Norway 10 day itinerary, a fjord-optimized road trip
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At Travelupa, for every big trip we write two posts. First, with the itinerary we planned, and second with the real itinerary and recap of the trip. If you have not read the Plan: Norway 10 day itinerary: a fjord-optimized road trip, I recommend you read that first.
Welcome to the Norway 10 day itinerary. You will find all the day-to-day detail, recommendations, and learnings from our trip.
Norway is a place like no other. The landscapes you'll see are some of the greatest on the planet. The combination of tall mountains and a vast network of fjords make it a truly unique destination. A road trip where you have the freedom to drive around, explore new places, and discover your own favorite spots.
Weather in Norway
Norway is not known for good weather, it's Norway. So you have to be mentally prepared for this. Even in the summer you can get a lot of rainy days. We got like 50:50. However, when it's sunny, it is absolutely amazing.
Another thing to note about the weather is that your iphone weather app won't do it. For all your Norway weather inquiries you have to use:
Use YR.no for planning your Norway 10 day itinerary and keep it handy during your trip. That said, you cannot predict the weather accurately so you will have to take some risks.
Driving and ferries
Renting a car and driving around is the best option. You have the freedom to get a good feel for Norway beyond the obvious places. We rented a Toyota Rav4 Hybrid that turned out to be a great choice for a long road trip.
Roads are good, but they are all single lane mountain roads. They are not heavily trafficked. Driving is generally easy even if you don't have experience driving mountain roads. There are parts that are very windy and zig-zag type roads, but they are short stretches of the overall route. Signage all around Norway is very good, making directions straight forward. Google maps does the trick for almost everything.
You will find good bathrooms throughout your Norway road trip. All the tourist stops and restaurants have clean bathrooms. We found this to be consistent throughout Norway.
Make sure to check the National Tourist Routes
and all the stops they have. It helps as you plan your Norway 10 day itinerary or plan your day once you are there. Gas is expensive, so think about renting a hybrid to minimize gas consumption.
You will cross several car ferries. These are very easy, you don't need to book anything in advance. You just show up and pay. They typically leave every 15-30 minutes depending on the ferry. There is no need to plan to arrive at a particular time.
For all the Fjord cruises make sure you buy the tickets ahead of time. The last thing you want is to get there and not be able to go out. You'll find the links to buy the tickets on each of the days.
Food and water
Although Norway is not a food destination, you will find good food at good restautrants, especially fish. We found cod to be consistently good. Norway is not a food destination. Breakfast is their thing, with all hotels you'll find that they include breakfast. It is a breakfast you can count on. Otherwise, be prepared for the high prices. Food is very expensive.
Tap water is drinkable everywhere. Make sure you take water bottles and refill them so you're not stuck buying expensive water bottles.
The money logistics are easy. Credit cards are accepted everywhere, even at places like the ferries. We used very little cash (sub $300USD) during our trip. Again, everything is expensive.
You'd wonder why is Norway so expensive? Economoists have looked into this
. It boils down to a constrained labor supply and high opportunity cost. The person cooking your lunch could be doing oil exploration in the north sea. The high labor costs translate to high prices for pretty much everything.
Norway 10 day itinerary
Our Norway 10 day itinerary is optimized for the the fjords. Although we hit some of the main cities, we spent mort of our time driving around the fjord region.
Day 1 - Arrive at Stavanger
In Stavanger, picked up the car, and after a 15 minute drive we arrived at our hotel. The Clarion Hotel
was very well located; only a five minute walk from downtown.
Stavanger is Norway's third largest city. Despite this fact, it is not very big. It has an old feel to it with the harbor and a nice lake next to the hotel. We got there at 7:00PM which was still daylight but slightly rainy. This was just enough time to walk around a bit and grab dinner.
We ate dinner at the Fish & Cow restaurant
. A great first Norwegian dinner. We had a fantastic duck breast and black cod. For dessert the Coffee Burlee that was also very good.
