3 days in Norway

Norway is best known for its scenic beauty- in tall, strapping men as well as magnificent fjords, mountains and waterfalls. While travelers can easily spend weeks exploring Norway’s natural wonders and pristine cities, for those of us short on time, here’s a jam packed Norway itinerary to get the most out of your visit.

Day 1: Oslo

Arrive in the capital city of Oslo in the morning on an overnight flight from the U.S. Norwegian Air offers low cost no frills air to Norway and has non stop flights from JFK and Boston to Oslo. Oslo airport has direct train service to downtown Oslo and runs frequently. The “official” airport train is double the price of the local train, so if you don’t mind waiting, jump on the local train which is just as fast, but not as frequent. Book a place to stay near the Oslo train station so you can dump your bags and explore Oslo on foot. Walk over the iconic bridge near the train station and head towards the Oslo Opera House. Continue to walk along the water until you arrive at Akershus Fortress.

Sunset at Oslo Opera House
Sunset at Oslo Opera House

Oslo, Norway

Also known as Akershus Castle, it was built to protect Oslo and was also used as a prison. Finally head towards the Palace Park to get a view of the Parliament building. While prices in Norway are far more expensive than most countries in Europe, New Yorkers will feel right at home spending an arm and leg for fine dining.

Day 2: Norway fjords

Wake up uncomfortably early and catch the first train to Myrdal. The journey is close to 5 hours so don’t worry you can sleep for the first few hours. The scenery doesn’t start to pick up until the last two hours of the train ride.

Norway train

Once in Myrdal, transfer to the Flam Railway. Known to be one of the most scenic train journey’s in the world, the train travels on the edge of the mountain for 20 km and takes about 1 hour. Grab a seat with a window that opens so you can take unobstructed pictures (and selfies). The train will also make a stop so you can get off and take pictures outside a stunning waterfall.

Norway Flam Railway waterfall

Flam Railway Scenes

The train will put you in Flam, where you will board a fjord cruise (which will blow your mind). Weather onboard the fjord cruise will be about ten degrees colder, so pack layers. It is also very windy so hold on tight to your phones and cameras while taking photos and videos.

Norway Fjords

Norway Fjords

Following the cruise, hop on a bus to Voss and finally take the Bergen Railway from Voss to Bergen. Arrival into Bergen is close to 7 pm. The best way to book this journey is through the company Norway in a Nutshell. The most efficient option is traveling from Oslo to the city of Bergen via Myrdal, Flam, and finally Voss. The tour, around $250, has places to store your luggage on each train ride, boat ride and bus ride, plus it doubles as your transportation to the city of Bergen on Norway’s west coast. Purchasing the package through Norway in a Nutshell provides all your transfers and is the most scenic way to travel from Oslo to Bergen. Remember to pick up the tickets from the train station in Oslo when you arrive from the airport.

Day 3:Bergen

Spend the morning in Bergen exploring the scenic wharf area (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and wandering the streets. The city of Bergen is set on the side of a mountain so the views from the wharf of the houses is very picturesque. You can wander up the streets, gaining elevation and views as you go or take the funicular up.

Bergen Norway

Bergen, Norway

Read more about Bergen here. Bergen is not that big and can be easily explored in half a day. Norwegian air offers evening non stop flights from Bergen to JFK which will allow New Yorkers to make the the most of their day and head back to the U.S. in the evening.

Norway Travel Tips

While beautiful, Norway has the potential to get very cold. The temperature can vary greatly during the day depending on the elevation so pack layers and water resistant jackets. Bring snacks with you while traveling, and don’t be afraid to drink the water. Also the bathrooms, even in the train, are very clean so have no fear! Almost every establishment accepts credit card so do not convert too much cash before traveling. If you have more time to spare, fly to Stavanger to hike to Pulpit Rock or, if you have the guts, make the challenging trek to iconic Trolltunga. City lovers can fly direct from Bergen to Copenhagen or Stockholm to continue exploring this fantastic and pristine part of the world.

