This family-friendly road trip covers a mix of popular and lesser-known destinations on Norway's stunning west coast. Start with a few days in Bergen to explore numerous cultural opportunities and easy hiking trails. Then, pick up your rental car and head north through distinct fishing communities to get to Ålesund. From here, choose your own activities as you slowly make your way to Solvorn where you'll stay at the oldest family-run hotel in the country before looping back to Bergen.

Highlights

  • Explore Bergen's colorful and historic wharf dating back to the 16th century
  • Climb up Ålesund's Sugar Top Hill for excellent views of the city, fjord, and coast
  • Get close to waterfalls as you sail in the UNESCO-listed Geirangerfjord
  • Take the Loen Skylift from fjord to the top of Mt. Hoven in just five minutes
  • Stop at a Viking-inspired brewpub for lunch in Flåm to end the adventure

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Drive from Bergen to Kalvåg Kalvåg
Day 3 Explore Kalvåg Kalvåg
Day 4 Drive from Kalvåg to Ålesund Ålesund
Day 5 Explore Ålesund - Drive to Åndalsnes Åndalsnes
Day 6 Drive to Geiranger - Fjordcruise - Drive to Hjelle Hjelle
Day 7 Explore Hjelle Hjelle
Day 8 Drive from Hjelle to Solvorn Solvorn
Day 9 Day-Trip to Fjærland - Return to Solvorn Solvorn
Day 10 Ferry to Urnes - Drive to Bergen Bergen
Day 11 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bergen

Walk to Bergen's historic waterfront
Walk to Bergen's historic waterfront

Welcome to Bergen! Situated on Norway's west coast, this wharf city of about 300,000 residents (one of the oldest port cities in Europe) offers easy access to the sea, mountains, and fjords, including nearby Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest. Rich in culture and seafaring history, Bergen boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities.

A few suggestions for your first day:

  • Be sure to take the Fløibanen funicular (or hike the trail on foot) to the top of Mount Fløyen—one of Bergen's seven peaks—for the best views of the city, and take a leisurely stroll back down the path while discovering hidden troll sculptures along the way.
  • Check out the Bryggen area of downtown to view old wooden houses dating back to the 1700s (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site), along with Bergen's best historical sites and museums. For a rest, stop in one of the charming local cafés and bakeries.

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.

Day 2: Drive from Bergen to Kalvåg

Kalvåg is easy to get around on foot
Kalvåg is easy to get around on foot

After breakfast in Bergen, it's time to pick up a rental car and begin the drive north to Kalvåg, an old fishing community in the North Sea. The 5.5-hour route offers varied scenery, shifting from barren coastal landscapes to breathtakingly countrysides, beautiful mountains, and glaciers.

Once you arrive, get out and explore your surroundings and unique coastal culture. The seaport environment is well preserved in most parts, with old wharfside sheds and boathouses, and you'll discover a lot of them while walking around the small bay. 

This evening's dinner will be one to remember, as locals pride themselves on serving fresh seafood straight from their own nets.

Day 3: Explore Kalvåg

Sea kayaking is an option on how to spend the day

After a hearty breakfast, it's time to head outdoors and discover Kalvåg's environs. A bicycle is a great way to visit local sights while taking in the seaside atmosphere.

The nearby Vamråk Herring Saltery—today part of the coastal museum—gives an exciting glimpse into the evolution of the modern fishing industry. Further down the road, the 17th-century Smørholm Trading Center was an important gathering place for travelers, locals, and fishermen between Nordfjord and Bergen. Finally, you won't want to miss the Artist Trail, a year-round open-air art exhibition.

Bird lovers and wildlife photographers should instead spend the day sea kayaking from Kalvåg. The coast is home to numerous species and experiences two major avian migrations of hundreds of thousands of birds each year. You can either rent kayaks on your own or join a private guide for either half-day or full-day tours.

If you're looking for an adventure, head to nearby Hornelen, the tallest sea cliff in Europe, for some hiking or even rock climbing.

Day 4: Drive from Kalvåg to Ålesund

The picturesque city of Ålesund
Prepare your camera for the picturesque city of Ålesund

Today, get ready for another scenic drive as you continue north to Ålesund

There are a few different routes that you could take and they are all scenic in different ways. One possibility is to take the coastal route via Måløy, Selja, and Ulsteinvik where you will ride several local ferries along the way. 

Upon arrival in Ålesund, 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. 

Take a stroll and stop for dinner at one of the many authentic restaurants. Make sure to look for the famous local dish called bacalao (dried and salted cod)!

Day 5: Explore Ålesund - Drive to Åndalsnes

Spend the morning exploring more of the city
Spend the morning exploring more of the city

Wake up today in Ålesund and enjoy the views! The colorful streets come alive during warmer months with outdoor cafés and a large boating community. 

As for activities, this city is the cultural center of the region with 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. 

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.

At some point in the afternoon, you will drive to Åndalsnes, a remarkable mountain village in Romsdalen close to Trollveggen and Trollstigen. When you arrive, you can get out and explore the scenery. There are plenty of options for food and drink as this is a popular base for outdoor enthusiasts.

