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Planning a Trip to Norway: How NOT to Do it

I’ll start by saying that planning a trip to Norway is not easy if you’re an ambitious traveler. There is a lot to see and the temptation to see and do it all can become overwhelming.

My husband and I wanted to travel somewhere this summer and originally we wanted to go to either Iceland or Norway. Both of these countries are very high on our list of places to see and seeming as both of these countries are quite Arctic, the best time to go is between June through August. But prices to fly to Iceland were a lot more expensive than at their cheapest points so we felt that flying to Norway made more sense. We can always fly to Iceland later for a whole lot cheaper. We booked tickets pretty last minute.

We tend to travel the last minute so I’m used to booking last minute hotels and skimming through large amounts of travel literature in a short period of time. However, planning a trip to Norway proved to be the most frustrating trip I’ve EVER planned. Ever. At one point I wondered, “can we just cancel our flights and go to Montana instead?” With that said, NEVER plan your trip to Norway in just 2 days. You’ll rip your hair out. I hardly slept the day prior. Here is why. 


1. There’s Too Much to See

There is just TOO much to see in Norway. Seriously. We’re not here for too short a time, but honestly, you need a good two weeks in this country if you want to really see a lot of it at a semi-relaxing pace. I personally don’t enjoy traveling while having to rush from place to place to fit everything in. It’s no fun and I don’t really ever connect with places that way. But I’d recommend staying a month is more realistic if you really want to cover a lot of bases. But we wanted to see fjords, and glaciers, and tiny nordic towns, hike Trolltunga and see the Atlantic Ocean Road. We wanted to see it all, but that’s not possible.

I thought planning a trip to New Zealand our first time was a challenge, but it was nothing compared to Norway. Just like NZ, there’s just too many amazing things to see and do in Norway which made it really stressful to prioritize where we wanted to go. Doing this last minute was kinda hard. It required me to familiarize myself with a ton of places, narrow them down significantly and say goodbye to some place I had my heart set on. The best places in Norway are all scatted around the country. Next time though.

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2. The Landscape is Insane

Just look at the map above – Norway is insane. It’s a land of mountains, fjords, glaciers, and forests which is why we wanted to come here. It’s hard to plan a trip around this landscape because in order to get from Point A to Point B, you need to get acquainted with the roads which are often assisted with ferries, etc. We planned on renting a car at first but in order for me to estimate our travel times and book hotels, etc, I needed to figure out ferry times. And well, getting acquainted with all the different routes and ferry times was a bitch to say the least.


3. There are Too Many Fjords

Planning a trip to Norway is further complicated by having to choose between which of the many beautiful fjords to see. There’s Sognefjord, Naeroyfjord, Geirangerfjord, Hardangerfjord and tons of other little fjords in between these. There are sooooooo many and I tend to be a perfectionist in the sense of wanting to make sure I see the BEST one. The amount of comparative research I had to do on all these fjords, especially last minute, was hell.


4. The Language Confuses Me

One variable that made planning a trip to Norway a lot more frustrating is its interesting language.  I had an exceptionally hard time keeping track of all these places and learning them all in a short 2 day window and it didn’t help that I couldn’t pronounce these cities for the life of me, nor remember all their names. Just to clarify though, English is widely spoken in Norway! But I personally found it more difficult to understand this alphabet than anywhere else around Asia.

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5. Some Things Are Expensive as Hell

Whenever you hear about Norway, it’s always prefaced with “it’s such an expensive place to travel.” I’ll get to this in another post, but yes, some things are more expensive than others in Norway, particularly car rentals.

We prefer to drive when we travel to places like Norway. I like to stop and take landscape photos. But renting a car was ridiculously expensive which is why we ultimately decided to book a train for the majority of our trip. It’s just not worth it. And a train is more relaxing which we started to value more after the stress of planning this trip.

Planning a trip to Norway
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I took this screenshot of our car rental booking before we decided to scratch our plans and take the train instead. Yes, for 4 days and 19 hours, that’s 1,047 USD. I think not. The rest of the prices honestly weren’t that bad though, but renting a car AND taking the train aren’t that cheap. Overall, it’s not crazy exensive, but $384 USD in surcharges and taxes? Wow!


6. Summer Books Up Fast Planning a Trip to Norway

Another problem I faced was the fact that summer books up fast, so it’s definitely not a good idea to plan a last minute trip to Norway. We needed to take certain trains at very specific times and they were booking up fast still several days in advance! It’s recommended to book a week in advance during peak season. This caused quite a bit of stress.


7. Small Town Problems

In some parts of Norway, the towns are very small and people have lives. For example, when we tried to book a car rental in the town of Flam, we quickly discovered that car rental agencies aren’t open on certain days of the week so we couldn’t rent a car! How dare they?!

Planning a trip to Norway doesn’t have to be stressful if you don’t wait until the last minute, but Norway offers so much to see which makes it hard to plan if you want to see everything. Plan a month in advance and don’t try to do everything!

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4 Comments

  1. September 7, 2015 at 12:09 am — Reply

    I’m hoping to go to Norway in the next year or two, but haven’t done much research on it yet. I figured we’d rent a car, but wow! Definitely will be looking into the train. Thanks for the info 🙂

    • September 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm — Reply

      Hi Christie!

      Norway is a great place, I hope you can go! Renting a car in Norway can be done, but there are some things you have to look into before you do so. It honestly depends on where you’ll be driving too. Some places are actually best accessible by car, but you may have to keep in mind ferry times, etc that can affect your arrival at particular destinations. It’s definitely not the cheapest place to rent a car, but perhaps you can find a cheaper alternative. I know you can apply for a rail pass before you go and it will definitely be a lot cheaper than renting a car for a week plus! Norway in a Nutshell also offers great sightseeing alternatives too.

  2. Asbjørn Perry Sve
    September 1, 2015 at 4:32 pm — Reply

    It’s always enjoyable (and educational) to read how people experience my homeland. 🙂
    Sadly I was too late in advising you to ‘do’ bus trips instead of trains (those that travel far, between the big cities), good comfort and free wifi included.
    Yes, some small towns can have tiny opening hours, but my experience is that the smaller the more friendly, and ‘special opening for you only’ is not unfamiliar. The further north you get, the more friendly. They know how to be including, up there. 🙂

    • September 4, 2015 at 11:05 pm — Reply

      Thanks for your input! I really enjoyed the trains but I think bus trips will definitely make it a lot easier to see other things next time too. I agree, I think the small towns offer more too! 🙂 I’m glad to hear that the north is friendlier, as it’s the other part of the country I’d like to see!

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