Norway, with its name meaning “the path to the North”, is known for the Fjords and the Midnight Sun. With a sparsly population of 5,000,000, Norway offers peacefulness and endless of unspoilt nature; A rugged coastline with thousands of islands, and deep fjords. The fjords dramatically cut into the land and were flooded by the sea following the end of the Ice Age. Today Norway have the world’s longest and second deepest fjord, Sognefjorden.
Photo: Geirangerfjorden and the Seven Sisters Waterfall
Because of Norway’s high latitude, there are large seasonal changes as well. From late May to late July, the sun barely descends beneath the horizon.
The west coast of southern Norway present some of the most visually impressive coastal sceneries in the world. National Geographic has listed the Norwegian fjords as the world’s top tourist attraction -a must visit for the adventurous family!
This itinerary is based on a 5-7 days holiday, leaving from London, seeing as much as possible during your visit.
By plane from London to Oslo
Fly direct London – Oslo, a 2h 10m flight, price from £39 with Norwegian. Another airline with direct flights is SAS. When landing at Oslo Airport Gardermoen, jump on Flytoget to Oslo. Journey 22m, price £20 per person, children under 16 free. Buy your ticket from the machine to avoid extra charges.
Spend a few days and enjoy what’s on offer in the Norwegian capital. Have your morning coffee with the locals at Stocklflets, see the worlds largest Viking ship, go hiking on the Opera building and go for a swim in the Oslo Fjord, sketch a statue in Vigelandsparken, go shopping at House of Oslo and buy freshly baked bread and pastry from Åpent Bakeri. You can take the pram to Grünerløkka, a vibrant part of the city known for its trendy restaurants and vintage shops. Then take the t-bane to Frognerseteren and enjoy the view over the city while the sun goes down.
Stay at new central waterfront hotel, The Thief. Or if on a budget, choose the historic Hotel Rica Bygdøy Allé in the West End
Photo: Oslo. Source SAS
By train from Oslo to Bergen
Leave Oslo early next morning by train and go west, to Bergen. As you journey across the landscape of Norway the picturesque views of the endless green forests, deep valleys, glittering lakes and stunning mountain scenery will pass by your window as you sit back and relax. Indulge in a book or enjoy conversation. Total journey 6h 50min. From £30 with NSB
An option is to jump off the train, and board Flåmsbanen to Flåm. This is arguably one of the worlds prettiest train journeys, that will lead you from the mountain and straight down to the fjords. You then go by boat from Flåm to Bergen.
Bergen, with a population of nearly 400.000 is Norway’s second largest city, known for its fish market and a series of Hanseatic market buildings lining the waterfront, called Bryggen. But it rains in Bergen. In average 213 rain days a year! Nevertheless, its one of the places you will remember… It’s the home of the composer Edvard Grieg, with his home Troldhaugen today being a museum open to the public.
Stay at the Det Hanseatiske Hotell located within the old houses of Bryggen, or at the charming Hotell Klosterhagen as a more reasonably priced option.
Photo: Bryggen in Bergen by lugaresquever.blogspot.co.uk
By car from Bergen to Loen
After spending a day or two in Bergen, pick up a rental car and drive to the tourist destination Flåm. It’s about 2h 20m by car. We recommend driving on for another 10m to the less known place called Undredal, a tiny settlement tucked in between the fjord and the mountain, up until recently without a road connection. The place is is famous for producing Norwegian cheese, a white goat cheese called Undredalsosten. They also have Norway’s smallest “stavkirke”, Undredal Stavkyrkje, open to the public in the summer.
Photo: Undredal Stavkyrkje
Then next stop on your car journey should be Loen, reached within 3h 30m. Loen has been a tourist destination for more than a century, located in the inner part of the Nordfjord, surrounded ny National Parks and glaciers. It’s also home to some of the oldest farms in Norway, established long before the time of Christianity.
Stay at the historic family run Hotel Alexandra, established in 1884.
By car from Loen to Ålesund
After 2h 40m by car you will reach Geirangerfjorden. This is probably the fjord you’ve seen in all the pictures. It’s the home of the world famous waterfall “The seven sisters”, that you can only see by boat. The majestic mountains raising up from the deep fjord are dwarfing all passing cruise ships, a truly spectacular sight! Recommended activities include a boat trip out on the fjord and also a hike to a “seter” a mountain farm.
Next stop on your journey, after 2h 40m in the car is the enchanting mountain road, “Trollstigen” -or the Troll ladder. Have a coffee and some sandwiches you’ve picked up along the way, and enjoy some fresh air. Then drive on for another 2h and you will reach Ålesund, named as the most beautiful city in Norway by the Times. The city is spread over several islands stretching into the Atlantic, with the spectacular Sunnmøre Mountains as a backdrop.
When visiting, take your children to the aquarium Atlanterhavsparken, one of the largest saltwater-aquariums in northern Europe. You can also, as a family, become Vikings, and board a Viking ship!
Stay at Hotel Brosundet. This is by far the nicest hotel and as this is the end of your adventurous holiday, you probably deserve the best rest!
Photo: Ålesund Aquarium, Ålesund city and Viking tour outside Ålesund
If you think driving all the way sound excessive, you may want to choose to go with Hurtigruten instead, a cruiseline taking you from Bergen to Ålesund. It’s a beautiful voyage but quite expensive. The 13 hours trip, with no cabin or meals included is from £110 per person.
By plane from Ålesund to London
Fly direct Ålesund – London, journey time 2h 20m, price from £39 with Norwegian
Car hire cost
Approximate car hire charge for seven days: Small car: NOK 2,800 – Medium-sized car: NOK 3,000 – Large car: NOK 3,700 See more here.
Things to know before going
Norway is among the most expensive countries in the world.
Major Credit cards are widely accepted (sometimes in the most remote places)
More or less every Norwegian from age 7 is fluent in English.
Foods you need to taste includes; Freshly boiled shrimps from the fishing boat, bakeware such as boller (a Norwegian sweet bun) and vaffler (almost like the Belgian Waffles) together with brown goat cheese. All seafood is usually good, but can be pricy in nice restaurants.
Wine is sold exclusively from Vinmonopolet.
Shops are usually closed from Saturday afternoon and do not reopen before Monday morning.
Bring sun lotion and swimwear. Norway have beautiful summers thanks to the Gulf Stream.
No! You will not meet any polar bears (or trolls) in Norway.
Other Random facts about Norway
Photo Trollstigen, Norway