Norway is a beautiful place filled with fjords, cute little towns, and great places to experience nature. Many people visit southern Norway, mainly because it’s easier to get to, and around, especially without a car. I can say from experience that the southern part of the country is well worth the visit. How long should you stay? As long as possible! But I recommend a minimum of ten days if that is possible. Where should you go? Read on to find out.
Lots of people visit Bergen, and for good reason. Situated on the west coast, surrounded by mountains, and boasting a row of beautiful colored buildings along the water, what is there not to like? It is a small city, so a couple days is probably enough – a day for some people works, depending on what you want to do.
Walking around, taking in the scenery is a must. Get different views of the colorful buildings, wander the lesser traveled streets away from the harbor, stop into a few shops, and grab a bite to eat. Take in the iconic view from Mount Floyen. You can either walk right from the center of town, or hop on the funicular from the edge of town. Either way, on a nice day, the view of the town, harbor, and surrounding mountains is beautiful. If you really like hiking, there are six other mountains surrounding Bergen that also have beautiful views. Find more detailed information in my Bergen and Norway in a Nutshell post.
Norway in a Nutshell
This is a very popular tourist route, and for good reason. Taking the trains, bus and ferry gives you a good glimpse into the beauty of Norway. If you have time, it is well worth it to stop in one or two towns along the way to take in the feel and experience of a small town in Norway. The best part of the Norway in a Nutshell trip is that it is customizable to fit your trip. You can start and end in the same place, or use it to get from one place to another. You can start and/or end in Oslo, Bergen, Flam, or Voss. If you want to pre book your experiences and/or lodging along the way, you can do that on the Norway in a Nutshell website.
The modes of transportation you take are the scenic Bergen Railway, which brings you either deeper into Norway, or to the coast, depending on which direction you are traveling. You also take a thrilling bus ride down to a fjord, taking in waterfalls and fjord views while the bus driver maneuvers hairpin turns on a narrow road of Stalheimskleiva. You take a breathtaking ferry ride through the Aurlandsfjord and the narrow, gorgeous UNESCO-protected Nærøyfjord. You also take the world famous Flam Railway, which is one of the steepest railways that exists. Find more detailed information in my Bergen and Norway in a Nutshell post.
One of the places you can stop on the Norway in a Nutshell trip is Flam. Housing only 400 residents, on the end of a fjord and surrounded by steep walls to the higher elevations, this small village is a beauty. You can relax and take in the beauty, go on an active adventure by land or water, or visit the nearby villages. To find out more, check out my post: Flam, Norway.
The epic hike, which ends at a rock outcropping that resembles a troll’s tongue with a fjord-like lake below, is well worth the 22 km round trip hike. This trip is only for those who are in reasonably good shape and who are prepared for rain and cold conditions. Waterproof boots are ideal, and a rain jacket and warm layers are essential. The scenery on this hike is beautiful and the endpoint is jaw-dropping. If you are interested in this hike, which can be accessed from Odda, check out my post Hike Trolltunga in Norway.
This small town, nestled between two national parks, boasts waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, water sports, and easy access to the beautiful Trolltunga hike. To see what Norway is really like, a night or two in Odda is an ideal stop. Getting there without a car is done by bus. Finding buses online can be difficult, but speaking with people at the visitor center where you are makes the task of finding a bus much easier (don’t worry, there are many regular buses daily, at least in the warmer months). For a full report on what there is to do in this cute town, check out my post Why Visit the Tiny Town of Odda, Norway.
Lots of people hike Preikestolen, or Pulpit Rock when they visit Norway. It is very easy to get to, especially from Stavanger, Norway. There are many ferry/bus trips to the trailhead daily from April to October. Preikestolen is a hike that brings you to the edge of a beautiful fjord. Literally, the rock you stand on drops abruptly at a ninety degree angle, straight down. Being a shorter hike of only about five miles, many people can do this hike. If you are not much of a hiker and you want to do one hike, this may be the hike for you. For more information, check out my post Hiking Preikestolen in Norway.
In your research about Norway, you may have seen pictures of someone standing on a boulder wedged between two rock cliffs. This is the hike that picture comes from. The Kjeragbolten hike is a little off the beaten track, but you can take a long day trip from Stavanger to get there with the Tide bus. LINK This is a hike for those in decent shape as it is steep enough to need chains in many places. The surrounding mountains and fjord offer wonderful views along the way, and who wouldn’t like a picture of themself on that boulder!? Okay, I know that part isn’t for everyone, but it is still pretty cool to look at. For more information, check out my post Hiking Kjeragbolten.
Stavanger is a small city located on the west coast of Norway, further south than Bergen. It is easily accessible by water or bus, and is a great starting point for the two hikes above: Preikestolen and Kjeragbolten. The town itself has a historic section with cobblestone streets, a colorful street with cafes and restaurants, nice street art, and other shops and restaurants to poke around in. If you use this town as a starting point for your hikes, or just to visit, it is worth checking out the town. Most people find a day or two of walking around to be enough, with more time allotted for hikes as you won’t be there much, if at all during the day. Personally, I found a day to be plenty of time for the town, plus two more days for hikes. For more information, check out my post Three Days in Stavanger, Norway.
How Are These Places Connected?
There are a lot of different ways to connect these places. I took a ferry from Denmark to Stavanger, did the day trips from there, took a bus to Odda and did the day experiences from there, then took a bus to Bergen, hopped on the Norway in a Nutshell from there, returned, and took a flight to Stockholm. If you are only visiting Norway, you will likely start and end in Oslo. You could use the Norway in a Nutshell trip to get you to/from Oslo. Once you get to Bergen, you can take a ferry to Stavanger, then a bus to Odda, then back to Bergen, or vice versa. Once back in Bergen, you can use Norway in a Nutshell, a train, or hop on a quick flight back to Oslo.