The ultimate road trip – Norway edition

I’ve always dreamt of a road trip through Norway and finally this dream came true in August 2019. I had to save a lot before this trip, but it was worth every single penny spent. Luckily, flights were included in the package and we were 16 people in total, making things easier, funnier, and cheaper.

I visited Northern-Norway (the region is called Nord-Norge in Norwegian) and we drove more than 2000 km in 10 days. I wish I spent more days there (especially in Lofoten!) but it was totally doable.

Day 1

Rome-Oslo-Tromsø

Being Tromsø located so far from Norway’s capital city Oslo, the cheapest option was to book a connecting flight to Oslo and then to Tromsø. Direct flights are available only from a few countries such as Poland, UK, Belgium, Spain, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and of course Norway. I flew with SAS (Scandinavian Airlines).

After renting our cars at the airport (the company is AVIS), we checked-in at our hotel. In case you’re not renting a car, the easiest and cheapest way to reach the city center is by public bus. You can buy the ticket through an app called Troms Mobillett (it’s even cheaper this way) for 33 NOK (3,30€).

It was a long day but I managed to see one of the most characteristic churches of Tromsø (Tromsø domkirke).

Accommodation: Tromsø Smart Hotel. The price for a double room was around 725 NOK, so sharing a room was the cheapest option (360 NOK each for a hotel room isn’t bad at all!). Keep in mind that summer is off-season in Tromsø. The rooms were tiny but the queen sized bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was inside the room, which is a plus considering the kind of trip we were about to start.

Day 2

Tromsø-Alta (300 km – 6 hours in total)

After a wholesome breakfast at Tromsø Smart Hotel (145 NOK if you don’t buy it in advance), we hopped on our cars and started our road trip. The first destination was Alta, but we stopped along the way to visit the glacier at Jøkelfjord.

Jøkelfjord glacier (230 km from Tromsø)

The boat tour was booked through Synatur. The price was 220 NOK per person and it was worth it! We saw the glacier from the boat and we learned how it used to be. Unfortunately global warming is having a huge impact on this area and in a couple of years it will disappear. For ever.
After the visit, we were welcomed in a hytte where tea and coffee were served with cookies, veldig koselig!

Alta museum (90 km from Jøkelfjord)

After seeing the glacier, we drove one more hour to reach Alta Museum – World Heritage Rock Art Centre. In this museum (or better, outside the museum!) you can see the famous rock carvings (if the weather is good) as well as exhibitions. The museum organizes several activities but unfortunately we got there at 18:00, when the activities area was already closed.

Accommodation: Alta Strand Camping & Apartments.
Very cute houses close to a real Sami village and reindeers. How dreamy was that? We booked four bungalows for four guests (however, the maximum guest number is 6) with private bathroom and kitchen. We were 16 in total and we decided to have dinner together… in just one bungalow. That was a true adventure, but it is also possible to have dinner outside. This is the official website in case you wonder how it was.

Day 3

Alta – North Cape (241 km – 3h-4h)

The road to North Cape (Nordkapp) was full of surprises: reindeers, mountains, red cabins, more reindeers. North Cape is not only the northernmost point of continental Europe, but it’s also the point where the Norwegian Sea meets the Barents Sea. It is a highly touristic place, but it’s something you want to cross it off from your bucket list.

In North Cape you can visit the Arctic Center, consisting of a small museum, a chapel, a souvenir shop, a restaurant/café and a small cinema where you can watch a wonderful short-movie about North Cape.

However, the most common activity here is a 9-km-long hike (18 km in total) to the real North Cape, called Knivskjellodden. It’s a hard hike and it takes approximately 4-6 hours, depending on your stamina. I decided not to do it and I did the right thing. Instead, I went to Skarsvåg (20 minutes by car from Nordkapp).

Accommodation: BaseCamp North Cape. We rented 4 bungalows for 4 guests each, while bathroom/showers were shared with the entire camping. The price starts from 700 NOK per bungalow. There is also a restaurant serving a variety of meals and a shared kitchen in case you want to cook your own meals.

Day 4

Nordkapp – Målselvfossen (620 km – 9 h)

Day 4 was definitely the hardest. It took us 9 hours to reach the beautiful Målselvfossen. It’s a small waterfall worth visiting. I sat in front of the waterfall at sunset (well, it was around 21:30) and enjoyed another gift by the incredible Norwegian nature.

