Norway in summer
Last Updated: July 20, 2021

Norway In Summer: Best Places & Alternatives

Want to visit Norway in the summer? It’s a bold choice, considering that some parts of the country get snow even in July. But I won’t tell you about those; instead, I will only tell you about the places that are best experienced in the summer, with a few alternatives for the cities that get just a little too busy in warm weather.

From the spectacular architecture of Oslo to the best beaches of Kristiansand – this guide to the best places to visit in Norway in the summer is the only one you need to read to plan the perfect Nordic getaway!  

Explore Oslo

Oslo

Oslo is Norway’s capital and it’s one of the best cities to explore in the summer. It’s not the first place that comes to mind when you think of a summer vacation in Norway, but it’s certainly a worthy stop. Plus, there are quite a few beaches in Oslo and the most popular swimming spots are almost in the city center!

The days are very long in Oslo in the summer with up to 19 hours of sunlight. This is perfect for roaming around the city and seeing the best of what Oslo has to offer. The warm weather really makes the city come alive, but the streets are not necessarily as busy as you would expect. That’s because Oslo summers are all about the sea and Norwegians spend most of their time fishing, swimming, or just relaxing on the vessels docked in Oslo harbor.

Oslo Opera House

That also means you can explore some of the city’s top sights without encountering huge crowds. The Oslo Opera House should be one of the first tops on your tour of the city – it’s an iconic sight and one of the most famous buildings in all of Norway! A close second is the imposing Akershus Fortress. The former waterside prison boasts two military museums dedicated to its history, as well as spectacular views of Oslo.

Then there are the museums. Oslo has quite a few great museums and most of them are worth your time. The Norway Resistance Museum is a must for history buffs, the Edward Munch Museum is perfect for art lovers, and the Viking Ship Museum is interesting for everyone. Other museums worth visiting in Oslo are The Norwegian Museum of Cultural History, The Fram Museum, The Vigeland Museum, and The Norwegian Armed Forces Museum.

See Bergen And Its Mountains

Best Places To Live In Norway

Bergen is Norway’s second-largest city and one of the best places to visit in both summer and winter. The spectacular city is surrounded by seven mountains, the tallest of which is Mount Ulriken. Take a cable car to the top of the mountain for some truly mesmerizing panoramic views of Bergen. You could also hike to the top of the mountain – it takes about two hours and the trail is suitable even for beginners.

Fløyen is the second-tallest mountain near Bergen and another great place to enjoy some stunning panoramic views of the city. It’s best to ride the cable car from Bergen to the mountain, and then you’re free to go and explore as many of the different hiking trails as you want. Fløyen is also popular for mountain biking, canoeing, and ziplining!

Bergen Mountains

The mountains surrounding Bergen are phenomenal, but they’re not the only things worth seeing on the peninsula. The city itself is full of interesting attractions including landmarks, parks, museums, and iconic buildings. One of the first stops on your Bergen tour should be Bryggen, a medieval wharf best known for colorful boathouses. Walk around this part of the city until you eventually reach the Bergenhus Fortress. The 13th-century fortress is one of the oldest buildings in the city and it features a museum with detailed exhibits on Bergen during WWII.

Another interesting museum in Bergen is the Leprosy Museum. It’s located on the grounds of a preserved hospital from the 18th century, and it features exhibits on Norway’s history of leprosy and relevant research contributions. It’s also very close to the Bergen Fishmarket, which happens to be a great place to grab a bite of (overpriced) seafood delicacies.  

Best Alternatives To Bergen

Not in the mood to overpay for accommodation in Bergen in the summer? That’s fine – although the charming city remains one of the top locations in Norway for a summer visit, there are quite a few worthy alternatives that are just as interesting, but without the crowds!

Trek To Trondheim

Trondheim

Trondheim is one of the largest cities in Norway and very popular with tourists. It’s also the home of Nidaros Cathedral, which happens to be the final destination of one of Norway’s most famous long-distance hikes. If that is something you enjoy, a trek to Trondheim is a great way to explore Norway in the summer.

