This trip starts in Oslo and includes an impressive list of Norway’s most popular highlights. The trip provides great contrasts: wide valleys and rugged mountains, Norway’s most beautiful fjords and mightiest glaciers, charming villages and lively towns, stave churches and other cultural history attractions.
Oslo – Geiranger, 445 km, 6 h 10 min
If you want to get a sense of the capital city’s vibe, walk up Karl Johans gate, from Norway’s parliament Stortinget to the Royal Palace. Art lovers can also head for the Vigeland Sculpture Park or the Munch Museum.
The drive north on the E6 road takes you through open landscape along the east bank of Lake Mjøsa to Lillehammer. Here you can see the arenas built for the Winter Olympics in 1994.
On your way to Geiranger, you will pass through changing scenery, past small villages and farms in the Gudbrandsdalen valley. At Dalsnibba, take a moment to enjoy the views of one of Norway’s most beautiful fjords – the Geirangerfjord. Further down the valley, the view from Flydalsjuvet viewpoint is well worth a pit stop, and maybe also a sit in the Queen’s Chair (Dronningstolen)?
A sightseeing cruise is the best way to see the World Heritage fjord, with its impressive waterfalls, small abandoned farms clinging to the mountainsides, grazing goats and steep walls of rock. Walk the steps leading you along the waterfall from the edge of the fjord up to the information centre Norsk Fjordsenter, and learn more about the unique landscape and the history of the Geirangerfjord.
Geiranger – Åndalsnes, 134 km, 1 ferry, 2 h 40 min
When you are ready for more, continue along Ørnevegen (‘the Eagle Road’), part of the Scenic Route Geiranger-Trollstigen. Stop at the Ørnesvingen viewpoint for one last panoramic photo of the fjord.
Keep your eyes open on the short ferry crossing from Eidsdal to Linge, and if you’re really lucky, you might see porpoises frolicking in the fjord. The small village of Valldal on the other side of the fjord has cultivated strawberries for more than a hundred years, and the warm summers provide ideal conditions for tasty berries.
You’ve now reached a real highlight: Trollstigen is one of Norway’s most beautiful and dramatic stretches of road. Take your time at the viewpoint, which offers striking views of the valley and the hairpin bends up the mountainside.
Note: Google Maps (link below the map) sets the route from Geiranger to Trollstigen via Åndalsnes, and not via Valldal. However, during the summer months, Route 63/Trollstigen is open, so it is possible to drive from Geiranger via Valldal to Trollstigen and so on down to Åndalsnes.
Åndalsnes is beautifully situated between the mountains and the fjord, and is a paradise for experienced walkers who would like to try more challenging walks, either with or without a guide. Here you will find the spectacular Romsdalseggen ridge, and the Norwegian Mountaineering Centre even has indoor climbing walls for both children and adults.
If you’ve got lots of time, take a trip on the Raumabanen Railway. It goes past the steep Trollveggen cliff, Europe’s highest perpendicular rock face at 1,000 metres.
Åndalsnes – Kristiansund, 121 km, 1 ferry, 2 h 30 min
At the Atlantic coast lies Kristiansund, scattered over four islands. The best way to see the town is to hop aboard the Sundbåten boat, which has carried passengers between these islands for more than 140 years! Treat yourself to the traditional speciality clipfish.
The small island of Grip was once a thriving fishing village. Since time immemorial, it has been inhabited by people making a living from cod fishing. Today, this island at the edge of the ocean has no permanent residents, but is a beautiful place for a boat trip from Kristiansund.
Kristiansund – Bud – Molde, 105 km, 1 h 55 min
With its eight bridges elegantly connecting islands, islets and skerries to the mainland, the Scenic Route the Atlantic Road is a real feat. The road is as spectacular in sea spray and stormy weather as on a sunny day.
The small fishing village of Bud was once the biggest trade centre between Bergen and Trondheim, during the golden age of clipfish. Today, it is home to several good seafood restaurants. Visitors who are interested in history should stop by Ergan Coastal Fort and the coastal heritage exhibition.
Molde is known as the town of jazz and roses, but it is also known for its panoramic views of an amazing 222 mountain peaks. At Romsdal Museum, you can walk through the open-air museum with its collection of traditional buildings. Krona, the impressive museum building, houses interesting exhibitions all year round.
