My Norway Itinerary – What we did with one week in Norway

In between my British Book Club tours and Croatia, I had a week to kill in Europe, so I decided to head up north to Norway with my friend Tamara. I’ve always wanted to visit Scandinavia, and Norway was a great place to start. To be honest, the beauty of this gorgeous country blew me away, and I’m plotting to take my family back after getting a quick taste of this country.

Which Norway Itinerary is Best?

One thing I learned while researching which Norway itinerary to do was that there are about a million different ways to organize your trip to Norway. We wanted to avoid overly touristed places like Pulpit Rock or Troll Tongue just to get “that picture” but did want to experience some iconic sites in Norway. We didn’t have time to make it all the way to the Lofoten islands either.

The conclusion that I came to was that there’s no wrong way to see Norway, so we opted to just pick the itinerary that looked most appealing to us. I think I could take another trip to Norway or another 20 and I still wouldn’t cover it all.

We weren’t in Norway at the right time of year to see the Northern lights or do any winter activities. We visited in September at the very beginning of the fall foliage. It was a wonderful time to be there since we missed the peak season summer crowds, but still got great weather, with only a tiny bit of rain. When I visit Norway again, I’d like to go north, but we mostly stayed to in southern Norway, except for our jaunt up to Alesund.

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This trip was all about relaxation, exploring less-popular areas of Norway, and getting a feel for the landscape and the culture. I think we definitely accomplished this. We touched on a bit of history, a lot of nature, a bit of adventure, and lots of great food.

You’re welcome to do your Norway trip any way you like. There is a LOT of this country that we did not see, but I’ll lay out what we did each day.

To drive or not to drive

We struggled to decide if we should drive or use public transportation for our Norway itinerary. Ultimately we decided that the places we wanted to see were mostly out-of-the-way remote areas that would require us to use a car. And I have to say I’m so happy with that decision. There are so many scenic routes that I think driving is a no-brainer.

When visiting Norway, some of the most memorable places we visited were only accessible by car and we honestly saw no other tourists during our time in Norway. We visited one area that is on the Norway in a Nutshell itinerary, and it was packed with tourists, so I’m very glad we didn’t go with the Norway in a Nutshell package, even though I’m sure those people had a lovely time. It’s just not the type of trip we were looking for this time.

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A note about renting a car in Norway

I’d say about 80% of the rental cars in Norway were electric, and almost all were hybrid. There is an extensive network of charging stations throughout Norway, so I wouldn’t let that deter you. We opted for a hybrid that could take fuel and also charge. But after seeing all of the charging options in Norway, I would feel more comfortable going full electric now.

If you’re renting a car, there are two companies we prefer to use: Rental Cars and Expedia Cars. We have had no issues with them and have been able to find the best prices available.

Our car rental cost about $1,000 USD for the week, including a transfer fee since we were flying out of a different airport, and insurance and a second driver, which I was glad to have since we had a few long days.

We used Google maps to navigate around Norway, and that worked great. We had service during most of our Norway road trip and only occasionally lost service when high up in the mountains. You can also download sections of Google maps so that you can still use them when you don’t have service. I recommend doing this before you leave.

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Driving in Norway required navigating some narrow streets and windy mountain roads, but most of the roads were nicely paved and kept up really well.

Since we drove across Norway, our days were mostly spent with a half day driving and a half day exploring. It was perfect for a relaxing type of trip that covered a lot of ground. Driving never felt like a chore in Norway, since literally everywhere you look is absolutely stunning.

Day 1: Oslo to Gausta

We decided to begin our Norway itinerary in the capital city of Norway. We flew into Oslo late at night, so we stayed within walking distance of the Oslo airport at the Raddison Red Hotel, which was fantastic. The breakfast was incredible. Norwegian hotels are known for their huge breakfast spreads, and this one did not disappoint!

Early morning, we kicked off our Norwegian adventure in the vibrant city of Oslo. This modern city meets rich history and beautiful scenery.

We only had one day to explore Oslo and saw the city on foot, stopping at the Oslo Opera House, which was a stunning piece of architecture. But honestly, my favorite part of this stop was walking around the outside of the Opera House and seeing the wood shop that creates sets and the costume department hard at work sewing costumes. They had miniature displays in the windows of their costumes, it was fascinating!

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The Oslo Opera House is right on the Oslo Fjord and the views from the rooftop are amazing, even if we were freezing in the wind!

Here are some other things to do in Oslo:

  • Visit the Viking Ship Museum
  • Explore Vigeland Park
  • Visit the National Museum of Norway

After exploring Oslo, we hopped in our rental car and started on our drive toward the city of Gausta. We stopped at the historic Heddal Stave church, a remarkable example of medieval architecture and one of the country’s most significant historical landmarks. Dating back to the early 13th century, the this old Stave Church is constructed entirely from wood! It has been restored between now and then.

