VISITING MOUNTAINS, FJORDS, SKY LIFTS, AND STAYING AT SPA HOTELS
I traveled to Norway for a 10 day trip in February and had a truly incredible experience! I was lucky enough to travel around with locals for half of the trip, so if you want a unique adventure while visiting Oslo, Alesund, Geiranger, Loen, and Åndatsnes keep reading! Expect to take ferries through Norwegian fjords, see jarring mountains, ride sky lifts, and enjoy spas to stay warm while traveling in the winter.
I flew from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam, Amsterdam to Oslo. Oslo is the largest city in Norway and the tickets were about $550 (including all taxes) to a nearby airport called TORP. The train ride from TORP (Sandejford) to Oslo is about an hour and forty minutes. The train system is easy to navigate, but I’ll explain one issue I had at the TORP airport later, and why I would probably try to book my tickets into the Oslo Lufthavn Airport next time.
How Cold is Norway in the Winter?
The weather was actually not too bad! The temps ranged from 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. I packed tons of warm clothes. Mainly a bunch of long sleeve and turtleneck thermals, then a few sweaters to wear over my thermals, hats, gloves, snow pants, and two winter jackets. I brought a pair of snow boots and regular everyday boots.
I stayed in Oslo at the beginning and end of my trip because of the distance it took to get to the TORP airport. At the beginning of the trip I needed a day to recover from jet lag, it hit me worse than ever for some reason! It was a rough first day, but thankfully I had time at the end of my trip also to explore Oslo.
I would say take at least one full day (two nights) to explore Oslo. I met up with an incredible friend and we visited the Oslo Opera House, shopped and walked Karl Johans, saw the Royal Palace, and best of all: warmed up in a sauna on the ocean and took a quick cold dip!
We stayed at the Anker Hotel. It was located extremely conveniently. There are restaurants and stores all around the hotel within a mile walk. In the other direction it’s a 15 minute walk to the Train Station, 15 minute walk to the Opera House, and a 20 minute walk to Karl Johans.
The sauna was just past all the shopping near a bunch of restaurants right on the ocean. Oslo Fjord Spa was an affordable, no booking necessary, sauna. There were other options for saunas that I would love to do one day, like the one that floats out on the water. We changed into our swim suits and warmed up in the steamy sauna. It got super warm, and when in Norway; you must dip in the freezing cold ocean! It was such a rush to run from the hot sauna room and climb down a later into the ocean. It’s apparently really good for circulation, and other many other benefits too!!!!
I flew from Oslo Lufthavn to Ålesund. The Oslo Central Station is extremely easy to buy tickets from. The kiosks are very clear as to which airport/city you’re traveling to, and they all have an English option. Look for the specific kiosks that are for the Oslo Airport “flytoget.” It was a quick flight, and had such gorgeous views. I paid extra for a window seat and I highly recommend doing so too. The ticket was about $220.
In Ålesund I stayed with a friend I met online because of photography, and loved every second getting to know her and her family! I felt extremely fortunate to try local food recommended by them. Brown cheese is absolutely delicious. Norwegian made chocolate just tastes better. Strawberry jam is a MUST. Oh, don’t even get me started on the hot cocoa too. Thank you again Dani, Kenneth, and Elion!
The first stop Dani took me to is the island of Godøy to see a cute lighthouse and the ocean. We then visited the Aisle Viewpoint that looks over the entire city of Ålesund! The mountains and ocean meet with the colorful city in the middle. Its the perfect place for a photo opportunity and looks just like a postcard.
We visited the center of Alesund which was burnt in a fire in 1904, it was then rebuilt and is now known for its architectural style. The buildings are all beautiful, some brightly colored in yellows, blues and reds. I also got to shop around at tourist shops and in the surprisingly large mall. I am so happy to report I got a Norwegian fleece with the classic snow flake designs to look truly Norwegian!
*I stayed with Dani’s family in Alesund, but there are cute hotels available. In the next cities, I’ll let you know all about the stunning accommodations we stayed in.
We all traveled to Geiranger together, and with another Norwegian photographer, Stian. Geiranger is a stunning town that sits at the base of a Fjord surrounded by mountains. Look up the movie ‘The Wave’ to see a fate it will face one day. In short, a piece of mountain will someday fall into the fjord, and it will flood the town up to 80 meters. Don’t worry, the city has an evacuation plan and everyone will have 10 minutes to escape!
We stayed at Hotel Union Geiranger, which is above 80 meters (I’m pretty sure!) Anyway, Hotel Union Geiranger has luxurious rooms, multiple pools, a beautiful spa, and some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had. My favorite meals were breakfast because it is an entire room of all the breakfast foods you could think of. I of course had to get their freshly baked bread with strawberry jam and brown cheese on top. Sounds weird I know, but it is SO GOOD!