Molde – Ålesund, 80 km, 1 ferry, 2 h
Ålesund probably has the world’s most comprehensive and harmonious concentration of Art Nouveau architecture. We recommend a guided city walk and a visit to the Art Nouveau Centre, where you can experience the ‘Time Machine’, among other things. This brings you close to the great fire of 1904 and the rebuilding that gave the town its characteristic appearance.
As daylight fades (or at any other time of the day), you should climb the steps or take the sightseeing train to Mount Aksla. The panoramic views will make you appreciate Ålesund’s fantastic location by the sea even more.
Ålesund – Loen, 140 km, 1 ferry, 2 h 45 min
From Ålesund, continue on to Loen, where the Loen Skylift cable car takes you from the fjord to the top of Mount Hoven in just 5 minutes. Here, at 1,011 metres, spectacular views await you. Try some of the exciting activities and beautiful walks on offer, and also consider a trip to Briksdalsbreen glacier, the most famous arm of Jostedalsbreen.
Situated by the long Jølstravatnet lake, Astruptunet, the rural museum dedicated to the life of painter Nikolai Astrup, one of Norway’s most beloved artists, is well worth a visit.
Loen – Vassenden – Balestrand, 238 km, 4 h 20 min
From Loen, take the Scenic Route Gaularfjellet to Balestrand. The route across the Gaularfjellet mountains takes you past wild rivers and waterfalls, deep valleys and lush hillsides. The viewpoint Utsikten, literally ‘the view’, really lives up to its name!
Midway between Loen and Balestrand is Astruptunet, home of the painter Nikolai Astrup (1880–1928), one of Norway’s most well-known artists.
Balestrand is a creative, picturesque village by the Sognefjord, with long-standing art and tourism traditions. It is home to the Norwegian Museum of Travel and Tourism, beautiful Swiss-style villas, the grand Kviknes Hotel and activities such as kayaking and cycling for the whole family. Boats depart daily for Fjærland, where you can explore the Norwegian Book Town and the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
If you want to taste locally produced apple cider, stop by Ciderhuset (‘the Cider House’).
Balestrand – Kaupanger – Gudvangen, 60 km (to Kaupanger), 1 ferry (2 h 30 min), 4 h in total
Driving along the Sognefjord, you will pass by several idyllic villages with lush orchards. Before you arrive in Leikanger, make a stop to admire the Kvinnafossen waterfall just by the main road. Also stop at Kaupanger stave church dating from the 1100s, the biggest stave church in Sogn, still in use today.
Now sit back and enjoy the view from the deck of the ferry between Kaupanger and Gudvangen. Please note that this ferry only runs from mid-May to mid-August, and we recommend booking a ticket in advance. The crossing takes 2 h 30 min. The alternative is to drive (see map: 137 km, 3 h 5 min). People have been living by the fjord in the innermost parts of the Sognefjord since time immemorial. Here you will see old mountain farms clinging to the steep mountainsides in the spectacular fjord landscape. The Nærøyfjord and the Geirangerfjord are inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Travel a thousand years back in time and meet real Vikings in the Viking village of Njardarheimr in Gudvangen, before you continue onwards.
Gudvangen – Voss, 45 km, 45 min
See the great views of Nærøydalen valley from Stalheim Hotel, before you drive the 13 hairpin bends at Stalheimskleiva road, one of the steepest roads in Northern Europe.
The mountain town of Voss keeps local cultural traditions alive, and we recommend a visit to the folk museum. The annual ‘Ekstremsportveko’ event attracts extreme sport athletes from around the world, but Voss also offers exciting activities for both children and adults all year round. We can mention rafting on the Vosso river, an indoor wind tunnel, a climbing park and trout fishing.
Voss – Bergen, 106 km, 1 h 40 min
At the end of this magnificent journey through Western Norway lies Bergen, the city between the seven mountains. Here you will find another World Heritage attraction; Bryggen, with its distinctive colourful houses dating from the Hanseatic era. Stroll through the narrow alleyways and galleries, and take the Fløibanen funicular to get a bird’s eye view of the city.
Bergen is known for its rich cultural scene. Visit the KODE art museums and check out the cultural calendar to find out about upcoming concerts and exhibitions.
If you are headed back to Oslo, we recommend the Rv7 road along the Hardangerfjord and across the wild Hardangervidda mountain plateau, with a wealth of beautiful natural attractions along the way.
Ørnevegen –Eagle Road – is the name given to the steepest stretch of road up the mountain…
Ørnevegen –Eagle Road – is the name given to the steepest stretch of road up the mountain…
The local tourist offices can give you good and useful information.