Accommodation: Nedre Målselvfossen feriesenter.

We rented two hytter (bungalows) for 8 people each. I’m not entirely sure about the price, but I think it starts around 1500 NOK per hytte.

Day 5

Målselvfossen – Svolvær, Lofoten (291 km – 4,5h)

The road to Lofoten was incredible. After Narvik the landscape becomes surreal. The weather in Svolvær was incredible as well, temperatures were around 20-22°C and we finally wore t-shirts. It was packed with tourists even though it is a very small town (it has 4700 inhabitants).

Trollfjord

We booked a cruise to the famous Trollfjord, where you could see sea eagles (and we saw several!). Since it is a highly touristic activity, the price varies according to the company booked and also according to what is included. For instance, our package included the Trollfjord, sea eagles watching, fish soup and free coffee/tea with biscuits.

We booked the tickets in advance and the price was something around 800 NOK per person, but there are group discounts as well.

Accommodation: Lofoten Feriesenter.

Located something like 10 minutes by car from Svolvær center, this camping place had probably one of the biggest and most modern cabins of our trip so far. Our cabins were for 8 guests each (we booked 2 extra large cabins with private bathroom, kitchen, a balcony, and a living/dining room). The price might vary, but I think we paid something like 2000 NOK per cabin (250NOK/25€ per person), which was extremely cheap considering the location and how beautiful it was. You can book on Booking.com by using my link/discount code to have 15€ off. I know it’s not much but at least it’s something, right?

Day 6

LOFOTEN: Svolvær-Nusfjord-Reine

Lofotr Viking Museum

The Lofotr Viking Museum is located in Bøstad, 50 km from Svolvær. If you’re touring Lofoten, I highly suggest you to stop here to know more about the vikings. My philology professor forces me to write that vikings never wore horned helmets, it’s just a misconception. Anyway, here you can also experience the real life of a viking by rowing a boat, throwing axes, shooting with a bow and arrow and many other activities. The museum shop has not only “classic” souvenirs, but also many books and sagas available if you want to know more about Nordic history and culture. This was the hardest section for me since I wanted to buy all those beautiful editions of Snorri’s Edda.

Nusfjord (36 km from Bøstad)

It certainly is a gem and a photogenic village, but I was stunned and disappointed at the same time. Tourists actually pay a fee of 100 NOK to visit this tiny village and we felt like it was an open-air museum set for tourists only. I believe that it was worth the visit, but it was missing the authenticity that (for instance) Bleik had.

(I edited the sky by applying fake clouds on @quickshot !)
Hamnøy (37 km from Nusfjord)

After having a quick lunch in Nusfjord, we stopped in Hamnøy. Yes, it’s exactly where you can take that postcard picture. The point from where you can take it is located on the bridge connecting Hamnøy to Toppøya. I thought that the bridge wasn’t accessible to pedestrians, so I missed the chance to enjoy the marvelous view of Hamnøy and the Lilandstinden, the 700-meter-tall mountain rising from the sea. I asked a fisherman who was working on his boat if I could go down the pier to take pictures. He told me that he was happy to finally see a human being after a long day on the fjord! I guess it gets pretty hard to socialize in places like these, no matter how beautiful they are.

Reine (5,5 km from Hamnøy)

Five kilometres later, we reached Reine. It probably is the place everyone thinks about when someone says Lofoten. It is a minuscule village, where 314 people live. Despite being small, Reine has several restaurants, pubs and café, at least one supermarket and robuer where you can spend the night. If you’re an expert hiker, then you cannot miss Reinebringen, from where you can get the best panorama of Lofoten.

I didn’t hike the Reinebringen because it was raining when we got there, but I guess I have a reason to come back, right?

Accommodation: Reine Rorbuer.

Alright, I must admit that this was definitely the fanciest treat ever. We stayed in real fishermen’s huts called rorbuer (singular is rorbu). I have no words to describe this place, but there is a reason if it costs around 3000-4000 NOK per night. The price may vary if you go there off-season or high-season.

Day 7

Reine-Andenes (331 km – 5-6h)

After waking up at 5:00 to enjoy a hot coffee in front of an incredible view, we left Reine to go to Andenes, a small village famous for its whale watching safaris.

