Family Vacation in Norway – 8 Days including the Lofoten Islands

Norway - Paddleboarding in the Lofoten Islands with kids

We went on a family vacation in Norway and absolutely loved it. We covered everything from big cities like Oslo and Bergen to small villages and towns. The highlight was visiting the Lofoten Islands with Kids.

Follow along on our 8 day itinerary from our family vacation in Norway. The trip covers the Oslo to Bergen Train, arguably the most beautiful train ride in Europe, Bergen, the Lofoten Islands, and Oslo.

By the end, we guarantee you’ll be booking your next trip!

Family Vacation in Norway – Arrival

Most people arrive via direct flights to Oslo, the largest city in Norway. It is a great airport and is served by many international airlines.

We were coming from a Denmark, so took an overnight ferry with DFDS from Copenhagento Oslo, Norway. This was a really fun way to travel, especially with kids.

Although we arrived in Oslo on our ferry, our first stop was Bergen, another 300 miles away.

Day 1 – Riding Europe’s Most Scenic Railway from Oslo to Bergen

Norway - View from train between Oslo and Bergen

The high-speed train from Oslo to Bergen takes about 7 hours. It is arguably the most scenic railway in Europe and is its highest, topping out at 1,222 meters above sea level.

The ride offers fantastic views of the lowlands of Oslo, the forests and lakes of the midlands, and the mountains closer to Bergen. It also provides beautiful views of Norway’s famous fjords, waterfalls, and coastal rivers.

The train operates year-round with multiple trains per day. It passes through 180 tunnels and stops in 22 small towns along the way.

Oslo to Bergen Train – Special Kids Train Car

The train from Oslo to Bergen has a special fair called Family Coach Class. This fare includes seats in the specially designed family train cars. Ours had a play area with a small playground (think old-school McDonalds), books, a TV, and fold-down diaper changing stations.

The kid’s car was a lifesaver with a 2 and 4 year old and allowed the adults to thoroughly enjoy the ride and views. It was also nice knowing that the kids could be a little louder and energetic. These train travel tips might also come in handy!

Day 2 – Bergen Fish Market and the Ferris Wheel

Our train arrived in Bergen around dinner time, so we found our Airbnb, had a quick PB&J dinner, and hit went to bed.

Our first day in Bergen started with a stroll around town. We always like to get a lay of the land on family vacations prior to any touristy activities.

Apart from Bergen’s pure beauty, we were happy to see a number of playgrounds and parks within walking distance. One key theme on our family vacation in Norway was that there were parks and playgrounds everywhere.

Bergen Fish Market

Norway - View of downtown Bergen

The Bergen Fish Market is a must-stop destination in bergen, and it is hard to miss. It sits right at the mouth of Bergen Harbor.

Bergen Fish Market is one of Norway’s most visited outdoor markets and has been in operation since the 1200s! Has it change since then? Of course. It is far more touristy and probably a lot more upscale and expensive. It is still worth a stop.

Our family loved wandering the stalls and comparing the seafood options to what we had in Malta, our adopted home in the Mediterannean. One that stood out was Minke Whale, which look like very dark cuts of meat.

Bergen Fish Market – History of Whaling

Commercial whaling all but wiped out global whale populations and has since been banned internationally.

That being said, certain countries with a strong cultural tie to whale consumption (Norway, Japan, and Iceland) have exemptions for limited harvests. In Norway it is only legal to hunt Minke Whales, which are not on the endangered species list.

There is a saying in our house that we try everything once, so we did try Minke Whale. We were not sure how we felt about eating whale, but decided one small meal amongst our family would be OK.

We all found it enjoyable and toped it off with fish and chips for the kids the ubiquitous open-faced shrimp sandwich, Rekesmørbrød, for the adults.

Is Alcohol Expensive in Norway?

Yes. Comapred to the US, alcohol is expensive.

One 3/2% alcohol content beer, which is low by beer standards, cost over $15 per bottle! Needless to say it was the only beer I had on this trip.

