I recently came back from one of my favorite trips I have ever taken- that was my holiday trip to the beautiful country of Norway. It is a country I highly recommend visiting (even in the winter) as you will truly be blown away by it’s naturally beauty and culture.
Today, I am sharing what I did, what I recommend doing, where I recommend eating, and sharing 10 things I wish I had known prior to visiting Norway. Hopefully my experiences and tips will help you plan your trip to Norway!
I went to Norway for 7.5 days/ 7 nights and visited a total of three cities- Oslo, Bergen, and Tromso. I felt like this amount of time was perfect for Norway- you can see the cities and get both nature and adventure in.
Places to eat in Oslo:
You have to eat at Mathallen! It is a huge food market filled with fresh vegetables, cheese, meats/ fish, and desserts. Food here is served fresh and tastes amazing! The locals eat here regularly so you should definitely make a stop here.
Believe it or not, the Asian food in Oslo was great! For a cheap, hot, and tasty meal, go to Lille Saigon! For $15, you’ll get a beer and big bowl of noodles! Can’t beat that
Drink at a cozy bar called Torggata Botaniske! The whole ceiling was covered with green vines/ leaves and the lights were dim and mysterious. The drinks were also really good!
Things to Do in Oslo:
Walk down the cute and colorful street called Damstredet. To be honest, I thought the street was gonna be much longer but it was quite short and it was a very steep hill. However, the street is perfect to capture the perfect shot for Instagram.
Check out the Spikersuppa rink! During the holidays they turn this whole area into a magical holiday market. There are tons of unique street vendors selling art to homemade jams. There was also a ferris wheel and a merry- go-round. So go drink a cup of hot mulled wine and watch the lights.
Visit the Royal Palace! This is a beautiful building and the view from the garden here of the city is beautiful!
Make sure take a walk down by the water and check out the Oslo Opera House. The view is absolutely amazing (especially when the water reflects on the water)! Make sure to check out the inside as well because the inside is quite modern and majestic.
Visit the Vigeland Park- a large sculpture park.
If you have time, take a look at the Muchmuseet, Viking Ship Museum and the Kon- tiki museum. I heard amazing things about both of these places from tons of blogs I read! Just check the hours in advance as they were quite weird when we went and the hours listed online were not updated.
Visit my Oslo map HERE to get the exact location!
The Oslo airport was so clean and very easy to get around. We picked up our bags and headed to the train into Oslo City Center. We decided to take the train because the Uber ride was estimated to cost was $182! The trains were so easy to use, clean, and on time. You can purchase the tickets for the train at the airport kiosk by the trains. There were plenty of people there to help purchase tickets but the machine was self explanatory. The train ticket is valid for two hours and you can transfer to other train.
We stayed about 20 minutes bus ride away from the city center in an area called Sandakar we found this place through Air B and B. The location was great! It was very close to public transportation busses, quiet, safe, and inexpensive.
We took the bus back down to the city center. We had a hard time trying to figure out how to purchase tickets for the bus. There was nobody checking tickets on the buses and no scanning machine. Later, we purchased an unlimited 24 hour bus ticket at a deli de Luca counter for 35 nok.
Tip: You can also purchase these bus tickets at a 7/11. Note that the person behind the cash register is the person who issues you the ticket. We were looking for a kiosk. I found that the tickets weren’t really necessary because we were not checked at all the entire stay and several bus rides. However, I feel it’s better to have it instead of getting a penalty fee if you don’t.
Tip: Throughout the entire time in Oslo, we used credit cards the entire time without any issues. You can also easily get charged individually so no need to worry about splitting a bill. I used a visa credit card and my friend used a MasterCard- no issues. Another friend used an American Express Amex card and had some issues having the card accepted at certain places.
Bergen Train Station
Take the train to Bergen from Oslo. This is known to be one of the best train rides as the views are amazing! The train ride is about 8 hours and tickets are under $100.
