- Drive at your own pace stopping for historical sites and photo ops
- See wild reindeer, muskox, and ancient plant species
- Go swimming and stand-up paddleboarding near Alesund
- Take a private walking tour with a local in Oslo
Outdoor enthusiasts who prefer to have their own wheels will love this two-week adventure through spectacular regions of Norway. While this is a year-round destination, June, July, and August make up the country's high season with long days of sunshine and bright summer evenings (and safe weather conditions for driving). Active locals and visitors take every opportunity to spend time outdoors during these months, so when not enjoying the scenery on your own, you'll be in good company.
You'll also get a dose of urban culture in Ålesund, arguably Scandinavia's prettiest city, and Norway's capital. In fact, the trip ends with a full day to explore Oslo's museums, modern architecture, cafés, New Nordic cuisine, and summer festivals.
|Day 1||Arrive to Oslo - Drive to Rondane (National Scenic Route)||Rondane|
|Day 2||Explore Rondane National Park||Rondane|
|Day 3||Hiking in Dovre National Park||Rondane|
|Day 4||Drive to Trollstigen (National Scenic Route)||Norddal|
|Day 5||Drive to Geiranger - Fjordcruise - Drive to Hjørundfjord||Hjørundfjord|
|Day 6||Hiking Mount Saksa||Hjørundfjord|
|Day 7||Explore the Sunmore Region||Hjørundfjord|
|Day 8||Drive to Ålesund||Ålesund|
|Day 9||Explore Ålesund||Ålesund|
|Day 10||Drive to Lom (National Scenic Route)||Lom|
|Day 11||Hiking in Jotunheimen National Park||Lom|
|Day 12||Lom - Drive to Oslo||Oslo|
|Day 13||Explore Oslo with a Local||Olso|
|Day 14||Depart Oslo|
Day 1: Arrive to Oslo - Drive to Rondane (National Scenic Route)
Welcome to Norway!
Upon arrival, you'll pick up a rental car and begin your drive north of the city. You'll have plenty of time to enjoy the views, making your way through changing landscapes towards the mountains and highlands of Eastern Norway.
A great place to stop for lunch is the ski resort town of Lillehammer, host of the 1994 Winter Olympics. If you have time, check out its Maihaugen open-air museum, which displays buildings from the 1200s to the present, as well as the nearby Norwegian Olympic Museum.
When you get to the Rondane area, you'll enter the official National Scenic Route with sites dedicated to the history of human settlement since the Stone Age. Roads in the region (like this one) grew in importance for agriculture and summer farms, as well as providing nature opportunities for visitors.
For a car break, stop at the Sohlbergplassen viewing platform at Atnsjøen. Here is Harald Sohlberg’s famous painting from 1914 called “Winter's Night in Rondane”. Because the architect wanted to recreate this experience in real life, the views of Rondane are at the same angle as portrayed in the painting.
Also on the scenic route is Sollia Kirke — a beautiful wooden church from 1732 constructed by local parishioners after a historic turn of events. Near Sollia Kirke is a rest area designed by landscape architect Lars Berge.
Stay overnight in the Rondane area.
Day 2: Explore Rondane National Park
After breakfast at your hotel, get outside and enjoy the splendid surroundings. Not overly run with tourists, this is one of the most beautiful spots in Norway and the area is perfect for travelers of all ages who love hiking with moderate terrain and activities that are easily accessible.
A good place to start is by heading to Rondane National Park — Norway's first national park created in 1962 to protect the surrounding jagged peaks. This is one of the best places for alpine hiking in Norway and the massive park offers a great supply of wildlife, like wild reindeer and muskox (the Arctic hoofed mammal), as well as burial grounds and stone monuments.
In addition to hiking trails, other popular activities include muskox safaris, river rafting, horseback riding, hunting, and lake fishing.
Stay overnight in the Rondane area.
Day 3: Hiking in Dovre National Park
After breakfast, you'll have another full day to explore the area by car. You could easily head back to Rondane National Park for more trails and activities that you didn't get to yet, or there is another park just north of here called Dovre National Park that is also great for hiking.
This newer park was established in 2003 and is known for having almost every Norwegian flora type within its borders, including distinctive types of mountain poppy and Norwegian wormwood (and even some species that likely survived the Ice Age). Like Rondane, there is a permanent population of muskox, as well as caribou, wolverines, and large birds like golden eagles and falcon.
Stay overnight in the Rondale area.
Day 4: Drive to Trollstigen (National Scenic Route)
Enjoy a relaxing breakfast in Rondane before you hit the road.
Today's three-hour drive heads west and culminates with the steep and narrow turns of Trollstigen, also called the Troll's Ladder, or simply Road 63. This is the beginning of your 2nd National Scenic Route of the trip, which for several centuries was an important artery for transportation. Parts of the original horse track are still visible and passable on foot — a nice activity for history buffs who want to see the road as it was in the old days.
The newer paved road, an engineering marvel, officially opened in 1936 and offers a dramatic and exciting experience through 11 hairpin turns with spectacular views of the valley, its surrounding mountains, and the Stigfossen waterfall.
Be sure to stop at the glass and steel viewpoints built to blend into the landscape, which allow you to appreciate the jagged climb and the long view below. The café with panoramic windows is a great place to have lunch.
The Trollstigen area also offers some of the best hikes in the Romsdalen area. For an easy trail (1 hour), take the Bispevatnet hike towards a small glacial lake above Trollstigen. If you have more time, there are longer and more challenging hiking options.
