14 Day Scandinavia itinerary advise

So far I have the following itinerary, I just need some fine tuning/advise on how many days to stay in each place. The Bergen area looks fantastic, but similiarly I love cities and want to make the most of my time in Stockholm and Oslo.

1 Fly to Stockholm

2 Stockholm

3 Stockholm

4 Stockholm

5 Stockholm (night train to Oslo)

6 Oslo

7 Oslo

8 Flam (train to Flam via Myrdal)

9 Flam

10 Voss

11 Bergen (train to Bergen)

12 Bergen

13 Bergen

14 Fly to London

Due to the train times I would have pretty much the whole day in Voss, is it better to stay 2 nights here and only 1 in Flam, or sacrifice one of the nights in Bergen?

Many thanks in advance.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

On this web site where the typical travel question is something like "Advice please for London, Paris, Rome, Athens and Budapest in 7 days", 90% of the time, the planner could benefit from spending more time and fewer destinations.

This might be an example of the other 10%. If you have been to Scandinavia before, or plan to return again soon, then your itinerary is fine. Whatever you don't see on this trip you can see another time.

But we have been in all of the places you mention, and if this were my only chance to see as much of Scandinavia as possible, I would want to see more, particularly in the fjord area of Norway.

Stockholm is a beautiful city and there is much to see, but it is very compact compared to a place like London. You could easily see almost every major sight in 2 1/2 or 3 days. You have 4 1/2. Oslo in 2 days is perfect.

Flåm is little emore than a transport hub for the hundreds of people who do the Norway-in-a-nutshell route every day. There are other small villages in that general area that are cute, but not much in Flåm, itself. You could see everything Flåm has to offer while you wait for your boat to arrive for your fjord cruise to Gudvangen. Voss is similar to Flåm. I can't imagine what you would do there for a full day. Those three days could easily be a single day. That's what the "Nutshell" is all about.

Bergen is a pleasant visit, but it is smaller than most people imagine. The historic warf, in particular, is little more than the dozen buildings you always see in photographs. You can cover a lot of what Bergen has to offer in a single full day and virtually all of it in 2 days. You have 3+.

So in short, I could suggest various options for you to get more out of your 14 days. But if you plan to come back another time to see other parts of Scandinavia, then your plan is fine. Let me know if you want more information.

Posted by Alan
Watford, UK
9 posts

Cheers guys :)

I'll have a look at slightly rearranging my time.

I was thinking of including Copenhagen but as much as it may seem a waste of a couple of days, I'd rather come away from the other cities feeling I've got the most out of them than not.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

Not that you asked :-) but if it were me, this is how I would spend 14 days, while trying to follow a similar general plan as yours;

1) Fly to Helsinki - spend a 1/2 day sightseeing

2) All day in Helsinki, until 5:00 PM - then take the overnight Silja ship to Stockholm (fun, beautiful, and a good value)

3) 10:00 AM arrival - All day in Stockholm

4) Stockholm

5) Stockholm most of the day - late train to Copenhagen

6) Copenhagen

7) Copenhagen until 5:00PM - overnight ship to Oslo

8) Oslo 10:00 AM arrival

9) Oslo

10) Train to Myrdal, tourist train to Flåm, fjord boat to Balestrand

11) Balestrand (possible hiking, glacier tour, fjord tour, etc)

12) Either boat to Gudvangen, bus to Voss and continue to Bergen by train OR fast boat all the way to Bergen through the fjord to the coast

13) Bergen all day

14) Bergen AM - fly home PM

That's a lot more moving around than you had planned and I wouldn't blame you at all for not wanting to do that much. But it is a workable plan that gives you 1 1/2 - 2 1/2 days in each of 6 locations. Pretty decent balance and a good use of overnight transportation to save time. I always encourage people to see Helsinki because it is a lovely and too often overlooked city, plus the ship to Stockholm is such a good deal. If I were to eliminate one thing from my list above it would be Copenhagen - not because it's inferior in any way, but because it is a bit of a diversion logistically and just as easy to visit from Amsterdam or northern Germany on a different trip perhaps.

Posted by Alan
Watford, UK
9 posts

I've gone through your suggestions and it looks fantastic; as far as buses and train journey will I need to book in advance(excluding the Nutshell journey)?

