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traveling in Norway and north of the arctic circle to see the lights

Hi..The trip to Norway is on my husband's bucket list and since we're both seniors we're trying to get the list taken care of! We have traveled extensively in Europe but never into Scandinavia and, since I am the planner, I have to say that trying to even figure out where and how is a little overwhelming. We will most likely spend 2-3 weeks in Norway. We will be going mid to late September. We will be arriving in country by train or ferry since we will be flying into Germany on a military space-a flight, and going home the same way. We are used to being relatively budget minded when we travel, although it seems that this option is really not an option in Norway. We will not be able to make any kind of reservations since we will not have an exact arrival date.

We will be using public transportation so I would like to know if going to Bergen is necessary to access the fjords. Would we be better off buying point to point tickets or a rail pass? Are any of the scenic train routes better than the other? What about ferry transportation heading north. The goal up north is Tromso(hopefully)and then heading back south. Lodging options would be appreciated. We like to stay in smaller towns rather than the cities. Would like to visit Flam, Alesund, Kristiansund, Trondheim, and Bodo, and, again, hoefully up to Tromso

I know this is a lot of information, but this is all REALLY new territory to us so any help would be greatly appecitated! THANKS.

Posted by
3685 posts

You might want to check out this Norway Lights site to see when they will be visible and more.

More general information can be found here, but includes links to the app site above.

Posted by
16883 posts

You don't have to go to Bergen, but you probably will if you also want to visit Flam. Assuming that you start with a train from Oslo, you can visit Flam along the Norway-in-a-Nutshell route (www.norwaynutshell.com) and finish by train to Bergen. Then head north from Bergen on a Hurtigruten cruise (www.hurtigruten.us).

You can fly from Bodo back to Oslo on SAS or Norwegian airlines for under $100. If you wanted to take the Hurtigruten in the reverse direction, you could also fly north from Bergen, etc. See www.skyscanner.com to explore flight options.

Train from Bodo takes 10 hours to Trondheim and a further 7 hours to Oslo; see also https://www.nsb.no/en/frontpage and their route map.

www.visitnorway.com can also be useful for exploring options in each region.

Posted by
5786 posts

I was sick the night that my wife saw the Northern Lights. We had just crossed over into Norway from Finland mid-April. It takes some luck because you need the proper solar conditions, darkness and a clear sky. The VisitNorway website offers some suggestions on seeing the lights: https://www.visitnorway.com/things-to-do/nature-attractions/northern-lights/
The VisitNorway site includes "apps" for best time and place.

Hostels are cheaper than budget hotels. More hostels in the populated south than north. https://www.hihostels.com/destinations/no/hostels

Advance purchase "Minipris" tickets discount point to point travel with discounts better the earlier you buy. Tickets can be purchased about 3 months in advance. The NSB website: https://www.nsb.no/en/frontpage
Minipris explanation: https://www.nsb.no/en/our-tickets/minipris

The Norway in a Nutshell train-boat-bus combatinon between Oslo and Bergen is the premier scenic train route and more with the boat traveling through a narrow scenic fjord. You can self book individual travel legs or buy a package NIN. Flam is on ther route.
https://www.norwaynutshell.com/
https://www.visitnorway.com/plan-your-trip/getting-around/by-boat/fjord-tours/norway-in-a-nutshell/

Oslo and Bergen are very walkable cities with transit options.

PS Self-cater with Coop groceries. If you "need" alcohol stock up at the duty free before crossing over through the green door. Norway taxes alcohol to discourage over consumption. If you need alcohol after entering Norway, the state supplier is the Vinmonopolet. Have happy hour before dining out.

Posted by
11288 posts

In addition to trains and boats, look at flights. Because of Norway's mountains and fjords, train routes between cities can be very convoluted, so flights are very useful. And with SAS and Norwegian Air (and their subsidiaries) competing on many routes, costs are not necessarily high.

You can find flight options on Skyscanner, but be sure to do a dummy booking on the airline's official website to see all the extra fees. https://www.skyscanner.com/

"We are used to being relatively budget minded when we travel, although it seems that this option is really not an option in Norway."

Correct - be prepared for sticker shock. Rick's Snapshot: Norway book only covers some of the places you're interested in, but he has budget tips good for the whole country.

EDIT: To find out who flies nonstop from a particular airport, look at that airport's Wikipedia page. You'll quickly see that for Norway, many airports (even for smaller cities) have flights to other airports nonstop, without having to change in Olso. In other words, if you want to go from Bergen to Trondheim, you can do it nonstop on both SAS and Norwegian - which saves you a 15 hour train ride (not a typo - fifteen hours).