Hotel Union Geiranger Website:
My favorite part Hotel Union Geiranger is the outdoor pool! The heated pool looks over the Geirangerfjord and the mountains that surround the hotel. It is oh-so warm and while we were swimming giant snowflakes landed all around us. It was the most tranquil and beautiful experience just floating around and watching the sky grow dark with such amazing company. We also hung out in the spa area, sipping on cold water enjoying the warmth of the sauna on the snowy winter day.
We loaded up the cars and took the ferry through Geirangerfjord to the other side, then drove to Loen! The views of the ferry ride were so beautiful, we saw multiple eagles and all the mountains, that ride is one I’ll never forget.
In Loen we stayed at Hotel Alexandra which is another stunning spa hotel at the base of the mountains. There is also a sky lift that is located right next to the hotel! The Loen Skylift takes you to the top of the mountain and you get an incredible view of the fjord and mountains surrounding. At the top of the lift there is a delightful restaurant (get hot cocoa.) I tried the beet, locally sourced veggie burger and sweet potato fries and it was absolutely delicious. We were lucky enough to see wing suit guys jump off the mountain and fly to the ground!
Hotel Alexandra’s Website
Also at the top of the skylift there were two igloos and sleds to have some fun! We took some fun videos and photos in the igloo, then road the sled down a little hill. The views up here were also absolutely spectacular. Sadly it was a cloudy day so I didn’t see the entire span of the mountains in the distance. I’ve also heard in the summer the water is vibrant blue! I still enjoyed the oh-so-snowy views. Tip: if you go in the winter I highly recommend wearing snow pants and really warm clothes. It was freezing up there, but I felt great in all the layers.
After Loen, we headed back to Ålesund so we could road trip the next day to Andalsnes and another skylift.
It was about an hour and a half trip through underground and underwater tunnels to Andalsnes. The mountains that surrounded us were getting bigger and bigger, and when we finally got to the town….I can’t even put into words how incredible these mountains are.
We took the Romsdalsgondolen to the top of Mt Nesaksla to look over the city and fjord. It was also so cold up here but that didn’t stop Dani and I from taking all the photos! The view was my favorite of the entire trip to Norway. There is also a restaurant up here and we had to get more hot cocoa to warm up. The restaurant has floor to ceiling walls that overlook all the mountains.
We ended our trip by resting up in Ålesund and hanging out. I then flew back to Oslo and that’s when I met up with my friend, Josie and we did the tour of Oslo. Josie and I walked to the train station together (again from the Anker Hotel) and parted ways. She flew out of Oslo Airport, and I had to travel back to TORP.
Here’s where I complain about one thing, that made me feel so much stress right before leaving Norway, and what would probably make me decide to fly into Oslo over TORP from now on.
TORP is a one hour, forty five minute ride from Oslo. I also had to get a COVID test to get back into America. TORP offers about $100 COVID tests which I booked prior to arrival. Thankfully, I left early enough to give myself 3 hours before having to fly out. That decision is the reason I did not miss my plane!
I took the bus from Oslo to TORP and waited at the shuttle bus pickup to the TORP airport. I road this bus when I first arrived and it drives you about 2 miles to the train stop. What I didn’t know was that I flew out on a Sunday, and they only have rides later in the day. So, once we got dropped off and waited 20 minutes and still no bus arrived, I looked at the schedule and saw that one would not come in time for my plane. I then started walking to the airport. It really wouldn’t be a huge deal to have to walk two miles, but I wasted time and had a 50lb suitcase as well as a 15lb backpack on my back. The road I had to hike up was all uphill to the airport, and I guess I should just add that I was a little hungover from Josie and I’s last night in Oslo together.
The walk felt endless, pushing my giant luggage up the hill to the airport realizing I was only minutes away from my scheduled COVID test was so stressful. I had also just gotten the news that Dani and her family had tested positive. I was just so stressed that I was going to be late for my apt and I had the chance of testing positive which would have required me to stay in Norway. I ended up running to make sure I wasn’t too late and was dripping in sweat (it was only 20 degrees outside) by the time I made it to the Airport. Thank goodness, it didn’t matter at all that I was late or that I had just worked out because I did test negative for COVID, giving me the clear to go home.
So, moral of the story is don’t fly into or out of TORP on Sundays if you don’t want to walk! Looking back, I am actually really grateful for that walk because it was a good workout for the day and it made my hangover go away from sweating all the liquor out. I just want to let other people know because it was definitely a hard walk with my huge suitcase up that secluded farm road.
There is also a chance of seeing the Northern Lights in all of the cities listed, but I unfortunately did not see them this time. Let me know if you have any more questions about visiting Norway in the comments, and follow my Instagram to see more photos, and the story highlight of all these adventures!
Also, find the other amazing photographers I was traveling with on Instagram at: