If you want to see Norway, you should spend some days on a roundtrip in the western part of the country. This is a Road Trip where you will meet the best of the fjords, mountains, rivers and glaciers.
In Western Norway you have the possibility to get an active holiday and you have the continuously beautiful Norwegian landscape as a wonderful bonus.
Go West – A Road Trip in Western Norway
Season – Summer. This also depends on whether the roads closed in winter 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.
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.
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.
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
You can also take a detour to Molde and the Atlantic Road, it is a short distance from steep and dramatic snowcapped mountains with cascading waterfalls to the weather-beaten ocean landscape. Klungnes is a hidden gem and a short detour between Åndalsnes and Molde.
From Åndalsnes via Trollstigen to Geiranger
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 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.
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
Via Grotli, you arrive at Stryn Summer Ski Centre in Strynsdalen Valley in Nordfjord. Slalom, Cross Country and Snowboard 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.
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
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. Take a Glacier Tour and visit the Norwegian Book Town. A great place to stay is Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel.
From Fjærland to Sogndal
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.
You should also explore the beautiful village Balestrand and the historical Kvikne’s Hotel where Germany’s emperor Wilhelm II spent his holiday at the start of the World War I. This detour can be done from Sogndal. Drive to Hella and take the ferry across the Fjærlandsfjord to Dragsvik, then continue to Balestrand.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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).