Things to Do in Bergen:
Take the Funicular to go to the top of Mount Floyen. The ride up is so fun- try sitting in the very front to get a great view going up. The funicular runs every 10-15 minutes till about 4-5pm depending on the day. So plan accordingly if you can’t walk back down. The view from the top of the mountain was beautiful!! The colors of the building against the water were stunning. After you take in the views, of you can, walk down and take the mini turns that take you to other areas of the mountain. The forests there are unreal- covered fulling in moss and they have the tallest pine trees!
Walk around the city center and along the Bryggen- where the colorful house are located. Get “lost” by exploring the tiny cobblestone streets. The streets on Bergen were so cute and lead all different directions.
Eat at the fresh fish market- we had the best fish and chips at one of the restaurants there named Fjellskaal Fisketorget.
Our Christmas dinner was at Kitchen & Table- restaurant by well renown chef Marcus Cooks. They had a huge Buffett set up for the Christmas dinner. Any other night, they have a great menus to order from. The Christmas dinner consisted of fresh breads, salads, fresh sashimi and smoked salmon, an array of traditional meat dishes from beef, ribs, lamb, finished with potatoes.
Check out the Magic Ice Bar- you can literally have drinks in an ice igloo! The experience was unique(very touristy but hey, why not right).
TIP: Take a taxi to the airport. In December the roads were covered in snow and ice so taking public transportation with luggage is a little bit tough. Our taxi ride to the airport was about 335 NOK / $34 for a 7 mile ride. If you are staying in the city center, public transportation may be easy as the bus stops directly in the center. The bus ride costs about $3 and the ticket is valid for two hours. You can purchase the tickets on the app TFT Mobillettor at a ticket kiosk.
TIP: Check the times of opening for all the sights and restaurants you are hoping to visit. Note that many restaurants open around 6pm and museums/ stores close as early as 4pm.
Arriving in Tromso
Things to do in Trømso:
Walk around the city center. It is quite small so should be able to cover the ground in 2 hours. The building are very charming and storefronts are decorated really cute.
Visit the Polaria (aquarium)- this aquarium is very small and doesn’t take more than 45 minutes to an hour to visit the entire location. The main attraction here are the cute seals. The seals were so adorable and very friendly! Make sure to catch the show/ feeding.
Check out the Arctic Church- Ishavskatedralen. The architecture is very unique!
Go chase the northern lights. I didn’t realize exactly how challenging this was going to be. If you have no experience in doing this, I recommend booking a tour. We took the Northern Lights Photography Tour and it was great! Some other people we talked to booked the northern lights tour several times to get a better chance of seeing the lights.
One of the main reasons I went to Trømso was to see the Aurora Northern Lights. After doing some research, people mentioned that Trømso was one of the best places to view the lights. So it great anticipation, I booked a tour. We departed the city center around 6pm and headed over to our first location Kvaløya. This was a beautiful area- a huge flat field with mountains in the distance. The tour guides were so great at helping each person get their cameras set up to get the best shot of the northern lights. We were there till about 8pm and left since the sky was too cloudy at that location. We sped off to the next location where the clouds were expected to clear up. In about 40 minutes drive, we arrived at Sommarøya- a gorgeous beach with mountains in the distance. The clouds were clearing up and the anticipation was building. We waited here for an hour and half and the skies did not clear up for us. Around midnight, we packed up and headed to the third location. In 30 minutes drive we arrived at our third and final destination, Fjordvegan. After waiting for another 30 minutes, our guide said the chances were quite low for the night and we packed back up to head back to Trømso city center. We didn’t see the northern lights in Trømso like we were expecting but I hope your chances are higher!
I went in thinking the chances of seeing the Aurora lights would be very high- almost like seeing the sunset. Well, I was quite wrong. The tour guides were really nice in telling us the updates on the weather and truly helped get us to all of the best possible locations to see the lights. The chances of seeing the northern lights depend on three factors- pure dark skies (this is why it is best to visit during the winter months when it is dark most of the time, clear skies, and high solar activity). It’s really unpredictable as the weather changes quite quickly.
