17 January 2018 by Saija Kokkonen
For many of my clients, Norwegian travel begins and ends with a coastal cruise or wintery escape. And yes, the Northern Lights are magical as is dipping in and out of the fjords aboard a Hurtigruten ship. However, the humble Norwegian road trip deserves so much more recognition. The roads are pristine and the routes simply spectacular, with rollercoasters knitting together fissured islands and precipitous sweeps bringing you alongside shimmering fjords. For me, the scenery really is right up there among Europe’s most dramatic and fills you with that sense of relaxation and rejuvenation. I've picked out two of my favourite itineraries to help whet your appetite.
Norway: Best of the West
Flying into Ålesund, you’ll be welcomed to Norway’s cragged western coast by a delightfully colourful aesthetic; the city was entirely rebuilt in Art Nouveau fashion following a 1904 fire. To take it all in, I highly recommend the walk up Mt. Aksla for a spectacular view of the town and its island frame. After a night here, you’ll pick up your hire car to drive along the famous Trollstigen. As one of Norway’s “national tourist routes” it’s one of the most scenic stretches in the entire country, with lazy switchbacks bringing you between lush valleys, strawberry fields and vertiginous mountains. It’s all showcased by architect-designed viewing platforms. You’ll then be based out of the gorgeous Geirangerfjord, perfectly poised for everything from hikes and cruises to drives along Eagle’s Road – a stunning mountain pass plied by hairpin turns. After four days to explore, you’ll then return to Ålesund for a final night before your flight home.
The Southern Fjords 8-day tailor-made self-drive
This longer itinerary offers plenty of chance for some active exploration – something complemented by stays in spa hotels. It all begins in Stavanger, where you’ll have two days to wander its cobblestone lanes, admiring 18th-century timber buildings and award-winning beaches. Otherwise, hike up to Pulpit Rock, a mountain plateau with spectacular fjord views, or Kjeragbolten – a rock suspended high above the waters below. Although perfectly manageable on your own, I recommend booking a guide for a sunrise expedition that beats the crowds. You’ll then head north, hopping between cragged islands on ferries, bridges and tunnels to arrive at Haugesund, perhaps pausing for waterfalls and beach walks along the way. Next up, a national tourist route will bring you on to Hardangerfjord, sidling along steep valleys and plunging through apple orchards. Troll’s Tongue rock, the 182m-high Voringsfossen and hiking or blue-ice kayaking at the Folgefonna Glacier are all special highlights. You’ll even stay in a historic hotel whose sauna pool enjoys panoramic views over the fjord. Then, end in Bergen to take in its timber wharf and the fjord views from its funicular train before your flight home.
Incl. flights, 7 nights B&B accommodation & 6 days car hire. For the latest prices and to find out more, view our full, day-by-day itinerary.
Pulpit Rock, Lysefjorden