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Scandanavian vacation

My husband turns 60 this August and wants to go to see the fjords in Norway. Looking at June/July for travel dates. Going at least 2 weeks. Would appreciate any thoughts/suggestions on a good itinerary, places to stay, things to see and not miss, other cities/countries to see up there, and best airlines and cities to fly into. We had thought of going to Banff and Prince Edward Island/Canada trips but he's been watching Rick Steve videos and looks like it's Norway! Thank you in advance!

Posted by
636 posts

Here's our itinerary for 13 nights in late May/early June:

Fly to Bergen – 2 nights (VRBO rental)
Norway in a Nutshell Part 1: Bergen to Flåm
Flåm: 1 night at Flamsbrygga Hotel
FjordSafari, then Norway in a Nutshell Part 2: Flåm to Oslo
Oslo - 3 nights (Airbnb rental)
Oslo to Copenhagen – overnight "cruise" (http://www.dfdsseaways.us/cruises/overnight_cruise_copenhagen)
Copenhagen – 3 nights (Airbnb rental)
Train from Copenhagen to Stockholm
Stockholm: 3 nights (Airbnb rental)

If we had more time, we would probably have spent more time in the fjords area of Norway and added a few days in a small town between Copenhagen and Stockholm.

That doesn't answer all of your questions, but I hope that it is helpful.

Posted by
5837 posts

Researching Norway starting with Rick Steves and Lonely Planet Guides would give you a good start:
https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/scandinavia-guidebook
https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/norway-guidebook
http://www.lonelyplanet.com/norway
Lonely Planet covers more out of the way venues than Steves, but Steves helps focus on the must see/do highlights.

Not knowing your interest, I would suggest a minimum of:
3 nights Oslo
Nutshell Oslo to Bergen with at least a one night stop-over on the fjords.
2 nights Bergen.

Haven't done it but you could look at fjord tours from Bergen (I'm more winter and mountain oriented):
http://www.visitnorway.com/places-to-go/fjord-norway/

If I visited during the summer this would be on my list:
http://www.visitnorway.com/listings/pulpit-rock-cruise-and-hike-8-hours/9101/

Not the fjords, but consider a walk in the mountains:
http://www.visitnorway.com/places-to-go/eastern-norway/the-jotunheimen-mountains/

PS The US Dollar is petty strong compared to the FX rate of the past few years. Running about 8.88 NOK/USD. But prices are a shock to some Americans.

Posted by
3392 posts

There are also some areas of Norway further to the north that are truly stunning.
Take a look at the Geirangerfjord and the Trollstigen Pass. Some of the most amazing scenery I have visited anywhere in the world.
If you really want to see scenery there is coastline, many windswept islands, and mountain passes all around that area.
It's easy to fly into Alesund, rent a car, and drive. 3 - 4 days in the area and you can see quite a lot. The car ferry system up there is excellent and fun to use making touring an adventure!
I am always surprised that Rick hasn't gone very far north in Norway - he misses so much by sticking to the south.

Posted by
3243 posts

I've only been to Sweden, which I loved, so I won't add my input on locations. However, you might enjoy this man's journey through Scandinavia http://www.backpackingdave.com/scandinavia2009.html I don't know him so I'm including the link. I'm sure you can skip his swing dance camp and maybe Finland to fit into your schedule...and slow down a bit from his world wind tour. I would suggest you also look at Lonely Planet, at least, for an alternative to RS guidebook (although if they've gone the way of their Italy guidebook, don't bother, it is similar to RS's books) and more detail about the places you decide to visit. The RS guidebook is very good for logistics of places in his book, but he leaves SO MUCH out that it is not a good single source for creating your own itinerary. I found Sweden not expensive, but Backpacking Dave said it was Norway that was the expensive place (keep in mind his travels were when the dollar had taken a dive, if I recall.) I would suggest you go far north for a sense of the midnight sun and the culture up there whether it via Norway or Sweden, or both. Don't forget the archipelago off the coast of Sweden if coastlines interest you. Have fun. Wray

Posted by
17 posts

Hi Marie.

Good luck on your Scandinavian trip. Here is my two cents.