Posted by Anne
Weeki Wachee, FL, USA
75 posts

We just booked our flights for our 14-day summer trip to Scandinavia, and here is our rough itinerary:
Day 1: arrive in Helsinki
2: Tallinn side trip
3: Helsinki, overnight ferry to Stockholm
4: Stockholm
5: Stockholm
6: Stockholm, afternoon train to Oslo, overnight to Bergen
7: Bergen
8: Bergen
9: ferry Bergen to Balestrand
10: Balestrand to Oslo (via Flam to Myrdal)
11: Oslo
12: Oslo
13: Oslo to Reykjavik
14 Reykjavik to JFK

Posted by Alan
Watford, UK
9 posts

Thanks for all of the advice guys. I think I am going to split my trip up into two separate holidays 7-8 day holidays.

One covering Copenhagen, Stockholm and Helsinki and a second trip covering Oslo and exploring the Fjords a bit more than I would have done in my original itinerary.

I'll come back here when I've got something pieced together :p

  • Although any ideas on whether Bergen or elsewhere would be the best place to use as base for exploring the Fjords would be much appreciated :)
Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

being based in the UK, I'll bet you can find a variety of cheap flights so that breaking up your Scandinavia experience makes sense. For us in the US, doing the same would be foolish, finacially.

To best experience Norway, I would visit Oslo, train northwest to Trondheim for a short visit, train south to Åndalsnes, then bus the Trollstigen road to Geiranger. Cruise the fjord there to Hellesylt. Bus to Ålesund for a short stay. Fly (yes, fly) to Bergen (SAS airline economy fares) and work your way back toward Oslo either on the "Nutshell" route or via Balestrand.

Good luck & happy travels!

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

You should probably book the train ahead of time, and the Oslo-Bergen portions well ahead of time. You might even consider a 4-day Norway rail pass if all 4 days of rail time are lengthy enough to make it a good value (but even with a pass you will have to reserve the Oslo-Bergan portion(s) ahead of time).

You don't have to make bus reservations, though. They operate their busses and schedules so that it is very unlikely to ever be full. The fullest bus we were on was barely half full. You just pay the driver.

Here is the bus website:

http://www.nor-way.no/?lang=en_GB

Posted by Alan
Watford, UK
9 posts

So far I've come up with the following:-

  1. Oslo

  2. Bergen (Norway in a Nutshell)

  3. Bergen

  4. Alesund (Fly)

  5. Geiranger (boat along Geirangerfjord)

  6. Andalsnes (bus the Golden Route)

  7. Oslo (Train)

Staying in Geiranger and Andalsnes seem like wasted days but due to the time taken to get from Alesund to Geiranger I don't think there would be enough time to get to Andalsnes to allow a night better spent.

I'm considering adding a few days to Oslo at the start, and 'possibly' another few days heading up the coast to the Lofoften Islands via Trondheir if money allows.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

I think it sounds great. I don't know if you are fond of youth hostels or not, but we stayed in them in Ålesund and Åndalsnes and thought they were very nice, both with a good hearty free breakfast, and of course like most hostels now, don't really care how old you are.

There is little to do in Åndalsnes, but the scenery is fine. It's a great place to just take a long walk out of town and breathe deeply... Geiranger is great for hiking, too.

If you can manage to get to the Lofoten islands above the arctic circle, that would be an experience you won't ever forget. And it is has a much more mild climate than you might expect. In summer it could well be warmer than London on a given day! This is where a Norway 4-day (or more) rail pass really starts to look like a good deal. There is an overnight train from Trondheim to Bodo (then a ferry boat to the islands). So not only will the rail pass pay for the train, but it also saves money on an overnight accomodation. The down side is that when we did it in 2008 there were no sleeper cars so we had to try to sleep sitting up - not fun. But worth it anyway. Do it overnight on the way back south, too.

Bonus; If you were to use a rail pass coming south from Bodo to Trondheim on that overnight train, the train will arrive in Trondheim at about 7 AM, if I remember correctly. Since that day of your overnight train is considered your "travel day", you can continue to ride the rails anywhere else that day for no extra cost or extra travel day. In other words, you could go from there to Åndalsnes or Oslo or anywhere else, essentially for free. (in case you have never used a rail pass before, a "travel day" means any train trip that calendar day, whether it is one trip for 10 miles or 5 trips for 500 miles makes no difference at all in cost. BUT overnight trains count as only one travel day as long as they depart after 7PM. So depart after 7PM and you can keep riding until midnight the following day for just 1 "travel day".)

Posted by Alan
Watford, UK
9 posts

Thanks :)

Quick question about InterRail; obviously it's easy to book trains in advance through the NSB website, but I can't see InterRail as a payment method.

A booking telephone number is given, but I'd rather book on-line if this is possible.

Posted by Randy
Minneapolis, MN, USA
1505 posts

I don't know anything about interail. We used a 3-country rail pass. You could use just the Norway pass here on the RS web site.