Day 2 - Explore Stavanger & Fjord Cruise
We knew that hotels in Norway included breakfast. But the breakfast at the Clarion Hotel
was really good and complete. Eggs, cereals, fruit, breads, everything. This was a good start of the day.
Rain again. This is mid August and one of the best times to go, we were really hoping for better weather. Neverthreless we explored Stavanger in the morning with our jackets and umbrellas. Stavanger has two sides, the old town and the downtown.
The old town is five blocks of old white houses that have their charm. Not much to do other than walking around and taking pictures. It is a 45 min to an 1hr hour activity.
The downtown is slightly bigger, much more commercial and a lot more people. You can pretty much walk all of downtown in a couple of hours. For coffee, go to the Øvre Holmegate
street where there are a lot of cofee shops and a people hanging out. Always a good idea to grab an ice cream at MooGoo
right by the tower.
At 2:00PM we head over to take out first Fjord cruise. Cruises to the Lysefjord leave from the Stavanger harbor, on the old town side. Weather fortunately got better. It feels good to be out in the water. It takes an hour to get to the Lysefjord, but once you get there you'll notice.
The Lysefojord is a great first fjord to visit. It has great views with huge rocks by the water. You can see Pulpit Rock from the water level. Since this is one of the most accessible cruises, expect the boat to be completely full. Book the Lysefjord here
Get to the boat early (30-45 mins before), get in line and make sure to get a seat outside. We don't regret we didn't do the Pulpit Rock hike. There were no shortage of good views throughout the trip.
Dinner in Stavanger
Back at Stavanger, we wondered around downtown and started to check out the places for dinner. First, we tried Egget
, looked super cool right up our alley, but they were full for the night. For Egget
, make sure to call ahead and make a reservation. Second place was Sol
, this seemed overly fancy tasting menu place, but it was also full for the night. We ended up in a place on Øvre Holmegate. This street is where all the cafes are. The place was called Nick & Jones or Gaffel and Karafell
, it had both names and some sort of identity crisis. However, to our surprise the food was really good. We had a delicious cod there.
Stavanger is known to be Norway's oil capital. Over 50% of Norway's exports are petroleum and gas. If you are interested you can visit the Norwegian Petroleum Museum
in Stavanger. Related to oil wealth is Norwegian Sovereign Fund. The fund holds over US$1 trillion in assets and it owns around 1.5% of global stocks making it the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.
Day 3 - Drive Stavanger to Bergen
This is one of the long driving days. The shortest route to Bergen is driving straight north. It takes around 4 hours. We wanted to take the scenic route that in theory should take 6 hours. For us it ended up taking 8 (more on that later).
Ferry from Mortavika to Arsvågen
Right after breakfast we started our drive towards the Mortavika-Arsvågen. This first stop is 35 mins away and was our first of many ferries of the trip.
This is the first scenic stop of the road trip. Waterfalls on one side, fjord on the other. Here you start getting a feel for all the amazing landscapes that you'll find driving around Norway.
As you drive after Langfossen, keep an eye to your left and you can spot the glacier. This was our first glacier spotting. There is something to glaciers, to me, they are so unique, so remote, that I always excited to see one.
After driving for a couple of hours you'll want to stretch your legs. The Bondhusvatnet hike is the perfect 60 minute hike along a picturesque river ending up with an incredible lake and glacier view. You park at a small parking at the beginning of the trail and walk to the lake and back. This is not a super popular place, given that it is a bit hidden. You'll mostly see locals here.
We loved this place. Definitely a unique spot.
Ferry from Jondal to Torvikbygd
Jondal, where we took the ferry, was a significantly smaller town. Not much there apart from a 7Eleven and a cafe. Not many food options here. I would not plan to have lunch at Jondal. Fortunately for us we had our Sandwiches.
On this one, you can see the tour buses from the distance, which made it less appealing to us. What is nice though, is that it is a waterfall with a path to walk behind it, kind of cool.
