Western Norway road trip itinerary for the outdoor adventurer
Updated: Nov 28, 2020
Are you planning a road trip around Western Norway? This 10-day road trip itinerary highlights some of Norway's finest scenery. Filled with scenic drives along the fjords, hikes in the snow-capped mountains, and visits to quaint coastal towns, hikers and outdoor enthusiasts will be left speechless. Living in Bergen, I have done this road trip myself in the summer of 2020, combining various outdoor activities, hidden gems, and a few touristic highlights. But before I go into detail about the itinerary, I'd like to emphasize essential things to know before traveling to Western Norway!
Travel to Western Norway: things to know before you go
Western Norway is not known for its pleasant weather. It does rain quite often and can be a bit chilly, even in summer. Especially in the mountains, the weather is unpredictable. You can have all seasons in one day even if the day starts out with clear blue skies. So remember to bring proper clothing (bring your warm travel hoodie!) and a rain jacket. You can check the weather forecast here.
Best time to travel
The best time to travel to Western Norway is June to August. You can enjoy long days with the sun setting as late as midnight! Even though very unstable, the daily temperature generally hovers around 19°C and may even reach 25°C on hot days. It is also the best time to go hiking as most snow will be melted in the mountains.
Things to do
Western Norway (and Norway in general) is known for its magnificent nature, including fjords, mountains, glaciers, waterfalls, and coastal scenery. Therefore, top things to do in summer include outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and kayaking. Norwegians love the outdoors and with such an amazing country, you can't blame them. During the winter it is also possible to go skiing and see the magical northern lights dancing in the sky. However, winters are severe with short days. visitnorway.com is a good website to search for activities all over Norway!
Hiking paths are usually clearly marked with red "T"-markers spray-painted onto trees, rocks, etc. Hence, it's unlikely you'll get lost on the trail. If you are not 100% comfortable with relying on marks, just download offline maps on your phone or try to find the trail on AllTrails.com. These travel apps will help you navigate and stay on the trail.
For more inspiration and information on hiking trails, you can check out the website UT.no (unfortunately only in Norwegian) or you can pass by one of the DNT offices, the official hiking association of Norway. DNT offices can be found all around the country, from Kristiansand in the south to the North Cape in the north. DNT offices offer advice on hiking trails and sell outdoor essentials, such as gear, maps, and clothing. In addition, DNT has over 500 cabins spread over the entire country. For a small fee, you can stay the night in one of them! Ask the DNT office or check out their website.
Groceries and alcohol
Norway is expensive due to the high taxes, so take that into account when budgeting your trip. However, traveling to Norway on a budget is not impossible. Instead of eating out at restaurants, buy groceries! During the week, most supermarkets are open quite early and don’t close before 10 PM. Opening hours might vary on Saturdays and stores are closed on Sundays (except for some small Sunday stores).
Alcohol sales are from 8 AM to 8 PM on weekdays and from 8 AM to 6 PM on Saturday. Also, note that anything with an alcohol content above 5% has to be bought at a “Vinmonopolet”. This is open until 6 PM on weekdays and until 3 PM on weekends. So you better buy that bottle of wine to drink next to the campfire in time!
Norway has the amazing “allemansretten”, which roughly translates to “everybody’s right”. This is an actual law! It means that everybody has the right to enjoy and stay in nature for FREE. You can camp anywhere in Norway as long as it is at least 150 meters from an inhabited house or cabin and you can not stay longer than 48 hours. This means that you can save a whole lot of money on accommodation when traveling to Norway.
Of course, the “leave no trace” principle is a must! Also, it is forbidden to have open fires between April 15th and September 15th due to fire hazard. Use common sense when making fires.
You pay road taxes when driving in Norway (“Bompenger”). If you have a rental car, you will see there is a small “brick” right next to your rearview mirror. This automatically registers all the toll stations you pass AND the ferry. If you drive your own car, your license plate will be registered and you will receive the bill by mail a few weeks after your trip.
The maximum speed on most roads is 80km per hour (unless indicated otherwise). And bizarrely, you will often find that this is actually too fast! There aren’t that many speed cameras along the road, but manual control does occur and the fines are high. So don't speed!
Even in summer, conditions can be quite tough on the road (snow and ice) in the mountains. Make sure to check this before your trip! Find information on road conditions here.
Western Norway: 10-day road trip itinerary
The infographic below highlights the places you'll visit during your 10-day road trip through Western Norway. Save it and pin it as you please! We also have a more detailed map on Google Maps with specific addresses, driving directions, (free) campsites, sights/activities, etc. This map will come in very handy when planning your trip. See our Google Maps here.
