If you’re planning to visit the big cities in Norway, you’ve no doubt already read a lot on the net, in the guides and maybe in any travel blog like ours. Some cities in Norway are better known than others. Others, on the other hand, just do not trigger you any spring. Well, with this article we want to give you some small indications that could help you to understand which destinations to add to your next trip in Norway. If you are thinking about a fly & drive you can compose your experience as you see fit, if instead you opt for a guided trip without any stress and without the thought of the guide use these ideas to choose the itinerary with more places that intrigue you.
Once an important fishing port, today it is the oil industry that feeds Haugesund and keeps it moving. A lively place, the waterfront area around the port has some interesting bars and restaurants that are worth seeing. As the area has been inhabited for thousands of years, there are many interesting historical places to visit, with the old church and the Viking farm particularly noteworthy. When visiting Haugesund, one of the major cities in Norway, a great thing to do is take a boat trip to the nearby island of Karmoy – a picturesque place to explore.
Although relatively few remnants of the past remain, Tonsberg is actually the oldest city in the whole of Norway. As such, history lovers will enjoy stopping by when traveling from Oslo along the coast to see all that it has to offer. There is an old ruined castle, some ruins and Viking tombs, as well as a beautiful museum with the skeleton of a blue whale. A lively city, the landscapes surrounding Tonsberg are also pleasant, if people want to take a trip to the nearby countryside.
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Traditionally an industrial center with a bustling port and a reputation as a filthy, gray and gloomy city, Drammen has cleaned up a lot in recent years and, as a result, is much more welcoming to tourists. Not too far from Oslo, the city has some beautiful walks and trails on both banks of the river that divides the Drammen into two, and the city center is easily accessible on foot. Visitors almost always use this kind of cities in Norway as a springboard to the interior of the country, or as a stop on the way to the nearby attractions.
Cities in Norway: Larvik
Located on the southern coast of Norway, Larvik has a busy port and although it is not among the popular cities in Norway, there is more than enough for a visit. There are a couple of fantastic historical museums in town and a new cultural center has recently opened, while the old baroque lighthouse overlooks the sea in an impressive way. From here you can visit the largest beech forest in the country in Bokeskogen, and the surrounding area has some great Viking excavations for visitors to enjoy.
After hosting the Winter Olympics in 1994, it is not surprising that Lillehammer has such a fantastic range of winter sports on offer. On the shores of Lake Mjosa, there are some great museums and galleries on the city, as well as a number of delicious restaurants. Although there are interesting things to see and do throughout the year, it is in winter that Lillehammer comes alive.
Located on the shores of Norway’s largest lake, Hamar has a surprising amount of things to do given its size. It is not a bad option if you want to make a stop somewhere when traveling north from Oslo.it has the largest glass building in Europe, which has remarkably ruins of a cathedral inside.besides this, Hamar is a charming and quiet place where you can also go fishing and kayaking on the lake.
Kristiansand is the fifth largest city in Norway, Kristiansand is a charming place with a beautiful marina and a lively atmosphere. With many shopping possibilities and some excellent restaurants and bars on the seafront, the city has some beautiful sandy beaches and claims to be the most popular tourist resort in Norway. The nearby archipelago is nice to explore and even the southern coast is not too far away.
Lying on the banks of the river Glomma, Fredrikstad is a beautiful and ancient fortified city that has been very well preserved. A picturesque place to stroll – when the sun shines, the modern promenade is particularly pleasant; there are several cafes, restaurants and bars for visitors. On the opposite bank, the old town, with its impressive Kongsten fort and characteristic moat, is the undoubted highlight, and that’s what makes Fredrikstad a popular meeting place for tourists.
As the largest city in the Nordic region, Bodo is an important commercial center and transport hub for the surrounding area. Although the city is uninspiring, from an architectural point of view – it was almost completely destroyed during World War II – Bodo’s beautiful location, with snow-capped peaks in the distance, compensates for its gloomy buildings. Located at the end of Kystriksveien’s incredible coastal route, many people visit Bodo to reach the enchanting Lofoten islands nearby. From here you can explore the wild and rugged north of the country – which in itself makes Bodo worth a visit.
