21 Days in the Fjord Region
Off the beaten track
Arrive in Oslo
Arrive in Oslo and spend one night. If you have time Oslo is a lovely city to spend a few hours in and several restaurants serve great food. Walk the one kilometer along the avenue of Karl Johann to the Royal Palace, visit Vigelandsparken with more than 200 sculpture by the Norwegian artist Gustav Vigeland (1869-1943), the spectacular Opera house and Aker Brygge.
Where to stay: There are several lovely hotels in Oslo in different price classes. Check booking.com.
Where to eat: For a an experimental dining experience with a Scandianavian touch the restaurant Vaaghals is great. It is on the upper budget level.
Drive to Gjendesheim (4 hours)
You will soon discover that even the shortest distance in Norway will take onger than expected. The roads in Norway are narrow – for a reason – they are windling roads passing up and down through an epic landscape. This is the moment you realize that driving in Norway is an adventure in itself.
Driving directions: Drive E16 from Oslo heading north towards Trondheim. In the city of Fagernes about 2,5 hours north of Oslo you head off the E16 and spend the last hour on the mountain road 51 until you reach the sign for Gjendesheim, the start of the Besseggen hike. You will spend 2 nights here. There is a free parking by the Gjendesheim Turisthytte if you spend the nights at the Turisthytte.
Where to stay: Gjendesheim Turisthytte provides simple rooms and food if you want to stay overnight (about 500 – 1 000 NOK per person depending on type of room). Be sure to be there at the latest around 6 p.m. to be ready for dinner which is served once in the evening.
There are also options for camping. In that case you have to park the car at the larger parking in Reinsvangen and then take the shuttle bus 2 km to Gjendesheim. The parking includes shuttle bus.
Where to eat: Gjendesheim Turisthytte serves breakfast, lunch, dinner. Dinner reservation is recommended.
Hike the Besseggen ridge
After having breakfast it is time for a boat trip to Memumburu, where the start of the hike is.
There are several boats in the morning from Gjendesheim to Memumburu. You can also walk the ridge in the opposite direction, starting in Gjendesheim and then taking the boat back from Memumburu to Gjendesheim.
If you are afraid of heigts it might be a better option to start from Memumburu since you then have the steep part behind you when walking upwards.
Åndalsnes, Reinheimen National Park
The drive to Åndalsnes is a scenic 3 hour drive along E136 from Gjendesheim passing by the Dovre national park and through the Romsdalen valley passing by Trolltindende before you reach Åndalsnes. Åndalsnes is beautifully situated by Romsdalsfjorden and brings stunning views of the mountains. It is a very small village with everything within walking distance. There is a nice restaurant in the small harbour where you can have dinner.
Where to stay: In Åndalsnes you have several options for overnight stay and this will be your home base for the next 2 nights. There are a few hotels and campings areas.
Another option is to continue through Åndalsnes along Isfjorden to the end of Venjedalen (about half an hour drive) if you are into more adventure and prefer spending the night free camping overlooking the Romsdalen from Litlefjell. Check out how to do that here.
Where to eat: Spiret, a nice harbour restaurant just beside the Tourist information and close to the railway station. Kaffebrenneriet is a nice coffeshop with great coffee.
Romsdalseggen hike, Reinheimen National Park
Reinheimen National Park is the home of the spectacular hike across Romsdalseggen with views of Trolltindene, the Romsdalen valley and Romsdalsfjorden. This hike will take you about 7-9 hours.
In the morning you take the bus from Åndalsnes to the start of the hike. Buses leave at 8:30 and 9:30 in the morning and cost 250 NOK.
If you want to do a shorter hike, are really afraid of heights or if the weather is bad an option is to walk the stairs up to Rampestreken, a panorama stairway, with views of Romsdalen valley and Moldefjorden.
Romsdalseggen is also a popular trail running path so if you are lucky you might bump into one of the famous trailrunners living in the area.