Whale Watching

Whale Watching is definitely one of the most popular activities in Nord-Norge. We first visited the museum with a guide who explained a lot about all species of whales and about the environmental impact of plastic on the eco-system. Which is huge and undeniable. After that, we went on a boat to start the so called Whale Safari. It kind of sounded hypocrytical, right? But that’s a topic I will discuss in another place.

Many people started to feel sick, but luckily I had taken a pill because I get sea sick every single time I see water. We saw a total of three spermwhales and it was an incredible experience. We saw them from more or less 300 meters (the maximum limit allowed) and the guide told us that we couldn’t go any further in order not to damage the whale or leave a bigger environmental footprint. Sure thing is that even driving a car or sailing on a boat to participate in these kinds of safaris has an environmental impact anyway…

I managed to take pictures thanks to my telescope lens, what a great deal right before going to Norway!

Accommodation: Aurora Gueshouse.

Located 12 km away from Andenes, this guesthouse accommodated us in rooms of 3. They were nice and simple with a private bathroom. The common area was very beautiful with huge windows and large tables, only a bit cold but I guess that it is normal.

Day 8

Andenes-Bleik-Senja Island

The next morning we had an early start. We drove to Bleik, one of the cutest cities I’ve ever seen. Part of the group went on a Puffin safari but I decided to skip this one because even though I had my anti-sea-sickness bracelets, I didn’t feel like being on a small boat again. So instead I visited Bleik and stopped for a coffee and a piece of cake, talked to locals, and walked on one of the whitest beaches I’ve ever seen in my life.

Bleik is famous for its Puffin safaris. You can see these little cute birds only until mid-August, because after that they migrate elsewhere.

After stopping for a quick lunch at the supermarket (budget travellers know the feeling), we took a ferry to the wonderful island of Senja.

Tungeneset

What is it? The scenic route of one of the most #instagrammable spots in Northern Norway. Sitting there for at least half an hour was like meditating for 4 hours straight: nirvana reached. This is truly one of the most incredible sceneries I’ve ever seen. Ok, I know, I’m writing this sentence all over this blogpost, but how can you blame me?

Accommodation: Fjordbotn Camping.

Located in Botnhamn, this camping had a huge common kitchen, cute little cabins for two up to four people. The most amazing thing was the sunset that we finally saw after eight days. The best part no matter when you go there? The fjord in front of our cabin. Someone I got to know there told me the wonderful feeling of swimming at 6 am in the cold freezing water of the fjord. Can someone last more than five minutes in the water? No. Is it worth it? The smile on this someone’s face made me understand that ‘yes’ is the only possible answer.

The price was 1500 NOK per cabin, but share it with 3 other friends and it’s not that expensive at all!

Day 9

Senja-Tromsø (80 km)

80 km in 2 hours, can you believe the Norwegian speed limits? Our day started pretty much early as every other day during this trip. But since Tromsø is a bigger city (than all the small villages we had been so far) with a wider range of activities, I will write a separate blog post about it. Day 10 consisted only in 4 different airports to reach home, fun day for sure, eheh!

Thanks for reading, I hope it inspired you to travel to Nord Norge and in case you have questions about Norway, I’m always a click away. If you want to know more about Norway, a long time ago, in a land far far away I wrote a blogpost about Oslo.

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From Stockholm to Oslo by bus

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Going to Oslo (also with a low-cost company) might be expensive, so the best combination would be a cheap flight to Sweden (Stockholm or Gothenburg) and then a bus to Norway. From Stockholm to Oslo it usually takes around 8 hours straight, but it’s absolutely worth it! It’s the best way to enjoy some amazing landscapes: you basically cross the Scandinavian peninsula! The price for a round trip was around 30-40€ and you can purchase the tickets here.

Here are some pictures that I took from the bus:

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After 8 hours I finally made it to Oslo, which –to be 100% honest – I expected to be different from what I had already pictured in my mind.

 

WHAT IS EMBLEMATIC?

