If you have been paying any attention to flight deals, you have probably seen flights to Norway are about $400 from LAX RT. So obviously, you should plan a trip to Norway.
Don’t let the fact that Scandinavian countries are among the most expensive countries to visit deter you! My tips below will demonstrate how to experience Norway on a shoe-string budget. Below is also an itinerary for Norway, including Bergen and Oslo, and my two favorite Airbnbs. This itinerary will take to through fjords in Norway
Tips For Exploring Norway Without Spending All Of Your Money:
- Come prepared to camp: you can camp anywhere that is not private land.
- Airbnbs with private or shared rooms are a treat! This was the only way we got to meet locals.
- Couchsurfing is another option.
- Bring your own pillow case, sheets, and duvet covers, or sleeping bag to avoid additional costs at most campsites/airbnb you stay at.
- Buy groceries before you arrive in the country (if possible with your transportation) and eat out only as a treat (1 week of groceries cost the same as 2 meals).
- The cheapest grocery stores in Norway are Rema 1000, Rimi, and Kiwi.
- Buy store brand and slice your own bread (in-store using the free slicing machine).
- Buy beer and alcohol before you leave Duty-Free in the airport. You will see Norwegians stocking up; follow their lead.
- Don’t sign up for any tours. They’re just not necessary! The popular “Norway in a Nutshell” looks great, but we basically saw everything they offer during our trip. we just drove and used ferries to get a stunning ride through the fjords.
Tips for Traveling In Norway
- Buy a sim card. While my service never wavered, even on the most remote roads, my wifi was often spotty.
- The road tolls we encountered cost an average of 80 NOK ($9.50) but this could have been location related.
- The average ferry cost 103 NOK ($12.50) but this could have been location related.
- $560 will buy unlimited flights around Norway using Widerøe Airlines.
- According these three articles online, Norway is thinking about limiting tourist access to popular destinations. So perhaps you should book sooner, rather than later.
- The Official Visit Norway website is an excellent resource for all of your Norway travel questions. A lot of my links lead you to this site! But still read this post 😉
Because every place you find online looks so breathtaking, the hardest part about planning was deciding where we could visit and figuring out a route . So I did the hard work for you! Read on for the itinerary Dave and I followed during the summer of 2016 for a 10 day tour of the southern half of Norway.
A note on this itinerary:
This itinerary is great if you have a car and someone who likes to drive (go Dave!), if you love hikes, enjoy ferry rides, and don’t mind spending just a day or two in each area. Keep in mind that in summer in Norway, you get about 18 hours of sunlight.
Day 1: Stavanger to Jørpeland; hike Prekistolen
Day 2: Jørpeland to Odda
Day 3: Hike Trolltunga
Day 4: Odda to Bergen
Day 5: Explore Bergen
Day 6: Bergen to Slinde with a stop in Flåm
Day 7: Slinde to Øvre Årdal with a drive on the Sognefjellete through Jotunheimen
Day 8: Hike in Øvre Årdal and drive to Ryfoss
Day 9: Drive to Oslo
Day 10: Fly Home
Day One: Stavanger to Jørpeland; hike Prekistolen
Our day: We drove to Jørpeland to our Airbnb, before heading up to hike Preikestolen from 730 PM to 10 PM. We liked staying in Jørpeland because we didn’t have to backtrack to Stavanger, it was cheaper than staying at the base of Preikestolen, and it was along our route to our next stop (Odda). Check out my blog post for more information on Preikestolen.
What to see: Stavanger has a few places to visit around town including the waterfront, old Stavanger, and some sweet nearby towns like Sogndalstrang (think traditional wooden houses and summertime concerts).
Advice: There is public transportation to and from Preikestolen (and continuing on to Odda), but you’ll likely be hiking during the most crowded times. If you hike later in the day, like we did, you won’t have to worry about crowds blocking your photos. Jørpeland is 20 minutes to the trail head of Preikestolen.
Day Two: Jørpeland to Odda
Our Day: We took our time during our drive and allowed time to stop and take photos where ever the mood struck us. Once in Odda, we checked in with our Airbnb and went for a two hour walk to Bondhus Glacier.
What to see: While you drive you’ll see Suldalsvatnet (the 6th deepest lake in Norway), Røldal Stave Church (a solid stop, nice to walk around; good for history buffs), Låtefossen (just pull over and be amazed!). The power of Låtefossen is pretty neat. We drank water from a waterfall this day too, which is a neat experience for me, since we have to filter all water here. If you have time, enjoy this hike to the peak of Stråpanuten. We drove part of a Tourist Route to get to Oda, and saw lots of cool waterfalls.
Advice: If you can’t see the Bondhus Glacier from the road, you won’t be able to see it at the end of the hike. The clouds separated once for us to see the glacier, but we didn’t get to see it in its full glory until two days later.
Day Three: Hike Trolltunga
Our Day: We got up at 330 AM and were on the trail at 445 AM (we forgot our pb&j sandwiches and had to go back to grab them! DOH!) Our early rise ensured a 15 minute wait to take pictures at the end and a relatively empty trail to the end. We saw roughly 1,500 people on the return journey (I’M SO SERIOUS GUYS, it was INSANE!!!). It was a beautiful, clear day, and probably the most crowded day for the hike of the year (a ranger said). Helicopters swarmed overhead and kept a watchful eye on the hikers. We died, came back to life, and spent the rest of the day relaxing around town (literally: lunch here, snack there, beer over there).
What to see: Enjoy your hike to Trolltunga. Take the rest of your day to explore Odda. It’s a super cute town.
Advice: This hike is not a joke. It is a rough 22 km RT and is NOT for inexperienced hikers. Read my post on all of my tips for Trolltunga for more information.
And for the love of all that is holy, DO NOT PLAY YOUR STUPID MUSIC WITHOUT USING HEADPHONES. It’s so rude!
Day Four: Odda to Bergen
Our Day: Again, we stopped along our drive to check places out. Some panned out, some did not. We made it to Bergen and wandered through town, with no destination in mind.
What to see: Sundal is the town around Bondhaus Glacier, there’s not much too it, but you can drive to see Furebergfossen up close and personal (we did not). We stopped to enjoy Steinsdalsfossen and Brattefoss (a WWII memorial site with a cool plaque and canon). This is the same Tourist Route from day two. Steinsdalsfossen is an awesome waterfall you can walk behind.
Advice: Stop and smell the flowers! Fun fact: this itinerary often takes you along various Tourist Routes, which offer some of the best scenery.
Day Five: Explore Bergen
Our Day: We walked, kayaked, and biked to explore as much of Bergen as we could. It was an active day, so of course we rewarded ourselves with beer! My favorite beer was a Pale Ale from Voss Brewery.
What to see: Check out the Rosenkrantz Tower (with parts dating back to 1250), Bryggen, Bergen Cathedral, and play around Mount Fløyen. You can walk up Fløyen, but we recommend taking the Fløibanen funicular (you did just hike to Trolltuna after all). On top of Floyen, you can rent a kayak or walk 40 minutes to stoltzekleiven. For drinks, several areas are pretty fun, but we really enjoyed the area of Møhlenpris for their craft beer selection.
Advice: Street parking is different in Bergen. You have to pay for a spot no matter where you are in the city, so check with your host for the closest pay machine before setting off for the day. We followed this post as a suggestion for places to eat and drink.
Day Six: Bergen to Slinde with a stop in Flåm
Our Day: We took a long, round-about road trip driving a total of 4.5 hours from Bergen to Slinde. We stopped in Flåm for a snack. Part of the reason for this long day was I wanted to check out Voss Brewery and I wanted to see this viewpoint along a tourist route.
What to see: Voss Brewery, or Voss Bryggeri, overlooks an AMAZING valley, and the drive to the brewery stunning. This brewery is located in the small town of Kyte. More information on this brewery, including history and brewery style, can be found on this blog. Flåm is a very touristy stop, filled with busses and ferries from Bergen. Regardless, Flåm is beautiful and a great place to stop for a stretch and an ice cream cone. We then drove 24.5 km through the world’s longest tunnel (Dave was thrilled). Dave and I continued along a tourist route to a mountain peak in Stegastein so I could see my viewpoint. Lots of tour busses from Flåm make the journey, but we got lucky enjoyed the view without a lot of people around. I also convinced Dave to double back a few miles so we could drive up to Stalheim Hotel, which produces breathtaking views (Dave said it was worth it). The road to the hotel was incredible. According to the Visit Flam website, “Stalheimskleiva is one of the steepest roads in Northern-Europe and was built in the period between 1842 and 1846. On the journey you can enjoy a fantastic view over two amazing waterfalls, the 126 meter high Stalheimsfossen and the 142 meter high Sivlefossen.” We definitely did enjoy the falls. We ended our night at an Airbnb in Slinde right on the fjord.
