Western Norway road trip itinerary for the outdoor adventurer
Updated: Sep 21, 2022
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.