Norway is a staggeringly beautiful Scandinavian country that draws people from far and wide to see its fjords, northern lights, its mountain ranges and cities. The cities in Norway are steeped in history, even though many are fast developing into trendy metropolis’ with cool bars and restaurants, exciting nightlife and newly opened tourist attractions.
Norway is gearing up to become fully net-zero in terms of emissions. Its capital city, Oslo, is preparing for a fully-electric public transportation network that will allow locals and visitors to travel with ease while protecting the planet. Innovations such as this are attracting more and more people seeking to see more of the world but at a sustainable level. Visitors have recently been flocking to Norway following the hit Netflix series Troll, which centres around Norway’s outstanding natural beauty.
This natural beauty consists of thick pine forests, dramatic mountain ranges, icy fjords and even the Arctic Circle. When in Norway, regardless of whether you are visiting the countryside or the city, heading out to see the Northern Lights, either on a guided tour or simply by yourself, is a must. This, alongside seeing the midnight sun during the summer, are incredible things to do in Norway. Here are 20 cities in Norway to visit now.
Cities In Norway
- From Bergen: Scenic Fjord Cruise to Mostraumen – cruise through the Osterfjord and admire the colourful Bryggen wharf, mountainsides, waterfalls and the Mostraumen strait.
- Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise – board a sailing ship and discover stunning scenery.
- Stavanger Scenic Fjord Cruise – to Lysefjord and Preikestolen for some of the most iconic scenery in Norway.
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20 Norwegian Cities To Visit
Oslo is the capital city of Norway and is a must-visit destination on anyone’s Scandinavian bucket list.
The city is a great destination for families, couples and solo travellers thanks to its variation of attractions, museums and friendly neighbourhoods.
One of the best things in Oslo is to walk across the marble roof of the city’s opera house to take in spectacular city views and the waterfront.
If you are interested in art, a must attraction is the Munch Museum which houses the world’s largest Edvard Munch collection and includes perhaps his most famous painting, The Scream.
Oslo is proud of its Viking heritage, with a museum completely dedicated to ships from this era.
Indulge your senses and tastebuds with an afternoon exploring Oslo’s trendiest neighbourhood, Grunerlokka, and visit one of its many microbreweries for a cold drink following a hunt for treasure in the area’s vintage shops.
Recommended tour: Oslo Fjord Sightseeing Cruise by Sailing Ship
Trondheim is named after the fjord it sits upon and has a wealth of history within its boundaries.
The city dates from the 11th century and includes examples of 12th-century architecture, including the cathedral.
Nidaros Cathedral is a must-visit cathedral in Trondheim for its architectural beauty and intricately detailed rose window.
Trondheim is a popular location for those looking to take a refreshing, rejuvenating and cooling dip in the fjords in the Norwegian practice of ice bathing, with Havet Arena being one of the most sought-after destinations for a chilly plunge for beginners.
Recommended tour: Trondheim: “FunForTwo”, adventure and city walk for couples
Bergen is a European City of Culture and a World Heritage City, making it the perfect destination to get to know Norway, spend some time in one of its most attractive cities, and of course, be surrounded by awe-inspiring natural landscapes.
Bergen is a great city for foodies as there are many popular restaurants, cafes, bakeries and delis to choose delicious dishes.
Its fjord-side location and proximity to the North Sea provide Bergen with a wealth of delicious seafood, which can be tried in various traditional dishes at the city’s fish market.
Continue your foray into Bergen’s excellent gastronomical delights at one of its many cafes for a steaming cup of coffee and a traditional pastry, slice of cake or freshly baked loaf.
Recommended tour: From Bergen: Scenic Fjord Cruise to Mostraumen
Stavanger is the perfect Norwegian destination to experience history, plenty of museums and beautiful surrounding landscapes.
For a unique day out and to learn about a key industry for many Norwegians, visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum, designed to replicate an oil platform.
Book a seat on a cruise over Lysefjord and admire the dramatic natural beauty of the cliffs overlooking the fjord, including the famous Pulpit Rock, a 600ft above the fjord-height rock that attracts many tourists.
If getting out in nature is always part of your city itinerary, Stavanger has many attractive hikes ranging in difficulty, including hikes up to Pulpit Rock and the more demanding Florli 4444 hike, taking visitors up a series of increasingly steep steps to reach the top of a mountain with dramatic views from the top.
Recommended tour: Stavanger: Scenic Fjord Cruise to Lysefjord and Preikestolen
Drammen is only a 30-minute drive from Norway’s capital, Oslo, making it easy to visit if you only visit Norway for a short time.
