Wild fjords, vast parkland, pristine glaciers and cascading waterfalls, Norway is one of the best places in the world to admire nature in all its splendour. This northern country is home to an endless set of austere, wild landscapes, making it a brilliant place to enjoy the great outdoors, especially while on a hike or kayaking trip among its many ancient, charming landscapes. Norway also boasts over twenty national parks, all of which are jam-packed with fjords and snowy peaks. Along the way, you’re bound to stumble across wooden churches, Viking ruins and traditional fishing villages, which are a great place to try out some of Norway’s best culinary specialties. Here, the charm of ancient Scandinavian myths and legendary polar expeditions come to life. And if you fancy it, you can also head up to the North Cape and beyond, where you can marvel at the Northern Lights and midnight sun. Sledding adventures, whale-watching tours, boat trips and strong, imposing islands: Norway offers visitors some incredibly unique experiences. Here’s our selection of the best things to do in Norway with Costa Cruises.

Olden

Just a short distance from Olden Harbour is the largest glacier in Europe: Jostedalsbreen. And if you’re not up for climbing a rockface with an ice pick and crampons in hand, you can always admire it from a helicopter, or the comfort of a bus departing from the nearby terminal. Along the way, you can admire the emerald green waters of Olden Lake, along with the waterfalls, pristine mountains, and buildings that provide an amazing backdrop to the local scenery. And while you’re here, why not go on a fishing trip or explore the network of public footpaths? Hiking is another great way to appreciate the surrounding area, as is a boat trip on Lake Lovatnet. Nearby Fjærland is home to the Glacier Museum, with interactive media installations about the region’s history and the effects of climate change. And last but definitely not least, Olden’s skiing facilities are an absolute dream! 

Geiranger

An area of rare beauty and an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, Geiranger emerges at the end of one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords. This paradise is dotted with wonderful trails that will take you past waterfalls, steep rock faces and charming old abandoned farms. The Seven Sisters Waterfall looks like something out of a fairy tale. Legend has it that it’s formed from the tears of girls disappointed by a forgetful prince! A raft or kayak trip to the waterfall is one of the most memorable experiences you can enjoy in Norway. And that’s not forgetting a mountain walk, for those of you with good feet and an appetite for breath-taking views! 

Hellesylt

The picturesque Geirangerfjord area is also home to the village of Hellesylt. Consisting of a collection of traditional houses, it owes its fame to its enviable natural setting. The village was originally built around an ancient Viking port and is also home to Hellesylt Waterfall, which emerges in full force when the winter ice thaws. This is an idyllic place with its own interesting cultural attraction: Peer Gynt Galleriet, where you can appreciate the Norwegian carving master’s skills and his meticulously detailed wooden works.

Andalsnes

Andalsnes is universally known as the ‘Troll Road,’ or Trollstingen, and comprises a spectacular route across valleys, waterfalls and idyllic mountain landscapes. Located at one end is Andalsnes, a village surrounded by unique scenery, making it the perfect departure point for fishing trips. Yet another relaxing way to enjoy the local scenery is a trip on a scenic train through the mountains and along the River Rauma. While on board, you can also admire Trollveggen – one of the highest walls in Europe and a dream-come-true for extreme mountaineers. According to Scandinavian legend, these lands are home to a community of ‘hidden people,’ or trolls, to be precise.

Flam

A tour of Norway’s western fjords is nothing without a trip to Flam – an enchanting village with a few hundred inhabitants and record-breaking numbers of visitors thanks to its spectacular location. Here, you can marvel at wide valleys, steep, icy slopes, waterfalls and snowy mountains. Yet another hidden gem is Flamsbana, a steep railway that offers views of some unique landscapes, including the majestic Kjosfossen Waterfall. Don’t miss a trip to Osterboe, which offers visitors an authentic glimpse into Norwegian life. Flam is also home to a number of great cycling paths and local specialties, such as its famous craft beer!