Steinsdalsfossen is part of the Hardanger National Tourist Route
. That said, this was our least favorite stop of the day.
Drive from Steinsdalsfossen to Bergen
From Steinsdalsfossen to Bergen should be just over an hour drive. Just after we left Steinsdalsfossen we hit a road closure. There had been an avalanche and there was no way through. Windy roads, big mountains, and rainy weather, this stuff happens. The avalanche turned the remaining drive to Bergen from a 1 hour drive into a 3 hour drive. Not ideal, but not the end of the world either.
Once we made it to Bergen, we were exhausted. The Bergen Harbor Hotel
is a very centric hotel. The rooms though were very small to the point that the room was very uncomfortable. Not sure I would recommend staying there. We walked around a downtown and got dinner at Egon
. Egon is a restaurant chain you'll see around, a go to for days where you just want to eat something and get it out of the way.
Day 4 - Explore Bergen, drive to Flåm and afternoon Nærøyfjord Cruise
Bergen is Norway's second largest city with a population of just over 217,000. Bergen has some nice wooden houses and nice parts of town. A morning is enough to explore Bergen.
Drive from Bergen to Flåm
We drove to Flåm as direct as we could to make it to the Nærøyfjord cruise at 4:00PM. This is a 2:30 hour drive from Bergen. The drive is very scenic and is worth a couple of stops to take pictures. On this drive you will probably see tens if not hundreds of waterfalls. You will also hear that there is a train from Bergen to Flåm. The drive is along the railway, it does not seem worth it to take the train. You have much more freedom with your own car. The train seems more like a complication.
Flåm & the Nærøyfjord Cruise
Flåm is pretty much a cruise and train terminal. There are a couple of houses around but it is tiny. The Nærøyfjord cruise takes off from Flåm and drops you off at Gudvangen, the town right before Flåm when you are driving there.
The cruises are one-way which complicates the logistics a bit. You have to choose whether you take the cruise then bus back from Gudvangen or the opposite. Taking the cruise then busing back worked better for us. I would also recommend doing it this way. The Gudvangen end is the most beautiful part of the fjord. You want to best for last. You also want to see it from the front of the boat that has still waters ahead.
We got rain on the first half of the cruise, but cleared up for the best part. The Nærøyfjord is trully magical. Hard to describe, much more impressive than the Lysefjord.Book the Nærøyfjord cruiseBook Return bus
Hotel and Dinner in Flåm
There are not a lot of hotel options in Flåm. We stayed at the The Fretheim Hotel
which is the big fancy hotel in town. It was expensive, dinner was also very expensive and not great. That said, there are not a lot of options. Look at accomodation with plenty of time because there is not a lot.
Just east of Flåm is the Lærdal Tunnel, the world's longest vehicle tunnel. It is 24.51 kilometers long (15.23 mi) and connects Lærdal and Aurland. The surface road happens to be one of the national tourist routes Aurlandsfjellet
A possible variation to this Norway 10 day itinerary is to do the Aurlandsfjellet scenic route. Make the stops, then come back through the tunnel. Always good to have gone through the world's longest vehicle tunnel.
Day 5 - Drive from Flåm to Balestrand and Fjærlandsfjord cruise
We needed to make it to Balestrand before 12:00PM to catch the Fjærlandsfjorden cruise. We left Flåm at 8:00AM and started making out way there. We crossed the ferry at Vangsnes to Balestrand.
This is one of the lesser known fjord cruises. Not as popular as the Lysefjord or Nærøyfjord cruises. The logistics also made it a unique cruise. It took 1:20hrs to Fjærland, a small town at the end of the fjord. Then you have a two hour gap, and then ferry takes you back to Balestrand.
What's special about this cruise is that is where the fjords meet the glaciers. You have two huge glaciers at the end of the fjord making a unique view. Once you get to Fjærland you have 2:30 hrs to grab lunch. You'll notice that everyone gets on a bus. This goes to The Glacier Museum
, we didn't know about this, but also don't regret not going. The museum looks a bit aged and we'd rather have a great lunch and wine overlooking the fjord.
