Oslo, the country’s amazing capital, was my starting point — and it will be my end point by the end of this 12-day road trip.
◘◘ Do some exciting FREE things to do in the capital
As a Scandinavian destination, it’s no news that things can get pretty pricey around this area; but fret not! After all, there are LOTS of awesome FREE things to do in Oslo! To start off, check out my article below to get some ideas:
READ: Top 10 FREE Things to Do in Oslo, an Underrated Nordic Gem (Norway)
TIP: If you want a discounted pass that will let you enjoy FREE admissions to the city’s attractions and museums (as well as unlimited public transport) then it’s preferrable to get an Oslo Pass.
For the best accommodation choices in the city:
Budget: Oslo Hostel Central / Mid-Range: Saga Hotel Oslo or AirBnB / Luxury: Hotel Continental
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I left Oslo on this day (but of course, if you want to spend more time in the capital — which I highly recommend — then please do so! I regrettably didn’t have much time so a day was enough for me).
Now, you might expect that it would be this time that I would jumpstart my Norway road trip itinerary; however, I decided to do that elsewhere. Besides, I wanted to experience riding the train through Norway’s breathtaking landscapes, especially after hearing that they have several scenic train rides throughout the region.
So where then did I get my car? I decided to retrieve it from Åndalsnes, which was my destination as I boarded a train on this 2nd day.
◘◘ Ride the scenic Dovre and Rauma Railway to Åndalsnes
Dovre Railway runs between Oslo and Trondheim and it goes through beautiful valleys and mountain ranges. Rauma Railway, on the other hand, is well-known as one of Norway’s wildest and most beautiful train journeys. That being said, riding both of these trains will be quite an experience!
I left early in the morning for this and I especially loved the ride through Rauma Railway because the train slows down on the best spots along the way such as the Trollveggen cliff face and the Kylling bridge.
It helps to note though that the Rauma sightseeing train runs from end of May to end of August and there are voiceovers during the trip in Norwegian, English, and German that explains the terrain.
ITINERARY: To get to both of these railways from Oslo Central Station, you need to board the train that heads to Trondheim — but you’ll need to stop halfway at Dombås’ station. Change trains just across the platform to Rauma Railway with final destination as Åndalsnes. For more info, check NSB.
◘◘ Visit Norsk Tindesenter
Åndalsnes is a small town but it’s in close proximity to amazing places like Romsdalseggen, Trollstigen, and more. Nevertheless, as you’re in the town itself, it would be a wise choice to visit the Norsk Tindesenter (Norwegian Mountaineering Centre) after you grab a hearty lunch.
This center features not only modern exhibits about mountaineering adventure sports and history but also an indoor climbing wall which is said to be Norway’s highest! With over 60 climbs across 20 anchors, climbers of any ability can surely give this a try.
Otherwise, you could also watch a 3D movie called Trollfolk for 15 minutes which showcases the surrounding Romsdal region.
◘◘ Drive through Geirangerfjord via Trollstigen, one of the National Tourist Routes
Bottom photo by: Jiri Havran / Statens vegvesen
After exploring Åndalsnes, I went to pick up the rental car from an Avis office that was located in the nearby Grand Hotel Bellevue. After some preparations we’re done, I embarked on my Norway road trip itinerary and had my first taste of one of the country’s popular 18 National Tourist Routes: Geiranger-Trollstigen!
This was such an epic ride especially as I went through the serpentine mountain roads of Trollstigen — just look at the photo above!
To know more about my experience as well as the other sights you can see around here, read my guide below:
READ: Geiranger-Trollstigen National Tourist Route: One of Norway’s Most Breathtaking Roads!
◘◘ Spend the night at the scenic village of Norddal
After some time on the Trollstigen route, you will need to do a crossing on the Linge-Eidsdal car ferry. Don’t worry about booking in advance because you can just show up at the port and fall in line with the other cars.
Departures are every 30 minutes and crossing time will only take 10 minutes for only 79 NOK (I had a small sedan). For more info and rate segregation, see here.
Upon crossing, I recommend spending the night in the charming little town of Norddal as there isn’t enough time to reach Geiranger. For accommodation, stay over at Petrines Guest House.
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◘◘ Continue cruising towards Geiranger
Bottom photo by: Jiri Havran / Statens vegvesen
After checking out at Norddal, continue the journey via Trollstigen in order to finally reach Geiranger. One of the highlights of this drive would be Ørnevegen or the “Eagle Road” which is the steepest part of the road on the mountainside from Geiranger to Eidsdal (it’s at 620 meters above sea level).