There are nine different pilgrim routes to Nidaros Cathedral, and together they are more than 3,000 kilometers long. The most popular pilgrim path is Gudbrandsdalsleden, which is a 643-kilometer hike from Oslo to Trondheim. It’s the longest of the pilgrim paths, and it takes the average hiker a little over a month to complete it. It’s also one of the most scenic routes in the country featuring spectacular landscapes, untouched nature, and countless landmarks along the way. 

Nidaros Cathedral

If you’d rather not spend a month hiking from Oslo to Trondheim, you can just fly into the city and explore it the old-fashioned way. Apart from the iconic cathedral, there are quite a few other places worth visiting in Trondheim. The Kristiansten Fortress is surely one of the top city sights, both for the rich history and picturesque location.

There’s also the Trøndelag Folk Museum that boasts around 80 different buildings in an open-air setting and happens to be one of the best places to learn about Norwegian history and culture. If you enjoy Norwegian pop music head to Rockheim – the museum features an extensive media library, interactive exhibits, and some seriously cool vintage exhibits.

Additionally, you should also stop by the Old City Bridge. It’s a classic Trondheim landmark famous for the red portals and scenic riverside views. But for the best city views, you’ll want to head to Tyholttårnet, a radio tower in Tyholt. With an observation deck and a great restaurant, this is the best place for panoramic views of Trondheim.

Mosjøen

Mosjoen

Mosjøen is a small town in central Norway and the oldest town of the Helgeland region. The entire town lies on the bank of Vefsnefjord so the views are out of this world no matter where you look. Just like Bergen, it is surrounded by mountains with plenty of exciting hiking trails for you to explore.

Mosjøen is truly a great destination for adventurers. With countless hiking trails, via ferratas, and a thrilling 700-meter zipline, this is a great place for those who seek an adrenaline rush.

The small Norwegian town is also home to several interesting museums that explore the history and culture of the region, so be sure to visit those if you’re interested in learning more about this part of Norway. Additionally, one of the biggest aluminum plants in Europe is located in Mosjøen and it happens to be quite popular with tourists. It’s not possible to tour the plant, but you can always go check it out just to see how incredibly big the place is.

Lillehammer

Lillehammer

Lillehammer is a town in southern Norway that’s popular for its amazing ski resorts. It gets the largest influx of tourists in the winter, meaning it’s going to be pretty much deserted in the summer. It’s a great place to be if you want to avoid the crowds of Norway’s busy cities, but still, have a bunch of interesting things to see and do.

Although the town is most popular for winter sports, there are still plenty of fun things to do in the summer. It’s close to three Norwegian national parks, so it’s the perfect place for hikers. Lillehammer in the summer is also popular for mountain biking, fishing, cycling, wildlife safaris, and horseback rides. If you enjoy being outdoors and exploring nature, you’ll love it in this quaint town.

You’ll also find a few interesting museums in Lillehammer, so feel free to do some indoor exploring as well. If you don’t have the time to see them all, at least visit the Norwegian Olympic Museum. It’s an exciting modern museum with exhibits that mostly focus on the Winter Olympics that were held in Norway.

Kristiansand

Kristiansand

Kristiansand is a town in southern Norway popular for amazing beaches and one of the best zoos in the country. The Kristiansand Zoo and Amusement Park get more than 900,000 visitors every year, so you really should check out what all that fuss is about. There are all sorts of wild animals at the zoo from flamingos to cheetahs, as well as countless themed rides. This is a particularly fun experience for families with children.

You should also visit some of the museums in Kristiansand. The Kristiansand Museum is a great way to get acquainted with the town and its history, the Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden is a must if you’re at all interested in geology, and the SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum is perfect for art lovers. The Christiansholm Fortress is also worth a quick stop if you’re into historical places and scenic views.

The town is also home to numerous sandy beaches, and it’s a very popular place for a more traditional summer vacation. Kristiansand is south enough that summers get very warm for Norway, meaning you’re free to walk around in lightweight clothes and sunbathe as much as you like. Even the sea temperature rises to a temperature that’s comfortable for swimming, and the many water parks on the coast really take advantage of that fact. The water parks are fun for kids, but adults will likely prefer the more peaceful sandy beaches with calm water and stunning views.

Go Island Hopping In Lofoten

Lofoten

Lofoten Islands are one of the best places to visit in northern Norway regardless of the season. There’s a lot to do and see here both in the summer and winter, and you should plan a longer stay in the area. The ideal Lofoten trip starts in the fishing village Å, which is the starting point of the E10 road that connects Norway with Sweden.

