital city and the center of the country in many ways.

Oslo is a small capital with just over 500,000 inhabitants, and it is so clean you can go swimming in the inner Oslo fjord in the summer!

The capital city has had a massive development in the last decades and has become a mini-metropole with a massive variety of cultural services, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.

From the center of the city, you are also only 25 minutes away from the “marka”, the forests and lakes right outside the capital!

Because of all this, there are a plethora of amazing things to do in Oslo when you visit. And as you know, when you visit a new place, it is hard to find the really cool spots and the interesting places where the locals go!

If you are not doing your research, you will end up walking in queues along with the tourists on the main street, Karl Johan (and you are clearly a traveler, not a tourist).

Things to do in Oslo in the summer

Sunset over the Oslo fjord, seen through the urban architecture on the city shores, with a glowing sky in the background.
  1. Have a picnic with bubbles or a beer in Birkelunden Park in Grunerlokka, the laid-back and artsy district of Oslo.
  2. Head out to one of the islands of the inner fjord for the day
  3. Visit the Opera Beach Park and garden
  4. Visit the Viking Ship Museum
  5. Walk on the roof of the opera in the inner Oslo Bay
  6. Swim in the inner Oslo Fjord from the Sorenga Sjobad or Tjuvholmen Beach.
  7. Visit Gamlebyen Old City
  8. Bring a picnic basket and a frisbee to Frognerparken and have a long outdoor lunch while watching naked statues created by famous artist Gustav Vigeland
  9. Visit Alfred Nobels Peace Center
  10. Head up to the Holmenkollen ski jump and do the zip line from the top!
  11. Take the tram to Sognsvann Lake and hike in “Marka,” the forest just outside Oslo. Then, take a swim in the lake!
  12. Take the bus (or rent a car) and drive out to Ingierstrand Seabath
  13. Visit the Botanic Garden in Old Oslo
  14. Have a sunset drink at Aker Brygge
  15. Go to a concert at Rockefeller Concert Venue
  16. Visit the Fortress of Akershus
  17. Dine at the Ekeberg Restaurant, with stunning views of the Oslo Fjord
  18. Organized bike tour of Oslo

Things to do in Oslo in the winter

  1. Rent cross-country skies, and join the Norwegians taking the tram to “Marka” on Saturdays and Sundays skiing in the forest (bring Kvikk Lunsj chocolate and oranges, as Norwegians do).
  2. Go alpine downhill skiing in Wyllerloypa
  3. Go ice skating in the Spikersuppa ice rink in the center of Oslo between the royal castle and the parliament building.
  4. Visit Oslo Ice Bar for cocktails with ice
  5. Visit the Edvard Munch Museum

Things To Do In Kristiansand And The South

Typical coastal village around Kristiansand in the south of Norway, with colorful wooden houses and docks and small boats.

The southern part of Norway has mild winters and mild people, white sandy beaches that are perfect in the summer, and a magnificent skjaergaard, which is the name for the southern fjords with little islands scattered all around.

Everyone in the South has boats, and they spend all summer in them, heading out to the islands for picnics, barbeques, or to spend the night in a tent.

In the South, the majority of the houses are painted white and look like they are taken out of a painting, picturing the essence of “idyllic.”

The “capital” of the south is Kristiansand, but there are also many charming little towns and villages along the southern shores, like Mandal.

So, if you are visiting Norway in the summer, adding the South to your list might be a great idea!

Things to do in South Norway In The Summer

  1. Visit the famous Dyreparken Kristiansand Zoo.
  2. Explore the Kristiansand Museum of antiquated buildings
  3. Embark on cultural activities at Odderoya.
  4. Visit the Kunstsilo Nordic Art Museum in Kristiansand
  5. Spend a day at Bystranda City Beach in Kristiansand
  6. Have seafood at Fiskebrygga Restaurant
  7. Do the island of Skjernoy bike trail in Mandal
  8. Visit Mandal Museum
  9. Experience the Vigeland Museum, the childhood home of famous artists Gustav and Emanuel Vigeland
  10. Visit Sjosanden Beach in Mandal
  11. Go biking along Mandal River

