Best Cities In Norway

The best cities in Norway: Norwegian cities to visit this year!

Discovering the best cities in Norway is an excellent way to spend your Scandinavian adventure. While there’s no one-size-fits-all map to the top Norwegian cities, there are some destinations sure to make it onto anyone’s to-do list.

Norway is home to a melting pot of amazing experiences, from historical heritage sites to modern cities brimming with boutique stores. The diversity of the country, mixed with its incredible landscapes and eye-catching views makes it a truly unforgettable destination.

Whether you’re searching for a cross-country skiing opportunity, or you just want to soak up some of the unique Norwegian vibes, you’re in the right place.

Today, we’re going explore some of the best places to visit in Norway, focusing specifically on towns, and cities.

Best Cities In Norway

1. Oslo

Starting with the most obvious city to visit on your map of Norway, Oslo is the cultural mecca of the entire country — perfect for new explorers. The capital has no shortage of things to do and see, so you can easily spend your entire vacation here if you like.

Oslo is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in design and architecture. There are various contemporary buildings to explore, as well as educational museums, galleries, and amazing art exhibitions, if you’re feeling creative.

Oslo is also located close to the sea and various mountains, so you can still see plenty of amazing landscapes from the city.

More than just a stunning ecosystem of buildings and unique places, Oslo is also one of the greenest cities in the world. You might find locals trekking and skiing their way to work, or just checking out the amazing Oslo fjord waterways.

There’s also plenty of food-based experiences to enjoy, if you’re looking for a bite to eat.

Find things to do and places to stay in Oslo.

Best Cities In Norway

2. Bergen

Once the capital city of Norway, Bergen still has a strong place in our hearts. The region is home to around 290,000 people, making it the largest Norwegian city to visit under Oslo. When it comes to famous cities in Norway, Bergen is a top contender.

Recognized as the “unofficial” capital of the region — even today, Bergen is a gateway city to the world-famous Norwegian fjords.

From this spectacular location, you can find a huge range of hiking and adventure tours taking you out into the natural wonders Norway has to offer. There are seven fjords nearby in total, as well as various hiking hills. You’ll also love the brightly-colored buildings giving a unique shine to the city.

Although Bergen is home to a lot of rainfall, it also has countless art museums and delightful indoor destinations to visit when you want to get out of the rain.

Find things to do and places to stay in Bergen.

Best Cities In Norway

3. Trondheim

Lesser-known than Bergen and Oslo, but still an extremely popular destination to visit, Trondheim is a city dating all the way back to the 11th century. If you’re looking for top cities in Norway to check out for historical appeal, Trondheim is a clear choice.

Standing among the most picturesque cities Norway has to offer (and that’s saying something), Trondheim will take your breath away with forest-covered hills, sparkling waterways, and brightly colored buildings. The capital of Norway even has its own beautiful medieval cathedral.

There’s something magical about Trondheim which seems to transport visitors back in time, despite the hip and modern people in the city. There’s plenty to do here too, including great restaurants and cafes, and a comprehensive music and arts scene.

Find things to do and places to stay in Trondheim.

Best Cities In Norway

4. Stavanger

The fourth largest city to visit in Norway, Stavanger is also the third largest “metropolitan” area in Norway. Though a wonderful place to visit, the region can be difficult to break into if you’re planning on moving to Norway, due to sky-high property prices.

Most of the city of Stavanger is covered in urban buildings and classic examples of city living. However, the center of the city is still home to a number of stunning wooden buildings which are beautiful to behold for yourself.

There’s also a nearby waterfront close to this city, which is a great destination to visit if you’re looking for something to do during the summer months. Don’t forget to check out the lively nightlife scene if you’re looking for a party too.

Find things to do and places to stay in Stavanger.

Best Cities In Norway

5. Drammen

Another top pick for important cities in Norway, Drammen sits to the west of Oslo, and offers visitors a beautiful coastal experience. The region was traditionally an industrial center with a chaotic port. However, today, the city is much cleaner and more tourist-friendly.

Here, you’ll find a host of surprising attractions, including the amazing village of Bærums Verk, around half an hour away from Oslo, where you’ll discover countless cozy cafes and boutique shops. It’s definitely worth visiting in winter, when the Christmas market is here.

There’s also a fantastic sculpture park in Drammen, where you can find a total of 29 monuments designed by some of the most renowned sculptors in the country. Alternatively, head to the Henie Onstad Art Center for a taste of Japan in Norway.

Find places to stay in Drammen.

Best Cities In Norway

6. Kristiansand

An absolutely adorable coastal city, and doorway to the remainder of the Scandinavian region via Denmark, Kristiansand is located to the south of Norway. If you’re worried about getting to the bottom of Norway, Kristiansand is available via the train line.

Once you’re there, you can check out a huge selection of beautiful towns and villages, including the wooden houses of Posebyen.

Kristiansand is home to its own beach (Bystranden), although you might find it a little cold throughout most months of the year. It’s also worth checking out the rental cars of Norway, so you can visit some other surrounding locations in the south.

