This active itinerary visits the best of Norway's fjords with plenty of chances to work up a sweat. See Bergen like a local before driving to Stavanger and beyond for endless scenery, hiking, and waterfall photo ops. Stop at villages along the Sognefjord—Norway's longest and deepest fjord—before visiting the glaciers of Jotunheimen National Park.

Highlights

  • Take a custom private tour of Bergen with a local guide
  • Hike to Vøringfossen waterfall, one of the most spectacular in Norway
  • Get out on the water with a kayaking tour in Lake Årdalsvatnet
  • Hit the slopes of Fonna Glacier Resort, the best summer ski area in Europe

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 3 Drive to Stavanger & Explore Stavanger
Day 4 Lysefjord Adventure Stavanger
Day 5 Stavanger - Drive to Eidfjord & Vøringfossen Waterfall Eidfjord
Day 6 Explore Hardangerfjord Eidfjord
Day 7 Eidfjord - Drive to Årdal Årdal
Day 8 Guided Hike & Kayaking Tour Årdal
Day 9 Årdal - Drive to Bergen Bergen
Day 10 Bergen Free Day Bergen
Day 11 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bergen

The area of Bryggen — a UNESCO World Heritage Site
The area of Bryggen — a UNESCO World Heritage Site

Welcome to Bergen! Situated on Norway's west coast, this small wharf city (one of the oldest port cities in Europe) is surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords, including Sognefjord, the country’s longest and deepest.

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 high above town for a panoramic view of Bergen.
Walk high above town for a panoramic view of Bergen.

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 Stavanger & Explore

Wooden architecture in downtown Stavanger
Wooden architecture in downtown Stavanger

After breakfast, you'll begin your drive down the coast of Norway towards Stavanger, the gateway to the Lysefjord. 

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 breads, 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 4: Lysefjord Adventure

A view of Lysefjord from above
A view of Lysefjord from above

After a hearty breakfast at your hotel, you'll get to pick one of three options on how to spend your day in the Stavanger area, located along the stunning Lysefjord, which stretches 26 miles (42 km): 

  • 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 RockFlørli 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.

Return to Stavanger and explore more of the sites if you have time. In the town center, visit Stavanger Cathedral, which dates back to the 12th-century. Meanwhile, the shopping street Øvre Holmegate is known for its boutiques and colorful houses.

Day 5: Stavanger - Drive to Eidfjord & Vøringfossen Waterfall

Norway's famous Voringfossen waterfall
Norway's famous Voringfossen waterfall

After a traditional Norwegian breakfast, take the scenic five-six hour drive to the village of Eidfjord on the Hardangerfjord. 

Once you arrive in Eidfjord, the first thing you should do is visit the Vøringfossen waterfall. This is a 30-minute hike up to one of the most spectacular waterfalls in all of Norway, and well worth the trip. 

Other suggested activities include: 

  • The Kjeåsen Mountain Farm: Up until 1974, this farm -- located high above the fjord -- was not reachable by road, highlighting the determination and hard work of the owners who ran it for centuries. Thanks to the car tunnel, one can drive up just to enjoy the view, or groups can book a visit at Bjørg Wiik’s courtyard.
  • Hardangervidda Nature Center: This exciting indoor experience combines three floors of exhibits on Norwegian nature, climate, and the environment. In the cinema you can see the panoramic film "Fjord--Mountain--Waterfall", with a helicopter flight through fjords, high mountains, canyons, and waterfalls. Adjacent to the center is the Hardangerviddahallen Restaurant serving a mix of traditional dishes and modern cuisine for lunch.

Day 6: Explore Hardangerfjord

Talk a hike along the fjord
Talk a hike along the fjord

Today, you'll have a full day to explore the 3rd largest fjord in the world at 111 miles (179 km) long. The Hardangerfjord region has been an important European tourist destination since the 19th century, and offers spectacular nature opportunities.

