Norway had always felt like a far fetched destination on the map. But this time, when I took some time off between the jobs, I felt it was a perfect time to go to Norway. But when I started exploring I realized this country looks much smaller on the map because of the latitude, but it is actually a very big country and travelling around the country isn't as easy. Hence we settled down for a shorter quicker tour of the country. Here is a brief itinerary:
When to go:
Where to fly:Oslo is the biggest airport. So you will find plenty of flights getting in to Norway. Even though it might be the biggest airport in this country, it isn't as big as other airports you might have seen. So, we chose to fly in to Oslo, however there are some airlines, like Norwegian and SAS which fly in and out of many other airports in the country connecting other Scandinavian countries. So you could totally fly in and out of different airports if that is how you want to plan your travel.
Drive or fly for intra-country travel:Norway is a huge country, don't fall in to the trap of their deceptive size on the map. Plus driving around isn't that simple. We realized that it may be better to just fly between cities of interest and drive locally if needed, instead of driving between the cities. And this turned out to be a huge time saver for us. Unless you are planning a road trip in Norway, there is no reason for you to be driving within cities.
|Ready for Norway in a nutshell|
Arrive in OsloWe were flying in from Copenhagen, or as you would see on airport terminals, Kobhaven. Yes, it can be confusing, so be prepared to look for Scandinavian names instead of the English names of the cities. We had booked a hotel closer to the Norway central station as we had to board our train for our Norway in a nutshell tour from this station early morning at 6 am the next day. Oslo is in general a safe city and it was perfectly convenient to take an uber or a train from the airport to the hotel.
Norway in a Nutshell
|Cruise ships docked in Flam|
Oslo to Myrdal by train: First leg of our journey was a train ride from Oslo to Myrdal. After the first couple of hours of mundane train journey, the views became better and better as we gained altitude. Last hour or so were very pretty and keep your cameras ready if you have been lucky enough to be assigned window seats. We were!
Flam: Once you are in Flam, you get an hour or so to unwind, get lunch and enjoy the fjord. There are a few short hikes nearby that you could indulge in. We did a short hike nearby in the time we had after we grabbed lunch. Its a beautiful tiny little valley town. Here is the official site for Flam tourism.
Ferry ride/cruise from Flam to Gudvangen: The cruise takes you through Aurlandsfjord and Naeroyfjord to Gudvangen. The fjord cruises are all very serene and peaceful You see some waterfalls along the way and the calm waters of the fjord. There won't be much for you distinguish between various fjord cruises except for the surrounding mountains.
|Gudvangen to Voss|
Voss to Bergen train ride: The final leg of our journey. Was mostly through plains which were fields and farms and of course green. I dozed off through most of this journey as we had had a long day. But were glad to have discovered Norway in a nutshell.
Once in Bergen, we walked to our hotel Radisson Blu, which wasn't too far from the station and luckily found an Indian restaurant on our way back to dine at, Arti Indik. At our hotel, our luggage was waiting for us and it was time for a nice shower and a good night's sleep.
To Note: Mind you, it isn't a guided tour, just a bunch of tickets that were purchased for you and its simple to follow the route. You could do the same by booking the tickets yourself at the times you find convenient.
Day in Bergen
|Bergen from the top|
There was also an old church we visited, right behind our hotel and there are other plenty of things to see and do in Bergen, which we conveniently skipped for an easy day. You will find more details and an itinerary for spending a day in Bergen here.
|Colorful houses in Stavanger|
Next morning, we were up bright and early and decided to explore the town on foot before our cruise at 12 noon. So, we walked the old town, took pictures near the old church, wooden houses, the tower and the pier after grabbing breakfast. It is a really small town and the old town area is easily walkable and explorable on foot.
Lysefjord cruise and Pulpit rock hike
The cruise through the fjord is like any another cruise, infact I would say the Sognefjord and Geiranger cruises were better. This one was just to get to the base of the hike.
|Ready to hike|
Once back the base, like I mentioned earlier, we took the bus back to the ferry terminal which took us back to the city centre. Then we got some good dinner at Delhi restaurant, some really good Indian food in Norway I must say, or may be we were too hungry! Now was the time for an easy stroll back home and crashing for the night.
Drive High Atlantic Road to GeirangerWe had our flight booked from Stavanger to KSU(Kristinasund) on SAS airlines in the morning. But, our flight was cancelled and we were put on another flight to KSU via Oslo. This totally disrupted our plans for the day as we got in 2-3 hours later than expected. So we decided to see how things panned out and make a call accordingly. Luckily, the days are so long in summer.
We rented a car at the airport and drive straight to the High Atlantic Road. There are some spots which give you a very view of the road and once you are underwater, I was so freaked out, but apparently this is totally common in Europe. I just felt that the tunnel is going to collapse by water weight at some point. But nothing happened, of course. There are a few spots, where you can stop and take pictures and enjoy the sea.
|High Atlantic Road|
|Eagle Road to Geiranger|
|View of Geirangerfjord from our hotel|
Drive to Molde via Andalsnes and Trollstingen:
From here we drive to Andalsnes, which is another popular tourist town and had lunch at Bakgarden Thai, good Thai food. And then had coffee at Sodahlhuset. A very tiny coffee shop with excellent coffee. That's the things about such family run coffee shops, they have unique settings and give excellent coffee, such a refreshing change from your regular Starbucks.
We then drive to Molde, again via an underwater tunnel, less nerve wrecking this time. We reached early evening and had some time to walk around the city. Explore some fountains
, streets, a very old church and then grab dinner at a local restaurant, Egon. Next morning, was our flight to Oslo from Molde airport, this would be our final stop, before our vacation ends.
|Our walking map|
We walked from Central station to Oslo Cathedral. From here we walked through the Karl Johans street all the way to the National Theater. From here we walked to the Nobel Peace Center. Then hung out by the pier and the street with lots of cafeterias and restaurants for some time Then walked to the Akershus fortress and spent sometime walking around this area before finally walking to the Opera building. We didn't really go inside most of the museums, except for the Nobel Peace prize one. From here, we took a bus to the Viking ship museum. I was really curious to explore that for some reason. Was pretty cool to see the typical viking ships. You see them in movies and pictures, but I was happy to see them for real. And then we were back to our hotel to call it a day on our very interesting and a picturesque Norway vacation.
|Viking Ship museum|
What else to do:
|Who knows, a kiss might turn a troll into a prince!|
- Fjord Cruise: A lot of people explore Norway Fjords on a cruise. Definitely a great option to combine cruise experience with fjord tourism. I never though about it because it needs a minimum of 10 days or so and I was also interested in other activities.
- Hikes: Norway boasts of hiking as its national sport. So, yes, there are quite a few hikes in this country which a world famous. Mostly Pulpit rock (the one we did), Trolltunga and the Kjerag Boulder. Google for them to see the fascinating pictures. This is best site to explore your options and decide which ones work for you.
- Tromso: Northernmost town. Well, the sun wouldn't set here in summer and this is a popular town to see the northern lights. But we decided to totally skip it because we realized unless we were planning to go see northern lights, there wasn't much to see up north
- Svalbard Islands: Polar bear viewing. There are cruises to the island from other cities. You can see polar bears roaming freely on ice covered lands on these islands. So much so that polar bear spotting is guaranteed. But it would have taken a few more days and we weren't that eager to explore these and we had to leave something to bring us back to Norway.