The Norwegian fjords: a roadtrip through majestic nature

Norway is a small country if you consider how few people that live here. 5 million strong we lie insignificantly on the northern most part of Europe, plotting away with our own issues, minding our own business and watching the EU from the outside. We might be small when it comes to a lot of issues, but in the matter of nature, we do it big, wild and unforgettable. Norwegians are outdoorsy and active people and our passion for nature will hardly surprise you when you know what is on offer in this long-streched country. Spectacular mountain ranges and national parks covers a lot of the central areas, while the south boasts a impressive coastline with many beautiful destinations. The north, so pure and wild, have some of the most stunning white sandy beaches you’ve ever seen and although the temperature is rarely inviting for a dip in the ocean, those blue and turquoise waters will be irresistible. But, the Norwegian nature is most famously known for its fjord on the western parts of the country. That is where I wanna take you today, on a roadtrip through what I have come to realise is a magical place where the mountains meet the sea in some of the most dramatic and beautiful landscapes on earth.

I guess you could argue that my aching love for the unique Norwegian nature is subjective, blinded by patriotism and affection for the motherland, but I’ll be bold and tell you that it is not. Moreover, I’ll be so delightfully shameless and tell you that a trip to the fjords will be one of the most memorable encounters with nature you will ever experience. And I need you to take my word for it, because the truth is, I was never particularly interested in knowing my own country, until I met the fjords and realised that exoticism had been blinding me for too long. This encounter with nature wasn’t only a visual masterpiece, but so ridiculously emotional. Picking my jaw up from the floor every five minutes, its beauty made me speechless and moved me to the point of tears. Never have I felt nature so vividly before and it made me believe that, yes, perfection does exist.

Over the top you say? Yes, I can see that it might seem like that, but it is the crazy truth that I am speaking and I dare you to follow in my footsteps, or rather my car tracks, and tell me that I am wrong. Follow this route and I promise that Norway will knock your socks off!!

Stegastein Viewpoint above Aurlandsfjorden.

 

FJORD-MAGIC ROADTRIP

DAY 1 > OSLO, RONDANE & ÅNDALSNES.

I guess beginning in the Capital on the eastern parts of the country serves two purposes for me, besides the fact that it is here I find my home. For one, whilst in Norway it would be a shame to miss out on Oslo, which is not only the biggest city, but a lively and interesting one at that. Secondly, although you will find nice nature in the east as well, it’ll be no secret that this part of the country will be a pale comparison to the breathtaking landscape that awaits you in the fjords. It’s almost a joke. That’s why the build-up is so good and as you leave Oslo and head north towards the Olympic city of Lillehammer, you will soon find yourself driving up the mountainside and into Rondane National Park. You’ll pass through open, wast landscapes before descending and continuing along the beautiful Rauma river that carves through Romsdalen on its way down to Åndalsnes. The first day of this trip is truly an amazing taste of what’s to come for the next couple of days as you drive further into fjordnorway.

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Rondane National Park.

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Sohlbergplass Viewpoint in Rondane.

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Rauma River in Romsdalen.

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Rauma River.

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Mighty mountains in Romsdalen on the way to Åndalsnes.

DAY 2 > GEIRANGER, SOGNEFJELL & LUSTERFJORDEN

‘Trollstigen’ will definitely stand out as one of the most memorable roads you’ll drive through Norway and it is the first highlight of the second day on your way to Geiranger. Trollstigen is famous for lying on a steep mountainside swinging its way up with an elevation of about 850 meters until you reach the plateau where it’s been build several viewing balconies. From here you can witness from above Trollstigen and the towering mountains leading up to it.

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Trollstigen and Stigfossen from above.

From here Rv63 will take you over the mountains down towards Valldal. Here, you will have two options which both includes a ferry towards Geiranger. The first options is to cross the fjord from Linge over to Eidsdal. From Eidsdal you will follow the road that’ll lead you past the beautiful Eidsvatnet (lake) on your way to Ørnevegen which is the name of the winding road that will take you from a spectacular view of Geiranger from above down to Geiranger itself. The second option will be to take the Valldal – Geiranger ferry which is a longer and breathtaking trip through the Geiranger fjord. On your way you’ll pass the ‘Seven Sisters’ Waterfall and see how people built their homes on unimaginable places up the steep mountainsides. If this is your first time visiting the fjords I recommend taking the ferry from Valldal as the wild landscape will seem even more impressive when massive mountain walls stand tall above you on each side.

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Eidsvatnet.

Geiranger from Ørnevegen Viewpoint

Geirangerfjorden from Ørnevegen Viewpoint.

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On the ferry from Valldal to Geiranger.

Take a break and walk through Geiranger, which has a few eateries, souvenir shops and it’s own chocolatier where you can try and buy some interesting flavoured chocolate and also see the process of making it. After Geiranger you continue on Rv63 that’ll take you back up the mountains. Stop at Flydalsjuvet for more beautiful views of Geiranger and as you reach the mountain plateau, head to Dalsnibba which lies at 1500 meters above sea level as one of the highest viewpoints of a fjord in the world.

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Chocolatier in Geiranger.

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Geiranger from Flydalsjuvet.

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View from Dalsnibba.

From Dalsnibba the road continues over another passage of mountains until you reach the lowlands again and follow the Otta river on your way to the little, beautiful and traditional municipality Lom, before again driving up, this time to Sognefjell. When you reach the mountain plateau at Sognefjell, you will pass Galdhøpiggen, the highest mountain in Norway which lies in Jotunheimen National Park. Follow snow-covered tops and still waters on your way through the NP until you yet again descent from the mountains and into Lusterfjorden which will be todays final destination.

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Otta River on the way to Lom.

Lom in Oppland

Lom in Oppland.

