GO WEST – A ROAD TRIP IN THE HEART OF OUR BEAUTIFUL FJORDLAND

If you want to see Norway, you should spend a few days on a tour of Western Norway. This is a road trip in the heart of our beautiful fjordland, where you will see and experience the best of the fjords, mountains, rivers and glaciers. On this adventure you have the possibility to have an active holiday where you have the beautiful Norwegian nature as a wonderful backdrop.

If you follow this entire itinerary, you will probably have to spend a few weeks if you want to see and experience everything that is mentioned in this article. If you don’t have enough time, you can choose your favorite area or only parts of the itinerary and spend less time.

Go West – A Road Trip in Western Norway

Season – Summer. This also depends on whether the winter-closed roads are open.

This Road Trip starts and ends in Oslo. Drive from Oslo via Hamar and Lillehammer. At Hamar we recommend you to visit Domkirkeodden which is a cathedral from the middle age. Here you can join a Musical Tour in the cathedral, which is also a museum. This is said to leave the visitors both speechless and overwhelmed.

At Hamar you can stay the night in the worlds tallest wooden hotel, Wood Hotel. Video by Anno – Museene i Hedmark.

Romsdalen and the Romsdalsfjord

Then continue via Dombås, down Romsdalen valley to the Romsdal Alps and the Åndalsnes area (Norway’s Tirol). There you have the well known mountains the Troll Wall (Trollveggen), Romsdalshorn and Vengetind, and also Rauma river and the Trollstigen National Tourist Route. Mountaineering and fishing in spectacular surroundings in this area.

Some highlights from Åndalsnes and Romsdal

FJORDS NORWAY - Kylling Bridge on Rauma Railway at Verma in Romsdalen.
Kylling Bridge on Rauma Railway at Verma.

The Rauma Railway between Dombås and Åndalsnes is voted as Europe´s most scenic Rail Journey by Lonely Planet.

At Åndalsnes, you can hike the Romsdalstrappa Trail up to Mt Nesaksla (715 masl) and experience the Rampestreken Viewpoint where you have a great view over the Romsdalsfjord, the Rauma River and the Isterdalen valley. If you have a day extra, you can hike the Romsdalseggen Mountain Ridge, one of Norway´s great hikes with view towards the Romsdalen Valley and it´s surrounding mountains, the Romsdalsfjord and far out to the Atlantic Coast. Note, this is a challenging hike, not suitable for children!

Romsdalsstigen Via Ferrata is also a possibility when you are in the area. From the center of Åndalsnes you can take the Romsdal Gondola to the top of the city-mountain of Nesaksla, from fjord to mountain in four and a half minutes. From the restaurant at the top of Mt Nesaksla you have a fantastic view down to Åndalsnes and the Romsdalsfjord.

Litlefjellet in Romsdal, Norway
Litlefjellet in Vengedalen, Isfjorden in Romsdal.

Another nice and much easier walk can be done in Isfjorden. Drive to the Vengedalen Valley (toll road). Drive almost to the end of the valley, at the right side of the road you have a small ridge called Litlefjellet, a 30 minute walk. From there you have a great view down to the Romsdalen valley and to Trollveggen on the other side of the valley.

Another short hike in Isfjorden is the Kavliheian Mountain Pasture. Drive the mountain road (toll road) from Øvre Kavli in Isfjorden and then walk for 20 minutes in flat and easy terrain. You will see the inner part of the Romsdalsfjord and the Romsdal mountains from the road and from the Kavliheian mountain pasture.

A Detour to the Atlantic Coast and the Atlantic Road

FJORDS NORWAY - A winter night at the Storseisundbrua Bridge on the Atlantic Road.
A winter night at the Storseisundbrua Bridge on the Atlantic Road.

You can also take a detour to Molde and the Atlantic Road. It is a short distance from the steep and dramatic snowcapped mountains with cascading waterfalls in Romsdalen to the weather-beaten ocean landscape on the Atlantic Coast.

On your way to the Atlantic Road, you can take the short detour to Klungnes, which is a hidden gem between Åndalsnes and Molde. The road to Klungnes is a short detour that is really worth the time.

