We have 5 nights available for Norway after leaving Stockholm. After Norway, we will head to Amsterdam. That itinerary is pretty much set but I'm pondering where to spend those 5 nights in Norway, preferably in one location, and not Oslo as I will need some time away from the larger cities. Outdoor scenery is desired as well as time relaxing and enjoying the local culture. (yes, I know the weather will give us some wet days). Timeframe is last week of August this year. We'd prefer public transportation/flights as needed but could rent a car if necessary for local explorations/day trips. The entire NIN trip does not appeal. Suggestions for a stunning location for 5 nights please. Many thanks!
You should in my opinion not spend all five days in the same location. I understand the appeal of doing that, but transportation in Norway is slow. And you should at least spend some time in Oslo.
Bergen could be an option. Although it is a city, it is small and compact. From there you could do some day trips in different directions to see some of the spectacular fjords.
We stayed at a quaint bnb called Nes Gard for a few nights Pre Covid. It is near Sogndal. We had a car and did a lot of exploring close by. A RIB boat ride, hiking the blue ice glacier and the Urnes Stave church . Beautiful quiet scenery and there is a waterfall right across from Nes Gard.
Because of the geography, I'm not sure it will work terribly well to plunk yourselves down in a smaller city or town for five nights, especially without a car. Day trips by public transportation may not be very efficient. It's not uncommon for a bus to run just once or twice a day. If you're interested in excursions, I think you'll find they depart from a limited number of origins. I've never rented a car in Europe and am probably infamous here for telling people they can have a great visit to such-and-such a place without a car. Still, I wouldn't recommend five days without a car in a small Norwegian town unless you were planning on hardcore active pursuits like hiking.
There's a reason Norway in a Nutshell is so popular; it serves up a lot of scenery via several different modes of transportation. Flam, though not a particularly pretty settlement, is surrounded by 'wow' scenery. It's a lot closer to Bergen than to Oslo. How are you traveling from Stockholm to Norway? There are flights from Stockholm to Bergen. I think a combination of Bergen and the Nutshell route is something you might enjoy a lot more than you're expecting. But options for public-transit day excursions from Flam are rather limited after you take the Nutshell elements out of the equation.
If you're willing to rent a car, Balestrand might be a workable base, though it positions you on the wrong side of the Sognefjord for easy access to the Flamsbana train and the Naeroyfjord ferry. Balestrand is by all accounts a very, very nice place to stay. I think at least two posters here have traveled around that area via rental car. You should be able to find some earlier posts by searching for Balestrand. Be aware, though, that it will take considerable time to get to Balestrand from either Oslo or Bergen. I don't know that it's a good idea to commit to so much travel time when you have only five nights.
How are you traveling from Stockholm to Norway? There are flights
from Stockholm to Bergen.
There are now also high speed trains between Stockholm and Oslo which make travel between the cities easier.
I would have said two nights in Oslo and three in Bergen, but you don’t want to go to Oslo. I wasn’t that crazy about it, but it does have appealing sights. Bergen, on the other hand was fantastic. It does not feel like a city at all; it’s compact, beautiful and has interesting historic sights. We did the NIN from there back to Oslo, but you can probably do a cruise of the fjords from there. I’m not sure how many options there are; you would need to research this.
We spent a night in Balestrand and loved it. It’s on the water and has gorgeous views. I’m not sure what you would do for five days there. One night was okay with us. (We did not have a car,)
As others have said, the geography makes it difficult to get around even with a car. Without one, your options are very limited. This works against a five day base. Perhaps you should spend four nights in Bergen and add a day to one of your other stops.
Thanks for the replies and suggestions. The plan for now is to fly from Stockholm to Bergen but I want to be sure I consider various options. I'm the "go-er" and don't mind moving around more frequently but have to compromise with spouse's desire to spend our allotted time sleeping in the same location.
That is certainly a way to do it, but 5 nights in Bergen is a lot for that town. Not that it is worth a stop, but it will limit you since ground transportation is very slow in Norway.
My suggestion would be to stop in Oslo first, spend one or two nights there. Take the train to Bergen and spend three or four nights there. Or one night somewhere inbetween, and two or three in Bergen.
It's my impression that the fjords immediately accessible from Bergen aren't quite as spectacular as the area around Flam. That impression is based on reading guidebooks and researching online, not on having actually visited the fjords around Bergen. There is definitely lovely scenery in the area.
In case it helps, here are some of the Bergen-area tips from my trip notes with a focus on outdoorsy things. I missed a lot of these places.
The Bybanen light rail line is a low-cost way to get into town from the airport. The city is quite hilly (one reason it's so scenic), so you may use city transit more than usual. Research prior to your trip to avoid wasting money. Paying the bus driver will cost considerably more than buying tickets ahead of time or a day pass. Rick's guidebook explains all this.
