If you dare to venture into the far northeast of Norway, you will discover a small, charming town called Vardo.
It’s a little out of the way, and in fact the drive here from the popular city of Kirkens (more on that below) took a good day of driving.
But as you will soon discover, many of the best places to see in Norway actually lie on the roads between destinations.
With Vardo it’s no different, as you spend almost the whole day driving alongside the glacier and ocean.
Driving in Norway in winter is truly spectacular, and this drive was one of my favourites from the whole trip.
And when you get to Vardo, you are greeted by a charming city, complete with cafes, bars, restaurants and even the world’s most northernmost stone fortress!
Also, you have to pass by this town in order to get to what is possibly the most underrated place to visit in all of Norway ...
There’s a very good reason why Hamningberg is one of the least touristy places anywhere in Norway …
It’s because getting here is far from easy!
There is only one road in and out of Hamningberg, and you have to first go to Vardo in order to get to that road.
Then, if you plan on visiting in winter, when there’s snow on the ground, then you need a heavy duty road vehicle to get you there.
In turns out that we were very naive on our visit as we failed to realise just how isolated Hamningberg is and how arduous can be at that time of year.
Fortunately however, in late October the road was still being cleared, so we could pass through.
It also helps that our campervan was built on a Toyota Hilux, with thick offroad tyres and 4 wheel drive.
What made this place so special was the mesmerising drive the whole way.
The only way I can describe it is like driving through the landscape from that frozen planet in the movie Interstellar.
It gets to a point where you have only swirling ocean on one side, and steep unforgiving mountain cliffs on the other.
Hamningberg itself is very small, a remote fishing village that is actually abandoned in the winter months!
We spent the night camping here and were greeted with the most spectacular Northern Lights display!
Check it …
3. North Cape
If Hamningberg was my favourite and most rugged place to visit in Norway, then I would say that the North Cape is my second favourite.
It’s the most northerly point, not only in Norway, but anywhere in mainland Europe.
It’s actually a small island off Norway that is now connected by bridge.
Once again, it was the drive here that was so memorable, the whole way driving alongside some of the best fjords in Norway, as well as countless fishing villages.
There are a series of long tunnels and bridges that forge their way up to the north cape, with the scenery getting more dramatic and desolate the further you go.
Up at the North Cape is a tourist centre and restaurant area where you can visit the iconic globe statue, located at the most northerly point.
It’s a huge sense of achievement getting here by car, as you have to go a very long way to get there.
In fact, it took us more than a month of driving to reach here from Vilnius (in Lithuania).
4. Lyngenfjord Bridge
Located a little off the beaten track (like most of Norway’s best attractions), to get to Lyngenfjord you need to be prepared for a bit of hiking.
The closest car park is about an hour’s walk from the bridge (at least by our walking standards), and to get there you get the pleasure of heading up a winding valley road deep into the mountains.
There is a longer hike you can do, with a big loop like walk that would probably take closer to 4 or 5 hours, but I’m sure would be well worth it!
The bridge itself is the main attraction, spanning a gorge, offering unparalleled views of a giant waterfall.
As someone who has developed a fear of heights in recent years, it’s fair to say I was more than a little freaked out going over the bridge, but it’s perfectly safe don’t worry.
In fact you can even bungee jump off the bridge if you feel up for it!
As it was minus 10 degrees at its warmest by this point in the year, the waterfall was almost entirely frozen over, which was an awesome site!
I think Alta is one of the best places to visit in Norway if you need somewhere to base yourself for exploring the rest of northern Norway.
It’s a fairly sizeable town (at least by Norway’s standards) and is home to some really cool buildings, in particular, the Cathedral Of The Northern Lights.
It is situated on the shores of a gorgeous fjord, and we actually spent the night wild camping by one, just outside of town.
If you need somewhere to restock on food and other supplies, Alta is a great place to do it.
In fact, this town actually saved us as we had completely ran out of gas in Finnish Lapland and needed somewhere to get winter gas in order to survive those arctic -25 degree nights!
For that Alta, we will be forever grateful!
There are all kinds of things to do in Alta, including hunting for the Northern Lights, dog sledding and much more.
Tromso is one of the most popular places to visit in Norway, as it has good roads getting there and even an airport.
There is also a busy cruise port as well, so it’s popular for everyone, regardless of how you plan on getting around Norway!
