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TRIP REPORT-10 Nights in Nifty Norway For Family of 4

Overview; We are a family of 4, two adults and two girls ages 11 and 14. This was my girls first trip to Europe. We spent a total of one month. We spent 10 nights in Norway, 12 nights in Scotland and 7 nights in Ireland in July and August, 2018.
This is my Norway trip report. It was our first visit here. We used Brekke Travel to help us plan this portion of our trip.

Packing; I packed 6 bottles of wine in a separate checked bag to bring with us as I was unsure if I would find wine I liked in Norway and to save some money. This worked great! We checked 4 bags and brought one carry on, on the plane, so we did not have to pay any baggage fees. I had bought wine sleeves and nothing broke. We enjoyed having wine in our hotel before dinner out. When the wine was all gone at the end of our time in Norway, I left the luggage behind as it was a second hand one I would not use again.
I was really glad I stuck a pair of shorts in my luggage as it was 85degrees in Oslo when we landed. That may not be that hot to some, but we are Alaskans. We tried to pack light and planned on having our laundry done several times. Love, love our packing cubes! We all had them.
Itinerary; 2 nights Oslo, 2 nights Flam, 1 night Balestrand, 2 nights Bergen, 2 nights Skudneshavn, 1 night Bergen.

Weather; Sunny skies the whole time. A tad too hot for us in Oslo, but it got better as we moved to the fjord area.

Food; In my perfect planning world, I envisioned us taking advantage of the breakfasts offered at all the places we stayed. Eat a large breakfast, a small snack or nothing for lunch, then an early dinner. Works for me! This was to help keep costs down. What really happened? My kids are not big breakfast eaters and my husband is a three squares a day guy. So, we got lunch several times from the COOP and made sandwiches and if we did have a lunch out, then we tried to eat cheaply for dinner. Still, a family of four eating out in Norway, so expensive! (I did know this beforehand). I even knew that there would be no “foodie” experiences for me, but planned that on another leg of the trip. Usually food is an important component of an enjoyable trip for me. I had to let that go in Norway.

We flew Iceland Air to Oslo from Anchorage, AK. This was our first time flying them and it was fine. We really liked only having one stop to Europe! The Iceland Airport is a bit overwhelmed with people and I would imagine they may have to do some improvements in the coming years.

Day 1; We landed and took the Flytoget train to the city center. Then we picked up our 24 hr Oslo pass. We walked about 4 blocks to our hotel, Thon Hotel Panorama. We had a family room with a cute balcony with a nice view of the city and opera house. The breakfast buffet was great. However, the lift was tiny, but we were glad to have it! The hotel had no AC, but we opened all the windows and patio door, and asked for a fan and we were fine. We would stay here again.
I was hoping we would have time to visit the Vigland Sculpture Park on our arrival day, but it didn’t happen. Our oldest did not feel well and we were too tired. So we grabbed burgers and called it a night.

Day 2; We all woke feeling refreshed and thank goodness, my daughter felt better. We took the ferry to the Bygdoy peninsula and did all the museums. The Viking, Flam, Folk and Kon-Tiki. They were all good, but I think my favorite was the Folk as it was mostly outside and the others were sooo hot inside! I was dripping sweat the whole day!

That evening, we took the tram to Frogner park to see the sculptures. We had fun trying to find the Angry Child sculpture! Glad we did this, but we were dragging. Jet lag was hitting harder than I expected.

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Day 3; Back to the train station in the am to take the train to Voss. It was about a 5 hour train ride, but with lovely scenery. Then a bus to Gundvegen. This bus takes some steep, hairpin turns to reveal the jaw-dropping scenery of the Gundvegen valley. We took a nice ferry to cruise the Naeroyfjord and Aurlandfjord then arrived in the town of Flam. We had a family room at the Flåmsbrygga Hotel. The room was not large, and we had them bring us another bed as my girls do not share a bed well. Again, no AC, but we opened the patio door, all the windows and asked for a fan, which we got. Breakfast buffet was plentiful.

