Guide to Road Tripping through Norway

NORWAY! This country is most commonly traveled via cruise ship through the fjords, but road tripping through the country instead was an absolute dream. Unlike the cruise ship set up we were able to drive on our own, at our own pace, visit what we wanted, when we wanted, and were able to take in the beauty of the country with just one another and no one else. Don't get me wrong, I love cruises and the convenience that they provide, but with the type of trip we wanted, road tripping was the only option. Due to how expensive Norway is, and their laws that allow for free camping on public land we decided to camp our way through the country. Of course this option was difficult and exhausting - setting up and breaking down camp every single day - but it was an adventure of a lifetime. Below are the locations where we stopped and some of our recommendations. After road tripping the southern portion of the country we flew north to the Lofoten Islands, which you can read about here. Also be sure to check out our travel video at the end of this post!! 


Låtefossen Waterfall

This highly visited waterfall is both beautiful and unique. Starting as two separate waterfalls from the lake 540 feet above, they merge together at the bottom, creating a powerful base. Extremely easy to access, these waterfalls are located RIGHT NEXT to the road. Seriously. The narrow bridge you have to drive over is directly on top of the waterfall’s base. As we drove over it, our car got completely wet from all of the mist. Thankfully there is a small parking lot located adjacent to the falls, otherwise I’m sure it would be nearly impossible to drive over the bridge with everyone wanting to stop and take pictures.

Pro tip: Because this waterfall is so popular tourist buses stop here and unload countless tourists. Thankfully they did not stay long before boarding the bus again. So if it feels extremely crowded when you arrive, just wait for them to leave and then you will be able to enjoy the area with a bit less people around.

Odda/Trolltunga

Odda was my favorite little town that we visited during our time in Norway. The town is so colorful and located at the base of one of the countless fjords. PLUS! The trailhead for Trolltunga is just up the road from Odda. Read more about hiking Trolltunga here!

Flåm


Flåm is a tiny village located on a fjord, surrounded by towering mountains. One of the main attractions in the area is the Flåm Railway. On the train ride you will experience the unique landscape of Norway, from towering waterfalls, to lush mountainside farmland, to steep hillsides, to views of the beautiful fjord below. Flåm also has some of the most scenic bike routes in Norway as well as renowned hiking. Unfortunately, Flåm was a bit of a disappointment for us. When we arrived there was a cruise ship in the harbor, so the town was jam packed with tourists. Personally I am not one for crowds, especially since for the past week we had been traveling in areas that were just the two of us. We got a quick snack from the local bakery, and decided to skip the activities in the area so as not to fight the crowds.

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Flydalsjuvet

This is one of the most picturesque locations in Norway, and seeing this gorgeous view in person was the main reason I wanted to stop here. In full disclosure, when we arrived to this ledge, my husband was so upset because it was nothing like he had imagined! If you look at this picture you would think that it is in the middle of nowhere, hidden off the side of the road. While it is hidden, it is also located directly between two extremely busy tourist lookout points! So when we were standing on this ledge, we had about 100 people staring at us from about 100 feet away ahah. Oh the deception of social media and camera angles! If you are afraid of heights, take caution. The ledge is extremely high and had me feeling queasy during the half second I accidentally looked down. 

I would still recommend stopping here for the view if you are driving through the area. Like Flåm, Geiranger (the town below) is also a port for cruise ships, so it is busy with tourists. One of the popular things to do here is to take a boat tour on the fjord to the seven sisters waterfall! 

Lovatnet

OMG THIS PLACE IS UNBELIEVEABLE. Sorry (but like not) for the over excitement, but the water in this lake is so turquoise blue that it almost looks fake. Sadly we arrived late in the evening so all of the camping sites next to the water were taken, so we ended up getting a small cabin on the hillside. The weather was poor for us, drizzling on and off the entire time that we were there. Nonetheless the brilliance of the water truly shined, contrasting beautifully against the green hillsides and overcast skies. If it had been slighlty better weather I would have absolutely loved to take a small row boat with Alex out to the middle of the lake.