The Norway-part seems kind of stressfull. I always wondered the hype of the "Norway in a nutshell" package. I know it lays in there, by the name, but... I really recommend to put in at least one more nights on the way from Bergen to Oslo. Aurland/Flåm is really the heart of this kind of trip and can easily hold up two overnigts with it's scenery in walking distance from any hotel. Of course if you are into landscape and scenerey, (more than you're into towns and cities).

And given that your husband wants to see the fjords of Norway, I really recommend you to do so, in a larger amount than one night/stricktly Norway in a nutshell.

I'm norwegian myself, so it maight seem kind of bias. But landscape-wize, the western part of Norway wins, hands down, to any swedish landscape.

I recommend you to get at least one full day in Bergen (two nights). Then take the train to Myrdal (2,5 h), from there interchange to the Flåm railway (first part of Norway in a nutshell, 1 h). In Flåm, the fjord is yours, and you can stay at the legendary Fretheim hotel for 2 nights.

From Flåm, take the Flåm railway back to Myrdal and step onto the train towards Oslo (4 hour ride).

Enjoy some days in Oslo, before getting further east to Sweden and Stockholm (by train or flight). But I warn you. By now you have already completed the most scenic part of your scandinavian vacation ;)

Posted by
1 posts

Hello there - We went to Norway in 2012 - and are planning another trip this year.
For us, our trip was perfect. Would other places in Norway be equally wonderful? I bet so - Norway is simply amazing.
Here was our trip (9 days)
Bergen - wonderful town, great place to start. Lots of fantastic hiking areas. Go out to see the Greig house - lovely.
Bergen to Geirangerfjord via Hurtigruten cruise/ferry - I had advice from my Norwegian colleges that if we went to Geirangerfjord, we wouldn't miss going to the "Norway in a nutshell" tour. I WOULD RECOMMEND THE HURTIGRUTEN TO EVERYONE. We were there at the beginning of July - and we were on the boat for only 1 night. Our bottom-deck room near the car-park on the ship seemed to be smaller than humanly possible - but it didn't matter. The boat trip through the night is so magical - the light/almost dark/ is amazing. There are little towns and islands everywhere and houses tucked up on hills - I did sleep a couple hours, but could have stayed up all night. The boat went through the Geirangerfjord in the daytime - and it is stunning. We had time for a hike in Gerianger before the bus arrived.
Geriangerfjord to Andalsnes via bus The bus to Andalsnes is wonderful. They stop at nice photo spots. It goes across a mountain and down the Trollstigen. This is the switchback road you see in photos - the largest vertical rock-face in Europe. The bus (yes, standard public bus) took us to our hotel in Andalsnes. We timed our stay in Andalsnes with the mountain festival. We went on a guided hike as part of the Fjellfestival- up and over the Romsdalsagen - one of the highlights of my life.
Day trip from town - we rented a Car to drive on Atlantic road - visit small family towns in Romsdal area. (It was nice to have a day to drive around, we were very sore from our big hike). We visited stave churches, family farms - the Atlantic Road is a national tourist treasure. Super fun.
Train from Andalsnes to Oslo - The RAMA railway from Andalsnes takes you in a valley through the mountains - my husband took a little nap in the train, awoke and looked out the window to say "is this country stunning everywhere?"

Oslo - is a great, large, European city. The Viking museum and opera house are very cool - but it isn't why I went to Norway. The mountains, Fjords, water, people, they were the trip. Essentially we had three parts - Bergen, Andalsnes, Oslo - with the boat trip in between. When I first mapped it out I had us visiting many other places, but then I cut it down and we really enjoyed these three spots. Obviously, I'm quite enthusiastic - happy to answer any questions based on my 9 days of expertise! This year I aim to go to the Lofoton islands.

Posted by
544 posts

Rick's tour is a great itinerary for Scandinavia and would pretty much be the perfect way to cover Norway and more in two weeks.