At the far end of the Romsdal coast you can also visit the old fishing village Ona and Ona Lighthouse. Or you can hike Midsundtrappene to Mt Rørsethornet (659 masl) at the Otrøya island in the outer part of the Romsdalsfjord.

On this hike, you walk on the longest stairway in Norway, 3292 steps in stone made by Sherpas from Nepal. From the trail and from the viewpoints you have a fantastic view of the Atlantic coast and the Atlantic Ocean.

From Åndalsnes via Trollstigen to Geiranger

Åndalsnes in Romsdal, Norway
Åndalsnes by the Romsdalsfjord.

From Åndalsnes you drive towards Trollstigen and Valldal. Here there is beautiful scenery with mountains, wild rivers and waterfalls.

If you want some adrenaline kick, you can try rafting in Valldøla River. At Valldal, you should also taste the strawberries from the local farms.

Then take the ferry across the fjord to Eidsdal and continue via Lake Eidsvatnet to Geiranger, a tourist’s “Mecca” with narrow dark green fjord and steep mountains. The route between Trollstigen and Geiranger is called “The Golden Route”, and is one of Norway´s 18 National Tourist Routes.

Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord

FJORDS NORWAY - Geiranger and Geirangerfjord seen from Flydalsjuvet Viewpoint
Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord seen from Flydalsjuvet.

The Geirangerfjord is like a fairytale. It is unique and exceptionally beautiful. And the fjord is included on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. From Geiranger, you drive up the steep Ørnevegen (the Eagles Road). On the upper part of the steep hillside there is a viewpoint where you can stop and see Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord from a birds-eye perspective. From here you can also see the famous waterfall “The Seven Sisters” cascading into the fjord.

The view from Grande Camping towards Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord is beautiful.

Hike to Skageflå Mountain Farm above the Geirangerfjord. This is a great adventure, combined fjordcruise and steep hike up to the abandoned moutainfarm Skageflå (250 meters above the fjord). Start with fjordcruise from Geiranger to Skagehola, the starting point of the trail up to Skageflå. This is an exposed and challenging hike!

From Geiranger to Stryn Summer Ski Centre

Stryn Summer Ski in Nordfjord.
Stryn Summer Ski in Nordfjord.

Via Grotli, you arrive at Stryn Summer Ski Centre in Strynsdalen Valley in Nordfjord. Ski, snowboard and equipment are available for rental. Normally there are excellent ski conditions, especially early summer.

The summer ski season usually begins late in May, depending on the amount of snow on the winter closed road.

If you have a tent and want to feel the fresh mountain air, you can stay in the valley close to the ski area. Alternatively you can stay at Folven Adventure Camp down in Hjelledalen or at Hjelle close to Lake Oppstrynsvatnet. This is THE Ski-Camp! Order a hut a few days (weeks) before arrival, just to be sure to get one.

The Stryn Festival is arranged early June with focus on Summer Skiing, Ski-Touring, Mountain Biking, and Kayaking. From Hjelle, a small idyllic village down by Lake Oppstrynsvatnet, you can hike to Segestad Mountain Farm.

FJORDS NORWAY - Hjelle in Oppstryn, towards Lake Oppstrynsvatnet. Nordfjord in Vestland, Norway.
Hjelle in Oppstryn, towards Lake Oppstrynsvatnet.

Nordfjord – From Stryn to Loen and Olden

View from the trail towards Briksdalsbreen Glacier.
View from the trail towards Briksdalsbreen Glacier.

Continue, via Stryn, to Loen and Olden. At Loen you should combine a visit to Loen Skylift and Via Ferrata and a stay at the Spa Hotel Alexandra.

From Loen Skylift you have a fantastic view down to the Lodalen Valley, the Oldedalen Valley and Nordfjord. A great but short hike is the hike to Rakssetra Mountain Pasture.

Two detours you should do when you are in the area are the drive up the Lodalen Valley by Lake Lodalsvatnet to Kjenndalsstova and the Oldedalen Valley by Lake Oldedalsvatnet in Olden.

Pass the Lake Oldevatnet to Briksdalbre Mountain Lodge, from where you can walk or be transported up to the Briksdalsbreen Glacier. Beautiful scenery!