The tourist office is upstairs in the market building near the waterfront. It's very helpful. It can provide information on public transportation as well as excursions. There was some printed tourist literature available. The T.O.'s website is very good. I researched the Bergen Card and decided it wouldn't pay off for me. It's heavy on the historic sights and didn't (as of 2022) cover the multi-location KODE art museum, which was important to me. Rick has good coverage of the historic sites in Bergen.
Bus 6 supposedly offers good view of the coast; Bus 11, of the hills. However, it's possible the bus routes have been renumbered since that information was committed to paper. Ask the tourist office.
The Ulriken643 Cable Car ascends Bergen’s highest mountain. Great views, trails, restaurant. Takes about 40 minutes to walk back down. Kr 90 one-way 2015. Public bus goes within 200 yd. of lift station at base. There may also be antique shuttle bus on the half hour from Torget fish market daily.
The Floibanen (Mount Floyen funicular) affords city, island and fjord views. There are walks at the top, and you can also walk back down to town. Suspect that might be hard on the knees.
Damsgard is a late-18th-century manor, Norway’s finest example of 18C rococo timber architecture. Over-the-top garden with sculptures, ponds, plants. Bus 19 from center (verify bus number!); 3 km W of town.
Edvard Grieg's house (Troldhaugveien 65) is an architecturally beautiful home in a stunning setting (gardens). Bus and light rail both go within about a 20-minute (uphill) walk. There are also tours from town that avoid the walk. Frequent concerts.
Museet Lysoen (Ole Bull Museum Lysoen) in Lysekloster is a beautiful estate with fantastical, pseudo-Moorish home and 13 km of trails. The logistics are difficult without a car. Old directions: Skyss buses run infrequently from Bergen bus station to Buena, from whose quay there is hourly ferry to island 1100 to 1500; last boat back 1630. Museum was closed as of 2022. Island free.
There are bus/boat trips possible to the Hardangerfjord. Supposedly, public buses run along both sides, and there are a couple of car-ferry crossings. The DIY approach would be much cheaper than a tour.
GoFjords runs a full-day bus/boat excursion to Hardangerfjord (as far as Eidfjord) and Voringfossen waterfall. Could possibly just travel to Eidfjord (arr 1145) and stay there rather than taking bus to Nature Center and waterfall; boat departs Eidfjord 1440. NOK 1442 for all activities as of a few years ago. GoFjords excursion
GoFjords also offers 3-hour fjord cruises from Bergen to Mostraumen (Osterfjord). GoFjords cruise.
We're talking Norway here. Any excursion will be pricey.
A (long) day trip is possible from Bergen to Flam. Boat there seeing the spectacular fjords, the train up the mountain from Flam and then a train back to Bergen.
There is a hydrofoil that goes from Bergen to Rosendal, the start of the Hardangerfjord that can be a day trip too. A bus leaves from there to Odda at the end of the fjord for a longer day trip.
I have family in Odda so have done versions of these day trips in the past.
The scenery from the express boat Bergen-Flam is said not to be quite as good as the Flam-Gudvangen trip, though there is some overlap. The express boat doesn't go into the Naeroyfjord, and the end of the trip near Bergen is through a very wide fjord, so not as dramatic (said to be sort of like a boat along a river).
It should be possible to make a day-trip to Flam that includes both the Flamsbana train (Myrdal-Flam) and the Naeroryfjord (Flam-Gudvangen) ferry, but careful checking of the schedule would be required. The trip would also involve the bus link from Gudvangen to Voss. The mainline trains connect Bergen to Voss and Myrdal.
Many thanks. You've all provided some very, very helpful information. The credit card limit can handle the higher costs for this area!
Think of all the additional airline miles you'll earn (or rebates, as the case may be)!
By the way, there are a lot more places in Norway that don't take cash than there are places that don't take credit cards. I can't promise you'll never need cash at all (though it could happen), but you won't need much unless you somehow manage to book a cash-only room somewhere. Norway has its own currency that you won't be able to use in another country (same with Sweden), so don't get much money out of a Norwegian ATM. You'll just have to pay to convert it to euros or dollars unless you're planning to return to Norway soon. The situation in Sweden is only a little less extreme than it is in Norway.
Thanks for the cash tip. We typically only get a very small amount of local currency; no foreign transaction fees on the credit card we use and we are reimbursed for ATM fees. Yes, we earn miles! Each trip pays it forward!
Consider Voss if you want to stay in one spot. Voss is on a lake, not a fjord. However, the location is very convenient for day trips in every direction. Within 75 miles are Bergen, the Sognefjord area, several stave churches, Voringfossen, Eidfjord, and the Hardanger fjord area. It's easy to get to Voss by train from Bergen and the journey is scenic. Several places to rent cars in Voss and the roads are excellent. Fleischer's Hotel is very close to the train station. When we stayed there we had a room facing the lake and enjoyed watching the paragliders over the lake.