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Places to stay in Oslo and advice on seeing the fjords.

Hi!
We're planning a trip to Norway in late August/early September. We'll fly into Oslo. Can anyone tell me the best location to stay in Oslo? Train station? City Center? Other? We'll be in Oslo 3-4 days and want to go to Bergen and travel to go on the Flam Railway, take a trip on a boat to see the fjords, and travel back to Oslo. We're going to Sweden from Norway. Is it easy to take the train to Bergen and get to the Flam Railway? Cruise the fjords from where? Seems to be a bit daunting. We don't want a package deal and prefer to plan the trip ourselves with Rick's guidebooks of course. Just want someone who's done this trip to tell us it's doable!
Thanks for any words of advice you could give me.
Diana Nevin

Posted by
4668 posts

How much time do you have? What does the total itinerary looks like? Where in Sweden are you going afterwards?

Posted by
1037 posts

The RS guidebook describes how to do Norway in a Nutshell, which is essentially what you want to do. From Oslo it's train to Myrdal, transfer to the Flam railway and then ferry Bergen. You can do it in one long day or break it up. If you really want to see the fjords, you should try to take a trip on one of the smaller fjords. The Naeroyfjord is very popular and can be part of the Norway in a Nutshell route. In Oslo we stayed at the Thon Panorama, walking distance from the train station.

Posted by
11 posts

We were planning on 3 weeks. Initially, we wanted to see Oslo etc, Stockholm and Copenhagen. When we started looking at Norway, we saw that there was quite a lot of places we wanted to visit. Seeing a whole lot of Norway, started to feel daunting with train schedules etc., how do we get from Bergen to the fjords being the most confusing. What train? will train schedules coincide with ferry rides, is there a train to get to Flam Railway? So it seemed difficult to get to some of the places we wanted to see. I went to buy Rick's Norway book, but it was published in 2000, so I'm sure there are changes since then, so I didn't order it. We're both retired and in Florida so we're not tied to a rigid schedule.
It's so very helpful of you to take time to address my concerns! Thank you for any help you can give us.

Posted by
859 posts

We stayed in Oslo for a week in late September 2022. We rented an apartment in the Grunerlokka area for six days. Grunerlokka suited us perfectly as it had lots of cafes and restaurants and was a quick tram ride or 30 minute walk along the river to the centre of town.

We spent our last night near the train station in a Radisson as we had an early flight. The area immediately adjacent to the railway station was not very enjoyable.

Posted by
4668 posts

We were planning on 3 weeks. Initially, we wanted to see Oslo etc,
Stockholm and Copenhagen. When we started looking at Norway, we saw
that there was quite a lot of places we wanted to visit.

With three weeks you have time to see all the countries, at least a decent part of it. But remember that Norway and Sweden are very large countries (by European standards) so distances can be long. But getting there is not that hard. I'm no expert on Florida's geography, but SAS has direct flights from Miami to all three capitals.

Seeing a whole lot of Norway, started to feel daunting with train
schedules etc., how do we get from Bergen to the fjords being the most
confusing. What train? will train schedules coincide with ferry rides,
is there a train to get to Flam Railway? So it seemed difficult to get
to some of the places we wanted to see.

It can be a bit confusing, but not that hard. From Bergen to the fjords depends a lot on what fjords you want to get to. There are fjords around large parts of the coast, some are very close to Bergen, others very far away. A bit north of Bergen is the mouth of Sognefjorden, the largest fjord in Norway. It is also probably the most popular fjord to visit, especially the smaller arms Næøyfjorden and Aurlandsfjorden.

Flåmsbana runs from Flåm, on the end of Aurlandsfjorden, to Myrdal, a station on the Oslo-Bergen line. Regarding where to stay in Oslo, I'd suggest the city centre, roughly the area between the railway station and the royal palace. If you plan to stay somewhere further out, make sure you are close to a metro station or tram stop.

Posted by
2747 posts

When we were planning our trip to Norway, I also found it confusing, so you are not alone! Plus, we needed to get down the Karmoy peninsula to Skudneshavn for family history stuff. I used Brekke travel in North Dakota and was very pleased with the plan they came up with. Didn’t cost any more than if I had planned it myself and they are experts in Scandinavia.

Posted by
8628 posts

how do we get from Bergen to the fjords being the most confusing

I took the boat

https://www.norled.no/en/

the Expressboat goes from Bergen to Balestrand in four hours, or on to Flam in an hour and 40 minutes more.

It really is a bit confusing to figure out all the fjords stuff, but you can do it. You just have to invest the time. It’s really helpful to buy Rick’s book, which walks you through it, and have a map handy.