Posted by
132 posts

Got my husband to narrow down and put on paper what he is looking for. thoughts and suggestions?Would love feed back on this "rough sketch" of an itinerary.
This is what my husband has mapped out. Suggestions on any and all thoughts much appreciated.
Day 1 - fly into Copenhagen - 1/2 day there
Day 2 - 3 - Copenhagen/Denmark
Day 4 - Fly from Copenhagen to Bergen, Norway
Day 5 - 6 Fjords in Norway - if we don't rent a car, how do you see them? where/what do you do in Bergen? Are there trains to the fjords?
Day 7 - Train to Oslo from Bergen - is there a train to Oslo? Is flying a better option?
Day 8 - 9 Oslo, Norway
Day 10 - Train to Goteberg Sweden
Day 11-12 Goteberg (we have people to see here)
Day 13 - Train to Stockholm
Day 14-16 - Stockholm
Day 17 - Fly home
We thought about going to Helsinki/Tallin - but not sure if enough time. What are your thoughts on Oslo and Stockholm? Enough time or too much there? And best way to travel if you don't rent a car.
thanks so much

Posted by
5837 posts

Day 5 - 6 Fjords in Norway - if we don't rent a car, how do you see them? where/what do you do in Bergen? Are there trains to the fjords?
Day 7 - Train to Oslo from Bergen - is there a train to Oslo? Is flying a better option?

Fjords & train to Oslo: Try the Norway in a Nutshell Bergen to Oslo one-way.
https://www.norwaynutshell.com/original-norway-in-a-nutshell/bergen/

The Norway in a nutshell® tour from Bergen Starting from Bergen you
first set out on a scenic train journey to Voss on the Bergen Railway.
From Voss you travel by bus through charming villages and scenic
nature landscapes, towards Gudvangen. From May-September the bus
travels down the steep hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva.

The bus will arrive in Gudvangen, where you continue the tour by
taking a fjord cruise on the on the narrow Nærøyfjord and the
magnificent Aurlandsfjord. The Aurlandsfjord is a picturesque fjord
that offers stunning views, while the Nærøyfjord is a dramatic fjord
surrounded by high mountains. Nærøyfjorden is one of the most narrow
fjords in Europe and included on UNESCO's World Heritage List.

After your fjord cruise you arrive in the small village of Flåm,
nestled in the innermost part of the Aurlandsfjord, where your tour
continues by taking the legendary Flåm Railway. The Flåm Railway
offers spectacular panoramic views to some of the wildest and most
magnificent nature in the Norwegian fjord landscape.

The Flåm Railway will arrive in Myrdal, where you change trains to the
Bergen Railway. ... continue
through scenic mountain terrain to Oslo on one-way trips.

You can overnight at one of the fjord towns/villages. Train from Myrdal to Oslo goes across the Hardangervidda (plateau).

Posted by
243 posts

We stayed in Bergen for one night, but in hindsight, we really two nights or one complete day. We did experience the fjords without the NIN package with Aurland as our home base. We stayed there for 3 nights which was great which allowed for some great hikes and drives around the area. We stayed in a cabin on the fjord and as we left Bergen, we bought seafood at the Bergen market. It was so much better to actually be purchasing fresh salmon like a local instead of just looking at the seafood. I think that Flam is ok to stay for one night, because it so convenient to all transportation, but it does feel like a transportation hub and not a village or town, especially when the cruise lines show up. I would have like to spend more time and go up near the glacier to hike, but it late May snow was an issue.

I was surprised that there was so much to do in Oslo. We stayed for 3 nights and saw and did so much at a relaxed pace. I do not like to rush and check things off a list. We probably spent 2+ hours at the Resistance Museum and enjoyed an espresso in the little café outside of the Munch Museum. I even enjoyed doing laundry at the Laundromat that is in a bar/café.

Do not miss the Viking Ship museum or the National Gallery and/or Munch Museum. A visit to as Stave church is also great. We saw the tail end of wedding at one with the wedding party in traditional Norwegian garb. We took the train up from Flam to Myrdal and hiked back down. it is mostly downhill, but an incredible to experience the area instead of in a train speeding by. Much more of time commitment and probably only doable if you are spending multiple days in the area. Of course do not miss a fjord cruise. If you do end up staying in Aurland, there is an asphalt road that heads out of town along the fjord that is great for an early morning walk or run. It is about 3-3 1/2 miles before it climbs into the hills/mountains.