The fishing village is a great place to learn about the importance of fishing for the country and to admire some wonderful nature. But it’s a very small village and it only takes a few hours to cover everything worth your time here. The Lofotr Viking Museum in Bøstad is much more interesting. It’s situated in a reconstructed longhouse which is an interesting sight in itself, plus you get to see some recreated Viking ships and all sorts of archeological exhibits.

Lofoten Islands

You should also stop by the Lofoten Aquarium. It boasts a wide variety of fish species, otters, seals, and many other maritime animals. Also, the aquarium is just a short drive from Magic Ice Lofoten, which is another great place to visit. It’s an ice gallery with all sorts of fun sculptures and all visitors receive a drink in an ice glass. Maybe skip this if you’re not a fan of sub-zero temperatures.

It’s worth noting that Lofoten Islands are also known for amazing hiking trails. From the trails of Reinebringen to the landmark Svolværgeita peak, the archipelago boasts so many hiking trails it would take you forever to explore them all. The trails vary in difficulty and length, so there are plenty of options for all skill levels. Some of the best hikes in the Lofoten Islands are Horseid Beach, Værøy, Nusfjord to Nesland, and of course the magical Svolværgeita peak.

Best Alternatives To Lofoten Islands

Lofoten Islands are spectacularly beautiful in the summer, but that attracts quite a few tourists. If you’d rather skip the lines and head to a less crowded location, check out some of these alternatives to the Lofoten Islands!

Røst

Rost Norway

Image courtesy of Kent Wang

Røst is an island municipality in Nordland country. It’s not very popular with tourists, which makes it the perfect alternative to the busy Lofoten Islands. You can still enjoy stunning untouched nature but without all the crowds.

This place is particularly popular for birdwatching since the diverse landscape attracts many different bird species. But, birdwatching is most popular in autumn when various species start to migrate further north, using this quaint fishing village as a stop-over. The town does have some of the largest nesting cliffs in this part of the world, which are home to colonies of shag, cormorants, puffins, and kittiwake.

In addition to that, Røst has a surprisingly rich cultural life – at least for such a small place. Lundefestivalen is held here annually, and it attracts Norwegians from all parts of the country. The festival is usually held in the summer, so plan your trip around it if you decide to travel to Røst!

Bodø

Bodo Norway

Bodø is a town south of the Lofoten Islands, in the Bodø municipality. It doesn’t get as many tourists as Lofoten, especially in the summer, so it’s a great alternative to the busy islands. There are loads of fun things to do in and near Bodø, and you can even go on a day trip to Lofoten Islands if you want!

Bodø lies above the Arctic Circle, which means you’ll get to experience the Midnight Sun if you visit the town in June or July. It’s a spectacular phenomenon, but it does make it a bit difficult to stick to a normal sleep schedule.

Also, Bodø is a great place to be whether you prefer to explore indoor or outdoor attractions. The town boasts several interesting museums and landmarks, the most notable of which is the Norwegian Aviation Museum. It’s a unique museum and a must if you’re ever in Bodø, with vintage aircraft (civilian and military) and an interactive workshop. There’s also the Nordland Museum with detailed exhibits on the history and culture of the area.

Bodo Nature

Nyholms Fort is another place in Bodø worth visiting. It’s just a short hike away from the city center and it offers beautiful views of the town.

When it comes to outdoor exploration, you’ll be happy to know that there are dozens of great hiking trails just outside the town. Keiservarden is the most popular hike in the area with two trails that take you to the top straight from the city center. More experienced hikers who enjoy a challenge will love the hike to the top of Per Karlsatind – we’re talking steep ascents, scramble, and exposed terrain. Other mountain peaks in the area are Litltind, Lurfjelltind, and Heggmotinden, but they’re just a few notable mentions out of dozens of worthy options.

Senja

Senja Norway

Senja is Norway’s second-largest island and one of the best places to be in the summer. It’s a very scenic island with numerous hiking trails, viewpoints, and beaches worth exploring. You likely won’t be able to swim in the sea though, since the water temperature is a measly 11 degrees Celsius even in August. But you can ascend to the mountains above those beaches to experience some of the best views on the island.