Stavanger

All things old and new co-exist side-by-side in Stavanger, which is one of Norway’s largest cities and an important oil hub. Stavanger’s old town – or Gamle Stavanger – is incredibly well-preserved. Its typical wooden houses overlook narrow alleyways with characteristic charm. A walk through this old part of town will also take you past an ancient, medieval church that dominates Torget – the main city square – and port. Among Stavanger’s hidden treasures is its black gold (or oil) – to which the Oil Museum is dedicated – and some amazingly wild scenery. We recommend a trip to Preikestolen, (or Pulpit Rock), which boasts an incredible view over the fjord and surrounding mountains.

Haugesund

Some of Norway’s most famous events take place in Haugesund, a lively cultural city that hosts numerous festivals. How about, for example, taking a seat at the longest table in the world in August to try some local herring? Also very popular are the International Film Festival and Christmas markets, which are some of the biggest in Norway and are visited by thousands of visitors in search of a fantastic setting for their Christmas shopping. You can also stroll down Haraldsgata Street at any time of year, which is dotted with shops and bars. And while you’re at it, we recommend a peaceful walk along the port before taking a trip up to Utsira Island, which is home to hundreds of species of birds during migration season. In fact, this island is equipped with special huts so that you can admire them mid-flight. Karmoy Beach is also worth a mention. It looks like it belongs in the Caribbean thanks to its white sand and crystal clear waters!

Alesund

Alesund is one of the most visited areas in the whole of Norway for a number of different reasons. Its most important attraction is probably Geirangerfjord, which is one of the best fjords in the world. This particular natural wonder is a UNESCO World Heritage Site surrounded by wild mountains that reach up to 2,000 metres above sea level. If you happen to be keen on ski mountaineering – as well as cross-country skiing and winter sports in general – this is the place for you. Alesund is also famed for its intriguing architecture. In fact, it’s the capital of Scandinavian Liberty and owes its appearance to various early-twentieth redevelopment projects after a devastating fire. Wood was later banned, paving the way for some particularly elegant buildings. A giant bonfire is built in Alesund during the midsummer festival to drive away the ghosts of the past. Also worth a mention is the local church, which features a fresco-covered gallery, ornate windows and a stone structure. The city also hosts numerous cultural and food events, such as the Norwegian Food Festival. Finally, if you find yourself in the area, make sure you visit Runde Island, which is home to a beautiful bird sanctuary.

Tromso

Built on an island connected by a bridge, Tromsø is known as the gateway to the Arctic. The largest city in Northern Norway, Tromso is a key destination for those wanting to see the Northern Lights. Its polar charm is beautifully encapsulated by the surrounding snow-topped mountains and fjords, which we recommend appreciating on a kayak trip or dog sled. Tromso is also famous for its music, nightlife and animated cultural scene. In fact, it was once christened the ‘Paris of the North’ back in the nineteenth century. Perhaps its most famous building is the Arctic Cathedral, which is shaped like the top of an iceberg and is flooded with natural light thanks to its large windows and crystal chandeliers. The most beautiful views in Tromso are to be enjoyed from Mount Storsteinen, which you can reach by foot or cable car: it’s an exceptional place to enjoy the midnight sun.

Honningsvag

Honningsvag is a northern Norwegian city located on Mageroya – the northernmost island in Europe, close to the North Cape. The city was first inhabited many millennia ago, as testified by artefacts housed in the Nordkappmuseet. Today, life in Honningsvag is much more manageable, thanks to the plethora of fish restaurants and facilities open to people hoping to visit the North Cape and Knivskjellodden. Make sure you try some king crab while you’re here as it’s a local delicacy. And if you get the opportunity, head to Stappan Island, which is a bird-watching paradise, or alternatively, Skipsfjord plain –  a treasure trove of unspoiled nature. 

