A Norway Fjords & Mountains Driving Adventure!

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8 Days Travelling Round the Norway Fjords – 8 day Itinerary 

Norway was a recent addition to the bucket list and we are glad we did it! Writing this makes us want to go back and do it again!

It is beautiful from relaxing with a beer in the city by the Oslo Fjord, to hiking mountains and on glaciers, to being on what is dubbed ‘the worlds most beautiful train journey’. Every step of the way has breath taking landscape and fjords which filled our view every day driving through the country.

For most trips when we want to move around different places we spend time researching, planning and booking each part of the trip, however on this occasion we did not have time and wanted a different experience. We wanted to drive through Norway and have the itinerary planned and hotels booked, so all we had to do was enjoy the scenery and experiences along the way without worrying about where to find a hotel or that we were not booked on a trip and it was full.

We found a company who were excellent and arranged all of this for us.  We simply booked flights and car rental, received our itinerary (informing them of any attractions we wished to visit so they could book this for us and send us the tickets in advance).

TIP – we had a map, instructions and sat nav. The best way to ensure a no-stress driving adventure!

Airport arrival / transfer

We flew into Olso’s main airport (OSL), walked through departures and picked up the rental car, which was a lovely Audi A3 and drove to our hotel.

 Oslo

oslo

The city is next to the Oslo Fjord, which luckily for us was a short walk from our hotel. Day or night this is a lovely place to wonder round.  The buildings look like old converted warehouses with lots of character and house shops, restaurants and bars. We stopped at a restaurant by the water and enjoyed the freshly caught fish, local beer and lovely views across the water.

After the meal we stopped by one of the ice cream huts which had an extensive array of flavours. It was hard to choose and eventually once we did it was delicious!

 

Hotel – Olso

Thon Hotel Vika Atrium.

Excellent location. Short walk to Oslo Fjord where this is lots of entertainment.

Beitostolen

Driving from Oslo to Beitostolen takes approx 3.5 hours and takes you from the city into the mountains.  On the way we stopped at Hedalen Stave Church.

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Besseggen Ridge

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Once in Beitostolen we could not wait to hike Besseggen Ridge! The unspoilt nature and scenery kept us captivated for the entire walk and the ferry back!

The hike takes 6-8 hours so plan an early start.  From our hotel it was a 35 minute drive to Gjendesheim where you park your car (pay fee when you park).

There are different ways to start the hike, one is to get the ferry from Gjendesheim to Memurubu then you have a steep ascent by foot for 1 hour then the path flattens out (with a steep part later).  Or you can start on foot from the car park and finish with the ferry crossing from Memurubu to Gjendesheim or if your really want to you can walk all the way!

Tips:

  • Get a updated ferry schedule from your hotel and be there in plenty of time. They only run at set times for a set period.  This is really important if you plan to walk there and get the ferry back, do not miss the last ferry!!
  • There are different hikes you can do depending on your fitness levels and the time you have so look into this before you go and try to get a map/guide.
  • As with any hike ensure your backpack is stocked with plenty of food and water and a first aid kit. Wear comfy clothes, walking shoes with walking socks to avoid blisters.  If it is sunny take sunscreen and a hat, also waterproofs in case the weather changes.
  • Don’t forget your camera! There is amazing scenery so you’ll get some great shots!

 

Hotel – Beitostolen

Radisson Blu Resort Beitostolen

A Lovely hotel in the mountains with a large fireplace and beautifully carved wooded furniture.  There is free parking.

Beitostolen to Flam

Approx driving time 3 hours.

From Beitostolen on our way to the Flan Railway we drove through Laerdal tunnel, this is the longest tunnel we have ever been in!

Flam Railway

We were quite excited to experience this train journey (dubbed as one of the best in the world) and we had not looked at too many spoilers as we wanted to be surprised.  As soon as you stepped into the coaches you were taken back in time, they are very charming with a nostalgic wooden interior.

Passing through tunnels as the train climbed higher we enjoyed the majestic scenery of mountains, fjords and waterfalls.

The train stopped part way by a waterfall and we got out onto the platform to hear music playing and the waterfall sirens dancing (Huldra, part of Norwegian folklore), it was an mesmerising show!

The journey continues to Myrdal (approx 900 meters above sea level) the mountain station and back down to Flam.

Tips:

  • The ticket also gives you access to the museum.
  • We had tickets and got there early to queue to get a seat (seating not reserved).
  • We started at Flam at 13:35, arrival at Myrdal 14:31/departure 14:43 and arrival back in Flam for 15:40.

After the railway journey we wondered around the small town we stopped for food and found an interesting bar, it had a theme of an old Viking building carved from wood inside, with a log fire and beer tasting.

Flam to Sogndal

Approx drive time 1 hour

From Flam we drove back through the Laerdals tunnel (not only the longest tunnel we have drove through but it was light up with fluorescent lighting aka party tunnel and had a roundabout inside!).  We headed to Fodnes for a short ferry crossing to Mannheller.