Fjærland is just a few houses. But it does have the Fjærland Fjordstove Hotel & Restaurant
. We had a great lamb burger and house wine for lunch. They also have a super cozy living room where you can hang out while you wait for the return ferry.
The Dragsvik Hotel
The Dragsvik Hotel
was a pleasant surprise. Our room overlooked the Fjord and was the perfect end of the day to chill out and relax. Rooms were remodeled, very comfortable, and nice. Dinner at the Dragsvik
was also very good. We had a great Cod with potatoes.
This stop of the Fjærlandsfjorden + Dragsvik Hotel
was definitely a hit.Book the Fjærlandsfjorden cruise
The Nærøyfjord and Fjærlandsfjorden are both branches of the Sognefjord. The Sognefjord has a total of twelve branches. It is Norway's deepest and longest fjord stretching from the north sea to well inland Norway. It is 205 kilometers (127 miles) long and has a maximum depth of 1,308 metres (4,291 ft). It is also the world's second longest fjord, second to the Scoresby Sund in Greenland. The Norweigan coatline has around 1,200 fjords.
Day 6 - Drive from Balestrand to Hjelle
On day 6, we did another National Tourist route: The Gaularfjellet
. This route has great views, good activitities and more fjords!
A short 45 minute drive from Balestrand and a long zig-zag road put us at the Utsikten lookout
. Beware when you put Utsikten on the Google Maps there are two. You have to aim for the Gaularfjellet Utsikten.
Great views and a cool lookout. The stops along the national tourist routes are all designed by renowned architects. In the case of the Utsikten lookout it was designed by Peter Zumthor and Reiulf Ramstad
. Swiss and Norwegian architects respectively.
After the zigzag, you are at a much higher altitude. Here you drive along the river through the highlands until to reach the Likholefossen Bridge
. This is a nice bridge crossing the river. This is another example of a design attraction like many built throughout Norway. The Likholefossen bridge makes for good pictures and a short hike along the river.
Beware that there are not a lot of spots for lunch. We ended up having lunch at a cafe in Innvik. We recommend taking your own lunch this day. After lunch you drive to Utvik where you are back at the fjords (the Nordfjord).
Olden, Briksdalsbreen, and the Glacier
Olden is a small town at the end of the fjord that you'll drive through. Here you have an opportunity to go up and walk on the glacier. Something that would need a bit more research, we didn't do the glacier walk but were intrigued about it.
Loen and the SkyLift
Loen is the town just across the fjord and also a more active town. Here we ran into the Loen Skylift
and decided to stop. It was amazing. The SkyLift goes up from the Fjord to the top of the mountain. It is 1,530 meters in length and 990 meters in vertical height. It is also not cheap, it is around ~$50USD per person, but worth it. At the top it has a phenomenal viewing deck and several short hiking trains.
If you are looking for more outdoor activities this is a great area. If you are a climber, this is your spot. There are several ways to climb up for different skill levels.
Hjelle and the Hjelle Hotel
Finally we made it to Hjelle. A hidden little town of just a few houses at the edge of a lake surrounded by huge mountains. Once in Hjelle we checked in to the Hjelle Hotel
. A historic family run hotel. We got the Queens room, where Queen Wilhelmina used to stay. The room had a small balcony and great view.
Do the hike to the waterfall, a 30 minute hike along the lake that ends at a decently sized waterfall.
When you stay at the Hjelle Hotel
, you have to have dinner there. There is nothing else around. The dinner was pretty good. It was a three course meal with two options for the main course that vary daily. When we were there, we got Carrot soup, Veal or Coal Fish and fruit desert. All very good. Staff is incredibly friendly at the Hjelle Hotel
. It is a family-owned hotel that is run with love.
Day 7 - Drive from Hjelle to Geirangerfjord, fjord cruise and drive to Kristiansund
This is one of the longest driving days. Fortunately, the breakfast at the Hjelle Hotel was a great start of the day. Nice homemade everything, a great start.
