This 13-day trip covers some of Norway's best fjords, mountains, villages, and cities in under two weeks. Start in Oslo and check out the capital's new architecture and restaurant scene before traveling west (by train and ferry) to pick up a rental car. From here, drive at your own pace visiting charming towns and stunning fjords while enjoying a variety of activities like hiking, kayaking, and biking. Finish the adventure with a fjordcruise to Bergen—famous for its UNESCO-listed Hanseatic wharf.

Highlights

  • Join a local guide for a food and drink tour in Norway's exciting capital
  • Accomplish a range of hiking trails in overlooking fjords and mountains
  • Take a half-day kayaking excursion in the Sognefjord with a local guide
  • Drive along a spectacular waterfall route with plenty of opportunities to stop
  • Travel at a steady pace with two nights each in six different cities or towns 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Oslo Oslo
Day 2 Oslo Food Tour Oslo
Day 3 Train to Flåm - Ferry to Leikanger - Drive to Gaupne Gaupne
Day 4 Visit Urnes Stave Church - Hike to Molden Gaupne
Day 5 Drive to Fjærland - Mundal Valley Hike Fjærland
Day 6 Free Day in Fjærland Fjærland
Day 7 Drive from Fjærland to Hjelle Hjelle
Day 8 Explore Hjelle Hjelle
Day 9 Drive from Hjelle to Balestrand, via the Gaularfjellet Scenic Road Balestrand
Day 10 Biking in Balestrand Balestrand
Day 11 Drive from Balestrand to Leikanger - Fjordcruise to Bergen Bergen
Day 12 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 13 Depart Bergen  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Oslo

Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo
Akrobaten pedestrian bridge in downtown Oslo

Welcome to Oslo! Norway's rapidly growing capital is still considered a small city, helped by the fact that it's surrounded by mountains and sea. Not only is the city center made for walking, but outer neighborhoods—filled with charm and character—are easily accessible by public transportation, so jump on a tram, train, or bus and explore all of what Oslo has to offer.

Suggested activities include: 

  • Take a half-day and wander around Aker Brygge, an area on the Oslofjord made up of beautiful, modern buildings where you can find bars and abundant nightlife. It acts as a sort of courtyard for the city of Oslo and brings together both tourists and locals alike to enjoy the great food, atmosphere, and entertainment.
  • Spend the afternoon visiting the Viking Ship Museum and the Norwegian Open-Air Folk Museum by way of public transportation. Both museums are in the same area, so they pair well together! 
  • Walk along the Havnepromenaden (harbor promenade)—a new five-and-a-half-mile waterfront park, which combines sightseeing, history, art, architecture, and a little bit of adventure.
  • 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, explore 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.

Day 2: Oslo Food Tour

Outdoor cafés in Oslo's historic center
Buzzing outdoor cafés in Oslo's historic center

Today is a tasty treat! At the designated time, you'll meet your local expert next to Oslo's central station. From there, walk to the city's Akershus Fortress where you will have a great view over the harbor of Oslo while listening to your guide describe some local history. Norway's capital has experienced a great deal of development over the past few years and your walk will take you past some of the hot spots including Vippetangen, the new Opera House, and an area called the Barcode—a row of new multi-purpose high-rise buildings completed in 2016. 

Along your walk, you will have a couple of restaurant visits starting with a production house called Hallen that offers the best quality seafood with its newly opened restaurant. The focus here is on sustainability, and during your visit, you will learn about (and taste) Norwegian seafood.

Next, head to a second restaurant called Stock, located at the heart of Bjørvika and the Barcode. Here, the team focuses on dishes made from scratch, which are often served alongside beers served from its own brewery. The restaurant operates with an open kitchen, so while you're enjoying your tour and tasting, check out the direct view of where the magic happens. 

Now that you're armed with newfound knowledge of Oslo from your local guide, the rest of the day is yours to enjoy however you'd like.

Day 3: Train to Flåm - Ferry to Leikanger - Drive to Gaupne

Jaw-dropping views surround the village of Flåm
Jaw-dropping views surround the village of Flåm

After an early breakfast in Oslo, take a train to Myrdal where you'll transfer to the Flåm Railway, regarded as one of the most beautiful train rides in the world. The journey is steep in places and passes through waterfalls and stunning landscapes, so keep your camera close. 

When you get to the picturesque village of Flåm, sit back and have lunch at a café or the local microbrewery. Enjoy the serene nature or go for a stroll through town before you catch your mid-afternoon ferry ride to Leikanger through a portion of the Sognefjord—Norway's longest and deepest fjord. As the mountains come closer and higher, keep an eye out for eagles and seals. 

After the ferry ride, you'll be picked up and transferred by taxi to a local rental car company to pick up your vehicle for the road trip portion of your journey. From here, you'll make the one-hour drive to Gaupne, beautifully located by the fjord, where you will stay for the night.

Day 4: Visit Urnes Stave Church - Hike to Molden

Urnes Stave Church
Urnes Stave Church

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 5: Drive to Fjærland - Mundal Valley Hike

Fjærland's fjord-side setting 

After breakfast today, you will drive to the fjord-side village of Fjærland, with Jostedalsbreen Glacier as its backdrop. The village with almost 300 inhabitants is officially an international Book Town, with 10 second-hand bookshops in a variety of abandoned buildings—from ferry waiting rooms, stables and local banks to post office and grocery shop.