Ålesund  

A very cute, colorful, and small city surrounded by water. This was the farthest west that we traveled, and because of that, the weather was rather poor. If it wasn’t pouring rain, it was extremely windy. However, we were able to make the best of the situation and enjoy some of the city’s uniqueness. The architecture is beautiful and will have you feeling like you are wandering through a central European city. For a stunning (and the best) view of the city, head to Aksla, a 400+ paved step ascent. If the number of stairs intimidates you, don’t worry, you will start to see the view before you are even halfway up. We stopped halfway to get all of our shots, because it was so gosh darn WINDY - I thought we were going to blow off the side of the mountain. While in Ålesund you also have to sample the local seafood as it is one of Norway’s top fishing harbors. We enjoyed a bowl of fish soup on a grey and rainy evening, and it was absolute perfection. While here we stayed at the CUTEST and most perfect Scandinavian Airbnb ever. After camping for a week, sleeping on a real bed felt heavenly. We were also introduced to the uniqueness of Norweigan shower setups, and were once again reminded of our hatred for Norweigan laundry machines (don't ask).

Atlanterhavsveien (Atlantic Ocean Road)

One of the two infamous roads in Norway that we visited! Back to back bridges create this road to connect a small collection of islands on the west coast. Because the road spans across open ocean water, the area’s unpredictable storms and blizzards, can make this road extremely dangerous. Thankfully there were no weather concerns when we visited, so it was just a peaceful scenic road. To be honest, it was hard to appreciate its true beauty from the ground. It wasn’t until we got our drone in the air and saw the bird’s eye view that I truly started gapping at its beauty!

Trollstigen (“The Trolls Road”)

This was the second infamous road that we visited. It is a steep, snakelike road that quickly ascends the side of a mountain with razor sharp switchbacks. Due to its relative proximity to the fjords, this place will fill with buses packed with tourists day tripping from their cruise. Thankfully we were able to avoid the crowd by arriving extremely late at 9 PM (thanks long Norwegian summer nights!) Once you drive up the road there is a tourist area that includes a large parking lot, restaurant, and gift shop. Definitely go to the lookout area as this provides the BEST view of the road. If you have a drone, beware! The road is between two mountains, which creates a wind tunnel. We legitimately almost lost our drone here but the little guy was eventually able to fight the wind.

Åndalsnes

Yet another cute, small town. It is located down the road from Trollstigen. Unfortunately we weren’t able to spend much time here since we arrived at 10 PM the night prior and were forced to pack our tent early the next morning due to rain. If we had had better weather, I would have loved to hike Rampestreken. The starting point for the hike is located in the town center and it steeply ascends to a narrow, suspended lookout platform that provides a panoramic view of Åndalsnes below. Again, we didn’t do the hike ourselves so I can’t speak to the difficulty of the hike, but it sure looked beautiful.

Jotunheimen National Park

We stopped through Jotunheimen on our long route back to Oslo. Driving though this portion of the country provided a landscape that was drastically different than what we had seen thus far. There were few trees, the land was drier and golden in coloration, and the sun was shining bright now that we were far away from the west coast gloomy weather. But nonetheless it was still beautiful! Since this was an unexpected stop due to changing plans from weather misfortune, we had to do some quick researching to find what to do in the area. We stayed in a cabin at Trolltun Gjestegård for the night (because our tent was still soaked from the morning) and that provided the much-needed indoor relaxation we needed – and it also had the wifi we needed! We went to the viewpoint Snøhetta – a small metal box with an entirely glass face, that stands alone on the top of a hill. It even has a cute Scandinavian fireplace inside. On our way out we stopped by Gjende Lake, which omg WOW is a stunning turquoise color. If you have time, there is a hike (Besseggen) nearby that ascends above Gjende. The hike is 8 miles in length, but you can turn around whenever depending on your time constraints.

 

Oslo

We only spent one day in Oslo before flying north to the Lofoten Islands, and to be honest that was enough time for us. After spending the prior week roadtripping through Norway’s naturally beautiful and dramatic landscape it was difficult finding the appreciation for the large city. We wandered around the nearby university and royal palace. We snacked on some authentic Norweigan vaffles and even tried the highly recommended brown cheese topping, and found a cute Thai restaurant next to a waterway to have dinner. We took the high speed train to and from the airport (which is located a ways outside of the city) after we dropped off our rental car, and while the train is expensive, it is extremely convenient and easy to navigate. 

The Scenic Route

Because we saw so much of Norway by driving between all of the above locations, I felt like I had to add that just driving throughout Norway was in itself AMAZING! The country of Norway is basically a giant mountain range, well at least the entire western portion is, which lends itself towards beautiful views. We drove high in the mountains, looking down at cute, farm towns below. We drove at the base of the mountains, eye and eye with the stunning turquoise waters. We drove along massive fjords. We drove through lush farmland and saw houses with grass roofs. We drove past more waterfalls than we could count. We drove amongst the evergreen trees and saw glaciers in the distance. Maybe things seemed more epic than they really were because we were listening to The Hobbit on Audible the entire time - but, nah, I think it really was amazing. 

