- See Norway's best-preserved wooden architecture in Stavanger and Bergen
- Ferry through the Lysefjord for a range of adventures including Pulpit Rock
- Spend a few days enjoying activities (and glacier views) in the Hardangerfjord
- Visit the charming fjord-side villages of Flåm and Aurland en route to Gaupne
- Stop for photos ops as you travel around the north side of the Sognefjord
|Day 1||Arrive in Bergen||Bergen|
|Day 2||Drive to Stavanger & Explore||Stavanger|
|Day 3||Lysefjord Adventure||Stavanger|
|Day 4||Drive from Stavanger to Røldal||Røldal|
|Day 5||Explore Hardangervidda National Park - Drive to Ullensvang||Ullensvang|
|Day 6||Hiking in the Hardangerfjord||Ullensvang|
|Day 7||Drive to Eidfjord - Vøringfoss Waterfall - Drive to Geilo||Geilo|
|Day 8||Drive from Geilo to Flåm - Continue to Gaupne||Gaupne|
|Day 9||Visit Urnes Stave Church - Waterfall Hike||Gaupne|
|Day 10||Drive from Gaupe to Bergen, via Northern Sognefjord||Bergen|
|Day 11||Depart Bergen|
Day 1: Arrive in Bergen
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) has easy access to the 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: Drive to Stavanger & Explore
After breakfast in Bergen, it's time to pick up your rental car for the drive down the coast towards Stavanger, the gateway to the Lysefjord. This imposing and surprisingly straight-shaped fjord offers fascinating mountains that were formed during the ice age by massive glaciers that covered the earth.
Keep your camera close and prepare to stop often, as there is much to see on this route with views of the rugged Norwegian coast interspersed with tiny fishing outposts, and (eventually) a ferry and undersea tunnel. Stop in any of these villages for coffee or to sample traditional fare for lunch, such as Fiskesuppe (a seafood soup), homemade Norwegian bread, and/or local cured meats and cheeses.
Once you arrive in this pretty port city, check out Stavanger's old center, which has some of the best-preserved wooden buildings in Norway, many dating back to the 18th century. During summer months, the waterfront comes alive with outdoor concerts and festivals.
Day 3: Lysefjord Adventure
After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, you can choose between three options on how to spend your day in the Stavanger area. Most likely, you'll be drawn to the Lysefjord, which stretches 26 miles (42 km). Here are a few options:
- Ferry to Pulpit Rock and Hike: Get out your hiking boots! You'll take the Lysefjord ferry to Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock) for a moderately difficult trek on one of the most beautiful trails in the world. This is a self-guided seasonal hike (May through October), but you won't be alone as this is one of the more popular spots in the country. The trip takes about five hours roundtrip on hilly terrain and allows you time to enjoy and photograph the famous views from Pulpit Rock, which rises 1,981 feet (604 meters) above sea level. It is recommended that you start your hike early in order to conserve daylight and avoid crowds, and be sure to wear comfortable hiking shoes and base layers, as the climate in Norway is constantly changing.
- Visit Flor & Fjære: For a more relaxing day, you can experience Flor & Fjære's blossoming garden full of colorful flowers, exotic plants, and palm trees. To get to this beautiful island, you'll take a scenic 20-minute boat trip on the fjord, followed by a guided walking tour through the lush gardens (great for those seeking gardening tips!) Finish the experience with a gourmet buffet lunch before heading back to Stavanger.
- Climb to the Top of Flørli: Less visited than Pulpit Rock, Flørli is a roadless hamlet deep within the Lysefjord serviced by four ferries per day, popular for its 4,444 steps (yes, that many!) up the mountain—in fact, the longest wooden stairway in the world! Flørli is also known for its hydropower history and you can learn more about this in the Power Hall, which hosts an exhibit. Pack a picnic for this journey or take advantage of the on-site café for lunch, or better yet, the pub serving beer.
Following your adventure, return to Stavanger and explore more of the sites if you have time. In the town center, you can pop into Stavanger Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th-century. Meanwhile, the shopping street Øvre Holmegate is known for its boutiques and colorful houses.
Day 4: Drive from Stavanger to Røldal
Today, it's time to depart Stavanger for the beautiful drive along the Norwegian Scenic Route Ryfylke—a trip full of contrasts. Here you will encounter high barren mountains, lush hillsides, sheer mountainsides, and deep fjords. The Saudafjellet mountain, in particular, displays special natural characteristics. It is rugged, brutal and unyielding, and you might find yourself wondering what on earth it was that persuaded someone to decide to lay a road exactly here.
