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Reisverslag Evaluation and tips (English version)
11 oktober 2010
Evaluation and tips (English version)
Die deutsche Version dieses Berichts folgt auf der nächsten Seite.
In the following post I will try to evaluate our trip to Norway and to share our experiences about traveling in Norway in general and traveling in late September in particular. Hopefully our conclusions can help others with the planning of their own journey to Norway.
During this trip we covered a total of 5331 km, of which 3721 km were actually driven in Norway. With a total of 20 days in Norway this results in an average daily distance of about 186 km. This might not sound like much, but considering the fact that the average speed on Norwegian roads is about 60 km/h we still spent a considerable amount of our limited vacation time in the car (actually about 3 hours a day).
This time we spent most of our time in Fjord Norway, the southwestern part of the country. Although we are glad with this choice (we saw some stunning landscapes), we would probably opt to spend more time in the mountainous areas east of the fjords next time. Also the last day driving from Stryn all the way to Oslo was very long and tiring with no possibility to make a stop of more than an hour or two. Probably next time we would prefer to book another accommodation halfway between Stryn and Oslo.
Even during low season Norway is an expensive country to travel in. We spent a total of nearly 4200 € for our 3 weeks vacation. Although Norway is an oil and gas producing country, fuel is more expensive here than in most of the other European countries. The same is true for accommodation and restaurant food. Even supermarkets are expensive. To keep it affordable try to camp or sleep in cabins and cook your own food. Also keep in mind, that on a road trip in Fjord Norway you won't get anywhere without taking an occasional ferry across the fjord. If you don't, you have to drive huge detours. Most of the short ferry trips we took cost between 80 and 140 Norwegian crowns for a car with driver and one extra passenger depending on the length of the crossing. Last but not least Norway has quite a few toll roads, tunnels and bridges. Fares start as low as 15 crowns for toll roads into the big cities and go right up to 180 crowns for the very expensive road with lots of tunnels to Fjærland. Make sure you have enough change with you, as a lot of the toll plazas along private mountain roads are unmanned and you have to pay by placing the exact change in an envelop or machine.
Cabins are a good and cheaper alternative for expensive hotel rooms, especially because you don't have to eat at expensive restaurants but can cook yourself. Cabins are available in all kinds of different varieties, from simple camping cabins with not much more than a bed and a roof over your head to very luxurious vacation homes with big kitchens with oven and microwave and a washing machine. Most of them are in beautiful locations with splendid views. All but the very simple camping cabins have a fully equipped kitchen and bathroom. The only thing you have to bring yourself is food and bath towels. Bedlinnen and the cleaning at the end of your stay are usually not included in the rental price. You can either bring your own bedlinnen / clean the cabin yourself or rent it / pay for the cleaning. Most cabins are not available for just one night, but you have to stay at least 3 nights. The advantage of a longer stay in the same place is, that you don't have to pack and unpack your luggage every day.
Norway is not really famous for dry and sunny weather. Especially Norway's western fjord region is known to be rainy and wet with the city of Bergen being the rain capital of Norway. They even have a shop here specialized in selling new and repairing old umbrellas. September seems to be an especially wet month. But don't let this put you off. It is hardly ever raining all day long. Most days you will get to see the sun as well. And if it is raining, you can still go out and have a good time. You just have to wear your rain gear. “There is no bad weather, just bad equipment.” And maybe you are lucky and will have the same lovely weather as we did the last week of our vacation.
Up in the mountains September really is the start of fall. The birch trees become beautifully yellow and the alpine tundra is colored in bright yellows, oranges and reds. It can be cold though. Freezing temperatures are no exception at this time of the year. We even experienced some snow in the mountains.
Visiting Norway in September:
As mentioned above the weather in September can be rainy and cold, but also beautifully sunny and even warm. The trees up in the mountains and the alpine tundra show fantastic autumn colors.
The downside of traveling in September is that most of the tourist attractions are either already closed or have very limited opening times. On the other hand the attractions that are still open are never crowded and you don't have to reserve anything in advance. You'll find vacancy signs everywhere along the road, getting on the next ferry passage is never a problem, you have whole museums to yourself and at some souvenir shops you can get really good deals. On top of that accommodations are a lot cheaper in September than they are in June, July and August. We really enjoyed our stay here and would certainly go there in September again.
Norway has some of the most beautiful and spectacular hiking trails you can imagine. From short and flat walks of a few hours to strenuous multi day hikes in otherwise pretty unaccessible terrain everything is possible. Most of the Norwegian hiking trails (the short ones included) are not suitable for unexperienced walkers though and will require proper hiking boots. Even otherwise easy and flat trails can be very muddy at times and creek crossings without bridges are quite normal. When raining some of the trails might even have turned into creeks themselves.
Most of the popular walks are marked with red points or red Ts painted on stones along the way. And on some of the trails you might find little cairns marking the right way to go. Signposts are quite rare though and you'll only find them at the trail head or at the crossing of two or more major trails. It is therefore a good idea to take a good hiking map with you. On multi day hikes a good map and a compass are essential. On top of that never leave without your rain gear, a set of warm cloth, enough water and food in your backpack. You might even pack an extra pair of socks in case you end up in the river while trying to cross it. Believe me, I'm talking out of experience!