Lom Stavkirke

Lom Stavkirke.

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Sognefjell.

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Sognefjell at sunset.

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Jotunheimen National Park.

Lusterfjorden at Sunset.

Lusterfjorden at Sunset.

DAY 3 > AURLANDSFJELLET, AURLANDSFJORDEN,  NÆRØYFJORD & BERGEN

There’s a couple of hours during the day that are more magical than the rest so set your alarm and awake to a peaceful sunrise over Lusterfjorden. Today you’ll end up in the Capital of the west and Norway’s second largest city, Bergen. In reality fjords such as Geiranger and Luster are what we call ‘fjord arms’ meaning they are just the smaller parts of the main fjord that splits into different direction. As you are leaving Lusterfjorden you are actually continuing on following Norway’s largest fjord, Sognefjord, which is also the worlds largest open fjord with its 205 kilometers carving into the mainland.

Sunrise in Lusterfjorden

Sunrise in Lusterfjorden.

Follow the road toward Sogndal and then towards Mannheller where a ferry will take you to Fodnes and Lærdal. As a mountainous country, Norway has an exceptional large amount of tunnels and right here in Lærdal you will find Lærdal tunnel which is the longest road tunnel in the world, streching itself 24 kilometers down to Aurland. However, you are not here to see the inside of a tunnel and the reason for crossing over to Lærdal is to experience the stunning journey across Aurlandsfjellet that follows Rv243 towards Aurlandsfjorden. And so, yet another beautiful drive over the mountains is in store before making your way down to the village of Aurland, and little Flåm in the most inner parts of Aurlandsfjorden. Both places are worth a visit, but not before a break at Stegastein Viewpoint, my personal favourite of all the fjord views on this trip. Stegastein stretches 650 meters above Aurlandsfjorden which lies majestically below, peaceful, yet dramatic.

Abandoned farm on Aurlandsfjellet

Abandoned farm on Aurlandsfjellet.

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Aurlandsfjorden.

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Stegastein viewpoint.

Houses in Aurland

Houses in Aurland.

After Aurland and Flåm you will have to continue through Gudvangatunnel which will take you to Nærøyfjord, a beautiful, narrow fjord, known as a spectacular place to go kayaking. Stop here and take in the mountains reflecting in the still water. Now you can head south towards Voss, known for ‘ekstremsportveko’ which is a annual week of extreme sports, attracting people from all over the world. Don’t be disheartened by all the tunnels, from Voss it’s about an 1 1/2 hour to today’s final stop, Bergen.

Kayaking in beautiful Nærøyfjord.

Kayaking in beautiful Nærøyfjord.

View of Bergen from the famous Fløyen Viewpoint.

View of Bergen from the famous Fløyen Viewpoint.

DAY 4 > BERGEN, HARDANGERFJORDEN, RØLDAL & OSLO

The last day of this trip will take you back to the Capital, Oslo in the east, driving past another famous fjord, Hardangerfjorden, before heading past Folgefonna National Park and Røldal where you will have to leave fjordnorway behind. From Bergen you will follow the road heading back to Tysse before turning a new direction down Fv7 towards Norheimsund. From here you continue along Hardangerfjorden to Kvanndal where you will pass the fjord over to Kinsarvik and on to Odda. At Odda you will see the last of the stunning fjords as you are heading into central and eastern parts of Norway.

Ferrycrossing over Hardangerfjord at Kvanndal - Kinsarvik.

Ferrycrossing over Hardangerfjord at Kvanndal – Kinsarvik.

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Farms alongside Hardangerfjorden.

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Låtefossen.

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Røldal.


 

ACCOMMODATION

As Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world, you have to be prepared to pay top money for most things. However, although expensive, there are budget accommodation on offer more or less everywhere along this route. Norway is a country for lovers of adventure and nature so pack your tent and sleeping bag and camp out or on one of the hundreds of campsites around the fjords. You can have a look at the Norwegian Camping Guide, Visit Norway or NAF for information about camping. Outside of the high season, mid June to late August, it’s rarely necessary to worry about reservations for caravans or cabins and a tent space is usually easy to find. Most camping sites have at least the basic service of kitchen and toilets/showers and many offer cabins for 4-8 people. If you are more than 2 people, a cabin will usually turn out to be cheaper or as cheap as camping, as you pay not per. person, but per. cabin. The Norwegian Trekking Association (DNT) also offer accommodation in huts and cabins many places in the country. Other options are of course hotels, hostels.

TOLL ROADS & FERRIES

In Norway we have plenty of tollroads that help pay for the good conditions of the roads that you will be driving on. However for the most part you don’t have to worry about tolls as they are mostly around Oslo and the area around Bergen. Find all information you need about the ferries at Fjord1’s website.

OTHER INFORMATION

This trip is a minimum of four days, however depending on how much time you got there’s nothing standing in the way of spending some additional days on the road. Take a couple of days out to explore Oslo and Bergen and if you want to see even more of the spectacular fjords, there are plenty of amazing hikes along the way that will make you fall even more in love with the Norwegian nature, like Romsdalseggen and the famous Trolltunga. The best time to visit the fjords is during summer, and for many parts of this trip, the only time as roads are closed during winter due to weather conditions. Personally is prefer to travel in September, when you can still get warm days or closer to october, see the nature change from green to beautiful autumn colours. It’s also just past the high season, you’ll have the roads more or less to yourself and it’s easy to find accommodation. I know for most people it is impossible to plan their holiday around the weather forecast, but there’s now denying that rain or sunshine will have an impact on your trip, especially in Norway where the weather in a day can feel like the difference between winter and summer. Despite unpredictable weather, I’m sure the fjords will offer you a great time!

For more information about hikes, accommodation or the exact sketching of the route contact me on email: hellekul@gmail.com

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