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Sweden-Norway Itinerary before Havila Cruise out of Bergen

Am planning Sept 2024 trip with my husband and have a tentative itinerary but would like some feedback. We are traveling light with backpacks; like to visit cultural museums, ride bikes, cafes, parks. On a mid-range budget but willing to spend more in hotels if needed. Half the trip is already planned because of the BKB 12 day cruise out of Bergen. We fly into Stockholm, and fly out of Bergen. I already booked the airline; wanted to see Stockholm on this trip.
Here is the tentative plan (and am looking for advise if the number of nights in each city is "ok").

9/4/24 - Fly in Stockholm arrive Noon at Airport (booked for 5 nights at Elite Hotel Adlon in Norrmalm - selected for good reviews, central location to transit, and good breakfast per reviews). ADVISE on this hotel and location is appreciated! Am willing to spend $200-250 a night).

9/5 - Stockholm
9/6 - Stockholm
9/7 - Stockholm
9/8 - Stockholm (5th night)
in Stockholm we want to visit the Vasa Museum, the Skansen Open Air Museum, Fotografiska, Swedish History Museum, possibly the Spirit Museum, Carl Eldhs Atelje Museum, and Bergrummet (also just hang out in parks, cafes, and rent bikes).

9/9 - Travel Stockholm to Oslo; overnight in Oslo (still looking at things to do in Oslo _ I know we are late planners this time). Should we have more time in Oslo, less in Stockholm? I will select a lodging near the central train station for convenience to public transit.
9/10 - Oslo
9/11 - Oslo
9/12 - Leave Oslo in morning for NiN to overnight in Gudvangen or OTHER town to break up "tour". (recommendations appreciated!)

9/13 - Leave NiN town (TBD) - travel to Bergen Overnight at Thon Hotel Orion for 4 nights

9/13 - Bergen
9/14 - Bergen
9/15 - Bergen

9/16 - Depart on Havila Polaris cruise
9/16 - 9/27 Cruise - Depark on 9/27 (end cruise)

9/27 - Afternoon/another night in Bergen (or possibly stay at the airport hotel since it seems like things to do in that area too?)
9/28 - Bergen overnight at Clarion Hotel Bergen Airport for an early flight out the next day

9/29 - Fly out Bergen at 6:20 am

Note that I want to return at a later date (another vacation TBD) to Oslo to spend more time specifically to see their Viking Museum that is currently closed for renovation). Thus that is why I had more time in Stockholm planned. Again - I welcome suggestions to which cities to spend more time in.

Thank you in advance. All feedback appreciated. I am posting this in the Sweden forums, but if the Norway forum is more appropriate I can repost it there.

Posted by
27431 posts

I am a slow traveler, but I spend a huge amount of time in art museums and looking at building exteriors. In other words, our interests are quite different.

I think Stockholm has more for the typical visitor to see than Oslo and Bergen do, but you will have no trouble filling the time in Bergen if you like to hike, and you could use more time in Oslo for the same purpose. As it stands now, however, I wouldn't shift a night from Stockholm to Oslo--not because Oslo couldn't use more time, but because I think Stockholm is really lovely and sering sights on the various islands takes a good bit of time.

I hope Badger sees this and comments on the Stockholm-vs.-Oslo question.

Posted by
81 posts

Acraven - when you stay in Stockholm what neighborhood do you like to stay in. Any lodging recommendations?

Posted by
6670 posts

My comment on the Stockholm-vs.-Oslo question is that I agree with acraven, Oslo is an amazing city in many ways, but Stockholm has more to see and do, especially if you count possible day trips. My suggestion would be to remove one night from Bergen and add it to Stockholm. Six nights in Bergen and five in Stockholm is not how I would divide the available days. Also, are you planning on an early train to Oslo or a late train?

Regarding the hotel, it would not be my recommendation. It has great access to transportation, that is an advantage. But I can't recommend the area.

Posted by
81 posts

Badger - what area would you recommend for 4-5 days of Stockholm site seeing? We are traveling by public transit. I’ve been looking at other lodging besides the one currently reserved. Appreciate your input. Cost per nite looking at 200-300 USD; prefer breakfast included. Thank you.

Also - planning early train to Oslo.

Posted by
27431 posts

I usually stay in much less expensive lodgings than most posters on this forum. In other words, I am cheap and my standards are not particularly high.

On my first trip to Stockholm, I stayed near the northern tip of Gamla Stan because I got a really good rate at the Best Western. I found the location convenient as a walker, because it was easy to head north to a lot of my sightseeing destinations. Gamla Stan is very touristy, but most of that is south of the Best Western. However, the T station on Gamla Stan is rather far away (to the south), separated from the hotel by cobbled and tourist-thronged streets, so folks who would want to start most days with a T ride might not appreciate the location--though getting to the Kungstradgarden station to the north looks like it would be easier.

