Norway in a Nutshell
A brief (as it can be) overview of our amazing 7 day road trip from southern Sweden to Bergen, Norway and back! How we did it on a small budget, the funny mess ups and the awesome adventures!
Eric described it best, after we returned to the US and our friends asked us what we thought of Norway, he would reply with “you can close your eyes, hold out your camera, and snap a picture anywhere and it would be beautiful enough to be on the cover of National Geographic.”
Norway has such a vast array of landscapes- from 1,000 foot misting waterfalls, roads woven into snow topped mountains, cities with beautiful people and historic homes that are older than all of America. With all that natural beauty, it’s no surprise that Norway lands at 4th for happiest country in the world. Couple all of that with a natural affinity for an active lifestyle, good economy and amazing food- and you have a country that can keep a $14 minimum wage easily
AND WE WANTED TO SEE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE!!!
We were already visiting friends and family in southern Sweden, but being so close to Norway, it was an opportunity we couldn’t pass up. Per usual we built a schedule to cram as many of the amazing sights and experiences Norway has to offer as we could. So we set out with a 1,400 mile (approx. 2,253km) road trip in one week- and yes we did it, we actually did a little more…
Day 1- Southern Sweden to as far as we could get..
357km ~ 4 hours ~ some $ in tolls
Sunday morning consisted of last minute preparation and packing, as well as spending time with our family and friends. If there is one thing that we love more than adventuring, it’s these people. Since we had been there, I had been trying to convince my family to come along. At the last minute my little (big) brother decided that he wanted to come along for the adventures! We were overly excited but under prepared. We rummaged around in our available resources and it seemed he had only packed sports shorts, a few t-shirts and one pair of jeans… This should foreshadow the rest of the trip.
Now Eric and I travel on a pretty tight budget, we are both full-time employees in the healthcare field and our salaries are nothing to boast about. So after learning how expensive Norway is we took precautions. We bought enough groceries in the much cheaper Sweden to last us a week, including several cans of beans, a few loaves of bread and a few boxes of tomatoes. If you are like us and fly a budget airline (like Norwegian) into Copenhagen or Sweden, BUY GROCERIES IN SWEDEN!
We highly suggest flying into CPH or Sweden as flight prices tend to be much cheaper, and rental cars are as well! Our round trip flights from Besides, it is an absolutely beautiful country and amazing to drive through! The lush, open fields and beautiful lakes are a great contrast to Norway’s rocky cliffs, and this roadtrip gives you the best of both worlds.
On the road we went!
Day- 2 Tanumshede, Sweden
The boys did an amazing job driving as long as they could… Eventually Eric had to stop for a couple hours of sleep and pulled off at a rest stop. Little did we know this was going to be one of the coolest stops of our trip! As we were using the bathroom we realized this wasn’t any rest stop, it was actually a UNESCO world heritage site we had stumbled upon!
We had stopped in Tanumshede, Sweden, home to some of the worlds first “photographs”!
“The rock carvings in Tanum, in the north of Bohuslän, are a unique artistic achievement not only for their rich and varied motifs (depictions of humans and animals, weapons, boats and other subjects) but also for their cultural and chronological unity. They reveal the life and beliefs of people in Europe during the Bronze Age and are remarkable for their large numbers and outstanding quality.” –UNESCO
So cool! If you are in the area or passing through, it is definitely worth a stop! Several of the carvings are right off the road with very easy access and well maintained trails! We were so excited for this accidental discovery!
We could’ve spent an entire day discovering the rock carvings, but we forged on to Oslo!
Tanumshede, Sweden to Oslo Norway
160 km ~ 2 hour drive some $ in tolls
This is where our perspective of Norway started to change! We had been told by several people from different countries, that Norwegians are quiet and introverted, but nice people, and that we shouldn’t expect to hear much talking or to be confronted. However, as soon as we arrived in Norway we started making new friends!
We made it to Oslo and we wanted to dive in to one of our favorite parts of any new culture, FOOD! We stopped at a restaurant called norð&natt which we found on Trip Advisor to try a little local cuisine. The atmosphere was wonderful, it was modern themed with an earthy feel, complete with tables outside and seats covered in Faux fur. The girl behind the counter was very friendly and excepting to our millions of question about the cuisine, things to do, and places to see in Oslo! She had several suggestions and went above and beyond to help.
Eric and I ordered the same thing, a loaded beet burger with a side of some sort of crunchy, flattened, macaroni and cheese, creamy dipping sauce, and spinach and Parmesan soup. With one bite, this meal jumped to my top 25 list of best foods I’ve ever had!
You can check out more details here!
It was absolutely divine! The burger was around $14 and the soup was in the $9 range. As you can see, even seeking out the “best bang for your buck” food isn’t on the low end of the budget, at least for us! Unless you dig for cheap meals or eat fast food, a typical Norwegian dinner can be $50 or more. Because of this, we budgeted to eat out twice while in Norway. And our first meal was well spent.
After we finished, our newfound cashier friend invited us for ice cream in the nearby botanical garden!