Some of the most amazing hikes in Norway are in the Hardangerfjord region including the four waterfalls trail in Husedalen Valley, HM Queen Sonja's panoramic hiking trail, glacier hiking at Folgefonnia Glacier, and several options in Hardangervidda National Park.

Skiiers of all levels can head to Fonna Glacier Ski Resort, located on the northern part of the Folgefonna Glacier in the middle of Hardanger. Fonna is known for being the leading summer ski resort in Europe with a season that lasts from May lasts until September/October. You will get a spectacular view from the top ski lift station with views over the fjord and even the North Sea on sunny days.

Day 7: Eidfjord - Drive to Årdal

A less populous mountain area in Eastern Norway
A less populous mountain area in Eastern Norway

Today, you'll drive about three hours to the village of Årdal, where the Sognefjord meets Jotunheimen National Park—a less populous mountain area in Eastern Norway.

Break up the drive with lunch at one of several key stops along the Sognefjord route,  like Flåm and Aurland, which both have views of Norway's longest and deepest fjord.

Once you arrive, check out the area around Jotunheimen, with the largest concentration of mountains higher than 6,500 feet (1,981 meters) in Northern Europe, including the country's two highest mountains, Galdhøpiggen and Glittertind. This park offers some of the most scenic hiking on the continent.

In addition to its outdoor pursuits, Jotunheimen has a long culinary tradition, so you can head to the store and pick up picnic items like fresh produce, cured meat, sausages, cheese, jam, and bread.

Day 8: Guided Hike & Kayaking Tour

Paddle in the fjord with a knowledgeable guide
Paddle in the fjord with a knowledgeable guide

After breakfast at your hotel, you'll pick between kayaking and/or hiking with a local guide (included). The two options include:

Kayaking and Hiking Tour: With this longer trip, combine both activities starting with kayaking across Lake Årdalsvatnet to the secluded valley of Nundalen. From here, you'll hike from the lakeside to Haugstad until you get to an amazing viewpoint. 

Kayaking: For less time, take this half-day trip and choose between paddling in the fjord or the spectacular Lake Årdalsvatnet.

Day 9: Årdal - Drive to Bergen

Return to Bergen for another night on the town
Return to Bergen for another night on the town

Today, you will make the 3.5-hour drive back to Bergen making any stops along the way that you may have missed the first time around. 

Once you arrive, the rest of the afternoon and evening is yours to explore on your own, so take advantage of your last night in Norway!

Some great restaurant options include:

  • BarBarista: A funky coffee shop, restaurant & music venue.
  • Bryggeloftet & Stuene: A traditional mountain lodge restaurant.
  • Zupperia: An eclectic European restaurant right on the Bryggen wharf.
  • Bare Vestland: A basement-level eatery specializing in Norwegian tapas.
  • Pygmalion Økocafe and Galleri: A healthy, organic restaurant located in a historic space with a fireplace and an art gallery for art exhibitions and live music.
  • Matbørsen: Three restaurants in one serving international cuisine in a gorgeous, airy space -- the former Bergen Stock Exchange, circa 1862.

Day 10: Bergen Free Day

Bergen's colorful waterfront.
Bergen's colorful waterfront.

After breakfast, you'll have the entire day to explore Bergen on your own. 

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.

Also 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.

Bergen has more to offer travelers who want a truly local experience. Here are a few suggested day tours and activities that can be arranged with local guides:

  • Boat to Mostraumen: This day-trip departs from Bergen's port and takes you through a deep fjord to Modalen, which is one of the smallest municipalities in Norway with about 380 residents! You will sail along Osterfjorden and pass steep mountains and spectacular waterfalls. 
  • Mt. Ulriken Zip Line: This fun zip line adventure through hilly forests is located close to the city center.

Day 11: Depart Bergen

Walkable streets in the city center
Walkable streets in the city center

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 Norwegian Fjord Road Trip - 11 Days
Map of Norwegian Fjord Road Trip - 11 Days