Things To Do In South Norway In The Winter

  1. Visit Aquarama Bad Indoor Water Park and Spa
  2. Spend a day at Hovden Alpine Park Skiing
  3. Go winter swimming at Bystranda Beach
  4. Get adrenalized at X3M Gokart
  5. Visit the Timber Chute in Vennesla
  6. Get up in the air at the Høyt & Lavt Climbing Park
  7. Visit Sirdal Husky Polar Dog Farm
  8. Go winter kayaking in the skjaerfjord, the southern fjords

Things To Do In Bergen And The West

Old houses and cobblestoned streets in Bergen Norway

The capital of the Norwegian “Vestlandet,” the western country, is charming Bergen. This is a small city situated among the Seven Sisters Mountain range on the west coast of Norway!

Bergen is famous for having 239 rainy days in a year, and because of that, rain clothes have a fashion statement to them in Bergen.

Luckily, it normally rains just a portion of the time on rainy days, and also, luckily, the city is so charming people love it anyway.

You can fly directly to Bergen from abroad or take the beautiful train journey here from Olso. Either way, you definitely should visit, and here are the top things you want to do in Bergen!

Things To Do In Bergen In The Summer

Three hikers walking up the Ulriken mountain in Bergen, Norway. The cloud cover is flowy and thin, and the sun is sifting through. In the background you see more hilly mountains.
  1. Take the gondola or cable car up to the Ulriken or the Floyen
  2. Hike the Vidden Trail between Ulriken and Floyen
  3. Sample fresh fish at the Fisketorget Fish Market in the Inner Harbor
  4. Take the Hurtigruten Cruise Line (formerly the ferry and lifeline between the south and north of Norway) a few stops north and back!
  5. Visit the Edvard Grieg Museum Troldhaugen
  6. Walk up the 900-step steep Stoltzekleiven stone stairs.
  7. Visit Fantoft Stave Church
  8. Go swimming at Nordnes Seabath, Sandviken Seabath, or Helleneset (but remember, the Norwegian fjord temperature is fresh, even in summer!)
  9. Visit the Old Bergen Museum
  10. Visit the Vannkanten Waterworld
  11. Experience penguin feeding in Bergen Aquarium.
  12. Explore the incredibly charming streets of central Bergen

Things To Do In Bergen In The Winter

During the winter in Bergen, outdoor activities within the city are not the most popular things to do as it is either cold and snowy or cold and rainy!

However, there are a variety of activities to do in Bergen City this time of year as well, and some of the outdoor ones are probably for the daring visitors. Norwegians have a saying; “there is no bad weather, only poor clothing”.

So here is the best advice you will get for Norway in the winter!

  1. You can hear up to Floyen and Ulriken in the winter as well; just remember to put on enough warm clothes.
  2. You can even go swimming outdoors in Bergen in the winter, at the Nordnes Seabath!
  3. Go ice bathing at Skomakerdiket Lake on Mount Fløyen (yes, you will dip in the lake through the ice)
  4. Take a sauna cruise on the fjord with CitySaunas.
  5. Go skiing on Vidden, the city’s mountain plains.
  6. Visit Bryggen Museum (the Museum of the Docks)
  7. Spend some time at the Bergen Maritime Museum.
  8. Go for a refreshing drink at Bergen Magic Ice Bar
  9. Take a boat fjord tour
  10. Dine at Lysverket (the light works), a Michelin-star restaurant.

Things To Do In Trondheim

Things to do in Norway. Here is the docks of Trondheim, a city just below the polar circle in Norway!

The middle of Norway is generally thought of as the city of Trondheim, but there is also the area called the North West Territory, Nordvestlandet.

Amazing small towns are located in the aspiring fjords and waterways along the western coast. In this part of Norway, wilder, more polar nature meets steep, majestic fjords and mountains.

But let us start with the city of Trondheim!

