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Best use of 3 days - Fjords + Which Scenic Routes ?

I have finally booked my tickets ... Reaching Oslo late Thursday Night & Flying out of Bergen On Tuesday afternoon.

I will be renting a car in Oslo & dropping that off at Bergen airport. Wanted some guidance how to combine touring the Fjords + travel on some of the Best scenic routes in that area. Rough high level plan -

Thursday Night - Arrive in Oslo
Friday - Spend entire day in Oslo
Sat - Rent a car, drive to Flam ... Do the Fjord safari & stay in Flam ?
Sun - Do what ? stay where ? Or do the Fjord Safari on Sun ?
Mon - Do what ? stay where ?
Tue - Drive to Bergen & take the afternoon flight out

I heard that the train ride from Flam to Myrdal is very scenic. Was thinking whether I should drive to Flam, park there & do the train ride both ways -- Flam - Myrdal - Flam. Thoughts ?

Also for the Fjord safari do I have to book in advance ? Through Fjord tours ?

What about be best intermediate halts on Sun & Mon ?

My trip is from Aug 01 - Aug 06.

Posted by
1439 posts

Rent the car before leaving Oslo - a car in Oslo is a burden.

I heard that the train ride from Flam to Myrdal is very scenic. Was
thinking whether I should drive to Flam, park there & do the train
ride both ways -- Flam - Myrdal - Flam. Thoughts ?

That is the only short option if you have a car.

For bookings of boat tours and train ride I recommend VisitFlam. At this date of travel I would book in advance. You will share Flam with passengers of 2 cruise ships (port schedule). Honestly I would do Flam only if you can arrive in the morning - if cruise ships are announced.

For the other days (maybe also before Flam) checkout the official scenic routes which one appeals you most. Between Flam and Voss do not miss Stalheimskleiva and Trollafossen. If you like history do not miss to visit a stave church.

I would end the Monday in Bergen with dropping-off the car and explore Bergen finally on Tuesday - also there a car is a burden. It is a real nice small town.

Have a good journey!

Posted by
5591 posts

Do you need a car to do the "Fjord Safari"? If not, do a Norway in the Nutshell combination tour starting in Oslo and ending in Bergen with a break to meet your Safari. No car rental needed.

https://www.norwaynutshell.com/original-tour/

During the booking process you can customize the tour with activities
and accommodation along the route.

Posted by
5591 posts

I had not heard about the "Safari" but found this:
http://www.norwayactive.no/full-package/

Looks like the tour is programmed to start/finish at Bergen or Voss or other points. Given that you are flying into Oslo, you could take the Bergen Line Railroad from Oslo to Voss or Bergen and skip the "Nutshell" in that the Safari replicates the Nutshell route.

Posted by
70 posts

Thanks MarkK & Edgar for the suggestions. Was distracted for a few days with other work.

I also went through some of the links you posted. Based on those, I have several ways to spend the 3 days after spending the first day in Oslo. Each option has its own pros / cons ... so not sure which one to go for.

@Edgar - As far as your suggestion about ditching the car, I have tried to create an option like that ... but may be hard. We are travelling as a Family of 4 (2 kids) .. so we will have non trivial amount of luggage. Having said that, I found that NiN has a luggage service - they will deliver your suitcases at the designated hotel for a price.

@MarkK -

  1. I saw that most of the scenic routes are in & around Bergen. I also liked the Hardanger route & would want to do that.
  2. As to your point about the Cruise ships, looks like both Sat & Sun there are 2 ships each. Guess can't avoid them. Does it get too crowded because of the ships. I will off course book my Ferry & train tickets way in advance.
  3. Any chance I can creatively add Pulpit Rock / Stavanger to this ? The pictures look amazing.

Here are the options I came up with - Please comment on which one below seems practical / do-able

Option-1 : SAT: Drive to Flam; take Flam Railway both ways. Sleep in Flam. SUN: Do the Fjords; come back to Flam; pickup car & drive to Bergen - sleep there. MON: Scenic Route - Hardangar + other ? TUE: Morning see Bergen; afternoon take flight out

Option-2 : SAT: Drive to Bergen & do Scenic Route - Hardangar; Sleep in Bergen. SUN: Do classic NiN from Bergen & back to Bergen & sleep there MON: Other scenic routes ? or go to pulpit rock

Option-3 : SAT: Do the classic NiN starting from Oslo & ending in Bergen SUN: Rent a Car in Bergen & Do Scenic Route - Hardangar; Sleep in Bergen. MON: Other scenic routes ? or go to pulpit rock

Option-4 : Modification of Option-3 above. Add a night halt in Flam on Sat ... Continue with NiN on Sunday ending in Bergen. MON: Rent a car from Bergen & travel some of the scenic routes.