From Nordfjord to Fjærland in Sogn

FJORDS NORWAY - Fjærland by the Fjærlandsfjord which is part of the 204 kilometre long Sognefjord.
Fjærland is located deep in the Fjærlandsfjord.

The trip continues to Utvik, over the mountain to Byrkjelo and Skei in Jølster. From here you should drive for approx 15 minutes to Astruptunet Museum where the famous painter Nikolai Astrup lived and worked. This is now a museum where they also have a gallery with paintings by Astrup and is really worth a visit.

Then continue to Fjærland. Here you have the Norwegian Glacier Museum where you can have a look at the 3-dimensional movie. Subjects are the Jostedalsbreen Glacier, glaciers in general, and glacier climbing.

Fjærland is named The Norwegian Book Town due to all the bookstores in the town. It has a total of 2.5 miles with shelves filled with books, new and used. The smallest bookstore is a book stand by the road. Based on trust, you can pick a book and leave some money in a box.

Fjærland Guiding offers guided tours in Fjærland and on the Fjærlandsfjord. The guided tours starts from the head office of Fjærland Guiding in Mundal in the center of Fjærland. Fjærland Guiding also offers you to experience the Floating Sauna “Dampen” which is situated on the Fjærlandsfjord just outside the center of Fjærland.

SEASON: Summer. Check with Fjærland Guiding when they offer guiding. Sauna Season is all year round.

A great place to stay in Fjærland is Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel.

From Fjærland to Sogndal in the heart of the Sognefjord

FJORDS NORWAY - Sogndal in the heart of the Sognefjord
Sogndal is the heart of the Sognefjord.

Between Fjærland and Sogndal, you can explore the Sogndalsdalen Valley and the Anestølen Mountain Pasture where you can buy homemade goat´s cheese during summer. Below you can see a video from Vatnasete in the Sogndalsdalen Valley between Fjærland and Sogndal.

Sogndal is the very heart of the Sognefjord, and is a great area for activities and experiences in beautiful and wild nature. Sogndal is located in the middle of all the side fjords of the Sognefjord. From Sogndal there is a short way to all the fjords in addition to being a great area for hiking along the fjord, kayaking, fjord cruises, mountain biking, climbing and bouldering, mountain hikes and skiing.

Enjoy the heat in a sauna and jump into the fresh water of the Sogndalsfjord. HEIT SOGNDAL is a sauna that stands on a parked tractor by the fjord. The sauna is located at Loftesnes by Sogndal, at the end of the fjord trail.

A detour from Sogndal to Balestrand

The Sognefjord and Balestrand seen from Orrabenken above Balestrand.
The Sognefjord and Balestrand seen from Orrabenken above Balestrand.

A great detour when you are in Sogndal is to drive out along the Sognefjord to Hella. Then take the ferry across the fjord to Dragsvik and continue driving to Balestrand and the Historic Kviknes Hotel.

Due to the beautiful nature, the wild mountains and the location down by the fjord, Balestrand became a favorite place to visit among artists and the Norwegian and foreign society from the end of the 19th century until the beginning of World War I.

Germany´s Emperor Wilhelm II visited Balestrand several times, and it was an impressive sight when he entered the Sognefjord with his warships to spend his holidays there.

Well-known Norwegian painters such as Hans Dahl, Eilert Adelsteen Normann and Anders Askevold lived for long periods at Balestrand, and many of their most famous paintings have motifs from the Sognefjord and Balestrand area.

FJORDS NORWAY - Hotel Kviknes at Balestrand, down by the Sognefjord
Hotel Kviknes at Balestrand, down by the Sognefjord.

From Sogndal to the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord area

Indre Ofredal by the Årdalsfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord.
Indre Ofredal by the Årdalsfjord, a branch of the Sognefjord.

From Sogndal, drive to Kaupanger and take the ferry across the Sognefjord from Mannheller to Fodnes. Recommended detour: Drive to Indre Ofredal by the Årdalsfjord. Drive to Årdalstangen, Seim and to Indre Ofredal.

Continue to Lærdal and drive through the Lærdal tunnel between Lærdal and Aurland. In the Aurland and Flåm area you have lots of possibilities in the nearby surroundings.

FJORDS NORWAY - Fjordfulness on the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord.
Fjord Cruise on the Aurlandsfjord.