Segla Norway

And you can explore the many different mountains of Senja island! Segla is in the north part of the island, and it’s the most popular mountain in the area. It gets pretty busy in the summer, so maybe it’s not the best option if you came to Senja to avoid the Lofoten crowds. But it’s such a fun climb to the top with extraordinary scenic views that it’s definitely worth the hassle.

Other fun things to do in Senja include dog-sleigh rides, national park visits, and camping. Senja island has some of the best campsites in Norway, so be sure to check out the different options if you’re not opposed to camping. It’s also worth noting that Norway’s Everyman’s Right lets you camp pretty much anywhere you want, which is perfect for people who enjoy being in touch with nature.

See The Midnight Sun In Tromso

Tromso Harbour

Tromso is a beautiful town in Northern Norway popular for the Northern Lights in the winter and the Midnight Sun in the summer. No matter when you visit Tromso, you’ll have lots of fun.

The town is above the Arctic Circle, which means that the sun doesn’t set during the summer. This causes the phenomenon known as the Midnight Sun that so many people come to Tromso to see. But the eternal day also means you can go on walks and hikes in the dead of the night and still have plenty of daylight.

One of the best things to do in Tromso is to ride the cable car to Storsteinen. The ride is short and exciting and the views along the way – and from the top station – are just incredible. On your way to the cable car station, you will pass by the Arctic Cathedral, which happens to be the most iconic building in Tromso. It’s definitely a worthy detour, especially if you enjoy modern architecture.

Tromso Cathedral

Tromso also boasts quite a few interesting museums, most notable of which are the Perspective Museum and the University Museum. The former is an art museum with local photography exhibits and the latter is a history museum with exhibits on local culture, archeology, and science.

The Norwegian town is also home to an exciting arctic aquarium, Polaria. The exhibits are both fun and educational, so maybe skip this museum if you don’t believe in climate change.

For some outdoor fun in Tromso head to Prestvannet. The lake is very popular in the winter for Northern Lights viewing, but the nature around the lake is much more beautiful in the summer. The animals come out and flowers are in bloom, making this one of the best places in Tromso for a scenic walk or a nice picnic.

Pulpit Rock, Trolltunga & Trollsfjord Alternatives

You’ve likely heard of these iconic hikes in Norway, right? Well, so has the rest of the world. They’re not the most popular hikes in Norway for no reason, and every summer hordes of tourists are drawn to these iconic locations. Check out the places below instead, if you want to skip the crowds. 

Oh, and by the way, you might have noticed a lot of things in Norway are named after Trolls? Well, you can learn all about the Norwegian Troll Mythology here.

Swim In Stavanger

Stavanger City

Most people who come to Stavanger are there just to be close to Pulpit Rock. They rarely explore the town, which is a mistake because it’s beautiful and there are a lot of things to see in Stavanger! And it’s located south enough that you can have a nice beach vacation.

The beaches near Stavanger are very popular among people who come to Norway for a proper summer vacation. The vast stretches of sand see a lot of sun during the day and the sea temperatures are usually in the comfortable 20s. Swimming, surfing, and sunbathing are all on the menu, as are horseback rides on the beach!

When you’re done soaking in the Norwegian sun, head to Gamle Stavanger. The historic city center features rows of white wooden cottages, and a stroll through this part of this city feels like traveling back in time. You’ll also find a couple of interesting museums in this neighborhood, most notably the Norwegian Canning Museum and the Stavanger Maritime Museum.

Fargegaten

Fargegaten is another iconic Stavanger sight, but it’s very different from Gamle Stavanger. This street is lined with colorful houses on either side, with plenty of stunning murals to make it even more interesting. The cottages in this street are mostly restaurants and shops, so you can take your time exploring this Stavanger gem.

You’ll find the Norwegian Petroleum Museum close to Fargegaten, and it’s certainly a place worth visiting. The building looks like a small oil platform and it’s one of the most iconic buildings in the city. If you’d rather admire some older architecture, make your way to the Stavanger Cathedral. It was built in the 10th century, and it boasts a mesmerizing blend of Romanesque and Baroque architecture. 

