The perfect Norway itinerary for first time visitors

You are an outdoor enthusiast, you are going to love this Norway itinerary. I don’t just say this to get you excited, I really mean it. During our road trip in Norway, we discovered mountains, lakes, fjords, national parks, cities and vast forests. We had the most incredible adventure and we’d love to do it over and over again.

The highlight was going to the Arctic Circle and seeing the Northern Lights in Norway. I mean, wow, what an epic thing to see. And it’s not just the great outdoors, but also the absolutely spectacular scenery, the colorful wooden houses, the wonderful activities. I’m about to take you on the most scenic routes to see this amazing country. This Norway road trip itinerary is best done with a rental car so your days in Norway are spent marvelling at top attractions rather than on public transport or making your connection on time. Once you see all the dramatic scenery in Norway, you’ll want to keep on coming back to Norway for more.

That’s precisely why I can’t wait to share with you our Norway itinerary, which is ideal for any first time visitor. Let’s get started!

Norway Itinerary

There are a few things you need to know about our Norway itinerary. We rented a car for the whole duration of our trip. We wanted to drive around Norway and access remote parts of the country where we could take pictures and fly our drone.

This was the best decision as, although there is fantastic public transport in Norway, we would have missed on the most scenic routes which we discovered by chance. We are certain that without a car, we wouldn’t have seen as many areas of outstanding natural beauty. Besides, the Norwegian countryside is a joy to marvel at.

A couple of things to note about the car: the rental car was in pristine condition. You should note that the roads are very well maintained in Norway, but some roads cost to drive on. Also, most rentals come with automatic transmission, which is ideal for the Norwegian landscapes. Book your rental car here to get the best price and car.

Our Norway Itinerary - Little House

You should pack lunch in advance, so you don’t have to worry about food during your long drives. We had breakfast in the apartment/hotel, then lunch on the road, and we always finished with a hearty meal in the evening.

We purchased most of our groceries from the supermarket. You will probably do several day drives to remote areas where there are no shops or restaurants in the vicinity. So, it’s best to have some snacks and drinks with you.

It turned out to be mission impossible to be vegan in Norway, so we went vegetarian for the most duration of our trip. This made us realize that certain parts of the world don’t go well with our dietary options. As such, we decided to be vegan at home but be a bit more flexible with our diet when we travel, and allow for vegetarian dishes.

If you eat fish, honestly, the salmon in Norway is exquisite, so you must try it at least once.

If you would rather not drive, you can take a scenic train ride and visit Norway by using tour operators. Another option is to take a fjord cruise like the one from Princess Cruises.

Our Norway itinerary made us fall in love with the country. While we incorporated some dramatic National Tourist Route, we also added a few more stops to see even more of the hidden gems in Norway.

A 2-hour drive transformed into a 10-hour journey full of stops, photography, and laughter. Everything in Norway is beautiful. Be prepared to want to stop along the way to admire the scenery. For the entire trip to Norway, we recommend an early morning start to be able to take the scenic routes to your destination.

Are you ready for this? This 2 week itinerary is Norway in a nutshell.

Hiking in Norway

Day 1 – Oslo Airport to Lillehammer

We arrived in Oslo first thing in the morning. We organized for an early flight because, unlike most Norway itineraries, we wanted to skip the big capital city and head straight for the forest.

Once we arrived, the fresh air welcomed us, then a warm airport which smelled like wood reiterated that we landed in Scandinavia. Oh, you cannot imagine how excited we were to be in Norway. We heard great things. We headed for the rental offices, picked our new Hyundai Kona and away we went.

The first impressions were incredible. Everything in Norway was green. The roads had strict speed limits, much lower than the rest of Europe. This was great for me, as it gave me time to get used to the new car. G was setting up the sat nav in the driver’s seat, so we can stop in a supermarket along the way, to ensure we have provisions for the night.

Our first stop was in a random supermarket called Kiwi. A few bits and bobs came down to an exorbitant amount of money, but hey, that’s Norway alright: beautiful and costly.

We continued our journey towards Lillehammer. That’s where we stayed for the first night.