The Nærøyfjordand Aurlandsfjord are two of the worlds most beautiful and dramatic fjords. The name Nærøyfjord origin from the norse god ‘Njord’, the God of the Seafarer and the sea. The Nærøyfjord is a 17 kilometer long branch of the Aurlandsfjord, which again is a branch of the 204 kilometer long Sognefjord. It is only 250 meters at the narrowest, and more than one kilometer at the widest. The depth varies between 10 and 500 meters. The surrounding mountains are up to more than 1400 meters high.

The Nærøyfjord start at Mt Beitelen, which devides the Aurlandsfjord and Nærøyfjord, and ends at Gudvangen. By the Nærøyfjord, we have the small villages Gudvangen, Bakka, Styvi and Dyrdal. Dyrdal and Styvi are the only places without permanent inhabitants during the winter, and is without road connection.

FJORDS NORGE - SINJARHEIM GÅRD I AURLANDSDALEN
Sinjarheim in Aurlandsdalen.

If you want to have a day or two hiking in the Aurland and Flåm area, you should hike the Aurlandsdalen Valley. Wild scenery, wild rivers, narrow valleys, much history from old Norway and how they lived at that time. Many people consider this as the most beautiful and wildest valley in Norway.

Cycling Rallarvegen (the Navvies Road) from Finse to Flåm. This is a must. You take the first train in the morning from Flåm to Finse. (Order tickets a few days before, this to ensure they have bikes for rental at Finse. You need to ask for a ticket including both train and bike). Get your bikes at Hotel Finse 1222. This is the highest point of the Bergen Railway, 1222 meters above sea level. You now start the ride along Rallarvegen. This road was constructed while building the Bergen Railway in early 1900. You cycle mostly dowhill beside lakes, rivers and waterfalls down to the Flåm Valley which takes 6-8 hours or more. You can also bring a tent and stay the night camping somewhere along the road (wild camping is allowed in Norway). When arriving in Flåm, you can leave the bike at Flåm Railway Station before you enjoy something to eat and drink at Ægir Brewery by the harbour.

FJORDS NORWAY - Undredal by the Aurlandsfjord.
Undredal by the Aurlandsfjord.

You can go by rib boat or a fjord cruise from Flåm out the Aurlandsfjord into the Nærøyfjord to Gudvangen.

From Flåm, you can drive through a long tunnel towards Gudvangen. When you are through the first of two tunnels, you turn right and drive to Undredal  down by the Aurlandsfjord. Here you will find Undredal Stave Church, Norway´s smallest church. It is actually a stave church and had its 850 years celebration in 1997.

From Aurland over the mountain to Lærdal

FJORDS NORWAY - Stegastein Viewpoint above Aurland and the Aurlandsfjord
Stegastein Viewpoint above the Aurlandsfjord.

The trip continue back towards Sogndal. It is recommended to drive over the Aurlandsfjellet Mountain Road to Lærdal. This road is one of Norway´s National Tourist Routes. It is closed during winter and open late May or early June, depending on the amount of snow. Just above Aurland at the start of the road, you will find the Stegastein view point. Here you have an amazing view down to Aurland and the Aurlandsfjord. A stop here is a must; remember to bring your camera. In Lærdal, you can visit Norwegian Salmon Centre. Here you can see the salmon in the river, exhibitions etc.

FJORDS NORWAY - Borgund Stave Church at Borgund in the Lærdal valley by the Sognefjord.
Borgund Stave Church.

If you want to see Borgund Stave Church, drive 26 kilometers east to Borgund. This is one of the most beautiful Stave Churches in Norway. Near by Borgund Stave Church you´ll also find the old Vindhellavegen road. The 1.7 kilometer long road was completed in 1793 and is now part of a 100 kilometer long hiking trail, the old King´s Road, between Vang in Valdres and Lærdal by the Sognefjord.

Back in Lærdal continue through the tunnel towards Fodnes and take the ferry over to Mannheller in the direction Sogndal.

The Lustrafjord area and the Jostedalsbreen Glacier

FJORDS NORWAY - View from Svarthiller towards Ornes and the Lustrafjord.
View from Svarthiller towards Ornes and the Lustrafjord.

From Sogndal you drive towards Hafslo, just before Hafslo turn right to Solvorn. Solvorn is a beautiful village down by the Lustrafjord. Here you can stay at the historical hotel Walaker Hotel or at the cheaper and charming Eplet Bed & Apple. At Solvorn you can also take the small ferry across the Lustrafjord to Ornes and visit Urnes Stave Church and the Feigefossen Waterfall. From Solvorn continue back to to Hafslo where you can hike to Mt Molden. This is a two hour hike (one way), and the reward is a beautiful view towards the Lustrafjord.

Continue to Gaupne, then take to the left towards Jostedalen and Nigardsbreen Glacier. There you have Breheimsenteret Glacier Centre with its exhibition, multimedia glacier slideshow, information about the glacier, guiding and equipment-rental.

Back at Gaupne, you continue through Luster to Skjolden and Fortun.
Stay at Skjolden Hotel, a beautiful hotel with local food down by the Lustrafjord.

The Sognefjell Mountain Road and back to Oslo

FJORDS NORWAY - Nigardsbreen Glacier in Jostedalen in the Sognefjord area.
Nigardsbreen Glacier in Jostedal.

Safe back at Skjolden you continue in the direction of Sognefjellet Mountain Road (National Tourist Route) and Lom. There you have Turtagrø Hotel, a new and modern mountain hotel, where you can get information and guiding to the Hurrungane Mountains, one of Norway´s wildest mountain areas. A little further and you have the Sognefjellshytta Mountain Lodge on the top of Sognefjellet. Guided hikes can be done from there. Just a few kilometers from Sognefjellshytta you arrive at the Krossbu Mountain Lodge.

Then the trip continues towards Lom. In the centre of Lom, you can visit Lom Stave Church,  Fossheim Steinsenter (Geological centre) and Norsk Fjellmuseum (Mountain Museum). And of course, you should visit the Bakery in Lom, probably the best bakery in the world.

Your adventure is almost over. Drive in the direction Vågåmo and you have two choices if you wish to go back to Oslo. You can drive to Otta and down Gudbrandsdalen or you can turn to the right a few kilometers before Vågåmo and drive over the Valdresflye Mountain Pass (National Tourist Route). I recommend the latter option, as then you will drive through the east end of the Jotunheimen National Park.

Useful Information

FJORDS NORGE - Nærøyfjorden, en del av UNESCO Verdensarv.
The storm is on its way out of the Nærøyfjord.

The weather is important during such a round-trip such as this in western Norway, the best time is probably June to August, but also May is a beautiful month – where spring meets summer, with green valleys and snowy mountains. You can easily do sunbathing on the snow, more than 2000 meters above sea level. Remember suncream with high skin protection! Summer Ski Centres and guiding usually starts in June. If you want to walk in the mountains in Jotunheimen the best time is between July and September due to the likelihood of there still being lots of snow in early summer.

Many roads in Western Norway are closed in winter! The roads that are closed in winter usually opens late May or early June, depending on how much snow that needs to be cleared before the roads can be opened.

You can get information about Glacier guiding at The Norwegian Trekking Association or Jostedalen Breførarlag. The Norwegian Trekking Association have more than 550 huts spread over the whole country. If you are a member you can have a standard key which fits nearly all huts. In most of the huts there is food, gas and wood you can buy (self service).

 

HOTELS - LINKS - FAQ

Here you will find an overview of recommended HOTELS in addition to SPA & BATH HOTELS and OTHER ACCOMMODATION PLACES in Western Norway. The combination of beautiful nature, activities that you can do in all four seasons and a stay at a great accommodation is unique. A stay in one of these places will do you good, both for body and mind.

There are ten restaurants that have awarded Michelin stars and Michelin awards in Western Norway. Eight of the Michelin restaurants are in Stavanger and two in Bergen. Here you will find FJORDS MICHELIN, where you will also find a list of recommended hotels in Western Norway, recommended by Michelin.

USEFUL LINKS is a list of websites with great information on Norway and the Fjords. FAQ is an overview of articles that answer the most common questions you have when planning to visit the fjords in Western Norway.

Go West – Map Overview

Map information: The map below contains information and links to the area on and near the “Go West” tour. Links to fjords.com’s articles are marked in red. Links to the main fjords are marked in blue.