Drive the Atlantic Ocean Road passing by Molde to Ålesund
After yesterday´s hike at Romsdalseggen you will probably appreciate a day´s rest. Driving from Åndalsnes to the Atlantic Ocean road is a 2 hour drive through beautifyl hilly landscapes with small villages including a car ferry crossing Moldefjorden.
Driving the Ocean Road does not take more than 15 minutes from the southern to the northern point. Reaching the northern point you can turn back and if you like - stay at the restaurant along the road, take a snack and a short stroll along the Atlantic coast.
The Atlantic Ocean Road follows the coastal line all the way down to the little fishing village of Bud and it is a really nice route also after the impressive bridges.
From Bud to Molde you have another half an hour and by then it is probably ready for a late lunch. You will easily find several restaurants in Molde. The Egon Molde serves burgers and some vegetarian options and is in the middle of the city.
From Molde there is another car ferry again passing the beautiful Moldefjorden. After reaching the shore you have a 2 hours drive to Ålesund where you will spend the next 2 nights.
Where to stay: Hotel Brosundet is a lovely 4-star boutique hotel with a perfect location and a great restaurant. At least if you have spent a few nights free camping it is money well spent to stay here. Family rooms available.
Where to eat: There are several options for dinner in Ålesund, for example the fish restaurant XL Diner which is famous for its bacalao (klippfisk). Also, Hotel Brosundet has a lovely restaurant where you can sit outside by the water if the weather is nice.
Ålesund is a beautiful village with a little less than 50,000 people living her. the village is right by the Atlantic ocean and filled with Art Noveau houses from the beginning of the 20th century. It is not a big village and you can easily cover most of the city in a couple of hours.
A nice day trip is kayaking (guided tour 800 NOK) from the city center passing by the houses steeping right into the water like in Venice for a couple of hours.
In the evening, walk the short hike (30 minutes) up to the mountain Aksla just in time for the sunset around 10-11 p.m. (July). At the restaurant Fjellstua you have a great view of the city for 30 NOK. Another (free) option is to walk a little further up to Kniven which gives the same view.
Trollstigen, Geiranger Fjord
Today´s drive is one of the more famous and scenic ones in Norway. After leaving Ålesund you will again arrive in Åndalsnes after 1,5 hours, but just before you reach Åndalsnes, take road 63 to the spectacular and windling Trollstigen. If the weather is nice do stop at the viewpoint along the way for a short swim in the stream.
Reaching the end of Trollstigen the landscape totally changes and you suddenly find yourself in high mountain terrain. There is a nice cafe at the top. You will only find tourists there but the building is spectacular and the views are nice. Sometimes there are sheep grazing on the roof.
From the café you can follow a pathway to get a lovely view of the Trollstigen.
After reaching the top of Trollstigen have an one hour drive to Geiranger including a car ferry crossing Nordalsfjorden, a lovely boat trip. If your visit is in July you will also pass several temporary shops selling fresh strawberries along the way.
Just before you arrive in Geiranger along the road Örnesvingen there is a viewpoint with spectacular views of the fjord and Geiranger.
In Geiranger you will spend 2 nights and there are some hotels. Since this place is more or less for tourists nowadays it is expensive and probably will not give you that feeling of uniqueness. It is beautiful though!
Where to stay: The most famous hotel is the Hotel Utsikten with a beautiful view of Geirangerfjord. Another option is to stay a the camping just before you arrive in the village.
Boat trip Geirangerfjord, hike to Skageflå mountain farm
Starting/Finishing point: Geiranger
Distance: 7 km
Length of time: 5 hours
Ascent/Descent: +/- 500
The hike to Skageflå, an abandoned mountain farm, starts with a fjord cruise from Geiranger to Skagehola. The hike from Skagehola up to Skageflå is steep, nearly 300 metres. After reaching Skageflå you hike to Homlongsetra Mountain Farm at 544 metres and then back to Geiranger at your own pace.
During this hike you will have a beautiful view of the Geirangerfjord and the Seven Sisters Waterfall.
You can also skip the boat and do the hike from Geiranger and then walk the same way back.