Lillehammer is a ski resort town in southern Norway. Its Maihaugen open-air museum displays buildings from the 1200s to the present. It’s a quiet town and most people have heard of it thanks to the successful tv series with the same name.

It was that night we fell in love with Norway and realized our trip will be simply legendary.

Recommend accommodation: Book The Gingerbread House in Lillehammer.

Happy with our Norway Itinerary

Day 2 – Dombås

We stayed just one night in Lillehammer. The morning was fresh and a bit foggy, with the tips of the evergreens slightly brushed by the haze. There was this deep silent, something we’ve missed for a long time. As much as we love cities and learning about new cultures, there is nothing better than a beautiful day in the mountains, where you can only hear your heartbeat.

We left Lillehammer behind and headed towards Dombås. Now, we expected Dombås to be a little dull. We knew there is a National Park nearby, but from the pictures, it looked rugged, which is not our type of terrain we like to hike on. We love deep forests, rivers, and mountains.

How wrong we were to even consider that any parts of Norway could be dull. The Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park turned out to be our highlight in Norway. We drove along the Dovre National Park for several hours just to see the landscape.

We then continued our drive towards the Dovrefjell–Sunndalsfjella National Park. Again, we had no idea what to expect, but once we saw it, our jaws dropped. The foliage was at its prime in Norway and the empty long road took us deep into the rusty forests. It looked incredible and the perfect place if you are not looking for a strenuous hike.

If we could recommend anything, it will be to spend more time in this area. There are several hiking opportunities and myriad of photographic points. As a nature photographer, you can literally spend a lifetime in this National Park and not run out of cool things to snap.

Recommend accommodation: Book Dovregubbens Hall in Dombås

National Park Norway

Day 3 – Trondheim

On day 3 of our road trip, we left the National Park behind and headed towards our first big city, Trondheim. This part of our Norway itinerary was dotted with some of the most incredible scenery ever. For beautiful forests and incredible landscape, head north.

The drive itself was fabulous, with many stops and countless photo opportunities. We really loved it.

Trondheim is a city on the Trondheim Fjord, in central Norway. Did you know that Trondheim is known as Norway’s capital of knowledge? This city was founded over 1000 years ago. The city centre is fairly small, but features those gorgeous Scandinavian wooden houses everyone loves. While you are here, visit the Nidaros Cathedral, the Bakklandet and Gamle Bybro and don’t miss the Trondheim Maritime Museum.

For the evening, book a guided tour to see a side to Trondheim that is missed by most visitors.

Recommend accommodation: Book the Clarion Hotel in Trondheim

Hike next to Trondheim

Day 4 – Atlantic Road

From Trondheim, we started making our way towards the Atlantic Road. The driving time for this was just under 4 hours. But let me tell you, what a great trip! There’s no complete Norway trip without crossing the Atlantic road, even though it has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous.

We knew it’s going to be incredible, and let me tell you, this drive didn’t disappoint. When we arrived, we crossed the Atlantic Road twice. The wind was crazy and there were times I couldn’t even stand. Needless to say, we couldn’t fly our drone. But the road was incredible. The pictures don’t do it justice.

This spine-chilling route is deemed one of the most dangerous in the world for a good reason. It has dangerous bends and dramatic bridges, and it’s especially difficult during snowstorms and blizzards.

There are refuges and places to stop dotted all along the Atlantic Ocean Road. Stop here and admire the small islets and skerries.

Just as we got ready for a hike, the weather turned sour and got caught in a mega storm. It reminded us of our home in the UK. We spent the evening chilling, cooking and enjoying some cosy time together in front of the fireplace.

The next morning, at first light, we went straight for the Atlantic Road to fly our drone. There was no wind whatsoever, so we got the footage we needed for our videos. It was worth the wait. We crossed the Atlantic Ocean road one more time because it was too beautiful not to.

Recommend accommodation: : Book Holiday Home Årsbogvegen near Atlantic Road.

Atlantic Road Norway

Day 5 – Valldal

This is where our Norway itinerary started getting even more impressive than before. When they say that the West Coast is the most beautiful, they are right!

The route to Valldal can be done two ways: you take the motorway and stick to the main road, or, you take the scenic route, via Trollstigen. Since we wanted to spend a bit longer on the road, we took the Trollstigen route.