Things To Do In Trondheim In The Summer

The impressive Nidarosdomen Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway, seen from the air, the green roofs and speer surrounded by huge green trees.
  1. Stroll through Bakkelandet charming Old Town
  2. Visit the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim
  3. Take the tram to Liam Lake for picnics and swimming
  4. Hike the Bymarka forest
  5. Visit Kristiansten Fortress
  6. Have coffee and cake, or enjoy a concert, at Antikvariatet Cafe
  7. Rent a bike and explore the biking trails of Trondheim
  8. Visit the Rockheim Museum of pop and rock
  9. Have a beer or two at Trondheim Microbrewery
  10. Visit Trondelag Folks Museum
  11. Go kayaking in Nidelven in Trondheim
  12. Come for one of the festivals in Trondheim
  13. Take a RIB tour on the fjord

Things To Do In Trondheim In The Winter

  1. Go cross-country skiing in Bymarka
  2. Visit a Christmas market in December
  3. Go ice skating at Solsiden
  4. Take a sleigh ride in Bymarka
  5. Go to HAVET Arena for sauna, DJs, and drinks

The Lofoten Peninsula

The stunning Lofoten Peninsula above the arctic circle in Norway. The mountain peaks are still covered in snow , the sky is dotted with clouds, and the fjord stretches in between picturesque villages with white and red wooden houses.

Lofoten is one of the most beautiful destinations in Norway, situated outside the mainland city of Bodø above the Arctic Circle. This peninsula stretches out from the shores next to Senja Island, and then leans slowly back towards the south.

Along the narrow peninsula are majestic mountains that seem to rise almost directly from the sea to the sky, and most of them are never completely free of snow in the summertime.

Scattered along the coastline are small villages, where you can find the most adorable little coastal cottages, called rorbuer, to stay.

Destinations you don’t want to miss in Lofoten are Svolvær (with a famous mountain peak called Svolværgeita; the Svolvær Goat), Henningsvær, and Å (the last letter in the Norwegian alphabet and the name of the last village in Lofoten).

Lofoten Peninsula is particularly well known for nature lovers, with a plethora of activities like kayaking, rock climbing, ice climbing, deep-sea fishing, bird watching, whale safaris, skiing, hiking, biking, and a lot more.

Everything is in completely spectacular surroundings where the weather can change in a heartbeat, in summer and winter.

Things To Do In Lofoten In The Summer

The golden midnight sun shining on the mountains of Lofoten against a backdrop of a calm shiny sea.
  1. Kayaking
  2. Scuba Diving
  3. Swimming (if you have the guts, this is the Polar Region)
  4. Sauna
  5. Hiking
  6. Biking
  7. Rock Climbing
  8. Deep Sea Fishing
  9. See The Midnight Sun

Things To Do In Lofoten In The Winter

  1. Ice Climbing
  2. Skiing
  3. Deep Sea Fishing
  4. Experience The Aurora Borrealis
  5. Take Outdoor Jacuzzi In Freezing Temperatures
  6. Summit Skiing (You Walk Up, And Ski Down)

Things To Do In Tromsø

Things to do in Norway: see the aurora in Tromso city in the north of Norway in the winter
The Aurora over Tromso City and the Ishavskatedralen Cathedral in the winter

Paris of the North is Tromso’s nickname. Travelers apparently gave the city this nickname in the 19th Century, as they were astounded by the city’s “women, fashion, culture, and food”!

Tromso is one of the best places in the world to see the northern lights. Just a short distance outside the city, you have wonderful viewpoints with little artificial lighting to give you the best experience.

In Tromso, the sun does not come up for about six weeks in December and January, and in the summer, the sun never sets, providing the magic experience of the midnight sun!

The city is also famous for its polar university, the Ishavskatedralen Cathedral, which is built like an ice flake, and its polar aquarium.

Here are the best things to do in Tromso!