Here’s a link from the Bergen tourist office about getting to Bergen from Oslo via train

https://en.visitbergen.com/visitor-information/travel-information/getting-here/bergensbanen-oslo-to-bergen-by-train

You can also, of course, take the train from Bergen to Myrdal, take the Flam railway down into Flam. This is another reason Rick’s book is so helpful - the little diagrams and maps that they have help you understand what is where and what pieces you are putting together. I highly recommend you get it !!! And no I do not work for Rick Steves, but I never could have planned my trip without his book.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time and effort to help me in my desire to travel to Norway. I truly appreciate your help. I now feel that it's a trip that I'll be able to navigate. Again, thank you for all your help!

Posted by
24062 posts

The classic Norway in a Nutshell route is the classic for a reason. You can make changes, but they will either add time (and you don't have a lot) or omit one of the scenic segments in the classic Nutshell. If you plan to start your trip in Oslo, the logical thing to do is take the classic Nutshell route between Oslo and Bergen. If you prefer, you can run it in reverse, but it seemed to me when I was planning my own trip last year that the connections looked just a bit better in the Oslo-to-Bergen direction.

  • Regular train from Oslo to Myrdal (this train goes all the way to Bergen, but you get off before Bergen).

  • Flamsbana train from Myrdal to Flam.

You can and should buy a ticket from Oslo all the way to Flam from the Norwegian rail web site, www.vy.no . It will cover your trips on the regular train to Myrdal and the Flamsbana from Myrdal to Flam. The ticket may be cheaper if bought earlier, but pay attention to rules about refunds and exchanges. Enter accurate information about your ages to see whether you qualify for a senior discount on the regular-train segment. Note that the trains can sell out, though I don't know how early that would be likely to happen.

  • Naeroyfjord ferry from Flam to Gudvangen. You can buy that ticket from www.norwaysbest.com, which I think is the same company selling Nutshell packages at a mark-up.

  • Bus from Gudvangen to Voss. As recently as last June, you didn't need to buy the bus ticket in advance; you just paid the driver.

  • Regular train from Voss to Bergen. This ticket you buy from www.vy.no .

You can of course pay more and have someone else put the package together for you, but buying the tickets from home is easy enough, and it saves money.

The Nutshell route makes for a long day. Some people like to break the trip and spend a night in fjord country. If you have only one night to spare, you really need to choose one of the towns I've named, or perhaps Aurland would work (I don't know about bus service). Balestrand is by all accounts a more attractive town than Flam, but it's on the other side of the Sognefjord, and there's just one ferry a day between Flam and Balestrand. The schedule is such that if you stay in Balestrand for just one night, I think you'll have to take the express boat straight from Balestrand to Bergen, missing the more scenic Naeroyfjord ferry and the nice bus ride from Gudvangen to Voss.

Unfortunately, the demand for lodging far exceeds the supply in Flam, and it may be too late to find a room for your travel dates. If you don't want to do the Nutshell in one day, check booking.com for a room immediately. Make a cancellable reservation at any remotely acceptable lodging while you continue to make plans. You can of course book directly with the hotel rather than through booking.com if you prefer. (It might be a bit cheaper, and there might be more rooms available that way.) The reviews on booking.com are usually pretty reliable.

If you have no luck on booking.com, go to Google Maps and zoom way in on each of the towns you'll be passing through. You may find hotels or rentals not available through booking.com. Contact them directly to see whether they have space for you.

After completing the Nutshell route, you can spend some time in Bergen.

For your onward travel, there are flights from Bergen not only to Oslo and other Norwegian cities but also to Stockholm and Copenhagen and a few other cities in Denmark and Sweden. Alternatively, if you have more time, you can hop on one of the overnight coastal ferries to Alesund (12 hours, or 24 hours with side trip into the scenic Geirangerfjord) or Trondheim (36 hours including the Geirangerfjord). Cabins on the coastal ferries can sell out. From Trondheim you could return to Oslo by air or rail; there may be flights to Denmark and Sweden as well; I haven't checked. From Alesund you'd need to fly out or take buses or a bus/train combo.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you so much for your informative reply. You've given me such a great basis to begin booking places to stay and train and ferry information. I appreciate your taking the time to help me. Thanks again!

Posted by
4668 posts

From Trondheim you could return to Oslo by air or rail; there may be
flights to Denmark and Sweden as well; I haven't checked.

From Trondheim to Oslo, you should take the train, the scenery is great. There are also flights from Trondheim to Copenhagen and Stockholm, and there is also the option of taking the train to Stockholm

Posted by
6682 posts

We did a wonderful cruise with Royal Caribbean in June 2019 that visited 6 ports along the North Atlantic coast of Norway.

Going by ship is a great way to see the fjords up close.

We went all the way to the North Cape, saw the Sami people and their reindeer in the far north.
Also, you get to do excursions from the ports that include The Path of the Trolls (like Norway in a Nutshell) from Alesund.
The Geiranger fjord is the most amazing of all.

On a cruise you avoid the expensive lodging and meals that you have to pay for on the Norwegian Economy/