A couple of years ago, a very good friend of mine, Veronica, decided to do her first solo trip. She headed to Norway for two weeks. She was always talking about this trip, how beautiful and peaceful Norway is and I started thinking of giving it a go. I can say at this point that it was really worthy.
It was not ’til last June when, after a couple of months overloaded at work and loads of extra hours, I decided that I needed a break, I needed peace and calm. My job can be very stressful sometimes and I was reaching my personal boundaries. Then it was the perfect moment to discover the beautiful Norway and its fjords.
I work full-time in an office, so I could just take one week. It is challenging when you have time limitations, you want to see as much as you can but you know that the km are against you and, in Norway, geography needs to be taken seriously as well, even more during the winter season when some roads are closed due to the weather conditions.
I had a chat with my friend Veronica and she recommended me what I couldn’t miss. The list was long and ideally for two weeks, so I had to make it shorter. When you are short of time planning is key to take the most of your trip. You don’t need to plan everything of course, let room to surprise yourself, but basics as distances and links are key.
My one week itinerary ended up being:
(please note that this itinerary is a summer itinerary. If you think of visiting Norway during winter time some of these points are very difficult or impossible to reach as well as some of the accommodations listed closed. Bear this in mind when planning your trip)
Bergen was the starting point. I stayed at the Bergen YMCA hostel which is located at the heart of Bergen close to the fish market. It was very convenient and ‘cheap’ if you don’t mind sharing the room with not sure how many people.
From there I wanted to reach Geiranger. However, I realised that there was no cheap, well let’s call it affordable, accommodation in Geiranger. What I was going to do? Here it’s where I faced the first challenge: I know where I want to go, but not sure where I’m going to sleep…
Hostel accommodation in Norway is quite extended and normalised, you can find a hostel close to each main interesting point. Hi Hostels is the main operator and they show you the hostel location also in a map so you can easily see if there is a hostel close to your area of interest. That’s why I went to Hellesylt. From there, you can get a ferry to cross the fjord and reach Geirander. I stayed at Hellesylt Hostel. If you decide to stay in there and you go by bus, let your driver know that you are staying at Hellesylt hostel so they can drop you off in the main road. Otherwise you are going to be dropped off at the main town, meaning that you have to go your way up to the hostel, something you would like to avoid when you are carrying your backpack or suitcase, it’s hilly. Learn from my errors!! The hostel is correct but the views are breath-taking and extraordinary beautiful.
From Hellesylt, I wanted to go to Sognefjord (fjord of dreams), the longest and deepest fjord in Norway. However, I couldn’t find accommodation through Hi Hostels within my budget hence my choice was Lustrafjord a branch of Sognefjord. I found this beautiful and cosy hostel I felt in love at first sight which I found through Hostelworld, however you can contact them directly at Eplet bed & apple. I would definitely go back and I regretted not staying longer, it was such a lovely place… You can also find a list of activities you can do around on their website from hiking to rent a bike and glacier trips.
Then again on the road I headed to Voss. I have to say that I hesitated between Voss (also called Vossevangen) and Flåm. Accommodation in Flåm was cheaper but Voss was more well-known, that’s why I chose the last one. Even though I had a great time in there it was not my place. Perhaps because I felt so much in love with Solvorn and when I’m in love I’m loyal. My human nature. That’s why I don’t want to discourage anyone to go there, Voss is a nice place to stay. The Voss hostel was my choice. It is located at the outskirts of the main town. From the train station it’s a five minute walk to the right. Located in front of the Vangsvatnet lake, the reflection of the mountains in the water is breath-taking. There are loads of things to do in there, activities such as kayaking, visit Flåm and take the Flam railway… Actually, you can find a list of things to do and filter by area on Visit Norway website.
My trip was coming to an end so I headed back to the starting point, Bergen, where I knew my adventure would be over. I decided to stay in a non central location and I chose Bergen Montana which is located on the hillside of Mount Ulriken, about 5km south of Bergen city centre. There is a bus from the central bus station that drops you off around the corner of the hostel. The room was affordable but you have to bear in mind the cost of the bus when you compare prices.
Now it’s time for the second challenge: how to reach and link each destination.
How to move around? Rutebok: the website/app that changed my life
You can rent a car but it is really expensive and I was travelling solo, so it was not an option.
Public transport was my only choice. With the time limitation challenge, and being aware of the long distances, how to more around was key to make my trip a success.
I found a really good tool that I was sharing with everyone I found on my way. It is rutebok. It’s still a beta version. The app works well in Iphones but it’s not available for Smartphones yet. If you have a Smartphone, so do I, you can use the web version.
It really made things very easy for me. This website/app really helped me in terms of moving around in Norway. You just only need to specify the points that you want to connect and it gives you the timetable and connections. It was very easy to move around after discovering this amazing tool.
One week was not enough and I know for sure I will go back. Yet, loads of things to discover: Tromso, the Lofoten islands, Stavanger, the green lights… Beautiful Norway, see you soon!
And you, witties, stay around!
P.S.: Special thanks to my very good friend Veronica, for her help and support, for her stories about Norway, for the motivation I needed, for everything!: this post is dedicated to you.