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First Pass at a detailed Itinerary for June, 2018

OK, so we have put a bit of research/thought into this, and generally, these are the goals:

  1. Not be constantly packing and unpacking and moving around every day or every other day. We travel under the guiding principle that there is no "trip of a lifetime" - if we like a destination, we will be back.

  2. Give ourselves a couple opportunities to move various activities around to account for the weather - for example, we have 3 or 4 different days on which we could make it to Geriangerfjord from any one of 2 locations on 4 different days.

  3. Start and end car rental in same location (this is negotiable but why throw away $500 if you don't have to) and minimize car rental days and km driven (people from California are green that way, but at $11.00/gallon who wouldn't be!)

  4. We chose 2 days in Bergen over 2 days in Oslo this trip. Next trip we will do a more cosmopolitan, Stockholm, Oslo, Copenhagen trip.

  5. Minimize crossing paths with cruise ships - almost impossible for Geriangerfjord (although we have two shots at it) and completely avoid when in Loen (no ships in Olden our 3 days).

  6. See the available "sights" in line with our itinerary and also take a few hikes - although we are extremely active, we're probably not going to get involved in 6 hour hikes. 2-3 hours at most, and not every day.

  7. Try not to backtrack too much.

  8. Options: we can cut a day out of Alesund and add it to Sognefjord area.

OK, so here is what we have so far:

30 May – Lax>Oslo Non-Stop
31 May – Arrive Oslo 2:20 pm to Bergen 4:40 pm flight (pick up car - stay overnight)

1 June – Drive Bergen > Loen – (visit Briksdalsbre glacier) stay Alexandra Hotel (avoids Olden Cruise ships)

2 June - Loen to Gerianger and Geriangerfjord – back to Loen - Alexandra Hotel (avoids Olden and Gerianger cruise ships)

3 June – Loen – [rain day alternate for Geriangerfjord] – stay Alexandra Hotel (avoids Olden Cruise ships) - otherwise perhaps a hike and take afternoon off to enjoy Alexandra amenities.

4 June – Drive Loen to Alesund - stay Alesund (Staying in a gorgeous Airbnb apartment) - probably take the long way around to Troll Road and Andalsnes or through Hellesylt)

5 June –Alesund, stay Alesund (AirBnB) (Andalsnes and Troll Road any day)

6 June – Alesund, stay Alesund (AirBnB)

7 June Alesund stay Alesund (AirBnB)

8 June - Drive Alesund – Sogndal (stay Sogndal area) (also can do Geriangerfjord with no cruise ships)

9 June - Stave Church at Ornes, afternoon hike (stay Sogndal area)

10 June – Fjord Tour Kaupanger to Laerdal (Borgun Stave Church) to Flam Fjord Ferry to Gudvangen>Flam>Sogndal (stay Sogndal area)

11 June – Alt. Sogndal to Kaupanger to Laerdal to Flam Fjord Ferry to Gudvangen>Flam back to Bergen, drop off car.

12 June - Bergen

13 June - Bergen

14 June - Flight afternoon Bergen to OSL (or maybe take the train).(stay at OSL Airport hotel)
15 June - 9:00 am flight Back to LAX

Thanks in advance for all the helpful advice freely given!

Posted by
1546 posts

Is it really $500 to pick up and drop off a car at different locations? I did a quick search and came up with more in the vicinity of $250. Still worth considering whether it's worth it, but if you started in Alesund and ended in Bergen, you'd have a lot less backtracking and a lot more time not spent on the road.

I am curious about Sogndal as a base for exploring the Sognefjord. I drove through Sogndal last year when I was staying in Balestrand, and I didn't find it particularly interesting. I'd recommend staying in Balestrand, which is, in my opinion, much more pleasant.

Look at this site dedicated to scenic drives in Norway: http://www.nasjonaleturistveger.no/en/routes. If you skip the drive from Bergen to Alesund, you might be able to incorporate a few of these. I did the Gaularfjellet route, and it was magnificent. If it's any indication, they've done a great job at finding roads worth traveling.