Day 1-2: Explore Bergen
As a UNESCO World Heritage City and a European City of Culture, Bergen combines nature, culture, and interesting urban life. This charming town is an absolute must-visit with tons of entertaining activities in and around the city.
Top things to do in Bergen
To get the most out of your Bergen experience, it is best to buy the Bergen Card. This 24, 48, or 72 hours card gives you free entry or discounted admission to a bunch of museums, attractions, events, and sightseeing tours. It also offers great discounts on shopping, car rentals, restaurants, and bars, and allows you to travel for free on buses and the light rail in the Bergen region!
The following activities should be on your to-do-list:
1. Explore Bryggen World Heritage Site & Bergen's museums
Urban development of Bergen started in Bryggen, a dock in the center of town. Nowadays, Bryggen is one of Bergen's most iconic and popular attractions. With its vibrant atmosphere, you will find plenty of things to do. From strolling through the narrow alleyways to learning about its historic importance in one of the museums, and soaking in the sunshine at one of the many cafés.
If you are a culture lover, make sure to check out one of Bergen's museums. The Lepramuseum and Bergen Festning (Including Håkonshallen) are my personal recommendations. Information about Bergen's museums can be found here.
2. See the fjords!
Norway is known for its fjords, and so is Bergen. If this is your first time in Norway, make sure to go on a day tour of the fjords. Bergen offers a wide variety of guided tours, with cruises to Nærøyfjorden, Flåm and Stegastein viewpoint, the Hardangerfjord, and Mostraumen among the most popular ones. With the Bergen Card, you can often get discounts on fjord cruises of up to 30%!
3. Hike to one of Bergen's seven peaks
Bergen is surrounded by seven peaks, and you can hike them all! The most popular hikes start nearby the city center to Mount Fløyen and Mount Ulriken, both offering spectacular views of the city, the fjord, and the ocean. Both are short hikes of a few kilometers each, so they can be easily done within a day. During the summer months, you can also decide to hike from Mount Fløyen to Mount Ulriken (or the other way around). This hike across Vidden takes about five hours.
How to get to Bergen
As this itinerary starts in Bergen, it is important to know how to get here. Bergen is home to the second-largest airport in Norway, offering both domestic and international flights to various destinations. For international travelers, there are flights directly to Bergen from Copenhagen, Stockholm, New York, Helsinki, Amsterdam, London, and other major cities around the world. Check out prices and flight routes on skyscanner.com. However, in many cases, you will have a layover in Oslo, the capital of Norway.
From the airport to downtown There are few options to get from the Bergen Airport to downtown. The first option is by city tram or “bybanen”. It departs directly underneath the airport and takes you directly to the heart of Bergen in about 50 mins. This is maybe not the fastest option, but most definitely the cheapest (only 39 NOK) AND you get to see the surrounding area for free. The second option is Flybussen, which takes you downtown in about 20-25minutes. Finally, you can take a taxi which takes about as long as Flybussen. The prices to the airport are fixed and taxi companies follow these rules. Prices start from 450 NOK.
Day 3-5: Loen and Lovatnet
Day 3: Drive from Bergen to Loen
On day 3 you'll start your drive from Bergen to the small town of Loen. This should take about 5 hours. The drive to Loen is very scenic, so make sure to take some photo-stops along the way! Bear in mind that you will have to take a few ferries to get to Loen, which is completely normal in Norway.
Loen is a small village located deep in the region of Nordfjord, below the great Jostedalsbreen Glacier. With dramatic and spectacular scenery, Loen attracts adventure seekers from all corners of the globe. Explore the surrounding mountains, valleys, and fjords for the next few days and fall in love with Western Norway!
Day 4: Spend your day around lake Lovatnet
On day 4 you can paddle around the wonderful lake Lovatnet! Sande Camping rents out rowboats and canoes, so you can enjoy an outing on the lake. Make sure to paddle all the way to the end where the water has the mesmerizing blue-green color from the glaciers' year-round melting water.
After a few hours on the lake, you deserve a break! Have a drink and/or traditional bite at Kjenndalstova, a restaurant located in the breathtaking Kjenndal Valley. Explore its surrounding nature afterwards. The peaceful valley has an easy, well-marked trail to Kjenndalsbreen (Kjenndals glacier). It's definitely worth a visit!
Day 5: Via Ferrata Loen
Loen's most thrilling activity is the Via Ferrata to the summit of Mount Hoven at 1011m elevation. It is an absolute MUST-DO for every outdoor adventurer! The Via Ferrata Loen is a climbing route where you are secured in a steel cable while climbing a challenging route of walls and bridges high above the fjord.