This masterpiece of medieval architecture, its intricate wooden carvings, and its historic aura left me in awe. The crazy part of visiting this stave church was the smell!

Yes…the smell! They use tar to seal the wood and it smells like a campfire! I loved it!

On our way to Gausta, we stopped at Circle K to try one of the famous Norwegian hot dogs. There were options for toppings like potato salad, crab, onions, and other mayonaise-salad-type things. We opted for potato salad. The hot dogs were surprisingly tasty! We also tried raisinbol, a cardamom-spiced sweet bun with raisins that was delicious.

The second stop on our Norway itinerary was the beautiful mountain town of Gausta.

We spent the night at the Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell, nestled amidst the mountains. Its cozy ambiance and spectacular views made for an unforgettable stay. It was a beautiful ski resort that we had almost to ourselves. They had the most comfortable beds I’ve ever had, an amazing restaurant and lobby, and a floating on sauna on the lake! We booked sauna time and jumped in the freezing cold lake three times! It was exhilarating! Saunas are a big deal in Norway and almost every hotel we stayed in had one. It was a great way to warm up in the cold weather.

We were both wishing we had our husbands with us because it was a very romantic stay! I wish we would have stayed here an extra night. We ended the evening with a romantic authentic Norwegian dinner at the hotel.

Days 2: Rjukan to Hardangerfjord

We spent the morning eating the enormous and amazing breakfast at the Gaustablikk Høyfjellshotell, seriously the breakfast was out of this world! We had Norwegian heart waffles, a juice bar, all kinds of eggs and meats, bread, fish, spreads. The waffles were our favorites! I actually bought a Norwegian waffle maker before I even got home.

hiking around the hotel, picking lingonberries, and enjoying the sunshing. We tried to hike every morning before our drives. We hopped in the car and drove about 30 minutes down the mountain.

Today, our Norway itinerary took us to the charming village of Rjukan, a valley below Gausta, where we spend the night. We visited an open air museum which had several old buildings used as farm houses and barns. There are several of these around Norway. They’ve relocated these old buildings to these museums and when they’re open you can go inside and explore.

We hopped on the Krossoban Cable Car in Rjukan, which offered us a stunning aerial view of the landscapes. This gondola was created because the town of Rjukan gets no direct sunlight in the winter, so residents have cabins up on the hill that they would visit in the winter to get some vitamin D! Rjukan also uses mirrors to reflect sun into the valley during short winter days.

There is also a lot of WWII history in Rjukan, which was occupied during the war. You can visit the Vemork Heavy Water Museum which has a fascinating history. You can read more about it here.

We stopped in the little town of Rauland to fuel up and get snacks. There was a great little bakery where we bought bread and cheese, which was good because it sustained us on our long drives where there weren’t many food options.

We stopped at the beautiful Latefossen, another huge waterfall, and took some pictures.

We finally made it to Hardangerfjord and checked into the Ullensvang Hotel, which had incredible views of the fjord and a swimming pool. There’s not much to eat in the town, so we had the hotel buffet, which was outrageously expensive at $67, but at least was delicious.

Day 3: Hardangerfjord to Bergen

The next morning we swam in the pools along the fjords and spent some time in the sauna, then grabbed another amazing breakfast at the hotel.

Our original plan was to kayak on the fjord in the morning, but our kayak tour got canceled due to rain. Here’s the tour we were supposed to do.

It was only sprinkling and we wanted to get some exercise in before getting back in the car so we hiked along the fruit trail, which was a path through apple orchards nearby. It was beautiful and we had a few apple snacks along the way. There were little farm stops where you could buy fruit and cider.

We then visited the quaint village of Eidfjord and indulged in some delicious treats at the Fjak Chocolate Factory. I highly recommend trying the “brown cheese” chocolate. It tastes like toffee! We grabbed some soup for lunch at a nearby cafe and continued on with our drive. Our day ended with a visit to the mesmerizing Steinsdalsfossen Waterfall.

We checked into our farm stay at Solneset Farm. This was a unique experience and the Norwegian countryside is beautiful. I loved seeing all the animals and being out in nature.

Sadly, the restaurant was closed for the season, which we didn’t know when we booked, so we had to bring our own food and cook for ourselves, which was kind of a pain in the shared kitchen. But it was also fun to meet other visitors at the farm. We played a rousing game of Norwegian Scrabble, and I won, just for the record.

