I have started planning my first ever visit to Norway and it's quite exciting! I arrive in Bergen on Sept. 1st (afternoon). I need to be in Kiel, Germany the evening of Sept. 14. I am strongly leaning towards renting a car as I do love to drive and I love to stop and take lots of photos! It is hard for me to narrow down where to go and the route to take but I really would like to get up to Alesund after all I've read about that town and area (Atlantic Road, etc). I love small towns, mountains, water and want to focus the most on seeing the fjords and then local culture like Stave churches, living history museums, and such. I'm not a hiker, so want to see things that do not require that I hike any big distance to see. That doesn't mean I won't get out of the car and walk - just prefer that it's shorter distances (1 mile or so that is fairly easy walking) as I just don't enjoy doing longer hikes alone. Here are my questions so far:
- The fjords I'm thinking of focusing on are: Sognefjord, Hardangerfjord, Geirangerfjord. Is it too much to try to include Hardangerfjord (Norheimsund area) on my drive towards Alesund (I know it deeps southerly but then I could loop back up to Gudvangen)? If yes, where would you stay between Bergen and Gudvangen? Or would you drive from Bergen, along Hardangerfjord, and end in Gudvangen in one day?
- If I'm driving and planning on taking the Gudvangen-Kaupanger car ferry, is including going to Flam and the rail to Myrdal too much? Is the scenery similar to other areas I'll be driving? I'd probably only stay in Gudvangen area for 1 night but if you think 2 nights is worth it to include Flam rail - this would be helpful information.
- From Kaupanger, I'd like to try going to Utsikten (I would love driving the hairpin turns to get to the viewpoint). Does this make sense? Or would it be better to stay in Flam/Gudvangen - do a RIB boat of the fjord and then go the other direction to get to Balestrand and then to Utsikten?
- Next on my list of possibilities is Loen for the Skylift, as a stop on my way to Geiranger. Would you recommend staying near Loen or ride the lift and head to Geiranger? Or, should I just make this a stop and then head to Alesund and take a guided boat trip into Sognefjord?
- From Alesund, I'd then look into taking the Hurtigruten back to Bergen with the car to return it where I started - thinking this is cheaper than dropping the car in Alesund. But, you may know differently.
- How much of this plan works and what is overly ambitious for this 58-year old solo female traveler? I've driven solo around Scotland on the single track roads and had a blast. I have driven mountains of Colorado (highway and 4-wheel) - in my younger days, including some cliff-hanger roads. I love driving, but do not want to spend all day driving - I want time to stop and enjoy the scenery. So, don't want too long of distance between points.
Thank you for reading through all my questions. I appreciate insights from experienced Norway travelers to help me in planning my trip.