Gamle Strynefjellsvegen drive to Grotli
We are not taking the shortest path to Geiranger. We are driving the Gamle Strynefjellsvegen National Tourist Route
to Grotli. This road is a different type of scenery. More like rocky highlands with glacier water lakes and snow caps. It was crazy to see all the snow caps in summer.
After Grotli, when the Gamle Strynefjellsvegen finished you'll head to Dalsnibba. The Dalsnibba Skywalk
is one where you can see the tour buses from the distance, but it is worth to go up. You pay and drive up a super windy road. The lookout has snow caps on one side and the view to Geirangerfjord on the other. I beleieve it is the highest road in Norway. Views here are incredible. But it is super touristy because it has all the buses coming up from Geiranger (where cruise ships dock).
is like a mini Dalsnibba at half the altitude. It overlooks Geiranger and the fjord. Good views nevertheless.
Geiranger and Geirangerfjord CruiseGeiranger
is perhaps the most touristy town we went to. Huge cruise ships dock here and unload hoards of tourists. There is not much to the town itself. We had lunch at the Brasserie Posten (it was good) and got on our Fjord cruise. The fjord cruise is a nice one. It goes all the way out and back.
Another option to do the Geirangerfjord is to drive to Hellesylt and take the car ferry to Geiranger. This car ferry covers the full length of the fjord but you'll have to plan the route differently.Book Geiranger fjord cruise
Once you leave Geiranger you get started on the Geiranger - Trollstigen National Toruist Route
. You start with a zig-zag road up to the Ørnesvingen Lookout
. When we drove by parking was full. We decided not to stop. We had a long drive ahead and we've had good views already that day.
Ferry from Eidsdal to Linge
A short ferry with the last view of the fjords.
is great stop. A modern-design coffee shop overlooking a waterfall with an elevated path into the woods.
exceeded expectations. We thought we had seen impressive views that day. Trollstigen has a combination of architecture and amazing views, very unique.
After this, we drove the zigzag down and made our way though Molden to Kristiansund. Here the landscape changed to a greener less mountainous one, more farmlands.
You'll notice that most Norwegian houses are white, yellow and a specific tone of red. The color mostly depended on the family's financial situation. Certain colors required certain resoruces therefore were more expensive than others.
- White: was the most expensive one of all and used by the wealthiest families.
- Yellow: Was a bit more expensive than red, but cheaper than white.
- Red: was the cheapest color to produce. As a result many farmland building such as barns were painted red.
With time, the red became a traditional color and people started painting their houses red. The red is a very specific red called Falu Red. For those curious, the web color code is #801818
Kristiansund was a very confusing place. It was completely dead, no one around. Somewhat depressing. We stayed at the Thon Hotel
at Innlandet which was at the other side of the bay. We thought, big mistake, we should of stayed downtown. When we drive downtown we realized that we should not have gone to Kristiansund at all. I would not recommend going to Kristiansund.
Day 8 - Drive from Kristiansund to Alesund
One of the reasons we drove to Kristiansund was to do the Atlanterhavsvegen
. The National Tourist Route that covers the Atlantic coast. This route goes from Kristiansund to Alesund where our road trip finished.
you get a sense of the landscape, pretty but not sure worth the stop.
was our favorite stop on the Altantic route. It is a short elevated hiking path that goes around a small hill right on the coastline. From here you can get a good feel of the scenery as well as have good views of the bridge (which is marketed as another stop).
Not officially one of the stops of the Atlanterhavsvegen route, but was one of our favorites. It is a rare sand beach in between farmland with the big fjord-like mountains in the back. Needless to say, not warm enough for a bathing suit or to get in, but a good spot do do a picnic. This was a rare find.
