Norway is not what you expect: It is better. However, before you venture off on a road trip through where the mountains are carved by glaciers and the sea, please allow me to share my Norway Road Trip Itinerary. In this flexible itinerary, I will take you through a seven day trip through Norway, passing through some of the best scenery I have ever seen. I will provide levels of recommendation from 0-10 on the various towns I spent time in, to give you realistic expectations for where you will be in awe and where you will have a comfortable spot to hang your hat. We visited during the summer (mid-July).
- Flight from Austin to Oslo (stops in New York & Iceland)
- Spend a day and night in Oslo
- Flight from Oslo to Ålesund
- Spend the night in Ålesund (get rental car)
- Drive from Ålesund to Geiranger
- Spend a day and night in Geiranger
- Drive from Geiranger to Fjaerland
- Spend the night in Fjaerland
- Drive from Fjaerland to Bergen
- Spend two nights in Bergen
- Depart (Bergen to Iceland or where ever your next destination may be)
Day One: Oslo, Norway (Recommendation level: 6/10)
- Travel: Our entire trip included a week in Iceland, so we flew Icelandair to take advantage of their Stopover program, which I highly recommend in hindsight because Iceland was an incredible destination to add to a trip to Europe. We arrived in Oslo around 4AM on a Sunday.
- Reason for recommendation level: For a city in Europe, one grows a certain level of expectation. Oslo has beautiful parks, particularly the sculpture garden (Vigeland Park) that we rented the public city bikes to get to, and it has some wonderful hotel accommodations, such as the Oslo Grand Hotel. Am I glad I visited Oslo? Yes. Would I go back, knowing that it would take away a day from being in the fjords? Probably not.
- Things to do: There is plenty to do in Oslo, but in my opinion you can knock out all that you would want to do in a day. There are museums, which will take some form of transportation to get to if you are staying in the city. A walk along the harbor, including the Akershus Fortress, and our biking trip to Vigeland Park was enough for me. Oslo really is quite a nice city during a sunny day, so take some relaxing time at a café to people watch or absorb some Norwegian culture. Oslo is the capital of Norway, but it is also in fair proximity to beautiful nature. You may travel north from Oslo and soon be in scenic Norway.
Day Two: Ålesund, Norway (Recommendation level: 8/10)
- Travel: On our second day of travel, we flew Norwegian Airlines up to the town of Ålesund, where we rented the car we would use to drive south to Bergen.
- Reason for recommendation level: My first impression of Ålesund was the feeling of being in a dream on the edge of the earth. While this might sound amazing, I give the town a 8 rating because it simply does not stand up to the destinations coming up. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ålesund, but I can imagine that finding great hotel accommodations (we stayed at the Quality Waterfront Hotel) and dining might be more of a challenge than it is worth to some people. Would I return? Absolutely.
- Things to do: There are a few things to do, with a small window to accomplish them. Despite the sun refusing to set, the few restaurants and grocery stores do not stay open long. We had no problem eating, but it took a couple tries to find the open option. There are some art galleries in town, kayaking, and, of course, Mount Aksla. The Aksla Viewpoint is my top recommendation for Ålesund. We were still a bit off of our circadian rhythm from our previous travel day, so we woke up at 4AM to climb the 418 steps that led to the top. The views were completely worth it.
Day Three: All Mighty Geiranger, Norway (Recommendation level: 10+/10)
- Travel: Geiranger is a 2.5 hour drive (including the one hour scenic ferry from Hellesylt, which I certainly recommend). Our first true taste of the fjords came on this ride, so plan to stop and absorb the fresh air and views
- Reason for recommendation level: If you take anything away from reading this road trip itinerary, it is that you should visit these next two places (Geiranger and Fjaerland). Geiranger offers a ton of activities, including hiking, mountain biking, guided tours, kayaking, and sight seeing. The ferry from Hellesylt took us through the scenic Geirangerfjord with views of the famous waterfalls (including the seven sisters waterfalls).
