Here’s another email-turned-blog-post. I’m posting the information below just in case you’re making plans to visit (which I CAN’T RECOMMEND ENOUGH).
“Given your preferences and time allotment, I’d recommend going to Geiranger and Bergen. Geiranger is fairly small but offers stunning scenery and awesome hiking. There’s also a few local dives, like this AMAZING little chocolate shop called Geiranger Sjokolade. There’s a visitor’s center in the port area with plenty of hiking maps/guides. We did a pretty rough trek up to a waterfall (rough for me anyway…haha), but it was totally worth it. It seemed like every ten steps I’d turn around and the view was even more incredible as we got higher and higher. The snow melt was streaming from the mountains, and we’d stop for cool drinks of crystal water from little streams. Some of the hiking trails passed through people’s farms, so you’d open the gate, continue along the path with sheep and lambs (and the occasional llama) prancing around you, and then close the gate on your way out. Even as I’m writing this, I’m like there’s no way. Anyway, at the top, there was a grassy span above the waterfall that we relaxed on for a little while next to this rushing river. Then we hiked down the path behind the falls. So cool. Something else you might be interested is the Geiranger Fjord Center. It was under construction when we were there but the parts we could access were really interesting. There were these neat walkways along the river, a pretty shop and indoor exhibits. Geiranger has an excellent visitor’s site.
From there, or I suppose it doesn’t matter what order you do it, I’d definitely recommend Bergen. It’s Norway’s second largest city but hardly a metropolis. It’s colorful, hilly and cultural and also offers some interesting activities. We explored the outdoor fish market, the pedestrian shopping street, the arts district and Bryggen, the city’s antique wharf. There’s plenty of bakeries, restaurants, etc. and you can try interesting stuff like whale meat. There’s a stave church on the outskirts of town that’s pretty easy to access via local transportation (it’s a bit of a walk from the stop to the church, but depending on how badly you want to see it, it’s worth it.) Don’t miss the funicular up to Mount Fløyen, where you can catch a pretty spectacular view (I only know this from photos, because the day we went it was pea soup fog, but still a cool experience in my opinion.) Look out for all the street art, and don’t miss Skostredet, where you can check out galleries, vintage stuff, etc. I bought a tote at the Made in Bergen store, because I’m a sucker for totes. Bergen also has an excellent tourist page.
As far as transport between the two, I’d check out the Norway in a Nutshell routes and would highly recommend travel by train or even boat. The perspective of the fjords from the water is pretty outstanding.
One unfortunate note: everything is pricey, and our dollar does not exchange well. Not a huge deal, but just a heads up if you want to save.
Anyway, I’m excited for you. It really was other-worldly in its natural beauty. I highly recommend visiting, even before some of the more well-known European hotspots.”