During the summer, Kristiansand can have quite a sunny climate, which blends well with the colorful summer cottages of the region. Just remember to bundle up warm if you’re visiting in winter.

Find places to stay in Kristiansand.

Best Cities In Norway
Credit: Xalzlos

7. Fredrikstad

If you’re looking for top cities in Norway, Fredrikstad is one of the largest, and packed with attractive sites to see. Located on the eastern shore of Oslo, at the mouth of the Glomma river, Fredrikstad is a marvelously picturesque destination.

Make sure you take time to visit the old town (Gamlebyen), on the left bank of Glomma. This is the oldest settlement in the city, standing since 1567. For a taste of history, check out the Isegran coast, or the Kongsten fort, with its own amazing moat.

There’s a model train center in Old Town, and Hanko island, where you can go swimming in the summer, or hire a boat for some water-based exploration. We’d also recommend taking a walk through the Havaler archipelago islands where possible too.

Find places to stay in Fredrikstad.

Best Cities In Norway

8. Sandnes

Another absolutely beautiful place to visit while you’re not in Oslo or Bergen, Sandnes is situated towards the south of Stavanger. The biggest draw here is the raw and untouched nature of the region, which includes amazing Northern Sea beaches and an eye-catching mountain terrain.

If you’re looking for a place to hike, cycle, or windsurf, this is the Norwegian city for you. For kids, there’s the Kongeparken theme park, with 60 different rides to enjoy. You can also travel a little closer to Stavanger to visit the Lysefjord too.

Dalsnuten is one of the top active excursion choices in Sandnes, appealing to hikers from all walks of life. A round trip over the beautiful fjord will take around three hours, so make sure you have the time, and a good pair of shoes.

Find places to stay in Sandnes.

Best Cities In Norway

9. Tromso

If you’ve ever considered a life in Norway, you’ve probably looked at Tromso. A truly unforgettable region in Norway, Tromso is the eighth largest municipality in Norway, with a population of around 72,590. The Norwegian city is also the ninth largest in Norway based on population.

Tromso is one of the best cities in Norway in the books of many visitors and locals. You’ll find the city situated between beautiful blue fjords and mountains, on its very own island. There are tons of pubs to explore, a great cultural scene, and a fantastic nightlife too.

Tromso also happens to be one of the most northern places you can visit in Europe, sitting at around 350km North of the Arctic Circle. As such, it’s one of the better sites in Norway through which to see the Northern Lights.

Find things to do and places to stay in Tromso.

Best Cities In Norway

10. Alesund

Though a little unusual compared to some of the top cities in Norway, Alesund is still a valuable place to visit. The port town on the west coast of Norway marks the entrance to the Geirangerfjord, and it’s best-known for its art nouveau architecture.

Interestingly, the entire city was destroyed by a fire in 1904, and the hasty reconstruction has created a unique aesthetic.

The Alesund city combines folklore embellishments with various gothic aspects, making it a unique environment to check out street-by-street. Alesund is structured on multiple connected islands, so you can enjoy the glistening water of the harbor as you explore too.

Through the day, spend your time soaking up the views of panoramic mountains and fjords. During the night, you can enjoy some of the incredible nightlife and thriving bar scene.

Find things to do and places to stay in Alesund.

Best Cities In Norway

11. Sandefjord

One of the cities in Norway frequently overlooked by visitors, Sandefjord is a gorgeous destination in Norway, located around 120km outside of Oslo.

There are plenty of great things to do while you’re here, like checking out the Midtasen Sculpture Park, for an insight into some of the artistic skills of the Norwegian locals, to visiting the Vestfoldmuseeene Museum.

Although a little controversial, due to its avid stance on whaling, the Sandefjord city can still be an attractive location to visit. The whaling monument is beautiful, and there are various religious sites and amazing pieces of architecture to check out.

We’d also recommend heading to the artistic region in Sandefjord to explore the various art galleries dotted throughout the city.

Find places to stay in Sandefjord.

Best Cities In Norway

12. Arendal

A city located in Adger county, Arendal is a beautiful southern destination in Norway, popular for its thriving city center, and beautiful archipelago. If you’re looking for a taste of seaside beauty in Norway, this is definitely the place for you.

Arendal offers a wonderful view into history, with a variety of amazing sights to see, like old lighthouses which have survived the decades, and underwater safaris. There’s even a science center for learning while you’re here.

The old town of Tylholmen is a lovely place to go for a stroll. Alternatively, you can walk along to the buzzing Pollen harbor, where you’ll be able to stock up on fantastic views. There’s even a floating pool by the Arendal marina for summer days.

Find places to stay in Arendal.

Best Cities In Norway

13. Lillehammer

Easily one of the most famous cities in Norway, Lillehammer was host to the winter Olympics in 1994. It’s no surprise when you consider how dedicated Norwegians are to their skiing habits. Lillehammer marks a fantastic location to visit if you’re looking for a more active vacation.

There are various winter sports to take part in while you’re here.

If you’re looking to spend some time practicing cross-country skiing, Lillehammer is the place for you. There’s also a range of other skiing resorts to check out too. Roving hills and forests offer excellent places to explore off-piste, and there are some great galleries and museums around the town too.

