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Norway Draft Itinerary Modification Suggestions - 11 Nights Total

Folks, been reading up a lot and have prepared a draft itinerary, but still getting confused on some logistic aspects as well as whether a certain place could be skipped. Looking for some input, please!

Here is what I was thinking, our dates are pretty much immovable, so have to work within the confines of these dates. Worst case, I can add one more day towards the end.

Depart US - July 23rd, Arrive Oslo 24th Morning or Afternoon
24th July - Explore Oslo, overnight in Oslo
25th July - Explore Oslo
26th July - Explore Oslo
27th July - Take Morning Flight to Stavanger - explore Stavanger, overnight in Stavanger
28th July - Pulpit Rock and Lysefjord (Is this really worth going all the way to Stavanger, or is this time better spent elsewhere?)
29th July - Rent a car, drive to Bergen - Expore Bergen, overnight in Bergen
30th July - Bergen and Explore Nearby -
31st July - Norway in a Nutshell? (This is where my confusion begins, Do I drive to Flam in the morning and can manage NiN in a day? Where do I overnight after this?
August 1 - Drive to Sognefjord and explore - Where to overnight?
August 2 - Drive to Gerainger? This is a 6 hour drive, where do I overnight?
August 3 - Return to Oslo from Gerainger - Overnight in Oslo
August 4 - Return flight to US

I was hoping to go to Alesund and take a flight back to Oslo, but it looks like that may not be possible. I see that the drive from Gerainger to Oslo is 8+ hours, which will eat up almost a full day, so is that worth doing? Or should I head to Alesund to take a flight, even if it is late evening flight on 3rd August, we can reach Oslo and overnight there, and depart on 4th.

I am trying to see if it is worth letting go of Stavanger and instead spend more time in the Fjord area of Sognefjord and Gerainger? It seems like I don't have enough time there.

Would love some input on the above itinerary, open to suggestions and modifying the route.

Thank you!!

Posted by
2540 posts

I did this area a few times with own car.

Pulpit Rock and Lysefjord (Is this really worth going all the way to Stavanger, or is this time better spent elsewhere?)

Clear yes from my side. Recommendation is to take the full ferry ride (Kolumbus turbo ferry) to Lysebotn. Kjerag can be an alterbative to Pulpit. After Pulpit stay there overnight or around Tau. Do not head back to Stavanger. So, best is to rent the car already at the airport.

Rent a car, drive to Bergen

Choose scenic tour Ryfylke via 520 and then part of Hardanger tour. It is a long tour of intense driving for one day. Start early.

From 31st of July: I would keep the car.

  • End up first day Myrkdalen after Bergen and another part of Hardanger.
  • Start early with Stegastein (best light), then Flambana (both ways), finally use pre-booked car ferry Gudvangen - Kaupanger.
  • Stay overnight around Kaupanger or already head on to Gaupne / Nes Gard, may be further to Eide Gard
  • Drive Sognefjell to Geiranger: do Dalsnibba before entering Geiranger, in Geiranger take Hellesylt ferry both ways as pedestrian and Oresvingen
  • Turn around and overnight in Grotli or so. Avoid overnight in Geiranger; fully overpriced.
  • Head on back to Oslo / Alesund
  • Return car at airport

Sognefjord you have crossed with ferry to Kaupanger. Other parts are not better - Balestrand is fully overpromised - not worth the detour. Lysefjord is much more spectacular, also Sorfjord which is arm of Hardangerfjord. btw: Lysefjord was filmset of Mission Impossible - never heard of spectacular scenes from Balestrand.

Posted by
16 posts

Hi MarkK, much appreciate your thorough response. I am listing the modified itinerary here to confirm my understanding, with updates in Bold font.

Depart US - July 23rd, Arrive Oslo 24th Morning or Afternoon
24th July - Explore Oslo, overnight in Oslo
25th July - Explore Oslo
26th July - Explore Oslo
27th July - Take Morning Flight to Stavanger, Rent Car - explore Stavanger, overnight in Stavanger
28th July - Start from Stavanger in morning, head for Pulpit Rock hike and do Lysefjord cruise, Overnight nearby, don't go back to Stavanger. Likely in Tau or further down the route.
29th July - Start on the Ryfylke Route, connecting it to Hardanger route. Assuming this means, End in Bergen for overnight?
30th July - Explore Bergen and Nearby Any suggestions other than the town?
31st July - Norway in a Nutshell - Start with Steagastein viewpoint, head to Flam for Round trip train ride? After train ride, take car ferry from Gudvangen to Kaupanger, overnight in Gaupne/Nes Gard/Eide Gard, depending upon time.
August 1 - From Gaupne/Nes Gard/Eide Gard, drive Sognefjell to Geiranger, do Dalsnibba, reach Geiranger and take the Hellysylt ferry as round trip. After coming back from Ferry, drive to Ornesvingen viewpoint. (I would like to make some nice hotel a base for Aug 1 and 2, even if expensive, someplace really scenic and memorable. Hopefully, there is enough to explore nearby next day, and then drive to Oslo on Aug 3? Am I missing something if I stay and explore Geirangerfjord area vs. going to Alesund? Doesn't make sense to make the trek to alesund for just one night there.)
August 2 - Explore Geiranger area, or simply relax at a scenic hotel.
August 3 - Most likely, Drive to Oslo from Gerainger - Overnight in Oslo
August 4 - Return flight to US

Posted by
2540 posts

Assuming this means, End in Bergen for overnight?

Possible, you can also sleep in Norheimsund (Thon Hotel Sandven, good breakfast) and start with visiting Steinsdalsfossen then driving to Bergen.

Bergen and Nearby Any suggestions other than the town?

You will have enough to see and do with the town. Looks small but so much to see with Bryggen, fish market and Floibanen (mountain view). Check VisitBergen for more inspiration.

31st July - Norway in a Nutshell

If you use rental car it is not NiN.

Start with Steagastein viewpoint

If you start early from Myrkdalen first drive impressive Stalheimskleiva on the way.

head to Flam for Round trip train ride?

Park car in Flam and do Flambana train up to Myrdal and back (2 hrs). Book tickets in advance. Normally part of NiN.

I would like to make some nice hotel a base for Aug 1 and 2, even if expensive

If I cannot stop you doing this. I tried 3 and was not happy. Best view I had at Hotel The View - horrible beds and old equipment.

August 2 - Explore Geiranger area, or simply relax at a scenic hotel.

You can drive to Alesund via Trollstigen, but your way back to Oslo wil be longer. If you like churches the dome in Trondheim is very impressive. You could return car there and drive by train to OSL. Trains drive also back to Oslo from Andalsnes (closer).

And please share a trip report afterwards here to help others.

Posted by
16 posts

MarkK, thanks for all the great tips and input. I am going to take most of your suggestions!

Little bit of a concern I have is with too many one-night hotel stays, it will get tiring for the family. We are family of four with two teenagers, and with the current itinerary, I will have 8 different hotel stays for 11 nights.

This is going to be a bit much, which is why I was trying to see if for Aug1/2, I can just stay in a central place which will make it convenient to explore the area, and then on Aug 3rd, just drive back to Oslo from that area, which will also reduce the drive since we are not starting from Alesund.

I am really hoping there is some spectacular hotel in in Gerainger or nearby area that can be our base for two nights. Not coming up with much on the results.

Thanks for all your help!

Posted by
2540 posts

If you want to spend 2 nights in expensive Geiranger you can use the day in between for Trollstigen route and Alesund with a different route back.

Just for expectation management: Flåm and Geiranger are tiny villages. with much less than 1,000 people living there. Geiranger is nearly daily overrun in summer by tourists from up to 3-4 cruise ships (looks like this), each one multiple people number compared to inhabitants of village (see cruise call list).

