The northern lights, pretty fishing villages and picturesque fjords – quintessentially Norwegian! Join me on a little adventure north of the Arctic Circle in today’s travel magazine, all without having to wrap up in 10 different layers! ;)
I’m sure you will have seen how incredibly beautiful Norway is. The images that show fjords stretching as far as the eye can see, with impressive mountain massifs and forests where you can still find moose, bears and wolverines. A trip to a glacier, a rafting tour down a mountain river or a pleasant stroll through the apple orchards in the south – you can do all of this in Norway without a problem. A tour of Norway would be pretty perfect, right?
The only problem: if you want to discover all the beauty this country, you’ll need to give it a lot of time – which can be hard, I know! Today, I want to show you how to get the most out of your holiday to Norway. That’s why I have tested out two popular forms of transport: After arriving into Oslo, I initially took the train to Bergen. After a short layover I began my tour of Norway with a rental car from Expedia, along the fjords, waterfalls and gorges, and then back to Oslo.
The Bergen Railway – get to the south of Norway in no time at all
You want to see all the stunning landscapes of Norway but don’t have much time? Well, the Bergen Railway solves this problem. If you are traveling without an early bird ticket, an economy class ticket will cost around €34. This will get you a 6.5 hour train journey – which isn’t bad for that price! If you want a little more comfort during this journey, you will have to pay extra but that will guarantee you more leg room and complementary tea and coffee to make the long journey as comfortable as possible. There is free WiFi for you to share your snaps of the gorgeous scenery and a games carriage for the children to be entertained. In the next carriage you will find a restaurant which is much like the style of an American diner with red seats.
The Bergen Railway journey goes from Oslo up to Europe’s highest plateau, the Hardangervidda. Finse railway station is located at an altitude of 1222 metres, even in July there’s still lots of snow here. On the way up to the plateau the train meanders through the beautiful countryside, going along the fjords, passing the beautiful and colourful wooden houses and going through the forests and meadows. Something that particularly stands out in my memory is the ski resort, Geilo. The wooden cabins, ski pistes and lakes make this place a real highlight. In winter it’s all going on here. After a long ascent to the snowy train station, the Bergen Railway then slowly makes its way back down the plateau. Several hours of fascinating scenery later and the train finally arrives in Bergen. The Bergen railway journey is the perfect way to start your tour of Norway. This way, you get a great first impression of how diverse and striking the landscape is.
Travelling around Norway by car
Once you have done the most important sight seeing in Bergen, it’s time to start exploring the wonderful nature. You could pick up a hire car from Bergen Airport which is no problem at all. You can book a car with Expedia which makes long journeys lasting 2-3 hours easier.
You could do it a number of ways, either slowly make your way south from Bergen, or you could cram in a few other places along the way. For examples, I made a planned detour and headed to Eidfjord to see Vøringfossen which is one of the biggest waterfalls in Norway; I then made my way to Odda. Really close to the town is Trolltunga, probably the most famous cliff ledge in the world. After that, my journey took me in the direction of Preikestolen which is another must-see cliff. After that it is quite nice to just let the journey take you wherever and you can custom-make your journey. After six days and 1300 kilometres my journey came to an end and I flew back home.
Tips for travelling around Norway by car
I have to say, driving in Norway is pretty relaxing! Everyone sticks to the speed limit and no-one uses their horn. Speeding is expensive – even if you go 6-8 km/h above the speed limit you have to pay €80 so you don’t have to worry about the typical ‘driving-rage’ abroad. If you’re caught going more than 36 km/h over the speed limit then you’ll have to pay as much as €1040 – so i’d stick to the limit if I were you ;). Another cost to bare in mind is that there are tolls to pay on many of the routes. A bonus to this, is the roads are great to drive on – they are in great condition and are constantly being repaired. However, filling up in Norway is a bit more expensive compared to the Ireland. A litre of diesel costs around €1.60 .
