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Oslo/Bergen (4 days/3 nights) Fjord Focus by car

First, Thank you to anyone with input. HELP REQUESTED - input on: (1) the idea of a self-drive excursion to experience the fjords/scenery (road conditions unrelated to weather - travel is in August), (2) feasibility of itinerary, (3) opinions on some “either/or choices”. THE FACTS: We will arrive in Oslo early on a Monday morning after a few days in Copenhagen. Assuming no sightseeing in Oslo upon arrival, we have 4 full days and 3 nights before leaving Oslo for Sweden. Have read the “Oslo-Bergen-fjords itinerary help” post, have looked at public transportation/itinerary in connection with Norway and Sognefjord in a nutshell, have read reviews of same, have looked at National Tourist Routes Maps (but need to revisit to cobble together an entire driving trip to ensure scenic portions). THE OBJECTIVE: Experience the beautiful fjords/nature, the people and a bit of Bergen. PERSONAL FRAME OF REFERENCE: Have driven in Ireland (often a wall on one side and no guard rail on the other side) so I have narrow road driving experience but not at 1434 meters (4,704 feet). Drove Pike’s Peak, Colorado (14,124 feet) many years ago (no guard rails, limited visibility that day - never to be repeated). TENTATIVE ITINERARY: Day 1 - Drive Oslo to Solvorn (with stops along the way...Flåm, Lærdal perhaps; 6+ hrs driving plus stops). Dinner and sleep in Solvorn. Day 2 - Drive 1+ hour to Breheimsenteret Glacier Center for 1 - 2 hr Nigard glacier walk (I realize the duration is longer to include check-in, preparation, etc.) then drive 2 hours to Balestrand. Dinner and sleep in Balestrand. Day 3 - explore Balestrand first half of day and then drive to Bergen (under 4 hours). Dinner and sleep in Bergen. Day 4 - Bergen in the day; leave for Oslo in the afternoon (train; no driving). I realize I need to confirm intention of dropping off car rental in a city different from initiation). So, fellow travelers, (1) Given the terrain of the itinerary above, is your qualitative opinion that this would be a “white knuckle, steering wheel clutching” experience or not, for the most part? (2) Given my stated objective above of a nature-filled experience with Bergen exposure, do you believe the itinerary is realistic/unrealistic? (3) Related to (2) what are your “trade-off” suggestions (e.g., forgo Nigard glacial walk and Solvorn in favor of Balestrand (or vice versa). Please comment on whether you have experienced the above itinerary (or pieces of it) by car and provide your opinion based on that experience. Thanks in advance.

Posted by
254 posts

Although we drove to some of the same areas you are passing through we took mostly different routes so I can't comment on how "white knuckle" all your routes are except to say this: if any of your routes show rapid elevation changes from sea level up to 4000 feet, I would assume that there is driving along narrow switchbacks involved, since that was always the case for every such road we were on. If you will be on NTRs, that website will list elevation info for each road. For nonNTRs, I'd search the Norwegian Public Roads Administration website for those. Or use Google Earth to estimate. I have no comment on your chosen destinations except to say that Balestrand is quite small and we saw everything there that we wanted to see in under 2 hours. That included a fair amount of time in the hotel and walking up to the town church. Most of the areas you are passing through are certainly quite rural and fjords are all scenic, so I'd guess it will meet your definition of "nature filled". And you will get a dash of Bergen in 2 half-days. Enjoy. Please return to this Forum afterwards to report your experiences and opinions.

Posted by
1832 posts

Driving in Norway (German article about it) - especially western fjord area - can be very intensive with some minor surprises - or major (example).

Unfortunately you did not describe the routes / streets you are planning to drive. They make the difference in Norway, not just mentioning A to B.

In general your car rental and hours-detailed plan seems to me very naive for three reasons:

  • The mentioned driving times seem to come from Google Maps which is really a bad tool for itinerary planning in Norway. You can add easily 10 - 30 % on these driving times. "oo Maps" does also not include waiting times at ferries. You will be late crossing Sognefjord - so the ferry Fodnes - Mannheller might be arrive in 15 or 20 minutes (and that is a frequent ferry).
  • Additionally you can add further 10 - 20% for stops you will do in between for a look or photos. I cannot imagine that you will just drive by Voringsfossen without visiting it. Same for Flam - why should you drive there without doing something? No boat tour on Naeroyfjord?
  • Why do you want to rent a car if you do the same locations like NiN? If you have a car drive to places without the tourist crowds.

To your questions

  1. I do not know the routes (e.g. way to Bergen). Likely no because most of it is fjord level - and Hardangervidda is just one up and down but looks funny in GPS (see fifth picture in first link).
  2. Doable but unrealistic how you plan it. Your days will be much longer and intense - maybe ending up stressy. To be very honest: Oslo is the fully wrong starting point for what you plan to do. Bergen would make more sense - direct flight from CPH. On top: If you want to see glacier August (end of summer) is really the worst month to do that.
  3. You need to find your own way / itinerary. It is not meaningful to say another person what to leave out. In general I suggest to do meaningful drives, means to drive to a place only when you plan something to do there. Nobody would just drive to Flam without planning to do something there.

Have a good journey.

Posted by
4355 posts

Norwegian driving is more similar to the US than say Ireland or Scotland and far less "white knuckle." Safer road design and layout, and Norway is one of the few European countries that uses the yellow strip in the middle, American style, to delineate opposing traffic. Speed limits are rather low and enforced with cameras. I haven't checked your itinerary but a 35 mph average on fjord highways is normal.