(The south of) Norway 2023

Hiking South Norway: Vahaug to TostölIn 2014, I had walked from hut to hut at the Hardangervidda with a friend. I loved the vastness and the emptiness. During the same trip, we also hiked Trolltunga, which was stunning. So ever since, I’ve wanted to see more of Norway. My boyfriend was also curious, so we decided to drive there in late August, just after high season.

Now, we didn’t know much about Norway and also didn’t really have time to prepare, so all we did was book the ferry for the way there and the way back. Everything in between we would arrange while we were there. Not knowing if it would be hard to find accommodation, we brought a tent as back-up. We also had no idea of driving conditions (in 2014 my friend and I had used public transport) so we didn’t want to plan a route beforehand. We would just let our itinerary be determined by the availability of accommodation, telling ourselves “it doesn’t matter where we go, everyting is beautiful there”.

Beforehand, we had a vague plan: from Kristiansand we’d drive West, and then North, but not too far: we would stay south of Bergen because we didn’t want to be in the car too much. From my trip in 2014, I knew that the area around Odda is fantastic, so we trusted we could have a beautiful holiday in the South. On the way back, we’d drive inland towards Oslo and then back down again to Kristiansand. We did indeed follow this route. Some next time, we probably won’t do a round trip: there’s no need to start and finish in the same city, as there are ferries to Denmark and Germany from Stavanger, Oslo, Kristiansand, Larvik, Bergen…

And next time, we might just stay in the Southwest: we loved the area around the Hardangerfjord. Although I’m also curious about Jotunheimen, Lofoten, Geirangerfjord…so much to see!

Hiking South Norway: view from Samlen

Norway is reputed to be very expensive, and in 2014 we definitely did agree. So now, in 2023, we were prepared for the worst, but it turned out that it’s not so bad anymore. In our own country, things have gotten more expensive, so the difference isn’t that big anymore. The prices of hotels and holiday homes are pretty much the same as in the Netherlands. Petrol, groceries and eating out are more expensive in Norway, but it was doable.

Other findings: the ut.no-app is a lifesaver: it has many many hiking routes and shows your position, so it’s easy to see if you’re still on track and how far away your destination is. The tourist service that has built the app is fantastic: they have also waymarked many trails, so apart from using the app you can, in many places, follow the red T’s.

We also found out that you need to plan a bit: in some places, the nearest supermarket is a quite long drive away, and shops may be closed on Sunday. You also need to plan a bit to find a place with a bankomat, if you need cash.

And finally, the end of August, first half of September seems an excellent season to visit Norway: we had nice weather (mostly between 15 and 20 degrees Celsius, sometimes 25) and only a few rainy days. Of course this can be entirely different in other years. But we were lucky. And as this period is just after the tourist high season, everything is still open, but not busy: we could find (reasonably affordable) accommodation easily.