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Just Getting Started... Iceland and Norway

I'm just starting the research on a trip to Iceland and Norway for this August. My husband is going to run a marathon in Reykjavik on August 19th so we will arrive in Iceland a couple days before that and stay 3 or 4 full days after - then hop on a plane to arrive in Oslo around noon.

For the Norway portion of the trip, I'm tentatively thinking that we'd want a couple nights (up to 3) in Oslo and then head to see some nature/fjords. It looks like the NIN may be a good option for us but we wouldn't want to do it all in a single day. We can fly home from Bergen. Looks like the flight we'd take is about 3:30pm.

So my questions are more about where to stay after Oslo. After Oslo, I'd be looking for light hikes, maybe some kayaking, or just some beautiful places to photograph. I was thinking about staying somewhere for a couple nights near fjords - maybe Flan? and then maybe staying a few more nights in Bergen - but am open to other places as well. I'd be open to renting a car in Bergen if there are places relatively nearby (i.e., within a couple hours) that we can't easily get to via public transportation. I would have about a week after Oslo. Any suggestions?

Posted by
187 posts

Hi Lynne, I just finalized my 2 week Norway itinerary thanks to everyone's help here. We will do the NIN with two nights in Flam. It works great between Oslo and Bergen. We found an Airbnb in Flam right on the fjord that comes with a small boat! Book Flam soon though as there's not a lot left for July (when I was looking) at least.

During our time in Flam, we're hoping to rent kayaks and do the long downhill bike ride that's famous here after taking the train to the top. Flam sounds just like what you're looking for.

Posted by
1391 posts

There are a number of easy to moderate hiking trails in Balestrand which is just across the fjord from Flam. From there you can rent a car and head towards Solvorn, the Nigardsbreen Glacier (for more challenging ice hiking), and the Lustrafjorden. The smaller fjords are much more interesting than the larger fjords like Sognefjord.I don't know if it still exists but there was a kayak rental shop in Balestrand.

Posted by
27237 posts

Balestrand is somewhat challenging from the transportation perspective. It's on the north side of the Sognefjord; the train line is on the south side, along with Myrdal, Flam, Gudvangen and Voss (all stops on the traditional Nutshell route). I suspect one reason the Nutshell route was set up the way it was, is that transportation is tougher on the north side of the fjord. There's one boat a day between Balestrand and Flam in each direction, so if you arrive in Flam after doing the first part of the Nutshell route (mainline train to Myrdal, Flamsbana down to Flam), you really cannot accomplish anything in Balestrand with just one night there. Look at schedules carefully before deciding it's practical for two nights. I don't think exchanging the Naeroyfjord ferry trip (one of the best in Norway) and the bus from Gudvangen up to Voss for the express boat from Balestrand direct to Bergen is a good deal. However, I've never been on the north side of Sognefjord. I totally believe that Balestrand is a nicer place to stay than Flam (which has lovely scenery but is otherwise prosaic), but I just couldn't figure out a practical way to make Balestrand work for a stay of only two nights. It might have been different if I'd been willing to rent a car. I think we have two posters who've stayed in Balestrand and rented a car. You may find useful information by searching on "Balestrand".

Lodgings in the fjord area are really, really tight in the summer (as well as expensive), so heed the admonition upthread about finding something very soon. Flam may be the most difficult place to find a room because the town is just so darn convenient. Other places to look, in addition to Balestrand, are Gudvangen and Voss. I've read that there are active-sport opportunities in and around Voss, but the town itself is not on the fjord.

Bergen has a funicular and a cable car ascending two different mountains. There are said to be nice walks at the summits.

Posted by
43 posts

Thanks for all of the great information. I know I have to get going on our plans... just need to confirm the first part of our trip first (hopefully by this weekend) and then I can book the Norway part.

Posted by
49 posts

Lynne, I'm in the same boat. Doing a trip to Iceland, and then off to Denmark and Norway this summer. If I find any great ideas for itineraries, i'll let you know. :)

Posted by
7689 posts

We did an 8 day tour of Iceland that included the ring road with Nordic Visitor Tours. It was great.

Consider going to the Golden Circle in Iceland, since you don't have time to do the ring road tour. It is a one day tour.

Also, do the Blue Lagoon, it is a huge hot springs that is amazing.

For Norway, we loved the fjords. Your stay is focused on Oslo, which is fine, but you won't see all the amazing fjords that we saw on our North Cape cruise.

Geiranger is the best of the fjords.

Bergen, Flam, Alesund are great. Consider doing the Path of the Trolls.