Afterward, the road will twist even more through 11 hairpin bends as you climb up Stigrøra which is 858 meters above sea level.
TIP: Make sure to stop by the Eagle’s Bend or Ørnesvingen viewpoint before reaching the town of Geiranger. It’s hard to miss while driving because not only is it very visible but it’s also almost always filled with people.
◘◘ Explore Geiranger and do some hikes
Geirangerfjord is a true beauty — hence, it comes as no surprise that it is a UNESCO-protected area in Norway. And so, with its majestic mountain peaks, waterfalls, and landscapes, there surely are tons of sightseeing trips that you can do here. But since our time was short, I can only do so much other than explore the village center itself. So if you have the time, I highly suggest that you make your way to viewing the “Seven Sisters” waterfall aside from doing some other hikes.
As for us, I chose to hike to the powerful Storseterfossen waterfall as it has a unique trail that leads behind it. This hike takes approximately an hour each way and in order to get here, you just need to head over to Westerås farm — from there, the track is well marked.
◘◘ Have lunch in town
For my top recommendations, you should check out Olebuda, Brasserie Posten, or Westeras Grad!
◘◘ Stay the night at Hotel Utsikten and enjoy the grand view over Geiranger
I urge you to spend your night at Hotel Utsikten. Why? Well, if you ask for the rooms that face the road, you will have an amazing view over Geirangerfjord right from the comfort of your room! (As pictured above).
Nearby this accommodation, you will even find a small viewpoint by the side of the road.
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This day will mostly involve driving through more of Norway’s National Tourist Routes (with stunning stops and viewpoints along the way). So make sure you pack enough snacks and food! Don’t forget to arm yourself with a killer music playlist too.
◘◘ Drive to Kaupanger via Sognefjellet National Tourist Route
At your own pace after breakfast and check-out, make your way to Lom and then continue on Sognefjord via Sognefjellet National Tourist Route in order to reach Kaupanger by the end of the day. This scenic drive will take about 5 hours, not including stops — which I highly recommend that you do whenever you happen to glimpse dreamy and rugged terrains (that will definitely number many!).
Some added trivia for you, this Sognefjellet National Tourist Route is said to be northern Europe’s highest mountain pass at 1,434 meters high.
- Lom Stave Church: A stave church is a medieval wooden Christian church that has unique timber framing and corner posts called stafr in Old Norse (or ‘stav’ in modern Norwegian). As you arrive in Lom, make sure to stop by this church so you can witness an example of the elaborately-designed stav church that you would most likely have witnessed before in movies involving Vikings or dragons.
- Dalsnibba Viewpoint: You’ll find here the Geiranger Skywalk which is the highest fjord view from a road. As someone who is afraid of heights, it took every muscle in my body to stay on this skywalk for at least 10 seconds (I failed). Nevertheless, the views here are majestic as you are surrounded by snow-covered mountains and dramatic fjords! (Toll road is open from late May to October, NOK 130).
◘◘ Check-in to Vesterland
It’s fine to go crazy on your stops while driving through Sognefjellet National Tourist Route but please remember that the reception in Vesterland closes 9:00PM — which will be the hotel that we stayed in by the end of this day — and which I recommend.
So if you are running late, just call ahead to arrange key delivery.
After all the driving, I decided to take it easy on this day of my Norway road trip itinerary as I took some rest in the morning and did some minor side trips in the afternoon before coming back to Vesterland again for the night.
◘◘ All about glaciers
Just a 10-minute drive away, you will find Brævasshytta wherein you can enjoy the view of the beautiful glacier called Bøyabreen. You can view this from the main road or from Brevasshytta restaurant which is closer to the ice. It has big panoramic windows and if you’re lucky, you can see big blocks of ice crashing down.
RECOMMENDED SIDE TRIPS: Fjærland village to see Jostedalsbreen (the LARGEST glacier in continental Europe), Norwegian Booktown in Fjærland, and/or the Norwegian Glacier Museum.
◘◘ Head on to Gaularfjell National Tourist Route
Bottom photo by: Jiri Havran / Statens vegvesen
If you still have some time, I urge you to drive to Skei, Førde, and up the beautiful Gaularfjell National Tourist Route.
