10 nights: LOFTHUS x 3, BALESTRAND x 3, LOEN x 3, BERGEN x 1
A relaxing fly-drive holiday featuring Norway’s most popular western fjords
- Dates & Prices
- Price includes
A relaxing fly-drive holiday featuring the best of Norway’s western fjords – Hardangerfjord, Sognefjord, Nordfjord and Geirangerfjord.
These great fjords, calved by glaciers, dig deeply into her west coast and have long been admired for their striking beauty. This tour begins in Hardanger, a region of vast orchards overlooked from across the fjord by the Folgefonn Glacier. Crossing the Vik Mountains you descend with spectacular views of Norway’s largest and deepest fjord, Sognefjord. And finally, crossing the magnificent Sognefjellet mountain pass across the plateau and descending to Nordfjord.
Geirangerfjord, arguably Norway’s most famous fjord and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is included as a full-day trip from Nordfjord and features the boat trip along the fjord.
Day 1 | Kvamskogen - Hardanger - Lofthus (99 miles)
Arrive Bergen Airport by air from the UK. Collect your hire car.
Leave the suburbs of Bergen city and cross Kvamskogen, the mountain plateau between Bergen and Hardanger. Before arriving in the fjordside village of Norheimsund, we recommend you make a side trip to Steinsdalsfoss (waterfall). A walk behind the falls makes for a very refreshing break. Drive alongside the fjord, via Øystese and Granvin, and across Hardangerbrua, a huge suspension bridge crossing Eidfjord to Sørfjord, both arms of the Hardangerfjord. Short drive alongside Sørfjord to the village of Lofthus.
3 nights LOFTHUS - Ullensvang Hotel (4*) - dinner and breakfast included
Days 2 & 3 | Hardanger
The Hardangerfjord region offers spectacular nature whether you're looking for active pursuits or cultural ones. Keen hikers will love the number of trails, for all abilities, which depart directly from the village or within an easy drive. Everything from a 20-minute relaxing fruit trail walk to Queen Sonja's favourite 6-hour panoramic trail. Or for the ultimate hike, how about Trolltunga, a spectacular rock formation jutting out 700 metres above Ringedalsvatnet lake!
The Måbø Valley and Vøringfoss Falls - with a vertical drop of 183 metres - are a popular day trip from Lofthus. The Norsk Nature Centre at Øvre Eidfjord provides greater insight into the history and nature of the region and is adjacent to an excellent gift shop and cafeteria.
Directly across the fjord from Lofthus is the tiny village of Utne, home to Agatunet, an idyllic hamlet with buildings ranging from the Middle Ages to present-day. Here you will also find the Hardanger Folk Museum and open-air museum.
Day 4 | Voss - Nærøyfjord cruise - Sognefjord - Balestrand (95 miles)
Today your journey takes you back across the fjord before climbing Skjervet canyon, passing Skjervet Falls, to Lake Opedalsvatn - the highest point between Hardanger and the town of Voss. Continue alongside Lake Løna to Vinje before climbing to Lake Oppheim and Stalheim. At Stalheim leave the main road, avoiding the tunnel, and make a stop at Stalheim Hotel to appreciate the best view of Stalheim Gorge. Now continue, descending Stalheimskleiva, Europe's steepest car road with its 13 hair-pin bends, and drive along the Nærøy Valley to Gudvangen. Here you board the car ferry which sails along the narrow Nærøyfjord (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) out to where it joins the main Sognefjord. This is a beautiful 2.5-hour relaxing journey with an on-board cafeteria. Disembark at Kaupanger and take the wonderful shelf-road westwards alongside the northern shore of the Sognefjord to Hella (short ferry crossing - 10-mins - to Dragsvik). Balestrand is just a short drive alongside the Esefjord.
3 nights BALESTRAND - Kviknes Hotel (4*) - dinner and breakfast included
Days 5 & 6 | Sogn
Balestrand is an idyllic village with a magnificent backdrop of mountains and the Sognefjord directly in front. Potter around the village centre, home to a small collection of shops, cafes, restaurants and local artists' studios before visiting Sognefjord Aquarium which sits directly in the harbour. If you appreciate unique and interesting architecture you will certainly enjoy a walk alongside the fjord to admire the magnificent villas, built around 1900, which grace the fjord-side.
