Last week I was able to tick another country off my bucket list: Norway.
I am always one to travel far away to explore new things, so that I sometimes forget how beautiful Europe can actually be. I mean, how lucky am I to live on a continent where nature so diverse is only a 2 hour flight away?
On a Thursday night I jumped on a plane to Oslo and landed at broad daylight two hours later, at 9:30pm. It was crazy how I was able to still do some sight seeing after I got to the city center, since it didn’t really get dark. Perfect for a female traveler to feel 100% safe!
To get to the city center, there are 3 different ways: You can either take a bus, which takes around an hour or longer, the airport link or the normal public R train. The R train is the cheapest one (I paid 110 NOK) and only takes around 25 minutes to the central station.
Right the next morning I met my friend at central station, hired a car and drove off towards Eidfjord, one of the Fjords on the westside of Norway. And trust me, renting a car is the best way to see Norway! It’s one of the most stunning and diverse countries I’ve ever seen and I was so happy to be able to stop along the way for photos and picnics and chills.
Speed limits in Norway are between 60 and 90 km/h and depending on the area you go to, the streets are pretty easy to drive on. There are a few crazy curvy streets along the Fjords, but even those are manageable. And absolutely breathtaking.
In between we stopped around Geilo (which is the funniest name if you are German, even though it’s pronounced Jeilo) and had some food before we headed to what was supposed to be our first hike. Unfortunately the weather around Prestholtseter was so bad (it was crazy rainy and stormy), so we decided not to go. But the nature we saw on our way up there was worth the little detour.
We then arrived at the Eidfjord around 6 hours later. My Lonely Plant told me, that Eidfjord is one of the more touristy places around the Fjords, because many cruise ships stop here during the summer but I gotta say I didn’t see many of them. We really enjoyed our beautiful, peaceful Airbnb right by the water and a short walk around the area when we arrived. Unfortunately it was raining and most places were closed already, so we just went back home, cooked and prepared some lunch for the next day.
The next day we already left that beautiful house again to go on our first hike: Kjeåsen. The hike was a pretty good one for me to start off with since I haven’t been hiking for over six months. It took us around 2.5 – 3 hours both ways and the hike up was pretty good to handle with a few steps, ropes and ladders in between.
If you are really not into hiking but you want to enjoy this beautiful view, there’s also a street up there. At the end of the drive up, there’s a 2.5 km long tunnel (you find plenty of them around Norway), which is too narrow for two lanes, so you can only go up there every full hour and drive down on the half hour.
From Eidfjord we made our way to Bergen, where we stayed at the Marken Gjestehus, a pretty central hostel which had a clean kitchen, bathrooms and lovely staff. We stayed there for one night as well and ended up exploring a lot of the town. It’s a cute little town full of places to discover – cafés, restaurants, shops.
- The cutest little café just at the bottom of the cable car: Det Lillet Kaffekompaniet
- There are plenty of Fish stalls around the Fish market down by the water, where you can either get fresh fish to cook at home / your Airbnb or sit down and have a proper fish meal prepared right in front of you.
- We had dinner and a few drinks at the Zachariasbryggen which is right down by the water as well. We tried some beer from and at the Bergenhus Bryggeri on a heated terrace before we head upstairs to the rooftop for a few more drinks. (Trust me, it’s very weird to sit on a rooftop, drinking and watching drunk people dance while it’s still bright outside.)
But because we mainly went to Norway for its nature and hiking, we decided to also do one of the seven mountains of Bergen: Blåmanen. We started all the way down in Bergen, but you can also take a cable car up to Fløyen, where you already have a wonderful view over Bergen and can start your hike from as well.
If you want to hike up there, it’s around 1 hour. From there you then start the “real” hike up to Blåmanen, which takes around 1.5 hours. The hike is another gem around Norway and brings you up to a very quiet place that looks like another world. You definitely don’t believe that this is just a quick hike away from a big city like Bergen.
After the morning hike we jumped back into our car and took a drive to our next Airbnb in Røldal. Røldal is one of Norway’s skiing areas, which you were able to feel by the temperature, even though it was the middle of June. But no complaining here, it was worth it!
Now on to the biggest adventure of the trip on our fourth day: Trolltunga. Trolltunga was on my bucket list for so long, which is probably due to the fact that you see it around Instagram constantly. We chose to go very early and even though the weather wasn’t what we expected at all (very cloudy and misty), it turned out to be one of the coolest days ever. Maybe the weather was even the thing that made it so special.
But I am not going to go into more detail about Trolltunga here because I am planning to put together a whole post just about useful Trolltunga-tips. So stay tuned 🙂
On our last day in Norway we left our Airbnb in Røldal early again to drive back to Oslo. Obviously we didn’t make it in the time the GPS told us, since we had to stop every once in a while to take photos, but it took us around 6.5 hours all together.
In Oslo we decided to just enjoy the weather while simply being in Oslo. That’s why we started our time there with a Matcha at Espresso House before we headed to the shops – I can never resist going shopping in cities where they have Weekday and Monki. We then headed towards Grünlokka, the “hip” area of Oslo where we strolled around a bit more before having a beer (or three).
Our first stop was Mathallen Oslo, a big hall full of different food stalls and a bar. After not being able to decide what to get for a while, we ended up getting some Sushi and a beer and sat in the sun (yes, there was sun in Norway!).
Some other cool bars and/or places we went to were…
- Tommi’s Burger: They had very basic burgers but very tasty and not too greasy, which is always a plus for me! And the atmos
- Olaf Ryes Plass: Well, this is not really a bar but it’s a little green square, with a few bars and restaurants lined along it.
Blå: This bar was my favourite place. It’s an open air bar right by the water with a huge creative and relaxing atmosphere. Actually, there was another bar right across from it (on the same side of the river) which looked amazing as well!
And one thing I just couldn’t miss about Oslo was its Opera House. It’s an impressive piece of architecture by Snøhetta, a norwegian but known around the world practice of architecture. (I work in architecture and design PR, that’s why I became a sucker for interesting buildings tbh.)
After watching the sun go down (a little bit) from this beautiful building, we headed to the airport, where we spent the night, because our flight left early enough to do so and save some money on accomodation 🙂
All in all, Norway was wonderful. One of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. Some facts you have to know though:
- It’s expensive. I guess that’s a given since it’s a Scandinavian country, but it really is. Especially since the exchange rate isn’t great for Euros at the moment. But since we cooked at home a lot, it was definitely okay.
- It can get cold. When we left Røldal at 6:30am, we had around 3 degrees and it didn’t get any warmer until half way to Oslo. So bring warm clothes, even in June.
- The sun actually does go down, but not for long. I guess it becomes dark around midnight and bright again around 2-3 hours later. So it’s perfect for getting up early or staying up late 🙂
- Go as long as you can. 5 days definitely weren’t enough, especially since the distances are pretty long and you don’t want to spend all your time in the car.