This stunning adventure travels to the heart of the Sunnmøre region in northwestern Norway. Start in up-and-coming Oslo and check out this exciting capital before boarding a train that runs along the emerald-green Rauma River. From Åndalsnes, begin the ultimate road trip through mountains, fishing villages, cities, and dramatic fjords with a slew of outdoor activities and national scenic routes, not to mention 11 hairpin turns on the 'Troll's Ladder'.

Highlights

  • Explore Oslo's up-and-coming neighborhoods like Aker Brygge & "Løkka"
  • Take a scenic train journey to northwest Norway passing through Lillehammer
  • Drive along the world-renowned Atlantic Road, packed with coastal views
  • Jump from a remote fishing island to a city known for Art Nouveau architecture
  • Drive along the Geirangerfjord to get to a sleek minimalist hotel situated in nature

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Explore Oslo with a Local Oslo
Day 3 Train to Åndalsnes - Pick-Up Rental Car Åndalsnes
Day 4 Åndalsnes - Hike to Rampesteken Viewpoint Åndalsnes
Day 5 Drive to Håholmen, via Kristiansund Håholmen
Day 6 Explore Håholmen Håholmen
Day 7 Drive from Håholmen to Ålesund - Explore the City Ålesund
Day 8 Drive from Ålesund to Øye Øye
Days 9-10 Explore Øye & the Norangsfjord Øye
Day 11 Drive from Øye to Juvet Landscape Hotel, via Geiranger Tafjord
Day 12 Drive to Åndalsnes, via Trollstigen - Train to Oslo Oslo
Day 13 Depart Oslo  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo

Welcome to Oslo! Norway's rapidly growing capital is still considered a small city, helped by the fact that it's surrounded by mountains and sea. Not only is the city center made for walking, but outlying neighborhoods—filled with charm and character—are easily accessible by public transportation, so jump on a tram, train, or bus and explore all of what Oslo has to offer.

Suggested activities include: 

  • Take a half-day and wander around Aker Brygge, an area on the Oslofjord made up of beautiful, modern buildings where you can find bars and abundant nightlife. It acts as a sort of courtyard for the city of Oslo and brings together both tourists and locals alike to enjoy the great food, atmosphere, and entertainment.
  • Spend the afternoon visiting the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Open-Air Folk Museum by way of public transportation. Both museums are in the same area, so they pair well together! 
  • Walk along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade)—a new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park, which combines sightseeing, history, art, architecture, and a little bit of adventure.
  • Visit the Vigeland Sculpture Park, where 200 larger than life sculptures are placed throughout this green lung in the middle of the city. 

For dinner, explore the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and cafés that stay cozy in cold weather, with several options that offer outdoor seating during summer months.

Day 2: Explore Oslo with a Local

Oslo's historic center
Oslo's historic center

After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with your guide for a custom private tour of Oslo. Your guide, a native of Oslo, will find the right tour for you based on your interests. Here are a few ideas that past travelers have enjoyed:

  • Akerselva River Walk (4-5 hours): On this tour, you'll take the tram to the Akerselva River, an important waterway that offers an abundance of local history. You will start with the Norwegian Museum of Science and Technology (on the north side of the river) and then head south to the Labour Museum (part of the Oslo City Museum) while your guide shares stories about the heart of Oslo's history. The river is 5 miles (8 km) long and passes waterfalls, swimming areas, forested areas, and wildlife, so bring your camera!

  • From Fjord to Forest (full-day): This outdoorsy tour takes you to a beautiful island just outside Oslo's harbor, reached by tram in about 30 minutes from the city center. No cars are allowed here, so the island is full of recreation options. Choose an activity depending on the season, or simply walk around one of the lakes while your guide shares local history.

  • Holmenkollen Ski Jump (2-3 hours): If you have less time to spare, this tour heads for a popular area called Holmenkollen, where a wooded range of hills can be reached by light rail from the city center in about 35 minutes. Open year-round, the Ski Museum & Tower presents over 4,000 years of snow sports, polar exploration, and an exhibition on snowboarding and modern skiing. Head for the observation deck offering panoramic views of Oslo, and then walk down to the ski jump while your guide shares stories about local trolls, legends, and castles.

The rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to explore on your own! For dinner, wander around the city's historic core buzzing with restaurants and outdoor cafés. If you're looking for Oslo's trendiest local scene, head east for Grünerløkka, which many inhabitants refer to affectionately as "Løkka." This once-run-down sector of Oslo is now the site of refurbished apartments, fashionable cafés, and hip restaurants.

During summer months, Oslo comes alive to celebrate extended daylight hours, with various festivals and celebrations happening each week.

Day 3: Train to Åndalsnes - Pick-Up Rental Car

Enjoy the train journey to Åndalsnes!
Enjoy the train journey to Åndalsnes!

Today you'll take an epic train journey from Oslo towards the mountaineering base of Åndalsnes, a scenic town located in Romsdalen glacial valley. Along the route, you'll pass some of Norway's most dramatic landscapes including a beautiful river (Rauma), steep mountains, waterfalls, and famous bridges. 

The train journey starts with a 4-hour ride through Lillehammer to Dombås, where you'll switch to a 1-hour, 20 minute-ride from Dombås to Åndalsnes. In this particular section, the train conductor slows down to give passengers views at Kylling Bridge and Trollveggen, Europe’s highest perpendicular mountain wall. The beautiful emerald-green Rauma River follows the train route for much of your trip—you can watch it shift between gentle sections and fierce rapids.

Upon arrival in Åndalsnes, pick-up a rental car and take the rest of the day to explore the breathtaking surroundings at your own pace.

Day 4: Åndalsnes - Hike to Rampesteken Viewpoint

Picturesque setting in Innerdalen
Picturesque setting in Innerdalen

Today, after breakfast, you will head out for a steep hike to Rampesteken—a stunning viewpoint and lookout 1804 feet (550 m) above sea level. 

Locals love this hike and often do it for exercise where they are rewarded with magnificent views. It’s classified as a moderate hike, however, the last part is quite steep so you'll likely work up a sweat. At the end of the hike, the trail steepens into stone steps, where the path is made durable thanks to wonderful pieces of stone construction works by Nepalese Sherpas. The path is well marked with signposts and red marks painted on trees and rocks.

It takes about 2.5 hours to get up and back, but you can also continue to the top of the mountain, called Nesaksla. It’s only 20 minutes more from Rampesteken, and you walk most of the time on stone steps. The view on top of Nesakskla is fantastic.

Following your adventure, enjoy the rest of your day and evening in the town of Åndalsnes.

Day 5: Drive to Håholmen, via Kristiansund

Drive on the Atlantic Road to get to Kristiansund
Drive on the Atlantic Road to get to Kristiansund

This morning, you can enjoy a traditional Norwegian breakfast at your hotel before driving to Kristiansund. This road trip is truly unique as you have an option to drive along the famous Atlantic Road—a route that includes a ferry between Molde - Vestnes. The entire stretch of the Atlantic Road is one continuous experience packed with coastal scenery, culture and history. Keep your camera close for this once-in-a-lifetime driving experience!

Stretch your legs and grab a late lunch or snack when you get to Kristiansund. This is an interesting city consisting of four main islands, as well as a number of smaller ones. The colorful city has a rich cultural life and mainly made its living from the sea. Have a stroll around in the Bacalao Museum and the beautiful Grip Stave Church.

From here, continue the journey to an island nearby called Håholmen for a unique overnight experience. Upon arrival, walk around this 18th-century fishing village, which offers original wharves and traditional fishermen's shacks across 10 acres.

Day 6: Explore Håholmen

Learn more about the local salted codfish called bacalao
Learn more about the local salted codfish called bacalao

Today you have the entire day to choose between optional activities in and around the fishing island of Håholmen. A few suggestions include:

  • Pick from a number of kayaking, biking, hiking, fishing and golfing opportunities in the area. You can also take a boat trip to a fantastic archipelago consisting of 20 larger and smaller islands for some of these activities.

  • Sign up for a beer tasting and learn about the history of local beer while tasting dry salted codfish, an essential ingredient for making bacalao—the regional specialty!

  • Join a Sea Eagle Safari with a local guide and get up close to nature and rare bird species. 

  • If the seas are calm, tour the surrounding islets on a RIB (rigid-hulled inflatable boat).

Following your adventures, return to Håholmen and enjoy one more night on this charming and peaceful little island.

Day 7: Drive from Håholmen to Ålesund - Explore the City

Ålesund at sunset
Ålesund at sunset

Today, get ready for another scenic drive as you continue your road trip to Ålesund

Upon arrival, you'll have the rest of the day to explore. You'll quickly realize why this is considered one of the prettiest and most charming cities in Scandinavia. Distinguished by its numerous spires, towers, and ornate buildings, the city is renowned for its beautiful Art Nouveau architecture—a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904. 