Banff National Park – Summer Experience

Words and pictures do not fully capture the beauty of Banff National Park. Located right outside Calgary, Banff National Park is Canada’s first National Park and is part of the Rocky Mountains. Everywhere you look is a perfect, picturesque view of nature. The air is fresh with an aromatic scent of pine, spruce, and fir. And during those moments you are engulfed with a sense of peace.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park

It is easy to see why the people here are so kind and happy! Travelers to Banff are able to relax and just enjoy the scenery or get as adventurous as their heart desires. During the summer, the days are long and sunset is between 9 and 10 PM. The most popular cities in the park are Lake Louise and Banff.

Lake Louise

You certainly won’t be disappointed with the choices of trails circling Lake Louise. Whether a novice or a time-tested hiker, the views of this breathtaking lake and mountains will continue to captivate you no matter where you are along the trail.

Lake Louise

A typical hike starts at the Fairmont Hotel and ends at one of the two tea houses at Plain of Six Glaciers or Lake Agnes. If you’re like me and can’t decide which tea house to see, I suggest starting on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail and returning home on the path of Lake Agnes. A little caveat: this is one of the longer trails, around 6 hours – but it’ll be worth it in the end. Plus, you’ll have another reason to eat that delicious homemade teahouse cookie!

Other popular hikes in the area include:

–       Consolation Lakes Trail by Moraine Lake

–       Saddleback Pass Trail

–       Helen Lake Trail.

You can also visit trails by horseback.

Canoes are available to rent on Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. For the thrill-seekers, white water rafting tours are available outside of Lake Louise.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park


The town of Banff, located 30 minutes south of Lake Louise, has a cute downtown with shops, restaurants, and bars. Besides eating delicious food in town (Park Distillery Restaurant & Bar) and listening to some great live music at night at the Fairmont Rundle Lounge, some popular activities recommended are:

–       Banff Gondola at Sulfur Mountain

–       Hiking and Biking Trails

–       River Float Trip / Boat Tour on Lake Minnewanka

–       Johnston Canyon – easy walk/hike, looking at nature within the canyon rather than out.

–       Swimming in the 104 degree hotel pool (while cold outside)

Banff National Park

Travel Tips for Banff National Park:

Direct flights to Calgary leave from New York, Houston, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Seattle. Before you fly into Calgary International Airport, it is best you have your rental car booked ahead of time. The most convenient method is to rent from the rental car companies located at the airport parking garage. From the airport, it is an easy and scenic 1.5 hour drive to Banff National Park.  As you arrive at the park gate, there is a per day park vehicle fee you must pay ahead of time. For example, if you are staying 4 nights then pay for a 4 day pass. Fill up gas before you leave Banff or have rental car reservations to include an empty tank as finding a gas station towards the airport is difficult.) Also, if you are flying out internationally, US customs is BEFORE you get on the flight. Leave plenty of time to go through customs and regular security before you get to your gate.

Banff National Park

What to pack for a trip to Banff National Park:

– Passport

– No foreign transaction fee Credit Card, much easier than dealing with paper currency as credit cards are accepted everywhere.

– Insect repellent (very much needed during hikes in Lake Louise)

– Umbrella (never know when it can rain)

– Bathing suit (hotel pools and any water activities)

– Wind breaker/jacket/sweater – to wear during the hikes, at night, or when it’s milder out. The weather can vary drastically both day-to-day and day-to-night.

– Trail shoes/hiking boots/water shoes (for white water rafting)


As much as Drake loves talking about “Views”, the best views of Canada don’t come from Toronto. Indeed, the views from Banff National Park are second to none.

Thanks to Nirali for her awesome travel tips on Banff National Park!
Thanks to Nirali for her awesome travel tips on Banff National Park!

Ladakh, India

Just beyond the hill-stations of Himachal and Srinagar and just before the inhabitable upper Himalayas lies the sparsely populated region of Ladakh, the ‘Land of the High Passes’. A pocket of Tibetan culture carved into Indian borders, Ladakh is an oasis of valleys thriving amongst a harsh Himalayan ranges that slice through the land. Excursions from Leh, the sleepy, monastery-filled capital, are recommended to the Nubra Valley, a major stop in the ancient Silk Road, and Pangong Lake, a massive clear-blue lake that straddles India and China.

Ladakh India

Ladakh India

Start the morning drive early and rise out of Leh through one of the highest mountain passes in the world, the Khardung-La Pass, which peaks at a staggering 5602 meters (18,379 feet). There’s a cheeky chai station at the top reminding you that you’re on top of the world.

