From Kristiansund, the town that almost seems to float in the Atlantic Ocean with its small islands, via the Town of Roses Molde with its beautiful panoramic views and on to the mountaineering capital Åndalsnes with its very steep mountainsides and emerald green lakes. Follow the route we have devised or maybe you’d like to add your own twist?
Culture town Kristiansund
We start the trip in Kristiansund, which has a beautiful location at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean. You can explore its four islands, Innlandet, Kirkelandet, Nordlandet and Gomalandet. Kristiansund is also known for its colourful buildings and rich cultural scene and for hosting festivals such as Operafestukene, Nordic Light fotofestival, Tahitifestivalen and Festspillene i Kristiansund.
You can get between the different islands on the Sundbåten boat, which is the very heart of the town. It is one of the oldest means of transport in the world, dating from 1876, making it as old as the trams in San Francisco. Unlike the trams however, Sundbåten has been in continuous operation under the same logo for 145 years. A round trip on the boat takes around 20 minutes.
Area for walks near the centre of town
Do like the locals do and start the day with a walk to Vanndamman pond and Kringsjå. The trail is within walking distance of the town centre and you walk through a park all the way to the start of the walk. You pass the architectural gem Kirkelandet church, and Vanndamman pond with its teeming birdlife, on the way.
You can take several routes, and choose between a route beside the sea or on gravel paths. You will be able to enjoy lovely views across the sea whichever route you choose, and benches and picnic areas have been set up at various places in the terrain. Havstien walking area is partly in Kringsjå, but this nature path takes you along the edge of the sea and is slightly more demanding than walking on the wide gravel paths.
When you’ve done the walk, stop and have lunch at Mætt og Go’ on the quayside. They focus on local produce and home-made food. You can also buy something to bring back home with you from the biggest range of local produce in the county. You’ll find cheeses, cured meats, locally brewed beer and hæmbakakak, their own bread.
During summer, there is a boat service to the picturesque fishing village Grip, which currently has no permanent residents. The charming and colourful village is as it was, and you can soak up the great atmosphere among the old wooden buildings. Visit the café on the island and Grip stave church, which was built in around 1300. There is a daily boat service to the island, and the trip there and back takes 3 hours.
You can also decide to stay in the town and visit the attractions there. If you continue along the quay, you’ll come to Vågen og Mellemværftet, a lively shipyard with three slipways. The yard houses vintage boats and wooden boats under repair. The museum café Patrick Volkmar is situated nearby where you can sample coffee they have produced themselves. If you’re interested in history, you can visit the Klippfiskmuseet museum to learn about the history of Kristiansund and clipfish.
The clipfish town
Kristiansund is Norway’s clipfish town with strong culinary bacalao and clipfish traditions. Almost all the town’s restaurants serve clipfish and you can’t leave these islands in the sea without tasting it! We recommend a trip to the small, family-run restaurant Sjøstjerna which serves five different clipfish dishes. Try clipfish marinaded in basil, or maybe with a Mexican twist?
Take advantage of the chance to drive the Atlanterhavsvegen road between Kristiansund and Molde. This road has been called the world’s most beautiful car journey and has been named Construction of the Century. Take a break and walk along Svevestien path on Eldhusøya island and fill your lungs with bracing sea air.
Jazz and the Town of Roses Molde
Drive on until you get to the next stop, the Town of Roses. Molde faces south onto the Romsdalsfjord and is known for its beautiful surroundings and fantastic views. For more than a hundred years, Molde has been dubbed the Town of Roses due to its lush, flowering rose gardens. From mid-July, the fragrant roses on top of the roof of the town hall and in Alexandraparken park are in full bloom. Moldejazz is held every summer, which features world-known jazz musicians, and the town is filled with music and happy festival goers. This year’s festival will be a little smaller than normal, and all the musicians will be from Norway.
Stop and enjoy a nice lunch as the artisan bakery Fole Godt. Fole godt means ‘very good’ in the local dialect, and they take great pride in their very delicious bread and buns. Enjoy something straight from the oven and the lovely atmosphere with a delicious cup of coffee at one of Molde’s most popular meeting places. We recommend saving some room for their fantastic cinnamon buns!