Located 350 km from the Arctic Circle, Tromso is one of the largest cities in Norway, wrongly considered “the Capital of Lapland” and characterized by a huge presence of wooden houses. But above all, Tromso is the perfect place to admire the extraordinary phenomenon of the Northern Lights: travelers from all over the world arrive here between September and March to watch the show. Or, during the summer, to see the midnight sun up close.
And, once in town, you can indulge in the many outdoor sports that can be practiced in the surrounding area, and carve out delicious breaks in restaurants specializing in Arctic cuisine. Not forgetting the lively nightlife in Tromso, and its environmental awareness that makes it a perfect destination for eco-tourists. There are two main events taking place in Tromso: the International Film Festival and the Nordlys Festivalen, which is the Festival of Northern Lights.
A breathtaking landscape of beautiful fjords, mountains and long white beaches. Stavanger, once the European Capital of Culture, and the nearby town of Sandnes also host a wide variety of museums and cultural events. There are many famous scenic attractions, including Sola beach, Lysefjord and the famous Preikestolen (the “Pulpit”).
The Preikestolen is located 604 meters above sea level and is the most visited attraction in Rogaland County. Lonely Planet called it the most incredible panoramic terrace in the world. Stavanger is a university town and home to a number of higher education and research institutions. This is reflected in the lively city environment, and the wide choice of stores and restaurants.
The Gladmat culinary festival, normally held at the end of July, is an extremely successful event that attracts around 250,000 visitors each year. The center of Stavanger is quite small, a feature that makes most of the attractions within walking distance. The old town offers the best preserved wooden buildings in Europe, consisting of more than 170 white houses.
The town of Alesund develops around a historical center characterized by Art Nouveau. Strolling through the streets it is impossible not to stop in front of some buildings to observe their essential architectural lines, but at the same time elegant and pompous, like stylized lines of a small model.
The suburban part of this Norwegian city is certainly interesting, especially for the landscapes by the sea, but I think I’m right in suggesting that the most beautiful area of Alesund is the one around the port, from which you can also admire a breathtaking sunset. We also recommend the climb up to Aksla, from whose belvedere you can enjoy a 180° (or maybe more) panoramic view of the city below. This is one of the things you should not miss during a visit to Alesund, so if you want to know what to see in Alesund one of the things to see in Alesund is Alesund itself.
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Trondheim is a lively town that is home to some of Trøndelag’s most popular attractions, cozy shopping streets and many bars and restaurants offering local specialties. With its 193,000 inhabitants Trondheim is not a large city on a European scale, but it is still the third largest city in Norway. Trondheim is home to several attractions that are among the most visited in the Trøndelag region every year.
The Nidarosdomen Cathedral is an impressive sight. It is the national shrine of Norway, built on the tomb of St. Olav. Popular museums with interesting exhibitions are the National Museum of Decorative Arts, the Trondheim Museum of Art and the Archbishop’s Palace. A museum that offers a strong contrast to the previous ones is Rockheim, the Norwegian National Museum of Folk Music.
Trondheim is one of the places in Norway that puts the most emphasis on local food. Many establishments, including pubs, bars and restaurants, serve a wide selection of excellent local craft beers, preferably with elaborate food to accompany those beers.
Big cities in Norway: Bergen
Bergen is the second largest city in Norway, and lies on the slopes of a mountain overlooking the sea. For the Norwegians Bergen is a big city, but with the charm and atmosphere of a small village and its colorful wooden houses are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bryggen is one of the most famous areas you can reach the heart of the Hanseatic district of the city walking along narrow streets, on wooden sidewalks, among the tall buildings that were once used as warehouses.
