The only way to have a great winter is to go to a place, which has a proper one. Thus, we pointed at the map and declared that it was the right moment to be back to Norway for the third time. Indeed, we already had a road experience in Norway, but it was different for three reasons:
It was February, which means that the time of the daylight, however short it was, stayed much longer than in the end of December-beginning of January.
It was a very different part of Norway – after all, it is a huge country, especially if you want to cross it from South to North. Before the roads and coastal express boat service were introduced, it had been taking 5 months to get to the North in winter!
This time we decided to devote ourselves entirely to Norway. Long hours had to be spent in order to get this trip ready, so if you plan to road trip Western Fjords in winter, it is our pleasure to help you with the preparation.
Thinking of the itinerary was the most difficult part. Norway has loads of “scenic routes” (even if I find scenic EVERY route lol) but… almost all of them are closed for the winter season. As well as majority of the activities which are normally proposed in summer. Trolltunga, for instance, which is the main attraction of the region, is not accessible until the late spring. Nor are the glacier walks or kayaking. It doesn’t leave much choice, does it? After long research, we came up with the following itinerary.
Total Distance: 800 km
|Day 0||Arrival in Bergen. A walk in Bergen by night|
|Day 1||Bergen – Odda. Taking a ferry to get to Utne|
|Day 2||Odda – Bondhusvatnet – Buerdalen valley and glacier|
|Day 3||Odda – Voringfossen – Voss|
|Day 4||Skiing in Voss|
|Day 5||Skiing in Myrkdallen. New Year Celebration!|
|Day 6||Voss – Flam – Stegastein view point – Borgund – Voss|
|Day 7||Voss – Bergen. Departure|
This time we rented a car from Budget – and a funny thing was discovered. If you book a car directly from the Norwegian site (thank you, google translator), it will be considerably cheaper than the priced for the same car proposed by a British office of budget. Unless you take an additional insurance (which we did). 8 days of Citroën C4 Picasso rental = 500€, including an additional driver and insurance.
Some of the routes, just like in Finland, are replaced/complemented by a ferry crossing. However, unlike in Finland, they are not free of charge. We had such crossing only once on our way – well, it was a relatively cheap cruise. :)
One of the questions is whether it is worth to take a 4WD. The answer is no, it’s not. The roads are kept in a perfect condition and are cleaned of snow at once, no matter what time of day the it’s snowing.
Do not expect to cover large distances at once – the speed limitations are quite low, the roads are often narrow so you would need to wait on the side for another car to pass, and the constant uphills and downhills take a great dill of concentration. Don’t forget about long and depressing tunnels that you will need to pass through. Our longest one was 21 km !
Accommodation and Food
I would strongly advice to book an accommodation well in advance – you know that Norwegian prices are merciless, so at least this way you would have something good. We traveled in a company of four people, so finding a good flat on Airbnb was more than challenging. What is even more depressing – we didn’t find any.
The same goes to food, unfortunately. Norwegian cuisine is far from the “best food in the world” title. Still, mark an address in Bergen: Pingvinen – a good old Norwegian cuisine.
Foodshopping is best be done in the supermarkets, Rema1000 and Extra being the cheapest ones. Whatever you can cook in your Airbnb will be more satisfying than a big number of establishments (if you manage to find any in the middle of nowhere).
So, here it goes. Our budget for two persons.
|450€||London-Bergen-London (booked two months in advance)|
|500€||Car rental for 8 days|
|120€||Fuel for 800 km|
|60€||Average Airbnb rate per night|
|40€||Average receipt from the supermarket (no alcohol – it was a perfectly dry New Year)|
|60€||Average bill in a restaurant|
|200€||New Year Celebration in Myrkdallen|
|100€ + 85€ per day||Ski Rental + Ski Passes in Voss/Myrkdallen Resorts|
Time and Weather
Majority of people shudder in a disbelief that someone would want to go to Norway in WINTER. No matter what an image one can think of, Norway is not that cold as people might think. Due to its proximity to the Gulf Stream – a warm current of water, which prevents Norway from the arctic temperatures. As the biggest part of the country is close to the seas, the temperature rarely gets really low. Again, unlike in Finland, where we had a joy of sleeping in a van by -21C°, during the whole trip the lowest temperature we experienced was -9C°.
Dates: 27.12-03.01 | Average Temperature: 0C°
All this means that we didn’t need any special equipment or clothes apart from self-obvious skiing pants, gloves and an additional layer underneath the pants for the longer walks.
Even if Bergen was wet rainy and highly unpleasant to be walked in in January, the further you get from the coast, the more snow you have. Exactly what we needed!
However, the most annoying part of all is a short daylight. The sunrise around 9:30 and complete darkness by 15:30 – quite a short timing for great achievements. Even the light, which appeared at last, wasn’t that luminous after all due to the mountains and thick clouds. Slightly disappointing in the terms of photography.
What about the Northern Lights? Sorry, no chance of that. Too much on South and too cloudy area. More information about the Northern Lights you will find in this article.
Useful links to check
The list of scenic routes from the official Visit Norway website
The schedule of the roads winter closure
What to do and what to see? Click here to read the second part: Norway Western Fjords