Driving Across Norway - Oslo to Bergen
Updated: Aug 22, 2019
When it came to going to Norway, it was pretty much a no-brainer. I saw a picture of the view from Tolltunga on Instagram, sent it to my friends, and we were all sold. In the course of one afternoon, I convinced them to go, we decided on dates, and we’d all booked our flights from three different cities.
Then came the planning aspect. Did we want to go North too or just straight across the country? Did we want to take the famous train? Did we want to leave the organization up to a company like Norway in a Nutshell or did we want to figure it out ourselves? How many days did we need in the actual cities? What hikes were the most important ones to do? There were so many different ways to go, but we quickly decided for sure on flying into Oslo and out of Bergen and went from there.
For flights from the states, it made the most sense to go into Oslo timing-wise. It allowed us to fly through the night from Seattle and JFK and get to Oslo relatively early in the morning (with layovers in Paris or Amsterdam). We also looked at the option of flying back to Oslo once we got to Bergen so that we could book a round trip, but it didn’t make a whole lot of sense. I was heading back to London to get to Tomorrowland and the other two girls were heading back to JFK. There were options out of Bergen to get them back for relatively the same price it would have cost them to get the round trip plus the one way from Bergen to Oslo, so they bought a multi-city trip.
Next came the most important decision we had to make – whether to rent a car and do it ourselves or to take the train that we’d heard SO much about. In the end, I modeled both options via a basic excel spreadsheet that you can see here. What it came down to, and it’s something I don’t think people realize, is that the train does not extend the distance between Oslo and Bergen. You end up having to transfer from trains to buses to boats and back again, always at the mercy of their schedule. This just didn’t work for us given everything we wanted to see and do and the short amount of time that we had.
The next step in the planning came in deciding exactly how to spend our limited time on the drive and where to actually stop. We changed our minds multiple times, trying to decide whether to do Trolltunga on the last day and start super early giving ourselves only a few hours in Bergen, or cut into our drive and start the hike a bit later in the day on the second-to-last day. We looked at going through Balestrund to do the Cider House or just driving straight to Voss after our glacier hike. We searched Instagram and other places to find things to see between Oslo and Flam. We considered which of the many waterfalls were actually worth going out of our way for. In the end, our plan only worked about half of the time. If you’re curious about the plan/drive times/stops we looked at making, see here.
Day 1: Oslo
We spent our first day in Norway in the capital city – Oslo. We were a little bit worried that it wouldn’t be enough time to see everything, but it absolutely was haha.
Hotel: Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo
Pros: Super clean, right at the train station which is super convenient coming in from the airport, walking distance to all tourist attractions, restaurant on a high floor with views
Cons: This is the place that large tour groups also stay so beware of bus-fulls of tourists. Another negative is that the “family” room is actually just a large twin bed room with a rollaway bed placed in it so you basically have limited space to move around. See the picture for a better idea of what you’re getting. And finally, like almost all of Oslo, there is no air conditioning in the rooms so on hot days, it’s very warm.
The train into the city is super easy from the airport, however it was expensive. It may have been cheaper to get a cab with three people.
Otherwise, it’s a walkable city. The only thing you can’t get to easily on foot is the sculpture park.
What we saw:
Viking Ship Museum – This is a pretty cool small museum across the harbor from downtown Oslo. You need to take the museum ferry to get there. You can pick that up at the water behind City Hall. It’ll say “museum ferry” on the sign. You can buy a round trip ticket from the building right there. The Viking Ship museum is the first stop on the way out and then you have about a ten minute walk to the museum. You probably won’t spend much more than 30-45 minutes there although they did have signs about expanding it so perhaps in the future it’ll be bigger. It’s definitely worth the stop though – very unique historical boats that you won’t see anywhere else.
Royal Palace (Det Kongelige Slott) – The Royal Palace here is very similar to Buckingham Palace in London – you can wander around the square outside and if you’re lucky you’ll see a changing of the guards. There’s also tours of the inside, but you need to book that in advance and we didn’t do that so we missed it. The gardens around it are also nice – clearly a spot where the locals hang out
Karl Johans Gate road – If you head out of the area of the palace back towards the opera house on the other side of the city, make sure you walk down this road. It’s a pedestrian street so it’s got plenty of places to stop and grab ice cream or a snack or a beer. You’ll also see City Hall right off of this road, and you can catch the harbor ferries to the museums from there.
City Hall (Radhuset) – Our concierge pointed this out as a place to see. We walked to it. They had a nice fountain and some flowers out front. Not sure if he meant we should go inside or what but we didn’t haha.
The Opera House (the rooftop at sunset) – This was probably my favorite thing in Oslo. We walked up to the Opera House after dinner one night around 10:30pm (the sun pretty much never sets in July) and there was a pretty large crowd. If you follow the ramp all the way around to the top, you’ll see why. Sunset from the roof is amazing.
Viegland Park (The Sculpture Garden) – This is a very unique spot – that’s for sure. It’s also another one that’s a big tourist attraction. The best advice I can give you is to see where the tour group is and start at the other end. Otherwise you’ll end up with pictures with a bunch of people in them. We went early in the morning and there was only one tour group there at the time so we went to the fountain when they were at the top fo the hill and swapped when they did. It gave us an opportunity to take photos relatively free of other people. If you’re driving up there, google the site and search for parking. There’s a parking lot nearby just past the bus parking. You’ll make a left at the next light and it’ll be on your left.
What we skipped:
The polar museum – there’s another museum on the ferry route. It’s focused on expeditions to the North and South poles. Unfortunately, the museums aren’t free and we were pretty walked out by the end of the day so we skipped it. There is a funky lighthouse right outside it that’s worth checking out.
The Fortress (Akershus Fortress) – No one recommended going to this so we saw it from the outside at the Harbor but never went up the hill to check it out up close.
Where we Ate:
KöD Oslo – This is actually an American-style steakhouse, but they have a Norwegian beef that was fantastic. The service was excellent and the food was even better. Even the drinks were great which is tough to do in a country where alcohol is so heavily regulated. It wasn’t cheap, but I’d highly recommend it.
Day 2: Flam and Laerdal
The first day on the road, after we left the Sculpture Garden, we headed from Oslo out to Flam for a Safari Boat Tour. Since we knew that we’d have to make it to Flam by 4PM when our tour started, we got a pretty early start. I think we ended up leaving the sculpture garden by 9:30/10AM.
Along the way, we made sure to stop at the Borgund Stave Church. It’s the classic Stave architecture and it was right off of the highway on our route. You are supposed to pay to go inside and they do have some younger guys standing at the entrance of the church watching people walk in. You can pay at the museum where the parking lot is and they’ll give you a bright pink sticker that’ll indicate that you paid. It’s pretty obvious if you don’t. We probably spent about a half hour here wandering around the buildings but no more than that.
One thing to note about the drive itself – there is a 26km tunnel on this route. If you are claustrophobic in any way, driving in Norway will be tough for you. I know my mom hates tunnels and she would not like this drive at all.
We made it to Flam around 3:45PM and the town was pretty darn crowded. There was no parking near the Fjord Safari tent, so we had to go back out and around to the overflow parking, which is just a short walk away.
Fjord Safari Tour
We booked this in advance through the Norway in a Nutshell website. We chose to do the fjord safari boat tour + cheese tasting, which was a bit more expensive than the basic fjord tour, but it was so worth it! The safari boat held about 12 people and went around 60km/hr. It was quite fast, and even on a super hot day, we needed the full body wetsuits that they gave us to keep warm. That said, it was an absolute blast. We were able to get right up close underneath the waterfalls, sail right along the old road now covered in moss, and hang out watching the goats for a few minutes. If you take the kayak tours, it’s way more work and you don’t get nearly as far. If you take one of the huge boat tours, you can’t get in close to anything. We also had a guide with us as our driver and even though he was Spanish, not Norwegian, he did a great job explaining the history of the fjords.