Day 4; At 9am we took a guided RIB fjordsafari out on the Naeroyfjord. This was so fun. Then we were dropped off and met by a different guide to take us on a hike to a goat cheese farm. This turned out to be a rather arduous hike (1300ft elevation gain) ( I had no idea it would be that hard, but almost glad I didn’t know) we all made it to the top and I’m not kidding when I say this turned out to be one of the most incredible days for us. We met Annakaren who still makes goat cheese the simple way. She had prepared a wonderful lunch for us all, using the ingredients from her farm. Her farm has million dollar views and is called Liem. So glad we did this. A great day!

Day 5; We took the Flamsbana train from Flam to Myrdal, which is 1 hour of fantastic scenery. We rented bikes at the top and coasted all the way back to Flam through some of the most incredible scenery I have ever seen. It took us 2 hours and 15 minutes to get back to Flam. I lost count of how many waterfalls there were. This day was an absolute highlight of our time in Norway. I highly, highly recommend!
That afternoon we took the express boat to Balestrand and checked into the Kviknes Hotel in a demi-suite in the historic part of the hotel. No lift in the historic part, but up just one flight of stairs. No AC, but opened all windows and got a fan. We loved this hotel and especially our very large balcony overlooking the fjord. A great place to enjoy our wine.

Day 6; We were leaving this day at 5pm and had no plans for the day. So we slept in and had a low-key day. We took a walk along the water and enjoyed our views on our balcony. In retrospect, this was a bit of a wasted day in that I should have planned something. The downtime was kinda nice though.
Then we departed on the express boat to Bergen. We arrived in Bergen at 9pm, walked a couple blocks to our hotel and checked into Clarion Havnekontoret, which had a great location. The hotel includes a light dinner buffet in your room price, but service stops at 9pm. We had our hotel in Balestrand call and ask them to save us some food, which they did. However, it was fairly awful and we just ate for sustenance.

Day 7; We had a leisurely morning and signed up for a walking tour of the Bryggen area of Bergen (RS strongly recommends this). We thought it was ok. We visited 3 museums, but liked the Hanseatic one best. The old wooden structures were interesting. Then we explored the city and fish market by foot. That evening we took the funicular to the top of Mt. Floyen to enjoy the city views. We had the light evening buffet at the hotel for dinner, and it was a tad better than the previous night. We would stay here again. The price included 2 meals, plus afternoon snack, which makes this place a bargain.

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Day 8; After our breakfast, we took a taxi to pick up our rental car since the car rental place was outside the area we were willing to walk to. Then we started on our approx.. 3 hour drive down the Karmoy peninsula to Skudeneshavn. This town is the home of my husband’s ancestors. He is very into genealogy and knows his family history back to the 1600’s. This was a must do and a big part of the reason we came to Norway.
The driving is easy. Same side as us and although I had reserved a manual, they gave us an automatic at no extra charge. I did all the driving as my husband is a much better navigator than me. He lucked out though as we had Sat Nav built into the car. We had to take one ferry and went through the longest tunnel I have ever been though.

We had reservations through Airbnb in a lovely house on the water. This was shared with the hostess and so we got our meet a local experience as well. We had separate rooms for us and the kids. The hostess was nice enough to let us do our laundry and did not charge us. Our first Airbnb experience was a success!

Day 9; We drove into the town center of Skudeneshavn and went to a great little museum on the history of the area. It’s a lovely seaside town and many Norwegians come to it as a getaway. All the houses painted white give it a cohesive look. We found out from the museum that white paint cost more back then, so that is why people wanted their houses to be painted white.
Then we drove to the town church where we spent quite a bit of time looking for the headstones of my husband’s great-great-great grandparents. We were unable to find the headstones. Next, we took a drive looking for my husband’s ancestral farm. My husband knew the plot number! After almost giving up, we found it! We even spoke to the family that has the farm now. They have had it in their family since 1936, but it was my husband’s ancestors farm before that. This was a great day for my husband who was so thrilled to see his ancestral farmland. The stone shed his ancestors built was still there. I was glad to know that his family came from a lovely place!