On my second trip I stayed at a conference center in a rather obscure location on Sodermalm, not far from the Viking ferry terminal. This was mostly an economic decision; costs in Stockholm rose quite a bit between 2022 and 2023. I don't think my Sodermalm spot would be convenient for a typical first visit to Stockholm. And parts of Sodermalm are quite hilly. It's an interesting island (and Fotografiska is there), but dealing with the terrain on a daily basis wouldn't be for everyone.

The area around the train station in Norrmalm feels sort of soulless. Somewhere a bit to the north or to the east could put you in a more attractive neighborhood, though it might be a bit more of a distance from the sights you want to see--but perhaps not, since Ostermalm is just north of Djurgarden, where Skansen and the Vasa Museum are located, and the Historiska Museum is right in Ostermalm..

Posted by
1046 posts

We spent time in Oslo, Stockholm and Bergen in March.

- There's a lot of construction work near the Fotografiska that makes getting to it on foot challenging.
- We have stayed twice now at Hotel Rival on Sodermalm and it's been great both times.
- We did a walking tour of Sodermalm that combined Girl with the Dragon Tattoo sights and architecture. We followed the route described here

- The walk along the Akerselva river starting in Grunerlokka is lovely. Lots of repurposed old industrial buildings and cafes.

- We did NiN in March from Oslo to Bergen with a night in Flam. Flam was lovely in the evening with very few people around. The Flamsbana railway between Myrdal and Flam is incredible.
- Gudvangen is tiny. Finding accommodation could be challenging unless you are happy to camp.

Posted by
6670 posts

The problem with the area around the central station is that it is a bit boring and lacks character. Although if you're planning an early morning train to Oslo, you might appreciate the central station being just across the street. Södermalm is not a bad place to stay. It is quite hilly, but there are buses, metros and train that can help you get up the hills. Given the museums you've mentioned, you could also consider staying on Djurgården, plenty of museums within walking distance and trams, buses and ferries that take you to other parts of the city.

Gamla stan can be an option, but it is a bit touristy as mentioned. And not the best access to public transportation. Although there is a metro station in the southwest corner of the island, ferries to Djurgården in the southeast corner and buses running along both the eastern and western shores. Kungsträdgården metro station is not that far away from Gamla stan, but a worse option in general. It's currently the end station on the blue line so useful if you're going to Kungsholmen or the northwestern suburbs, Gamla stan station on the other hand is served by both the green and red line, in both directions. Breakfast included is more or less standard in Swedish hotels.

And getting to Fotografiska is not that hard. It's still a lot of construction mess around Slussen, but things are better now compared to March.

If you are interested in viking history you should plan a day trip to Uppsala as well.

Posted by
2 posts

In Stockholm there are great views from the city hall tower, stadshuset or Monteliusvägen, an overlook from Södermalm. Consider a quick boat trip to one of the islands in the archipelago, Vaxholm or Fjäderholm. Kungsträdgården or Kungsholmen ar both great locations. Each are easy walks to central station. The subway, tunnelbanan, or buses will get you everywhere you want to go.

Posted by
81 posts

Thank you everyone for your good information!
Here is latest itinerary.

I decided to stay at the Hotel Esplanade Stockholm, near the center of the activity. Originally thought the Hotel Rival would be wonderful (which it would be and the front desk was very helpful and even offered a lower rate then shown on their website). BUT, since we are new to Stockholm as first time visitors, I wanted to be closer (walking distance and quick transportation trips) to all the sites.

4 nights (3 full days Stockholm)
4 nights (3 full days Oslo) - I really want to see all the maritime / polar museums.
1 night possibly in VOSS to break up train ride Oslo to Bergen (no NiN included this time). NOT sure about this - should we add an extra day somewhere else?) I am doing this because I think "3 full days in Bergen" may be too much?
3 nights (2 full days) Bergen.
Havila Cruise (11 nights)
Back one night to Bergen
One night stay near Bergen Airport
Fly out next morning.

I feel fortunate to have time before the cruise to explore other areas, and want to use time wisely. :D

Posted by
6670 posts

You haven't mentioned where those hotels are, but there is really no place that is close to all sites. Things are spread out all over the city and there is no "centre of the activity". But if you're happy with the hotel, then that's great.

One night in Voss is certainly an option, but you can also just take the train direct to Bergen without stopping on the way. If you feel that you want to add an extra night somewhere that isn't Bergen, add an extra night in Stockholm, unless you've already bought a nonrefundable train ticket to Oslo.

Posted by
81 posts

Thank you all for your replies.
I added an extra day on Stockholm. And decided to stay at the Hotel Esplanade. It is very close to everything. I requested a room off the courtyard to hopefully avoid it being too noisy.

It’s all an adventure. I appreciate all your advise.