Since this is a long and varied drive, you can take your time for short detours. Stop by little shore villages, take part in salmon fishing, or take a hike in the constantly changing terrain.
Arrive in Røldal, where you will stay for the night. Though this village is more known for skiing and winter sports, it is equally beautiful in the summer. Located west of the Langfjella mountains and at the foot of the Hardangervidda mountain plateau, Røldal is a perfect starting point for countless hiking and cycling tours in scenic nature.
For a quick activity in the village, check out Røldal Stave Church, which was built in the 13th century and is one of the oldest stave churches in the country. Røldal was one of the most important sites of pilgrimage in Norway during the Middle Ages and pilgrims continued to come until 1835, longer than any other place in Norway. The church is beautifully decorated and is still the parish church for the village.
Day 5: Explore Hardangervidda National Park - Drive to Ullensvang
Today, after breakfast, you'll have a free day in the Hardangervidda area. This is Norway's largest national park (and Northern Europe's largest mountain plateau) and you could walk for days amongst a network of marked trails. Hiking season starts at the end of June and lasts until snowfalls (usually October).
In the late afternoon, consider checking out more local towns in the area. There are several notable places that can easily be reached by car, like Dagali, Ustaoset, and Hol, as well as Geilo, the area's main shopping and dining center.
In the afternoon, you'll drive to Ullensvang in the Hardangerfjord for your next leg of the trip. Located directly by the fjord, with a view of Folgefonna glacier, this is a great place to spend a few days.
Day 6: Hiking in the Hardangerfjord
After breakfast in Ullensvang, 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 7: Drive to Eidfjord - Vøringfoss Waterfall - Drive to Geilo
Take your time and enjoy a relaxing morning in Ullensvang before getting on the road.
You'll first make a beautiful drive to Eidfjord, a village located by the Hardangerfjord with plenty of nice places to stop along the way (and in town). From here, continue driving up the mountains along the scenic Hardangervidda Road. Make sure to visit Vøringfoss Waterfall, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Norway. It takes about 30 minutes to walk to the waterfall from the parking area.
Then, continue driving to the mountain village of Geilo where you will stay for the night. This is a great destination year-round thanks to its numerous outdoor activities in the area.
Day 8: Drive from Geilo to Flåm - Continue to Gaupne
After breakfast in Geilo, it's time to make the drive to your third fjord of the trip, Sognefjord, which also happens to be the longest and deepest fjord in Norway.
First, head for the fjord-side village of Flåm, which offers a railway museum and Viking-inspired brewpub (great for lunch). Along the way is the Stegastein Viewpoint for great photo ops of the Aurlandsfjord, a stunning branch of the Sognefjord.
Finally, you'll drive to the north side of the fjord to Gaupne, beautifully located along a branch of the Sognefjord, where you will stay for the night.
Day 9: Visit Urnes Stave Church - Waterfall Hike
This morning, you'll drive to Solvorn and take the ferry to Urnes. This short ride will take you to one of the 28 remaining stave churches in Norway, the UNESCO-listed Urnes Stave Church. It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries and is an outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture with traces of Celtic art, Viking traditions, and Romanesque spatial structures.
After the visit, you will make the short drive to experience the powerful 715 foot high (218 m) Feigumfossen Waterfall. There is a marked path up to a lookout point under the waterfall. It takes about 45 minutes from the parking lot to the viewpoint which is 492 feet (150 m) above sea level.
From here, take the ferry back to Solvorn in time for lunch. If feeling energized, you can take a bigger hike—about four hours—with stunning views of the Lustrafjorden with Nes and Høyheimsvik in the foreground. As you begin, you'll eventually head along a path that rises steeply until you reach Svarthiller with its fine view towards Urnes on the other side of the fjord. The path winds its way past steep crags and then levels out where you'll continue to the cairn on the top of Molden, 3661 feet (1116 m) above sea level.
Following your hike (or hikes), return to Gaupne.
Day 10: Drive from Gaupne to Bergen, via Northern Sognefjord
Today, it is time to drive back to Bergen along the north side of the Sognefjord (including a ferry). This is a spectacular drive with many opportunities to stop for photos, so take your time.
Upon arrival in Bergen, you will return your rental car and then head to the city where you can spend the rest of the afternoon and evening taking advantage of anything you may have missed at the beginning of the trip. If you purchase 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!
For something unique on your last night, join an Evening Segway Tour. This fun guided excursion travels all over Bergen on two-wheeled motorized personal vehicles. You'll visit a number of key stops, including the top of Mount Fløyen for a potential sunset view.
Day 11: Depart 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.