We also stopped for cheese tasting in the town called Undredal. The owner of the cheese shop has been doing it for his whole life and will give you a good presentation before the tasting on where the brown cheese comes from. Then you get to basically sit right on the water at a picnic table tasting local cheeses and meats! If you don’t do this on a boat tour, I’d highly recommend checking out this little village and the cheese shop another day if you can. They also have a full kitchen if you’re looking for somewhere fun to grab a meal – their pizzas smelled great! Norwegian brown cheese is definitely unique, but it’s worth trying.
After our boat tour, we wandered around the tiny town of Flam, which is essentially just the train down to the waterfall (which we didn’t have time to take), a couple of hotels, and the waterfront which has a few restaurants. There was a fancier restaurant but it was booked for the night so we wandered over to the brewery, and we were so glad that we did. We had to wait a bit downstairs for a table in the restaurant upstairs but the bar area is really cool and cozy and their beer was good.
The brewery restaurant upstairs had excellent food. For dinner two of us got the Gravlux, which is their local salmon and it was excellent. Our other friend got one of the burgers and it was gigantic but also very good. The service was a bit slow, but our waitress gave us so much advice about the area and hiking Trolltunga that we didn’t mind at all.
One thing to note – our plan since it stayed light pretty much all night was to head down to the waterfall after dinner in our car. After talking with our waitress, it became clear that you can’t actually get to this waterfall from the road – you have to take the train, and the last train comes back to Flam around 7:30/8PM. There is, however, another waterfall that you can hike to just outside of Flam. I think she said it was only about 30 minutes. We ended up being far too full to do it, but we saw it as we were driving out of town and it’s a pretty impressive one.
After dinner we headed up north to Laerdal. When I originally was looking around, my plan was to stay that night in Flam and then take the ferry up to Sogndal and the bus from there up to our glacier hike at Nigardsbreen. However, I realized that because Flam is one of the major stops on the train/bus/boat route, the hotels are extremely overpriced in the area. In addition, there weren’t that many Air BnBs available. Instead, I looked a bit farther north to a town called Laerdal. It actually worked out well because it saved us about an hour driving early the next morning, and our Air BnB was the newest and cleanest one I’ve ever stayed in for a great price. The host was also fantastic – she went to the local tourist office to get us maps to Nigardsbreen the next day and she answered all of my messages within 30 minutes of me sending them even late at night. I would highly recommend this Air BnB.
Laerdal itself is actually a cute spot. It’s right on the river part of the Fjord, so it’s a quieter spot but they do have a few restaurants, a grocery store, and two bars inside the hotels that do seem to get pretty rowdy on weekends. There was a band playing outside one of them pretty late and the crowd seemed to be loving it.
Day 3: Nigardsbreen and Voss
One of the main things that we made sure to get on our schedule was glacier hiking. While Chrissy had done it before in Iceland and enjoyed it, it was something new and exciting for Ariel and myself and seemed like an opportunity too good to pass up, especially for the price. So, on our third day we drove up to Nigardsbreen glacier and spent 4 hours hiking. After that, our original plan was to drive through Balestrund and check out the Cider House there. It’s a gorgeous restaurant overlooking the Fjord and you get to go cider tasting and they also serve a full dinner. It does look like you need reservations, so keep that in mind. Unfortunately, they aren’t open on Sundays and that’s when we were in the area, so we didn’t get to go. Instead, we decided to move around our schedule and head straight down from Nigardsbreen back through Flam and over to Voss, making a couple of stops along the way.
The one thing I’d point out here is that almost nothing is open on Sundays. We didn’t realize that was going to be the case and it impacted our ability to get food, especially later in the day.
Nigardsbreen Glacier Hiking
I also booked this adventure through Norway in a Nutshell and this was the event that broke down our plan to take the train. It’s not easy to get to by bus/train/boat and you’ll end up stuck in Songdal for about 7 hours afterwards.
That said, doing it having our own means of transportation was actually super easy. It was a bit of a drive from Laerdal and we had to take the ferry, but it was straightforward and our host got us the times of the ferries so we arrived right as it was pulling into the dock. In addition, the ferry was only about 5 minutes out of town, contrary to what google maps estimated. The ferry itself took only about 10-15 minutes maximum and one of the things that we realized was that Google Maps kind of incorporates your ferry time into its ETA. On most occasions, it actually estimated extra time, so that saved us a few times.
The one note I’d have is that we had a very difficult time finding an open café on our way, and ended up having to get snacks and coffee at a gas station. There’s nothing open on Sundays in Songdal or on the route up to the glacier. This wouldn’t be the case any other day of the week.
Once we arrived at the glacier, we made a quick stop at the visitor center to use the restrooms before heading down to the parking lot meeting point. The restroom at the parking lot is pretty “adventurous” so I’d definitely recommend using the nice ones at the visitor center if you have the extra couple of minutes.
The road from the visitor center down to the parking lot does require a toll and you can pay it with a credit card. I think it was something like $5 USD.
A few days before our tour, we got an email from the actual tour company - Jostedalen Breførarlag – indicating where we should be at what time. We chose to do the “short” blue ice hike as opposed to the long one because it recommended previous experience for the longer one. In the end, this was a good call – four hours was enough.
The hike starts on a short boat right from the parking lot to the dock next to the glacier. This boat ride is also available for non-tour groups. It does cost money and you can choose to hike over there instead if you want to. From the dock, the tour takes you up to the glacier, which is about a 1 hour hike. Once you get to the glacier, they teach you how to put on your crampons and how to use your ice pick and then you go up onto the glacier. The group splits into two for larger tour groups (so you’ll have about 10-12 people on your rope line) and you get a guide per line. Our guide was fantastic – he’s hiked many of the world’s tallest peaks, including Everest multiple times. We never felt unsafe with him.
The one piece of advice that I’d give you is try to get right behind the guide. You’ll learn a lot more because you can hear him, and you’ll be able to take more pictures. Generally, you have to ask the guide to stop to take a picture because you’re all tied together, but when you’re at the front, you pause a lot to wait for everyone to catch up.
Another piece of advice – bring some snacks with you. If you don’t have anything, you can grab some Pringles and other snacks at the Visitor Center. The paprika Pringles are the best.
When they say wear warm-weather gear, they mean it. I wore full length winter leggings and hiking boots with wool socks, a tank top, a Nike all-weather top, and I was a bit chilly. Some people wore thin ski pants and winter coats. I think if you have a wind-breaker jacket, that’s your best bet, even on a hot day. Do not wear jeans – you won’t’ be warm enough.
Lastly, be aware that there could be a lot of wind. The day we went, there were a few times I felt like if I didn’t have crampons I would have blown right off the mountain.
Do not go on this if you’re not in good shape. It’s not easy, and there were some people who struggled a lot.
Driving from Nigardsbreen to Voss
The drive back south probably could havae taken a few routes. Like I mentioned, we originally planned on going through Balestrund, which would have taken longer but it would have been new scenery. Given the cider house being closed and we didn’t want to pay for a second ferry in one drive, we decided to go back the route we came, but make a couple of stops along the way.
The first stop was the Steagstein Overlook. This is off of the National Tourist Road, which used to be the path prior to the completion of the 26km tunnel. We originally were going to take the National Tourist Road its entire length because otherwise Google Maps had us going through the tunnel almost all the way to Flam and then backtracking up to the overlook, but if you take the tourist road, it’ll add about 40 minutes to your drive. The overlook is super cool and you get an incredible view of the Sognefjord, but I’m warning you if you don’t like heights, you won’t like this. I stood there long enough to get a decent picture and then I bailed :). We probably spent 10-15 minutes here. I’m sure it’s an unreal view at sunset if you want to go that late in the day.
