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Last Updated: February 2018
There are not enough adjectives in the dictionary to describe the unimaginable beauty that is Norway. Perhaps, it’s the fjord scenery. Perhaps, it’s the abundance of water that cascades and flows across the country’s untouched landscapes. Or perhaps, it’s the colorful timber houses. Whatever it is, Norway will take your breath away.
Mid-May to early October. Norway’s high season is in the summer from late June to early August. We visited during the shoulder season (early October). Scenically, it was unforgettable to see the changing colors. If you plan a trip in early October, know that many accommodations shut down early for winter (especially around Geiranger). Some ferries don’t operate as well. All in all, it was wonderful to experience Norway in low season.
Official Name: Kingdom of Norway
Government: Parliamentary representative democratic constitutional monarchy
Regions: Norway is divided into five regions: Northern Norway, Trøndelag, Western Norway, Southern Norway and Eastern Norway.
Population: 5.3 million
Language: Norwegian, Sami
Currency: Norwegian Krone (NOK)
Tipping Etiquette: Not expected. It’s common to round up the bill.
Water Quality: Excellent
Something Interesting: You can only purchase alcoholic beverages from Vinmonopolet stores, which are government-owned alcoholic beverage retailers.
Å få blod på tannen
To get blood on your tooth (to be inspired)
Norway in a Nutshell is an organized transit package from Oslo to Bergen. It’s a great way to experience Norway’s scenic beauty, especially when you have limited time. The package includes three train rides, one bus ride, and one fjord cruise. We traveled from Oslo to Bergen in one day, though it is possible to stretch the package over the course of two days.
Here are the transit steps:
Hurtigruten is a ferry and cruise line that operates up and down the Norwegian coast. The company was originally established in 1893 to improve communication along the country’s lengthy coastline. More recently, Hurtigruten has expanded to appeal to the tourist market. So, it’s entirely possible to embark on a multi-day cruise with Hurtigruten with a “traditional” cruise style package. However, it’s also possible to board a Hurtigruten vessel for a day, or an overnight trip, anywhere between Bergen and Kirkenes. You can customize your own voyage along the coast, either northbound or southbound, at anytime in the year.
We took an overnight cruise (ferry) from Alesund to Trondheim. As an overnight passenger, it’s your choice whether you’d like to book a cabin or not. We opted for a cabin, because our trip was short and we wanted to sleep through the night. A lot of Norwegians use the Hurtigruten ferries to commute to work, so there will be locals embarking and disembarking the ship all throughout the day and night.
Note: Hurtigruten isn’t a “traditional” cruise line. Because it caters to both locals and tourists, it’s quite mellow. There’s no gambling, discos or karaoke.
If you’re interesting in booking a port to port voyage like we did:
This spellbinding drive convinced us that Norway is the most beautiful country on earth. During the course of 2-3 days, you’ll wrap around fjords, drive along rivers and waterfalls, steer through and over mountains, and pinch yourself to confirm that you haven’t ascended to heaven.
We recommend following this route and spending at least one night in Geiranger. During the course of the drive, you’ll take at least two car ferries to cross the fjords.
Day 1: Bergen to Geiranger
Day 2: Geiranger to Alesund
The Vigeland Sculpture Park is a visual feast. Each statue is unique in its expression, communicating all facets of human relationships. Vigeland does not shy away from the ugly and depraved. He is drawn to it. Scenes of couples embracing are sitting adjacent to those in physical combat. From a distance, the tower of bodies that reaches to the sky seems like a shrine to a deity, however upon closer study, the mangled figures twisting and smashing each other with their weight is more like an ode to the human-societal condition.
His body of work evokes the full spectrum of life and emotion. Whether we are shocked, enchanted, or amused, we can undoubtedly agree that these statues are full of life.
Here’s our skeleton Norway itinerary. To avoid redundancy, read our experiences (in the above section) to fill in the blanks.
Day 1: Arrive in Oslo
Day 2: Explore Oslo
Day 3: Norway in a Nutshell: Oslo to Bergen (Train, Ferry, Bus Transit Package)
Day 4: Explore Bergen
Day 5: Rent a Car in Bergen (book in advance). Drive from Bergen to Geiranger. We stayed at Hotel Union.
Day 6: Drive from Geiranger to Alesund via Trollstigen
Day 7: Drop off Rental Car. Explore Alesund. Embark on an overnight Hurtigruten ferry to Trondheim (evening).
Day 8: Arrive in Trondheim (morning). We stayed at Nidaros Pilegrimsgård.
Day 9: Explore Trondheim
Day 10: Depart Norway. Fly from Trondheim to Oslo, or other destination.
Note: In Oslo, Bergen and Alesund, we stayed in AirBnBs. If you don’t have an AirBnB account, use this link to get a discount on your first booking.
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