We were really looking forward to Askevågen
after all the great architecture we had seen on all the small spots along the way. Askevågen was sort of a fiasco. It was a parking lot with a small cement deck overlooking the ocean. Same scenery, nothing special. not worth the stop at all.
is a much nicer town than Kristiansund. More lively as well. That said, not much there. You can walk the entire town in an hour or two. The town has around seven restaurants to chose from. We went with the Lyst Cafe
, a casual cafe that seemed nice. Good food, but nothing special. Also worth checking out the Draape Kaffehus
. Alesund is a half a day max type of city.
We stayed at the 1904 Hotel
downtown which was fantastic. Loved the design of the hotel. Very nice surprise.
One interesting thing we noticed, were the beds. Beds in Norway seem to have two duvets. It is a standard practice in all Scandinavia
Day 9 - Fly Alesund to Oslo and Explore Oslo
At 5AM, we drove to the Alesund airport to catch out flight to Oslo. We returned the car and the roadtrip was officially over.
We arrived to Oslo around 9:00AM took the FlyToGet
, the Olso airport train. It is not worth taking any other form of transportation. The convenience of the train beats everything else. It leaves every 15 minutes and leaves you downtown Oslo. We went straight to check in at the Christiania Teater Hotel
. Unfortunately it was raining again, so we geared up and went to explore Olso in the rain.
Oslo Sentrum Walk
It's worth spending an hour or two walking the Olso Sentrum. Cool streets but not much more. The Engrebet Cafe is an old Olso classic and is in a nice square.
Nobel Peace Center
It is a good 1-2 hour activity. It is humbling to see and learn about all the different stories. Today, the center is pretty basic, but interesting nevertheless. It is under construction, so do expect a fully renovated Nobel Peace Center which worth the visit.
This marina walk is a new part of town. You can tell multinationals have their offices there. The waterfront is full of bars and restaurants. Lots of outdoor seating, it seems like a great place with nice weather, which is rare in Oslo.
The Oslo Castle (Akershus Fortress)
If you are spending a day walking around, the castle is a good stop. It is a medieval castle with not much inside. Worth to swing by and keep walking. Not a big deal if you skip.
Oslo Opera House
The Opera House is worth the visit. From an architectural standpoint it is a beautiful building. Worth the visit.
Grünerløkka and Vulkan
These are the hispter artistic neighborhoods that are well worth exploring. More edgy neighboorhoos quickly getting gentrified. Grünerløkka has a main street worth walking around with bars and shops. Vulkan several blocks away and has a post-industrial feel to it. A good lunch plan is to go to the Mathallen Food Hall in Vulkan. It is a nice food hall with a ton of food options.
Dinner and Drinks in Oslo
For dinner we opted for going back to Grünerløkka. We first stopped for a drink at the Territoriet wine bar
. Cozy little wine bar, perfect for a pre-dinner drink. From dinner we went to the Markveien Mat & Vinhus
. The perfect level of good food and not overly fancy. You need to call to make a reservation. From here, we made our way back walking all downtown to the Christiania Teater Hotel
. It was about a 40 minute walk. Fortunately it stopped raining.
Overall thoughts on Oslo
Overall, we were a bit underwhelmed by Oslo. Compared to other european capitals seemed small and on the quiet side. Some neigboorhoods like Grünerløkka and Vulkan were cool, like a mini Berlin. Oslo does not need more than a day on your itinerary.
Day 10 - Fly back home
We woke up got to the airport and flew back home as planned.
Norway 10 day itinerary Modifications
Our Norway roadtrip was an incredible one. If we were to do it again we'd likely do one big modification.
We would likely remove the entire Atlantic route part. We would remove Kristiansund and Alesund from the the itinerary entirely. Instead, we would spend two more nights in the Olen, Loen, Hjelle area. Not only was one of the most beautiful areas, but also, it had a lot of things to do. One of the things you should look into are the different hikes and kayaking around there. This is also a great base for you to wonder to different places and come back.
We hope you enjoy this Norwayn 10 day itinerary and have a great trip. We hope you enjoy Nowrway as much as we did!