You start at sea level, next to the fjord, and start with a steep hike up. After circa 30 minutes you start the actual Via Ferrata. The route is challenging and will take you up both steep and less steep walls, with often the option to choose between an 'easier' and 'harder' route. You will also cross the 120-meter long Gjølmunnebrua Suspension Bridge, the longest Via Ferrata bridge in Europe! It is suspended up at an elevation of 750 meters, offering breathtaking views of Loen and Lovatnet, so make sure to stop in the middle of the bridge and snap some photos. On the next part of the climb, you can also opt to cross a line bridge, which is just a single metal cable. DO IT! Once you reach the summit of Mt. Hoven and Loen Skylift, you will be rewarded with a great panoramic view of the fjord landscape, the mountains, and the Jostedalsbreen National Park. There is also a restaurant here, perfect to relax the legs while taking in the views. I promise you that a fresh beer has never tasted so good! When finally satisfied, you can return to Loen by skylift. This ride is included if you rent a guide.
How to book the Via Ferrata
Daily trips are organized by Loen Active and include a guide, safety equipment, and return with the Loen Skylift (cable car) from Mt. Hoven to Loen. With a guide, the route takes about five to six hours including breaks. If you are an experienced via Ferrata climber it is possible to rent just the equipment in the Loen Active shop and go by yourself.
Guided tour: NOK1395 per adult
Equipment only: NOK450 per person
Where to stay
As you're spending most of your time around the area of Loen and Lovatnet, it is best to base yourself around here. There are many accommodation options around Loen and Lovatnet. However, I recommend staying at the lake of Lovatnet as it is just gorgeous!
Overnight stay options:
If camping with a tent: try to find a camping spot next to beautiful lake Lovatnet (indicated coordinates of 2 spots on our Google Maps). There isn’t that much room for tents, so make sure to not arrive too late. If you can't secure a free spot, you can always rent one at one of the nearby campsites.
By campervan or RV: There are several campsites next to Lovatnet, such as Sande Camping (information only in Norwegian, but you can send them an e-mail in English!) and Helset Camping (no website, call +4740858463)
Day 6-7: Geirangerfjord
Day 6: Drive to Geiranger and explore the fjord
On day 6, it is time to leave the breathtaking Nordfjord area. You'll drive in a few hours to the town of Geiranger, located within the Geirangerfjord. Make a stop at Gudbrandsjuvet in Valldal, it is a beautiful ravine through which the Valldøla River flows. Also, take a short picture break at the Flydalsjuvet viewpoint right before entering Geiranger. It offers a breathtaking view of Geirangerfjord!
The famous Geirangerfjord is a deep blue UNESCO-protected fjord surrounded by grand, snow-capped mountain peaks, tumbling waterfalls, and lush nature. It is very popular among tourists and it is rare to see the fjord without a (or several) massive cruise ships. However, this should not deter you from visiting. For outdoor enthusiasts, the fjord has plenty to offer. From sightseeing trips to the fjords and the waterfalls to hiking trails in the surrounding nature and kayaking on the waters.
On day 6, you can drive up the steep Ørnevegen (the Eagles Road). Along the road, there is a viewpoint where you can see Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord from a bird-eye view. From here you can also see the famous waterfall “The Seven Sisters”. You can also explore the fjord by kayak and observe the Seven Sisters from up close! It is possible to rent a kayak (single and double) from Active Geiranger, based at the Grande Hytteutleige & Camping at the bottom of the Eagle Nest Road.
Day 7: Hike up to the Skageflå mountain farm
On day 7 you'll hike to Skageflå Mountain Farm, which is a fantastic adventure that combines a fjord cruise and a hike up to the abandoned farm Skageflå sitting above the fjord.
Start your fjord cruise from the town of Geiranger and get off at Skagehola. From the dock, it is a short but steep hike up to the mountain farm, gaining about 250meters in altitude over less than 500 meters distance! This will take you approximately 1-2 hours, depending on your fitness level. Located about 560m above sea level, this traditional, old Norwegian farm gives you a wonderful view over the Geirangerfjord and the famous Seven Sisters waterfall. Enjoy the panorama whilst having lunch on the grass!
When you’re ready, you have two options for returning. You can either head back down the same way and catch the boat back or continue on the trail back to Geiranger. I recommend the trail towards Geiranger via the Homlongsætra and Homlong. You have already done most of the elevation so it isn't too hard of a trek. The start of the path is clearly marked from the farm and continues to guide you with red T's (in some cases more like red dots). The highest point you'll reach is 550 meters above the fjord at Homlongsætra. From here, you'll hike about 3 kilometer downhill to Homlong. The total duration is between 4 to 6 hours.
Once back in Geiranger, treat yourself to a visit to the town's own brewery 'Geiranger Bryggeri'!