You're going to have a wonderful trip however you end up tweaking your itinerary. Norway is my top "want to go back and see more" destination in Europe.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for this. I am looking at a few of these options. I had thought we'd just start in Oslo and drop off in alesund or vice versa. Still haven't fully decided. Trying to round out itinerary first and then it's somewhat reversible. Thanks for that link.

On Sogndal we were looking at airbnbs which seem to be concentrated in the hills above, but we are looking all around that area.

Nice to have time but I remember looking at this trip a couple years ago (we went to Greece instead) and everything for June was pretty filled up by January so I don't want to lag too long.

Thanks again, friend.

Posted by
251 posts

First, let me give you high marks for knowing your priorities and using those to set your itinerary. Now, my comments based on having just done 8 days in Bergen and the fjord country with a rental car. As RS suggests, cars are a pain in Bergen. Having just been in Geiranger, I can't imagine a good reason to go to the town of Geiranger itself. It is a very small town shoehorned in between the water and the mountains that is overwhelmed with tourists and folks from the cruise ships. However, if you want to go to Geiranger to see something in the vicinity, that makes sense to me. I can recommend the ferry cruise over to Hellesylt and back. The ride is very beautiful with incredible cliffs and waterfalls. Hellesylt is quieter, more pleasant and more photogenic than Geiranger IMO. Taking your car to Hellesylt is rather expensive and we avoided that. However be aware that parking in Geiranger while free is extremely competitive, at least it was last week. I can also recommend the drive along Route 63, both north and south of Geiranger as being quite interesting. It is one of the National Tourist Routes. While the viewpoint from the Trollstigen north of Geiranger and Eidsdal has received some accolades in this forum, we actually thought that the view from Mount Dalsnibba was more dramatic in terms of sheer elevation. The view is of the town of Geiranger and all the mountains around. That viewpoint is accessed from Route 63 south of Geiranger, on the way in to town from Loen for example. It is on a side road, toll required, and features an incredible white knuckle ascent up a road with the sharpest hairpins I've ever seen. While it's not the narrowest Norwegian road we were on, it is rather sporty if you meet a tour bus going the other way. And many big tour buses start arriving there with cruise ship tours by around 10 or 10:30. Try to get there early to beat the buses. I've got more to say about driving in Bergen, the fjord country and along the National Tourist Routes, but I will save that for a complete Trip Report that I will post in a couple of weeks. Best wishes, looks like you will have a great trip.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks for this - yes, we are just picking up car in Bergen and dropping it off as soon as we get back - not keeping it there at all.

We are definitely going to do Geriangerfjord and may opt for the Hellesyt entry as you suggest - seems as if this would be the best way to go. The Mount Dalnibba view sounds great, and since we will be coming up from Loen easy to work into our planning.

Looking forward to your trip report! Many of our plans came from considering and studying reports of others - you find the information invaluable - I should do a better job putting my own information in on our many trips, but am an horrible typist!

Thanks again!

Posted by
20 posts

I am thinking I may cut one day out of Alesund and devote it to one more day in the Sognefjord area. So move everything up a day from Jun8 8 on and clear 12 June for the drive to Bergen leaving 11 June free for more Sognefjord exploration - just seems as if there is so much to do/see there the extra day is better spent there than Alesund (museums and aquariums are for rainy days only).

Posted by
20 posts

So we worked on this a bit more, realizing we don't care about the drop off charge (which will reduce driving) and reordered putting more emphasis on Sogenfjord area and the road to Bergen (with 2 full days in Bergen):

Any suggestions?

30 May – Lax>Oslo Non-Stop
31 May – Arrive Oslo 2:20 pm to transfer to flight to Alesund (5pm) (stay Alesund overnight)

1 June – Alesund (stay Alesund)
2 June – Alesund (stay Alesund) [pick up rental car]
3 June – Alesund to Loen via Åndalsnes and road 63 to Geriangerfjord Ferry [Long Drive Day with early start] [Check in Alexandra Hotel]

4 June - Loen – (Briksdalsbre glacier and/or rain date Geriangerfjord) [Alexandra Hotel]
5 June - Loen [resort day – maybe a hike] - [Alexandra Hotel]