From here you continue along the pier to Håkonshallen, the fortress that was once the residence of Norwegian royalty. Here is the Rosenkrantztarnet, the tower in which King Eirik Magnusson lived until his death, and which was used as a prison between 1400 and 1800. Now it is possible to climb to the top and observe the city from above before walking along the short stretch of road leading to the Fisketorget, on the harbour square. Since the 12th century the fish market has been the reference point for fishermen, merchants and restaurateurs.
An essential stop to try the fiskeboller, breaded and fried cod meatballs. Not far from the fish market is the Fløibanen station, the Bergen funicular. It is one of the most popular attractions in the city after the Bryggen and the small cogwheel train goes up quickly: in just under ten minutes it takes you to the Fløyen mountain. From here, the city looks smaller than it is, with the fjord creeping inland and the seven mountains surrounding Bergen.
Big cities in Norway: Oslo
Oslo is both the capital and the largest city in Norway and is located in the beautiful Oslo Fjord and is surrounded by wooded hills. The city is a real paradise for lovers of outdoor life, in fact, in the old town you can easily move around on foot. Surely one of the most important museums to see in Oslo is the Munch Museum, where all the works of the greatest Norwegian artist are exhibited, and two versions of his most famous painting: The Scream.
There is also a park that acts as a real open-air museum, namely The Sculpture Park is located within the larger Frognerparken, a huge green area where there are 192 wrought iron works by the Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland, all of extraordinary beauty. The surroundings of Oslo host some important pearls.
The Holmenkollen hill in the north is the most visited area of Oslo, especially by skiers in winter: here is the oldest ski jump in the world, which also houses a ski museum. For the summer you can go to the Bygdøy peninsula, where you can find the popular Huk beach, which is especially popular with naturists. There are also other museums around here, including the unmissable Viking Ship Museum, where you can see the three huge boats of the ancient warrior and explorer people, along with many of their exhibits.
A visit to the Town Hall that defines the skyline of the city is really mandatory because it is in this building that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded every year. Finally, do not forget to make a visit to the Royal Palace and the Cathedral of Oslo, are some of the most beautiful and significant buildings of all the cities in Norway.
A pearl of mining archaeology found in the interior of the Norwegian mountains. Roros is a real open-air museum, if you happen to come here do not forget to visit a mine: it will be an experience from which you will learn a lot.
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Beautiful to see and pleasant to visit. Colorful and energetic (because of the power plants) Odda is located on the shores of a fjord and from here the most prepared explorers can take the via ferrata that leads to Trolltunga: a tongue of rock overhanging a fjord.
Geiranger is a small and picturesque tourist village located at the end of the famous Geirangerfjord, a branch of the Storfjord. Geirangerfjord, thanks to its breathtaking beauty, has been on the World Heritage List since 2005.
You will find yourself surrounded by green slopes, snow-capped peaks and waterfalls. Although the village itself is small, there is much to explore. Experience the experience of the Eagles Road with its 11 hairpin bends and a beautiful platform near the last bend from where you can see the Seven Sisters waterfall, Mount Dalsnibba (1500 meters above sea level) for the most spectacular view of the fjord, get to the top of Mount Westerås or visit the Herdal farm, where goat cheese is produced.
The small village on the Sognefjord is not in itself a must-see destination, but the way to get there is undoubtedly a must, as it runs along the deepest fjord in Norway. From Balestrand you can also continue to Geiranger through a national park with mountains and lakes that reflect the sky, clouds and panorama. Perfect places to have some picnics.
Note how the troll road is more of a passage area than a place to stay. Its peculiarity? 11 hairpin bends that descend very steeply between a gymkhana of cascading streams. Perfect road to take if you want to reach Alesund from Geiranger.
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Known for its strategic location and surrounding landscape, Molde, the second most populous city in the Møre and Romsdal region, has attracted travelers from all over since 1800. Molde is known as “The City of Roses” and in the city center you will find rose gardens, parks, statues and murals. One of the most important rose gardens is located on the roof of the town hall!
From the mountain of Varden you can enjoy the spectacular view of the Romsdalsfjord. On the other side of the fjord are the Romsdal Alps, a majestic mountain range with some of the highest peaks in Norway. Traveling to the open sea, you will find one of the most famous attractions of Norway: the Atlantic Road.
