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Norway road trip in May 2023

For those of you who were kind enough to respond to my inquiry about Spain and Portugal, many thanks.

My reason for traveling in May is that it is the hottest time of year here in the part of Mexico where I live, so I'd like to get away. But I realize it will probably be just as hot (if not hotter) in the Iberian peninsula that time of year. So I think I'll save that trip for earlier spring or late fall.

So I'm thinking of something completely different.

My idea is to fly to Oslo, rent a car, and do a road trip. (I've previously been to Norway and did NiN with several nights in Oslo, Balestrand, and Bergen.) My objectives this time are Geiranger, the Lofoten Islands, and Tromsø. I'd take about the entire month of May to do this.

Questions:

  • Is May an okay time to do this trip? My last time in Norway was in May, and the weather was spectacular except for some drizzle in Oslo. But heading that far north, am I likely to encounter snowstorms in May? I could push this into late May/early June if that might be a better option.
  • My basic plan is to drive to Geiranger first, then to Bodø with stops along the way, take the car ferry to the Lofoten Islands, then drive up to Tromsø. From there, I could either drive all the way back to Oslo (through Sweden), or go back to Bodø, drop the car there, and fly back to Oslo for my return flight home. Assuming the one-way rental is not cost prohibitive, I think I'd prefer this second option. Is this a good plan?
  • Is four weeks a good timeframe for this adventure? I could do longer if that makes sense.
  • Would a 4x4 be advisable?
  • Is it insane to do this as a solo traveler?
Posted by
6670 posts

Is May an okay time to do this trip? My last time in Norway was in
May, and the weather was spectacular except for some drizzle in Oslo.
But heading that far north, am I likely to encounter snowstorms in
May? I could push this into late May/early June if that might be a
better option.

It will work fine. You will probably encounter a bit of snow on the mountaintops, but the risk of snowstorms is small. June would also work, but that is a more popular time to travel so prices might be higher.

My basic plan is to drive to Geiranger first, then to Bodø with stops
along the way, take the car ferry to the Lofoten Islands, then drive
up to Tromsø. From there, I could either drive all the way back to
Oslo (through Sweden), or go back to Bodø, drop the car there, and fly
back to Oslo for my return flight home. Assuming the one-way rental is
not cost prohibitive, I think I'd prefer this second option. Is this a
good plan?

Why not? That should work fine. I would go for the first option, or at least return to Bodø via the E6. Then you can either drive south or take the train back to Oslo. Flying would be faster, but you will not see much of the scenery.

Is four weeks a good timeframe for this adventure? I could do longer
if that makes sense.

You can certainly do it in four weeks.

Would a 4x4 be advisable?

No, the roads are paved so not needed. Actually a smaller car is usually better in Lofoten and the coastal areas as it can be very windy if you are unlucky. Renting an electric however is a very good idea.

Is it insane to do this as a solo traveler?

No.

Posted by
1837 posts

Badger, thank you so much for the thorough responses and valuable information. I think I'm going to do it! Just have to figure out how to fly from Guadalajara to Oslo (not the most convenient itinerary).

Posted by
29 posts

---Badger, thank you so much for the thorough responses and valuable information. I think I'm going to do it! Just have to figure out how to fly from Guadalajara to Oslo (not the most convenient itinerary).

Denver has daily non-stop flights from Guadalajara to Denver on Volaris. Denver has a non-stop to Reykjavik on Icelandair and you can book it as a flight from Denver to Oslo with a stop in Reykjavik for very little fare difference. This would probably be the quickest way to get from Guadalajara to Oslo and would possibly also be the least expensive.

The non-stop flight from GDL to Denver is less than 3.5 hours and then Denver to KEF is less than 7.5 hours. You would finish it off with a flight from KEF to Oslo for just over 2.5 hours. It would be a long day, but not too bad.

Posted by
1837 posts

Mile High, I appreciate the suggestion, but I've already found much better air itineraries than that. I'd have to fly on two separate tickets if I go to the states and then fly Icelandair.

Plus, I've flown Volaris before, and it's just awful for anything longer than an hour or so. I'll fly to Mexico City or Puerto Vallarta, but there's a reason we refer to Volaris as the flying schoolbus.

The best option seems to be AeroMexico to MEX, then AirFrance to CDG and CDG to OSL. They are partner airlines, so I can book it all on one ticket.

But this is still 9 months away, so I'm in no hurry to book anything.

Posted by
6670 posts

The best option seems to be AeroMexico to MEX, then AirFrance to CDG
and CDG to OSL. They are partner airlines, so I can book it all on one
ticket.

That seems like a good option. Having the trip on a single ticket is always better, as well as avoiding the US.

Posted by
1837 posts

I've been working on an itinerary for this trip. Other commitments have pushed my starting date to arrival in Oslo on May 24, 2023.

Here's my tentative itinerary:

  • 5/24: arrive in Oslo; stay overnight
  • 5/25: pick up car, drive to Lillehammer
  • 5/26: Lillehammer
  • 5/27: Drive scenic route "Rondane" to Folldal, spend night somewhere between Folldal and Dombas
  • 5/28: second night, same place
  • 5/29: Drive to Geiranger on scenic route "Gamle Strynefjellsvegen" (weather permitting) and southern half of "Geiranger-Trollstigen" (also weather permitting, usually roads are open by late May)
  • 5/30: Geiranger
  • 5/31: Geiranger
  • 6/1 Drive to Alesund
  • 6/2 Alesund
  • 6/3 Alesund*
  • 6/4 Drive to Kristiansund through Bud and Kärväg on scenic route "Atlanterharsvegen"
  • 6/5 Kristiansund*
  • 6/6 Drive to Namsos
  • 6/7 Namsos*
  • 6/8 Drive to Tjøtta on southern section of "Helgelandskysten"
  • 6/9 Tjøtta*
  • 6/10 Continue on "Helgelandskysten" to Fuglstad
  • 6/11 Continue on "Helgelandskysten" to Reipå
  • 6/12 Continue on "Helgelandskyten" to Bodø
  • 6/13 Ferry from Bodø to Lofoten Islands; spend 6 nights (or possibly longer?) on Lofoten Islands
  • 6/19 Drive toward Tromsø (I'll probably break this up with an overnight)
  • 6/21 Arrive Tromsø
  • 6/22 Drop rental car, morning flight to Oslo, evening flight home

The dates marked with * are flexible, so if I'm delayed by weather earlier in the trip, I can cut those to make up time.

I could probably extend this entire trip by a few days if there is anything I'm shortchanging.

Most of the rental agencies charge a hefty fee for the one way rental, but I found one that is not as egregious.

I'd love any feedback you can offer. Thanks!

Posted by
7906 posts

In mid-June of 2019 we did a fantastic Royal Caribbean cruise up the coast of Norway to the North Cape. Geiranger was probably the best fjord we went through.

While on a tour from the port in Geiranger, our tour guide told us that the roads in the mountains (our tour included a visit to the mountains overlooking the city and fjord) had been closed a week before due to a snowstorm. They said if we had been there a week earlier we wouldn't have been able to go up to the scenic mountain area.

Frankly, I would never want to do something like this on my own. I like having people with me. Also, can you count on not getting lost. Does Google Maps work in remote areas?

Posted by
1046 posts

We were in Norway in August/September this year.

I suggest you look at including the Rauma valley in your trip (Dombas to Andalsnes). It was spectacular by train but it would have been been better by car as you could stop and see the spectacular cliffs.

I think you have too many nights in Geiranger. It is a really tiny town and unless you are a really enthusiastic hiker there isn't a lot to do, apart from admiring the view. The Geirangerfjord is best seen from a boat so try to include a fjord cruise of some kind. We did a full day trip from Alesund to Geirangerfjord and return and it was 9 hours well spent.

Norwegian roads are excellent - good road surface and well signposted. Norwegian drivers do not speed and are very patient about overtaking. There are regular rest areas with toilets and picnic tables.

Have fun. We loved Norway. The scenery is just stunning and the people incredibly friendly and helpful. Only downside was that restaurants are crazy expensive.

Posted by
1837 posts

geovagriffiths: Thank you for your response. I'm aware that there's the possibility of snow in late May and June, but I think the odds are in my favor that it won't be a problem. If there is snow that closes part of the route, I'll try to stay put until the roads reopen and adjust the timing of my days later in the trip. Also, I love solo road trips. I can stop whenever I want to gaze at the scenery. I can play whatever music I want, or enjoy the quiet. If I need a break, I can stop whenever I want. I can start out as soon as I'm ready in the morning. I have found that whenever I'm enjoying spectacular scenery -- and I expect to see a lot of it on this trip -- I'm happier to have the experience by myself.

AussieNomad: Much appreciation for the suggestion on driving from Dombas to Andalsnes. I could probably do that and reorder some things, but it would mean skipping the Gamle Strynefjellsvegen scenic route as well as the southern section of the Geiranger-Trollstigen route. Your suggestion about shortening time in Geiranger makes sense, especially if I can do a round-trip cruise from Alesund to Geiranger and back.

This will be my second trip to Norway. In Late May 2016 I spent about 10 days there -- Oslo, NiN to Bergen, and then flew to Trondheim. Ever since, I've been dying to go back and see more of this beautiful country.