Other cultural attractions include the modern Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism which is located right in the centre of Balestrand and provides an interesting insight into the history of tourism in this region. Also, St. Olaf's Church, known as the English Church - a tiny stave church erected in memory of Margaret Sophie Green Kvikne, a vicar's daughter from Yorkshire, who came to Norway as a mountaineer and fell in love!
As well as an impressive collection of marked walking and hiking trails in the mountains, Balestrand offers a variety of water-based activities and sightseeing opportunities. Why not take one of several exhilarating fjord-cruises by RIB boat, or for something more leisurely include a Fjærlandsfjord sightseeing cruise including a visit to the Norwegian Glacier Museum and glaciers? Please see the Excursions tab for details of optional activities from Balestrand.
Day 7 | Gaularfjell - Jølsterdalen - Utvikfjell - Nordfjord (119 miles)
Gaularfjellet is often referred to as one of Norway's most well-kept secrets as it is a peaceful alternative to the main roads. The road across Gaular, the mountain between Dragsvik and the Sognefjord, is a wonderful experience; your journey snakes its way towards the highest point of Gaularfjellet, and from Utsikten viewing platform you can admire the panorama of mountains and valleys. Gaularvassdraget, one of the few watercourses that is protected, offers everything from wild rapids and waterfalls to calmer stretches and should you wish to leave your car and stretch your legs, there is a 'waterfall path' with the bridge over Likholefossen waterfall highly recommended.
Your journey continues alongside Lake Jølster and through the Våtedal Valley before crossing and descending Utvikfjell to the Nordfjord. Loen is a tiny village which sits at the head of the fjord.
3 nights LOEN - Hotel Alexandra (4*) - dinner and breakfast included
Day 8 | Geirangerfjord cruise - Geiranger - Mount Dalsnibba (104-mile round-trip)
Today we have included a full day's roundtrip to Geiranger featuring a leisurely fjord-cruise along the Geirangerfjord, the village of Geiranger and the Eagles Road (Ørnesvingen) plus the opportunity to take the toll-road to the summit of Mount Dalsnibba. This is a day of spectacular scenery, not least the Geirangerfjord itself which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We recommend a visit to the excellent Norwegian Fjord Centre, located opposite the Union Hotel on the hillside as you climb out of Geiranger, for a unique insight into local culture and nature.
Day 9 | Nordfjord
There are numerous sightseeing and activity opportunities to choose from with Loen as your base. The centre of Loen is home to Loen Skylift, a magnificent cable car which climbs 1,011 metres to the top of Mount Hoven for amazing views of the Nordfjord and mountains. There is an excellent restaurant at the top with panoramic views. Those with a head for heights will love Via Ferrata Loen and the climb of Mount Hoven with the option to return by the Skylift.
The tiny village of Loen sits at the innermost area of Nordfjord and is overlooked by the great Jostedalsbreen Glacier. The Jostedalsbreen National Park is a protected region and is home to two popular glacial 'arms'; Kjenndalsbreen and Briksdalbreen. It's hard to recommend one over the other, so we strongly suggest visiting both!
There are numerous marked hiking trails and the opportunity to join a guided hike and/or kayak tour before relaxing tired muscles in Alexandra Bath and Spa.
Day 10 | Jølster - Romarheimsdal - Bergen (176 miles)
Retrace your journey around the head of the fjord and over Utvik Mountain to Byrkjelo. Continue through Våtedal to the village of Skei which overlooks Lake Jølster. There is an excellent gift and souvenir shop - Audhild Viken - in the centre of Skei which sells a variety of traditional arts and crafts and the much sort after Norwegian knitwear. This is also an excellent spot to break for a snack or lunch with raspeballer (a potato dumpling), waffles and kjøttkaker (meat balls) being particular favourites.
Take the car ferry from Lavik to Oppedal (duration approx. 20 minutes) and continue through Romarheimsdal to Bergen.
