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Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

NYC
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Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

Hello — I'm traveling to Norway in late August/early Sept. We fly into Bergen and out of Oslo (a decision I'm now regretting, but alas, the tickets are non-refundable). We'd like to rent a car in Bergen and drive to Hardangerfjord one day, then spend the next four or five days exploring the western fjords (as far north as Kristiansund, or possibly Trondheim). This leg of the journey is our priority.

Here's the issue: We also wanted to (1) see the Lofoten Islands, and (2) take the scenic train ride between Bergen and Oslo. Trouble is, there doesn't seem to be an easy way to do both, knowing we have to start in Bergen and end in Oslo. Best I can surmise: We could drive north from Bergen to Trondheim, then take an express Hurtigruten cruise back to Bergen, then take the scenic rail from Bergen to Oslo, then from Oslo fly to the Lofoten Islands and back. But that's gonna get awfully expensive!

What do you think? What should we nix from our itinerary, or how can we rework it to make it make more sense? We're pretty independent and not looking to do group cruises or anything of that nature. Your advice is oh so appreciated!

Oslo, Norway
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1. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

There is too much zig-zagging in your itinerary, you need to simplify. Here are some itinerary suggestions:

Option 1: Do a short circuit of fjords from Bergen with return to Bergen. Take train to Oslo, fly to Lofoten and back to Oslo.

Option 2: Drive as planned to Trondheim, then travel to Lofoten with Hurtigruten (takes 1 1/2 day) or fly. Fly back to Oslo. You will miss the train ride Bergen-Oslo, but the most scenic part of this journey can be done as a day trip from Bergen (Norway in a Nutshell).

Harstad, Norway
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2. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

If you are serious about going all the way to Lofoten, I think you should divide the time between north and south. Here is another itinerary suggestion:

Rent a car in Bergen and tour the fjords. Return the car in Bergen to avoid drop-off charges. It is not really necessary to visit every corner of the fjord areas to enjoy the fjord scenery to the full.

Take a flight from Bergen to Harstad/Evenes Narvik airport, rent a car and go to Lofoten. Flights will be via Oslo, but so be it. Return the car to same airport and fly to Oslo.

NYC
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3. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

Thank you kindly for your replies! It's definitely helpful. Couple of follow-up questions, if you have a moment:

—Iverh, you mention skipping the Bergen-Oslo rail trip. I was hesitant to give this up because it seems to rank in every Top 10 Railroads list ever, but if we can see the best parts by car, it does appear redundant. When you say the "most scenic part," are you referring to the Flam Railway and Naeroyfjord, or something else? Could that really be done in a day trip from Bergen, or would you stay the night in Flam or Geilo?

Also, in option 1, you mention a "short circuit" of the fjords... getting up to the Atlantic Road would not be possible then, right? I'll have to weigh the cost difference between renting a car in Bergen and dropping off in Trondheim (so, a one-way surcharge) and renting a car in Bergen, driving super-far north, then dropping it off in Bergen (lower rental fee, more gas $$).

—Klimaflyktning, I totally understand your point about not needing to see every corner of the fjords to get the fjord experience. I'm traveling with my sixtysomething mother, and this trip is a gift. She's crazy about nature and scenic landscapes but can't hike (bad back/knees); hence why we're not even bothering with Pulpit Rock and things of that nature. Given that, which fjords would you say are absolutely unmissable? I'm very familiar with the Norway in a Nutshell driving route, as well as the country routes, but is there one you think is especially underrated?

Thanks again, everyone — I'm so appreciative of your advice.

Oslo, Norway
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4. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

Yes, I was referring to the Flåm railway and the leg Bergen-Myrdal, but the Flåm railway is definitely the most spectacular. On a driving trip you can easily include the ferry Gudvangen-Flåm and a RT on the Flåm railway.

Bergen to Kristiansund is 10-12h drive, IMO too much for a 4-day round trip. And the Atlantic road is overrated, not worth such a long drive. A circuit of Sognefjord and Hardangerfjord, the two fjords closest to Bergen, is more than enough for 4 days.