- Things to do: The hiking trails are a great place to start in Geiranger. There are several historical farms in the area that make excellent destinations and provide awe-inspiring viewpoints of the fjord. I do not recommend spending too much time in the town, as it is the spot where the ferry unloads the crowds of tourists. If you want to get away from the crowds, just up the difficulty on your hikes and you will be sure not to be followed. This is because in many of these towns, the bulk of the population comes from tourists who are only just stopping by, most of the time for just a few hours because of the pre-ordained guided tour schedules. Make sure to have enough time to hike to the storseterfossen waterfall and take at least one hike with viewpoints of the fjord. We only stayed here for one night, but I look forward to spending more time here on another occasion.
Day Four: Fjaerland, Norway (Recommendation level: 10+/10)
- Travel: Fjaerland is about 3 hours away, but we took the Sognefjellet just to see Jotunheimen (we didn’t see any Ice Giants but it was probably worth it anyway). The Sognefjellet is a tourist highway, but it was still quite difficult to drive. Getting out of Geiranger takes some careful driving regardless of your route, especially in the rain. As you leave Geiranger, you gain some major elevation and the road reflects that. Regardless of the season, you will find yourself in an incredible snowscape, so take some stops and enjoy the scenery. In total, the drive we took was over 4 hours, so we made a day-trip of it and included stops in Lom and Jotunheimen. Eventually we arrived in the peaceful Fjaerland, located on a wing of the Sognefjord.
- Reason for recommendation level: We arrived in Fjaerland and I noticed that there were no tour busses. I knew we were somewhere special. Fjaerland is home to glaciers, a quiet wing of the Sognefjord, and an incredible 3 miles of resale books. If you are lucky enough to get an accommodation in the town (of which there are only a few, and they are in high demand), you will not regret it.
- Things to do: Fjaerland is home to Norway’s longest zip-line, a glacier museum, and breath-taking scenery. You can enjoy the fjord by renting a kayak or small boat. The resale book shops are located along the fjord and make a great activity during the day. Beyond anything, Fjaerland is the perfect place to take a step back and enjoy the beauty of a peaceful town resting in the heart of nature.
Days Five-Six: Bergen, Norway (Recommendation level: 8/10)
- Travel: The drive from Fjaerland to Bergen came as a bit of a relief because the roads were a lot more accommodating than the roads from Geiranger to Fjaerland. The drive is normally about 4 hours, but we took another scenic ferry through the Nærøyfjord from Kaupanger to Gundvagen. The ferry was around 3 hours, allowing us plenty of time in one of the archetypal fjords, and it shaved an hour off the drive time. While I have to mention that I enjoyed the Geiranger ferry more, if you are doing the drive to Bergen and you have plenty of time, this ferry is worthwhile. It is worth mentioning also that as you approach Bergen it is most essential that you drive the speed limit, as there are cameras that will monitor your speed!
- Reason for recommendation level: At the beginning of the trip, I was most excited for Bergen out of all the other places we had on our itinerary. However, after Fjaerland and Geiranger, I don’t think I was ready to go back to a larger city. Bergen as a final destination made me miss the fjords and the seclusion of the smaller towns, but I think we made the most out of our two nights there. If I did it all again, I would stay only one night in Bergen and add another night in one of our earlier destinations.
- Things to do: There is a lot to do in Bergen, beginning with a stroll of the harbor and the scenic Bryggen. Bergen has museums, an aquarium, fish markets (expensive fish markets), city kayaking, guided excursions, and plenty of hiking on the seven mountains that surround the city. Fair warning: It does rain in Bergen a lot. If you don’t want to get what, you might be out of lucky. Disregarding the rainy weather, we did the essential Mt. Floyen funicular ride and got lost halfway up a mountain in the miles of hiking that branch off from the viewpoint over the city.
Day Seven: Bergen to Reykjavik
- Travel: On our final day in Bergen, we took our time packing and making our way to the airport. If you are from America, you will likely be amazed by the efficiency of airports in Norway but you should still plan to be in security a couple hours before international flights.
I hope you enjoyed my Norway Road Trip Itinerary. If you have any questions, please let me know and I will be happy to answer in the comments below. Throughout my travels I wrote on various topics, which you can check out on the rest of my blog. We also photographed our adventure, which can be seen here.