Posted by
647 posts

In Geiranger we stayed on top of the hill at Hole Hytteutleige. It was a cabin with spectacular views. For a hotel, I would look at Hotel the View. Westerås Restaurant is nearby.

For Pulpit Rock you might want to consider staying in the Jorpeland area both nights. There are busses running both to Stavanger and Pulpit Rock from there.

If this was my trip, I would shorten the time in Oslo by a day.

Posted by
16 posts

@MarkK - I have no real fondness for Geiranger, especially, never having been there. I am happy to stay 30-60 mins away as long as it is a location with a nice view/hotel. As I explained, mainly trying to avoid too many one-night stays, family will surely revolt! I have found a decent price in Valldal (Sylte), which it seems like is not too far from Geiranger and on the way to back to Oslo ride. Hell, I may not even come back to Geiranger and just explore any surrounding areas on our 2nd day there.

Also, doing research on one-way car rentals, they are charging about USD 1,200 extra! This is insane and I never thought it would be this crazy of a price difference for RT vs. one-way car rentals. For example, Stavanger-Alesund car rental for a compact car is $2,100! Stavanger - Oslo is $1,250. Round trip from Oslo-Oslo for same # of days is about $850.

So based on the SVG-OSL car rental price, it seems like I will have to drive back to Oslo, instead of flying from Alesund, which is a surprisingly cheap one-way flight. 4 tickets for under $300, would have been happy to pay that.

Posted by
16 posts

@Mnannie - Thank you for the tip! That may be helpful if I can get both nights in one hotel and then take the bus to check out Stavanger. We will have a car already by then, so can also drive in/out.

Posted by
16 posts

Because of the car rental pricing, also now thinking whether I should just rent a car in Oslo and drive to Stavanger instead of taking the flight. I am paying $400 more for Stavanger to Oslo rental, and I will also pay $400 minimum for the flight from Oslo to Stavanger.

So basically $800 more for saving 5-6 hours of driving time.

Posted by
2540 posts

I do not have a good alternative in Geiranger - as said trying Grotli is an option imo.
Blåtind Boutique Hotel? Never been there - on list..

Car roundtrip is possible in this time frame - did similar 2014. In this case skip one night in Oslo and maybe approach Lysebotn for first night to get a car ferry from there (pre-booking neede) to Forsand or Oanes. So you have the Lysefjord ride behind you before startin in tour Ryfylke.

Posted by
1461 posts

My recommendation for a great place to stay just 10 miles out of Geiranger is at the conclusion. Instead of staying in unfortunate Geiranger, just go north on Highway 211 toward the spectacular “ ORNESVINGEN”viewpoint. You can see the Seven Sisters waterfall splashing into the Geirangerfjord below. Following Highway 211 for 15 miles, you reach Eidsdal, where car ferries cross the Norddalsfjord in 15 minutes to land in Linge. From Linge, Highway 63 takes you to the famous “Trollstigen” and the Trolls Wall. The tundra landscape on the stretch of Highway 63 just before reaching the Trollstigen is surreal. The Rauma River valley along Highway E136 runs southeast from Andalsnes to the “Trollveggen” or Trolls Wall. A great detour after crossing from Eidsdal to Linge on the ferry, is just off Highway 63 . It takes you through the town of Valldal and to the end-of-the road village of Tafjord. The drive to Tafjord takes drivers ( and cyclists) through about 20 tunnels carved through the mountain rock so a road could finally reach the village.
Tafjord had an avalanche back in 1934 that flung so much rock into the water 2,500 feet below, that it generated a 200-foot tidal wave that killed scores of people living in Tafjord and devastated the village.
The village has since been rebuilt in the same spectacular setting.

If you can, spend one day driving from Eidsdal up to Andalsnes ( an 2- hour drive without stops) and along the Rauma River valley which Highway E136 travels through. You’ll see the Trollstigen and the Troll’s Wall on the way. We were able to drive it and continue to Alesund all in one day.
The E-136 through the Rauma Valley goes to Lillehammer via the E-6 after Dombas. South of Lillehammer, you can return to Oslo via Highway 4. The entire drive from Andalsnes to Oslo takes 5.5 hours in the summer.
About 3 miles before reaching Eidsdal— so, about 10 miles from Geiranger and a 25-minute drive, Jan Olav and his family host travelers at “Hesthaug Gard” in a few guest rooms and several cabins the family has built over the years. The rustic cabins with equipped kitchens are on top of a mountain ridge 1,200 feet above the Nordallsfjord. It’s an unbelievable setting on farmland that’s been in the Olav family for some 600 years. And, after you see the views, you’ll understand why.
This is the place to stay instead of Geiranger. A cabin runs about $60-$150 per nite. has photos.
Check for car rentals in Norway. They are usually at airport locations but the rates are great, and sometimes the one-way drop off charge is not as extreme.

Posted by
647 posts

With teenagers, I would want to stay in a location that they would enjoy. Your options are limited because you are late to the booking process. You might want to use to come up with ideas. I used it for many of our hotels in Norway, and if you use Rakuten, you can get 10% cash back on your reservation (today's deal).

Maybe you should nix Geiranger all together and spend more time near Stavanger. We were able to avoid the crowds there, for the most part. There is an island park at Jorpeland that we enjoyed spending time at in the evenings.

We were in Norway for 18 days in September. 15 of those days were driving RT from Oslo. You are trying to cover a lot of ground in a week.

Posted by
16 posts

Thank you for the detailed response @Kenko and @Mnannie, lots to think about and finalize.

I run a small business, I can't plan too far in advance, never know what crisis is lurking around the corner. Even this far out is a leap of faith.

Posted by
16 posts

Hello Folks,

Thanks for all your help thus far, as I had mentioned, due to uncertainty around my work, I tend to book late. Finally, took the plunge and booked tickets and most accommodations, trip is starting July 23rd from DC.

Following Itinerary is final now, although I have booked everything (except air tickets) as refundable.

23rd July - Depart on Evening flight
24th July - Arrive Oslo, Pick up Car, Drive to Stavanger (Overnight in Stavanger)
25th July - Pulpit Rock, Lysefjord Cruise (Overnight in Stavanger)
26th July - Drive to Bergen, explore on the way (Hardangerfjord and the few areas suggested here, overnight in Bergen)
27th July - Explore Bergen (overnight in Bergen)
28th July - NiN - Upon finishing NIN, (overnight in Leikanger Fjord Hotel, less than 2 hour drive from Flam)
29th July - Drive from Leikanger to Lom, explore on the way, drive to Hjelle (Overnight in Hjelle)
30th July - I am thinking about staying two nights in either Stranda or in Valldal (Sylte?), and explore the nearby area like Andalsnes
31st July - Explore the area around Geiranger, and probably drive to Alesund
Aug 1 - Drive to Oslo (7-8 hour drive, evening in Oslo, overnight in Oslo)
Aug 2 - Explore Oslo
Aug 3 - Explore Oslo
Aug 4 - Flight back to US.

So couple of questions - where to stay on July 30 and 31st? Someplace that is convenient and allows me to explore the area without too many ferry crossings? The hotel options are extremely limited this late, and I didn't want to end up in a place that is too remote with no food options (we are vegetarian, so going to be tough already), and nothing to do. Lots of Air B&B's are available in Stranda and Valldal, but they are on opposite sides of a fjord, and I didn't know which one to pick.

Would appreciate some feedback. And yes, I have been keeping notes on everything that has been mentioned here about the different drives, so plan to check out the key attractions along the way.

Posted by
16 posts

@Kenko, I did check Hesthaug Gard, but it is unavailable for our dates. I re-read your post and finally understood the location. I was thinking about staying in Valldal, where I thought there might be some life, some restaurant options. Or in Stranda, as Google shows at least 4-5 restaurants and cafes, vs. other places, which have a solitary restaurant.