As for activities, this city is the cultural center of the region with an array of museums, a sea park, a lighthouse (Alnes), and photogenic streets to explore on foot, not to mention numerous outdoor activities such as hiking, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. 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

Colorful streets come alive during summer months with outdoor cafés and a large boating community. Ålesund also boasts several festivals, including the Ålesund Theatre Festival, the Festival of New Norwegian Literature, the Norwegian Food Festival, and art and music festivals such as Jugendfest and Trandal Country Festival.

For an authentic Norwegian dinner, consider dinner at Café Lyspunktet—also a place to come for great coffee, live music, and local art exhibitions.

Day 8: Drive from Ålesund to Øye

Depart Ålesund on another pretty route

Today, you'll wake up in Ålesund with free time to enjoy the city's café culture with outdoor seating during summer months. 

After breakfast, it's time to hit the road again! Get ready for more glorious views as you make your way to the  Hjørundfjord and its peaceful countryside. This drive takes about two hours, which brings you to Øye. This stunning town is located on the Norangsfjord, an arm of the Hjørundfjord surrounded on all sides by the Sunnmørsalpene mountains.

In the afternoon, take your pick between a range of activities. You can either explore the area by car, fjord cruise, boat charter (express or high-speed boat), or simply on foot.

Later in the evening, savor panoramic views and the changing colors of the fjord at sunset with dinner and drinks in town.

Days 9-10: Explore Øye & the Norangsfjord

A fjord sunset near Øye
A fjord sunset near Øye

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll have the entire day to explore the area. Øye is a paradise for outdoor lovers, but also for those who would like to relax and enjoy the wonderful surroundings!

The town is located in the middle of the world's most breathtaking scenery including Geirangerfjord, now on UNESCO's World Heritage List, Hjørundfjord, and the majestic Sunnmøre Alps. And during summer months, daylight hours in Øye last until midnight, giving you extra time to explore the beautiful mountains nearby.

In addition to a range of hiking trails, boat tours, and fjord cruises, you can also rent bikes and sign up for kayaking tours.

Day 11: Drive from Øye to Juvet Landscape Hotel, via Geiranger

Drive along the Geirangerfjord to get to Valldal
Drive along the Geirangerfjord to get to Valldal

Enjoy a relaxing breakfast in Øye before you make your way to Valldal for your stay at Juvet Landscape Hotel. The property is in the middle of the famous Norwegian Scenic Route, so you'll want to keep your camera close.

The Juvet is said to be the first landscape hotel in Europe, and aptly so, considering it is situated on a steep, natural levee amongst birch, aspen, and pine trees, as well as age-old boulders. In this little village situated in rural Norway, the modern architecture blends seamlessly with the natural and cultural landscape.

There is plenty to explore in the area with hidden gems right on your doorstep. For history buffs, this is the area where Olav Haraldsson, the king who was canonized as a saint after his death in Stiklestad in 1030, spent a night under an overhanging rock on his flight through Valldal to Sweden in the winter of 1028/29.

You can also take a day-trip to Tafjorden, a peaceful fjord close by.  This historic village with many stories to tell about geology and its special biological diversity. Discover facts about the development of hydroelectricity
 and listen to adventures while walking from cabin to cabin in the Tafjord mountains.

There are traces of people and the struggle to survive throughout the area. At the highest summits, you can find hunting equipment left by the hunters who came to the area when the ice retreated 10–11,000 years ago. There are also many ancient roads and summer pasture farms that bear witness to the transhumance farming that ended in the 1950s.

Your hosts at the Juvet are very friendly and will be happy to help with suggestions on things to do and guided tours in the area.

Day 12: Drive to Åndalsnes, via Trollstigen - Train to Oslo

Drive the Trollstigen and then stop at the viewing platform
Drive the Trollstigen and then stop at the viewing platform

Make sure to enjoy a long and relaxing breakfast in Øye before you get ready for a day of stunning views on the steep and narrow turns of the famous Trollstigen, or 'Troll's Ladder'. Be sure to stop at the viewpoint to appreciate the jagged climb and the long view of the valley below. There's also a café and gift shop for lunch and souvenirs. 

From here, continue the drive to Åndalsnes where you'll return your rental car. Then take the afternoon train back to Oslo and spend the night near the airport for your flight home tomorrow.

Day 13: Depart Oslo

Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo
Modern waterfront architecture in Oslo

It's time to say farewell to Norway! Enjoy your last few hours walking around Oslo's neighborhoods, relaxing in a café, or visiting local boutiques for one-of-a-kind souvenirs.

Map

Map of Best of Northwest Norway - 13 Days
Map of Best of Northwest Norway - 13 Days