One of the reasons why I enjoy taking Rick Steve's tours is that so much is planned for you. I don't consider myself a very good planner. We want to visit Norway in September, but there are no RS tours available. So I'm going to give it a go. Where do I even begin? I'm in Seattle. Are there travel specialists that might be able to assist? Any resources or experiences anyone would care to share that would help me as I plan our trip? Thanks in advance!
Why not start with the Rick Steves guidebook? While I do tours these days, I used the guidebooks for decades to plan independent travel in Europe.
If you haven't already been, go to the National Nordic Museum in Ballard www.nordicmuseum.org.
What do you want to see and do? What brings you to Norway? How much time do you have?
Google and read up on "Norway in a Nutshell", a flexible itinerary for seeing the highlights from Oslo to Bergen (or vice versa) via train, boat, and bus...about 10 years ago, we studied the Norway in a Nutshell itinerary and came up with our own version, flew to Bergen from Copenhagen, spent a few nights, took the ferry up the Sognefjord, spent the night on the fjord at a resort hotel, and then took the train to Oslo where we ended our trip...all of this can be done in a week or less...it is a really good overview of the wonders of Norway. With more time (and money - Norway isn't cheap), you can see more.
We visited Norway and Denmark last summer and planned ourselves using Rick's guidebook and some general google research. Rick's suggestions for lodging are always spot on as are his food suggestions. And we love his guidebooks because he doesn't write EVERY sight but the ones he feels are really worth your time. That is super helpful as other guidebooks tend to be overwhelming writing up every little thing.
The only part of the Norway planning that was tricky for me was our Norway in a Nutshell experience but that is partly because we were breaking it up and staying for a night in the fjords.
In addition to Oslo-Nutshell-Bergen, which I agree is probably the best short itinerary for the average traveler (by which I primarily mean people who don't want to rent a car or do a bunch of hiking), there's the possibility of taking one or more segments of the ferry trip up the west coast from Bergen. There are two companies doing those trips, Hurtigruten and Havila. There's a great deal more, of course. But the warning about costs is justified.
We used Brekke Travel to plan a custom itinerary for us. They are based in North Dakota and specialize in Scandinavia. They have a website. We did it all by phone.
Maybe it's time for me to start a travel consultancy company?
But this is not that hard to plan on your own, with a bit of reading. And you can get a lot of help on this forum.
Doesn’t Rick’s office give trip planning advice, for a fee of course?
@Barbara. Trip consulting by RS has not yet resumed post Covid.
@OP. I’d trust any recommendations from Tammy above about the travel planning agency. She always gives good advice.
The train running between Oslo and Bergen aside, a lot of the intercity transportation in Norway runs rather infrequently, so planning a trip there does require digging into train and bus schedules earlier than would normally be the case. Limited transportation availability can make an itinerary impractical. That's not an issue if you plan to rent a car, of course.
When I was planning my 2022 trip, I found it very, very helpful to read back through earlier threads in the Norway forum here, especially as I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do in the Sognefjord (Nutshell) area. I didn't want to just go with the classic Nutshell route without knowing my options. In the end, I decided I couldn't improve on the Nutshell route in the time I had available (I just spent 2 nights in Flam), but I felt comfortable with that decision because of the research I had done.
Good suggestions here. I always start with the Rick Steves guidebook and searches of my destination on the forum to get a sense of my priorities. I also usually allow more nights at each stop than RS recommends. .When I have a rough itinerary and specific questions I bring them to the forum. Even if you work with the agent Tammy recommends it will help to have reviewed a guidebook and this forum to make your plan.
How many days do you have? We are going for 18 days in September and did all the planning with my husband doing the pre-booking research using google and Rick Steves resources. Our route includes many ancestral sites mixed in with beautiful drives, a train ride, a fjord tour, and hiking. I think I found some great lodging. We do follow a FB group that has been very helpful to us.
Wow, thank you everyone for these insights. What a wonderful community!
We are using Firebird Tours to plan a custom itinerary and I have found it invaluable for the transportation between places. We are doing 15 days: Oslo 🚊 Flam 🛥️ Balestrand 🚐 Geiranger 🛥️ Alesund ✈️ Bergen ✈️Stavanger.
We’re visiting Norway this September, along with Denmark. I wonder why Rick doesn’t run tours in September … less demand?!? If you’d otherwise be going on a Rick Steves tour if there was one, consider doing his tour’s itinerary (see it on his Website), then use his guidebook to fill in the lodging, sightseeing, and eating details.
We’re using Rick’s book as a primary reference, but also Lonely Planet, Moon, and Fodor’s guidebooks for additional planning. We hope to go farther north than Rick’s book describes. Hope our trips both go well!
My suggestions for trip planning:
Buy some guidebooks and read through them. Rick Steves Scandinavia only covers parts of Norway so you should also buy either Rough Guides or Lonely Planet.
Go the Trip Reports forum and look through recent trip reports (mine is there).