Cities in Norway: Flam
In the heart of the Aurlandfjord, between covered with woods, hundreds of waterfalls and bordered by a river about twenty kilometers long, there is one of the most beautiful mountain villages in Norway. Flam is the perfect starting point for hiking in the nearby mountains or to reach Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. You can also climb the Rallarvegen, one of the most famous cycling routes in Norway.
The Æegir Bryggery, the town’s small brewery where you can taste one of the six beers they brew, is well worth a stop. Flåmsbana was named the most beautiful train ride in the world by Lonely Planet in 2014. The train takes you from Flam to the peaks of the mountains along the fjord, along the 20 kilometers of its journey you can admire rivers digging deep gorges, waterfalls cascading from steep snow-capped mountains and mountain farms clinging to the rocky ridges. The most popular attractions in Flåm are fishing in the Flamselvi River and the Rallarvegen, one of Norway’s most spectacular cycling routes.
From Flam you can set off on various excursions into the nearby mountains, or explore the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord. Nærøyfjord is included in the UNESCO World Heritage list and is the narrowest fjord in the world, with a minimum width of only 250 meters at one point, surrounded by towering mountains on each side. The Stegastein observation point, which gives you a panoramic view of the Aurlandsfjord, is another must-see attraction.
Bærum is located in the Norwegian county of Akershus and is the fifth of the largest cities in Norway. The city was founded relatively recently in January 1, 1838. The city has the highest percentage of individuals with university education and also the highest per capita income in the country. Bærum is one of the most expensive residential municipalities in Norway and is known for its fashionable residential areas. It is considered the best place to live in the country.
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Åndalsnes, is a young town located on the bank of the Romsdalsfjord near where the Isfjord begins and ends the river Rauma, famous for its salmon. The mountains that surround this city (e.g. The King, Queen and Bishop), have peaks up to 1800 meters above sea level and are among the highest and most impressive in Norway. Åndalsnes is therefore known as “the natural passage through the Romsdal Alps”, the Alps that are home to Trollveggen (the Troll Wall), the highest vertical wall in Europe, and Trollstigen (the Troll Road) with its eleven hairpin bends and the beautiful Stigfossen waterfall. Currently Åndalsnes is a popular destination not only for many Norwegians, but also for tourists from all over the world thanks to its spectacular scenery, fishing possibilities and incredible mountains.
Eidfjord is a small and picturesque village situated on a branch of the Hardangerfjorden, Norway’s second largest fjord. Famous for its fertile and lush orchards, this area is known as the fruit garden of Norway. Yet the wilderness is more than ever present. Eidfjord is located a short distance from the majestic Hardangervidda, Europe’s largest plateau. The Hardangervidda is home to a national park and herds of wild reindeer. Here you will also find the Vøringsfossen waterfall and the Måbødalen valley. Another tourist attraction is the “Hardangervidda Nature Center”. From idyllic orchards to unspoiled nature, Eidfjord is ready to welcome you!
At the end of the enchanting Sunnylvsfjord, the “twin fjord” of the Geirangerfjord declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, lies the fairytale village of Hellesylt. Hellesylt is an example of the small cities in Norway along the coast. Located on a fertile field between the high mountains and the fjord, Hellesylt has a long and rich history. A short distance from Hellesylt you will find Lake Hornindal, the deepest lake in Europe and is said to be the home of a legendary sea monster! From the shores of the lake you can directly reach the viewpoint on Europe’s highest fjord, accessible by road on Mount Dalsnibba. Looking down on the snow-capped peaks at 360 degrees, you will feel on top of the world.
Olden, in the province of Sogn og Fjordane, is a country often forgotten by tourists visiting Norway, but it is definitely a place to go! Located at the end of Nordfjord and not far from the Jostedal Glacier, the largest glacier in continental Europe, you will find this picturesque country with its friendly inhabitants.