Advice: Voss Brewery is closed on various days. I can’t find their hours, so contact them on Facebook to get more information. One-hundred percent would recommend staying on the waterfront in a fjord. Watching the sunset and sunrise at our Airbnb in Slinde was one of my favorite memories in Norway. Sometimes those little moments can make the biggest impact.
Day Seven: Slinde to Øvre Årdal with a drive on the Sognefjellete through Jotunheimen
Our Day: More driving today (thanks Dave!), but this time on top of the highest mountain road in Northern Europe at 1,434 metres. The day concluded after a drive to the sleepy village Øvre Årdal, where we planned on staying the night and hiking the next day.
What to see: This was my favorite Tourist Route because of landmarks like the “Rollercoaster Road” and some spectacular pieces of art. The photos we took here do more justice than my words every could. Ooooo, ahhh….
Advice: I loved being in the Jotunheimen Mountains and only we wished we had mapped out time for a hike here. We didn’t plan out our route very well, but it all worked out perfectly and we drove through Jotunheimen National Park more than I thought we would. We did not pay an entrance fee. Stop at bakeries you see for Skillingsbollas (cinnamon rolls with more sugar) and load up on gas before making this car trip (helloooo, you’re driving UP a mountain).
Day Eight: Hike in Øvre Årdal and drive to Ryfoss
Our Day: We hiked 3 hours RT to the base of Vettifossen, a hike we struggled with a bit! After our hike, we set up our hammock and relaxed. After a moment of relaxation, we drove to Ryfoss and stayed in our Airbnb. This place is in the middle of nowhere, but we loved our little room.
What to see: Vettifossen, a waterfall in the Jotunheimen National Park is worth the walk. While Øvre Årdal wasn’t anything special as a village, the scenery around is stunning. After being on the top of the mountains towering around you the day before, being at their base is a great juxtoposition.
Advice: I loved our Airbnb in Ryfoss! This accommodation was a splurge, but I adored everything about this place. There is an antique shop on the property, which was fun to poke around in.
Day Nine: Drive to Oslo
Our Day: Dave and I explored Oslo, and drank our way around the town.
What to see: We didn’t do anything too original here. Check out the Viking Ship Museum. Wander around the Vigeland Park (the details on the sculptures are insane). Enjoy the botanical gardens. Munch at Mathallen Food Hall. Ogle at the Opera House and “Barcode” buildings.
Advice: If you’re a sucker for craft beer, check out Crow Brewery. If you’re a glutton, enjoy a hot dog after your beer. Dave and I definitely did! Yum! Oslo is a metropolitan area, and to me, if you’ve seen one city, you’ve seen them all. We decided not to spend too much time in Oslo, in favor of spending more time in nature. However, this post has some cool ideas for Oslo, like really cool.
Day Ten: Fly home
The tenth day we left Norway, but used our morning and afternoon to wander around Oslo some more. If you want, you can always spend some extra time in your favorite place. I would recommend more time staying near a fjord or a full day on the tourist road in the Jotunheimen Mountains. Having an afternoon as a “cushion day” is always a great idea incase you fall in love with an area and want to spend more time exploring.
2,100 words later, and I’m done. Our route was intense, but allowed Dave and I to see various parts of Norway. We toured museums, wandered through national parks, felt the spray of (tons of) waterfalls, drank fresh water from streams, conquered mountain peaks, rested in the solitude of the country, and more. Dave and I took our time during our trip and throughly enjoyed our time. Personally, I did not feel rushed. This itinerary won’t work for everyone, but hopefully you can find parts that speak to you.
Otherwise, I just wasted 8 hours of my life writing this dang thing.
Anything stand out to you? Let me know in the comments below!
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