First time to Norway

Old Dec 26th, 2008, 11:48 AM
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First time to Norway

My husband and I have traveled all over much of Europe with our two girls (ages 6 and 11), but this is our first trip to Norway... and I'm at a loss for where to even start! We'll be there for a week at the end of June and we had decided that our priorities are the Midnight Sun (Tromso) and Bergen. But this was before we knew anything much about traveling there. Now I don't know how manageable this will be in just a week. So first -- any general suggestions on an itinerary or helpful resources would be very much appreciated!!

Second, I know it's very expensive in Norway. We usually rent apartments wherever we go instead of staying in hotels, which helps us save money. However, this may not be an option (since we probably won't be anywhere for a full week, which is often required with apartment rentals), so any suggestions on hotels (especially charming ones and/or ones with larger rooms to provide some space for the kids) would be wonderful. Or if anyone is aware of agencies that rent for less than a week... thanks!

I have tons of other questions, but I'll leave it at this for now. Thanks for any suggestions, fellow Fodorites.
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 12:11 PM
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Off the bat, work out the flight schedule so that you fly to your northernmost destination (Tromso) first and work your way back South (Bergen). Lots to see and do around Bergen, do try to stop in Oslo on your way back home. Top Three stops; You will be tempted to add to this schedule, DO NOT. You don't have the time nor the right conditions as you are traveling with young children. Study the rail system in Norway, if you are planning to do this this coming June, there is not a lot of time to dilly-dally. I saw tons of inns and B&Bs in Bergen, can't recommed one as we stayed at a hotel.
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 01:04 PM
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We spent NYE 2007 in Tromso and it was one of those lifetime experiences.

It isn't really a town - more a small town with a half decent shopping centre. The chain hotel are all newish and of a good standard. I would suggest the Brygen as best value.

Your pre-conceptions about the cost of living are correct. We have lunched in Florence, dined in Marbella and suppered in Porto Cervo - nothing prepares you financially for Norway. Their huge wealth per capital stems from the natural resources being spread around its relatively small population. Add to that the huge cost of shipping everything at least 500 miles into Tromso and you understand why a bottle of Coke is £4.

For us - the trips out were all winter based - ski, dog sled, northern lights, Reindeer and winter wonderland views all made it a very different trip.

However, I am not sure about the experience in June - with constant light and day temps of 20oC - Tromso would be a very different experience. It isn't the most stunning area of Norway and its usual main attraction is the frequency that the aurora borealis appears in the area. Tromso is widely regarded as the best place on Earth to encounter the lights. Believe me there is much that comes close.

We stayed there 4 nights and saw them on 3. The other night we didn't really look. On NYE the show was better than that which the Chinese put on for the Olympics.

I have no idea how the midnight sun affect the lights - there is no way that they can be that visible in June due to the sun.

The area 300 miles south of Tromso (Lofoten) has far more wildlife and has stunning landscapes.

In summary I would say Tromso is a trip of a lifetime in winter but many of the attractions disappear in summer.

By far the most cost effective way of spending time in Norway is bagging a deal with Hurtigruten. The all inclusive packages are good value when compared to paying £50 plus per head for average meals in average restauarants.

Finally be aware of the low cost flight operator Norwegian.com they offer cheap, reliable flights around the country and to the rest of Europe -we had no problems with them and paid £100 return to fly from London to Tromso.
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 01:18 PM
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We took our sons to Norway when they were 8 and 10 (2.5 years ago). I agree with the poster above that Tromso is not as appealing a destination in the summer as you will not see the aurora borealis. You will have almost 24 of daylight throughout Norway in the summer so you don't have to go that far north.

We most enjoyed Bergen. I suggest doing several days in Bergan and then taking the Norway in a Nutshell tour over to Oslo, and then a couple of days in Oslo. Bergen and Oslo are more than enough for just a week.
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Old Dec 26th, 2008, 03:53 PM
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Thanks so much. This info makes a good starting point!

The reason we were thinking of going to Tromso was to experience the midnight sun. I didn't think we would get the constant daylight in the cities to the south, which was why I was focusing on getting to Tromso. Do Bergen and Oslo have the midnight sun as well? Is there another, prettier/more quaint northern city you would suggest instead of Tromso?

I saw a question on these posts about Norway in a Nutshell and Hurtigruten. Are these organized tours? I hate being with tour groups. Can't bear having someone tell me when it's time to come and go, eat and sleep, etc.

