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The Perfect Three Week Itinerary for Exploring Southern Norway


Norway had been on Ismail's and my bucket list for years. I remember being captivated by the endless photos showcasing its stunning fjords and natural beauty. However, we were also aware that it was an expensive destination and might be challenging to visit. Then, a friend of ours spontaneously asked if we'd be interested in joining him on a road trip to Norway, and we immediately said yes! Join me on a journey through the breathtaking landscapes and cultural wonders of this enchanting region. If you're considering travelling to Norway on a budget, you may also want to read my article: Planning a 3-week Budget-Friendly Itinerary Around South Norway.



Trolltunga hike

Three things to consider before we dive in :

1. Distances: Despite Norway's well-maintained roads, its vast landscapes often translate to lengthy travel times. Take, for instance, the journey from Stavanger to Bergen, spanning approximately 8 hours. When planning your itinerary, consider whether to tackle this journey in one go or split it to prevent fatigue. Incorporating ferry rides can impact the overall length of the journey (they usually reduce the travel time), adding to the adventure but potentially increasing costs. Ultimately, the choice depends on your preferences and travel priorities ! If you don't want to take the ferry on your journey, remember to activate the "avoid ferries" button on maps.

2. Weather: Norway's weather can be unpredictable, affecting travel plans. We often extended stays in Airbnbs due to inclement weather, which made camping, driving, or hiking impractical. Flexibility is key; be prepared to adapt your schedule and prioritise safety above all else.

3. Roadworks : A common occurrence in Norway and can significantly impact travel plans. Throughout our journey, we encountered numerous roadworks that caused substantial delays. Maintenance on roads and tunnels sometimes led to waits of up to an hour, prolonging an already lengthy trip. It's crucial to remain aware of potential roadworks along your route and plan accordingly to minimise disruptions to your travel schedule.


South Norway Itinerary

The Perfect Three Week Itinerary for Exploring Southern Norway

Step 1 : Lysefjord and its iconic hikes (4/5 days)

Our adventure begins as we arrive in Kristiansand, greeted by endless grey clouds and the gentle lapping of waves. After a restful night in a simple Airbnb, we set our sights on Lysefjord. Kristiansand serves as one of the main ports for ferries from Denmark. However, there isn't much to see in the city as it's primarily industrial, which is why we opted for just a brief overnight stay due to our late arrival, and I recommend you do the same.

If Lysefjord is on your bucket list, then it's likely for its renowned hikes. Preikestolen, Flørli 4444, and Kjeragbolten are absolute musts. Each trail offers a unique perspective of the rugged Norwegian landscape, featuring sheer cliffs and panoramic vistas that steal the breath away. Our base at Songesand camp provided a rustic yet practical retreat, and I would highly recommend visiting the nearby Rickasand waterfall. The surrounding nature truly made us feel like we were stepping into the world of "The Lord of the Rings"



I recommend staying 4 to 5 days in the area to give youself time to rest in between hikes and to explore the surroundings a little.


For a deeper dive into our Lysefjord adventures, check out my detailed guide: Three Iconic Hikes of Lysefjord



Step 2 : Stavanger (2/3 days)

Stavanger, nestled along Norway's southwestern coast, exudes a rich tapestry of maritime history with its cobbled streets and charming white houses. Here's a curated list of must-see attractions in Stavanger:


1. Gamle Stavanger (Old Stavanger): Lose yourself in the maze of narrow cobbled streets and admire the quaint white wooden houses dating back to the 18th century. This well-preserved historic district offers a glimpse into Stavanger's maritime past.


Old stavanger


2. Stavanger Cathedral (Stavanger Domkirke): Explore Norway's oldest cathedral, dating back to the 12th century with its impressive Gothic architecture, intricate stained glass windows, and serene interior.


3. Sverd i Fjell (Swords in Rock): Pay homage to Norway's Viking heritage at the iconic Sverd i Fjell monument. Located by the shores of Hafrsfjord, this striking sculpture commemorates the historic Battle of Hafrsfjord.


4. Månafossen waterfall : Cascading gracefully from a height of 92 meters, it is one of Norway's tallest waterfalls, offering a mesmerising sight amidst the lush greenery of the surrounding landscape. Located approximately 90 kilometers east of Stavanger (about 1 hour's drive), Månafossen is accessible by car, making it a popular day trip destination for travellers exploring the region!


Manafossen waterfall


5. Norwegian Petroleum Museum: Delve into the fascinating and controversial world of offshore oil and gas exploration at the Norwegian Petroleum Museum. Interactive exhibits, models, and artifacts offer insight into Norway's oil industry and its impact on the region.


6. Valberg Tower (Valbergtårnet): Climb the historic Valberg Tower for panoramic views of Stavanger and its picturesque surroundings. This medieval watchtower offers a unique perspective of the city's skyline.


7. Breiavatnet Lake: Take a leisurely stroll around Breiavatnet Lake, located in the heart of Stavanger. I liked the ducks.



breiavatnet Lake



Step 3 : Odda and the Trolltunga Trail (1/2 days)

Odda stands out as a pivotal destination to include in your three week itinerary for exploring Southern Norway as it's primarily sought after for its gateway to the iconic Trolltunga hike. The main draw for many visitors, including ourselves, was embarking on the epic Trolltunga hike—a 27-kilometer trek renowned for its breathtaking views. Unfortunately, due to illness, I had to forgo the hike while the others took on the challenge. Nonetheless, I highly recommend allocating two nights in Odda, allowing ample recovery time post-hike before continuing the journey towards Bergen. This brief stay not only optimises your Trolltunga experience but also ensures you're ready for the road ahead.


Trolltunga


Step 4 : Bergen (2/3 days)

During our three-night stay in Bergen, we encountered unfavourable weather conditions that limited our outdoor activities. Nevertheless, we made the most of our time by exploring indoor attractions, notably indulging in the city's indoor pool facilities. For those planning their itinerary in Bergen, here's a list of activities to consider:


1. Bryggen Hanseatic Wharf: Explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site and stroll along the historic wharf lined with colourful wooden buildings, shops, and cafes.


2. Mount Fløyen: Take the Fløibanen funicular to the top of Mount Fløyen for panoramic views of Bergen and its surrounding fjords. Enjoy hiking trails, scenic viewpoints, and a cosy cafe at the summit.


3. Fish Market (Fisketorget): Immerse yourself in Bergen's bustling Fish Market, where local vendors sell fresh seafood, fruits, vegetables, and souvenirs.



Step 5 : Svelgabreen Glacier (1 day)


If you're driving from Bergen to Oslo, don't miss a stop at the stunning Svelgabreen Glacier. It's an incredible sight. The ice wall is massive and the colours of the glacier against the blue water are beautiful. You can walk around, but be careful not to step on the glacier unless you're a pro or well-prepared. Remember, we're not penguins!



Oslo (2/3 days)


Our final stop takes us to Oslo, the capital of Norway. It felt strange transitioning from the vast Norwegian wilderness to a bustling city. We only spent one night in Oslo, as we preferred to linger longer in our previous destinations. However, if you enjoy city life, 2 to 3 days in Oslo should suffice. For a quick visit, I highly recommend exploring the castle and the Opera House, both offering fantastic views and a true sense of the city.

We rented an Airbnb near the airport for convenience, with an early flight the next day. And as for the rented car from Italy? Well, three of us flew home, while one brave friend tackled the entire drive back solo...

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