1 night BERGEN - Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz (4*) - breakfast included
Day 11 | Homeward bound
Return your hire car to Bergen Airport before your flight home.
Departure Day: Monday
Departure Dates: 25 May – 21 Sep 2020
Duration: 10 nights
Price from: £2775 per person, based on two people travelling together in one car and sharing a twin/double room throughout. Single supplement on request.
Deposit: £200 per person
It is important to read the Terms and Conditions which apply when making a confirmed booking with us. By asking us to confirm your booking, we are entitled to assume that you have read and understood our terms and conditions, and agree to them.
- Scheduled return flights with SAS in Economy class from Heathrow Airport to Bergen (via Oslo) including 23kgs of checked luggage and one piece of hand-luggage (max 10kgs) per person. Taxes included.
- Car hire with Europcar for the duration with pick-up and drop-off at Bergen Airport. Rental is based on a 5-door VW Golf or similar with space for two suitcases and insurance for one driver (extra drivers at a supplement). Includes Collision Damage Waiver (excess NOK9500), basic protection package, city/airport surcharge, unlimited mileage and tax.
- 3 nights at the 4* Hotel Ullensvang in Lofthus based on a standard fjord-view double/twin room including daily buffet breakfast and buffet dinner. Free car parking.
- Car ferry from Gudvangen to Kaupanger for one vehicle, driver and passenger.
- 3 nights at the 4* Kviknes Hotel in Balestrand based on a view room double/twin on floors 5-8 of the New Wing including daily buffet breakfast and buffet dinner. Free car parking.
- 3 nights at the 4* Hotel Alexandra in Loen based on a standard medium room with mountain view including daily buffet breakfast and buffet dinner. Free car parking.
- Car ferry from Hellesylt to Geiranger for one vehicle, driver and passenger.
- 1 night at the 4* Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz in Bergen based on a standard double/twin room including daily buffet breakfast. Car parking is available in the multi-storey car park directly across the road from the hotel for a supplement (payable locally) – preferential rate given to hotel guests.
- A copy of the vintage motoring gazetteer ‘Motoring in Norway’.
- Quality regional road map.
- Detailed motoring itinerary and travel document wallet.
- 24-hour emergency telephone assistance.
- ATOL Protection.
- Meals or drinks other than those detailed above.
- Personal travel insurance.
- Road tolls (approximately for the tour).
- The following car ferries:
Day 4 – Hella to Dragsvik – approx. NOK payable locally.
Day 10 – Lavik to Oppedal – approx. NOK payable locally.
Kviknes Hotel (4*) – Balestrand
We have featured the Kviknes Hotel, and enjoyed a close co-operation with the Kvikne Family, since our beginnings – but not since theirs! At Kvikne’s their beginnings go right back to 1752 and the best traditions of inn-keeping. The Kvikne family, who still own the hotel, started their reign in 1877, a little before our time, and today it is Sigurd Kvikne (4th generation) who heads up the hotel, with his sister Kari managing their reservations and Front Office.
Although the hotel originally started with only two rooms (yes, just two!), today the hotel has 200 guest rooms and is one of the largest tourist hotels in Norway. Graced with an extensive collection of artworks and antiques, the hotel also has a list of prominent guests; Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany was a frequent guest, along with royalty, emperors, presidents, prime ministers, film stars and artists from many countries.
The hotel was originally built in the ‘Swiss’ style and this section is now referred to as the ‘Old Wing’ or ‘Historical Swiss Style Building’; however much new building, reconstruction and extension has taken place since, not least the addition of the ‘New Wing’ in the 1960s (see below). The Old Wing directly overlooks the Sognefjord and this is where you will find the beautiful dragon-style restaurant and lounge areas with a small number of guest rooms. In the public rooms you will find a fine collection of paintings from the numerous artists who stayed at the hotel (occasionally using their paintings as a way to pay for their stay!) and antique furniture in keeping with the antique, dragon-style wooden interior.