Where to stay
Finding a free camping spot in Geiranger might not be easy as it is a small town with limited space. It is best to book a camping spot or to stay at a hotel (book in advance!). A popular campsite is the Grande Hytteutleige & Camping with a view towards Geiranger and the Geirangerfjord.
Day 8: Scenic drive to Trollstigen, Åndalsnes, and along the Atlantic Ocean Road
Be prepared for what's probably the most beautiful drive of your Western Norway road trip! Take an early start, because it is a long day of driving.
Geiranger to Trollstigen
From Geiranger, it is a 2-hour drive to your first stop, Trollstigen. Trollstigen is Norway's most visited tourist road for a reason. With its eleven hairpin bends that take you down from the mountain into the valley, this is probably the most spectacular road scenery you've ever witnessed. Make sure to stop along the road to take in the dramatic views. The viewpoint also has a cafe and shop that blend into the surrounding nature.
After passing Trollstigen, drive approximately 30-minutes to Åndalsnes. This small city calls itself Norway's mountaineering capital as it's the gateway to the breathtaking Romsdalen valley. The most scenic (and popular!) hike goes to the Rampestreken viewpoint. It is a brutal ascend to the viewpoint, but also promises to be a fantastic experience. The lookout is 537 meters above sea level, offering spectacular views of the town and valley. You can also continue to the summit of Nesaksla, which adds 20 minutes to the journey. From the top, you'll be rewarded with 360-views! Locals love this hike and they even do this with their kids (because they are Norwegians). This hike will take about 2-3 hours to complete.
The Atlantic Ocean Road
From Åndalsnes you can drive to the Atlantic Ocean Road. This road is known as "the Road in the Ocean", with seven bridges that connect little islands. The Atlantic Road is considered one of the most beautiful roads in the world thanks to modern engineering and the spectacular ocean scenery.
Note that this is a 2-hour drive and also a ferry. Personally, I wouldn’t drive all the way there again since the road is very spectacular from above, but not as spectacular when you’re actually driving it.
Where to stay
You can decide to stay in the town of Åndalsnes or continue your drive to Ålesund and find a place there. Åndalsnes has plenty of accommodation options, from campsites to AirBnB's and hotels. For the best value experience, stay at a campsite. Åndalsnes Camping has space for caravans, motorhomes, and tents. But if you want a little more luxury, they also rent out cabins, apartments, and rooms.
Day 9: Explore Ålesund
Today another popular tourist destination is on the itinerary, the city of Ålesund. Start your day early again as the drive takes about 2-hours.
According to National Geographic, "Ålesund could be the backdrop for a Nordic fairytale – with a modern plot twist". And they're absolutely right. Ålesund is a charming city and considered THE “art nouveau” capital of Norway. You can easily spend a few days here if you're a culture lover!
Things to do in Ålesund
My recommendations of things to do include:
1. Hiking up to the Aksla viewpoint
This is the most iconic hike, offering a panoramic view of the city! The ascend is quite easy, consisting of 418 stairs up to the view.
2. Hiking in the Sunmøre alps
The Sunnmøre Alps are absolutely spectacular, attracting hikers from all around the world. You'll find both short and long hikes, but the most scenic one is to summit Slogen. However, this hike takes approximately 9-hours, meaning that you will need to do this as a day trip. Read more about the hike to Slogen.
3. Go on a wildlife sea safari
Another exciting thing to do in Ålesund is a Wildlife Sea Safari. Cruising for two hours along the coastline, this safari will take you in a high-speed boat to seal colonies and Runde's famous bird colonies of eagles and puffins!
4. Visit the Devold Factory Outlet
For the shoppers who love a good discount or want to bring home a true Norwegian souvenir, I recommend a visit to the Devold Factory Outlet in Langevåg. Devold is a well-known Norwegian brand that makes wool base layers and sweaters. A must-have in Norway, as even summer nights can get quite chilly! In these renovated factories you can also find outlet stores of other famous Norwegian brands such as Helly Hansen, Norrøna, and Bergans. There is an express boat going from Ålesund to Langevåg several times a day.
Where to stay
Ålesund has parking for campervans, but you might want to book a hotel or Airbnb here. I stayed at Hotel Noreg, which is a budget-friendly option around.
Day 10: Drive back to Bergen
On day 10, you will drive back to Bergen, which is a 7-hour drive (9-10 hours including ferries)! So you could choose to either:
leave early in the morning and make a stop at Lake Lovatnet for a few hours of relaxation at the beach (if the weather allows!)
Spend a few more hours in Ålesund in the early morning and start the long drive after.
Looking for more travel inspiration and other destinations? Check out other destination guides that we offer!
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Have you visited Western Norway and, if yes, what did you enjoy the most? Comment below!
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