The Most Beautiful Towns in Norway

Norway offers some of the world's most dramatic winter scenery
Norway offers some of the world's most dramatic winter scenery | © Florian Koehler / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Anahit Behrooz
27 May 2021

It’s well known that Norway is one of the world’s most equal societies. Yet few realise that the Scandinavian nation is also among the most beautiful places on the planet. Think towns that look out onto majestic fjords and coastal settlements sprawled across Arctic archipelagos, not to mention dynamic cities. Here, Culture Trip has selected some of the most beautiful towns to visit in Norway.


Architectural Landmark
Colorful sunset in Alesund port town
| © Ivan Kmit / Alamy Stock Photo

Ålesund was almost completely destroyed in 1904 when a fire ripped through the wooden town. One of Norway’s most exquisite towns rose from the ashes of tragedy and today its streets are lined with brightly coloured Art Nouveau architecture. Ålesund is spread over seven islands, intersected with charming waterways and surrounded by the sea and mountains in the background.


Architectural Landmark

Nicknamed the “gateway to the fjords”, Bergen is surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. The city’s Hanseatic Wharf – Bryggen – is a Unesco World Heritage Site boasting cobbled alleyways lined with traditional wooden houses. Bergen is filled with a unique juxtaposition of architectural styles, from medieval and Art Nouveau to contemporary design.


Architectural Landmark
Traditional historic wooden buildings on Voldgarten in old town of Gamlebyen, Fredrikstad, Ostfold, Norway, Scandinavia
© Realimage / Alamy Stock Photo

Fredrikstad’s Old Town was built according to the Dutch model, with wide moats surrounding high earth ramparts, making it impossible to breach the city. Today the Old Town is filled with a bustling market square, winding, cobbled alleyways and charming, traditional shops selling unique handicrafts and souvenirs. Thanks to its unusual structure, the town is also filled with plenty of lush green spaces.


Natural Feature

This tiny village is situated right at the head of the dramatic Geirangerfjord, with sloping, craggy hills providing an awe-inspiring backdrop. With stunning blue waters and steep mountains unfolding at the foot of the village, visitors can take a hike up one of the many mountain paths which pass by numerous waterfalls before offering breathtaking views from the top.


Natural Feature
Henningsvaer in Lofoten, Norway. Image shot 08/2015. Exact date unknown.
© Thomas Russ Arnestad / Alamy Stock Photo

Henningsvær is a charming fishing village spread over several tiny islands in the Lofoten Arctic archipelago. The town’s colourful homes appear to emerge from the sea, reflected in the crystal clear waters. Thanks to its extreme northern location, Henningsvær experiences extraordinary weather conditions. In the winter, snow covers the island, turning the buildings into gingerbread houses, while in summer, the village experiences beautifully clear days and 24-hour daylight.


Natural Feature

Longyearbyen is the third northernmost settlement in the world and the largest on the Svalbard Islands on the North Pole. The surrounding landscape has an extraordinary, desolated kind of beauty; set in a sweeping valley with steep mountains and bordered by a sandy bay. The town is a small, colourful spot amidst the dramatic rock and snow. Longyearbyen is largely made up of rows of charming houses painted bright red, green, yellow or blue, contrasting with the sparkling snow which covers the town eight months of the year.


Natural Feature
Reine fishing village in Lofoten, Norway. Image shot 03/2015. Exact date unknown.
© Olena Suvorova / Alamy Stock Photo

Reine draws thousands of visitors each year despite its diminutive size because of its stunning surroundings. The tiny fishing village is located on the island of Moskenesøya in the gorgeous Lofoten archipelago clustered around calm blue waters with lush, sloping hills in the background. Meanwhile, all around the village for miles to see, enormous, snow-capped mountains rise like islands from the ocean, creating a formidable, awe-inspiring view.


Natural Feature

Skudeneshavn, located on Karmøy island’s southernmost tip, comprises almost 130 original 19th-century timber houses all painted in striking white. Hundreds of boats fill Skudeneshavn’s harbour during summer for the annual boating festival, when handicraft markets and traditional folk performances pervade the streets.


Architectural Landmark
View of Tromso houses, Norway, Scandinavia, Europe
© Renato Granieri / Alamy Stock Photo

Located over 320km (200mi) inside the Arctic Circle, Tromsø greatly benefits from its extreme location, considered one of the best places to see the Northern Lights. The town aquarium allows visitors to get up close to local wildlife and the Polar Museum sheds light on the region’s fearsome apex predator. The town’s surroundings are equally astonishing, with large birch forests and stunning views of the area’s numerous fjords and mountains.


Architectural Landmark

Trondheim, founded in 997AD, was Norway’s Viking capital for almost 300 years and remains a great place to experience the region’s history. The town boasts a stunning example of Gothic architecture, Nidaros Cathedral was one of the most important churches in Northern Europe during the Middle Ages, while the medieval fortress of Sverresborg boasts impressively preserved buildings and now serves as an open-air museum.

These recommendations were updated on May 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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