I spent only 2 days in Oslo and I saw just a couple of things, so I guess I’ll need to come back there to extend this list. But here you can read what you can’t miss:

  • Grünerløkka

It’s a lovely district on the east side of the Akerselva, the river that runs through Oslo. During the 19th century it was turned into a working-class area, but nowadays it’s one of the most hipster areas of the city! One of the things that I really enjoyed was to walk along the river drinking a cup of hot chocolate.

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One of the most famous clubs in the area is the so-called “Blå”, where you can enjoy some good jazz, R&B, and independent music. Take a look at their official website, so that you won’t miss the chance to dance and have fun in this amazing place!

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  • Vigeland

It’s a huge sculpture park named after Gustav Vigeland, who created more than 200 sculptures! Monolitten is probably the most famous statue and… hear ye, hear ye… no entrance fee is required! Because Oslo is one of the most expensive cities on the planet for tourists. But you can learn how to deal with it. Maybe. I still have issues about it.

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  • Operahuset

The Oslo Opera House is the national theatre in Norway, located right in front of the wonderful Oslofjord. Completed barely 10 years ago (2007), it is now one of the most famous symbols of design and modern architecture in Oslo and Scandinavia. Guided tours are held in English and Norwegian, but performances are usually in Norwegian. The price for a guided tour is 100 NOK (10,60€) but you can get a reduction by buying the Oslo Pass.

  • Sognsvann lake

Whether you go there in summer or winter, you will think only one thing: “WOW, that’s AMAZING!”. This was my reaction. I even cried, but I’m an oversensitive person that secretly cries for everything, so don’t tell anyone. Back to Sognsvann: it’s a lake where you can swim or sunbathe, eat or drink with your friend during den 17nde Maj, or if the weather isn’t very pleasant, you can just go there for a walk and clear your mind. It’s actually very close to the city center and you can reach it with the T-Bane (Subway).

 

FOOD

Pølser, pølser og pølser ! That’s what (I think) Norwegians love to eat. Or at least that’s one of the cheapest things you can find at the store, especially if you’re a student attending a BBQ party! Another dish that seems to be very popular is “Pyttipanne”, consisting of vegetables and meat, all chopped and fried together. It’s clearly a peasant dish since it was originally prepared with leftovers.
I’m not an expert in Norwegian cuisine though so this section might not be 100% accurate. So.. Norwegians or experts in Norwegian cuisine, let me know what I must try next time I’ll visit your beautiful country!

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THINGS I LEARNED

  • Something that really shocked me about Norwegian (and Swedes too, actually) is the “weird” sounds they make to show you their interest in what you’re telling them. Like “mh, mh” and aspirations that make them sound as if they’re dying. Linguists call it “ingressive sound”, I call it “funny sounds that I want to repeat without success in order to sound more Scandinavian”.
  • Small talk is to avoid at all costs! It’s something that I had to learn the hard way because Norwegians tend to feel embarrassed. Maybe this doesn’t happen with the youngest or Norwegians that have lived abroad, but on a national scale, that’s something people avoid when meeting someone they know.
  • Norwegians make fun of Swedes. Well, I must admit that every Nordic country makes fun of Sweden, while the poor Swedes make fun of Norwegians. But they secretly love each other, they just won’t admit it. Maybe.

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WHAT IS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY FOR YOUR TRIP:

  • A windbreaker, like anywhere else in Scandinavia. I know I’m always writing the same old suggestion, but trust me, you’ll thank me in case you were thinking about not to bring one with you.
  • I went there in “summer” (*Summer in Norway is a week where you can see some sunshine and then it’s cold again), but temperatures were hardly above 10°C. This means that a scarf was absolutely necessary too! I bought it in Oslo as I arrived at the station… best purchase ever!

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NORSK:

Det er litt vanskelig å snakke og skrive på norsk nå, for jeg har aldri studert dette språket. Men jeg snakker ofte med mennesker som bor eller har bodd i Norge: for eksempel min beste vennine! Jeg tror at Norge er et av de beste land å bo i, og hvis du elsker naturen er det perfekt. Mennesker jeg møtte var veldig hyggelige* (*det nordligste ord jeg har noensinne hørt) og vennlige, selv om det kan virke vanskelig å snakke med dem første gang. Jeg håper at jeg ikke har gjort mange feil, og hvis jeg har gjort noen: vær så snill å korrigere hva jeg skrev! Takk Oslo, takk Norge.

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