Bergen Ferris Wheel and Carnival

Norway - View from ferris wheel in Bergen

Our next stop was the Bergen Ferris Wheel. One of our favorite parts of traveling is finding unique opportunities to mingle with locals and carnivals are often perfect places to do so.

I have no idea if this ferris wheel and the rides below it are a year-round attraction or not. What I do know is it was a ton of fun! The crowd was definitely skewed towards Norwegian families.

The views of Bergen and the sea from the Ferris Wheel were spectacular but, as we learned later, paled in comparison to the views from Mount Floyen. We gave the kids a small budget for a couple of additional rides (which doesn’t go ver far in Norway!) and enjoyed our time.

Bergunhus Fortress

The ferris wheel was right in front of Bergenhus Fortress, which is one of Norways oldest military installations. Its ramparts are surrounded with wide-open fields of grass, which was perfect for two kids with boundless energy.

Day 3 – Mount Fløyen, the Fløibanen Funicular and Reindeer Hotdogs

Day 3 took us to the of Mount Fløyen via the Fløibanen Funicular. Mount Floyen is a large mountain that buts up to the Bergen city center. It is a must-see attraction if you are on a family vacation in Norway.

Mount Floyen and the Floibanen Funicular

Mount Fløyen is covered with miles of hiking trails, however our kids were more attracted to the Troll Forest! There is a large playground right in front of Fløistuen Café which is a perfect first stop. The cafe serves wonderful fresh-baked goods and ice cream.

Troll Forest and Lake Skomakerdiket

Norway - View from top of Bergen Funicular and Troll Forest

The Troll Forest at Mount Floyen is a unique family-friendly attraction with hundreds of troll statues and an amazing obstacle course. Our kids were in heaven.

There are so many playgrounds and obstacles for all ages. We saw the famous Fløyenguttene mountain goats on one of the trails and had a nice stop at Lake Skomakerdiket. I’ve heard you can rent a free canoe in the Summer, however that was not an option in May.

A family with young kids could easily spend the entire day exploring Mount Floyen.

Bergen Delicacy – Reindeer Hot Dogs

As mentioned before, we love trying new things. We had heard about reindeer hot dogs and decided we couldn’t pass them up.

Trekroneran is a small hot dog shop (looks kind of like the old school Dairy Queens in the US) serving quality hot dogs and toppings. They have everything from cheese dogs to bratwurst, wild game to reindeer. I’d recommend the latter.

We bridged the gap between dinner and bedtime exploring some local playgrounds. The kids were able to play with some local Norwegian kids.

Day 4 – Bergen to the Lofoten Islands

Today was what we call a rest and recovery day, which is short for no plan. Kids love structure, but sometimes it is good to have a day without a goal. Our next stop on our family trip to Norway was the Lofoten Islands and we knew we’d need well rested kids!

How to get from Bergen to Lofoten Islands?

The best way to get from Bergen to the Lofoten Islands is to fly. The Lofoten Islands are about 650 miles north east of Bergen, Norway.

Wideroe Airlines is a local airline that flies to most of the smaller cities in Norway. The total flight time is around 3 hours.

We took a flight from Bergen to Solvær, with a short stop and plane change in Bodo. Our flight took 3 hours and 25 minutes. It is always fun flying in smaller planes after spending so much time on large jets. Kids love them as well.

While technically possible to drive, that drive would take 24 hours!

Lofoten with Kids – The Most Picturesque Place on Earth

Norway - View of mountians driving in Lofoten Islands

Despite its remoteness, the Lofoten Islands is a very kid friendly destination and was our favorite stop on our family vacation in Norway.

Can you rent a car on a Lofoten Islands Vacation?

Yes, renting a car in the Lofoten Islands is easy, but be ready for a drastically different experience than you’ll find in a big city!

You can tell you are far away from civilization when your rental car company, Rent A Car Lofoten, texts you that your keys are under the floor mat. We were pretty surprised by this text, however it all made sense when we landed in Solvaer. It may have been the smallest airport we’ve ever seen.

Lofoten with Kids – Wildlife Sightings

Norway - Mama moose and her child crossing the road after midnight in the Lofoten Islands

We arrived in Solvaer at around 11PM and had a 2 hour drive to our destination in Hamnøy. Fortunately there was almost 24 hours of daylight in May.