For another trip back in time, head to the Jernaldergården southwest of the city center. The entire place is a replica of an Iron Age farmstead, complete with farm animals, costumed docents, and plenty of interactive exhibits. It’s certainly an interesting place to check out, and it offers some gorgeous views of Stavanger.

Trollpikken

Trollpikken

Image courtesy of SARAMAGMA, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Trollstunga gets really busy in the summer, so much so that it’s actually hard to enjoy the hike or the view thanks to all the other people who are around. But there’s another rock in Norway that resembles a different part of a troll’s body and it’s nowhere near as popular Trollpikken. The sight of the phallic rock is hilarious enough to make the 4.5-kilometer out-and-back hike worth every second!

It’s also a very scenic hike located in an incredibly beautiful part of Norway. The lack of tourists means nature is mostly unspoiled, with more flora and fauna than you’ll ever see on your way to Pulpit Rock. Also, Trollpikken is still close to Stavanger, so you don’t need to change your itinerary if you already made plans to go see Preikestolen.

Lysefjord

Lysefjord

Trollfjord is one of the most famous fjords in Norway, but it’s quite a hassle to see it. You can either get on a cruiser or hike over rugged terrain, and both options are going to be crowded. Check out Lysefjord instead – nature is just as beautiful, it’s close to Stavanger, and it’s nowhere near as popular as Trollfjord.

You can either drive to the mountains above the fjord and hike the trails to get some spectacular views or you can go on a guided tour. Boat tours depart from Stavanger harbor every day, and they’re a great way to see the magnificent Lysefjord. You’ll even see the Vagabond Cave and you’ll pass so close to the Hengjane Falls that you might get sprayed with the cold mountain water!

What To Pack For A Summer In Norway?

Oslo Beach

Packing for summer vacation usually means just throwing all your lightweight summery clothes into your suitcase. But that’s not really suitable for a trip to Norway – it still gets really cold there, even in the summer.

The temperatures in Norway can rise above 30 degrees Celsius in the summer, but the average high is still around 20 degrees in July. The average lows are between 10-15 degrees Celsius, depending on where exactly in the country you are. It’s warmer in the south and a lot colder north, especially above the Arctic Circle.

Also, it’s common for mountain peaks to be covered with snow even in July and August, and for mountain roads to be closed due to snow as late as May or June. If you have any interest in hiking, climbing mountains, and just exploring the more rugged parts of Norway, you will need proper gear. Pack waterproof and windproof clothes, woollen layers, and don’t be afraid to put a down jacket in your suitcase. And pack your bathing suit, especially if you plan to spend some time in Southern Norway.

It’s also worth noting that Norway sees a lot of rain in the summer months. It’s best to have an umbrella on you when you’re out and about because you never know when you’re going to get hit with a summer shower.

Traveling Around Norway In The Summer

Norway Flying

Norway is more popular with tourists in the winter and you might struggle to reach some of the places featured here in the summer. They’re all easily accessible once you’re in Norway, but there’s a lack of direct flights and trains from other European capitals. This is especially true for the places above the Arctic Circle, which are most popular for Northern Lights viewings in the winter.

Flying is the best and quickest way of traveling to and around Norway. You can get a direct flight to Oslo, Trondheim, or Bergen from most major European airports, and from there you can reach pretty much any place in Norway you want.

Norwegians also get around on boats, but this is only a good option if you’re trying to travel between cities that are fairly close to one another. Norway has a long, rugged coast, and it takes weeks to traverse it in one way.

Driving is also an option – Norway has excellent roads and driving on them is a great way to explore more of the country. However, some roads in Norway can have winter conditions even in June, particularly mountain passes and roads on high altitudes. It’s not recommended to drive in Norway if you’re never driven in snowy conditions before, not even if you’re visiting in the summer.

It’s also worth noting that Norway’s length poses a challenge for most drivers. It’s around 1,800 from Oslo to Tromso – it’s a scenic road trip, but the cost of car rental alone is more than plane fare.

So, if you want to explore Norway cheaply and efficiently, domestic flights are your best bet.

About the Author Anna Timbrook

Anna is the co-owner of expert world travel and can't wait to share her travel experience with the world. With over 54 countries under her belt she has a lot to write about! Including those insane encounters with black bears in Canada.

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