Oslo
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5. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

The most scenic part of the train ride is around Flåm, the eastern part is nice too but can safely be skipped

Flåm railway is an engineering achievement

http://jernbane.net/uploade/0DSCF0022.jpg

…staticflickr.com/3787/9127773089_fb1a541398…

vossnow.net/Database/…5Cfoto50495.jpg

vossnow.net/Database/…5Cfoto12584.jpg

vossnow.net/Database/…5Cfoto58541.jpg

vossnow.net/Database/…5Cfoto69367.jpg

If you can't do serious hikes, make sure not to rush but take time to drive to panorama points and perhaps along smaller roads into valleys. For instance to Vassbygdi (road 50) in Aurland

…panoramio.com/photos/large/77373782.jpg

Stegastein and Aurland mt road

…imageshack.us/img593/4003/stegastein5.jpg

…wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b3/Norway…

Fortundalen or Mørkridsdalen

…staticflickr.com/2470/3772142778_f2e58b4344…

Eksingedalen is also one of those hidde valleys

…wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/47/…

Sogndal-Fjærland road offers nice panorama

…panoramio.com/photos/large/43578575.jpg

NYC
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6. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

Thanks again everyone for your thoughts, links, etc. After considering everything above (not to mention costs—yikes!), I think it makes the most sense to nix the Oslo-Bergen rail and just focus on the fjord drives (we'll be renting a car), then getting up to Lofoten (where we'll also rent a car), then having a little time in Oslo (which seems to be easily navigable via public transportation).

Here is the revised itinerary:

Aug 23: Arrive Bergen // stay night in Bergen

Aug 24: Explore Bergen // stay night in Bergen

Aug 25: Explore Hardangerfjord, Mabodalen Valley, Voringfossen, etc. // stay night in Bergen or maybe Lofthus or Ulvik

Aug. 26: Explore Sogndal area // stay night in Flam or surrounds

Aug. 27: Explore Geiranger area and Trollstigen // stay night in Geirangerfjord or Alesund

Aug. 28: Explore Molde, Atlantic Road, and Kristiansund // stay night in Trondheim

Aug. 29: Fly Trondheim to Lofoten Islands // stay night in Lofoten

Aug. 30: Explore Lofoten // stay night in Lofoten

Aug. 31: Fly Lofoten to Oslo // stay night in Oslo

Sept. 1: Explore Oslo // stay night in Oslo

Sept. 2: Fly back to US

Sound like a good plan??

Harstad, Norway
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7. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

I still think it is a crazy idea to go all the way to Lofoten just for one night. The scenery is 10 times better in Lofoten than in Trondheim and Kristiansund. Around Trondheim scenery is bordering on boring compared to the fjords.

For the Atlantic Road feeling, you can just go to the Øygarden islands west of Bergen. Feedback on the Atlantic road often go like this: Of all the scenic roads the Atlantic Road was the least impressing.

Stavanger, Norway
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8. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

It is crazy trying to explore the 3 iconic fjords and then Lofoten with such a limited time. This would not be an enjoyable time for me as it is way to rushed, but it is your vacation and perhaps this is you and your mothers travel style? I would concentrate on 1 or max 2 fjord areas and then allocate reasonable time in Lofoten, at least 3-4 days.

Edited: 28 March 2014, 06:44
Sandefjord, Norway
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9. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

With this kind of itinirary you will keep regretting that you had such a little time at each place .....

Don`t try to see every fjord - chose either Geirangerfjord or Nærøyfjord. My personal favourites of nice scenery with mountanis-glaciers-lakes are in the Nordfjord region which is close to Geirangerfjord. www.nordfjord.no . At Geiranger it is the fjord which is what you want to see, and that can very well be done from the car ferry fjord1.no/eng/…geiranger-hellesylt2

If you really wants to go to Lofoten, I second the idea of flying. Check out wideroe.no. You might fly to Harstad/Evenes.

NYC
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10. Re: Question About a 12-Day Norway Itinerary - Are we crazy?

Thanks, everyone. I appreciate the honest feedback.

Just FYI, I built Trondheim into the itinerary not because I wanted to see it, per se, but because its airport offers direct, affordable flights to EVE. And re: the Atlantic Road, several commenters on here have said it's not worth going out of our way for, which I get. My only thinking: If we had to start the trip in Bergen and fly out of Trondheim, the Geiranger via Trollstigen to the Atlantic Road/Kristiansunde/Molde national tourist route didn't seem like a bad way to go: fjords.com/geiranger-trollstigen-atlanticroa…

I understand now that two nights in Lofoten is too short, and that we're trying to do too much too quickly. Back to the drawing board!