This is the route we took for the first half of our Norwegian road trip! Special thank you to Alex who drove the entire time since this girl doesn't know how to drive manual lol! :) 

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To see more about our Norway travels, check out this video we made! It includes the road trips we did in both the southern and northern regions of Norway. To read more about our road trip in northern Norway (Lofoten Islands), check it out here

Complete Hiking Guide to Trolltunga

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“Hey, Trolltunga is right up the road. Should we hike it?” A question that should not be taken lightly, but nonetheless a question that led to one of our favorite experiences from our time in Norway.

An hour and a half later, with our 30-pound packs secured, we started the 5 hour ascent. Fellow hikers who had completed the hike were making their way down the steep trail. Some had smiles of triumph on their faces, some were walking heavily with each step, and some were walking casually as if on a stroll – these were the Norweigans. But as we were the only ones going against the downward parade, all of these folks stared at us as if we were crazy. (Great, this is a promising sign). The landscape changed every couple kilometers – ranging from wide dirt paths, to rocky terrain, to reflection pools and left over snow, to mossy wetlands, to grassy outlooks, and hills of rock. Mile after mile we climbed. Faster and faster we went as we tried to beat the falling sun, eager to make it to the top before sunset. Looking ahead with each step, I desperately tried to cheat a look at Trolltunga from the distance, but no such luck. Then suddenly after 4 hours we were there. Trolltunga, the subject of thousands of pictures and the platform of numerous surprise proposals,  was finally in front of us, in the foreground of the start of a glorious sunset. My heart pounded as we walked out onto the narrow rock, 700 m (2300 ft) suspended in air.  The sun’s golden light hitting our face, with a 360 degree view, it was difficult to take in the vastness of the moment. Then, I'll admit, some slight social panic struck as we had to quickly pose for the camera in a creative way (because that’s what you do) as the small line of people waited for us – but how on Earth were we supposed to top the girl who went before us, holding her dog up like baby Simba?? 

As the sun continued downward, the colors of the sky grew and changed. Various tents were set up along the ridge, overlooking the lake below. Hungry and in search for shelter away from the windy mountain edge, we re-traced our steps until we found a secluded grassy patch protected by surrounding mounds of rocks. Sticky from sweat and still hungry after eating our “serves 2 (but not really)” backpacking meal we feel asleep in the complete silence of the mountain top.

Pitter patter as a light rain gently hit against our tent, telling us to get going. It was dawn, but no sunrise was visible thanks to the vast cloud cover. With all our gear and selves protected under their respective rain covers, we set out.

By the time we hit the last 4 km, our legs numb with soreness and our feet in physical pain, we started running. Running to cover more ground with each step so as not to prolong the pain. Remember, we had 30-pound packs on our backs – bouncing in every direction as we clumsily and noisily ran down the steep dirt slopes.

Was the hike worth the pain?

ABSOLUTELY. 


When in Norway, I HIGHLY recommend doing as the locals do, and hike. Norweigans grow up hiking in the plethora of mountains that make up the country. Some of the most beautiful scenery we saw in Norway was seen by foot.

But I’ll be honest, Trolltunga was not the #1 hike we wanted to do – in fact, we didn’t even plan to hike Trolltunga because of its length of commitment!  No, the hike we were eager to complete was Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock). A relatively short hike, the trail leads you to a flat 600m high platform over looking the fjord.

However the weather had a different plan. We landed in Oslo at 6:30 AM after only sleeping 2 hours on our red eye from Reykjavik. The original plan was to get our rental car, and drive 8 hours west to Pulpit Rock AND complete the 2 hour ascent up. Anyone else see how crazily unrealistic my planning was for this day? My eager heart was making promises our future tired selves wouldn’t be able to keep. It’s no surprise then when Alex ended up pulling over to the side of the road a few hours into the drive, and we passed out from exhaustion for a couple hours.

As we made our way closer to the Atlantic Ocean, the rain started, nonstop. Realizing the rain was not going to stop, we cut our loses, and adjusted our travel route so as not to head south anymore nor waste any more hours driving. Goodbye Pulpit Rock. The next morning we traveled to the cutest town of Odda. While having a picnic lunch on the waterfront we met an English couple who were also backpacking their way through Norway. The day prior they had completed Trolltunga, the well known hike whose trailhead was just up the road. They told us the 8-10 hour hike was definitely worth the effort, and seeing as they did it in the rain, that’s saying something! Their love of the hike planted the seed in our hearts to maybe reconsider hiking Trolltunga, and thank goodness we did!