Drive to Lom and Spiterstulen (3,5 hours)
Today we leave Geiranger for Jotunheimen, the valley of the giants. Just before leaving Gerinager along road 63 you can take another lovely photo of the valley from another viewpoint south of Geiranger.
Lots of people drive up along the Nibbevegen a few kilometres south along road 63. You will easily see this road that starts where there is a restaurant by the lake of Djupvatnet. Nibbevegen is a toll road (100 NOK).
If you feel like taking a really cold swim in Djupvatnet, drive along the lake until you reach a parking. We free camped here by the lake.
Driving from Geiranger to Spiterstulen in Jotunheimen will take you about 3,5 hours. It is a beautiful drive.
Following road 63 you reach the little village of Lom. It is a really nice village with shops and restaurants. It is nice to have lunch here before heading on for Spiterstulen in Jotunheimen. There is also a Vinmonopolet in the village where you can buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate reaching Galdhöpiggen.
From Lom there is another half an hours drive up to Spiterstulen along road 55. The last part is a toll road (20 NOK).
Jotunheimen you find the highest mountains in Scandinavia including Galdhöpiggen, the highest of them all. In total there are more than 200 mountains with more than 2 000 metres in Jotunheimen.
Where to stay and eat: Spiterstulen Turisthytte provides simple rooms and food if you want to stay overnight (about 500-1 000 NOK per person). Be sure to be there at the latest around 6 p.m. to be ready for dinner which is served once in the evening.
There is also a large area for camping by the river.
At Spiterstulen you find a large parking area.
Hike Galdhöpiggen, 2,469 metres
Galdhöpiggen (2 469 m) is today the highest mountain in Scandinavia after the glacier has melted on the second highest mountain Glittertind.
This 5-8 hours hike from Spiterstulen up to the top of Galdhöpiggen is quite easy and well-signed even though the ascent probably will be a challenge. You pass small rivers, blocks of stone, snow and will probably see some sheep.
If possible you should try to be either very early, starting around 7 a.m. or late, after lunch. The reason is that there is a risk for crowds around noon as lots of people reach Galdhöpiggen in large guided tourist groups from Jurvashytte. Starting in Jurvashytte is an option that easens the hike a lot.
Drive Sognefjellsvegen to Flåm (5 hours)
This beautiful road 55 from Lom to Flåm passes high mountains and glaciers and you have plenty of time to take stops and admire the views.
When reaching the Sognefjord the landscape changes to cultivating areas for apples, strawberries and pears. Just before Sogndal you turn south on road 5. One option is to have lunch in Sogndal. There are not many restaurants but maybe it is time for the favorite restaurant food in Norway – pizza!
In Kaupanger you have two options, either the car ferry to Flåm through Sognefjorden (about 1 000 NOK) or continue along the road to Flåm.
Staying in Flåm you will probably not feel anything like Off the beaten track – this place is crowded with tourists. Anyway, Flåm is a lovely village at Aurlandsfjorden with a typical white fjord hotel and a famous railway – Flåmsbana. You will stay in Flåm for 2 nights.
Where to stay and eat: Fretheim Hotel is a traditional white "fjord hotel" with a beautiful setting by the Aurlandsfjorden and the Flåmsbana.
Hike the Aurland Valley
The Aurlandsdalen is the Grand Canyon of Norway and the hike passes abandoned farms, lakes, crosses streams and waterfalls. The hike takes about 6-8 hours and is 19 kilometres long.
Using your own car, drive (30 minutes) from Flåm to Vassbygdi, where the hike ends. From Vassbygdi you take the bus (30 minutes) to Österbö, where the hike starts. Another option is to take the bus from Flåm to Österbö and then the bus from Österbö to Flåm.
Flåmsbana and driving to Odda
Flåmsbana windles up to Myrdal at 867 metres above sea level. Over the course of one hour and 20 kilometres the railway runs alongside the Rallar Road, vertiginous mountainsides, foaming waterfalls, through 20 tunnels.
A roundtrip with Flåmsbana costs about 50 Euro. An option is to go oneway and then hike/bike down (35 Euro). You can bring your bike on the train.