This was a fun filled day of adventures! We went on the Trømso Artic Reindeer sledding tour in the morning which I highly recommend doing! During the winter months (I went in December), the amount of daylight is very low so the earlier in the morning you head out, the better. You’ll have a better chance of seeing the amazing views and capture well-lit pictures. As we were leaving the Sami Culture sight around 1:30pm, it was already getting dark outside.
The tour begins in the city center and the bus takes us on a 30 minute ride to the Sami Culture sight in the Tønsvik area in Trømso. We were welcomed by the Sami people with the biggest welcoming smiles. I automatically spotted a reindeer and my excitement level shot up! We started out by feeding breakfast to the reindeer and boy were they excited to eat! Multiple reindeer came trotting over at the sight and smell of food. The reindeer are not shy at all but very friendly. I could not get over how cute the reindeer were- I was literally the happiest girl feeding them.
I got pretty cold after 30 minutes of being outside so we went inside to warm up by the fresh wood burning fire and have a hot drink.
Trømso Arctic Reindeer tour has two options for the reindeer sledding, one is 30 minute ride and the other is a 15 minute ride. We opted for the longer ride but both times will give you the full experience. The ride was absolutely beautiful! The scenery was so gorgeous everywhere you looked. Keep in mind that the reindeer are naturally trained to carry a lot of weight and the Sami people take very good care of them.
After the sleigh ride, we had an amazing traditional Sami lunch. There are two options, a reindeer stew or vegetable stew- both were very good options. Then the Sami people told us a little about their history and traditions.
All in all, I highly recommend this tour! It was definitely an experience that I will never forget. This tour also helps the Sami people keep their traditions alive and prevents the Norwegian government from taking the land for oil mining. The tour cost 1580 NOK/ $183 and you can book the tour HERE.
TIP It was quite cold in Trømso in December, about 0 degrees Celsius/ 32 degrees Fahrenheit). I highly recommend wearing multiple layers and even carry hand and feet warmers. You should definitely wear snow boots with good grip as well.
Stop in a local pub and drink the locally brewed beer from Mask. There are several types so I am sure you’ll find something love. If you have time, just go to the brewery itself. Unfortunately, the hours did not fit my schedule so I didn’t get a chance to visit.
Check out my Tromso map HERE for all the details and locations
Where to eat in :
I found that Trømso food scene was actually better than both Oslo and Bergen, which I was very surprised by.
I highly recommend trying the following places
Huken Pub- this is a small yet cozy feeling restaurant and bar. The vibe is very chill and you order food and drinks at the bar. People raves about the burgers at this place so I had to try it out myself. Let me just say, they were not lying. The meat was so fresh and juicy, the toppings were perfect, and that fried cheese was heaven. They also have really interesting potato dishes that were really good too.
Bardus Bistro- this restaurant was a bit fancier but the food was too. The plates were garnished so beautifully that you had to take a moment to admire it before taking a bite. I ordered the lab rib and it was delicious! The meat was cooked perfect and the flavors were amazing. This dish was quite big so be hungry if you are ordering it. The restaurant was so kind to substitute and ingredients and prepare vegetarian options as well.
Bar- right under the Huken Pub was a really cool bar. The place was dark and mysterious with red walls and old school posters. Order a craft cocktail here. I recommend the piper if you like tequila
Solid- a bar and coffee joint in one. This was a great spot to pop in for a quick drink before some restaurants opened up.
Asian healthy cuisine- this was a random fast food joint that is connected to a store. Surprisingly, the food was quite good. If you are looking for something fast and cheap, this is your spot. The bonus was that it was open when many other restaurants were not open yet.
I highly recommend booking tours in advance (at least a month ahead) to guarantee spots. unfortunately, the weather is not predictable so you cannot wait to see how the weather is to plan ahead.