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Summer itinerary advice needed

My wife and I (active, mid-40s) are planning a Scandanavian trip in July. We fly JFK-COP and depart Bergen-Oslo-JFK. After many different thoughts, this is the itinerary I have put together. We plan to use public transportation, though might try to rent a car for a day mid-trip, depending on costs. Does this look like a smart itinerary? Any advice or suggestions to adjust it?

June 30 - Depart JFK

July 1 - Arrive Copenhagen 13:00, check in to Scandic Copenhagen

July 2 - Copenhagen

July 3 - 16:30 Overnight Ferry Copenhagen - Oslo

July 4 - 9:45 arrive Oslo, check in to Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Oslo

July 5 - Oslo

July 6 - 8:25 departure NIN to Flam, ferry Flam to Balestrand, check in to Kviknes Hotel

July 7 - Balestrand (Hike? Kayak? Trip to Fjaerland? Rent car?)

July 8 - Balestrand (hike? Kayak? Trip to Fjaerland? Rent car?)

July 9 - Balestrand boat to Flam, arrive 13:25, continue NIN to Bergen, Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Bergen

July 10 - Bergen

July 11 - Bergen-Oslo-JFK

Thank you in advance for any advice or thoughts.

Posted by
1487 posts

Perhaps you have reasons for wanting to spend 3 nights in Balestrand, but I think that's too long considering you only have two nights each in Copenhagen and Oslo. I would recommend subtracting a night from Balestrand and adding it to Copenhagen. If the hiking and kayaking activities are higher priorities for you, maybe what you have makes sense, but in any case, you are really giving short shrift to Copenhagen.

You might also consider taking the ferry from Balestrand directly to Bergen rather than backtracking to Flam to continue NiN.

When I was in Norway last May, I spent two nights in Balestrand on the way between Oslo and Bergen. I rented a car there and spent the day exploring, and it was just spectacular. I highly recommend it. I used Not inexpensive, but they dropped the car at the hotel the night before, and I just left it at the hotel when I was done.

I also stayed at the Balestrand Hotel, which is a small, family-run place. The Kviknes is impressive but felt big and impersonal to me. I went there for the buffet dinner, which was pretty good, but I'm glad I didn't stay there. The folks at the Balestrand Hotel were immensely friendly and I loved staying there. (If you do, get a fjord-view room.)

Let me know if you have more questions.

Posted by
30 posts

Thank you so much for the reply. We have already arranged our flights and overnight ferry, so I think we are tied to the dates in Copenhagen. We are thinking of this as getting a taste of the city, and potentially returning to explore more of Denmark in the future.

As for Balestrand, my thought has been about using our time there for outdoor activities. As the itinerary currently stands, we would arrive to the town around 17:00. That day is just for relaxation. The two full days would give us options for hiking, kayaking, perhaps taking a day trip cruise to Fjaerland. I already did reach out to the car company, and as you say, it is quite pricey.

The main reason we were thinking of doubling back to Flam and rejoining the NIN route is we have heard how beautiful the ferry and bus routes are. I originally planned to do the SIN trip, but I read a number of posts that, due to the width of the fjord, it feels more like you are on a lake than in a fjord. Would we regret missing the views if we did not do the NIN from Flam to Bergen? I also wonder whether one day in Bergen will suffice? The express boat from Balestrand to Bergen only arrives 15 minutes earlier than if we went back to Flam and did NIN. But of course we would have to leave Balestrand many hours earlier for NIN and couldn't do any activities that day.

The biggest problem we have is too much to see and not enough time to see it all!!!

Posted by
30 posts

Also, where did you drive on your adventure? Did you primarily look at vistas from the car, or use it to get to destinations not accessible by public transport for hiking, etc?

Posted by
1487 posts

I do think you could find some activities to fill two days in Balestrand. There are hiking trails in the hills overlooking the town (you can find the map online or pick one up at your hotel or at the TI). I did a short hike before dinner on the afternoon I arrived there, but I didn't explore enough to say whether the trails have great views or go through interesting terrain.

Here's the route I drove. I left Balestrand at 8:30 and got back at 19:00. I got out and walked and explored a number of times along the way. Here's a map.

From Balestrand to Dragsvik
Ferry to Hella
Route 55 to Sogndal
Route 5 to Fjaerland
Short detour down the west side of Fjaerlandsfjord to Mundal, then back
Another detour to the Supphellebreen glacier (this was the highlight of the day for me)
Continue on Route 5 to Skei (pronounced like "shy").
Continue on 5 and E39 to Moskog
Route 13 back to Balestrand

Route 13 parallels the Gaula River for a long stretch, and you can hike a long route along the river and a lot of waterfalls. I did about a 4 km segment of that walk (between two waterfalls). If you want to do a longer hike, I believe you can get dropped off and picked up. Check out this description on TripAdvisor. And if you'd like to see my photos from my time in the fjord region, they are here.

As for the boat ride from Balestrand to Bergen, it's true that the fjord is wide and therefore maybe feels more like a lake. But I loved it. Did I miss better scenery somewhere else? Maybe. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you're always going to miss something else somewhere else. But I enjoyed the trip I was on, and I'm not looking back and regretting the things I didn't see. The people who stay with NiN instead of doing SiN didn't see all the wonderful sights I saw on the north side of Sognefjord. Do they regret it?