Day 6: Drive to Geiranger - Fjordcruise - Drive to Hjelle

Fjordcruise through the Geirangerfjord
Fjordcruise through the Geirangerfjord

After breakfast in Åndalsnes, you'll drive along a major section of a national scenic route towards Geiranger where you'll encounter more mountains, strawberry farms, lush valleys, and plenty of places to stop for photos. Keep an eye out for the Dalsnibba viewpoint and Ørnesvingene—both remarkable sights!

When you arrive at Geiranger, take the car ferry for the ultimate experience in the Geirangerfjord! This deep blue UNESCO-protected fjord is surrounded by dramatic snow-covered mountains, waterfalls, and lush vegetation, so keep your camera close.

You'll disembark at Hellesylt with your car, 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.

From Hellesylt, you will drive onwards to the lovely place of Hjelle—an area known for stunning glaciers, idyllic lakes, scenic hikes, and panoramic views.

Day 7: Explore Hjelle

Hjelle's undeveloped scenery
Hjelle's undeveloped scenery

Today, you'll have a free day to explore Hjelle and its surroundings at your own pace.

This idyllic village is beautifully situated on the east side of Strynsvatnet Lake at the end of Hjelledalen Valley. Lesser-known by tourists, this peaceful spot surrounded by spectacular scenery, which has retained the atmosphere of Norwegian rural districts from days gone by. For instance, Jostedal Glacier National Park Centre is just a few miles away!

During the summer months, you also have options for guided tours that could include visiting a nearby mountain farm as well as Briksdal Glacier.

Day 8: Drive from Hjelle to Solvorn

Solvorn's charming surroundings
Solvorn's charming surroundings

Today, after breakfast in Hjelle, you'll make the 3-hour drive to Solvorn. This charming little village is located on the western shore of the Lustrafjorden, the innermost part of the Sognefjord. 

Consider a stop at the Loen Skylift along the way. This new attraction and adventure arena, at the inner part of the Nordfjord, offers a cable car that will lift you from the fjord to 3316 feet (1011 m). Enjoy the views of the fjord landscape from the restaurant table, or while exploring in the mountains. It's then time to continue with the drive to Solvorn through spectacular landscape.

When you arrive, you'll be staying at Walaker Hotel. This friendly property is the oldest family-run hotel in Norway, with over 370 years of history. Each night at 7:30 pm, the hotel staff hosts a four-course gourmet feast with wine for all its guests.

Day 9: Day-Trip to Fjærland - Return to Solvorn

Views of the Sognefjord from Fjærland
Views of the Sognefjord from Fjærland

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll have a free day to enjoy the area. A popular day-trip is to visit Fjærland and it's village center, called Mundal. Here you'll find visit the Norwegian Booktown, which consists of several second-hand bookshops, some that are combined with cafés, art galleries, and souvenir shops located in old farmhouses and sheds.

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.

If you'd like something more active, here are some options in the area:

  • Mundal Valley Hike (6.2 miles/10 km; 3-4 hours): This gentle and peaceful valley walk passes through green fields that have been farmed for generations since the Viking Age. The hike starts in Mundal, the center of Fjaerland, near the tourist office. You'll walk slowly up the valley to view the staggering peaks rising towards the sky like giant trolls. The hike traverses a gravel road, but the last bit is on a narrow track, leading you to an area in the meadow used seasonally for grazing milking cows and sheep. Here you'll have lunch before returning to Mundal.

  • Kayaking in Fjærland (2-4 hours): Paddle the calm fjord in Fjærland in sea kayaks while viewing the glaciers either with a guide or on your own. The Fjærlandfjord is well suited for beginners, as conditions are mostly calm and distances are fairly short. Skilled kayakers will be able to experience more estuaries, nooks, and crannies along the fjord.

  • Mundal Family Fjord Hike (2.1 miles/3.5 km; 2 hours): This short guided hike, perfect for families, is located close to the village center of Fjaerland (Mundal). The hike makes a loop where you'll spend most of the time on a trail in the woods, while the last section offers views of the fjord as you return to Mundal.

No matter how you choose to spend the day, return to Walaker Hotel for another lovely multi-course dinner!

Day 10: Ferry to Urnes - Drive to Bergen

Urnes Romanesque church with snowcapped mountains
Urnes Romanesque church with snowcapped mountains

This morning, you'll take a scenic 35-minute ferry across the Lusterfjord between Solvorn and Urnes (sometimes called Ørnes) to see a UNESCO-listed wooden church built in the 12th century. This Romanesque structure (and Norway's oldest place of worship) is an outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture, bringing together traces of Celtic art and Viking traditions. Your ticket will include a fascinating 45-minute guided tour.

You can stay and have lunch in the village before driving back to Bergen on a scenic route. You'll travel along the south side of Sognefjord by catching the short ferry crossing (Manheller to Fodnes) towards Flåm. Continue through Gudvangen and make your way towards Bergen. Arrive with enough time to enjoy your last night in Norway!

Day 11: Depart Bergen

A summer sunset in Bergen
Summer sunset in Bergen

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.

Map

Map of Best of Western Norway - 11 Days
Map of Best of Western Norway - 11 Days