Trondheim

There is no doubt about it: Trondheim is what you might imagine when you picture a typical Norwegian landscape. Its colourful old warehouses, hills and welcoming atmosphere all help contribute to the magical feeling. Despite being one of Norway’s largest cities, Trondheim still feels like a local town tied to tradition. Here, you’ll find Norway’s most famous church– the Romanesque-Gothic Nidaros Cathedral, which is built on the tomb of Olaf II and is where members of the Norwegian royal family are coronated. Also worth a visit is Stiftsgården, one of the largest wooden buildings in Northern Europe. An official royal family residence, it also boasts some lovely gardens. And if you’re a music fan, Trondeim is also home to Rockheim, a contemporary music museum in a former warehouse. 

Molde

Love a bit of jazz? If you do, make sure to visit Molde! This town hosts one of the oldest jazz festivals in Scandinavia and the whole of Europe. The mild climate also helps. Molde is often called the ‘City of Roses and is dotted with flowering plants that you usually wouldn’t expect to see so far north. Set in a lovely location, you’ll find Molde at the mouth of a fjord, making it a small paradise for active folk. In fact, its most famous hiking trail leads to the Varden viewpoint, which offers some amazing views over snowy peaks and the magnificent coastal landscape. If you’re hoping to learn more about local history, we recommend a stop at the popular Romsdal Museum, where you can walk among old wooden houses and barns.  

Bergen

Norway’s second largest city, Bergen was once its capital. An ideal starting point for trips to nearby fjords, the ‘City of Rain’ will charm you with its picturesque wooden houses and pointed roofs. The medieval Bryggen district, with its narrow alleyways, has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Indeed, Bergen is a treasure trove of history, especially near its old port, where Hanseatic merchants come to trade. The red and yellow houses – which were once used as warehouses –now house bustling cafés and restaurants. The best place to sample local specialties, however, is the fish market, which is always very lively! Bergen’s natural scenery is amazing, and we recommend a quick trip on the funicular to enjoy a splendid view of the city and surrounding seven mountains from up high.

Oslo

Also known as the ‘Viking City,’ Oslo is wedged in the mouth of a fjord and surrounded by hills, lakes and mountains. Norway’s capital is a lively metropolis that happily coexists with nature and is full of green spaces and protected areas. An infinite number of electric cars circulate its streets, and you could even be in for a surprise encounter or two. In fact, it’s not too uncommon to spot an elk walking through the city during the winter months! Oslo’s best known feat of architecture is probably the Akershus Fortress, a magnificent medieval setting and royal Norwegian residence overlooking the harbour. However, this modern city’s beating heart is definitely Aker Brygge, an old shipyard that’s now packed with bars offering a pleasant view of Oslo fjord. It’s the perfect place for a relaxing walk or a spot of sunbathing on the waterfront. Among the capital’s many museums is the Munch Museum, which is home to a replica of The Scream. Also worth a visit is Oslo’s Opera House which is pretty technologically advanced and is fitted with a marble roof that you can explore for a great view of the city and surrounding fjord.

Bodo

Located just beyond the Arctic Circle, Bodø is immersed in wilderness. Here, the world’s most powerful tidal current, the Saltstraumen, creates an impressive whirlpool reaching speeds of up to 22 knots. Approaching this mass of immense water – for a spot of fishing, perhaps – is a wonderful experience. But it’s not all Bodø is known for. This is also a great place to admire the midnight sun in a kayak or watch sea eagles flying over city roofs. Also worth exploring is the wonderful Mjelle Beach and local artisan shops.

Lofoten Islands

To the north of Bodø is an authentic floating marvel: the wild Lofoten archipelago. The landscape here is amazing, with high mountains that plunge headlong into the sea. It’s also home to a number of great fishing villages, which are some of the best preserved in Norway. Here, you can snack on some tasty fish in a rorbu – a characteristic red wooden house. Perhaps the prettiest of these villages is Svolvær, an ancient settlement famous for its stockfish (as well as its breath-taking scenery) and the village of Henningsvær. The Northern Lights, which you can admire from the Lofoten islands, will take your breath away. 