A moose and her calves crossed the road not long after we left Solvaer.

We live just at the edge of moose country in Minnesota, and are in the heart of their habitat during our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness trips. We never see them. It was so exciting to see them up close and in such a picturesque setting. The entire drive is about 2 hours from Solvær to our destination in Hamnøy.

Lofoten Islands with Kids – Lodging

We stayed in a refurbished cabin in the old fishing village of Hamnøy. This village has specialized in cod fishing and traditional fish drying for thousands of years and is covered in small red huts which traditionally supported the fishing industry.

The Eliassen family has restored many of these cabins and created a unique lodging experience called Eliassen Rorbuer. The cabins are awesome and the location could not be more picturesque or ideally located.

Traditional Cod Drying Racks

Norway - Cod drying on traditional racks in the Lofoten Islands

We were fortunate to arrive at the end of the cod fishing season. Cod was drying in the traditional way on thousands of wooden racks, including in our little fishing village!

Seeing them was a once in a lifetime experience not seen during the busy season. This is where luck and the willingness to visit destinations in the off season can really pay off!

Day 5 – Hiking in the Lofoten Islands with Kids

The Lofoten Islands are home to some of the most epic hiking in Norway. We were visiting with a 2 and 4 year old, so our hikes were a little less epic, but fun nonetheless.

Beachcombing in the Lofoten Islands with Kids

Norway - Kid looking for seashells on the beach with snow-covered mountains in the background

After exploring our cabin and its surrounding area, we stopped in a nearby town for some groceries before hading off on our first adventure. Our plan was simple… we’d drive until something caught our eye. Another benefit of off-season travel is that so it felt like we had the place to ourselves.

After about a half hour we came to a bay with a large beach, Ramburgstrada, that was surrounded by cod drying racks. Kids love sand and we love to walk, so we decided to make this mystery beach our destination. It was well worth it!

The beach was covered in seashells. Somehow the kids’ rain boots were not enough to keep them dry. We left soaked. For whatever reason kids don’t realize they are cold until it is too late.

Hiking to Litlandstabben

After a quick lunch at our cabin we drove to the end of E10, the only thoroughfare on the islands to the village of Å. There is a nice parking lot and a ton of great hikes.

Our hike took us over a moss covered open expanse with amazing views to Litlandstabben. We learned that Å is Lofoten’s best preserved fishing village and that there was a traditional wood-fired bakery in the town. We made a mental note to add it to tomorrow’s list.

If your family loves to hike, then Norway’s Lofoten Islands are for you!

Day 6 – Lofoten Bakery and Paddleboarding

Day six included a stop again in the village of Å and an unforgettable paddleboarding experience.

Traditional Norwegian Bakery

Norway - Kid looking at traditional sweets at bakery in Lofoten Islands

After breakfast we headed back to the village of Å to visit a unique Lofoten bakery. Today was the first day they were open for the season and they had been heating up the oven for days in preparation.

While we were eating our goodies, a man approached and introduced himselv. He told us he was a local reporter and was writing an article on the opening of the lofoten bakery and that we were its first customers.

He took our picture and conducted a little interview and we were famous!

Grandpa Ronnie, my paternal (and VERY Norwegian) Grandfather, would have been so proud. Not only were we about to visit his good friends in Oslo, but we were also in the Norwegian press. The baked goods were amazing too!

Lofoten Island with Kids – Paddleboarding above the Arctic Circle

Norway - Family paddleboarding in the fjords in the Lofoten Islands

Our afternoon activity was a paddleboarding trip with Schibevaag Adventure, foudned by Kari Schibevaag, a world champion kite surfer.

This may qualify as one of the coolest experiences we’ve ever had with kids. We wore full wetsuits, with hoods, mittens, and boots. After that Kari pointed to the bay in front of our cabin and said to enjoy!

We were a little nervous at first, but it didn’t take long for us to get our feet under us. The views were stunning and our kids looked so dang cute in their wetsuits.