Stay overnight in the Trollstigen – Norddal area.
Day 5: Drive to Geiranger - Fjordcruise - Drive to Hjørundfjord
After an early breakfast, drive three hours along a major section of the same National Scenic Route towards Geiranger where you'll encounter more mountains, strawberry farms, and lush valleys, with plenty of places to stop for photos.
When you get to Geiranger, take the car ferry and see the Geirangerfjord! The 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, 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 here, continue driving to Hjørundfjord where you'll spend the next three nights.
Day 6: Hiking Mount Saksa
Today you'll wake up in the stunning Hjørundfjord — a 20 mile (33 km) long arm of the Storfjord, located in the Sunnmøre Alps surrounded by green valleys and jagged mountain peaks. The Hjørundfjord is regarded by many as one of the most beautiful fjords in the world, and the area is a great base for hiking, especially with a multitude of glaciers and alpine farms.
One of the best mountains in the area around Hjørundfjorden is Mount Saksa. This hiking trail starts at the small village of Urke and works its way up to a spectacular summit, where you can see all the way to the end of Hjørundfjorden in one direction and out to the charming city of Ålesund in the other. Also, keep an eye out for the stone stairway built by sherpas from Nepal.
Stay overnight in the Hjørundfjord area.
Day 7: Explore the Sunmore Region
After breakfast, you'll have another day to explore the area either by car, foot, or kayak.
This might be a good opportunity to enjoy a relaxing drive where you can really get to know fjord life as you visit great villages such as Øye, Trandal, and Sæbø, each with their own individual charms.
While in the old farming village of Sæbo, a nice place to stop for lunch with fjord views is the Sagafjord Hotel right on the waterfront.
Stay overnight in the Hjørundfjord area.
Day 8: Drive to Ålesund
After breakfast, you'll drive about two hours west to get to Ålesund where you'll have the rest of the day to explore one of the prettiest cities in Scandinavia.
Ålesund's breathtaking location stretches out into the Atlantic Ocean. The heavy presence of Art Nouveau architecture is a result of rebuilding efforts following a devastating fire in 1904, so get out and walk around the colorful streets that come alive during summer months with outdoor cafés and a large boating community.
For a hearty and authentic Norwegian dinner, consider dinner at Café Lyspunktet — also a place to come for great coffee, live music, and local art exhibitions.
Stay overnight in Ålesund.
Day 9: Explore Ålesund
Wake up in Ålesund and enjoy the views!
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.
Stay overnight in Ålesund.
Day 10: Drive to Lom (National Scenic Route)
Today you'll make a five-hour drive from Ålesund to Lom through another magnificent Norwegian Scenic Route passing through the villages of Stryn, Hjelle and Grotli — all worth a stop — with more viewpoints of mountains, fjords, and rushing cascades along the way.
The road was completed in 1894 when tourism started to emerge along the fjords, and it still seems untouched. You'll see long rows of guard stones and traces of bridleways along the road from a time when horses and carts were more usual than cars. At Gamle Strynefjellsvegen you will also find old stone slabs that travellers used for shelter at night.
Keep an eye out for the Jøl Bridge and the Øvstefossen waterfall cascading down into Hjelledalen valley. Find the footpath from the road, and experience the waterfall from a close distance, safely protected by steel rail.
When you get to Lom, head for the village's beautiful rushing river and famous Stave church constructed in 1170. This delightful Norman-style design sits in the center of town near the water and is one of Norway's finest. Entry to the grounds, free of charge, is open all year-round. Make sure to come back at night and see the church when its lit in a wonderful glow.
There's also a museum with a collection of 19th-century farm buildings and an old hut where St. Olav is said to have stayed.
For a dinner treat, consider dining at Brimiland — one of Norway's best restaurants in a beautiful mountain setting near Lom.
Stay overnight in Lom.
Day 11: Hiking in Jotunheimen National Park
After breakfast in Lom, go for a full-day hike in Jotunheimen National Park, 'Home of the Giants', which is about 45 minutes by car from Lom.
Jotunheimen is a largely undisturbed mountain area in Eastern Norway, covering an area of more than 2,100 miles. The mountain range is Norway’s most popular national park and includes the country’s two highest mountains Galdhøpiggen and Glittertind, as well as rivers, valleys, lakes, waterfalls, and more than 60 glaciers.
In fact, the area has the largest concentration of mountains (more than 275 summits) higher than 6,000 feet in Northern Europe and offers some of the most scenic hiking on the continent ranging from short strolls to difficult treks led by a private guide (optional).
When you're done at the park, visit the area's local farms. Jotunheimen has a long culinary tradition and some popular local produce include herbs, cured meat, sausages, cheese, jam, and bread.
Return to Lom in the afternoon and stay overnight.
Day 12: Lom - Drive to Oslo
This morning after breakfast, you'll make the five-hour drive back to the capital of Oslo. Before you hit the road, make sure to visit Norway's most famous bakery, called Bakeriet I Lom, and stock up on goodies for the drive.
Once you are settled in your Oslo hotel, head out and explore. Norway's rapidly growing capital is still considered a small city, helped by the fact that it's surrounded by mountains and sea.
Walk along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade) — a new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park, which combines sightseeing, history, architecture, and a sleek contemporary art museum.
You can also 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, wander around 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.
Stay overnight in Oslo.
Day 13: Explore Oslo with a Local
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 which 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 five 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 Holmenkollen 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.
Stay overnight in Oslo.
Day 14: Depart 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.