Navigating Norway – An easy self-guided tour

This eco-friendly tour makes seeing cities, towns and fjords a breeze

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In Norway, you can easily go from big cities to small towns to fjords without ever having to visit another airport or getting behind the wheel of a rental car.

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Vigeland sculpture park
The Vigeland sculpture park in Oslo is home to more than 200 sculptures by Gustav Vigeland.Photo by Joanne Blain

Venture Outside Oslo

From the central train station, I boarded the Bergen line to Myrdal, a four-and-a-half-hour ride that climbs steadily through the mountains via hundreds of tunnels and bridges. The line justly shows up on lists of the most scenic train routes in the world.

At Myrdal, I hopped on the Flamsbana line, which takes an hour to get to the tiny town of Flam. But what a smorgasbord of scenery you’ll see in those 60 minutes — from forested valleys zig-zagged with waterfalls, to snow-covered glaciers, to lush farmland, with a photo stop along the way at the thundering Kjosfossen Falls. What could possibly top this?

train from Myrdal
The train from Myrdal to Flam offers views of forested valleys, waterfalls and glaciers.Photo by Torild Moland/Travel Stock

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The answer came the following day when I boarded a sightseeing boat for the five-hour trip to Bergen via the spectacular Sognefjord. Blue sky touched the snowy clifftops that framed the fjord, where waterfall after waterfall cut steep paths through the rock.

Norway’s second-largest city

Bergen is now Norway’s second-largest city, but it was once the country’s capital and most important trading port, wrapped around a tiny inlet of the North Sea. Traces of that history can be seen in the Bryggen area, a string of tall wooden buildings lining the waterfront (most built after a 1702 fire) that once served as warehouses. Sinking foundations mean many of the colourful buildings are rakishly askew.

Bryggen area
Warehouses built in the 1700s still stand along the waterfront in the Bryggen area of Bergen.Photo by Joanne Blain

I’m a sucker for Scandinavian silver, so I couldn’t pass up a guided tour of the Arven gold and silver factory, which lets you see craftsmen at work on everything from cutlery to candelabras.

For anyone who appreciates Art Nouveau design, Alesund is a jaw-dropper. The port town burned to the ground in 1904 and was rebuilt almost entirely in three years, when Art Nouveau was in its heyday. When you’re strolling through the town, look up to see the decorative embellishments above doorways and between stories, everything from floral friezes to stylized swirls and knots. And make time for a visit to the Art Nouveau Centre to learn more about the town’s history and architecture.

A look down the Geirangerfjord between Alesund and Geiranger.Photo by Oyvind Heen/

UNESCO Geirangerfjord

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It was an overcast day when I got on the boat that would take me down the Geirangerfjord, a UNESCO world heritage site, to the small town of Geiranger. We passed a few small boats along the way, but we were mostly alone in this pristine paradise. Although it was chilly on the front deck, I braved it for up-close views of countless waterfalls crashing down jagged cliffs. The grey skies rippled with clouds made the views even more dramatic.

Even on an overcast day, a boat trip along the Geirangerfjord offers dramatic views of mountains and waterfalls.Photo by Joanne Blain

From Geiranger, an electric-powered bus took me down the serpentine and spectacular Trollstigen Road (more waterfalls, more glaciers) to Andalsnes, where I broke off from the tour to return to Oslo by rail on the Rauma and Dombas lines.

The writer was hosted by Visit Norway. The article was not vetted by Visit Norway before publication.


Hotel Union
The view of the fjord from the Hotel Union in Geiranger is nothing short of spectacular.Photo by Joanne Blain

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