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Norway, UK, Other?, Itinerary Suggestions

Planning a late summer 2019 trip especially to see fjords in Norway and also see London and take a transatlantic cruise out of Dover, England back to the US on Disney Cruise Line. We'll have approximately 16 days to spend touring before the cruise. The cruise makes stops in Portland, England (excursions to Stonehenge are popular from here although may be more economical to do while we're touring the UK), and Cobh (close to Cork), Ireland.

I'm looking for a suggested itinerary.

We are a family of 7 including five children ages 6-14 who are great travelers. One other adult (my sister) will be traveling with us. We want to see the world with our children and of course time is limited as childhood goes so quickly before they will be off doing their own things. At the pace of one European trip every three years, we'll be likely to come back only one more time after this trip with all of them and so we really want to experience as much as possible on this trip.

Here are my thoughts so far on possibilities...
-Our flight from Chicago to Norway will likely have a stop in Reykjavik, Iceland or some other country that we MAY want to stay at for a couple of nights to experience another country and shorten our flight over and start getting used to the time change.
-Spend at least 4 nights in Norway touring Oslo, Bergen, and see the sights along the way, We're open to seeing other areas and lengthening the time here, but I think we would rather add another country to our experience. We can do Oslo to Bergen or vice versa depending on rest of our itinerary and transportation costs.
-We are okay with very busy days of touring since we will relax on the cruise home.
-Take ferries and/or trains to get from Oslo to London possibly staying a night or two in Copenhagen, Hamburg, and Brussels before arriving in London. (This is appealing although hectic because we's get a little taste of several other countries even though brief.)
-We could plan fewer stopovers or even fly to one additional location. In other words, plan to tour Norway, one area of Germany (or Copenhagen, or Amsterdam), and London area.
-Or we could fly from Norway to London or somewhere else in UK and spend more time in Norway and in UK touring. Perhaps part of Scotland if we do this. Where would we want to go if we did this?

We're just beginning research and would like suggested itineraries for 16 nights. Thanks for advice and suggestions!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
9819 posts

Hello again.

First of all, do not assume your children will stop traveling with you once they are adults. We have four adult children, two with children of their own, and we still travel together in various combinations. In the past three years, we have been to Italy (Rome, Venice, and the Dolomites) with one daughter and her fiancé; , to London for a week with our son and his family, and this summer to Switzerland with another son and his family. The big digfference is that they now (mostly) pay their own way.

So you need not feel pressured to "see it all" on this trip.

We find flying short hops around Europe more stressful and often more time-consuming than traveling on the ground, so I plan Itineraries that work by train (or rental car where it makes sense). This could work for your family as well.

I previously suggested taking the ferry from Oslo to Copenhagen, and my suggestionnwas "seconded" by a Danish contributor to the forum. So I will include that in my suggested itinerary. The ferry is an overnight run, leaving Oslo around 5 pm so you have 4-5 daylight hours to enjoy the scenery as you cruise down the fjord.

https://www.dfdsseaways.eu/onboard-our-ferries/facilities-by-route/copenhagen-oslo

The ship has 4-berth seaview rooms with ensuite bathroom for £169, so your family could book two of these. Then you would have transport plus one night's lodging for £338. Meals are extra.

You land in Copenhagen around 9:45 am and have the rest of that day and all of the next to explore. The Viking ship museum at Roskilde is well worth a visit even if you have visited the one in Oslo. The Roskilde museum offers a "Viking experience" where you row a replica Viking ship on the water for an hour. They take children down to age 6 ( but child space is limited as everyone must help row!)

From Copenhagen you make your way to a starting point for the Eurostar train to Londonbreaking the journey with overnight stops. You mentioned Amsterdam or Brussels, but I will suggest an alternative, namely Paris, with overnight stops in Hamburg and Köln (or Strasbourg if you prefer). This would break the trip into segments of roughly 6 hours, 5 hours, and 4 hours respectively. i believe the first day includes a water crossing between Denmark and Germany. From Paris yountake the fast Eurostar train to London ( under three hours).

The entire route would look like this:

4 nights Norway
1 night on the ferry
2 nights Copenhagen
1 night Hamburg
1 night Köln or Strasbourg
3 nights Paris
3-4 nights London

Posted by drkleinfelter OP
12 posts

Love it! Thanks for putting the time and detail into this suggestion!
I hope our kids will travel with us as adults, but I know there are no guarantees.
We did visit Paris on our first trip to Europe two years ago. Knowing my desire to see more places, do you have an alternate suggestion for those days?
Thanks very much!

Posted by Lola
Seattle, WA
9819 posts

Then you could visit Amsterdam or Brussels ( after Hamburg) per your original thoughts.

I only suggested Paris because I am familiar with Eurostar trains to London from there ( and because Verne should see Paris!) I believe the Eurostar is possible from either Brussels or Amsterdam as well, but do not know the details. We will visit Amsterdam for the first time on this summer's trip, before meeting up with kids and grandchildren in Switzerland.

Posted by Morten
Copenhagen, Denmark
773 posts

I think Lola has some good points and I will second the Oslo-Copenhagen ferry a second time :-)
However I will ad that I think you should consider cutting down the number of places on your itinerary, and spend more time in the places you have. I would eliminate all one night stops, since checking in and out of hotels, getting to the train station/airport, getting from point A to B takes up a lot of your valuable time, time that could have been spent sight seeing. I can imagine this will only be more hectic since you are a big family. I know it can be tempting to see a lot of places and cover a lot of ground, but you may end up just spending more time in transit instead of on the ground. Also consider if a city that only have enough sights to warrant one day, is it worth spending you valuable travel time to get to, considering the galore of world class cities north western Europe has to offer?

You can also do day trips, which would eliminate the need to check in and out of hotels. Lola has already mentioned Roskilde as a day trip from Copenhagen, another popular option is Helsingør, with Kronborg castle https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronborg, famous as the setting for Shakespeares Hamlet. The ferry from Oslo passes the castle, so you can get a glimpse of it if you get up early. Helsingør also has a nice old town area and an award winning Maritime Museum http://mfs.dk/en/.
From Hamburg you can easily visit Lübeck (or the other way around, since Lübeck is on the train route from Copenhagen to Hamburg).
Köln(Cologne) has a very impressive cathedral, the Kölner Dom, but the rest of the city was flattened by allied bombing during WW2, and the rebuild stuff is not very interesting, so Köln is really only worth a day, so I would consider skipping it. The same goes for Strassbourg (though i must admit i have never been there). You could ad Amsterdam instead. Or spend more time in Norway and really explore the magnificent fjords.