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Bustling Cities & Serene Fjords

Oslo, Bergen & Sognefjord
Holiday information
Nights: 7
Accommodation: high-quality hotels
Meals: 7 breakfasts, 3 dinners
Included extras: 24hr city cards in Bergen & Oslo

Starting point:

You begin with two nights at the elegant Hotel Bristol in the centre of Oslo.

Day 1

Spend your first day exploring Norway’s flourishing capital, using our self-guided walking tour to take in some of its many sights. Stroll around the bustling harbour, see the fortress on the headland overlooking Oslofjord or take advantage of the discounted entrance fees offered by your included 24-hour City Card to visit attractions such as the sculpture park, and fascinating museums such as that devoted to Viking ships. You could also admire the ship that took Amundsen all the way to the South Pole in 1911; visit the Nobel Peace Centre; or Aker Brygge, the waterfront district which typifies the Norwegian capital’s bold sense of style. Here, you can ascend the 90-metre Tjuvtitten Tower (the ‘Sneak Peak’) for sensational views over the city.

Day 2

Leaving Oslo, you embark on an unforgettable full day’s journey by rail and boat. From the capital, the train traverses rolling farmland and forests, rising steadily to reach an altitude of 1,222 metres as it passes the hotel once used as a training camp by Shackleton and Nansen. After crossing the rugged mountain moorland of the Hardangervidda Plateau, it pulls in at Myrdal, where you alight. The next leg of the journey on the world-famous Flåm Railway is a real highlight, as you descend some 800 metres from the mountains to steep-sided Aurlandsfjord, a finger of alluring Sognefjord, passing lush woodland, thundering waterfalls and deep ravines. You then travel up Aurlandsfjord by express boat, for two nights at the elegant Kvikne’s Hotel in Balestrand, a quiet village set by the fjord amid apple orchards, with wooded mountains rising behind.

Day 3

There’s plenty of choice for you day here: enjoy a bike ride, or stroll along Balestrand’s heritage trail to learn about the artists who have visited the village. You could also pay a visit to the local aquarium, or seek out the fjord-side Cider House, a distillery and restaurant run by a Norwegian-Turkish couple amid over 100 varieties of fruit trees. Other options are to walk up the slopes behind the hotel to gain a different perspective on the splendid scenery, or to visit one or more of the area’s remarkable ‘stave churches’ – elaborate, 12th-century wooden structures, often topped with dragons’ heads, much like the prows of Viking longships.

Day 4

Today features another boat journey up one of Sognefjord’s most picturesque spurs to Fjærland, for an overnight stay at the Fjærland Fjordstue. Here you are a mere stone’s throw from Jostedalsbreen – which, at 487km², is Europe’s largest glacier – so it’s no surprise to find the impressive Norwegian Glacier Museum here. What you might not be expecting, however, is a wealth of second-hand bookshops – 14, at the last count – that makes this farming village as appealing to bibliophiles as to lovers of the great outdoors. If you fall into the latter category, you might find time to hire a bike and cycle along the shores of the fjord, or to simply take to the water in a rowing boat.

Day 5

Today’s fabulous final leg of your holiday, again by express boat, takes you to the mouth of Sognefjord, from where the boat hugs the fissured coastline down to Bergen, where you spend two nights at the Clarion Hotel Admiral.

Day 6

Our self-guided walking tour (again with an included 24-hour City Card) takes in various museums, and streets which have changed very little since medieval times. Equally, you may prefer to linger in the Bryggen, Bergen’s atmospheric, not to mention very photogenic, Hanseatic harbour district. Wander amid its brightly painted shops and warehouses, and peek into the large, glass-sided Fisk Torget (fish market) – a riot of sound and colour, especially when the catch comes in.

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Local Map
Norway's wooden 'cathedrals'
Around the shores of Sognefjord and accessed from the towns of Balestrand and Flåm, stand some of the most remarkable wooden structures in northern Europe, known as the Stave Churches, which date from the twelfth century. Read more in 'The Slow Lane' >