Please be careful when using hiking instructions as written on Norwegian walking maps and in trail brochures. The indicated walking times for a certain trail tend to be too short for all but the most experienced hikers. Always add about another hour to the time indicated just to be on the safe side. Also 'easy terrain' didn't always turn out to be as easy as we thought it would. Easy terrain in Norway means you won't need any ropes or other special climbing equipment, the trail is mostly flat and thus not too strenuous. It doesn't mean though, that you can walk it with sneakers on your feet and that it won't involve river crossings without bridges and some very wet and muddy stretches.
Oslo / Bergen Pass:
In Oslo as well as in Bergen you can buy a pass, that can save you a lot of money, if you plan to visit a lot of attractions included in the pass. The pass gives you free entry to most of the museums and other attractions in these cities, free rides on public transport as well as discounts in some restaurants, on tours and accommodations. Make a careful calculation before buying the pass though. In Bergen for example there is a free shuttle bus between the station, the bus terminal and the city center, so you probably won't need to pay for public transport anyway. Also some of the museums have a common deal. If you pay the full entry price in the first museum, you will get half price tickets at all the following ones. In Oslo we had a lot of plans about what museums we wanted to see. In the end we only had time for the Munch Museum though, which has free entry during the winter months. So we were very pleased we didn't go for the Oslo Pass, which would have cost us 230 crowns per person for 24 hours. Instead we bought a one-day-ticket for the public transport for just 70 crowns per person. So have a close look at the websites of Oslo / Bergen Pass and compare the prices, before you decide whether or not to go for the Pass.
12 juni 2015 00:50 | Door: Queenie
Thank you for the wonderful tips. We are from Hong Kongand we are planing to visit Norway in September this year too. I am so glad that I have found your blog and read it through. It really helps a lot and just really appreciate all your effort keeping this up. I do have one question though, do you think we should go northern Norway for northern lights and midnight sun scenes? So far, I think fjord visit is a must in Norway, but since I have been to New Zealand just a year ago, I am not so sure about which fjord in Norway could be a big different from those in New Zealand, like Milford Sound. It would be great if you could give some advices to us. Really appreciate it:)
12 juni 2015 11:14 | Door: Franziska & Klaas
Hi Queenie! Thank you so much for your great feedback! I'm very happy we were able to help you plan your trip to Norway with our blog. This is exactly what we are doing it for and it makes the effort of keeping it up worthwhile.
As for your question about the north of Norway: I don't think September would be the ideal time to visit this part of the country. At least not, if the purpose of your visit is to experience the midnight sun or the northern lights (aurora borealis). The midnight sun is best seen around midsummer (end of June) and the months surrounding this date (May, June, July and part of August). As for aurora borrealis it has to be really dark to see it. Therefore the chances are best in the winter months December, January and February. September being right in between summer and winter the days are already too short to experience the midnight sun, but it is not dark enough yet to see the northern lights. On the other hand Northern Norway has much more to offer than midnight sun and northern lights and a cruise along the coastline with the Hurtigruten or a few days on either the Lofoten or Vesteralen Islands can be an interesting and relaxed way of exploring the northern part of Norway, which is totally different to the Fjord Region in the south.
Unfortunately I can't really help you with your second question. I've never been to New Zealand and thus can't compare it to Norway. Personally I loved the Lysefjord near Stavanger with its sheer cliffs on both sides of the fjord. I also liked Sognfjord and Nordfjord for the many glaciers and beautiful mountains surrounding them. If you can, I suggest you not only visit the fjords but also the many fjells (mountains). In my opinion it is the combination of both, fjords and mountains, which makes Norway so attractive. One big difference between Norway and New Zealand might be, that Norway also has a lot of historic towns and villages to visit. The old parts of Stavanger or Bergen are really interesting to visit, there are a lot of quirky villages with nicely painted wooden houses and don't forget to visit one of the ancient wooden stave churches. I don't think it really matters, which of the many fjords you are visiting. They are all special in their own way and you will enjoy your visit no matter which ones you pick.
I hope I was able to help you at least a little bit. Have fun and please let me know how you liked your trip to Norway.
29 augustus 2016 04:49 | Door: yy
hi, nice and detailed write up! I am planning for 2 weeks trip to Norway next year, so in midst of planning. Wonder if you could share the emails and names of the cabin which you have stayed as I would like to make reservation. Are these cabins accessible by public transport? Is the bathroom shared or attached to the cabin? Got hot water? We don't plan to drive. Hope to hear from you!
31 augustus 2016 20:12 | Door: Franziska & Klaas
Hi yy! Great to hear you loved our blog about Norway. Sorry it took me so long to answer your questions, but for some reason the mail telling me you posted something here ended up in the spam box. All our cabins had their own ensuite bathroom, hot water and a kitchen or kitchenette. I'd be happy to share the adresses of the cabins with you. However non of them are easily accessible by public transport. Most of them are either situated in very little villages or far out of town surrounded by farm land. So unless you have your own transport to go shopping and explore the surrounding area, I won't want to stay there. So given these circumstances please tell me, if you still want me to send you the adresses of the cabins we stayed at? Looking forward to hear from you again.