Let me tell you right now: there shouldn’t be any other option because, undoubtedly, this was the most incredible road you can possibly imagine. It’s one of the most scenic routes I’ve ever driven on in my entire life. It takes around 2 hours to complete the drive, but we recommend taking a bit longer, so you can stop and admire it all.

We got super lucky with the weather and flew our drone over the Trollstigen road. We hiked a little on that day as well. The road is insane: hairpin turns, incredible vistas and amazing steep roads. Just make sure you have the right tyres for the weather and drive slow and safe. It’s not an easy drive, but it’s one to remember. Once you get to the top, you will be rewarded with some of the best views from about 1700 m high. You’ll want to pinch yourself, as it doesn’t even look real.

After our long drive, we finally got to our hotel in Valldal. When we thought views can’t get any better, we realized our hotel is by the water, with fabulous views of the fjords. We finished the evening with a hot meal and a bottle of wine in a glass restaurant with incredible vistas. This Norway itinerary is getting better and better.

Recommend accommodation: : Book Valldal Fjordhotell in Valldal.

Trollstigen Norway Itinerary

Day 6 – Olden

From Valldall we started our drive towards Byrkjelo via the Ørnesvingen-eagle Road. We, of course, wanted to see Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord. The landscape is as insane as you’d imagine, but the road there was also a lot busier than other parts of Norway. It was obvious this is a well-known tourist attraction. Nevertheless, we wanted to experience it for ourselves and spent a couple of hours exploring it.

As we continued our drive towards higher and higher altitude, the rain started to slowly transform into snowflakes. In a matter of minutes, we went from green to a perfectly white landscape.

We got out of the car a few times to take pictures and videos and couldn’t believe it that from the sunny Valldal, we drove through pouring rain on the Ørnesvingen-eagle Road, and fluffy fresh snow deep in the mountains.

If there is one advice I can offer, is to forget the main motorways. Always venture on those incredible scenic routes: you will be rewarded with no traffic and the most dramatic landscape you can possibly imagine.

We couldn’t find accommodation in Byrkjelo, so we had to stop in Olden. It worked out for the best as we’ve found this lovely studio apartment with fantastic views.

Recommend accommodation: : Book Olden Studioapartment in Olden.

Valldall Norway Itinerary

Day 7 – via Byrkjelo to Jostedalsbreen National Park

Jostedalsbreen National Park has long been on our wish list. We read so much about these astonishing glaciers located in Norway, so we really wanted to allocate a full day to hike on one.

The journey from Olden via Byrkjelo to Jostedalsbreen was stunning, although we couldn’t get out of the car as much as we wanted due to the pouring rain. Nevertheless, we stopped in several places just to enjoy the fresh rain.

Upon arrival, we made our way to the Nigardsbreen glacier. To get to the glacier, we took a small boat tour which rides back and forth between the glacier and the car park. The journey is less than 10 minutes. You can also walk if you prefer, but we were pressed for time as we had another hike on the list for the day.

The hike from the lake to the Nigardsbreen glacier itself took around 20 minutes. Close to the glacier you can take some pictures but should never venture further than the fence for your own safety… not without a guide anyway. We stopped and took some pictures and also got a chance to fly the drone. The views were just insane!

If you are planning a summer trip to Norway and wish to stay here for a few weeks, Jostedalsbreen National Park is a great base for the most magnificent day trips.

Cory G Norway Glacier

After the Nigardsbreen, we stopped at the hotel for a hot late lunch and a cup of coffee. We were actually excited to sleep for two nights in one place. We spoke to the lady at the hotel, who recommended that we also do a hike to see another glacier closer than Nigardsbreen. We took the car and drove for about 20 minutes, then hiked for about an hour.

This is not a hike you can find on Google Maps, you actually need a hiking map for it. Attached below is a picture of the route we took by car.

Nigardsbreen glacier

Once you reach the end of the road, there is a car park, and you can clearly see the hiking path. Just follow it on a straight line all the way to the glacier. The glacier is much smaller than Nigardsbreen, but also more special, as it’s less known. We were the only people on this path. Upon arrival back to the hotel, we got a hot meal, a glass of well-earned wine and slept like logs.

The absolute best accommodation is the Jostedal hotel. It’s affordable and very well located for any day trip in the area. Book the Jostedal hotel as soon as possible.

Day 8 – Styggevatnet

Styggevatnet was such a highlight for our Norway itinerary. Of all the days in Norway, this day trip from our hotel was the most memorable. Styggevatnet is a glacial lake from the glacier Jostedalsbreen and a must add to the bucket list.

We met our guides at 10 am in front of the Nigardsbreen conservation centre. From there, we drove another 30 minutes or so towards Styggevatnet. At the morning meeting, we found out that winter had already made its way to the Styggevatnet, and we should expect quite a lot of snow at the top.

To be fair, we didn’t think it will be too much for us, but we soon had to stop driving up the mountains as the snow became too thick, and our summer tyres finally started to show their inability to cope with the weather. We made our way through snow all the way to the top of the dam. Sadly, we also realised we prepared for a lot of rain and not for snow, as 30 minutes into the hike had us freezing. This is the point when I’m going to tell you that you should pack well for your Norway itinerary.

Road trip Norway

Once we arrived at the dam, we got onto a boat and made our way towards the face of the glacier. It looked incredible. I think no pictures can do it justice. We flew the drone from the boat just before the weather became rainy and snowy. After a while, we managed to get off the boat and started our trek towards the glacier. To be fair, by that time we got freezing as we needed to walk in knee-deep snow. Our socks were officially soaking wet, and our waterproof boots did a fantastic job at keeping the melted snow in! So, we didn’t make it too far on the glacier, but far enough to be able to take some incredible pictures.

About 1.5 hours later, we found ourselves back in the comfort of our car. We were absolutely frozen, but luckily, had some spare socks and our walking shoes at the back of the car. Once we made it to the hotel, we hit the bed and slept for a couple of hours in the warmth.

In the evening, we did a bit of walking and hiking, but nothing too strenuous as we were already relatively tired from the morning adventure.

You Could Travel Glacier

Day 9 – Vossevangen

Leaving the Jostedalsbreen National Park behind was tough. This area has more hiking trails than you can imagine, so it’s literally our type of paradise.

We commenced our journey towards Voss, and the weather turned rainy. We had hoped that we’d be able to stop along the way for more pictures. Vossevangen, our destination, was also pretty rainy and dark.

We put our waterproofs on and went for a walk around the area, then went to check the local stores in the town centre. If you don’t fancy a hike, there are a few things you can do in the area. Visit the Voss Gondol, the Finnesloftet museum or the Voss Folk Museum. Bergslitræet is the local art museum.

I think this is as good a time as any to mention the alcohol situation in Norway. You cannot purchase wine or spirits in Norway in a supermarket. In the UK, this is a given, you can literally get as many bottles of gin from your local as you want.

In Norway, you can only purchase beer or cider from the supermarkets and need to head to a shop called Vinmonopolet for your wine and liqueur. You must show ID for any purchase. Note that these shops are quite hard to find, and they are not open after 5 pm or during the weekend. Alcohol is also expensive in Norway (a bottle of wine is around £70 in a restaurant) so if you want to enjoy a glass of red with your meal, make sure to plan accordingly. We discovered a wine which we absolutely adore called Matua. It’s a New Zealand white from Marlborough which costs just £20 in shops in Norway, and it’s fantastic.

Recommend accommodation: Book the Store Ringheim Hotel in Vossevangen.

Cory G Norway Itinerary

Day 10 – Bergen

The trip from Vossevangen to Bergen was super short. We’re talking about 3 hours or so with traffic. Bergen has long been on my bucket list because of its wharf which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Viking ship museum (Bergen Maritime Museum).

Bergen is super colourful and lovely, and you must add it to your Norway itinerary.

In a way, Bergen reminded us of Bristol a little. It had so much to offer with so many interesting streets and houses, including its UNESCO Heritage Wharf. Visiting Norway is all about the nature but being in the city has its perks. Think coffee from an actual coffee shop, many restaurants to pick from, and an array of shops at every corner. If time permits, head to the cutest Gingerbread Town museum.

After a few hours of exploring Bergen and doing some shopping for epic souvenirs, we went back to the hotel to get some rest.

Recommend accommodation: Book Citybox Bergen Danmarksplass in Bergen.

Bergen Norway

Day 11 – Geilo

From Bergen, we needed to start making our way back towards Oslo airport, but we decided to take it easy and still stop for one more night somewhere in-between. The journey from Bergen towards Geilo was totally unexpected. We actually thought the road will be fairly straight, regular and boring (if anything in Norway can be boring). Turned out to be an incredible road trip full of hills and landscapes and lots of snow!

Although it was fun to see snow again, it was also a bit nerve-wracking as parts of the roads were a bit slippery and as a driver, I could feel the car struggle.

Geilo was a great little place with enough shops to find something nice to cook for dinner. The views from the apartment were also outstanding. We were lucky and got to see snowy Geilo, even though we visited late September.

I know what you’re thinking, why Geilo? Why not head further down towards the Pulpit rock to do the famed Pulpit rock hike. That’s because we really wanted an itinerary that allows people to enjoy a lesser known Norway. It’s usually the lesser known, off the beaten path locations that show how incredible Norway really is.

Recommend accommodation: Havsdalsgrenda Geilo Apartments in Geilo.


Day 12 – Oslo Airport (Flight to Tromsø)

Our last day before heading to the Oslo Airport was mainly spent on the road. We did a very light hike in the morning, then drove from Geilo to Oslo airport.

Once we got to the airport, we returned our rental and waited in the airport for a few hours before catching our flight to Tromsø. We’ve been wanting to visit the Arctic Circle for soooo long. We are aware that many Norway itinerary trips seldom involve taking a plane to Tromsø, but we can’t recommend this enough. Tromsø is spectacular, and you’ll have the chance to see the northern lights if you visit in autumn/winter or the midnight sun if you visit during the summer.

Besides, from Tromsø you can take a fantastic day trip into the mountains or the nearby islands. There are not many rental cars in Tromsø so booking your rental in advance is a must!

You Could Travel hugging and kissing in Tromso

Day 13 – Tromsø City

We spent the first day in the Arctic Circle, exploring the city of Tromsø. The main centre is tiny, so you can probably finish it all in a few hours. We had breakfast at Risø, went from shop to shop, explored its souvenir stores and had lunch at Bardus Bistro (which by the way, we very much recommend).

we spent the evening walking around the town, admiring some houses and enjoying the colourful landscape of the city. We didn’t expect to like Tromsø as much as we did. It was a lot more vibrant and exciting than anticipated, and it had a real cosy feel to it all.

If you wish to join a tour to see the northern lights, check the aurora forecast that shows the best day to go hunt for the aurora. Once you picked your day, book your guided tour. Best tours get fully booked, so make sure to book yours asap.

Recommend accommodation: Book Radisson Blu Hotel Tromsø.

beautiful Tromso with cute arctic houses

Day 14 – Lyngen Alps

As mentioned, you need to enjoy a day trip from Tromsø into the Lyngen Alps. The area is very well-connected with good motorways and fantastic roads into the mountains. We checked our tyres, and they were proper good winter tyres, so no reason to shy away from the snow.

We started driving towards Sjursnes and then Nordkjosbotn. Allocate a lot longer for this round trip because honestly, you will want to stop every minute to admire the landscape and take spectacular pictures.

Imagine incredible mountains, glorious fjords and exceptional snowy peaks. Lush forests, rivers, mirror lakes and colourful houses: that was the Arctic Circle.

You can pick any route out of Tromsø and we can assure you that you can’t go wrong. Everything is beautiful. Nature is at its prime, remote, untouched, incredible.

Alternatively, book a special all-inclusive wildlife cruise.

Places to visit in October

Day 15 – Aurora Spirit and Northern Lights

We loved our drive around the Lyngen Alps so much, that we decided to take another day trip. We wanted to drive towards Aurora Spirit, but first, we took a detour and drove to Jøvik. We thought from Jøvik we can continue our journey towards Lyngseidet, but we realized (a bit too late) that the road literally ends in Jøvik.