Architecture and views
See more by taking the nature path Den grønne korridor (the green corridor). The path is waymarked from the corner at Scandic Alexandra with blue symbols, and it takes you through the town and up to the viewpoint Varden. Stop at Romsdalsmuseet museum, which is one of Norway’s biggest folk museums with more than 40 old wooden buildings set in beautiful grounds. The museum also includes the iconic building Krona, whose modern design represents the spectacular scenery of Romsdalen. It has a number of different exhibitions and is fun for children and adults alike. You can spend the entire day at the museum, but set aside time to do the walk up to Varden (407 metres above sea level).
You follow the blue symbols from Romsdalsmuseet museum to get to Varden, and there are signs on the way that tell you how much further it is to the top. When you’re on the top, you’re rewarded by a fantastic view of the town, the fjord and the Molde panorama with its 222 partially snow-clad peaks. On a clear day, you can see all the way out to the fishing village of Ona and the notorious waters of Hustadvika. If you’d like to walk more, there are waymarked trails that take you straight to Moldemarka outdoor recreation area from here.
Barbecued food by the sea
Back down in the town centre, you can enjoy the new paved waterfront right beside the sea. Restaurants offer outdoor service and places to sit. Many great culinary experiences are available in Molde, If you fancy some barbecued food, you should head for Köl, whose philosophy is that everything can be barbecued. The restaurant uses coal-fired barbecues and serves perfectly cooked burgers and steak with everything that goes with them. The great atmosphere means that you’ll want to stay there until late in the evening.
Audio guides in Molde
If you’d like to explore the great stories and attractions in Molde, we recommend downloading the app Voice of Norway, putting in your ear plugs and listening to information you won’t have heard before about Molde. You can hear stories about Domkirken church, the Kongebjørka monument, the poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, Brunvoll Motorfabrikk engine factory, Barnesanatoriet sanatorium for children, the first bomb during the war, and 40 other people, places and events that have played a role in making the town what it is today.
National Scenic Route Geiranger–Trollstigen
If you travel south from Åndalsnes, make sure not to miss the Trollstigen road, which is less than half an hour away. This iconic Scenic Route offers spectacular experiences in each of the 11 hairpin bends that wind their way up the mountainside. You can also experience the road on two wheels. More and more people are choosing to experience the road from the seat of a bike, and you can rent electric bikes at Hotell Aak to get a little help up the steep bends, and give you more time to enjoy the fantastic views.
Mountaineering capital Åndalsnes
Head for Åndalsnes and get ready for an active day. Åndalsnes is known as the mountaineering capital of Norway, and with good reason. It’s a paradise for climbing and hiking in the mountains. The very steep mountains and the emerald green rivers make it a popular destination. Start the day with a hike up Rampestreken. The path starts close to the centre of town, and the hike takes around two hours there and back. It’s a steep hike so wear sturdy footwear.
A viewing platform has been built on top of Rampestreken, which almost hovers in the air. You can enjoy great views of the majestic mountain peaks, Åndalsnes and the river Rauma running into the fjord. If you would then like to hike to Mount Nesaksla, you follow the Romsdalstrappa steps a further 15 to 30 minutes up to the top.
If you feel ready for a real mountain hike, Åndalsnes is the starting point for the spectacular hike along Romsdalseggen ridge. You should set aside a day for this. The lofty hike across some of the most fantastic mountains in Western Norway is 10 km long, and takes you 1,329 metres above sea level at its highest point. The unique thing about this hike is that it provides great views and experiences the whole way. We recommend taking the fjellbussen bus from the centre of town to Vengedalen, which is the starting point for the hike across Romsdalseggen ridge. Rampestreken is part of the descent on this hike.
A place with lots of character
You’ll definitely have worked up an appetite on your way down from the viewpoint, so a stop at Sødahlhuset is a good idea. This gem of a café in the centre of Åndalsnes serves local and sustainable food. You can enjoy simple, tasty dishes, homemade cakes and a good selection of vegetarian food. You can sit outside in the lovely outdoor area if the weather is nice.
Norway’s highest indoor climbing hall
Stroll down to the quay and to the iconic Norwegian Mountaineering Centre building. You’ll find Norway’s highest indoor climbing hall here, where you can climb in all weathers. There are 60 different routes of different degrees of difficulty. Have fun on the climbing wall or spend your time investigating the interactive exhibition. You can test, for example, what being in a flying tent on a mountainside is like or feel the rush base jumpers get as they hurtle down mountainsides. The centre also has a museum shop and a restaurant with a lovely outdoor seating area down by the waterfront.