-Option-2 - seems to be very ambitious with a lot of driving on SAT.
- Similarly Option-3 seems cramped on Sat.
- I am leaning more towards Option-1 OR Option-4.

Thoughts ? And how do I improve upon these ?

Posted by
5591 posts

I only did the Bergen Line train route. Here is a website view of the route:
http://realscandinavia.com/hardangervidda-high-crossing-norways-vast-mountain-plateau-on-the-bergen-railway/
Part of the Bergen Line train route before and after Myrdal is "road less" and the only way to see that area of the Hardangervidda is by train or by trekking or skiing. the web link has a short video of the train route: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql2qXpNVTjw&feature=youtu.be

Posted by
1439 posts

Does it get too crowded because of the ships.

Of course the feeling of "too" is very much personal opinion. Just an indicator. Village of Flam has only 350 people, so just one cruise ship is enough to disembark more people for a day than residents living there. Also the boats and the train have limited capacities, so well filled. So, yes it will be very crowded for Flam proportions but it is still not NYC :-)

Another event to know for your travel date and reason came to my mind. Be aware of Norseman Triathlon (track) on August 3. This race is known as the hard for the hardest - nothing against Ironman but these conditions are extreme. Eidfjord and route Hardangervidda are affected.

Posted by
70 posts

Part of the Bergen Line train route before and after Myrdal is "road
less" and the only way to see that area of the Hardangervidda is by
train or by trekking or skiing. the web link has a short video of the
train route:

Looks very good ... now I am leaning towards train + car later in Bergen.

Posted by
70 posts

So, yes it will be very crowded for Flam ....

I guess crowd I can handle, given that I am based out of Bangalore in India. But I get your point. I checked the schedules of Flam railway starting from Flam & the day time trains are all booked for 3rd & 4th. But given my schedule, I would have to bear with that.

After looking more deeply at the scenic routes link you provided, I see many of them are in & around Bergen. So now I am leaning towards Option-3 of the 4 options I mentioned above -

Option-3 : SAT: Do the classic NiN starting from Oslo & ending in Bergen SUN: Rent a Car in Bergen & Do Scenic Route - Hardangar; Sleep in Bergen. MON: Other scenic routes ? or go to pulpit rock

That means I have a 13 hour day on SAT. But the advantage is that I don't have to do the Flam railway twice, if I were to drive from Oslo. I can then peacefully rent a car in Bergen on SUN for 2 days - Spending one day on Hardangar scenic route & one more day (MON) I would have free.

What do you say ?

Also what would you suggest for Monday ? Should I drive north & take a ride on Sognefjord ? or something else ?

Posted by
70 posts

From the "18 Scenic Routes" link, I see the following which are accessible & do-able from Bergen -

  1. Hardanger
  2. Hardangervidda
  3. Aurlandsfjellet
  4. Gaularfjellet

Assuming I do "Hardanger" on Sunday, which one should I attempt on Monday amongst the other 3 ? Any insights ? Will the "Hardangervidda" be similar to #1, then I can probably do Aurlandsfjellet or Gaularfjellet ?

What say ?

Posted by
70 posts

I just checked that Hardanger scenic route begins in Granvin which is 2 hours from Bergen AND ends in Latefoss which is 3 hours from Bergen.

So I would end up driving 5 hours PLUS the scenic route which is 158 Kms + 2 Ferry Crossings. Can all this be done in a Day ? Or should I just find a place along the way, sleep there & continue with the rest of the journey next day back to Bergen ?

Probably a better Itinerary would be to break the NiN at Voss (Sat) ; Rent a Car from Voss & do the Hardanger scenic route on SUN ... And either end in Bergen on SUN or sleep some town along the way on Sun & return to Bergen on Monday.

Basically do a one way car rental from Voss to Bergen & doing the Hardanger scenic route on the way

Posted by
4498 posts

I would not drive in Norway. Take the train to Flam and/or Bergen.

We just did a wonderful 11 night cruise on the Serenade of the Seas to 6 Norwegian ports, including visiting the North Cape above the Arctic Circle.

A cruise is the best way to see Norway. It is by far the most expensive country in Europe. A beer was $10.