Day 10; We left Skudeneshavn and drove back towards Bergen. Along the way we stopped in Avaldsnes to visit the Viking museum. We took the guided tour, which was very good and we learned so much about the Viking period in Norway.
We arrived at our airport hotel in Bergen, the Scandic Flesland, staying in the master suite. This is by far the nicest airport hotel I have ever stayed in. In fact, it was probably the nicest room we had in Norway. We loved the rooftop with it’s funky chairs, where my husband and I enjoyed a glass of wine. The only downside was the only option for dinner at the hotel was the buffet, which we didn’t want. We purchased some sandwiches at the hotel instead as we had already returned the rental car.
Day 11; Departed in the am from Bergen airport on KLM to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Final thoughts; We loved Norway and had a great time here. I had not done as much pre-preparation in regards to watching movies etc about Norway as I would have liked. We did watch The Last Place On Earth mini-series about the race to the South Pole, suggested by a RS forum member. There is nothing I would change about the trip, with the exception of maybe including an activity in Balestrand. We liked the pace of the trip which I would describe as medium. We are not busy, busy rush about people. We do like some downtime. We are early to bed and early to rise.

I am going to include the cost of this portion of the trip so that others might know what it costs for a family of four to go to Norway. We are not budget travelers in that we like nice places to stay and good food to eat with lots of ice cream (gotta keep the kids happy). We did try to keep food costs down by purchasing several lunches at COOP stores. We want an activity to do everyday.

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Total cost for family of 4 in Norway for 10 nights. $11,245.00 (US) NOT including airfare
The starting point for expenses was when we boarded the plane in Anchorage. This includes food and any alcohol, ice cream, all accomodations, rental car for 3 days, all transportation (train, ferries, boats) all activities and any souveniers. I kept receipts for everything we purchased and recorded the costs daily. However, I did not tally it all up until we returned home. Yikes! Glad I didn’t!

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1427 posts

Tammy, what a great trip report! I really enjoyed reliving the parts of your trip that overlapped with mine from two years ago, and even more, experiencing some new things.

I may have to go back just to do the bike ride from Myrdal to Flåm! That sounds amazing!

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5664 posts

No vaffel med fløte? Enjoyed the goat cheese report. Thanks.

Your feet on the ground cost (less air travel cost) would be a more useful cost reference to folks traveling from the southern 49 and other North American starting points.

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11275 posts

Thanks for posting these details - sounds like a great trip!

I too am puzzled by how strongly Rick recommends the Bryggen walking tour. It was just OK to me, but he talks about it being the absolute best thing about Bergen. I really enjoyed my time in town, but had more fun just walking around, taking the funicular, etc.

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681 posts

Nice trip report. Sounds like the family had great experiences and memories.

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87 posts

Enjoying your trip reports!! Sounds like an amazing time. Thank you for taking the time to post. We have boys of similar ages to your girls so I enjoy reading what others do for travel. We just returned from Iceland which I thought was stunningly expensive, but sounds like Norway is right there with it.

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2700 posts

Excellent trip report. Thanks for sharing. I particularly enjoyed the part about your husband's search for ancestral roots. I'm headed to Norway for the first time in 6 days -- a brief stop in Oslo before heading to the Ålesund area for a week.

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242 posts

Great trip report, thanks for sharing.

I am planning a trip to Norway next August with my daughter, so this was quite helpful.
Did you do the Norway in a Nutshell tour, or just arrange the transportation from Oslo to Bergen yourself? You mentioned that you wished you had arranged to do an activity in Balestrand. Was there something in particular there you wish you’d seen/done there? I am trying to decide how much time to allot for each place.

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@bxlover-we basically followed the Norway in a Nutshell route, but added nights in so it would not be so rushed.
As for Balestrand, we originally thought of doing some kayaking. There is not a lot to do there.