Ok, so getting down to the details…

WHAT:

I’m not going to sugar coat it, this is a very long and demanding hike. From the main starting point near Trolltunga Active, it is a 27.5 km (17 mile) roundtrip hike, taking 8-12 hours to complete. It is such a wide range of time because there are a few factors involved – level of fitness, stopping for pictures, meal breaks, waiting in line to take a picture on Trolltunga (sometimes it can be upwards of 45 minutes!), and then how tired you are coming down. If you plan to hike Trolltunga, please, be prepared. The search and rescue team is already extremely busy here, rescuing unprepared or foolish tourists.  

WHEN:

You can complete the hike on your own from Mid-June to Mid-September. Outside of this time you will either have to complete it via a guided tour (with snow shoes in the spring time), or it is simply ill-advised during the harsh winter. Check here for more information. 

If you plan to complete the hike in one day, you should begin no later than 8-9 AM, allowing yourself plenty of time to return before it gets dark. However if you plan to spend the night at the top (which I HIGHLY recommend), you should just give yourself enough time to get to the top before dark. While breaking the hike up into two days causes you to hike down with sore muscles, being at Trolltunga with minimal tourists and witnessing sunset and sunrise is well worth it!

Be sure to check the weather before hiking. Trolltunga Active has a print out of the hourly weather forecast for the next 24 hours at their front desk. When we were contemplating whether to hike, we only felt comfortable doing so when we saw there was no rain or wind for that evening, and figured we would be well on our way down the mountain by the time the light rain started the next morning. 

GETTING THERE:

We had a rental car, so I don’t have any information regarding public transportation to the trailhead. Some people stayed in the nearby town of Odda the night before or after their day hike to Trolltunga. Heading from Odda, drive north along the fjord for 6 km to reach Tyssedal. Taking a right onto Skjeggedalsvegen you will wind your way up the mountain. You will see signs for one of the parking lots for Trolltunga before you leave Tyssedal. From this parking lot it is an additional 5.5 km up a single lane road to Trolltunga Active in Skjeggedal. The lane has a few widen areas for passing cars, but be careful driving this road as there are a lot of blind curves.

PARKING:

There are a couple of different parking options. The main parking lot is located next to the Trolltunga Active center. There is a fee of 300 NOK for 12 hours and 600 NOK for 24 hours hours. The second option is farther from the trailhead, located in Tyssedal, and costs 150 NOK for 24 hours. Most folks we saw who parked here paid a taxi to transport them to and from the car. The third option is limited – a small parking lot located at the top of the trail's most difficult incline. The dirt road leading to the lot opens at 7 AM, and there is only room for 30 cars. The fee is 500 NOK for 12 hours, and operates on a first come, first serve basis. 

There are two trailheads: #1 the red dotted line. These shorter switchbacks result in steeper inclines, over a less distance. #2 the white solid road leading to the upper parking lot. (Remember this parking lot is not only more expensive, but also limited in size, only able to hold 30 cars. The lot is first come, first serve.) This second option, while still steep, is less steep than #1 due to the longer switchbacks. Clearly #2 is longer than #1. At the top of #2, there will be a trailhead sign (the red dotted line). This trail will soon join the #1 option trail.   Click  here  for original image source

There are two trailheads: #1 the red dotted line. These shorter switchbacks result in steeper inclines, over a less distance. #2 the white solid road leading to the upper parking lot. (Remember this parking lot is not only more expensive, but also limited in size, only able to hold 30 cars. The lot is first come, first serve.) This second option, while still steep, is less steep than #1 due to the longer switchbacks. Clearly #2 is longer than #1. At the top of #2, there will be a trailhead sign (the red dotted line). This trail will soon join the #1 option trail. 

Click here for original image source

THE TRAIL:

There are a two different starting points from the base that eventually come together after a steep incline. The first is located west of Trolltunga Active. It is essentially a vertical stairmaster with a 450 m elevation gain over 1 km. This route is made up of stone steps, as well as ropes in places of steep incline for added support. The second option is using the dirt road behind Trolltunga Active. The road was recently built leading to the top parking lot. This option is longer in length (~2.5km) due to minimizing the gradient via switchbacks. But this is still steep as well. With 17 hair pin turns, it has upwards of a 17% grade. Once you reach the top of this road, you will see signs for the Trolltunga trailhead. This is where you will start if you opted to park at the top (you’ll just have fresh legs relative to those who hiked to get to this starting point).