There are a number of different room categories available at the hotel. Our clients are accommodated in rooms on a high floor in the New Wing of the hotel with a view of the gardens and fjord. These rooms have twin beds, a seating area, desk, TV, telephone and bathroom with bath/shower and WC. A small number of twin rooms are also available in the Old Wing of the hotel which are simply and traditionally furnished in keeping with the old style of the hotel and have a view of the fjord. These rooms are available at a supplement. The Old Wing also has a small number of Junior Suites which have a separated seating area and bedroom and a view of the fjord. Please ask our reservations staff for applicable supplements.
The hotel serves a wonderful, traditional Scandinavian buffet for dinner with a broad selection of cold meats, fish and salad along with a good selection of hot dishes featuring meat, fish and vegetarian options. A large buffet breakfast is also served.
The New Wing – Beauty or the Beast?
It was during the 1960s, when Sigurd and Kari’s father, Per Kvikne, was running the hotel that he faced an increased demand for more rooms and plans for a new, modern building were drawn up. At the time Per came under considerable pressure to demolish the old, wooden hotel entirely and completely re-build a modern hotel in its place; however, he couldn’t bear to do this (he had an emotional attachment to the hotel and the memories and history it held) and he decided to have two contrasting buildings instead, retaining the old but building a new, and for them to sit alongside one another, both a testament to their place in history and both examples of fine architecture. This decision proved to be very controversial but it is one that we love and applaud! The New Wing is now seamlessly attached to its older sibling so that internally you pass from one to the other without even knowing you have done so, however, externally the two remain very distinct from one another and still cause something of a visual stir when approaching the hotel from the fjord.
Like it or loathe it, the New Wing is a beautiful example of post-modern 60s architecture and, without it, there simply wouldn’t be a historical, wooden building at all!
Hotel Alexandra (4*) – Loen
Hotel Alexandra is deservedly one of the finest hotels in Scandinavia and has been one of our featured hotels since the very beginning (though it, and we, have changed somewhat over the years!). The hotel has an enviable location at the innermost head of the Nordfjord, surrounded by mountains, with the Josterdalbreen National Park right on the doorstep.
The room has a variety of rooms – all of a very high standard – and we base all our holidays which feature this hotel on their medium, mountain view rooms, with the opportunity to upgrade should you wish. Most medium category rooms have a balcony with a view to the Loen valley or the fjord (if you want a guaranteed fjord-view room you would need to upgrade your room type). All medium rooms have as standard a bathroom with shower or bath, hair drier, mini-bar, TV, desk, WiFi, bathrobe and slippers, and free access to Alexandra Bath.
Alexandra Bath is a large swimming area (3700 square metres) where you can swim inside or outside – including a large water-slide! The pools are heated all year and the outdoor pool has a variety of massage jets. There is an indoor and outdoor Jacuzzi and an indoor sun-area.
Alexandra Apa is open from 0800 to 2000 daily and has a number of treatment rooms with highly qualified therapists offering a broad range of treatments suitable for both men and women. Just ask us for information regarding available treatments and packages.
The Alexandra Buffet, served in Restaurant Charlotte, is famous and serves an abundance of the finest food Norway has to offer – all of it locally sourced. The hotel also has an a la carte restaurant – Restaurant Andrine – should you prefer an alternative to the buffet for one evening. A set amount will be credited towards your a la carte bill to offset the buffet dinner which is included. Cafe Zandra is located in Alexandra Bath & spa and serves a selection of salads, light dishes and refreshments so you don’t need to leave your indulgent cocoon in order to eat!
The hotel has extensive lounges for that pre or post dinner drink, or perhaps just somewhere to catch up on your reading throughout the day. On site you will also find a gymnasium, tennis courts, boats, a hairdressing salon and a souvenir shop.
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz (4*) – Bergen
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz has an enviable location directly in Bryggen, Bergen’s Hanseatic harbour. Set behind the main wharf buildings that line the harbour’s facade, the hotel has the benefit of being centrally located and yet is still quiet. The hotel is just steps away from Fløibanen, the funicular railway to the summit of Mount Fløyen, and to the harbour, fish market and numerous restaurants, bars and cafes.The hotel offers a variety of room types with standard and superior rooms being the ones primarily featured in Scandinavia Only’s holidays. Both room categories have very comfortable beds with both doubles and twins being available. All bedrooms are comfortably furnished and with bath or shower and WC, hairdryer, TV, mini-bar, bathrobe and slippers, safe, iron/ironing board and tea and coffee making facilities. Free Wi-fFi.