The city is very charming, and actually looks really cool from across the water.
Tromso seemed to us to be a good place to base yourself if you plan on flying into Norway, renting a car and then exploring some of the most beautiful parts of northern Norway, mentioned already.
As well as a few of the places below.
Just like Alta, it’s easy to book onto all kinds of tours and activities from Tromso, here’s some inspiration:
7. Reine (Lofoten Islands)
The Lofoten Islands are, according to locals, getting increasingly popular year on year.
And to be honest, it’s not exactly hard to see why!
The drive down through the Lofoten Islands is nothing short of spectacular, with perhaps a dozen (I lost count) enormous, winding bridges connecting all of the roads.
Once you get down the end of the islands, you come to a small town called Reine.
It turns out that you can get ferries here, so despite the road down here being almost empty, we suddenly found ourselves surrounded by other tourists!
Want to know why Reine is so popular?
Well, they say a picture paints a thousand words …
The second of my favourite places to see in the Lofoten Islands is Nusfjord.
This is a real, old school Norwegian fishing village, complete with authentic buildings dating back decades.
It is still a functioning fishing village, but also a sort of experience, where you can visit and find out how these traditional towns work.
When we visited Norway in November, the town was shut down for the winter, and nothing was really open, but we still had a chance to wander around and discover the cool, red wooden buildings.
Apparently, if you visit in the summer once the catch has come in, the town is engulfed in the smell of fish, all out drying on large wooden structures.
9. Haukland Beach
There really are dozens of great things to see and do on the Lofoten Islands, but if I had to pick my third favourite spot here, it would probably be Haukland Beach.
Here, you can park up and walk right out and around the headland, taking in views of the dramatic crashing waves all around.
Alternatively, you can hike up the mountain there to get even better views for miles all around.
After visiting this beach, you can then drive through the tunnel, which brings you to another tiny village community.
Here you’ll find a beach with perfect breaks for surfing and even at that time of the year there were plenty of people out riding the freezing waves!
When crossing back into Norway from Sweden, we found ourselves passing by Trondheim.
We weren’t really too sure what to expect, and decided to visit on a whim.
What we found ended up being one of the best cities in Norway that we found!
Perhaps even my favourite.
It’s not a big city (though no city in Norway are big) and has tonnes of character and charm, complete with old traditional Norwegain buildings and a large Gothic cathedral.
They have a wonderful castle overlooking the city, and lots of charming cafes in the oldest part of the town.
For more information, check out our guide on all of the best things to do in Trondheim in one day.
11. The Atlantic Ocean Road
One thing we soon learned during our road trip through Norway is that the country is home to some of the most mesmerising bridges we’ve ever seen.
When passing through the coastal parts of Norway, it almost seems like you can’t go more than an hour without stopping over to photograph yet another stunning bridge.
Well, perhaps the most famous bridges are those located on the now infamous Atlantic Ocean Road.
It twists and turns, connecting tiny parcels of land to one another and forming a short yet inspiring road trip that you can’t help but love!
Many claim this to be one of the most scenic drives in the world, and it really is hard to disagree!
When looking for some of the best hikes to do in Norway, we came across Rampestreken, located in southern Norway.
This is a large hill, with a small town called Andalsnes right at its base.
At the top of the hike (which takes 1 to 2 hours depending on fitness and weather conditions) is a large steel viewing platform which makes for some spectacular views out over the town and surrounding fjords.
When we did the climb, it was a lot of hard work as the ground was frozen and covered in ice, and there isn’t exactly much of a trail to go on in the first place.
But nonetheless, the views were more than worth it and I would 100% recommend others visit.
13. Geiranger Fjord
One of the things Norway is most famous for is its fjords, located all along its coastline.
To be honest, no matter which part of Norway you visit, as long as you head to the coast you should be able to find a fjord that you will truly love!
In fact, doing a fjord cruise is one of the most popular things to do in Norway and I am gutted we didn’t get a chance to do one as well!
But if I had to pick one fjord, then I would say that Geiranger Fjord was one of my favourites, and we seemed to spend a lot of time driving around it.
14. Lovatnet Lake (The Norwegian Gap of Dunloe)
From here, one of the best things you can see is the Gap Of Dunloe, arguably the most famously picturesque place in Ireland.
Well for me, Lovatnet Lake seemed to be all as much as beautiful and pristine as the Gap Of Dunloe.