After the overlook, we drove for another 3ish hours until we got almost all the way to Voss, where we pulled off the main highway for a 5 minute stop at a waterfall called Tvindefossen. It’s actually a pretty good size waterfall right off of a campground right off the road. You can easily just park and walk up to it – it’s maybe a 2 minute walk.
Voss itself is actually a lot larger than I expected it to be. It’s definitely a winter and summer sports town. They have something similar to a Red Bull event every summer and it’s right on a lake at the foot of the mountains. There are plenty of restaurants, but again this was Sunday and we didn’t get there until about 10:15PM, so everything was basically closed except a pizza place. Even the gas station had closed their hot food section.
If we had gotten to town a bit earlier, we probably would have checked out the gondola that goes from right in the heart of downtown up to the top of the mountain.
Hotel – we stayed at the Fleischer’s Motel which is essentially a motel across the street from the historic Fleischer’s Hotel. They do have multiple restaurants and a bar that you can use. Unfortunately, they close at 10PM. The motel was fine. The triple room was two singles and a pull out couch that was actually a huge pain to open. There’s a cute little patio off the room, but there are a bunch of mosquitos. The other thing I didn’t appreciate is that in their advertisements, they make it seem like every room has a view of the lake, but that’s not the case. There are two rows/buildings, and the one closest to the road just looks out at the front door to the lakefront building. All in all, it was fine because we got there at 10PM and left the next morning at 6AM, but I wouldn’t stay there again.
Day 4: Trolltunga and the Hardangerfjord Lodge
After about an hour and a half drive from Voss, we came up to the Trolltunga parking lots. Prior to leaving, we hadn’t done a whole lot of research on getting to the hike. We just knew that it was 17 miles and 3000ft of elevation gain and took about 8-10 hours total.
When we were in Flam, however, reality sunk in when we talked to our waitress. We found out that there are three options for parking. P3 is the highest point, and being able to park there saves you hiking the hardest 3 miles of the trip. However, starting two weeks before we got there, P3 was by reservation only and there are only 30 spots. It is possible to reserve them online. Just google it.
Unfortunately, because we went in the height of tourist season, those spots were already taken although there were a few openings the next day so I’m not sure how far out you’d need to book them. Instead, we left at 6/6:15AM and hoped that getting there between 7:30 and 8 would be good enough for P2. It was not.
P2 filled up probably 15 minutes before we arrived because we were some of the first to park at P1. The issue is that P1 is about 14km from the start of the hike. This means that you have to take a bus up to P2 and then either pay for another bus to P3 or hike 3 miles of steep switchbacks that’ll take about 45 minutes. The trade-off is that each bus one way is 100 Krona per person ($12 per person). They do take credit card, so that was helpful, but that on top of paying for the parking itself got expensive.
We decided to actually do the hike up the 3 miles ourselves, because we were told it would be about an hour wait for a bus and we wanted to save the money. It was brutal – I would not recommend it unless you’re in great shape and you hike a lot. It was by far the worst part of the hike.
Once you get on the hike itself, it’s not nearly as bad. For a short bit, you’ll hike over flat ground through what is a grassy area in the summer, but I’d assume can get pretty wet and muddy in the fall/winter/spring. Then you’ll hit the rock steps – they’re not the easiest steps but you can stop as many times as you want. From there you’ll go up a flat, not that steep, rock to the top where you’ll be treated to spectacular views looking backwards. Then you’ll go around the small lake and head out into the up and down part of the hike. It did take us about 4/4.5 hours to get out to Trolltunga. Along the way there are plenty of places to fill up a water bottle with fresh spring water, so even though I went through two big bottles, I was able to replenish.
