This slow road trip—concentrating on Norway's two longest fjords—gives travelers the opportunity to become part of local life. Starting in Bergen, you'll explore the city before renting a car and heading to the Hardanger region for hiking and mountain biking. Then make your way to Aurland and explore two spectacular arms of the Sognefjord before circling back to Bergen for one more night on the town.

Highlights

  • Stroll through Bergen's colorful and historic wharf dating back to the 16th century
  • Enjoy laid-back outdoor activities while staying in the Hardanger region
  • Hike up to Stegastein Viewpoint for epic photos of the Aurlandsfjord
  • Take a photogenic fjordcruise through the narrow UNESCO-listed Næroyfjord
  • Climb up to Mount Fløyen—one of Bergen's seven peaks—and catch a sunset

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 3 Drive to Norheimsund - Continue to Grandvin Granvin
Day 4 Hiking in the Hardangerfjord Granvin
Day 5 Guided Mountain Biking Excursion Granvin
Day 6 Drive from Granvin to Aurland - Waterfall Hike Aurland
Day 7 Free Day in Aurland Aurland
Day 8 Fjordcruise in Nærøyfjord - Drive to Bergen Bergen
Day 9 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) is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including 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: Explore Bergen with a Local

Walk through hidden cobbled streets of Bergen with a local guide
Discover hidden cobbled streets of Bergen with a local guide

After breakfast at your hotel, meet up with a local resident 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.
  • Explore Bergen's Parks & Architecture (3 hours): This easy walking tour visits notable exteriors and city parks starting with the largest church in Bergen: St. Johannes. From there, you will walk through the botanic garden and onwards to Bergen`s largest and most beautiful park: Nygårdsparken. You'll then walk through the city's narrow streets lined with traditional Bryggen houses and eventually visit Nordnes, another great park. Your guide will share stories of life in Bergen, as well as offer lesser-known activity and restaurant recommendations not frequented by tourists. 
  • 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.

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. If you get a 24-Hour Bergen Card, that will allow you free bus travel and free admittance to most museums (as well as other attractions), so take advantage!

Day 3: Drive to Norheimsund - Continue to Grandvin

Plenty of scenery along the Hardangerfjord
Plenty of scenery along the Hardangerfjord

After breakfast in Bergen, you'll pick up a rental car and make the 1.5-hour drive to Norheimsund a town on the Hardangerfjord.

When you arrive, take some time to visit the Hardanger Maritime Museum and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.  This family-friendly museum emphasizes activities and open workshops where you can make wooden figures and boats, and learn about knots. You can also hire a traditional wooden rowing boat with life jackets and fishing gear. There are a range of exhibits, guided tours, and maritime films, as well as a café serving food and drink. 

After your tour at the museum, you'll continue driving along the Hardangerfjord until you reach Grandvin where you will stay for the next couple of nights. This is a great starting point for various activities in the area and you will have a lovely stay in historical surroundings with friendly locals.

Day 4: Hiking in the Hardangerfjord

Waterfalls in the Husedalen Valley
Waterfalls in the Husedalen Valley

After breakfast, set out and explore the Hardangerfjord. There are more beautiful drives in the area, small villages, and plenty of hiking opportunities. 

For a moderate route, the trail through Husedalen Valley is considered one of the most beautiful hikes in Norway. The scenery is jaw-dropping with four distinct waterfalls: Tveitafossen, Nykkjesøyfossen, Nyastølsfossen, and Søtefossen. The entire trail visiting all the waterfalls (and return) takes 5-6 hours. For a shorter and easier hike (though fewer waterfalls), Hardanger Fossasti starts in the center of Kinsarvik. 

While in Kinsarvik, visit one of the oldest churches in Norway (circa 12th century) — a stone structure featuring Romanesque architecture and Norman arches. 

For those who want a serious hike, take a full-day trip to Trolltunga from Skeggedal—10 miles (17 km) outside of Odda. (Guided tours are recommended as this is a challenging hike that requires wind- and waterproof clothing and enough food and water for the day.) The views from here are spectacular and are among the most photographed in all of Norway.

Day 5: Guided Mountain Biking Excursion

Mountain biking in the Hardangerfjord
Mountain biking in the Hardangerfjord

After breakfast in Granvin, you'll be picked up for a mountain biking tour in Hardanger with a local and experienced guide. The riding excursion will last about five hours and offers backcountry style riding with an incredible backdrop.

Hardanger is relatively unexplored from a mountain biking point of view but has huge potential. The area is sparsely populated, meaning it is easy to feel remote and miles away from civilization. You will be taken out of your comfort zone and into the wilds of Norway, far from the groomed nature of the bike parks and trail centers in other areas of the country. Since trails offer a good variety of riding, you'll be able to choose the best route and level of difficulty with your guide. There is something for all levels!

Following the adventure, you'll have the rest of the day to explore on your own.

Day 6: Drive from Granvin to Aurland - Waterfall Hike

Welcome to the Aurlandsfjord!
Welcome to the Aurlandsfjord!

After an early breakfast, it is time to take the scenic drive to Aurland (via Flåm)—a route that lasts about two hours unless you stop for photos.  

Upon arrival at Riverside Farm Lodge, get ready to start a guided hike to Turlidfossen, a nearby waterfall. Feel the ice-cold spray from the waterfall as your host tells you about the local myths and stories related to nature and area. In fact, the first Vikings to set foot on Iceland sailed from this branch of the Sognefjord. Enjoy coffee, tea, and homemade goodies while overlooking the village and Aurlandsfjord

Alternatively, you can rent a bike (free of charge) and ride through the beautiful surroundings on your own. The hosts are more than happy to provide you with recommendations! 

Either way, you'll return to the lodge to partake in a three-course dinner with local and organic ingredients.

Day 7: Free Day in Aurland

Hiking in Aurland
Hiking in Aurland

This morning, wake up at the lodge and enjoy an organic breakfast at your leisure. Take note of the local way of life, which seems to move in slow motion compared to the rest of the world.

There are several options on how to spend your free day here. Perhaps you want to take part in a peaceful activity like paddling a rowboat. In fact, there's a beautiful lake that very few people know about close to the lodge. You can also take a guided hike in the Aurland Valley, learn how to fly-fish, visit local artists, bakeries, and centuries-old historical sites, or simply read a book overlooking the view. 

In the afternoon, hosts will serve lunch on the property. Make sure to take advantage of the lodge's sauna and hot tub before dressing for the evening! Like the night before, a three-course organic dinner will be shared with the owners and your fellow guests.

Day 8: Fjordcruise in Nærøyfjord - Drive to Bergen

Nærøyfjord's narrow passage
Nærøyfjord's narrow passage

After a nice leisurely breakfast, it's time to say goodbye to your hosts in Aurland as you make your way to nearby Flam for a boating excursion.

Once you've parked near the village, you'll board a fjordcruise to Gudvangen where the spectacularly beautiful fjord called Nærøyfjord starts. This 11-mile (18 km) long fjord is only 1640 feet (500 m) wide in some parts, with steep mountainsides and unbelievable, tiny farms clinging to them. Since 2005, the Naeroyfjord has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Once you return to Flåm, consider staying for lunch before you make the two-hour drive back to Bergen where you can explore the city any way you'd like, perhaps taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip!

Day 9: Depart Bergen

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 Explore the Hardangerfjord & Sognefjord - 9 Days
Map of Explore the Hardangerfjord & Sognefjord - 9 Days