6 Cities to Visit in Norway
Norwegian Coastline Tour
In June I went to an exploratory tour in Norway. When first I started planning my solo trip, I bought Marco Polo Guide for Norway. It came quickly clear that there are few options for tours – the coastline (and fjords), the north and the inner part of the country. Of course, the most interesting for every first visitor is to see the fjords. So, I started planning in details my itinerary. The cities to visit in Norway listed below are different and varying in terms of climate, atmosphere and nature landmarks. I have visited them all during my two weeks trip but as Norway is one of the most expensive destinations in Europe, I guess you may prefer to shorten your tour. Chose from these cities or go and see them all!
Cities to Visit in Norway: KRISTIANSAND
One of the southernmost larger cities in Norway, Kristiansand is easy to reach from any of the Oslo’s airports. It takes several hours to reach the city which is relatively small and has definitely sea resort feel. In my opinion, one day is more than enough to see the few streets with old wooden houses in Posebyen, the old quarter. Take a stroll on Markens Street, the main pedestrian street that will bring you to the coastal promenade. Evenings here are quiet unless you visit during one of the numerous festivals organized in the city.
Cities to Visit in Norway: STAVANGER
Stavanger is one of the most interesting cities in Norway for several reasons. One is the old quarter nearby the port and its white painted wooden houses, arranged in alleys with flower pots on the windows. Here I found out for the first time that in Norway every house has its own unique window and front door decorations, something to give them character and distinguish the home from all others. It is lovely to see how people make an effort to make their home beautiful and pleasant even for the strangers passing by.
The second reason is that you can use Stavanger as a ‘base camp’ and make one of the emblematic for Norway hikes. Preikestolen is not an easy hike but it is possible even for old people and toddlers (carried by their parents), as I saw. More details about how to reach the place where the trail starts from Stavanger soon will be published in a practical guide on the blog.
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Cities to Visit in Norway: BERGEN
Bergen is the tourist heart of Norway. A coastal city with long maritime history and culture, UNESCO heritage site and a starting point for tours of the largest fjord in Norway – Sognefjord. Bergen is crowded with tourist and expensive. In every case, you can’t avoid inclusion of this city in your itinerary if you want to see the fjords. And there is no better place to do that.
At the time of my visit in June, Bergen was celebrating the International Hanseatic Days. Bryggen, the line of commercial buildings that remained from the time of the Hansa, is now favorite (and absolute must!) place for the visitors. This part of Bergen is unique and easily recognizable on any picture because of its characteristic architectural style and mix of colors. The arranged in neat lines of restaurant tables and chairs in front give additional charm to this already magnificent place.
Just at the other side of Bryggen you will find the world famous fish market. It is a truly interesting place to visit and taste traditionally cooked fish. I can’t comment more on this as I don’t eat generally fish but I saw how people enjoyed their fish burgers with pleasure. So, I guess, it is a good place to have a Norwegian fish meal.
Bergen is interesting also with the possibility to visit various significantly interesting places around the city. For information and arrangements visit the Bergen Visitor’s Center (situated just at the corner of the fish market; how convenient!) at the port. It is a well-organized but quite busy office because of the numerous tourists. That’s why you should make sure to go to the center as early as possible in the morning.
The one-day tour that I made from Bergen was to one of the most advertised places in Norway – Flam. It is said that to take the Flam Railway is the best way to experience some of the most beautiful views in the country (don’t believe that) but it came out that it is the faster way to get from Bergen to Flam (around two hours). However, on the way back from Flam to Bergen I took the Express Boat. It is a comfortable small ferry that gives you an opportunity to see, feel, and breathe the air of the amazing atmosphere of Sognefjord. Standing on the deck with wind-blown hair during almost five hours was one of the greatest experiences during this trip. It was cold, yes, the wind was blowing, but the view was one of the best in the world! It felt as I was sliding on the fjord’s water. You can’t find this experience somewhere else.
After Bergen I travelled to Fjaerland, the most magical place in Norway. It is not included in this list as it is off the beaten path place, difficult to reach but also difficult to forget.
Cities to Visit in Norway: ALESUND
Alesund was a little disappointment, probably because after all the grandiose views around Stavanger and Bergen, the city looked like a fishing village that became a city. It has its charm, of course. Two streets with coffees and restaurants make the small center a little bit more interesting but that’s all. However, if you visit Alesund don’t miss this – the Fjellstua Viewpoint. The view is one of the best panoramas you will ever see and the walk up on the stairs, especially in the morning, extremely pleasant.
Cities to Visit in Norway: TRONDHEIM
Trondheim is an intriguing city. I have started my city tour by arriving at the train station, then walking to my hotel (which took me through beautiful bridges and metallic industrial structures). Later, I walked in the city center that is a typical European city with Scandinavian charm, without something really impressive to remember.
And finally, I got lost in the streets behind the old port, the old town. Although it is the most touristic part of the city, it was absolutely peaceful and one can see and feel the atmosphere of the place in its original stage. Colorful houses (of course, they are everywhere in Norway), tiny cozy restaurants with a few tables on the sidewalks at Bakkandet; light blankets are left on the back of the chairs to warm the clients if necessary. The most spectacular view of this part of the city is from the Gamle Bybro bridge, gently named “The Portal of Happiness”.
My final discovery was the Nidaros Cathedral. Its imposing building exudes a sense of magic and was surrounded by a clean, well-arranged graveyard in an even more magical park. The cathedral is one of the places everyone should see in Trondheim. Check out the Archbishop Palace’s Museum situated in the same park if you fancy learning about the history of the place and the Norwegian monarchy.
Cities to Visit in Norway: OSLO
After all countryside vistas that I saw, and the clean and safe environment I experienced during my coastal tour of Norway, Oslo seemed as the worst place to be. I know many people find it a nice place to be, especially because of its cultural atmosphere, but for me, it was one place I could skip and never regret. However, if you visit or stay in Oslo, go to the Royal palace (which will disappoint you with its architecture if you have been to Paris). The real gem is the park behind with green lawns, quiet lakes, and many ducks. People lay down on the green carpet, kids play around chasing invisible butterflies … It is a place to stay under the thick tree shadows and enjoy the world around you.
Norway is one of the best places in Europe for solo female travel. And solo or not, to find the quite simple life and to enjoy the astonishing landscapes of Norway is an experience that opens the heart to the true values of the life – love and beauty in everything.