Once you get out to the tongue, be ready to wait a while in line to take a picture. There’s also the logistics of getting a picture. You can maybe ask someone in line near you to take yours and then you run up and take theirs. You can send one friend down at a time. You can just have someone take the picture from the base of the tongue, but that’s not nearly as good. We probably waited 30-40 minutes in the line to get the photo and then we started the trek back. By the time we left the tongue around 2:30, the line was significantly shorter.
Another option if you’re staying nearby is to start the hike later in the afternoon (parking at noon at P3 was available) and hike through the afternoon into the night. Because the sun doesn’t go down in the summer until 11ish, this is totally fine and it’ll be light through your entire hike.
One word of warning, it can be foggy and windy up there, so check the weather. It is worth moving your travel plans around to get a clear day. There’s also a facebook page for Tolltunga that talks about the weather for the day at the summit.
The hike back took us 3/3.5 hours and we did end up paying to take the bus back down to P2 and eventually back to P1.
This hike is not for the faint of heart, although plenty of people who we didn’t think could do it made it eventually – just took plenty of stops. Make sure that you bring snacks (we brought full cans of Pringles and sandwiches) as well as water. It’s a beautiful hike and it is something I’ll never forget. I’d probably even do it again if I ever find myself in the area.
When we originally booked this trip, we had an Air BnB in Odda for the night following the hike. About a month before we left, I came across an Instagram story that showed off a newly renovated lodge about 35 minutes from the base of Trolltunga that was on the way back to Bergen. It’s a gorgeous house built I think back in 1816 that a young couple decided to renovate. It’s called the Hardanger Fjord Lodge and as its name states, it’s right on the Fjord. The house itself has multiple rooms, all furnished in the Scandinavian style. While they were pretty minimalist and our room had slanted ceilings because we were in what was essentially the attic, the rooms were very clean and the beds were comfy.
The house itself has a bathroom separate from the actual rooms, so be prepared to share. There are two toilet stalls and one shower. We didn’t see any issues using these amenities while we were there. They also do a family dinner if you choose to pay for it at 7:30PM every night cooked right there in the kitchen. We emailed them in advance to mention that two of us didn’t love fish, and that night they did a local version of a curry. It was excellent. That night, Ariel and I hung out in the little nook off the front of the house chatting and drinking a bottle of wine that they sold us. The following morning, they had a great spread for breakfast that was included in the cost of the room.
I can’t recommend this place enough – especially for a younger group of friends. It’s unique and fun and it almost felt like being someone’s guest in their home. The hosts were welcoming and their staff is great. They'll even provide you with a Trolltunga lunch if you let them know that you're going the day after staying there!
Day 5: Bergen
On our last day in Norway, we headed back to Bergen after a great breakfast at the lodge. On our way out of town, we actually ended up going past a huge waterfall that was literally almost on top of the road. In fact, there was even a construction crew there trying to figure out how to handle it. The route led us up and around the fjord with stunning views. We took another ferry across the Fjord and ended up south of Bergen.
I think when you leave the Odda area, there are two routes that you can take to get to Bergen. They both have a ferry included and they seemed to be about the same amount of time, so we took the more southern route.
The drive up to Bergen was pretty uneventful. Because the girls had really early flights the next morning, our hotel was down by the airport which is a pretty good distance outside of town. So, we decided to drive straight into the city and park for the day. There’s a huge parking lot very near to the touristy area of the city just off of the Fish Market.
What we did in Bergen:
The Fish Market – if you put this into google maps, it’ll take you to a wharehouse looking building on the water, but that’s not the actual market. The market is around the corner – you’ll see a bunch of red canopies over multiple stands. It reminded me a lot of Pike Place in Seattle if it were completely outside. You can just wander through or you can choose to eat at one of the places selling food off the main thoroughfare. You can probably walk through the entire market in 5 minutes. We decided to stop a few times to try their local delicacy, whale. While there is a stigma worldwide around whale fishing, it seems to be a normal thing there in Norway. I’m not sure if it’s the type of whale they fish or the area of the world in which they do this, but I will say no one seemed overly concerned about it.