Arriving back down to Flåm you have a 2 hours beautiful drive to Odda for the Trolltunga hike the next day. In Odda you will spend the following 2 nights.
Where to stay: There are no chic boutique hotels in Odda so perhaps a night in a Camping cabin (or tent) at Odda camping by the Hardanger Fjord is a nice way to save up some money.
Where to eat: This is not the place for foodies. A pizza night before next day´s hiking to the Trolltunga is nice.
From Odda there is a shuttle bus to Skjeggedal. There is also a large parking at Skjeggedal (600 NOK/24 hours) if you want to go by your own car. From Skjeggedal the hike is 28 km. You can shorten the distance to 20 km if you take the bus up to Mågelitopp and you also save some 400 metres hight metres (100 NOK).
The hike to Trolltunga is about the same effort as Romsdalseggen but passes through high mountain terrain. The hike is very well signposted.
Since the weather in the high mountains changes quickly and it gets quite cold you shall not hike if there are strong winds, heavy rain or fog predicted. To be sure to be able to do the hike you might be ready to wait until the next day if the weather is bad.
One option is to camp close Trolltunga. It takes some strength to carry the equipment all the way but it is well worth the effort. I promise! Waking up in the high mountain terrain and meet the morning or evening sun at the Trolltunga is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
There are also guided tours including an overnight stay including tent, sleeping bags and food (3 000 NOK per person). Then you will not have to carry anything more than the food for the way up and your own personal things.
If you choose to sleep over close to Trolltunga you drive to Bergen when you come down the next day.
Drive to Bergen
The scenic 2,5 hours drive from Skjeggedal to Bergen passes along the Hardangerfjord, through tunnels and small villages surrounded by farms. Once in Bergen everything is within walking distance and you do not need a car.
Where to eat: There are several really nice restaurants in the city center. Try for example some really nice fresh fish at Fjellskål.
Bergen is a beautiful city with almost 300,000 inhabitants. It hostes the most prominent university within busines administration and economics and in August the city is full of students.
Stroll along the narrow alleys at Bryggen and hike 30 minutes up to Flöyen to get an outstanding view of the city. Also, Flöyen is the starting point for several hikes.
This day can also be used as an extra day in case you are delayed at Trolltunga because of bad weather.
Driving from Bergen to Stavanger
Drive 5 hours from Bergen to Stavanger along the beautiful E39. You will pass two fjords by car ferry (NOK 300) and the first ferry will be 40 minutes.
If you have rented a car it is a good thing to return it once you arrive in Stavanger since the transportation for the next two days can easily be done by bus and ferry.
You will stay in Stavanger for 2 or 3 nights.
Where to stay: There are several hotels in the city center. Try for example the Eilert Smith Hotel
Where to eat: Try for example the Tango restaurant or Fisketorget restaurant.
Preikestolen (Pulpit rock)
This is a full day (about 8 hours) including transportation. The hike is easy, 4 kilometers one way.
From Stavanger it is about one hour to the start of the hike. You take the car ferry to Tau. If you have returned your car, there is a bus from Tau to Preikestolen Fjellstue, the starting point of the hike. Tickets for transportation can be bought at the Tourist office in Stavanger.
Lots of tourists do this hike every day during Summer so being there either really early or late in the afternoon is a good thing. Since the nights are bright (July) it is actually possible to start around five o´clock in the afternoon at Preikestolen Fjellstue and still be safe back down at the lodge at 9 p.m.
Hike to Kjeragbolten
Kjeragbolten is your last hike in Norway on this round trip. It is a streneous hike that will take about 6-8 hours. (We will do this hike in 2020 so the information about the hike is what we have found on other web sites.)
From Stavanger to the start of the hike, Öygardsstöl, it is a little less than 3 hours drive east. If you have returned your car there is public transportation (ferry and bus).
If you are driving back to Oslo you will now leave Stavanger and drive in direction Oslo after the hike. If you are flying from Stavanger you will have one more night there.
We hope you have had three amazing weeks in this absolutely lovely country! A beautiful way to get back to Oslo is going by train across Hardangervidda.
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