Ladakh India

After conquering Khardung-La, your view opens to the sanctuary that is the Nubra Valley. A small pocket of monasteries, homes, and camel farms remain of what once used to be a large trading post between China and India on the Silk Road. In the distance, the Siachen Glacier can be glimpsed where both India and Pakistan maintain forward army posts at inhumane elevations.

Ladakh India

Ladakh, India

Backtrack to Leh and cross the mighty Chang-La pass and be greeted by the colossal, shimmering-blue Lake Pangong: a saline lake that sits at 4350 meters (14,270 ft), covers 604 square kilometers, and is 134km (83 miles) long.

Ladakh India

The barren, immense moonscapes of Ladakh have an incredible way of making you feel small.

Ladakh India

When to Visit Ladakh:

The tourist season is short, from June to September with peak tourism combining with flower blooms in the valleys in late-July, early-August—a truly remarkable sight. We went in late April and combatted avalanches, blizzards, and sub-zero evening temperatures, which surely instructs you to the power of the region but is not recommended.

Ladakh India

What to Wear/What to Bring to Ladakh:

Layers are a must. After a hike to a monastery you want to rip every off, but after sitting in the car passing over 18,000 feet you’re reaching for the earmuffs. We would sleep in multiple sweaters and hibernate in winter coats. Great boots are essential. Gloves, a camera, and a penchant for adventure are all else that you need.

Ladakh India

How to get around Ladakh:

Purists would advocate renting a motorcycle and driving the entire long, unpredictable route on Royal Enfield like a Bollywood movie star. However, it’s safer and faster to fly from Delhi to Leh and hire a local driver who will skillfully transport you around the region. Of note, all foreign nationals are required to purchase the Protected Area Permit (600 INR) to enter the Nubra Valley and the Pangong Lake regions. Each town outside of Leh sports a few comfortable and affordable accommodations for you to rest after conquering each successful mountain pass.

Ladakh India

What not to miss in Ladakh:

Do not forget to give yourself time to acclimatize! The day we arrived we felt as if someone had wrung us through a clothes-dryer; we spent a full day lying in bed trying not to move a muscle. Drink water aggressively and use Diamox if you have a history of altitude sickness—acute cerebral or pulmonary edema is serious. In lighter advise, ask your driver to take you to the roads overlooking the Indus River as it runs through Ladakh. It’s a humbling experience to see the pure water make it’s way towards the coast and contemplate its role in the creation of a civilization.

Thanks to Nitish, a doctor, traveler, and writer based in New York City for his travel tips on Ladakh!
Thanks to Nitish, a doctor, traveler, and writer based in New York City for his travel tips on Ladakh!

The Gap of Dunloe, Ireland

The Gap of Dunloe is a narrow mountain pass that was created by glacial ice millions of years ago.  Located on Ireland’s west coast, it is best accessed by staying overnight in the neighboring towns of either Killarney or Kenmare.  The Gap of Dunloe can be crossed by foot (a full day hike), horse and carriage, or car.  Cars are technically not allowed, but if you are already traveling through the mountain pass, you are unlikely to be stopped.  We drove through with a 4 door car with no issues.  Taking a pony trap is another option for those that do not have enough time to hike.

The valley, about 6 miles in length, is between the Macgillycuddy’s Reeks and the Purple Mountains. There are five lakes, or loughs, that you will pass as you traverse the Gap- Coosaun Lough, Black Lake, Cushnavally Lake, Auger Lake, and Black Lough. The River Loe connects the lakes to one another.

Gap of Dunloe

While visiting this area, you also should save at least half a day to drive the Ring of Kerry.  The west coast of Ireland is best reached from Shannon Airport (United has nonstop flights from Newark/NYC to Shannon).