Bryggen Historical Waterfront – The waterfront is cute – it looks exactly like you’d think an old Scandinavian port town would look. It’s a bit like Nyhaven in Copenhagen with less diverse colors. Most of the houses have souvenir shops or small restaurants in them. You can sit outside and grab a beer if you have some time. It’s a great spot to hang out on a nice day watching the boats come and go.
The Fort – The fort itself is just an outdoor space that you can wander around. There are a few historic buildings that you can probably go into, but we didn’t. It’s probably a ten minute walk past the old town, and it’s worth the walk.
Mount Floyen and the Funicular – A funicular is essentially a train that goes straight up a mountain. It’s not a gondola so you’re not high above the trees or anything. I’d recommend buying tickets for the day that you’ll be there online. The day we went, there were about 3 cruise ships in harbor, so the lines were super long. We just walked away, bought tickets online, and came back to that line which was about half the length of the normal line.
It’s not cheap, but this is probably the coolest thing that you can do in Bergen. You’ll essentially take the funicular to the top of Mount Floyen where you’ll find sweeping views of the entire city. You can also wander around the area and grab food in the café (super expensive but good) and go check out the goats. They basically just wander around near the art installation and their hut. You can literally just walk right up and pet them. Be careful though – sometimes they’re not in the mood to deal with people or each other. We saw two of them duke it out.
We probably spent about 1.5 hours up here and then took the Funicular back down.
Where we ate:
We ended up grabbing dinner on the 3rd floor of the big building right by the fish market. The food was fine – nothing special. They do have a rooftop that they didn’t mention to us – I wish we had gotten to eat up there. The desserts were pretty good though :).
What we skipped
The Leprosy Museum – this was one of the top attractions for Bergen on Trip Advisor but we weren’t super interested
Hotel: Quality Hotel Edvard Grieg
Pros: close to the airport (cab for me was actually $25USD even though it was only about 10 minutes), the rooms were large, they had free parking, and the hotel had free breakfast
Cons: there is a tram that goes to the airport but it’s too far to walk with luggage and the cab fare was expensive
One other note about BGO – it’s a small airport so if you have a rental car, some of the offices aren’t open during the early morning flights. For example, Hertz wasn’t open but they have a location where you can drop the car off during closed hours.
Overall Thoughts on Norway
I think we had a perfect 5 days in Norway. I honestly don’t think it could have gone any better given our short timeframe. Do I wish we had more time? Absolutely. Would I go back to Norway and do the northern part of the country? Yes please!
One of the things that people kept telling us was that Norway was very expensive. While that may have been the case especially with food and restaurants, I thought that the hotels and the gas and the rental car were actually pretty on par with a larger American city like Seattle or New York. Norway also isn’t any more expensive than any other Scandinavian country. Obviously if you live somewhere that you’re not used to paying $30 per person for dinner, you may be in for a bit of a shock, but know that this is pretty standard for Scandinavia especially.
We thought that we’d need cash during the week, especially for the ferries, so we took some money out of the ATM in Oslo, but it wasn’t necessary. Everywhere took cards – visa and mastercard mostly.
One thing to note about the summertime – Norwegians themselves go on vacation for all of July so you’ll find places like Oslo or Bergen to be all tourists. One of the restaurants we went to was almost completely empty on a Friday night but it was just because there were no locals in town. You’ll see them though – instead of leaving Norway, they rent campers and go out and enjoy the beauty that is their homeland. Campgrounds were absolutely packed everywhere we went.
Speaking of locals, the Norwegian people are lovely. They all speak perfect English and don’t get upset when you ask them to speak it. They’re polite and welcoming. They love their country and they’re super proud of it.
Lastly, I’m 100% glad that we chose to drive ourselves rather than take all of the trains. It gave us so much more freedom and I know for sure that we saw more than we would have otherwise.
I can’t wait to get back there as soon as possible to do the Lofoten Islands and the Geirangerfjord! As they say, never stop exploring!