A Norwegian Camping Trip

Stø

A two-week camping trip through Norway in summertime…there’s nothing better.

Day 1: Fly to Bergen, rent a car & drive
Day 2: Snøvegen route to Lærdalsøyri, then on to Jotunheimen National Park
Day 3: Besseggen Ridge hike & Lom
Day 4: Geirangerfjord & Trollstigen Route
Day 5: Arctic Highway from Bud to Kristiansund
Day 6: Trondheim
Day 7: Lofoten Islands, Å
Day 8: Bike ride to Nusfjord
Day 9: Sortland
Day 10: Stø & the Queen’s Route
Day 11: Harstad & Tromsø
Day 12: Tromsø
Day 13: Fly to Bergen
Day 14: Bergen
Day 15: Fly home

Day 1: Fly to Bergen, rent a car & drive

Drive out of Bergen

Drive out of Bergen

We decided to skip Oslo, which for some, might be too big a sacrifice to make. If you decide to fly into Oslo, the Bergen Railway ride to Bergen via the Hardangervidda plateau is supposed to be one of the world’s prettiest (friends have confirmed this).

We planned Bergen for the end of our trip, so we rented a car at the airport and drove straight out of the city, heading north-east towards Flam, buying a road map (1:600000) on the way. It doesn’t matter in which direction you drive when leaving Bergen, all roads lead to Fjiord country and an endless network of mountain tunnels.

We headed out on E16 East, wanting to eventually hit Jotunheimen National Park. We stopped in Voss, Nærøyfjord and Flåm on our way to Aurland, where we camped just outside town on the shores of Aurlandsfjord.

Day 2: Snøvegen route to Lærdalsøyri, then on to Jotunheimen National Park

Leaving Aurlandsfjord

Leaving Aurlandsfjord

The day started with two cappuccinos and two cinnamon rolls for €20. Meet the Norwegian Krone.

Heading out of Aurland, we opted to take the Snøvegen pass up to Lærdalsøyri rather than the tunnel. It was August so snow wasn’t an issue. It’s worth a quick stop at the architecturally striking Stegastein viewpoint just outside town.

We took the E16 south looking for a backroad we found on the map that would let us cut across to the 51 and head up towards Bessheim. The road was blocked by a barricade. Two small boys stepped out of a tiny shack and we paid them the small, requested fee. Apparently it was a private road.

Beautiful views and herds of sheep slowed us down significantly as we made our way down the foggy, deserted lane, but we eventually hit the 51. We camped just off the road before Bessheim near where we thought the Besseggen Ridge hike would start.

Day 3: Besseggen Ridge hike & Lom

Besseggen Ridge

Besseggen Ridge

It took a couple of tries but we found the dirt path and drove straight up to Gjendesheim, the start of the hike. Make sure you ask at the lodge or shop what time the ferries leave from the end of the hike. You’ll need to catch one to get back to Gjendesheim. In total, the hike takes about 6 hours. The ridge is a BLAST with crazy views on all sides.

Other options: 1) Do it in reverse: take the ferry in the morning and end in Glendesheim 2) Walk back along the lake (+3.5hrs) 3) Sleep in the lodge at the end of the hike.

We made the ferry with 30 minutes to spare. Afterwards, we drove up towards Lom and squeezed in a stretch of the Sognefjellet road (out and back) towards Turtagrø. We camped on the lake that runs north of Lom.

Day 4: Geirangerfjord & Trollstigen Route

Geirangerfjord

Geirangerfjord

Warning: Geirangerfjord is uber touristic and the town is skippable, but the size of the fjord makes it worth a drive by. This day was largely spent in the car, but between the fjords and the Trollstigen Route, we couldn’t complain. We took a short car ferry ride to get across Norddalsfjorden.

Day 5: Arctic Highway from Bud to Kristiansund

A day of ocean-side picnicking, lighthouses, rambling and bridge-admiring. I don’t know whose idea this highway was, but it’s brilliant (and impractical).

Day 6: Trondheim

Here, we said goodbye to our rented car and headed out on foot. After nearly a week of camping and roadside spaghetti dinners, we treated ourselves to 4 beers – the equivalent of €40.

We caught the NSB night train, leaving at 11:40pm. A sleeper cabin with 2 beds cost us 1648 NOK (€175 total).

