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Norway: Oslo and/ or Fjord Country

My wife and I are beginning to plan a trip to Scandinavia. It will likely not happen until 2023 as COVID continues to be a wildcard that we'd like to avoid (or, hopefully stabilizes somewhat).

Our initial thoughts are to fly into Stockholm and spend two to three nights (probably 2). Then take an early morning train to Copenhagen and spend two nights. The following afternoon take the overnight ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo.

Upon our arrival in Oslo, our thought was to spend two nights there and then do the 'nutshell' tour to Bergen and stay there two nights. From Bergen, we'd fly to Berlin to continue our trip.

As I continued to read Rick's book, I realized that driving to fjord country might keep us away from the crowds and give us some flexibility.

I'm now thinking that, with the ferry arriving at 9:15 in the morning, we could rent a car and immediately move on to 'fjord country' for 4 to 5 days, skipping Oslo altogether.

Our primary purpose in going to Norway is to experience the fjords and, while reviewing Rick's book, there doesn't seem to be a lot of "must dos" in Oslo from our perspective.

Is skipping Oslo a stupid idea?

Rick's book gives drivers several ideas of what is possible. Those of you who have experienced fjord country by car, I'd appreciate learning about your trip, what you did and what you would do differently.

Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks. Tom

Posted by
11252 posts

Is skipping Oslo a stupid idea?

Yes.

Driving?

The scenery in Norway is amazing. Perhaps you're different, but when I'm driving, I like to keep my eyes on the road and not necessarily on the scenery.

I loved Norway in a Nutshell and split it into two days.

What you can also do is a cruise through other parts of the fjords from Bergen.

I'm planning a return trip to Norway this spring--if allowed due to covid.

Regarding the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo....get up early and be outside about a couple of hours before docking. The scenery is wonderful.

Posted by
3205 posts

Is skipping Oslo a stupid idea?

In my opinion, yes. It seems like many people rank Oslo as the least interesting of the three Scandinavian capitals. But that doesn't mean it is not worth a visit. There is certainly enough to see and do in Oslo to keep you busy for a few days, depending on what you are interested in.

Regarding driving, it can be a good way to see the area. But, it is not that hard to avoid the crowds if you just avoid the major hotspots. Like in most countries (at least in Europe) tourists tend to flock in a few locations and there are many other just as beautiful areas that haven't been instagrammed enough yet so don't attract as many visitors. But, as mentioned, when driving you have to keep your eyes on the road and not the scenery. And don't expect to be able to stop anywhere you like to enjoy the views, the roads in Norway are usually narrow with no way to stop. Even if there are parking spots here and there. It is also not a fast way to travel, as mentioned the roads are narrow and rarely straight. Speed limits rarely exceed 80 km/h and an average 60 km/h is probably realistic. For information, this is what the main road between Oslo and Bergen looks like: https://goo.gl/maps/djHtGN34rDWPMdZn6 And it's not uncommon for smaller roads to be single lane with passing places.

Posted by
5786 posts

...reviewing Rick's book, there doesn't seem to be a lot of "must dos"
in Oslo....

I'm surprised. While it's true that Oslo's fjord is not as impressive as those on the Nutshelll tour, skipping Oslo is skipping Norway. I would suggest that two full days (three nights) should be a minimum for a Norway visit. If squeezed for time one full day of running from place to place with a 24 hour Oslo card would be the very minimum.

https://www.ricksteves.com/europe/norway/oslo

While Oslo is the smallest of the Scandinavian capitals, this brisk
little city offers more sightseeing thrills than you might expect.
Prowl through the remains of ancient Viking ships, dive into the
traditional folk culture at the Norwegian open-air folk museum, get
stirred up by the country's heroic spirit at the Norwegian Resistance
Museum, and take a peek at sculptor Gustav Vigeland's people-pillars.
Between stops, enjoy the revitalized people-friendly urban spaces of a
metropolis working hard toward being the best city it can be.

Posted by
5483 posts

Tom,
Oslo may be interesting, but we declined to spend any time there. Instead we spend two days (should have done more) in Stockholm, then the train to Copenhagen where we picked up a cruise up the coast of Norway to the North Cape.
A cruise is the perfect way to see the amazing fjords without the hassle of navigation up the coast. Geiranger, Alesund, Bergen, Flam and more are amazing (as well as the North Cape).

Also, you need more than two days in Copenhagen. We have been to that city three times and spent a total of 8 days there and the surrounding area.

Posted by
1075 posts

I think that itinerary questions are hard to answer and hard to hear the answers. It really depends so much on who you are, what you like and your style of travel. I recently posted my itinerary for an upcoming trip and promptly deleted it because I realized I didn't want to hear the answers of those that had different ideas than myself. I am not a travel pro, but have been traveling long enough to have a good idea about itinerary decisions. And, If I make a mistake I can learn something for the next trip.

I love Scandinavia: the scenery, the culture, the languages, the food, the reserved but friendly people.......
Since I was on my own, I did the RS tour.
If I was planning this trip I would choose 2 of your targets and give up the third, unless you have more time. Stockholm was my favorite capital followed by Oslo. I need to go back to Copenhagen because I think a physical injury negatively colored my experience there. Being a passenger on a bus through the Norwegian mountains was a huge highlight of my trip. Being on a boat through a fjord was a let down for me.

Make your best guess on your itinerary. Whatever you decide you will have a good time. I know it isn't always possible to go back another time, but hopefully we can.

Posted by
2 posts

Consider flying from Copenhagen or Stockholm to Bergen directly, picking up a rental car to see western Norway.

Posted by
420 posts

Have you considered taking the train from Oslo to Bergen? It takes 6-7 hours, if I recall correctly, but is a gorgeous ride. The benefit here is that you can actually look at the scenery as opposed to focusing on the road.

Posted by
197 posts

Thanks to all that responded. All were thoughtful responses which I will consider. The flight from Copenhagen to Bergen versus the ferry from Copenhagen to Oslo is something that I never considered..

My thanks,

Tom