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Travelers seeking off-the-beaten-path destinations in Norway will love this road trip allowing you the freedom to drive at your own pace and stop as you please. And with overnights in five distinct places, this itinerary is ideal for those who like to be on the move with a nice mix of city culture and jaw-dropping rural landscapes.
A major portion of this itinerary focuses on the country’s two largest fjords, of which there are over a thousand along the coast: Sognefjord and Geirangerfjord, as well as nearby Jostedalsbreen National Park (the largest glacier on Europe’s mainland). In fact, the entire west coast of Norway is a maze of waterways, cliffsides, and mile-long views. This particular driving route takes you through charming villages including Undredal, Aurland, Myrdal, Flåm, Borgund, Skei, and Geiranger — and includes a relaxing fjord cruise to the village of Hellesylt.
This trip also appeals to those who want to experience the culture and history of Bergen and Ålesund—two of Norway’s most attractive cities, given the architecture, surrounding mountains, and coastal views. You’ll get to spend a half-day exploring Bergen with a local guide, while your last few days of the trip offer the chance to explore Ålesund’s stylish restaurants and bars.
Bergen International Airport
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Welcome to Bergen! Situated on Norway’s west coast, this small wharf city (one of the oldest port cities in Europe) is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. The cobblestoned streets are compact and walkable, so get out and explore Bergen’s lively restaurants and nightlife, thanks in part to a young student population.
After breakfast, meet up with a local for a custom private tour of Bergen. Your guide, who was born and raised in Bergen, will find the right tour for you based on your interests. Here are a few walk or hike ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:
Walk Through History (3 hours): This walk starts from the city center and travels through narrow streets up to the mountainside known as “Sandviksbatteriet” with spectacular views over the city. From here, the trail takes you to a small, hidden cabin rich in World War II history. During the walk, your local guide will offer local stories of Bergen’s history and culture.
Hike Mt. Sandviken (2.5 hours): This hike heads to Mt. Sandviken, one of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen, including a visit to Stoltzekliven — a local favorite consisting of 900 steps built by sherpas from Nepal. This trail is home to the steepest race in the world and features spectacular views from the top!
Hike Three of Seven Mountains (5-7 hours): On this longer hiking trip, you will have the opportunity to climb three of the seven mountains surrounding Bergen: Mt. Ulriken, Mt. Rundemannen, and Mt. Fløyen. Lunch will be served at a scenic spot along the trail along with the Norwegian treat “Kvikk Lunsj”, plus coffee or tea.
The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. You’ll also be equipped with a 24-Hour Bergen Card allowing you free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions), so take advantage!
After breakfast, pick up your rental car and start exploring the countryside of Western Norway. You’ll first drive 2.5 hours northeast to reach the Aurlandsfjord — a branch of Norway’s longest and deepest fjord (Sognefjord) —and continue until you get to Undredal. This quaint fjord-side village is famous for its traditional cheese produced from goats that roam free over the hillside, adding to the picturesque appeal. Spend some time here before proceeding on your journey.
You’ll continue by road to reach Aurland, a small town idyllically placed in the innermost corner of the Sognefjord. If there’s time left, head to Stegastein Viewpoint — a national landmark created by Todd Saunders, a well-known Norwegian architect. Finish the day with dinner at one of the area’s restaurants like Duehuset Pub with an outdoor terrace and fjord views.
Today, you’ll drive to the village of Flåm where you will park your car and pick up your bicycle rental for the day. Bring your two wheels onboard the Flåm Railway and slowly start on your way up to Myrdal, a beautiful journey along one of the world’s most scenic (and steep) train rides!
When you reach Myrdal, you’ll cycle back down to Flåm at your own speed. Maps will be provided so you can enjoy the day at your leisure. From here, you’ll return the bike and retrieve your car for the drive back to Aurland.
After breakfast at your hotel, spend a leisurely day visiting notable places along the route to Skei. For instance, the village of Borgund is under an hour from Aurland. Here you can see the Borgund Stave Church, a historic wooden monument and the best preserved of Norway’s 28 stave churches.
Continue northwest for about two hours towards Skei, stopping at Fjærland on the way. You can head for Fjærland’s village center, called Mundal, and visit the famous Hotel Mundal — an elegant wooden hotel from 1891. Other noteworthy areas include the Norwegian Booktown, which consists of several second-hand bookshops, some that are combined with cafés, art galleries, and souvenir shops.
Also not to miss is the Norwegian Glacier Museum, an award-winning architectural marvel situated at the head of the Fjærlandsfjord. This hands-on museum is the leading center in Norway for knowledge regarding glaciers and climate change.
Continue towards the village of Skei and stay overnight.
After an early breakfast in Skei, you will drive just under four hours to Geiranger and park your car while you enjoy the Geirangerfjord by boat! The deep blue UNESCO-protected fjord is surrounded by dramatic snow-covered mountains, waterfalls, and lush vegetation, so keep your camera close!
The fjord cruise stops at Hellesylt, allowing you to explore beautifully restored old farmhouses scattered around the hills and mountains. If there’s time, visit Hellesylt Boutique & Bar for provisions like licorice-flavored meringues, and then take a short hike to check out the views from this side of the fjord.
You’ll return to Geiranger in time to explore the town by foot. Here you can experience open-air restaurants and sidewalk cafés, as well as shops and galleries for souvenirs. The town’s restaurants and eateries take pride in creating fresh food with a local twist, like Geiranger Brewery partly located in a boathouse so you can enjoy more of those views.
After breakfast, you’ll drive to Ålesund (about 2 to 3 hours) and enjoy the rest of the day here. Ålesund is known as one of the prettiest and most charming cities in Scandinavia with a breathtaking location stretching out into the Atlantic Ocean. The heavy presence of Art Nouveau architecture is a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904.
Today, the city is the cultural center of the region with an array of museums, a sea park, a lighthouse (Alnes), and charming streets to explore on foot, not to mention numerous outdoor activities such as hiking and stand-up paddle boarding.
If you’re looking to get beyond the city’s typical sites, take a hike up Ålesund’s Sukkertoppen (Sugar Top) hill, which affords excellent views of the city, fjord, and coast. Plan at least 2.5 hours for this excursion.
For a hearty and authentic Norwegian dinner, consider dinner at Café Lyspunktet — also a place to come for great coffee, live music, and local art exhibitions.
It’s time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last moments in this beautiful city with a leisurely breakfast, neighborhood stroll, and/or souvenir shopping before you head to the airport for your return flight home.