Day 4: Exploring Bergen

We had an early start and a slow morning, making breakfast at the farm and walking around the farm and checking out the cute bunnies. Then we headed into Bergen, about 20 minutes away. There’s a massive parking structure in Bergen, which was very convenient.

Bergen greeted us with its charming streets and colorful houses and quite a bit of wind and rain. We loved wandering the city center and exploring the shops. Strolling through Bryggen, the iconic row of colorful wooden houses, was like stepping into a postcard. There was a Hallmark Christmas movie being filmed so we saw lots of fake snow and Christmas trees lining the streets and signs saying to keep quiet.

A ride on the Føibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen was a highlight, offering incredible views of the city. We wandered around the mossy troll forest at the top of the mountain. This was the inspiration for the mossy rock trolls in Frozen, and you can see why!

We had some lunch and grabbed some more cardamom buns, of course, and Fjak chocolate had a cafe in Bergen where we grabbed some amazing hot chocolate, before heading back to the Solnoset Farm.

Here are some other things you can see in Bergen:

  • Hanseatic Museum and Schøtstuene
  • Bergenhus Fortress
  • Fish Market

We enjoyed a peaceful night at the Solnoset Farm Hotel where we made ourselves dinner and relaxed while the rains came.

Day 5-6: From Flåm to Lom

The next day in our Norway itinerary, we had a slow morning at the farm and then drove through the Norwegian countryside one one of the country’s scenic routes to the adorable town of Flåm, which is one of the most popular stops on the Norway in a Nutshell tour, which uses Norway’s public transportation.

The Fjord cruise from Flåm

The Flåmbana scenic train

It was a cute town and you could do a fjord cruise and take the Flåmbana scenic train ride. They were both really expensive and this was the only place that we saw a lot of tourists, so we decided to just stop in and then head out and skip the train and the cruise. We were seeing some incredible scenery from the windows of our rental car, so I didn’t feel like we were missing out at all.

We kept driving through some of the windiest and most gorgeous roads I’ve ever driven, stopped at the Tvindefossen Waterfall (honestly it was hard to keep track of which waterfalls were which), until we got to Lom where we stayed at the Fossheim Hotel.

The whole road trip looks like this!

We had dinner at the hotel where we tried reindeer (yum…like a really lean steak) and had a good night sleep in the rustic little hotel.

In the morning we explored the town of Lom. There was a cute little library which we had to check out, a cultural museum, a beautiful glacial river and bridge, and a bakery overlooking the river with the tastiest buns ever (are you seeing a pattern of bun consumption here?). It was a perfect slow morning wandering the town.

Next we drove along fjords to the town of Loen. Our adventure in Loen was filled with natural wonders. The drive through Aurlandsfjellet National Scenic Route was surreal, with every turn revealing new, stunning views.

We stopped to do the Loen Zip Line. It was pretty cool, but it was cloudy and raining that day, so it was hard to see out onto the valley below and so it wasn’t as exhilarating as it normally would be. I’m sure on a clear day you get amazing views from the top! The gondola ride up was beautiful and that made the stop worth it. The ziplining wasn’t nearly as good as what I had done in Croatia the week before.

Our final destination was in the picturesque town of Ålesund. The drive up Trollstigen was thrilling, with its sharp turns and steep inclines.

We kept driving and took the ferry to the coastal town of Ålesund (pronounced oh-lah-soond). Oh, Ålesund is such a gem, especially if you’re into places with a mix of natural beauty and charming architecture! We stayed here for 2 nights and loved it!

We checked into the Ålesund Quality Hotel, which was right on the water with incredible views!

Days 7-8: Wandering Ålesund

Ålesund, with its Art Nouveau architecture and coastal beauty, was the perfect finale to our Norwegian journey. The days here were spent wandering through its streets, soaking in the culture and the breathtaking scenery, stopping at coffee shops, and trying lots of food.

We ate at Cinque Minuti, an authentic Italian pizza place, twice, had lots of cardamom and pistachio buns, and hot chocolate to keep us warm.

We hiked up Aksla where we got the best views of the city and surrounding islands.

There was a little family festival going on, so we were able to tour some old fishing ships, do some vintage shopping, and try local foods.

The next morning we flew back from the Ålesund airport to England for our next tour.

Every moment in Norway was a blend of adventure, serenity, and awe-inspiring beauty. From the majestic fjords to the quaint villages, each day brought new wonders and unforgettable experiences. This trip was just what we needed in between running 2 British Book Club tours.

Our journey through Norway was more than just a travel experience; it was a journey through a land of myths, legends, and natural splendor…oh and lots of great adventures and food. The memories we created here will be cherished forever and I’m ready to bring my whole family back to experience this gorgeous country.

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