Things To Do In Tromso In The Summer

  1. Visit the Ishavskatedralen Arctic Cathedral
  2. Have a beer at the local Mack Brewery
  3. Do the Midnight Sun Marathon in June
  4. Go hiking anywhere around the city (Norway does not have opening and closing times in nature)
  5. Go midnight sun kayaking
  6. Join a guided private polar fishing trip
  7. Visit the Tromso Defence Museum
  8. Explore polar marine life at the aquarium
  9. Do a guided city walk
  10. Go hiking with husky polar dogs
  11. Join a night hike on Kvaloya island
  12. Stroll the main street
  13. Go swimming in Telegrafbukta Bay (if you have the guts!)
  14. Have a drink at The Edge Sky Bar
  15. Take a fjord wildlife tour
  16. Take the Fjellheisen Cable Car for incredible views

Things To Do In Tromso In The Winter

  1. Take a super popular Aurora tour from the city
  2. Go dog sledding
  3. Take a whale-watching fjord cruise
  4. Visit Tromso Ice Domes
  5. Visit a reindeer ranch and learn about indigenous Sami culture
  6. Go snowshoe hiking
  7. Visit the Polar Museum
  8. Explore the Arctic Alpine Botanical Garden
  9. Visit one of the charming cafes for coffee or hot cocoa
  10. Walk across the iconic city bridge (in warm clothes)
  11. Take a catamaran Aurora expedition

Svalbard Islands With The Polar Bears

Longyearbyen, the capital of Svalbard, Norway, in the winter with the aurora in the sky.
Longyearbyen, Svalbard, in the winter

Svalbard is a vast island group north of the Norwegian mainland, far up into the polar north. Norway shares this island group with Russia, and the Norwegian capital on the islands is Longyearbyen.

This island group is important because it used to be a marine catching business in the polar sea. Then, coal was discovered, and the coal mining business started in 1905.

Due to its proximity to Norwegian territory, Norway was awarded Svalbard through the 1925 Svalbard treaty.

The mining business is scheduled to stop in 2025, and today, Svalbard is the center of many research stations, as well as being a popular exotic destination for travelers.

Here, it is pitch black for two months in the winter, and you need a headlight to walk outside. And in the summer, the sun is up constantly for two months!

Also, no one walks around Svalbard without weapons, as you might run into a polar bear when you least expect it.

So, what adventures can you embark on in polar remote Svalbard?

Things to do in Svalbard in the summer

  1. Go kayaking among icebergs
  2. Head out for a walrus safari at sea
  3. Go dog sledding summer version
  4. Spend the night in the polar wilderness at Isfjord Radio at Kapp Linne
  5. Visit Svalbard Museum
  6. Have a gourmet dinner in the sun at 10 p.m. at Huset Restaurant
  7. Visit Pyramiden, an abandoned former Soviet town
  8. Descend into the dark in a coal miner
  9. Visit the living Russian city of Barentsburg

Things to do in Svalbard in the winter

  1. Go dog sledding on snow
  2. Embark on a snowmobile expedition
  3. Decent into deep ice caves
  4. Visit Svalbard Brewery; the worlds northernmost brewery
  5. See the Global Seed Vault

Wrap-Up Things To Do In Norway By Destination

In this post, you have got an extensive overview of the best of the best that Norway has to offer!

I apologize in advance if I have made the choice more difficult for you; with such a long country from south to north and lots of fun, amazing, and even incredible things to see and do, the choice can be really tough.

The bottom line is if you want epic, unique, and sometimes extreme nature experiences, go to the west and north, including the North Cape. And if you like forests, mellom temperatures, a bit of city life, and not completely polar water temperatures, stay in the center of the country, Oslo, or the south.

Happy Travel Planning, and welcome to Norway!

Related blog posts:

Exploring 8 Vibrant City Districts of Oslo: A Guide to Norway’s Capital

The Best Way To See Norway (By A Local)!

Is Oslo Safe: Travel Safety Advice From A Local

Epic things to do in Norway: explore Oslo and the Barcode skyline by night
Epic things to do in polar Norway: Visit Lofoten peninsula and experience the midnight sun over the sea

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4 Comments

  1. Fantastic post Hege!

    I love the sound of skjaergaard (especially in the summertime…) but the Lofoten Peninsula just looks like heaven to me. I would loooove to go hiking in that fabulous scenery, epecially when there is midnight sunshine! The villages have such amaaaazing views too.

  2. Okay, this looks EPIC! I had no idea Norway was packed with so many gems! Hope I can make it there soon to try out all of these fabulous activities.

  3. I would love to do some hiking in Norway during the summer or head up to Svalbard to see the bears. I’ve only visited Oslo for a few days in February.

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