It strikes a startling resemblance and this is now how I remember it!
It’s well worth a detour to visit if you are passing by, and is actually located near to a cable car that takes you up the mountain, with a restaurant and views out all across the fjords.
Probably worth a visit, though it fell a little outside of our budget for Norway!
15. The Flam Railway
This is another Norway attraction that we hadn’t planned on doing, until the day when we arrived in the cute town of Flam.
It quickly came to our attention that this is the most popular thing to do in the area, and so we hastily secured ourselves a couple tickets.
I'm glad we did …
The journey takes you deep into the mountains, about one hour up until you reach a small stop called Myrdal.
There’s not much to do here, but it’s the journey itself that is the best part of the visit.
Along the way, you get to learn about the history of the train and the railway, whilst also spotting waterfalls and long forgotten tracks all along the way.
You also stop off at Kjosfossen Falls along the way which was once again frozen during our visit!
It turns out that in the summer months, the Flam Railway takes thousands of passengers a day! Largely because cruise liners come all the way up the fjords to reach it.
Another one of my few favourite cities in Norway is Kristiansand.
Once again, though not big, there’s plenty to do here for a day, as well as a big range of cafes, bars and restaurants.
When you’ve spent weeks out hiking and exploring desolate fjords it’s sometimes nice to head into a city and readjust briefly to civilisation!
I really enjoyed just walking the city, especially during late November when it was gearing up for Christmas with all the decorations out on display.
17. Pulpit Rock (Preikestolen)
By far, one of the most Instagrammable places to visit in Norway is Pulpit Rock.
I’ve gone ahead and added a picture below, and I think that should tell you everything you need to know about why you should visit!
The views from it are spectacular, made all the more memorable by the one and a half hour hike it takes to get here.
It’s actually one of Norway’s most popular sites where, in the summer months, they get up to a few thousand people hiking there every single day!
Our visit in November was very fortuitous, as there was no snow on the ground and we were perhaps the 5th and 6th people to get there that day, because we left early in the morning.
But don’t let the crowds put you off from visiting, just be prepared to wait a long time to get a photo at the spot.
For more information, check out the guide we wrote on visiting Pulpit Rock.
As it’s the capital of Norway, you would assume that Oslo is easily one of the top places to visit in Norway.
And yes, while it’s certainly worth a visit I will add that it should not be the main base for your trip.
In fact, if you only have a few days to visit Norway and you are flying into one of the Oslo airports, I would actually advise that you spend your time visiting other places on this list instead.
Right, now that I’m done insulting Oslo, here’s a few of the best reasons that you should actually visit!
Number one … if you are there in November or December, then the Christmas market here is awesome!
Easily one of my favourites ever, despite being far from the biggest.
Other great sites here, that are in this case open all year round, including the opera house and the royal palace.
Also, they now have electric scooters to rent which, as well as being a great way to get around the city, are SO much fun!
Just be sure to download the apps before your visit:
Before heading out of southern Norway, we decided to stop at the historic city of Fredrikstad.
This quickly became one of my favourite stops on the trip, though very small, the city is even older and more historical than Trondheim.
Well, it’s the oldest city in Norway!
Better yet, the old city has become somewhat of a museum, with many of the oldest buildings still in tact, and free for you to walk around.
They also have an assortment of museums, cafes and art galleries to visit.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Kirkenes!
Whereas Fredrikstad is the southernmost major city in Norway, Kirkenes is located in the isolated far north east of the country.
The city itself is nice and has some charm, but the main reason to visit is for all the great tours and activities on offer!
Amongst many other things, they offer a snow hotel, king crab fishing and tours to see the northern lights.
For more ideas of what to do in Kirkenes, check out this site here.
Well, that’s about it!
My top 20 Norway bucket list of great places to visit!
Though they are all amazing places to go in Norway, just be aware that they are located ALL across the country, and you will need your own car to drive the whole country to see them all.
If this sounds like a tremendous adventure to you, then you should also check out my complete guide to the best road trips in Norway.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are a few places we really wanted to visit in Norway, but didn’t get a chance to.
These include ...
- Kjeragbolten and Kjærrafossen waterfall
If you get the chance to visit any of them, then let me know below how you got on.
Similarly, if you have any other places to visit in Norway in winter or summer that you’d like to recommend, just drop a comment below!