A journey in the footsteps of the Vikings from Oslo to Nordfjordeid and Bergen
Oslo – Flåm – Nordfjordeid – Selje – Eivindvik – Bergen – Haugesund – Stavanger
- By car
Discover the myths and rituals of the Vikings among the fjords and mountains where they once ruled. On this journey from Oslo you will see ancient cultural heritage monuments at Gulating parliament, Norway's first royal seat at Avaldsnes and artfully constructed stave churches. History comes to life in the Viking village in Gudvangen, at the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Nærøyfjord. Bergen and Stavanger have kept their centuries-old architecture while growing into modern harbor towns, where visitors can experience culture and nature. One of the highlights on this tour is the new Sagastad knowledge center in Nordfjordeid with a full-size replica of the Myklebust ship, the remains of the largest Viking ship ever uncovered in Norway.
Oslo – Flåm, 360 km, 5 h 30 min
A visit to the Viking Ship museum in Oslo is recommended before you start the journey that takes you across the mountains to the small village of Flåm. Shortly before Flåm, an excellent place to stretch your legs and admire one of our most beautiful architecture appears. Borgund Stave Church just outside of Lærdal was constructed around 1180 A.D, adorned with carved portals and gaping dragon’s heads. If time permits, we recommend a stroll through the wooden houses in Lærdalsøyri, the charming historical part of Lærdal village. The visitor center also contains an exhibition on the archeological findings at nearby Bjørkum, which uncovered many farmsteads and remains from the Viking Age. The road to Flåm continues through the world’s longest road tunnel, a whole 24.5km long. Depending on the season, you may choose an alternative but longer route over the mountain, following the Norwegian Scenic Route Aurlandsfjellet. In the almost lunar, barren landscape, patches of snow can latch on even through the summer months, giving it the nickname “the Snow Road”. Do stop at Stegastein viewpoint, an impressive structure of glass and wood overlooking the Aurlandsfjord.
After a long day on the road, Flåm is the perfect place to rest up, as well as an excellent base for adventures in nature. A must-see is the Flåm Railway, winding its way up from the village by the fjord through the Flåm valley to Myrdal mountain station. You can take the train as a return journey or buy a one-way ticket and hike or bike back down through the scenic valley. Fjord safaris by RIB boat depart daily from the quay in the village center, a high-speed adventure in UNESCO World Heritage Landscape and the possibility to spot some wildlife if you are lucky. When the evening comes around, do visit Ægir Micro Brewery, named after the legendary brewer in the Norse sagas. Legend has it that the giant Ægir was master of the seas and the best brewmaster of all the Norse gods, and that he had the world´s biggest brewing cauldron.
Flåm – Gudvangen – Nordfjordeid, 152 km, 2 ferries, 4 h 30 min
Only a half hour drive from Flåm, a time portal opens to the days when Viking chieftains and lords ruled the narrow valleys, and the fjord was an important trade and transport route. Njardarheimr Viking village is built as a monument to the ancient settlement where visitors can experience the labor and crafts of the Vikings, as well as learn new skills such as axe throwing, bow-and arrow and cooking by the fireplace. Do book ahead for the next part of the journey, you do not want to miss the spectacular ferry cruise from Gudvangen to Kaupanger, a two-hour journey with incredible views. Keep an eye out for porpoises and other local species as you pass small hamlets and lonesome farms on the green banks of the fjord. Kaupanger Stave Church is well worth a visit if you have time to spare once you reach the village, a beautiful monument to Viking architecture and wood carving. A thousand years ago, Kaupanger was a central place for trade and travel – the name kaupang means trading port in Old Norse.
Past the regional administrative center of Sogndal, follow Rv5 to Fjærland, a peaceful little fjord village where visitors come to admire the glaciers and to explore the Norwegian Book Town, where big and small book shops are lined up in the tiny center. Next rest stop is the Norwegian Glacier Centre, where you can learn more about the massive forces that shaped the fjord landscape and how the climate affects the millennia-old glaciers. A closer look at the Bøyabreen glacier awaits only a few kilometers further up the road. Spend the night in quiet surroundings at Thon Hotel Jølster by the Jølstravatnet lake or continue 40 km further to Nordfjordeid village.
Nordfjordeid – Eivindvik - Skjerjehamn, 266 km, 2 ferries, 5 h 30 min
If you chose to stay the night in Nordfjordeid, one of the main attractions on this tour is almost at your doorstep. The Myklebust ship is a full-size replica of the largest ship ever found in Norway, over 30 meters long. The charred remains were found in a burial mound at Nordfjordeid, along with several other valuable objects and traces of mystical rites that were performed in the burial ceremony. The ship is the main attraction of Sagastad, a new knowledge center where modern technology uncovers the fascinating stories of the Vikings. With a combination ticket you can also join a visit to Bjørkedalen with storytelling. The village is known for skillful boatbuilders, and majestic ships lie by the quay in the nearby lake.
An hour’s drive towards the coast brings you to Selje, where you can visit one of the world’s most beautiful sandy beaches. The pearly-white sands stand out against the green fields and deep-blue ocean, where brave visitors dip their toes in the brisk water for a cool-down in the summer. Starting from May, guided boat tours to Selja island are available on Saturdays, with daily departures from mid-June to mid-August. Hear the saga of Saint Sunniva among the ruins of the Selja monastery, an Irish princess who became the patron saint of Western Norway. Legends say that Sunniva and her followers hid from the Viking earl Håkon in a cave on the island, praying that the rocks would come down on them rather than being captured by the pagans. The Christian king Olav Tryggvason later found the remains whole and unharmed, and built a church on the tiny speck of green land in the vast ocean - in memory of Sunniva.