Leknes

Leknes is the most populated hub in the Lofoten archipelago and its surroundings offer numerous points of interest and opportunities to explore the mythical charm of the Viking era. We recommend starting your trip at Lofotr Vikingmuseum – the Viking Museum in Borg – which is built on a chieftain’s village and houses a life-size reproduction of a ninth-century ship. You can also have fun practicing archery or other traditional Viking activities here. Make sure to also visit Haukland Beach, which is covered in white sand, as well as Flakstad Bay, where you can try your hand at a series of water sports. 

Kristiansand

One of the most famous places on Norway’s southern coast is Kristiansand, which is appreciated for its very pleasant climate. Its Gothic cathedral is one of the largest in Norway, but the city is also famous for its zoo, animal park and theme park. The city’s most iconic building is probably Kilden Theatre, which is very charming thanks to its curved wooden roof. Nature lovers can also explore Ravnedalen Natural Park, enjoy a rafting trip or even an adventure to Odderoya Island, where you can swim in the warm, clear waters of the ‘Norwegian Riviera.’

Sortland

Sortland is located in the heart of Vesteralen and is known as the ‘blue city’ thanks to its colourful buildings. Vesteral archipelago is just a short distance from the Arctic Circle and is known as the kingdom of whales. This is the place to come if you want to go whale watching! The local landscape is fairly striking, thanks to its mountainous peaks covered with forests and public footpaths, making it the perfect area for a spot of hiking while you admire the sea and ancient fishing villages. 

North Cape

The North Cape is often called the northernmost point of Europe. But if you want to be picky, the northernmost point is actually just a few metres further up the road. Magerøya Island sits atop a cliff overlooking the Arctic Ocean. The promontory stands at about 300 metres tall, welcoming new explorers with its iron globe sculpture. The Nordkapphallen Visitor Centre houses numerous themed exhibitions, a gift shop and a restaurant. The North Cape and its island are connected to the mainland by an underwater tunnel which plunges 200 metres under the sea. Alternatively, you can reach the Cape by boat from Honnisvag. The region of Finnmark – or Norway’s Lapland, as it’s known – is inhabited by the indigenous Sami people, while further south is Lake Inari, which the Sami consider sacred. The landscape surrounding the North Cape is unreal, thanks to its reindeer population and immense expanses, which you can cross by quadbike, sleigh or wearing a pair of snowshoes. This is the place to come if you’re hoping to spot the Northern Lights, it’s the perfect location to admire them.

Svalbard

The Svalbard Islands in northern Norway are a mythical place, often traversed by  polar bears. Nearby, whales swim in the ocean, making this a popular stop-off for polar safaris. One of the most remote inhabited lands, the archipelago is mostly covered in ice, although its climate is fairly moderate thanks to the North Atlantic current. The wildlife here is unique, and includes arctic foxes, seals and killer whales. Most of the Svalbard Islands are protected by reserves, natural parks and bird sanctuaries. Surreal landscapes offer a backdrop to panoramic boat trips among the icebergs. The most populous place to visit is Longyearbyen, a modern town hosting cultural events, restaurants and bars. 

Explore Norway with Costa Cruises

Ready to explore Viking villages, glaciers and majestic fjords? Sailing along the coast is the best way to admire this wild terrain, with its spectacular views – including the Northern Lights, if you’re lucky! It’s also a great way to reach some slightly more unusual places, such as Caribbean-style beaches. Hoping to fish in the ice or get pulled along by huskies through white, snowy expanses? This is the place for you. A land of myths and traditions, Norway also hosts many great events and festivals. From typical tastings to live music, there is something for everyone here. And if you love winter sports, such as cross-country skiing, Norway is the perfect destination. A Costa Cruise is the perfect way to explore Norway’s best-loved destinations, with a number of day trips guaranteed to take your breath away!

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