This one is a bit of a hidden gem because its spectacular new viewpoint, Utsikten, just opened last June 2016. If you continue to Gaularvassdraget, you could even see protected watercourses that offer anything from wild rapids, and waterfalls to calm rivers.
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◘◘ Go to Balestrand and enjoy the city for the day
From Kaupanger, you will reach the town of Balestrand in just less than 2 hours. This municipality is incredibly charming! To best enjoy your stay here I would suggest the following:
- Rent bikes at the Tourist Information center and explore the area
- Do a RIB boat trip with Balestrand Fjord Adventure (which can be booked at the Tourist Information center as well)
- Visit Sognefjord Akvarium
- See St. Olav’s Church
- Do a nature trail (Kerklingen) — a great activity for families too as there are trails with various levels of difficulties
- Tour Nærøyfjord, the most narrow fjord in the world (which can also be done with Balestrand Fjord Adventure)
◘◘ Check in and have dinner at Kviknes Hotel
Best hotel in Balestrand? There’s no contest really as I find Kviknes Hotel as the best choice possible! If you’re on a budget, other options are Balestrand Hotel or Holiday Home.
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◘◘ Journey to Odda
Via Vikafjellet road, slowly make your way to Odda. This will take about 4 hours, after which you will need to do a ferry crossing with Dragsvik-Vangsnes (payment for tickets can be done on board).
Somewhere along the town of Vik, if you haven’t managed to visit a stave church yet (from those I’ve already previously mentioned), you can then visit the Hopperstad Stave Church.
◘◘ Stay at Trolltunga Hotel
In preparation for tomorrow’s big hike, rest well for the rest of the day after your check-in to Trolltunga Hotel.
◘◘ Get lost around Odda
If, however, you get restless during this Norway road trip itinerary, you can stroll around the picturesque municipality of Odda. One of the things that I suggest you do is to drive to Låtefossen Waterfall which is just 20 minutes away.
I really loved this waterfall because of its unique design! As shown in the photo above, it has two separate streams that join in the middle and then flow under the Norwegian National Road 13, thereby making it a spectacular (and wet) view as you drive through or get closer to the falls.
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◘◘ Wake up early and hike the famed Trolltunga
One of the top activities that I aimed to accomplish as I traveled to Norway was to hike the famous Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue) and reach its iconic peak (tongue) — and I did!
However, it’s no walk in the park to reach here. Truth be told, this is one of the most difficult hikes that I’ve ever done in my life: it spanned 11 hours at 23 kilometers long and 1,200 meters high!
…but it was SO worth it. It’s no wonder to me now why it’s called one of the best hikes in the world because other than the view at the top, the scenes I saw during my hike were so darn incredible.
I give props to our guide from Trolltunga Active as well because if it was not for his guidance, I don’t think I would have reached the top (remember guys: pacing is key!). Without further ado, if you want to reach this epic view, you can read my detailed guide below:
READ: Ultimate Hiking Guide to Norway’s Stunning Trolltunga (Troll’s Tongue)
Now, of course, you can hike the trail by yourself but if you’re not a seasoned hiker like me, or if you simply want the best guidance that you can have to make the most of your hike, I would recommend that you book with Trolltunga Active. I did their Classic Trolltunga route and it was absolutely memorable. (If you’re more into extreme activities, they have other types of tours too such as ziplining or mountain climbing.)
Alternatively, if you want to know what to pack, wear, bring, etc.? Again, just head to my Trolltunga guide and you’ll find all the information you need.
After I finished this hike, I didn’t have any energy left to do anything else (and I bet you will feel the same) so I’m not gonna suggest any activity for the night other than to grab some dinner and have a good sleep.
◘◘ Drive to Stavanger via Rv 13, National Tourist Route Ryfylke, and make stops along the way
On your way from Odda to Stavanger, you will have to go through yet another National Tourist Route called as Ryfylke.
It will take about 5 hours and by now, it will come as second nature to you to make multiple stops along the way given the spectacular terrain that you’ve been seeing so far in Norway — so, take your time in enjoying the sights you pass by!
Don’t forget to witness Låtefosse Waterfall though if you haven’t managed to check it out on Day 7 before.
Other things to take note of are the grand fjords to your right in Hardangerfjord area as well as the might of Svandalfossen waterfall just before you reach Saudasjøen in Ryfylke.
◘◘ Tour around the city of Stavanger
Stavanger is the 4th largest city in Norway and you can do several historic and urban tours here. Rest assured, the center is quite compact so almost every notable sight can be reached on foot.
