History buffs and nature lovers can check off two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, peaceful villages, and dramatic vistas on this self-drive tour through Western Norway. You'll start the adventure with a local tour of Bergen, a former Hanseatic League trading post with colorful wooden houses on the old wharf. From here, drive north and visit charming villages on Norway's two biggest fjords: Nordfjord and Sognefjord. Finish the adventure with a ferry ride across the Lusterfjord to a UNESCO-listed stave church built in the 12th century. History aside, this trip offers plenty of amazing scenery, a world-class glacier museum, and even guided hikes—all while staying in some of Norway's best family-run hotels.

Highlights

  • Explore Bergen’s hilly neighborhoods with a local guide
  • Take a scenic drive to Norway’s 2nd largest fjord for an afternoon hike
  • Visit the bookstores, cafés, and galleries of Norwegian Booktown 
  • Ferry between two villages known for Scandinavian wooden architecture

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive to Bergen Bergen
Day 2 Explore Bergen with a Local Bergen
Day 3 Drive to Nordfjord & Hike Sandane
Day 4 Drive to Fjærland - Solvorn Solvorn
Day 5 Ferry to Urnes - Drive to Bergen Bergen
Day 6 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 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 Nordfjord & Hike

Hiking in the Nordfjord
Hiking in the Nordfjord

Today, you'll have an early breakfast at your hotel and then embark on a five-hour drive north towards the Nordfjord (Norway's second largest fjord), situated between the largest mainland glacier in Europe and Norway's wildest coast. Expect to see mountains and valleys, rolling farmland, and glimpses of the Norwegian Sea along the route.

When you arrive in the village of Sandane, you'll take an afternoon hike to Haugsvarden with a private guide who will point out area highlights and share stories about the land. This is an easy, well-marked trail with fantastic scenery -- suitable for the whole family. The trip starts at a farmhouse settlement and continues on foot towards Haugsvarden where you'll reach the peak and stop for a break.

Stay overnight at the historic Gloppen Hotell, which dates back to 1866 when fishermen were attracted to the Gloppen River for salmon and sea trout. The current owners have renovated this charming white Swiss-style building and maintained its original antique furnishings.

Day 4: Drive to Fjærland - Solvorn

Solvorn's charming waterfront
Solvorn's charming waterfront

Spend a relaxing morning in Sandane before you drive two hours towards the idyllic village of Solvorn, stopping at fjord-side Fjærland on the way. 

This is your chance to take in the views of Norway's longest and deepest fjord, called Sognefjord. While here, you can head for Fjærland's village center, called Mundal, and visit the Norwegian Booktown, which consists of several second-hand bookshops, some that are combined with cafés, art galleries, and souvenir shops located in old farmhouses and sheds.

Also not to miss is the Norwegian Glacier Museum, an award-winning architectural marvel situated at the head of the Fjærlandsfjord. This hands-on museum is the leading center in Norway for knowledge regarding glaciers and climate change.

Continue the drive to Solvorn and stay two nights at Walaker Hotel. This friendly property is the oldest family-run hotel in Norway, with over 370 years of history. Each night at 7:30pm, the hotel staff hosts a four-course gourmet feast with wine for guests.

Day 5: Ferry to Urnes - Drive to Bergen

Urnes Romanesque church
Urnes Romanesque church

This morning, you'll take a scenic 35-minute ferry across the Lusterfjord between Solvorn and Urnes to see a wooden church built in the 12th century. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Romanesque structure (and Norway's oldest place of worship) is an outstanding example of traditional Scandinavian wooden architecture, bringing together traces of Celtic art and Viking traditions. Your ticket will include a fascinating 45-minute guided tour.

Stay and have lunch in the village before driving back to Bergen on the scenic route. Travel along the south side of Sognefjord by catching the short ferry crossing (Manheller to Fodnes) towards Flåm. Continue through Gudvangen and make your way towards Bergen. Arrive with enough time to enjoy your last night in Norway!

Day 6: Depart Bergen

Evening panorama of Bergen from the water
Evening panorama of Bergen from the water

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 Hidden Gems Road Trip - 6 Days
Map of Western Norway Hidden Gems Road Trip - 6 Days