Day 7: Lofoten Islands, Å

Bikeride to Nusfjord

Bikeride to Nusfjord

We slept like babies and missed the momentous Arctic circle crossing. We woke up in Bodø at 9:15am. The ferry to Moskenes, Lofotens, leaves from across the street. No hassle or stress. We caught a bus to Å and camped on a grassy cliff by the sea. There are some nice hikes in the area.

Day 8: Bike ride to Nusfjord

A bus took us north and we got out at the campsite in Ramberg, where we rented bikes and headed to the preserved village of Nusfjord (1hr). The village is picturesque but the bike ride was the highlight.

Day 9: Sortland

This was not intended and I do not recommend spending a whole day here. It was a Sunday and no buses were running out of town. Instead, use this extra day on the Atlantic route to visit Ålesund or to explore the coast north of Tromsø – there are plenty of better options. Our camping spot was very Huckleberry Finn though.

Day 10: Stø & the Queen’s Route

This is a 4-5-hour hike that leaves from Stø and has commanding views of the surrounding beaches and harbors.

Start of the Queen's Route

Start of the Queen’s Route

Finish with lunch on the pier back in Stø. You can sit on the deck and watch them drag fresh seafood off the boats. I went for coffee and cinnamon rolls (yes, plural).

Day 11: Harstad & Tromsø

As soon as we got to Harstad we booked a ferry to Tromsø leaving that afternoon.

Again we treated ourselves to a couple of Pale Ales, a favorite in Norway but tough to find in much of western Europe. I enjoyed all €11 of that hoppy goodness.

Plot twist – Tromsø was in the middle of hosting the annual world chess tournament. The city was packed well beyond its limits. Every room and cabin had been booked a year in advance for this week. Luckily, there was room for tents. The campground reception was full of people of all ages and nationalities from Japan to Ghana practicing for finals, clocking matches in record time. It’s incredible (and humbling) to watch.

Day 12: Tromsø

Cool cafes, museums & photo ops

Bergen

Bergen

Day 13: Fly to Bergen

Explore old town. Our only two nights in hotels were spent in Bergen. You probably can camp, but we wanted to experience the city as much as possible.

Day 14: Bergen

Discovered a BOMB Ethiopian restaurant (one of the only affordable eateries in Bergen); hiked up the hill overlooking the city

Day 15: Fly back to Luxembourg

What I’d do differently:

Rent a new car in the Lofotens. (See note on car rentals below). Bus times in the Lofotens rarely cooperated and ended up taking up a lot of time. Done again, I would take a ferry to Svolvær, rent a car there, return it there at the end of the visit, and take a bus up to Harstad.

Check the type of gas canisters used in Norway. If you plan on camping and bringing a stove, make sure it’s compatible with the ones they use. Our stove works with the canisters commonly used in France, but not those used in Norway, so we ended up having to buy a new camping stove when we arrived.

Notes:

Norway is expensive, but camping makes it doable, especially if you shop in grocery stores and prepare meals yourself rather than ordering a €30 pizza. It’s basically legal to camp anywhere, but stay away from houses and cultivated land.

Alcohol is not sold in shops on Sundays or during the week past 8ish (it varies).

Originally, we wanted to rent a car in Bergen and drop it off in Tromsø. It turns out that the price of a car rental is correlated with the distance between the pickup and drop-off points. We compromised and dropped the car off in Trondheim. If we’d returned it back in Bergen where we picked it up, it would have been half the price. It was worth it to us, but it’s a significant expense.

In summer, it never really gets dark so, if you’re camping, bring a sleeping mask.

What we booked in advance:

Luxembourg-Bergen flights
Tromsø-Bergen flights
5-day car rental; airport to Trondheim
Trondeheim-Bodø overnight train (try to get a minipris, lower prices possible when you book early)
Two hotel nights in Bergen (although we should’ve booked earlier)

Cost (per person):

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. If dollar value is your priority, skip Scandinavia for now. If you’re ready to take a bit of a hit, Norway is worth the expense.

The pre-bookings listed above totalled over half the cost of the total trip (About €1,000).

The remaining 600 went to groceries, gasoline, camping gas, car ferries, buses, campsites and the occasional restaurant/cafe visit.

I spent about €1600, but we were strict about making our own meals. For a more relaxing camping trip, budget closer to €2000.

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Kat @ TheBigLeapShow.com
    February 19, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Wow gorgeous photos my lady! The landscape is breathtaking

    • Reply
      Natalia
      February 22, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Kat, it’s glorious!! Meet you there?

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