With that in mind, don’t forget to stop by Old Stavanger to witness Europe’s best preserved wooden house settlement, NuArt Street to get some Instagram-worthy shots, Swords in Rock to learn more about the historic Battle of Hafrsfjord, and the Norwegian Petroleum museum (Norsk Oljemuseum) if you’re interested in seeing how oil and gas are created, discovered and produced in the North Sea.
◘◘ Check-in for the night
For a comfortable stay, check in to Myhregaarden Hotel which has a prime spot in the city.
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◘◘ Hike up to Preikestolen
From Stavanger, head over to Tau by car ferry. The crossing takes about 40 minutes and also departs every 40 minutes where you can pay for your tickets on board (for more info, see here.) Once in Tau, park the car at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge which is a 20-minute drive away.
From here, it’s time to conquer yet another natural wonder that’s popular in Norway: Preikestolen or Pulpit Rock!
I’m pretty sure you have already seen this spot in photos online, and as it towers at an impressive height of 604 meters over Lysefjord, you will surely be in awe of its grandeur. It helps to note that CNN and Lonely Planet have even named this as one of the world’s most spectacular viewing points.
Now, if you’re wondering how its unique shape (like a protruding tooth) was formed, it is said that it was most likely shaped by the expansion of ice some thousands of years ago.
IMPORTANT: Hiking here takes about 4 hours (2 hours each way) but it has been seen that the route can get shorter so there are actually plans underway to improve this path. Please wear proper hiking clothes and shoes according to the forecasted weather. Bring enough food and water for 4 hours, as well as some extra change of clothes in case the weather turns sour.
◘◘ Take a scenic ferry ride from Forsand to Lysebotn
Time for yet another ferry ride! But this time around, it will span a bit longer (about 2.5 hours). Plus, it will actually be a sightseeing tour where you can glance at Pulpit Rock and Kjerag mountain from another angle.
There will also be a voiceover in English that will explain the surroundings’ wild geology and glacial landscape.
Cost starts at NOK 315 per person. Bookings can be done here.
◘◘ Overnight at Lysefjorden Turisthytte at Lysebotn
To book, go here.
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◘◘ Hike to Kjeragbolten
Time to do one more hike before this Norwegian adventure ends! After you check out of Lysefjorden Turisthytte, make sure that you pack your own lunch pack before driving to Øygardstøl (which is about 10 minutes by car). Park your car here for 100 NOK and you will find the start of the Kjeragbolten hiking trail nearby.
What’s Kjeragbolten? As you will see in the photo above, this is a boulder that is wedged in the (Kjerag) mountain’s crevasse.
…Tell me, does it make your stomach churn?
Because it does to me!
If I have to say so myself, stepping on this rock is a lot scarier than Trolltunga. Sure, the space on top of the rock is wide — but not wide enough. To the best of my knowledge, no one has fallen from this, so if you just take extra care, you’ll be fine.
You might be wondering though: why would people even want to risk it and go on top of this scary boulder? Well, it’s seemingly the allure of it because it’s a very famous destination in Norway. After all, it’s very accessible even without any climbing equipment (it can be just a 5-hour hike, with 2.5 hours each way at a decent pace). If you’re into base jumping, this is also one of the best spots to do it!
IMPORTANT: As usual, please wear proper hiking clothes and shoes according to the forecasted weather. Bring enough food and water for at least 5 hours, as well as some extra change of clothes in case the weather turns sour.
◘◘ Make your way to Sandnes, do some stops and explore the area
Car back to Sandnes takes approximately 3 hours. Some highlights along the way that you can check out are:
- Sirdal Skisenter at Thjørhomfjellet: This is a great ski resort if you’re here in winter and a great hiking area during the summer.
- Gloppedalsura Scree: a place that has avalanche boulders that are piled on top of one another. Great for photo ops!
- Dalsnuten: This is just a 30-minute hike from Gramstad which has a nice lookout point over the Jæren area, Sandnes and Stavanger.
◘◘ Have your last night at Kronen Gaard Hotel
About an hour’s ride away from the city center, I booked into a room in Kronen Gaard Hotel and it was such a pleasant stay. The interior decorations were really swell.
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On the last day of my Norway road trip itinerary, I delivered my rental car to Avis at Stavanger Airport, Sola. I flew to Oslo via SAS and from there, took another flight back home!