We had to retrace our steps and go all the way back, then go around the mountains and towards Lyngseidet. Sadly, this added a lot of time to our journey, so we couldn’t make it all the way to Aurora Spirit. Luckily, the road was insanely beautiful, so we didn’t mind the added drive. We flew the drone on so many occasions, stopped to have a picnic and enjoyed the sound of silence.

Once we reached Lyngseidet we continued towards Svensby and beyond. Again, we enjoyed the landscape, you can’t imagine how beautiful it is to drive in the middle of nowhere. It’s easy to lose the sense of time. That’s why we needed to rush back to Tromsø to make it on time for our Northern Lights tour.

Remember that if you would rather not drive for the day, you can book a great Arctic Sail Safari with a guided tour.

We realized that we’d rather spend the day driving around the wilderness and allow someone else to drive us at night. We decided to book a Northern Lights tour in the end. It turned out to be a success as we spent another 6-7 hour, driving searching for the Aurora Borealis: and what a show that was.

We got to see the beautiful dance of the Northern Lights, a dream we both had for far too long. For this, alone, we’d recommend you to visit Tromsø.

Northern Lights Norway

Day 16 – Flight home

Here we were just over 2 weeks later, getting ready to go home. We really didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to board that plane back to real life. Norway has become our favourite country, and the place we want to move to. It’s beautiful, remote, quiet, and cold, yet it’s also the most mesmerizing place we’ve seen so far. There is something about Norway which made us feel at home.

Is this the beginning of a new era? Could Norway become our new favourite place on Earth? Very likely. And to understand our perspective, we absolutely invite you to drive around Norway. We promise you won’t regret it. There is only one other country which we loved as much as Norway, and that’s Japan. The difference is that in Japan, our favourite city is Tokyo, whereby in Norway, we simply loved every single inch of this incredible country.

Visit tromso with its beautiful arctic mountains

If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. Have a safe trip to Norway.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many days do you need in Norway?

We recommend spending between 10-15 days in Norway to be able to see all the highlights and truly enjoy the most important attractions in the country. Once you visit Norway, you will definitely want to come back and end up spending a month exploring Scandinavia.

Is 10 days enough for Norway?

10 days is enough for Norway to see the main highlights and attractions. We recommend renting a car to be able to visit cities, mountains, and fjords as well as see some varied landscape.

What is the best month to go to Norway?

The best time to visit Norway is in late September, as the weather is still nice, but there are fewer tourists around. It’s also an excellent time to see the Aurora Borealis. If you wish to see the midnight sun, then a summer trip is best.

Which part of Norway is the most beautiful?

The west coast of Norway is the most impressive with its fjords, mountains and varied landscape. The Lofoten islands have long been on people’s bucket list, as they do look out of this world. The Arctic Circle has its charm, being remote and stunning.

What is the best way to tour Norway?

The best way to tour Norway is by renting a car. This allows you to see some of the most remote parts of the country.

Is Norway expensive for vacation?

Norway is an expensive country. Luckily, there are ways to budget. Rent a car and stay in apartments where you can cook your food. Hike and enjoy the great outdoors with picnics rather than eating out in restaurants.

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Cory from You Could Travel entering Senso-ji in Tokyo, Japan

Cory Varga – Cory is a published travel writer and award-winning photographer. She travels full time with her husband and is passionate about creating in-depth travel guides. Cory published her first book on Japanese customs and manners because she’s obsessed with everything Japan. She has visited hundreds of destinations and has lived in 7 different countries. Cory is multilingual and an alumna from The University of Manchester.


3 responses to “The perfect Norway itinerary for first time visitors”

  1. We visited Norway just twice and we already want to go back. The first time was in summer when we did a road trip through some of Norway’s most beautiful fjords and charming towns. The second time was just a few months later, in winter, when I visited Tromsø in Northern Norway to experience some of the incredible winter activities like dog sledding, northern lights, and more.

  2. Hi Cory and G! Such a lovely read this post. Great 16 days! I am visiting Norway next month and I will be staying for 10 days in city Larvik. I love visiting random cities that are not that much popular and getting to know all about them. This is my first time visiting one Nordic country and I can’t wait to get there :)))

  3. Jenny Jenkins Avatar
    Jenny Jenkins

    I cannot tell you how helpful this article was. I love your writing style.

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