3–5 days / 422 km / 3 ferries:
The fjord is the soul of Western Norway, and an unhurried journey exploring the Sognefjord is unforgettable. Your most difficult decision may well be how many detours to make. There are fantastic attractions almost any way you turn – such as five
stave churches, numerous glaciers and a landscape that offers
The Nærøyfjord, Sogn og Fjordane
Photo: Terje Rakke/Nordic Life AS/Fjord Norway
Bergen - Voss - Gudvangen - Kaupanger - Sogndal - Balestrand - Vik - Bergen
Bergen – Voss – Gudvangen – Sogndal, 150 km, 1 ferry, 5.5 hours
Starting from Bergen, highway E16 takes you inland to the village of Voss, past Tvindefossen falls, down the hairpin bends of Stalheimskleiva, and along the river valley to Gudvangen. Alternatively, passengers can take the train from Voss to Myrdal, and switch to Flåmsbana, the most dramatic railway experience in Europe. Enjoy lunch in the fjordside village of Flåm, or Gudvangen. The Gudvangen–Kaupanger ferry begins on the pristine Nærøyfjord, the narrowest in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage attraction, continuing out the Aurlandsfjord and crossing the Sognefjord proper to Kaupanger. In and near Sogndal there is varied accommodation.
Sogndal – Nigardsbreen – Balestrand, 170 km, 1 ferry, 4 hours
RV55 takes you to Gaupne, through scenic Jostedalen to Nigardsbreen, an arm of Jostedalsbreen glacier, the largest on mainland Europe. For a closer look, join a boat-ride across the little lake below the glacier. However, nothing beats a walk on the glacier itself – with an experienced glacier guide, of course.
After you return to Sogndal by the same route, visit another UNESCO World Heritage attraction: Urnes stave church, built more than 850 years ago. RV55 continues westward along the Sognefjord, past farms and fruit orchards. Take the Hella–Dragsvik ferry and consider accommodation near Leikanger or Balestrand, one of the most picturesque villages in Norway. Artists have come from all over the world to try to capture the surrounding landscape and exquisite light.
A worthwhile bonus round trip is to cross Sognefjellet, from Gaupne to Lom on RV55, descending to Geiranger or Stryn, returning via Fjærland to Sogndal or Balestrand.
Balestrand – Vik – Bergen, 195 km, 1 ferry, 4 hours
A seaborne detour worth considering is the ferry from Balestrand to Fjærland, with a visit to the Norwegian Glacier Museum. Here you may gain insights into how ice carved Norway’s fjords and valleys, and the ongoing climate change. Return to Balestrand by ferry.
To reach Bergen, drive west to Dragsvik, crossing by ferry to Vangsnes. In Vik visit the characteristic Hopperstad stave church. Afterwards, as you drive RV13 across Vikafjellet to Voss, be sure to stop at the viewpoints to peer back at the panorama of the Sognefjord. At Vinje, turn onto westbound E16, following it to all the way to Bergen.
Read more about Sognefjord.
Read more about Bergen.
Read more about Voss.
- The main attraction is the Sognefjord itself, extending 204 km inland – halfway to the Swedish border! Why not take your fellow travellers on kayak excursion or a mountain walk up to a panorama of the fjord?
- Perhaps the most dramatic scenery is at Beitelen, at the junction of two fjord arms, the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.
- Kvinnafossen falls (120 m), between Leikanger and Balestrand, is right by the road.
- Mølstertunet is an old farmstead, now a museum, at Voss.
- The Flåmsbana railway is widely regarded as one of the most exciting train rides in Europe.
- The Norwegian Glacier Museum yields insight into the inner life and history of Jostedalsbreen, the largest glacier on mainland Europe, as well as information about how the glaciers are reachting on climate change.
- The old village of Lærdalsøyri is known for its authentic atmosphere, its salmon river and the Norwegian Wild Salmon Centre. 27 km inland stands Borgund stave church.
- Urnes stave church, built around 1150, is the oldest church of its kind in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage attraction. On the portals facing north and west, there are fantastic carvings of stylized intertwined animals. From Solvorn you can cross to Urnes by ferry, drive along the beautiful Lusterfjord, and continue up to Sognefjellet and the Jotunheimen National Park. Northern Europe’s highest mountain pass is located in the inner reaches of the Sognefjord.
- There are also fine stave churches at Kaupanger, Hopperstad and Undredal.