Norway 2019

Norway turned out to be the first country we visited twice. Last winter we went to see the northern lights and we wanted to come back to see the nature in the summer.

We first flew to the north-end of Norway and drove through Senja and Lofoten. Then we flew to the south and visited big cities like Bergen and Ålesund to travel to the fjords.

This time we rode boats, buses, trains, and airplanes (17 times in total excluding local train rides) and stayed at 12 different places within Norway. We made our plans and reserved most places before the end of last year. (We saw many places got fully booked a little later.) We highly recommend visiting this beautiful country and we hope the guide below will help you.

Photos

Click on the thumbnails below to see the pictures. Or, if you only want to see the photos and videos, go to Smugmug for our photos. and Kuula for 360° photos.

Mt. Segla (Senja, Norway)

Senja

We first visited Senja near the north-end of Norway. We climbed to the top of Segla (639 meters). It was a strenuous hike but the view at the peak was absolutely fantastic.

Segla Segla Segla Segla Peak Segla Peak Segla Peak View of the fjord from Segla Segla viewed from the other side of the fjord Senja Bergsbotn Viewpoint

Lofoten Islands

Lofoten is a series of islands that looks like a peninsula sticking out from the northern part of Norway. Every place in Lofoten is extremely photogenic with red cabins (rorbu), islands and steep moutains, white sand beach, and beautiful bridges.

Henningsvær Hamnøy Hamnøy Reine Reine Reine Å Fredvang bridges Uttakleiv Beach Haukland Beach Buksnes church Lofotr Viking Museum Svinøy Bridge, Svolvær Svolvær

Lysefjord

We took ferry and bus, and hiked 2.5 hours each way to the famous Preikestolen hoping the heavy rain would stop ---- It didn't. We saw the 25 by 25 meter "Pulpit's Rock" but nothing in the fjord due to heavy rain and fog. Our clothes and bags were soaked all the way through. We regretted not having given up our plan.

Bergen

We boarded the big cruise ship that came from Denmark to travel to Bergen. Cable car trip to Mt. Floyen and strolling through Bryggen (colorful Hanseatic League buildings) were a lot of fun. The sauteed scallop, prawns, and paella from the fish market were extremely delicious.

Bryggen Bryggen Bryggen Bryggen Fish Market Bare Restaurant, Bors Hotel Bare Restaurant, Bors Hotel Bare Restaurant, Bors Hotel Bors Hotel

Flåm and Sognefjord

From Bergen, we took train, bus, and boat to Flåm. This package tour is called "Norway in a Nutshell". At Flåm, we rented an electric two-seat vehicle called "eMobility" to drive to the Stegastein lookout to enjoy the panoramic view of Sognefjord. Return trip to Bergen included the famous Flåm Railway through the picturesque route with a stop at the station at a waterfall.

Sognefjord Flåm eMobility electric vehicle Stegastein Lookout

Ålesund and Geiranger

Many of the buildings in Ålesund were rebuilt after the 1904 fire in the Art Nouveau style. The view from the nearby Mount Aksla is gorgenous. From Ålesund, we took the ferry to see Geirangerfjord.

Students' Festival at Ålesund Ålesund from Mount Aksla Ålesund at 11:27 PM Eagle's Bend, Geirangerfjord

Trollstigen and Atlantic Ocean Road

Trollstigen ("Trolls' Ladder/Path") is a steep valley with zig-zag road that goes down through it while crossing two waterfalls many times over. It is hard to capture the scale and beauty of this location but did our best with our drone and cameras. Please watch the video as well.

Atlantic Ocean Road, dubbed "the world's most scenic drive", is a 8.3 km stretch of highway with eight bridges that connect small islands along the coast line of Norway.

Trollstigen Trollstigen Trollstigen Atlantic Ocean Road

Oslo

For our second visit to Oslo (see Scandinavia 2018), we checked out Holmenkollbakken ski jump hill (check out the 360° zipline video above) and the cool architecture of Equinor Oslo building (featured in the Norwegian TV series Occupied, available on Netflix).

Holmenkollbakken Ski Jump Hill Holmenkollbakken Ski Jump Hill National Theatre Royal Palace Guards at Royal Palace.  Notice they are on their way back from Pascal Bakery ;) Pascal Bakery Equinor Oslo Equinor Oslo building featured in the Norwegian TV series 'Occupied'

Video

This time I shot a lot of video with the drone (DJI Mavic Air) and 360° camera (Insta360 One X) and edited them into a few videos listed below. The playlist is also available on Youtube.

Travel Guide

Summary

If you want to relax and enjoy seeing the big landscape of Norway, then "Norway in a Nutshell" is a great option. The combined tour of train, boat, and bus will take you through and alongside major fjords between Oslo and Bergen. The downside is that it is hard to take unique photos on the tour route.

If you have time, we highly recommend going north, renting a car, and driving and hiking the coast and islands like Lofoten and Senja. If you have a U.S. driver's license, you can drive in Norway without an international driver's license. If you are even slightly interested in flying a drone, Norway would be the ideal drone-friendly and aerially-photogenic country to do so :) See my Drone page for the guide.

Tips

  • You can rarely take a good picture from a moving bus or train (especially like Rauma Railway that is surrounded by trees). Hold your camera steady and try taking short video clips instead (like 10 seconds).
  • The only exception was the Flåm Railway train where you can open some of the windows. Be sure to secure your seats by the window that you can slide down on the side with the 3 rows of seats (better view).
  • Bring your rain poncho and ziplocs if you are going hiking. Umbrella won't help you much.
  • You see this sign often and it took us a while to figure out what it meant. It warns you about automated camera with radar to enforce speed limit. Many roads have the 80 km/h speed limit but it changes from 80 → 50 → 30 km/h (or similar) quickly every time you enter a town. And everyone in Norway observe the limit rigorously. Both cars we rented always showed the speed limit on their GPS navigation panel. I recommend figuring out how to display the speed limit it as soon as you rent a car. I belive the fines are hefty. (One time the red lamp on the machine glowed and it gave me a scare, but no letter of notice came after that.)
  • We also saw these signs a lot and we wished we knew what they meant sooner. They mean "Attraction" and "National Tourist Road", kind of like the "Vista Point" signs in the U.S.

Norway Resources

Apps

Google Maps has the feature of downloading the map in advance for offline use. However, an app called Maps.me worked better in many situations. It also showed me the location while you are flying back.

TripIt is the website and app we both use heavily. You just need to forward the confirmation email from airlines, hotels, rental car companies, etc. and TripIt compiles the trip itinerary that you can share among specified family members or colleagues.

Videos

I created a Youtube playlist with the videos we watched before going to Norway:

Here are a few videos that were most useful when planning our trip: