Plan: Norway 10 day itinerary: a fjord-optimized road trip
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When we were looking for a summer trip, we knew this was a special one. This was the last trip my wife and I we're doing as a couple without children. This not only inspired us to go to a place that we've never been, but also constrained the places we considered. We wanted to go to a place we felt comfortable to travel during pregnancy. We refuse to believe that once you are pregnant or have children, beach resorts are your only option.
So, beach resorts were out, they always are. This time was no different. For this trip, we were not feeling like a winter trip, so southern hemisphere was out. Given the pregnancy, we also had a preference for the developed world. So that left us with Europe, Canada and Japan as our top choices. Japan is a longer trip that we want to do, it didn't make sense to try to fit Japan in a week. Canada seemed like an easier trip for another time. This left places we hadn't visited in Europe. We narrowed it down to Norway and Iceland. We didn't want to do a city only trip, but also didn't want to go to crazy on the adventure side.
When we started doing our research, Norway got our attention. The fjords, the scenery, the fact that you could drive around. This seemed like our destination for the summer.
Norway is a big country, so you have to make your choices to not spread yourself to thin. We made a couple of choices. We were not going to spend much time in Oslo, we've heard great things but we've rather spend time in the fjords. The second, is how far south or north you go. We wanted to drive ourselves and not rely on public transport or have domestic flights. This limits how much of the country you can cover. The south, is where locals hang out. It has a couple of cool places like the coast line around Kristiansand. We discarded it because it's hard if you are self driving around the rest of the country. To the far north, like the Lofoten Islands, you'd need to fly get there. We wanted to avoid any inner-trip flights, so that was out.
We ended up with the route: Stavanger - Bergen - Flåm - Balestrand - Hjelle - Kristiansund - Alesund - Oslo.
Norway 10 day itinerary
This itinerary allowed us to maximize the time out in the fjords. It was efficient with the traveling in and out of the country and it was manageable driving distance.
We will fly in to Stavanger, do all the driving to Alesund, then fly Alesund - Oslo. Then Oslo - home.
Day 1 - Arrive at Stavanger
One of the big advantages of Scandinavian countries is how long the summer days are. We're arriving at 6pm which should put us at the hotel 8:30pm-9:00pm. This gives us 2-3 hours of daylight still to walk around town and get dinner. Stavanger, although being the third largest city in Norway, is not very big.
As soon as we arrive we pick up the car and drive to downtown Stavanger.
Mostly, we were looking for a well located comfortable hotel. We decided to go with the Clarion Hotel
. It seems like all hotels include Breakfast, which is a really nice thing.
Day 2 - Explore Stavanger & Fjord Cruise
In the morning we'll do a bit more exploring around Stanvanger. In the afternoon, we'll head to our first Fjord cruise.
Lysefjord Cruise & Pulpit Rock
The cruise + hike combo is perhaps the most popular activity in Stavanger. It seems like a great intro cruise. I always worry about these famous hikes being too crowded. The hype attracts all the people to the same place. This is not just my impression, when you read around you do see mentions about how heavily traffic'd it is.
The Pultpit Rock hike is five miles (8.9 km) round trip. A good hiker should do it in 4-5 hours. Although we wanted to do the cruise and the hike, we decided to skip the hike. So we are taking the cruise at 2PM and going back to Stavanger.
That night, we'll probably grab dinner, hang out downtown, and explore Stavanger a bit more.
Day 3 - Drive Stavanger to Bergen
On day 3, we hit the road and officially start our road trip. According to Google Maps it's a 4h 45min drive. Given the mountain roads, frequent stops, and the general pace of the trip, we expect it to take much longer.
We have the entire day booked for the drive. We plan to take it easy, take the longer route to hit some of the cool scenic spots along the way.
Once we get to Bergen, we plan to stay at the Bergen Harbor Hotel
. Pretty centric and modern. In these medium-sized cities where you are not staying very long, location is very important.
Day 4 - Explore Bergen, drive to Flåm and afternoon Nærøyfjord Cruise
After a day of driving we're taking a break that morning. We plan to explore Bergen, walk around, and enjoy the town.
In the afternoon, we're heading to Nærøyfjord cruise. This is a 2:30 hour drive from Bergen. The Nærøyfjord is close to Flåm, a central place for Fiord cruises. The cruise is at 4pm so we have some time to get there.
The cruise is a one way to Gudvangen where you have to take a bus back to Flam. Both the cruise and the bus need to be booked in advanced.
That night we're staying at the Fretheim Hotel
which seems to be one of the only options in Flåm. Look at options with plenty of time because there is not a lot.
Day 5 - Drive from Flåm to Balestrand and Fjærlandsfjord cruise
This is a more chill day. We have a 2.5 hr drive to Balestrand where we have the Fjærlandsfjord cruise. This is somewhat of a unique one. It is not one of the mainstream cruises. But we thought we'd venture out to see something different.
The Fjærlandsfjord cruise takes off from Balestrand all the way to Fjærlands, a small town at the end of the fjord. Here we'll have to get off, hang out for 2 hrs and then take the cruise on the way back. Unclear how this is going to play out since these towns are very small, we'll see.
This is a great opportunity to stay at a hotel overlooking the Fjords. You'll notice there are few options. The Dragsvik Hotel
was the best option we found.
Day 6 - Drive from Balestrand to Hjelle
After Balestrand, we wanted to get deeper into the Norwegian Fjord region. On day 6, we'll drive from Balestrando to Hjelle, about a 3:45 hour drive plus any stop we make. Hjelle is a somewhat hidden small town that we're super curious to explore.
Hjelle looks like a small town away from any main road. It is probably the hotel and a couple other houses. It sits by a lake between huge mountains. Hotel Hjelle
is our stay for the night.
Day 7 - Drive from Hjelle to Geirangerfjord, fjord cruise and drive to Kristiansund
Leaving Hjelle, we have one of our longest driving days ahead. We need to be at Geiranger by 1:15pm. We plan to leave right after breakfast and take the scenic route that will take longer. About 2 hours plus stops.
Geiranger, like Flåm, is one of the most popular fjord sightseeing towns. Here we take the Geirangerfjord Cruise and come back to Geiranger. We'll grab lunch either before or after the cruise and get going towards Kristiansund.
We'll probably be tired, but we'll explore Kristiansund and grab dinner in town.
We'll arrive to Kristiansund that night and stay at the Thon Hotel
right on the water.
Day 8 - Drive from Kristiansund to Alesund
This is a day to explore a different part of the country and different scenery. Both, Kristiansund and Alesund are coastal cities. This is a good drive 3.5 hour drive along Norway's Atlantic coast.
The afternoon and night we plan to hang out in Alesund, explore the town and grab some dinner.
The hotel for the night will be the 1904 Hotel
Day 9 - Fly Alesund to Oslo and Explore Oslo
We have a 7am flight from Alesund arriving to Oslo at 8am. It should be enough to have a full day in Oslo. After dropping our bags we plan to explore Oslo, walk around, and get a good lunch and dinner.
Oslo is also not very big, but we opted for a hotel downtown that seemed like a good base for our walking day. We also wanted a nice and comfortable hotel for our last night. The Christiania Teater Hotel
was our choice.
Day 10 - Fly back home
Wake up, have breakfast and head to the Airport!
After the trip I will post the recap with how it went. I'll include all the detail of exactly what worked and didn't as well as more detail on all the places we visited. We'll keep you posted when the recap is out. You can follow us on Twitter
See you when we're back!