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Tip – get a schedule for ferry times. You pay on the spot (cannot be pre-booked).

Hotel – Sogndal

Hofslund Fjord Hotel (countryside location)

A large traditional hotel on the Fjord.

Nigards Glacier – Blue Ice Hike

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This glacier hike was incredible!

We waited in the car park and were given our gear; ice pick, gloves, and crampons (scary spikes that attached to your shoes and gripped to the ice).

While we did this a Norwegian TV production team approached us and asked if we would help them and be part of their filming on the glacier to bring awareness to global warming.  I (Catherine) was a little reluctant however it is for a good cause! They promptly hooked me up with a microphone and I was good to go.  We walked to a boat which took us across the beautiful aqua coloured river and we started filming, answering questions around why we visited the glacier and our views on global warming.

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We then walked across large rocks to the base of the glacier.  From the car park the glacier had looked small and far away, now with it looming over us it was it was breathtakingly enormous! We started filming again and following some questions I expressed my amazement that I didn’t expect it to be so large and high with deep savage groves flowing through it.  It was an awe inspiring display of nature and I wondered how on earth I was going to climb up and walk on it! I also mentioned the sad facts (some from the guide) that 5 years ago it was half way down the mouth of the river, very far from where it is now.  Every month it recedes by 1-2 meters, which is shocking! How are we all helping with global warming? We recycle. We do what we can or what we think is best while we live in our cities and hear about it from the news channels.  Yet here with this enormous glacier looming over us the sad fact is the guides and locals watch it melt, bit by bit, month my month and try to raise awareness of what is happening to our planet.

We put our gear and the guide linked us by rope, one by one so if you slip you don’t go far. I took a deep breath and headed up onto the ice following the guide.  Using the crampons to dig into the ice and the ice pick to steady us over gaps.

Then camera man had shorts and trainers on, obviously not prepare for the days antics! He was cold! I would definitely recommend long pants, long sleeves and comfortable walking shoes with a strong sole.

We stopped with the film crew to gather how I felt once I was on the glacier which consisted of Ecstatic! Amazing! Wow! (Haha) and onward we went up higher and higher.

The hike is challenging.  At some points I felt scared when going over gaps but I powered through and got on with it.  Once we reached the top it was brilliant!

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Because it is a glacier the landscape changes so each walk is never the same. The guides will mark out routes to walk up and once you reach the top there are no set paths, the guides can choose were to go. We got to sit down and rest and have a snack (make sure you bring food and drink, you’ll need it!).

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Tips:

  • The hike takes 3hrs, however the excursion takes 4.5hrs in total.
  • You need to be in good physical condition.
  • Take a backpack
  • Buy snacks and drinks to take with you. You will stop part way for a break and you’ll need them for energy. If you don’t you’ll have to wait till the end and go to the visitor centre (check the opening/closing times).
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes, long pants and long sleeves. Depending on the weather take a waterproof, layers of clothes to wrap up at the base of the glacier, jacket, hat etc in case you get cold.

After the glacier hike we headed back to the hotel and were very hungry, so we stopped at a local pizza place round the corner where all the locals seemed to go. It was very busy and smelled amazing which was a good sign. We had a really tasty pizza and drink which we deserved after the days excursion and headed back to the hotel to relax.

Sogndal via Hardangerfjord to Geilo

Approx drive time 5 hours

Today’s drive took us along Sognefjord to Hella.  From Hella we used the ferry crossing to get to  Vangsnes. From there we drove across Vik mountain to Voss and then to the Hardangerfjord and crossed the famous Hardangerfjord bridge (www.hardangerfjord.com) to cross the Eldfjord. There were many things to do and places to visit on the way however it was raining and the weather was not very good so we did not get to see much.  However we did stop at Mabodal Valley to visit the Voringsfossen waterfall and got soaked in the rain!!

We continued to drive across Hardangervidda mountain plateau which did have a little snow at the top of the peaks and continued to Geilo.

Geilo

We arrived at this mountain village drove to our hotel.  It had been a long day so we checked into the hotel and relax.  We had a lovely dinner and the next day went out for a walk.

There are a lot of activities you can do here, the hotel reception can advise and give you the weekly activity programme (in high season).

Hotel – Geilo

Bardola Hoyfjellshotel

Geilo to Oslo

Approx drive 4 hours.

This drive took us from Geilo via Torpo and Gol through the Hallingdal Valley and along the lake Tyri and onto Oslo.  It was a lovely drive with some stops along the way.

Oslo

Driving back into Oslo we were booked into a different hotel which was near the Opera House.  After check in we went for a walk to see the Oslo Opera House. An amazing structure designed so you can walk from the path onto the roof and all the way to the top.  This was a really popular and lively area, you could hear the music from the open air festival which was really busy and looked fun.

Oslo – Hotel

Thon Hotel Opera

This hotel has an excellent location near the central train station and the Oslo Opera House.  The food and wine in the bar downstairs was lovely with great service.  The room was lovely and we enjoyed our last night in Norway!

 

Date of travel – August 2016

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