Nordfjord is a region filled contrasts: from green islands and white beaches on the coast the road inland takes you to Loen, a village nestled between fjord and mountain. Mt. Hoven has become a popular attraction after the Loen Skylift opened in 2017, and visitors may discover that the mountain has its own saga. According to legend, the mountain was named Hoven “the hoof” after Odin´s horse Sleipner stumbled on the mountain and chipped a crack in the rock with his giant hoof. If you prefer to break up the next leg heading to Eivindvik, stay the night in the small town of Førde. One hour further south from Førde lies Hyllestad, where a thriving outdoor museum has been built around the millstone quarries from the Middle Ages and Viking Age. The park has guided tours and exciting activities for the whole family that show the crafts-and-tradesman side of Viking history.
After crossing the Sognefjord by ferry from Lavik, you are close to a place that holds an important historical value. During the Viking Age, Gulating in Eivindvik was the legislative assembly of Western Norway and a place of power. Grand stone sculptures remind us of the important role Gulating played in the unification of the Norwegian counties into a single kingdom, many centuries ago. The park is open for visitors year-round, and guided tours are available on request. A two-hour drive along the coast takes you to Bergen, but our recommendation is to take the country road to the old trading post at Skjerjehamn, where the modern guesthouse has kept its 19th century charm. A detour to the Heathland Center at Lygra is highly recommended. The history of the unique heathland landscape stretches back 5000 years, far beyond the Viking Age, and the park has many hiking trails to experience the wild moors. The visitor center is open four days a week, and guided tours are available on request.
Eivindvik / Skjerjehamn – Lygra - Bergen, 144 km, 1 ferry, 3 h
Bergen was a modest settlement and a king’s seat before the town was founded around the year 1170 A.D, and slowly grew to become Norway’s second largest city. The locals are proud of the cultural heritage monuments that are well preserved to this day, and one of the most eye-catching is Bryggen. Also known as the Hanseatic Wharf, Bryggen consists of a row of historical and colorful wooden houses built by the German Hanseatic League of Merchants, which received UNESCO World Heritage status in 1979. The intricate stairwells and narrow alleyways conceal shops, offices and restaurants, breathing life into one of the oldest parts in town. Nearby at Bergenhus Fortress, wood is replaced by stone in the even older Håkon’s Hall and Rosenkrantz Tower, both serving as a king’s residence long ago.
Not far from Bryggen, the Fløibanen funicular takes you from the bustling city center to the spectacular viewpoint at Mt. Fløyen in a matter of minutes. The modest mountain can also be visited on foot, traversing the narrow asphalt road which turns into a gravel path as you venture further up. Depending on your pace and how many photo stops you make, the uphill hike can take anything from half an hour upwards to an hour or more.
Despite having an urban and modern feel, Bergen offers many more nature-based experiences. Surrounded by seven mountains, hiking with splendid views is a favorite pastime among locals, and fjord excursions depart daily from the Fish Market, offering both half-day adventures and full-day trips. Art and music meet history at the KODE museums, holding the finest works of Norwegian oil painters and modern artists in the museum buildings in the center, while composer Edvard Grieg’s beautiful villa at Troldhaugen has been complemented with a concert hall and museum.
Bergen – Haugesund, 138 km, 1 ferry, 3 h
Rough seas and hidden rocks along the Norwegian coast made seafaring a risky endeavor. Controlling the few natural harbors protected by narrow sounds meant great power, and for 3000 years, kings and chieftains controlled the trade and traffic through the Karmsundet strait in Avaldsnes, just outside of Haugesund. Nordvegen History Centre tells the story of the first royal seat in Norway, before you stroll over to the Middle Age church of St. Olaf. On the small island of Bukkøy lies the Viking Village, where you step back in time and experience the ordinary life of the farmer and craftsman – the backbone of Viking society. Two kilometers outside of the center lies the impressive Haraldshaugen – Norway´s national monument. Legend has it that king Harald Fairhair was buried here, who vowed to not cut his hair until he had united Norway into a single kingdom.
Haugesund – Stavanger, 82 km, 1 ferry, 1 h 30 min
We could not think of a better place for the final stop on this journey through history than Stavanger, the harbor town where ancient and modern history come together. Work your way back in time starting at the Norwegian Petroleum museum, an interactive museum dedicated to the oil findings in the North Sea that propelled Norway into wealth. Next up is a stroll through Old Stavanger, where characteristic wooden houses from the 18th and 19th century lie next to the quirky and fascinating Canning Museum. Join a guided Viking tour by bus, or step into the magical ancient world at Viking House, a virtual-reality experience center. The Museum of Archeology chronicles the sometimes-brutal story of the Vikings as voyagers and raiders to the British Isles.
We are now leaving the city center, seeking out one of the most photogenic spots in Stavanger. In a small bay by the Hafsrfjord lies Swords in Rock, an impressive monument in remembrance of the unification of Norway into a single kingdom. Three giant swords fixed into the ground symbolize peace, unity and freedom. Even before the Viking Age, a thriving culture made its mark on the region. The Iron Age farm at Ullandhaug is an open-air museum rebuilt on the remains of 1.500-year-old farmhouses - the only one of its kind on Norway. At Landa prehistoric village the findings date all the way to the Bronze Age. A visit to Landa can be combined with a hike to Preikestolen, one of our most iconic landmarks. For a more relaxing visit, opt for a Lysefjord cruise from Stavanger harbor, sailing directly underneath the impressive cliff.
The Heathland Centre is a visitors centre for cultural landscape on the European coast of…
The Heathland Centre is a visitors centre for cultural landscape on the European coast of…