6 June – Loen to Leikanger (staying in Leikanger House on Fjord)
7 June – Nigardsbreen Glacier, Ornes Stave Church (stay Leikanger)
8 June – [Rain Date Alternatives in Sogenfjord area] (stay Leikanger)
9 June – Fjord Tour Kaupanger to Gudvangen (early boat) to Flam to Laerdal (Borgund Stave Church) (stay Leikanger)
10 June – [Open] (stay Leikanger)

11 June – Drive to Bergen [drop off rental car after check in]

12 June - Bergen
13 June - Bergen
14 Bergen – Oslo Train
15 Back to LAX

Posted by
1546 posts

James, this new itinerary seems like a big improvement! Nice job! You're going to love it!

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks! It's a bit difficult getting it all straight and making reservations etc. a year in advance but if you don't do that for Norway you have to sleep in the car! Pretty amazing. We're pretty settled on this itinerary - thanks for the kind words and assistance!

Posted by
23 posts

I can recommend some AirBnBs in Alesund, Aurland and Bergen (looks like you have the one set in Alesund). The ones in Aurland and Bergen aren't quite as luxe as the Alesund one was that we stayed in. You will get your afternoon hike getting up to the Ornes Stave Church. There is also the Kaupanger Stave Church prior to the ferry. I don't know why Rick doesn't include it as it is easy to get to and quite picturesque with a wonderful interior.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks Kay! We're all set on accommodations already - found fantastic Airbnbs all the way through! I don't know why anyone would stay in hotels in Norway - the rooms are tiny and the larger suites incredibly expensive - of course the hotel amenities are nice to have on the other hand.

Here are what we arranged:

http://tinyurl.com/y7jhczrr
http://tinyurl.com/y8nmomws [we opted for this over Alexandra Hotel as they did not have our dates available]
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/1532263
https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/19561255

Thanks again!

Posted by
3993 posts

Hi:

Check out Avis for one way drop fees of about $100, not $500. I will be in the same areas at the same time, although I do not have access to Norwegian Air so have to use Amsterdam as our hopping off point to northern Norway.

Posted by
251 posts

No doubt there are many good AirBnB values in Norway as elsewhere and yes some hotels are not the best values, but please don't paint so broad a brush that no hotels will ever do. Last week we stayed in a modern hotel in Geilo (a ski resort town) that put the 2 of us in a 2 level suite with a full large kitchen, dining room, TV room, 2 large bathrooms, a large master bedroom, 3 more bedrooms, a deck and a great view AND a full buffet breakfast for 2 for about $145/night. Oh, and an equipment room to hold 6 mountain bikes or 10 sets of ski gear. My only regret is we didn't have the whole family with us and couldn't take full advantage of all that space. Kudos to my spouse for being such a good bargain hunter.

Posted by
23 posts

James, your AirBnB places look wonderful. Most of the time we try to book those places because of the kitchen availability. There seem to be plenty of them in Scandinavia. Much of the time, the owners move out while they rent to you. It felt a little strange to be in someone's home surrounded by their personal items, but we got used to it. We didn't need a large place and ended up paying around $80/night for a one bedroom private apartment in a good location. BTW, we picked up an Avis car (small Ford Fiesta - standard drive) in Bergen and dropped in Oslo after driving it for a couple of weeks. We paid about $225 in a drop fee. We really researched the drop fee charges, checked with other rental car agencies, and I posted a query on this forum. The drop fee was less expensive because we left it in a large location (Oslo) where they are turning cars around a lot. When we considered dropping it in a smaller place, the drop fee was closer to $500. Make sure that you confirm the time for dropping the car off to avoid an extra day's use fee. We had to drop in Oslo at 1:30, which was a bit of a scramble considering where we were coming from.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks Kay! Yes, noticed the wide variety of drop off charges. My usual friends at Kemwel have not been that helpful this time as far as lower cost one way rentals (they are great in Italy for that).

As a by the way took our first trip up to Vancouver this year - loved it! Actually heading to Tofino for a few days in September.

Thanks for your advice!

Posted by
23 posts

As a note, James, we live in the FIRST Vancouver (America's Vancouver not B.C.) in the other Washington (state not DC). I have kayaked out of Tofino. Beautiful!