The windy roads which run close to the fjords and mountains can be a little tight with oncoming traffic – especially with all the camper vans in this area. Often you may need to go over a huge bridge to get over the water, but in other cases there are ferries which take motorists and pedestrians across. This does mean another small fee, but it is totally worth it for those views!
Just like a road trip in the USA, with a long drive in Norway, the journey is the reward. You will want to stop every few minutes to stop and take in the extraordinary landscape – so make sure your camera is charged! An example of this, is when you are driving from Odda to Jørpeland, you will stumble across Låtefossen, which is a divided waterfall which you can discover just by driving past it. Whilst you’re there, you can stop and park at the small car park and pop into the little cabin to buy some souvenirs. The water here plummets down so loudly and with such great force that you can’t hear a single word. Impressive!
The best way to be as spontaneous as you want, and let time be no restriction is to book your accommodation the first two nights in advance. This way you can decide further on into the journey where you want to spend the most time. Spontaneously booking an Airbnb or a hotel in Norway isn’t a problem. Even with half a days notice it is still possible to rent a small cabin by the sea.
The spectacular Trolltunga
The best thing I can recommend for you when you start you holiday, is this day trip: A stunning hike to Trolltunga, an amazing cliff ledge near to Odda. The ascent takes between 4 to 5 hours – those who don’t get going early in the morning will be pressed for time. Even in June you can expect to come across snow near the top, plenty of water and supplies are essential as well as good hiking gear. The hike takes you through moors, over rocks and along the water – the red T painted on rocks and trees show hikers the way. When you arrive at the top, you will get the most surreal, breathtaking views.. Trolltunga is one of the most extraordinary cliff ledges in the world and, similar to Preikestolen, a popular place to take a photo.
The ascent up to Preikestolen
In Norway, the nature is so unbelievably impressive that it can make you feel like the tiniest thing in the world. That’s exactly what you think when you’re stood on one of the worlds most impressive cliff ledges and looking down atLysefjord. Far below, about 600 metres below, boats sail slowly over the dark blue water and all around hikers are either standing or sitting on the cliff ledge and taking in the view of the surroundings, taking adventurous photos and letting their feet dangle into the abyss – it’s incredible.
Norway’s nature left me totally speechless
When en route to Preikestolen, the cliff ledge, is somewhat difficult and the weather could be testing. When I went there were the odd rain showers, it was foggy, the ascent was steep and there was snow here and there. On the way up, the route takes you along moors, over man-made stone stairways and alongside small lakes. When we got to the top the sun broke through the clouds and lit up the cliff ledge and the fjord.
Dreamlike scenery around the Hardangerfjord
My round trip lead me along the Hardangerfjord to Ullensvang. Here you’ll find one of the many Airbnbs which you can rent right by the fjord. From the living room, I had a perfect view of the Hardangerfjord’s blue water. On the top you can still see snow from the previous winter, melted water gushes down waterfalls. Below in the valley, you’ll find the apple tress in full blossom.
Sunbathe on the south coast
The further south you go, the less snow you see on the mountains. The forests become thicker and birches greener. A small cottage on the beach is just lovely. Here time ticks by more slowly and many Norwegians use their free time to take a small trip out onto the water with their boat. Whilst you could probably count the number of boats in the fjords on one hand, there’s actually a lot going on here. In splendid sunshine and in 23 degree heat, you can lie on the beach here and simply enjoy life. After my last two days in the sun, I made my way back to Oslo. Norway’s nature left me speechless, and you’ll be able to see why after a week-long round trip.
The combination of travelling by train and rental car is perfect. By train you get a really good first impression of the landscape and can relax as you gaze out the window. Obviously you can only get off at the train stations and then you only have a few minutes to look around before the train carries on with its journey. Once you’re on your own in the car and on the road, then the journey can properly begin. By renting a car you have complete independence. Norway has a surprise around every corner for you just waiting to be appreciated. So what are you waiting for? Get saving, planning, packing and have the adventure of a life time!
You completely itching now to go? I’ve got a few more useful tips for you:
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