For the best views of the city, brave the twisty Spiralen tunnel, a corkscrew tunnel spanning 1650m (5413ft) in length before opening out onto a hilltop 200m (656ft) above sea level, offering spectacular views across the city and the water, and access to cafes and a historical museum.
One of the best things to do in Drammen is to go fishing as its river, the Drammenselva, is one of the best places in Norway to catch salmon.
- 20 Incredible Landmarks in Norway
- 20 Fairytale Castles In Norway
- Cruising The Norwegian Fjords
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- When Is The Best Time To Visit Norway?
- 20 Norwegian Cities
A must-visit destination in Kristiansand when travelling with children, or simply if you love animals, is Dyreparken, a zoo and amusement park.
Here you will be introduced to a range of native Nordic animals, including moose, wolves and lynx in their 150-acre park.
If you are visiting during warmer weather, head to Bystranda Beach and relax on the sands, take to the waters or stroll along the promenade.
Towards the southwestern end of the promenade is Fiskebrygga, the city’s old fishing wharf, which has been regenerated and transformed into a trendy neighbourhood packed with plenty of restaurants serving locally caught fish.
Venture into Norway’s north and the Arctic Circle to spend some time in the remote city of Tromsø.
The city has seen a tourism boom, with many heading to the city to see the northern lights, which are prevalent during winter, and to experience the unique midnight sun during summer.
Immerse yourself in Norway’s unique folklore at the Troll Museum, Norway’s first museum dedicated to the legends surrounding the trolls that some believe still roam the land today.
Spend some time simply wandering the beautiful streets of the city’s downtown area, where colourful houses line the streets, to dine in a cosy restaurant or shop for Arctic Circle-themed souvenirs.
- Recommended tour: Tromso: Self-Drive Husky Dog Sledding Adventure
- Recommended tour: Aurora Borealis Tour
Tønsberg is the oldest city in Norway and dates back to the time of the Vikings.
The city’s history makes it the perfect place to add to your Norwegian itinerary, particularly if you want to learn more about the country’s past.
A great family day out can be had at Slottsfjellsmuseet, a museum dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of Norway’s Middle Ages.
In this hilltop museum lies the Whale Hall, filled with skeletons of whales from Norway’s historical whaling industry, four incredibly well-preserved Viking ships and an exhibition dedicated to the largest collection of Viking artefacts discovered in Europe.
Ålesund is an incredibly picturesque city filled with colourful buildings, plenty of Art Nouveau touches and, of course, the dramatic Norwegian landscape surrounding it.
Begin your time in Ålesund by hiking to the top of Aksla Hill where the best views of the city, the fjord and the surrounding mountains can be seen in one incredible panorama.
The city is well-known for its impressive architecture, so spend an hour or so wandering the streets to see some of the best examples of Art Nouveau architecture, regenerated waterfront areas and more traditional buildings dotted in between.
Recommended tour: Alesund: Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Fredrikstad and Sarpsborg are sister cities only minutes apart and separated only by the Glomma South River.
These two cities are easily visited and explored in a day or so, and despite their proximity, are unique in their own rights.
Founded by King Frederick II in the mid-1500s, Fredrikstad is filled with 16th and 17th architecture, medieval touches and a spectacular Old Town that feels straight out of a fairytale.
Sarpsborg, on the other hand, centres around the river and has captured this raw natural energy to transform the city into an industrial centre.
Walk along the river and look for Sarpefossen, or Sarp Falls, a large and powerful waterfall with a railway line stretching over it.
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In the west of Norway lies Bodø, a beautiful, tourist-friendly city sadly often overlooked in favour of more well-known cities such as Oslo and Bergen.
Visit the harbour and look for the small, traditional lighthouse and Nyholmen Fortress.
The fortress was built in 1810 to protect this stretch of the Norwegian coastline but was only used for 25 years.
Today the original structure has been extensively repaired and reconstructed, however, its pristine white walls against the harsh grey-black granite backdrop of the surrounding cliffs are certainly photograph worthy.
Bodø is another of Norway’s cities where the Northern Lights are often seen, so look out for tours departing the city for the best chances to see this natural phenomenon, or head out at night and try your luck by the water.
Recommended tour: Bodo: Svartisen Glacier Scenic Helicopter Flight
Haugesund is a great historical city destination to visit in Norway in 2023.
The city is filled with historical monuments, museums dedicated to its industrial history and a vibrant and cultural centre.
If you are an avid reader or enjoy marvelling at shelves stacked high with colourful books, visit Den Lille Bokbutikken, the littlest bookshop, which has a large variety of books in both Norwegian and English.
The bookshop regularly displays books in prominent areas linking to festivals, seasons and regular themes such as gardening or art.
Haugesund has an excellent café culture and scene, with must-visit coffee shops, including hos Carlos, a comfy and cosy coffee shop serving a range of delicious homemade dishes and freshly brewed coffees.
Recommended tour: Haugesund: 1-Day Hop-On Hop-Off Sightseeing Bus Ticket
Larvik is one of Norway’s most beautiful coastal cities and the perfect Norwegian summer destination in 2023.
If visiting Larvik in summer, hire a boat and take to the water for a relaxing sail, or go further afield and explore some of the nearby islets.
Families should check out Foldvik Family Park to ride their miniature railway, drive moon buggies and meet a range of animals and birds that children will enjoy feeding and petting.
Those looking for a more relaxing waterside stay will find peace at Farris Bad, a luxury spa and hotel overlooking the beach.
Lillehammer is filled with many buildings from Norway’s time as the Winter Olympic Games host in 1994 and is a great destination to visit if you are interested in sports or want a more active vacation.
Popular sporting activities in the city include taking advantage of its proximity to local hiking and cycling trails and heading out onto the water for fishing and water sports.
There are many museums throughout the city, including the Olympic Museum set inside the ice hockey venue, and Aulestad, a museum dedicated to Norway’s Bjornstjerne Bjornson, the winner of 1903’s Nobel Prize for Literature, inside the home where he lived.
Head into the woods as you explore the southern city of Skien, once at the heart of Norway’s lumber industry.
Brekkeparken, an outdoor museum, is the perfect place to spend a day learning about the area’s history and spending time outdoors.
The museum is filled with historical buildings, including farmhouses and mills that have been transported from various settlements across the county, all of which are open to explore inside and see what life was like in the 17th to 20th centuries.
Enjoy an excellent folk-gourmet restaurant experience at Jacob & Gabriel for tasty dishes made from local ingredients, ranging from a la carte dishes, including BBQ pork or oysters, up to their extensive seven-course tasting menu.
Despite its small size, Molde is a popular destination for tourists heading out on fjord cruises or as part of a larger Norwegian road trip.
Molde is often visited as part of the Atlantic Road, an extensive road trip frequented by those looking to explore the Norwegian coastline.
If you visit Molde during football season, watch a game at Aker Stadion, the home of Molde FK, who have won the Norwegian league four times.
Molde’s coastal location means plenty of restaurants serve delicious seafood dishes.
Glass Restaurant is one of the best seafood restaurants in Molde, with impressive views across the fjord towards the mountains and a varied menu of tasty dishes, including cuttlefish, steamed muscles and fish soup using the catch of the day.
Kristiansund is another popular stopping destination along the Atlantic Ocean Road, with spectacular views across icy fjords and towering mountains.
During World War II, much of the city was destroyed during bombing raids and much of the city was rebuilt.
Its old town partially survived the bombs, making for a pleasant stroll surrounded by typical, picturesque Norwegian houses.
Explore the Norwegian Klippfisk Museum to learn more about Kristiansund’s clipfish industry, where cod is salted and dried.
Sample clipfish for yourself at SMIA Fiskerestaurant, a popular seafood restaurant serving up traditional local dishes.
A must-visit location in Arendal is the Pollen area, the city’s quayside often bustling with locals and tourists alike.
Here you will find fishermen bringing in their latest catch, or selling freshly caught crabs at the nearby fish market, plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the view and many cafes serving warm cups of coffee or ice cream from a local vendor.
To see the whole city and the surrounding fjord from the best vantage point, brave the glass lift to the top of Floyheia.
This new tourist attraction opened in 2021 and offers visitors views across the islands on the fjord.
Svolvaer is the gateway to Lofoten, a series of beautiful and northern Norwegian islands.
This city is the largest in the Lofoten islands and neatly combines city life, a cosy small-town vibe and beautiful scenery.
When dining in the city, keep your eyes peeled for Stockfish, a tasty local dish consisting of unsalted cod dried in the cold Norwegian air.
Hop aboard a tour boat and experience the beauty and magic of Trollfjord, a magnificent fjord taking its name from the trolls that adorn Nordic folklore.
Continue experiencing the magic of the fjords and visit one of Svolvaer’s newer attractions, the Fjord Sauna, where you can relax in warm waters while looking at tranquil scenery before braving a cooling dip in the Arctic Sea.
Nestled by the sea is Horten, a picturesque Norwegian destination that is a must-visit for 2023.
Edvard Munch was born in nearby Adalsbrulk, with many sources of his inspiration found on the streets of Horten.
If you venture towards Adalsbruk, explore Munch’s home, which is still laid out precisely when the famous artist lived there.
Experience Viking life at Midgard Viking Centre, an interactive museum that shares the story of Norway’s Viking past told through displays of combat and everyday life, with many interactive activities and games for visitors to get involved in.
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