Switzerland’s Wine Country

Most people don’t realize that Switzerland has beautiful vineyards.  Travelers can take a mild to moderately challenging hike passing (or stumbling, depending on how often you stop for a tasting) through several vineyards located on the shores of Lake Geneva.  The entire Lavaux wine region is a UNESCO world heritage site and stretches 30 kilometers from Lausanne to Montreux.  One of the most scenic hiking trails starts in the small town of Cully (about a 20 minute train ride from Lausanne).  Take the train to the town of Cully and begin your hike here.   Between here and the town of Rivaz (about 5 km from Cully) you will have great views of immaculate terraced vineyards, Lake Geneva, and the French Alps.  If you have more time in this region, stay overnight in Montreux or Lausanne and catch a music festival in the summer (Paléo Festival de Nyon, Montreux Jazz Festival).

Headed to Rivaz

Swiss Vineyard

Vineyards Sign


The original Bellagio

Lake Como in Northern Italy, famous for its charming homes and villas on picturesque cliffs, is becoming more and more traveled.  This Y-shaped lake has several towns around its perimetry.  The elegant town of Bellagio can be found where the arms of the Y intersect and we can see why someone would name a hotel after this beautiful destination. Lake Como is also well known to be site of many star studded vacation homes.  Both George Clooney and Gianni Versace have owned homes on this lake.  For those of us who are not able to be house guests of George, there are several housing options along the lake.  Travelers arriving by train to the town of Como can find modest to high end accommodations in this town.  A ferry connects Como to the other towns and villages (including Bellagio) and runs from morning til evening.  There is also a bus that travels between towns, but is not nearly as scenic.  The train ride from Milan to Como is just an hour, and flights into Milan from NYC tend to be cheaper than Rome!

Iceland’s Glacial Lagoon

One of Iceland’s natural wonders is Jökulsárlón which means “glacier river lagoon.”  It formed when the tip of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier (part of the Vatnajökull glacier) began to retreat from the sea in the 1930s.  Large pieces of glacial ice break off the glacier to form create the striking icebergs floating in the lagoon.

Iceberg in glacial lagoon

The lagoon was the backdrop for scenes from the James Bond film Die Another Day and most recently the new Bollywood film Dilwale.  The lake developed just over 60 years ago and has doubled in size since 1975.  Global warming is real, people.  It takes over 4 hours to reach this area from Reykjavik so you can either leave very early, or make an overnight stop in the seaside village of Vik.  Once you arrive at Jökulsárlón, jump on board a boat to weave you between icebergs in the glacial lagoon.

glacial lagoon iceland


Plan a visit in July or August when the weather is the warmest (relative to the rest of the year) and the days are longer.  If you want to get the best deals on hotels and airfare, travel a bit off season in early June or mid September.  Remember, because of Iceland’s proximity to the North Pole, the days become shorter quickly.  Summer travel, while more expensive, allows you to make the most of your time there (nearly 20 hours of sunlight in the summer!).  By mid September, the temperatures drop and the days shorten to 11 hours making driving late at night more challenging on poorly lit roads.


In the summer months you will need plenty of layers.  Although Reykyavik may be pleasant during the day, the area surrounding the glacial lagoon will still be chilly and wet.  Bring waterproof boots as well.  If you have trouble sleeping, the constant daylight in the summer months may drive you crazy.  So bring a sleeping aid, if you think you need it.

HOW TO GET TO Jökulsárlón Lagoon:

The easiest way is by renting a car. Several tour companies will also offer tours from Reykjavik (379 kilometers away) which takes away the hassle of driving, allowing you to enjoy the scenery along the way.  Depending on how many people you are traveling with, renting a car may be easier as well as more economical.  The lagoon is located just off the Route 1 ring road.

The cheapest way to get to Jökulsárlón is to hitchhike.  Apparently, backpackers do this safely here, as Iceland has one of the lowest crime rates in the world.  It is also possible to take the bus (route 51) to the glacial lagoon from the bus station in Reykjavik (called “Mjodd”).


On the way to Jökulsárlón, be sure to stop by for a meal or an overnight stay in Vik.  Vik is about 2 hours into your 4 hour drive from Reykjavik to the glacial lagoon.  The black sand beaches here are truly unique, and the sunset here borders on magical.  Another interesting site to note is the volcano Eyjafjallajökull.  Uhh… What?  Don’t waste your time trying to pronounce it – just know that it is the volcano that famously erupted back in 2010.  It is located 30 minutes by car away from Vik en route to Reykjavik.  Just follow the Route 1 ring road back to the capital.

Vik, Iceland
Vik at Sunset