Over five days I traveled for 29 hours; that’s the equivalent of London to Argentina and back, one way to Australia (including a layover) or, and this is my favourite, travel between Bristol and Ireland 14 times. I know what you’re thinking; how is that even possible? Well, the flight from London to Oslo takes no time at all- 1hr 45 minutes to be exact. But I have to admit, I factored in the time it took me to travel from my home in Somerset to the airport- I flew from Stanstead as flights to Oslo from here were just £40 with Ryanair- this is about 3 hours away. Even if we deduct this, I still managed to travel an impressive 23 hours. And if you’re planning on a trip around the Fjords, be ready to tally up the hours.
A trip to the Fjords is simply a must, don’t let the travel time put you off. I am even sure that you could probably reduce that time down quite significantly, however, this will probably impact on your experience. You see, much of the Fjords is quite inaccessible. Take for example Myrdal- there is no road connection to this part of the Fjords tour, it is only accessible by train; situated 867m above sea level, Myrdal is a route up through the mountains.
I highly recommend booking your Fjords excursion with a tour operator as they’ve curated a number of different packages for the best Fjords experience whether you have only one day or want to stretch out the experience. What’s more, the schedules are fully timetabled with most of your seats allocated and as long as the schedules are followed, there should be no impact on your experience. We booked ours through the Fjords tours for Norway in a Nutshell; these tours were fully customisable with various start and finishes points, options to book into hotels and add on additional excursions, there was even an opportunity to purchase Fjords, Bergen and Oslo passes (designed to help keep the cost down, though I didn’t purchase one and didn’t struggle for not having one).
As time was relatively limited, I was only in Norway for 3 full days, we could have decided to do the tour over a single day which would have meant taking the night train from Bergen to Oslo which, when I struggle to sleep on transportation, isn’t ideal-I love sleep! We therefore decided that we’d do a night over in the city of Bergen the day before our tour to spread out the travel a little, which also allowed for some exploration time too! Bergen is a gorgeous mix of historical and modern architecture and breath taking scenes. Normally quite wet (large umbrellas can be found in most hotel rooms), we were lucky to get a day of sunshine so a trip up the Floyen mountain on the funicular (cable railway) for the most breathtaking views was a must! This, pretty much, was the limits to our excursions in Bergen; we had a nose around the shops and walked alongside the harbour but we wanted to make sure we were well rested for the following day.
Our Fjords tour (from Bergen) ran from Voss (by train) to Gudvangen (bus) to Flam (on a cruise) to Myrdal (by train) and a final train back to Oslo. This tour ran from 8:45am until 10:25pm- it’s a long day but it is quite broken up in between with a number of stop offs on the way for photo and food opportunities. These trips aren’t just about the sightseeing, it’s also very insightful- if you look out for the historical documentation, listen to the instructional tapes and videos etc. you’ll learn a whole lot. A personal highlight was the cruise between Gudvangen and Flam as it’s the only time during the trip you can be out in the (very) fresh air and really ignite your senses to the site and sound of the Fjords. If you listen carefully (well, if you’re outside it’ll sound like an explosion) you can hear the ice cracking on the mountains and the vast flow of water heading to land- it’s really quite awe inspiring to see- of course this may simply be down to the time of year.
What’s amazing about the Fjords tour is that when you’re seemingly travelling from one destination to another, there is just so much to see. Norway is a beautiful country. Despite being mid-April, the further and higher from Oslo we were going, the more snow we’d see; not just mountain tops either but lakes and homes covered in snow and ice. On lower land you’d see Spring creeping it’s way through the ground and trees- the sites were just majestic. Natural beauty. Indescribable.
If you want cultural experiences, then Oslo is your destination; take a stroll up (literally up) the Opera house building, visit the Royal Palace- where they host, I hear, the most amazing Independance day celebrations (ask any Norwegian
about these traditions, you’ll hear such wonderful coloured stories), the museums, shops, bars, restaurants and galleries (they have a statue park in Oslo also which I sadly had to miss on this occasion). Of course Norway itself is also very well known for skiing, hiking and amazing seafood. But I think, if you want a true Norwegian experience, pay a visit to the Fjords and you’ll understand why so many are proud to call it they’re home.