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The entire trail is marked with red, spray-painted ‘T”s on the rocks or tall, skinny poles with red tape on the top. These markings are frequent, but if you are not looking ahead to find the next “T” you may get a little off track. Additionally, there are a signs every 1-2 kilometers, indicating the number of kilometers hiked, and the amount remaining. 

The initial incline is the worst, so don’t get too discouraged from it! From here the trail levels out as you make your way through the “valley of cabins.” There are numerous glacial streams and wooden bridges to make your path through the marshy area easier. After a km you will come to the second worse incline (about 300m). The incline starts with large stone steps, and eventually turns into an enormous rock face – which looks slippery, but we had no trouble feeling secure with our steps. Once you reach the top of the rock face you will see the 4 km sign.

The next few kilometers will be relatively easy. The terrain starts to change frequently, ranging from large reflection pools, to left over snow from winter, to mossy wetlands. Eventually you will come to the first outlook of Lake Ringedalsvatnet, the body of water you see in the infamous Trolltunga pictures. Looking out you can see how high you have climbed, the lake’s shore looking unbelievably small. 

Continuing another couple kilometers through more mossy wetlands, you will make your way along the lake. Soon the terrain will turn into hills of rocks. Climbing up and down these rocks, you may eventually start to hear buzzing. Where there are drones, there is trolltunga! Then after many, many tiring hours, you finally see Trolltunga.

WHAT TO BRING:

Even if you don’t plan on spending the night at the top of the mountain, you should still bring a small pack of essentials.

  • Sturdy hiking boots (even better if they are waterproof)
  • Rain/wind resistant jacket
  • Clothing layers – the weather can change very quickly
  • Fresh pair of socks - because changing into fresh socks at the top feels so good! 
  • Hiking pants - these are advised by all the Norwegian sites, but I wore athletic leggings and was fine
  • Water – we took with us one hydration pack and one large water bottle. A lot of other websites will tell you there are frequent safe water sources along the path, including ponds, small lakes, streams, and trickling waterfalls. However we didn’t feel comfortable with most of these sources seeing as some were stagnant bodies of water, and others were streams with an easily accessible upstream where an animal could have peed in. We waited until we were at the top of the mountain – there were a few trickling waterfalls from the glacier runoff – to fill up on water, because this had less of a chance of contamination.
  • A map and/or compass
  • Sunglasses
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Biodegradable toilet paper
  • Protein bars
  • Plastic bags/small trash bag – please respect nature and save all of your trash to be disposed of properly when you return to the base.

Trolltunga Active has a few of these essentials for purchase should you have forgotten them. They carry clothing, hiking poles, energy bars, water, maps, and of course, souvenirs. They also have vaffels (Norweigan waffles) for purchase. There is a bathroom at the start, located in the parking lot, so be sure to utilize it because on the trail, it’s all natural.

SAFETY:

Apparently there is limited cell service on the mountain – though we watched a couple at the top face time their family in the US after getting engaged, so not sure about that...?  

Don’t hike if there is strong wind, heavy rain or fog. If you are doing the hike in 1 day and reach the 4km sign after 1 pm, STOP, and turn around because you will not have enough sunlight to make it to the top and back.

There are a few “survival cabins” located throughout the trail. These cabins are small, but provide shelter from the elements and supposedly are equipped with blankets.

If possible let someone know that you are doing the hike. We foolishly didn’t do this as it was a last minute decision for us, and the itineraries we had sent to our parents didn’t even include this hike as a potential plan.

WHERE TO CAMP:  

Norway’s “right to roam” allows you to freely camp in the open country (with a few exceptions of course). But that means it is free to camp on Trolltunga. You can camp anywhere except between the 1 km to 3 km markers. This area is clearly marked as a no-camping zone as it is an environmentally protected area. As I mentioned before, a decent portion of the people camping overnight choose to camp on the cliffs next to Trolltunga. Keep in mind though that camping anywhere along the ridge can be cold and windy. There are PLENTY of camping locations throughout the entire hike. With the “right to roam” law also comes the expectation to LEAVE NO TRACE. Again, take an extra plastic bag or trash bag with you to collect all of your waste so you can dispose of it properly once you complete the hike. 


This hike was one of the top highlights from our entire trip in Norway, and therefore I highly recommend it. If you are considering completing this hike and have additional questions regarding our experience, please feel free to comment below or send me a private message!