How to Plan a Trip to Norway
About a year ago my husband suggested we go to Norway for our “big” 2018 trip. Our favorite trips have been to destinations that are off-the-grid, adventurous and have beautiful scenery (South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland). Norway checked all of those requirements so within a few days our tickets were booked!
Initially, I thought it would be possible to see the “highlights” of Norway in 8 to 10 days. It didn’t take much research to realize that Norway is a big country and the travel distances between cities and sites is quite significant. I read somewhere that only 10% of the country is actually inhabitable. Driving from the southern edge of the country to the northern edge would take 38 hours! Needless to say, a week is not enough time to see the entire country.
To maximize your time and reduce the amount of time spent driving and flying, I recommend the following:
If you have 10 days or less, focus on the Western portion of the country. This is the area of the country with the most famous and dramatic fjords.
If you have 2 weeks or more, do the Western coast AND add the Northern portion of the country to your itinerary. Highlights from the North include: Lofoton Islands, Trosmo, Trondheim. I WILL be returning to Norway someday see the Lofoton Islands!
Our itinerary focused on the Western portion of the country. I’ll admit it was an aggressive schedule! I always say there is different between a trip and vacation. This was most definitely a trip! I will be doing posts for each day of the trip with all the details.
Day 1: Oslo
Day 2: Stavanger
Day 3: Stavanger/ Pulpit Rock
Day 4: Bergen
Day 5: Flam/ Naeroyfjord/ Sognefjord
Day 6: Fjaerland/ Boyabreen Glacier/ Norangsdalen/ Stranda
Day 7: Trollstigen/ Geiranger
Day 8: Alesund
Day 9: Oslo
How much does it cost?
We almost always fly using rewards points. We cashed in United points for both flights – the total was 60,000 points each RT. On the overall trip budget, this is a huge savings and most of the time cuts the cost of a trip by 50%.
Norway is expensive… one of the most countries I’ve visited. Some of the things that were particularly expensive were: vehicle rental ($1000 for 5 days), fuel ($150 to fill up), general transportation costs – i.e. lots of tolls/ferries, and food/drink. A glass of wine was $20!
We primarily used AirBnb for our accommodations and surprisingly this was a pretty standard cost for Europe. We averaged around $220 per night for a place large enough for 4 adults.
We thought the trip was worth every dollar! Norway is incredibly beautiful and we feel so lucky to have had the experience we did.
When to travel?
Our trip was the first week of July and the weather was perfect. Based on our locations the temperature varied from low 70s to high 50s. Many of the high mountain passes remain closed until mid-June. I would say late-June to mid-August are the best times to visit if you want great weather, open roads, opportunities for hiking, etc. Of course, if you’re going to see the Northern Lights, you need to go in the winter!
How to get around?
We used a combination of flying and driving to travel through Norway. We flew from Oslo to Stavanger. Once in Stavanger, we rented a car. For our stops from Stavanger to Alesund, we drove. Then, we flew from Alesund to Oslo. In my opinion, having a car is essential for making the most of your time and seeing the most beautiful spots. If you don’t rent a car, you are stuck relying on trains, buses, and/or cruises. Unfortunately, those forms of transportation only reach the most touristy spots (which were our least favorite of the trip). The best and most beautiful moments of the trip were the drives through very remote spots in Norway!
I spent hours and hours (and hours) planning every detail of our trip and I’m excited to share more details on each stop in the next few weeks! Stay tuned.