The Fjords in Geiranger, Alesund, Stavanger and Flam in the south are amazing. We loved the fjords to trolls tour in Alesund that must not be missed. From all we talked to, skip Oslo, it is considered the most boring capital in Europe.

Posted by
1439 posts

A cruise is the best way to see Norway.

Which other ways did you try? Only doing one way does not necessarily mean that this is the best. 6 ports of such a country is really not much. Furthermore cruise ships of that size cannot drive through / into a few of the most beautiful places of Norway, e.g. Lysefjord, Trollfjord and Raftsund. They are just too big. Other scenic and interesting places you will never see when traveling by ship, train and bus only.

It is by far the most expensive country in Europe.

Wrong info or minimum formulation: based on a 2018 EU purchasing power parity index Norway (not part of EU) is definitely on a high level but Iceland and Switzerland (not EU) have a higher comparative price level index for private households.

If you look on hotel and restaurant prices only Norway is 45% over average German level, Iceland +40%, Switzerland +39%.

It is actually true that alcohol is more expensive in Scandinavian countries than in other parts of Europe.

From all we talked to, skip Oslo, it is considered the most boring
capital in Europe.

Lonely Planet listed Oslo in "Best in Travel 2018: top 10 cities".

Posted by
5591 posts

Is Norway an expensive country to visit? It depends. Yes, beer is expensive in Norway but nature and nature travel (cross country skiing during the winter and hiking during the summer) can be a bargain.

One memorable comment made by a wait person who immigrated from Germany during our first visit to Norway was: "Taxes are high but the benefits are even higher". You get what you pay for. Travel in first world counties can be expensive relative to travel in second world and third world economies where locals are paid low wages.

One of the benefits of travel in Norway is its transportation infrastructure. I enjoy not driving and getting to watch the scenery. While I don't drive as a profession, driving is work and I don't want a "busman's holiday". That said, self driving can get to to some places not traveled by train/coach/boat, just as train or boat may get you to roadless places.

Posted by
70 posts

I would not drive in Norway. Take the train to Flam and/or Bergen.

Thanks Griffith .. I will be renting the car only for the last couple of days to drive few of the scenic routes.

As far as your point about Oslo, my flight anyway lands there, so I guess it would make sense to spend at least 1 day there.

Posted by
70 posts

@OP: Not sure what your plan is now.

I am more or less going with the following plan - (a slight modification of my Option-3 which I laid out before)

SAT: Do the classic NiN starting from Oslo & ending in Voss
SUN: Rent a Car in Voss & Do Scenic Route - "Hardangar"
SUN: NIGHT - Not sure where to stop & sleep .. Maybe Kinsarvik ?? or Eidfjord
Mon: Complete Hardangar scenic route ... if possible do "Hardangervidda" route as well
Mon: Night -- Return to Bergen & Sleep there
Tue: Morning : spend 1/2 a day walking in Bergen .. take afternoon flight out

@MarkK, @Edgar -- Any comments of the above ? Any modifications you would suggest ?

The only little issue is that the Car rentals in Voss are closed on Sunday. But I did call them & they mentioned that someone would be available for me to pick up the Car, with an extra charge off course. So I would end up paying an additional 1400 NOK for Car drop off charges (to Bergen instead of Voss) + 450 NOK for someone to be there for me to pick up the car on Sunday.

Posted by
4498 posts

MarkK,
I am sure that my trip to Norway left much that I haven't seen in that wonderful country. However, from what I read in guidebooks, I think my cruise did quite a lot.

When in port we took tours that drove many miles to see the scenic places and which Norway's mountainous terrain car traffic is slow and can be tiresome. Our guides told us that driving between cities, even in Southern Norway takes a lot longer per KM than what is normal elsewhere.

Yes, Switzerland is very expensive, but your stats showed that Norway is right up there with the most expensive countries.

I would like for someone to report just how much they spent on an 11 day trip to Norway including rental car, hotels, fuel, meals, refreshments, tours, admissions, etc.

We love to rent cars and explore, even in the UK where we have to drive on the left. Still, I would not relish driving around or over those mountains in Norway.

Posted by
70 posts

If you return the rental in Voss, the train to Bergen only takes about 1 hr 20 min.

Yes, I saw that but was not getting how to make it work without loosing valuable time. But actually your post has triggered another idea how to make this work. I can still return with the car to Bergen, stay there overnight, but early morning on Tuesday, only I can drive down to Voss, return the car & take a train back while my family stays in the hotel & gets ready for the day.

Does entail a 3-hr round trip for me, but saves about 1200 NOK (1400 - 216 : cost of train ticket).