While Oslo is especially picturesque with forested hills rising above the city, after exploring its world-class museums and top sights, you won’t want to miss the opportunity to embark on a day trip or two. Within a relatively short drive, you can wander cobbled streets in medieval towns, visit archaeological sites from Viking times, discover tranquil lakes and so much more.
This is just a short list of the many options for unforgettable day trips from Oslo.
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Rjukan is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Oslo, filled with fascinating history from the Second World War, along with spectacular nature overlooked by looming Gaustatoppen, one of Norway’s most beautiful mountains. By embarking on the approximately 3-mile hike to the top on a clear day, you’ll be rewarded with a panoramic vista in every direction, including Hardangervidda, the country’s largest national park, which unfolds to the west. Visitors can also enjoy adrenaline-packed adventures like Norway’s highest permanent bungee jump, plunging some 275 feet from the suspension bridge in Vemork. The Rjukan Climbing Park offers climbing for nearly all ages and skill levels, set on the edge of Hardangervidda, with a panoramic vista of gorgeous Gaustatoppen.
Just a little over an hour’s drive from Oslo, Fredrikstad makes an ideal shorter day trip. It hosts one of Scandinavia’s most well-preserved fortress towns, dating all the way back to the mid-16th-century. Incredibly enchanting, it features gates, a moat, drawbridge and timbered houses while the narrow, cobblestone streets are still lined with buildings from the 1600s, like an old storehouse and prison. Just across the water, the modern side of the city boasts a picturesque waterfront, lighthouse and cathedral.
Nestled at the southeastern end of the country on one of the arms of Oslofjord, Tonsberg is a popular summer destination among locals, just an hour and 20-minute drive from Oslo. Mostly undiscovered by foreign tourists, founded by the Vikings, it offers everything from Viking sites to majestic nature. Visit Mount Slottsfjell to explore the region’s most extensive ruins, which include the remains of Castrum Tunsbergis and Slottsfjell Tower. Visit in late May/early June and you can attend Norway’s biggest festival, the Tonsberg Medieval Festival which features a Grand Parade with Vikings, knights, and shamans.
Romantic Lillehammer, located in south-east Norway, is a place many are familiar with for hosting the 1994 Olympics, but it’s an ideal destination all year-round, just a two-hour drive from Oslo. Enjoy all the usual winter sports and then some in the chillier months of the year, including sleigh rides. In the summer, fish the Mesna River, take a hike or splash around in the water park. You can also visit the open-air Maihaugen museum, the largest of its kind outside of Oslo. It features over 200 buildings from different eras, outstanding cultural experiences, exhibitions, dining options and a variety of activities for both kids and adults.
Vestfold is a coastal region about a 90-minute drive south of Oslo that’s home to Faerder National Park, jaw-dropping fjord landscapes and fascinating Viking history. Explore multiple archaeological sites and visit the “Worlds End” which provides stunning views of the national park. Follow the popular Viking Trail which stretches some 40 miles to discover large and significant burial mounds, the remains of Norway’s first town and where the most important finds that date from the Viking Age was uncovered. Visitors can also view both original and replica Viking ships.
If you’re looking for a short trip from Oslo, the little fishing village of Droback is just an hour away. It’s best-known among locals and visitors, as the place to go to enjoy Christmas year-round. The settlement looks just like a picture-perfect Christmas village, with colorful old wooden houses, holiday decor and memorabilia, and even a Santa post office. There are also plenty of shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants along with other non-holiday delights like the imposing 17th-century Oscarsborg Fortress, which sits nearby on an offshore island that can be reached via ferry.
Lake Mjøsa is Norway’s largest lake, as well as one of the deepest lakes in the country and in Europe. It’s located about 70 miles north of Oslo offering picturesque scenery surrounded by rolling hills with forest and farmland. It’s popular for fishing, especially for the massive Mjosa trout, and it also offers the chance to take a ride on a paddle steamer, with stops along the way to experience some of the region’s most popular sights. The ship also has an excellent restaurant on board serving breakfast, lunch and dinner with favorite dishes like Skibladner’s traditional salmon.
While Bergen is not doable as a driving day trip, located about seven hours west of Oslo, it’s easily visited by hopping on a short and relatively cheap flight. Well worth the trip, the city was established centuries ago, during the height of the Viking period in 1070 and is surrounded by the Seven Mountains, while its old town sits right on the water filled with colorful 15th-century wooden merchant homes that surround the harbor. It not only boasts one of the world’s most magical settings, but its narrow alleyways are lined with artist studios, leather crafters, potters, jewelers and other artisans that are all nestled in between the historic homes. If you’re into nature and outdoor adventure, you’ll find lots of options, including hiking in the surrounding mountains. There are plenty of ways to fuel your exploits too, with many restaurants offering menus with fresh local seafood.