A lavish Scandinavian buffet breakfast is served daily in the breakfast room and a complimentary evening buffet meal is available to all hotel guests at certain times of the year from Monday to Thursday (if you feel the latter could be important to your stay please check dates before booking).
There is a multi-storey car park directly across the road from the hotel (payable locally) making it a very convenient hotel for those with a hire car.
The hotel has a lift to all floors and has wheelchair accessible rooms and allergy-friendly rooms.
To book this holiday either telephone us on 01274 875199 (this is our preferred option as it gives us the opportunity to chat with you!) or email your booking request to firstname.lastname@example.org
It is suitable for everyone but most especially for those who like driving and the freedom that a car provides to explore side trips along the way. Young children may become a little bored as amazing scenery is not such a priority at this age, however older teenagers will enjoy the excitement of the hairpin bends and the availability of outdoor activities at each destination.
Norway is a huge country with a tiny population so it stands to reason that the roads are not the most crowded you will ever drive on! Like all countries around the world you will find the cities the busiest and more challenging to negotiate, but even in Ålesund and Bergen (the two busiest destinations you will be driving around) you will find you have time to think about where you are driving.
This holiday does have some magnificent roads, several with hairpin bends, though it's usually the passenger who does the gasping at this point and not the driver! There are no routes on this holiday that a 50 seater coach or lorry is not allowed to drive on so this may make you feel a little better about being in a much smaller vehicle.
Norwegians are very courteous drivers overall, though they do have a habit of putting their foot down when racing to catch the next ferry. Just take your time though and let them pass you - you'll no doubt meet them again, one place forward, in the queue at the ferry quay.
Each of your countryside hotels in Lofthus, Balestrand and Loen, provides free car parking adjacent to the hotel for all guests. In Bergen, car parking is available in a multi-storey car park directly across the road from the hotel. As this is such a convenient car park for hotel guests, the Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz have negotiated a preferential price for all of their guests and if you let the hotel reception know that you have parked in the car park when you arrive they will ensure you have the benefit of this.
Each of the car ferries you will travel on will have a 'conductor' who will take payment in one of the following ways; whilst you are parked in the queue waiting to board the ferry; when you drive onto the ferry; or whilst you are sitting in your car after boarding the ferry. The conductor will take payment at some time!
You will be able to pay using either cash or debit/credit card.
In Norway many hotels include the traditional Smörgåsbord or Cold Table for dinner in the evening. The term Cold Table doesn't really describe it well at all though, as in addition to a cold meat, seafood/fish and vegetarian buffet - plus a wonderful variety of salads and vegetables - you will also find a full range of hot dishes with meat, fish and vegetarian options. Breads, soup and cheese are also offered along with a full selection of enticing desserts!
The way it works is that you essentially go to the buffet for your 'starter', return for perhaps another starter or main course, then try a bit of another main course or a larger portion of your starter (because you like it so much!) and then try a little bit of all of the desserts! In between you plate will be collected from your table by the waiting staff and you get a clean one from the buffet.
The buffet works very well for people who enjoy a variety of dishes and also for those who are a little bit 'picky' and always want their meat and two veg.
The three countryside hotels featured in this holiday all have famous buffet tables.
The buffet at the Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz is simpler but still provides a selection of cold and hot dishes. This buffet is complimentary and is designed to provide a filling evening meal to guests who do not wish to dine out or who have dined out during the day and want to stay in during the evening.
There really isn't a specific dress code anywhere in Norway. For example, men are not expected to wear a tie to dinner you will not be turned away for wearing jeans. However, these are 4 star hotels and many Norwegians will go to the hotels for a short-break holiday as a way to celebrate and they will wear their 'best clothes' in the same way that we often do under the same circumstances.
Certainly the restaurants of these hotels would request that guests do not wear trainers or shorts for dinner! Smart casual is the rule of thumb. If you really want to dress up though then feel free - you won't be on your own. The point we are making is that it is not a requirement.