The perfect Norway itinerary for first-time visitors
Encompassing mountains, glaciers and deep coastal fjords, Norway offers some of the most impressive natural beauty in the world – making it a dream destination for outdoorsy types and nature lovers alike. Known for its fishing, hiking and skiing, if you’re after an action-packed and adventurous holiday then Norway is the place for you. And if you prefer a quieter break that’s filled with fresh air and breath-taking vistas, then so it is too.
Even the capital, Oslo, is a city awash with beautiful green spaces, though here you will find a welcome dose of culture to complement the striking backdrop. Preserved 9th-century Viking ships can be seen on display at the Viking Ship Museum, while the Royal Palace, in all its splendour, is certainly worth a visit.
With so much to see across the country, it can be difficult to know where to start when planning a visit to Norway, and first-timers might find it particularly overwhelming. Plus, what if you’re a fan of the great outdoors – but aren’t prepared to give up life’s luxuries to experience it? Can you really combine the two?
Thankfully, the answer is yes, and it couldn’t be easier to see the sights of Norway in style. All that’s needed is some careful planning and some insider tips, and you’ll be well on your way to one of the most memorable trips of your life. There are lots of great UK travel agents that will help you to put your plan into action, too – with many of them experienced in arranging luxury excursions and tours to suit even the most particular of tastes.
From the colourful wooden houses of Bergen, to cruising to the dramatic Sognefjord, we’ve rounded up some of the must-see sights for a first-time trip to Norway – and we can safely say that while it may be your first, you most certainly won’t want it to be your last.
Day 1: Oslo
On the first day of your luxury trip to Oslo, fly into Gardermoen Airport. If you’re going to be arriving late, then we recommend getting in the evening beforehand to ensure maximum exploration time. For ease and convenience, arrange a private transfer to take you directly to your hotel, where you can relax, unwind and prepare for the action ahead.
Eat: Boasting not one but three Michelin Stars, Maaemo is a foodie’s dream. This fine dining eatery is based on the concept of connecting with nature, and intricate cooking and sublime flavour combinations fuse with impeccably choreographed service to make for a thoroughly memorable evening.
Stay: The First Hotel Grims Grenka, located in the Kvadraturen area of Oslo, is just 900 yards from Oslo Central Station and 15 minutes’ walk from the Aker Brygge district, making it the perfect base before a day of travelling ahead tomorrow. Boasting an opulent rooftop bar and terrace and lavish rooms, it’s our top luxury pick.
Day 2: Flåm
While public transport may not be your preferred option when it comes to getting from A to B, in Norway you’d be missing out if you didn’t take the train from Oslo to Bergen. Leaving from Oslo Central Station, this scenic journey has been voted one of the 20 best in the world, taking you over Norway’s ‘mountainous rooftop’ and through the quaint villages of Geilo and Gol, amongst others.
Change trains in Myrdal to the Flåm Railway, where you’ll be treated to a breath-taking 20 km ride with a 900-metre descent to the beautiful village of Flåm. It’s long day of travelling, but the incredible scenery you’ll take in along the way makes it more than worth it. Pop into the Flåm Railway Documentation Centre whilst you’re here for an educational experience, then relax and enjoy the evening in this beautiful place.
Eat: Bakkastova may be just a café, but it has won itself a loyal following. Creating simple yet delicious food that will enrich your stay in Flam, immerse yourself in all-things Norweigan and dine as the locals do.
Stay: Fretheim Hotel is a refurbished 1800s manor house just 200 yards from Aurlandsfjord boasts sweeping views of the surrounding mountains. Its restaurant serves up tasty Norweigan cuisine based on organic, locally sourced ingredients, and in summer, guests can enjoy a relaxed drink or bite to eat on the terrace.
Day 3: Fjords
On day three, it’s time to head even further into remote Norway and immerse yourself in its natural beauty. Take a boat to Aurlandsfjord and into the World Heritage-listed Nærøyfjord – the narrowest fjord in Europe. Edged by tall mountains and towering waterfalls, prepare to be rendered speechless by the incredible scenery you’ll see along the way.
Continue onto Gudvangen, then take a car up Stalheimskleiva, enjoying awe-inspiring views at every turn. Once you arrive in Voss, you can relax for the evening and enjoy some more delicious Norweigan fare.
Eat: Restaurant Nuten has its own fondue section, offering an exciting and sociable culinary experience.
Stay: Bed down at Fleischer’s Hotel for the night. Housed in a pretty 19th century building beside Lake Vangsvatnet, think old world charm meets modern conveniences and you’ll be on the money.
Day 4: Bergen
The charming city of Bergen is the second largest in Norway, and home to UNESCO World Heritage site, Bryggen – a must see while you’re here. One of the most enjoyable things to do in Bergen is to simply wander the streets and soak up the welcoming atmosphere – taking in the pretty houses and the bustling fish and flower market, before perhaps popping into one of the intriguing museums you’ll stumble across along the way.
A ride on the cable cars – which offer sweeping views over the city – is not to be missed, as are sights including the Maria Church, King Håkon’s Hall and the Rosenkrantz Tower.
Eat: Colonialen is a fine-dining eatery serving a seasonal four-course menu featuring dishes determined by the freshest local meat, fish and produce. It’s all about elegant eating in a relaxed atmosphere – the perfect combination after a tiring few days exploring the highlights of Norway.
Stay: For all-out luxury, head to Opus XVI. Housed in a historic building dating all the way back to 1876, its individually designed rooms and suites and Norweigaan-style breakfast buffer are to-die-for – and don’t forget to pause to admire the in-house exhibition while you’re there.
Day 5: Return to Oslo
On your fifth and final day in Norway, it’ll be time to head back to the capital, so you’ll need to head to Bergen Central Station to embark on the beautiful scenic train-ride that will get you there.
There’s a great deal to see and do in Oslo, and it would be rude not to spend a little time here exploring and immersing yourself in the nation’s cultural side. If you have the time, then we’d recommend popping into the Royal Palace, Akershus Fortress and Holmenkollen Ski Jump, before enjoying an indulgent evening of luxury that you can only find in a city.
Eat: Restaurant Eik, headed up by renowned chef Ole Jonny Eikefjord, serves innovative culinary delights in modern premises that give off a distinctly relaxed vibe.
Stay: The five-star elegant Hotel Continental is located only 150 yards from Oslo’s main street, Karl Johan – perfect for wandering back to after an evening of indulgent eating and drinking in the capital.
After five days of exploring this beautiful country, we think you’ll agree that it’s not nearly enough. But that’s the wonderful thing about Norway; it never is.