When you arrive at your hotel, there will be time to relax and have lunch before you meet up with your guide in the reception area for a seasonal hike that is great for families (3-4 hours; easy to medium difficulty).

Then head into the Mundal Valley past green fields that have been farmed for generations (since the Viking Age). As you walk along gentle terrain, you'll be able to view staggering peaks that rise towards the sky like little giants. The hike traverses a loop, and most of the time on a trail in the woods while the last bit is on the road along the fjord going back to Mundal. 

Following your hike, you'll visit the Norwegian Glacier Museum, an award-winning hands-on museum, situated in Fjærland at the head of the Fjærlandsfjord. The museum is the leading center in Norway for the dissemination of knowledge with regard to glaciers and climate. Return to your hotel for dinner following the day's adventures!

Plan your trip to Norway
Customize your trip with help from a local travel specialist.

Day 6: Free Day in Fjærland

Kayaking in the Sognefjord
Kayaking in the Sognefjord

Today, you'll have the entire day to explore Fjærland as you please! This is your opportunity to take advantage of anything you may have missed on your arrival day. If you haven't had a chance yet, make sure to wander through the charming shops and cafés around town. For something more active, join a guide for one of the many beautiful hikes in the area, or perhaps a kayaking excursion. 

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.

Day 7: Drive from Fjærland to Hjelle

Hjelle's fjord-side setting
Hjelle's lesser-visited setting

Today, you will depart Fjærland and make the scenic drive to yet another beautiful fjord-side town: Hjelle.

A recommended stop along the route is the village of Loen where you can ride the spectacular skylift! This aerial tramway climbs to the top of Mount Hoven, above the Nordfjord with a gradient that reaches 60° (one of the steepest in the world). Here, you can enjoy the views of the fjord landscape from the restaurant on top—in other words, this is a great place for lunch.

When you arrive in Hjelle, explore the idyllic, peaceful surroundings at your own pace.

Day 8: 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 9: Drive from Hjelle to Balestrand, via the Gaularfjellet Scenic Road

Stretch your legs and enjoy the views on today's route
Stretch your legs and enjoy the views on today's route

Today, it is time to leave beautiful Hjelle and continue to Balestrand via a fantastic scenic driving route called Gaularfjellet.

This nationally recognized scenic road follows Gaularvassdraget, one of the few protected watercourses offering everything from wild rapids and waterfalls to calm stretches. Simply driving along the watercourse is a wonderful experience, but you can also walk along a continuous waterfall path of almost 15 miles (25 km), which has been established from Nystølen to Eldal. Take a short stroll along the path to admire the watercourse at close hand. For many people, the bridge over the Likholefossen waterfall is a highlight, since it provides a feeling of being in the midst of the swirling cascade.

When you arrive in Dragsvik, you will check into a hotel with an amazing view of the fjord. A recommended afternoon activity is to rent a bike and ride to Balestrand where you can visit Villa StreetBalestrand Beach, and Ciderhuset.

Day 10: Biking in Balestrand

See the scenery on two wheels
Enjoy the scenery on two wheels

Today you will have the entire day to enjoy Balestrand anyway you'd like. In addition to exploring the area's St. Olav's Church, local museums, and hiking trails, you can also rent bikes at the tourist office. Suggestions include:

One idea is to cycle along the idyllic Esefjordsvegen road, where you can visit an arboretum and a bathing place, located at a church from the 1800s. 

Another option is to cycle to Kvamsøy (8 miles/13km)—a newly-lit island about 320 feet (100 m) from land with an idyllic middle-aged church. On land, you'll find a great outdoor area with a barbecue and bathing area, as well as sculptures and a ballroom. For a longer ride, you can also cycle to Sværefjorden (5 miles/8 km), Vetlefjorden (4.3 miles/7 km), and Menes (3.2 mile/5 km). The entire route offers plenty of fjord views and is not too steep. 

Day 11: Drive from Balestrand to Leikanger - Fjordcruise to Bergen

Arrive in Bergen with time to explore the streets for dinner options
Arrive in Bergen with time to explore the streets for dinner options

After breakfast today, you will depart Balestrand for the return drive back to Leikanger where your road trip originally began! Upon arrival, return your car and get to the port in time to catch the fjordcruise to Bergen. The boat ride takes about four hours and offers food and drink for purchase onboard providing a relaxing experience.

Get ready to be impressed by Bergen—one of the oldest port cities in Europe, surrounded by ocean, mountains, and fjords. Rich in culture and seafaring history, Bergen boasts a vast selection of cultural and outdoorsy activities. 

Make sure to check out the Bryggen area of downtown to view old wooden houses dating back to the 1700s (a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site). The cobblestoned streets in this area are compact and walkable, so you can easily sample Bergen's lively restaurants and nightlife, thanks in part to a young student population.

Day 12: Explore Bergen with a Local

Hilly, cobblestone streets ooze with charm
Hilly, cobblestone streets ooze with charm

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!

  • Evening Segway Tour (2 hours): 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 beautiful sunset view.

The rest of the day is yours to continue exploring the city on your own. 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!

Day 13: Depart Bergen

Do some last-minute souvenir shopping in Bergen
Do some last-minute souvenir shopping 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 Western Norway Fjord Road Trip - 13 Days
Map of Western Norway Fjord Road Trip - 13 Days