About halfway through our trip we ran into a 14 year-old boy out in a small fishing boat fishing for cod. He welcomed us over and explained, the best he could, what he was fishing for and how he did it. He caught a couple of beautiful fish while we were hanging out on our paddle boards.

It was a bit of a shock for the kids though as he used a gaff hook to grab the fish and pull them into his little boat. The blood may have pushed them over the edge.

We had one thing left to do once we returned the boards to the shop… swim! We jumped into the water (with our wetsuits on) and had our first, and only, swim above the arctic circle. The water was crystal clear and it is amazing how much plant and animal life thrives in those frigid waters.

This is a must do if you are heading to Norway’s Lofoten Islands with kids. Our youngest was two years old on this trip.

It is hard to imagine a better family vacation in Norway than one that includes the Lofoten Islands.

Day 7 – Traveling from Lofoten Islands with Kids to Oslo

The next stop on our 8 day family vacation in Norwa was Oslo.

We enjoyed a lazy morning and then made the two hour car ride ride back to Solvær to catch our Wideroe Airlines flight back to Oslo. We arrived in Oslo and took the train to our Airbnb.

I would say the only downside to visiting the Lofoten Islands with kids are the travel days. It really is quite remote.

Day 8 – Syttende Mai (Constitution Day) with Friends

A little family history

Decades ago my Norwegian Grandpa put an ad in the local Norwegian paper looking for his long-lost family. A wonderful couple answered and, in addition to helping him piece together his family tree, became life-long friends.

I had met them once when I was probably 8 or 10 years old in the US. We reached out to them advising them of our trip and they encouraged us to spend May 17th in Olso and offered to be our personal tour guides.

I know I’ve mentioned this in prior blog posts, but human connections really are the true reason for travel. Those connections make everything feel more real and meaningful. This connection made May 17, 2018 a very special day for us.

Kid-Friendly Syttende Mai Festivities

Norway - Kids waving Norwegian flags at the Settende Mai festivities in Oslo

We were awake at 4:30am because unfortunately our Airbnb apartment did not come with shades. We were excited to get started so had an early breakfast and hit the town. Everyone was dressed in either traditional clothes or suits. We looked extremely out of place in our travel clothes.

Our first stop was the Royal Palace where we stood with a ton of people to see the King and Queen. We then watched a children’s parade come through where school groups marched. We searched high and low for small Norwegian flags for the kids to wave. It took forever but eventually we were eventually successful.

We stumbled across a gluten free bakery tent run by Baker Hansen and Kristen dug in. It is rare that she can enjoy baked goods and theirs were amazing.

Some locals came up to us (again, we clearly stood out) and we had a nice chat about the festivities, history of Constitution Day, and how lucky we were to come during such an occasion. Then we went back to our apartment for a quick rest.

Lunch with Family Friends at Froggner Park

Norway - Friends sharing a beer in Oslo during Settende Mai fesivities

We walked to Froggner Park to meet my grandpa’s friends. They greeted us with balloons, flags, pins, and toys for the kids. We had a nice lunch in the park with my favorite shrimp sandwich and the kids were treated to ice cream!

After lunch we explored Froggner Park, which is Oslo’s largest park with its largest playground! It truly is a huge park and worth a stop if visiting Oslo, especially if the kids need to run around. We saw the famous angry boy statue and the kids were able to run to their hearts’ content.

It is always sad saying goodbye, but we thanked our friends for such a wonderful treat and parted ways.

Day 9 – Off to Iceland

Our flight to Iceland was in the afternoon which left us with a little time to kill. We decided to spend it at Olso Reptile Park which like a little zoo focused on snakes and other reptiles. The kids were able to hold a few giant snakes and were in awe at all of the unique creatures.

We stocked up on gluten free goods at Baker Hansen and took the train to the airport. The only downside here is we had to carry our bags and carseats the entire morning!

While we were sad to leave Norway, we were excited to move on to Iceland, which was the last stop on our epic European adventure!

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The Quill Family

We are the Quills! An ordinary family sharing our extraordinary travel experiences. 


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