What is a bucket list?
Most of you probably know this already, but for those who doesn’t: a bucket list is a compilation of experiences and achievements a person wants to accomplish within their lifetime. A person can even have several bucket lists, for example one main one including career and personal goals and one for travel. In addition, many make more specified travel bucket lists related to things they want to see and do on their travels.
To visit Norway is a great bucket list experience in itself, but why not make a list of what experiences you want to have when you come? Continue reading for our list of bucket list ideas to choose between in Norway. They are a mix of activities, nature, history, and culture - just the way Norway is!
1. See the Geirangerfjord
Seeing a fjord is one of the main motives for visiting Norway. And with good reason. There are few other places where this unique geographical feature is as accessible.
The UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord is no exception. Out of all the over 1000 Norwegian fjords, it is one of the most famous. You will understand why as soon as you are here!
Joining a fjord cruise between Hellesylt and Geiranger village is the easiest way to explore the fjord. From the boat, you have views of the steep mountains, cascading waterfalls, and untouched old hamlets clinging onto the mountainside.
2. Travel with the Flåm Railway
Flamsbana is for railfans, history buffs, adventure seekers, and nature lovers. In other words, everyone should put this famous train ride on their Norway bucket list.
The Flåm Railway is described as one of the world’s most beautiful by travel publications such as National Geographic and Lonely Planet. It winds its way up and down the steep Flåm Valley, from the fjord to 867 masl in the mountains. Along the way, it follows the sparkling turquoise Flåm River, cuts through narrow gorges, and passes Flåm village and farmsteads.
Building a railway in landscapes like the Norwegian mountains means making tunnels. And there are no less than 20 tunnels on the 20-kilometre-long Flåm Railway. One tunnel even makes a 180-degree turn inside the mountain. Instead of getting annoyed by the breaks from the scenery, send a thought to the tough workers who hand-carved 18 of them!
3. Hiking the Aurlandsdalen Valley
The varied landscape of Norway is a wonder for everyone into outdoor activities. Even though you find scenic trails all over the country, there are reasons why some hikes are better known than others. One such hike goes through the Aurlandsdalen Valley. Locally it’s known as the Great Canyon of Norway and is present on many Norwegians’ hiking bucket lists. And we think it should be on yours too!
The close to 20-kilometre-long trail goes past small lakes, picturesque farmsteads, the wild river and waterfalls, and next to almost vertical
4. Go fishing in Lofoten
The Lofoten Archipelago is a bucket list destination on its own, but joining a fishing trip here will give you a truly authentic experience.
For the majority of our history, fish has been Norway’s gold. Norwegian salmon is known worldwide today, but cod put us on the map first. Perhaps no wonder, given the long coastline. The most famous is the cod from the Lofoten archipelago. Every winter, enormous amounts of cod were caught in the Vestfjorden outside Lofoten. In lack of fridges, the fish was then hung up on large racks where it was left for months until it was dried and naturally salted from the ocean winds. Fully dry, it was then shipped across the world and sold as stockfish. Although modern fishing boats now freeze the catch right away, you still see the famous racks of fish hanging to dry in spring and early summer.
Why not book a fishing trip from Svolvær to try your own luck?
5. Swimming in a fjord
Do you like swimming? If so, you must try to swim in a fjord at least once in your lifetime. We cannot guarantee warm temperatures, but we assure you get epic views!
Fjords are deep, narrow sea inlets formed by retreating glaciers during the ice ages, characterised by steep mountains and slopes. They are basically valleys that were flooded by the sea when the ice melted. In addition to Norway, New Zealand and Canada are among the countries renowned for fjords.
What makes Norway stand out is how available and easily reachable the fjords are. With roads and villages along almost every fjord arm, there are unique bathing spots behind every second turn.
At Fjord Sauna in Flåm, you can enjoy the combination of a steaming sauna and cold plunges in the fjord year-round. Panoramic views of the Aurlandsfjord are a positive bonus!
6. See the fruit trees bloom in Hardanger
To experience the cherry blossoming in Japan is a well-known bucket list attraction, but have you seen the fruit blooming in Hardanger? Seeing the rows on rows on rows of fruit trees blooming in various shades of white and pink lining the Hardangerfjord is something of a sight. Add the steep mountains with snowy peaks and we can guarantee your jaw dropping!
Come here in late spring or early summer to experience this. Later in the summer season, the flowers have turned into fruits such as apples, sweet cherries, and plums. And in autumn, you can purchase the harvest from small stalls along the road.
Another must-have in Hardanger is the award-winning cider, made locally of the local fruit produce.
7. Hiking with a fjord view
The Aurlandsdalen Valley certainly isn’t the only bucket-list hike in Norway. If you are into hiking and find yourself by a fjord, you should venture uphill to get an eagle’s eye perspective!
In most cases, it will be a steep hike, but we assure the vistas are worth every drop of sweat. And usually, you won’t have to walk far to get a view.
Mt. Prest is one of those steep but short hikes with phenomenal panoramic views of the Aurlandsfjord and the surrounding UNESCO World Heritage landscape. It’s even easy to get to with the shuttle bus from Flåm and Aurland.
8. Visit a stave church
Unique to Norway, stave churches are also interesting attractions to see here. Especially for architecture lovers and history buffs.
These are wooden churches that are built around standing tree trunks called “staver”. Most of them were built in the 12th and 13th centuries and in medieval times there were probably more than 1000 such churches spread around the country. 28 of them are still standing today.
More than the construction itself, what the stave churches are famous for are their style and ornaments. With the decor of snakes and dragon heads, they almost look like a mix of Christianity and the old Norse religion.
Borgund Stave Church, near Lærdal and Flåm, is the best-preserved church of its kind and gives a good insight into how it was before the reformation in the mid-16th century.
9. Cycle the old Navvies road
We’ve already added two hikes, but what about bucket-list bicycle routes in Norway? Of course, you find several of them here too!
One that stands out is the old construction road in the mountains between eastern and western Norway. The road called Rallarvegen (The Navvies Road) goes from Haugastøl to Voss or Flåm and has since the 1970s become popular amongst Norwegians.
The most cycled stretch is from Finse to Flåm and can be done in a day. In 53 kilometres, it takes you from the high mountains to the fjord and it is possible to cycle for everyone who knows how to ride a bike on uneven gravel road.
10. Visit Oslo
Oslo has turned into a vibrant and interesting capital and is well worth a visit alongside the other Scandinavian capitals. Here are interesting sights to see, cosy cafés, a wide variety of restaurants, and many charming neighbourhoods.
From the city centre, it’s also easy to get out in nature. Whether you hop on the metro or the tram heading towards the forest, or you board a boat on the Oslofjord.
To combine sightseeing with an outdoor experience, join a fjord cruise along Oslo harbour and around some of the small islands near the city.
11. See the Northern lights or marvel at the Midnight sun
Depending on the time of year you come, there is something special about the light up north. In late autumn and winter, daylight hours are short, but you have the chance to see the magnificent colour show of the Aurora Borealis. The further north you go, the shorter days and the higher the chances of Northern lights.
In summer, you get the opposite phenomenon. Long days with daylight far into the evening all over the country, and sun 24/7 above the arctic circle. It may not sound as spectacular as the colourful Northern lights but don’t underestimate going on a midnight hike. It certainly is something you will remember!