Don’t forget to check out some local restaurants for a taste of the local delicacies in Lillehammer while you’re there. There are plenty of top-rated places to eat.

Find places to stay in Lillehammer.

Best Cities In Norway

14. Bodo

A town situated in the “Bodo municipality” in Nordland county, Bodo is the administrative center of the region. The destination, while not quite as picturesque as some of the other regions in Norway, marks an important commercial region for the country.

Similar to some other famous cities in Norway, Bodo was almost entirely destroyed at one point in its history, during the second world war. Despite drab buildings, the beautiful location of Bodo, surrounded by wonderful snow-capped peaks and mountains, makes it a worthwhile destination for tourists.

You’ll also find Bodo sitting at the end of the Kystriksveien coastal route, where many people travel to get to the amazing Lofoten islands nearby. You can also explore some of the most impressive Northern areas of Norway from here.

Find things to do and places to stay in Bodo.

Best Cities In Norway
Credit: Vestfoldmuseene

15. Larvik

Placed in the fantastic Southern coast of Norway, Larvik is in the Vestfold County of Norway. The destination is beautiful all-year around, particularly if you’re a fan of coastal sites.

This is where you’ll want to go if you’re looking for sun in the summer, and plenty of amazing music festivals to discover. Plus, it’s only an hour and a half from Oslo.

We’d definitely recommend visiting Stavern when you first get here — as the little town is known as the best summer destination for the country. There are tons of amazing stores and cafes to visit, if you’re looking for a taste of the culture. You can also find some historical museums in town too.

One particularly interesting destination to check out is the Fredriksvern Verft shipyard, where you can walk through a number of artistically-positioned boats near the water.

Find places to stay in Larvik.

Best Cities In Norway

16. Molde

Easily one of the most popular towns in Norway, Molde is a fantastic location to check out if you’re searching for a huge range of things to do and see in Norway. You can enjoy a relatively warm spring and summer here, which might be why it’s one of the best towns in Norway.

Molde has some amazing views to offer, thanks to its position on the shoreline of the Romsdalsfjord in Northern Norway. There are also some phenomenal tourist attractions nearby, like the Atlantic Road, the Trollstigen mountain road, and the Romsdalseggeen ridge.

Definitely consider visiting Molde if you’re a jazz fanatic. Every year, thousands of people travel to this must-see destination to enjoy over 100 concerts during the town’s globally-famous jazz festival.

If you’re not super into music, there’s still plenty of museums to visit too.

Find places to stay in Molde.

Best Cities In Norway
Credit: Helge Høifødt

17. Tonsberg

Although many of the historical elements of Tonsberg have disappeared over the years, the location is still worth visiting if you’re interested in the past and culture of Norway. There are a handful of fantastic museums dedicated to exploring the Vikings of the country here.

Tonsberg sits as the oldest town in Norway, making it a top destination for any true history buff. You also won’t need to travel too far away from Oslo to get here, so you could consider visiting as part of a full sight-seeing tour.

There’s also a crumbling old castle in the region, some Viking graves and ruins, and an amazing museum with a skeleton of a blue whale within.

Tonsberg is a lively town with a lot of wonderful surrounding landscapes to check out. If you fancy visiting the countryside nearby, you can go on some great hiking adventures.

Find places to stay in Tonsberg.

Best Cities In Norway
Credit: Howard2008

18. Hamar

Located on the banks of Norway’s largest lake, Hamar might not be the largest city in Norway, but it still has a lot to offer. If you’re searching for something fun to do when you’re checking out the coastline near Oslo, Hamar has you covered.

There are countless museums to explore if you want to learn about Norway’s Viking history, for instance.

Perhaps one of the most compelling locations in Hamar is the largest glass building in Europe, which also houses one of the oldest cathedrals in the region. You can knock a few different activities down at once here, because there’s also a museum located within the space too.

If you want to unwind after an afternoon of learning about history, Hamar is also a great place to go for fishing and kayaking on local lakes too.

Find places to stay in Hamar.

Best Cities In Norway

19. Haugesund

Finally, we come to the phenomenal fishing port of Haugesund. This important city in Norway is the heart of the oil industry, which fuels countless locations in the country. The lively place is brimming with bars and restaurants worth visiting if you want to make some new friends and enjoy some local treats at the same time.

With thousands of years of inhabited history under its belt, Haugesund is packed full of culture. There are also various historical sights you can visit, such as an ancient church and a restored Viking farm.

One thing you should definitely do while here is take a boat over to the Karmoy island nearby, and snap some pictures.

Find places to stay in Haugesund.

Exploring the major cities in Norway

There are plenty of fantastic cities in Norway worth visiting whenever you have a chance. Here, we’ve just listed some of our favorite cities from across the region, but you’re sure to find plenty of additional options yourself.

Don’t forget to check out our other articles on Norway for more insights into the location before you plan your visit. Plus, keep in mind that most Norwegian cities do stay quite cool throughout the year, so it’s best to wrap up warm.

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