How about the Oslo-Bergen Railway? Worth the cost?

Thanks!!!!
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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 01:42 AM
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my friends stayed at city box in bergen and were happy with it
not charming but clean and quite spacious and central to everything
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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 10:29 AM
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Barabar:


We stayed at The Park Pension a few years ago, in Bergen...more than adequate, easy walk to the center. In Tromso, we liked the Radisson..and in Oslo, Gabelshus was a fine hotel.

We drove from Bodo, via the Lofotens, to Tromso..long drive and very scenic. First we booked three nights on the Hurtigruten...Bergen to Trondheim(2), Trondheim to Bodo(1). To get from Oslo to Bergen, the NIN was marvelous..left Oslo at 8:11 am and arrived Bergen after 6:00 pm. after a remarkable scenic day

stu t.

http://hotelpark.no/en/

http://www.gabelshus.no/


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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 05:58 PM
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So it is possible to do NIN in just one day? I'm a bit confused about how this tour works. It seems like a lot of travel for just one day (train, bus, cruise). Am I understanding how it works correctly? Are you on a tour with a group or are you on your own?

Unfortunately we are flying in and out of Oslo, so we have to get back to Oslo after our time in Bergen and Tromso. Is Tromso worth the long haul? I really want to experience the Midnight Sun, but my husband is not convinced it's worth the long journey north.

Thanks for the hotel tips. Going to check them out now.

Barbara
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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 06:05 PM
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Another question -- what is the Hurtigruten?
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Old Dec 27th, 2008, 08:59 PM
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Barbara: The Norwegian coastal voyage...
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 06:14 AM
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Yes, Norway in a Nutshell can be easily done in one day.

The route is roughtly triangular, with a ferry trip along the Narrowfjord (a branch of the Sognefjord), a coach trip through the mountains, and a rail journey back to the start point.

The three departure points (if I remember correctly) are Flam, Gudvangen and Voss. I suppose you could break your trip at any of these if you wanted to extend or explore further - though I would not recommend spending much time in Voss, which is the least picturesque of the three and more of a winter sports resort.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 06:58 AM
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You can do the entire day on NIN from either Bergen or Oslo. It involves two trains, a boat across the fjord, bus to Voss, then another train to Bergen. No, it is not an organized tour, but you have a LOT of people doing the same thing at the same time. It is some lovely scenery, but we broke the trip in the middle by staying overnight in Stahlheim and went on to Bergen the next day. We were there in June and it was still light at 11 pm. We did not get to Tromso. As others have said, Norway is expensive, insanely expensive. We do not eat often at fancy restaurants overseas, but it would have been nice to be able to have had one meal in a 'white tablecloth' restaurant, and we didnt want to spend $200 for two. Every bottle of water was $5. You may have somewhat of a better deal now b/c the exchange rate has improved against the dollar. We were glad we had a chance to see Norway, and went on to Stockholm and Copenhagen, but for our travel dollar, it was not a good value.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 07:27 AM
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You buy a Norway in a Nutshell ticket at the train station in either Bergen or Oslo.
http://www.norwaynutshell.com/default.asp

We have taken the NIN from Bergen to Oslo and also Oslo to Bergen. It is a wonderful trip. We stayed overnight on the fjord one night.

We have also done a Golden Triangle trip. Train from Oslo to Stavanger. Ferry from Stavanger to Bergen and NIN from Bergen to Oslo. You can buy the tickets with the hotels arranged but travel on your own through nordicsaga.

Each trip to Norway we did rent a car and visited family farms.
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 07:36 AM
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It has been my great pleasure to have visited this beautiful country and most importantly its beautiful people. My favorite city and area is the trondheim area as I had most important fantastic business ventures. If I were to return to Norway this would be a must visit on my trip. Fred Friend
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Old Dec 28th, 2008, 08:42 AM
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PS NIN is NOT so easily done in a day if part of that day involves actually getting to the fjord region from Bergen or Oslo first. Oslo is probably 3-4 hrs by train and 5 or more by car.
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Old Jan 7th, 2009, 11:37 AM
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as you fly into oslo I'd suggest you go north (no Aurora in the south) first then fly back to Bergen (direct flights with wideroe) take train back to Oslo (you may want to include NIN, possibly with night stop. Two days Tromsø, two days Bergen, rest of time for Oslo and transport
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