The sunshine kept the temperature around 75 degrees, the fresh air was fragrant with flowers, and the paths were easy to walk and well maintained. There are a few cafes at the top of the hill, one of which served organic ice cream! A perfect reward for defeating the hill we had just climbed to get it! No its really not that huge, but burning a few calories made it even more tasty.
Oslo has a great shopping scene, complete with Norwegian sweater shops where you can find 100% wool cozy items! We only planned one day here, which was perfect for us!
Oslo to Trolltunga — Too many lost miles
Now this is where it all went awry, in an adventurous way of course. We were in search of Trolltunga, a premier hiking trail in Norway, climaxing at a jutting rock suspended hundreds of feet over the beautiful fjords. Trolltunga begins at the mountain settlement of Skjeggedal. We plugged in Skjeggedal to our GPS and joyously set out on the open road. With Skjeggedal being such a unique name and totally unpronounceable to us, we thought there could definitely not be two of these cities in the world, and blindly trusted the GPS. HOWEVER, we found out the hard way that Norway is similar to the US in that it has several cities with the same name. We found out there are at lease two places with the name “Skjeggedal”, one of which will lead you to this.
And another that will lead you to this..
As you can see, getting lost in Norway is certainly not the worst thing in the world, actually the beautiful detour was much welcomed, especially during sunrise. Except for the fact we still wanted to get to Trolltunga.
In short, after driving through the night, sleeping 2 hours in the parking lot, 7 hours of hiking up we made it!!
This one day was so jam packed it had to have it’s own post, you can read more in detail about our Trolltunga extravaganza here!
As exhaustion was taking over and the sweaty clothes were drying on our skin, we started looking for lodging. One thing we have learned in all of our travels is that you can be more unplanned than you think. Granted, the hostels at the base of the Trolltunga were all booked up, but there were plenty of campsites and a few hotels near with accommodation. BUT if you like to be scheduled then here are a few of our suggestions –
Airbnb- Located right at the beginning of the hike, you cant get any more convenient! We didn’t stay here, but we met another girl on the trail who said it was great, but basic accommodations, and for around $50 a night you cant go wrong!
Hotel Tyssedal – Approximately 1.5 miles from The Trolltunga parking lot, again we did not stay here so we can not vouch for the rooms, but they have good reviews and more importantly they were very helpful and gave us their wifi password so we could look up a campground to stay at.
And finallyyyy…. This is what we actually woke up to the next morning!
We spent the night at Laftus Campgrounds and awoke to a beautiful scene! A waterfall was slowly rush down a cliff on one side of the car, and mountains reflected in rippled water on the other side. The campground had small cabins, plots for tents, and spots for cars and RVs. We chose to car camp and opted in for GLACIER COLD showers. This was not so much by choice, but the token office for hot water had closed for the night and we needed a shower. Actually, this would’ve been my last choice, I do not say COLD lightly. I once did a polar bear plunge into icy water in the middle of January in Kentucky, and the water was so cold my body froze ridged for a few seconds. This shower was colder than that. I’m pretty sure the laws of thermodynamics don’t apply in Norway and water can stay liquid in much colder forms to torture naive tourists. But hey, it was free.
Trolltunga to Voss – 60 miles – 2 hours of driving
There are no days and nights at this point of the trip…
Voss is a quaint little town that hosts a very epic event. It was on our way to Bergen and we had heard of it (from the bottled water here in the US ha) so we stopped in. The small city was surrounded by mountains and followed along a river making it a great place for some major sports.
We ventured around the little shops with friendly people, watched others kayak on the river and admired the beautiful architecture. You can walk on top of the library which is covered in grass and have a picnic with a beautiful view before you venture out for some awesome sports; Mountain biking, kayaking, hiking just to name a few.
The major sports that happen in this modest town is the Ekstremsportveko. It is an extreme sports event which hosts one of the largest comps and festivals in the world for extreme sports. People flock here for the skydiving, BASE jumping, mountain biking, rafting and so much more! We were just a few days too early, but the hype had already started!
Voss to Bergen – 66 miles – 2 hours of driving
This city built on trade is so marvelous we are writing an entire separate post of the jam packed 2 days we spent there. Believe me, it could be just as long as this one! For a teaser video watch here
Stay posted for our adventures with Norway in a Nutshell, where we had our best meal cooked by a 97 year old in her tiny kitchen, and how parking signs in Norway aren’t what Americans would first interpret them as.
So- TAKE AWAY:
– Renting a car is the cheapest way to go if you can drive a manual transmission
– Purchase groceries to save money (preferably in Sweden like the Norwegians do)
– Make friends! They are super sweet and can direct you to some of the best places!
– Train on the stair master for a few weeks prior to Trolltunga 😉
– Get lost and have fun!! Some of the best memories we made were on unintentional adventures. Laugh at the mishaps and roll with the change!
This post has became long enough and if you have made it this far please comment below so I can meet the awesome person you are!
We would love to answer any questions you may have and hear your stories of road trip mishaps!
Keep on Living Leashless!