Norway’s Fjordland is an excellent destination with sublime scenery. Our 10-day Norway road trip itinerary had us peering into glaciers, kayaking fjords and hiking up granite cliffs.
Our 10-day Norway itinerary took us deep into the heart of magical Fjordlands.
This UNESCO-listed gem is one of the scenic wonders of the world. It’s also a great road trip destination. The excellent roads wind their way along sleek slender lakes, before rising up over vertical granite cliffs. They carry you into beautiful towns and villages and career up mountain roads to snarling glaciers and remote farms. And where the roads end, a ferry is waiting to carry you to your next beautiful destination.
Hiking to great viewpoints, peering into glaciers or kayaking on fjords, this 10-day Norway itinerary has it all. But it’s not just the great outdoors that impress, Norway has picture-perfect towns, packed with good café’s, funky art and modern architecture.
If you like remote and rugged wilderness, if you like being off the beaten track and if you like constructing your own holidays then this Norway road trip itinerary is for you. Here are our ideas, tips and mistakes to help you plan your own 10-day Norway itinerary.
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DAY 1 – STAVANGER
Stavanger is a pretty town, with a small international airport, and is an excellent destination to begin our 10-day Norway Itinerary. Landing in the morning gives you ample town to explore the town in the afternoon and evening.
Oil was discovered just off Stavanger in 1969 and the town hasn’t looked back. Fuelled by oil but energised by the local student population, Stavanger has retained its charm with old wooden buildings and small-town atmosphere making it a beautiful place to stroll around.
Start at Gamle Stavanger, the original old town. Built in the 18th century, the tightly packed white wooden houses are arrayed along the hill and are in remarkable contrast to the massive cruise ships often docked right beside them. For lunch head to Rena Matbaren, a Nordic-chic cafe serving excellent food from fresh seasonal produce. The cured herring sandwich was a particular standout.
In the afternoon, pop over to the ferry dock to book your ferry to Tau for tomorrow morning, before exploring one of the many small museums in town. Then head to the colourful buildings lining Øvre Holmegate. Grab an afternoon coffee (or go wild and have a local beer) at the book-filled Stuen Bøker & Børst café, whose outside tables offer views overlooking the cute cobbled street.
DAY 2 – PULPIT ROCK
Pulpit rock, rising vertically 604 metres above the stunning Lysefjord, is one of the iconic images of Norway and rightly one of the most photographed spots in the country. Fortunately, the hike to get there is not only great but relatively straightforward.
The trail to Pulpit rock starts at Preikestolen Mountain Lodge. The easiest way to get there is south and east along highway 13. But much more fun is the 1-hour ferry to Tau – see timetables and prices here. Docking in Tau, it’s a 30 minutes to the trailhead.
The hike to Pulpit Rock takes 1 hour 30 minutes. It is full of diverse scenery as you clamber up rocks, cross alpine meadows, and circumnavigate lakes and pools, where if it is warm enough you can have a refreshing swim.
But the highlight is the Pulpit Rock plateau, a mere 25m x 25m. It was created around 10,000 years ago from the expansion of ice and not many views in the world are this good with such a small amount of effort. If you brought lunch with you, pull up on a rock behind the platform and admire your 604-metre high dining space.
Return to your car, drive to Røldal (3-hours), and after checking into your hotel, head to Røldal Stave Church. Built in 1250, it was one of the most important middle-age pilgrimage sites in Norway. Røldal is also a great ski destination for beginners.
Stay / Hordatun Hotel, Røldal
Travel / 1-hour ferry from Stavanger to Tau; 3 hours, 40-minute drive south to Preikestolen & Røldal
DAY 3 – FOLGEFONNA GLACIER
Today, our 10-day Norway road trip itinerary, took us up into the Folgefonna National Park, and into the remote world of ice caps and glaciers. We chose to explore the area on the 6-hour Blue Ice Glacier Walk (10:40 to 11.00 Jun to Sep; Price: 790 NOK.) You will need plenty of warm clothing, good boots, possibly sunblock and sunglasses. Crampon, ice axe, harness and rope are provided.
The walk takes you around the Folgefonna glacier, across flat ice and deep crevasses. While we would do it again (just), after 5 hours I was glad that it was about to finish. A much shorter and less expensive tour would probably have been better and if it looks like you might get no visibility maybe save your money for another activity on another day.
After the tour, head to Utne via a beautiful scenic drive along the fjord and through fields of brightly coloured fruit trees. Stay at Hotel Utne, a cute old hotel that has been in continuous operation since 1722. Oozing character, the hotel has a garden out front where you can have a drink taking in magnificent views of the fjord on your doorstep.
Stay / Hotel Utne, Utne
Travel / 2 hours, 30 minutes: Røldal to Fonna Glacier Ski Resort then Utne
DAY 4 – BERGEN
Today head to Bergen, a pretty Norwegian city, with a fascinating history, an excellent art museum and some fine views. Start by taking the 30-minute ferry to Kvanndal, followed by a 2-hour drive, first along the fjord and then over the cliffs.
Bergen has a couple of really great things to do. Firstly, allow yourself to be enchanted by the UNESCO-listed site of Bryggen, a thriving tourist attraction with people lining up to see the old wooden buildings, which despite several fires rendering them to ash, remain much as they have been for centuries. Enjoy a stay in one of the city’s interesting buildings, by booking an Airbnb in Bergen.
For lunch, eat fish right off the boat at one of the many plastic-covered tables that line the market on the edge of the harbour, before heading to the brilliant KODE Museum, spread over 4 sections. We highly recommend you get there to catch one of the 3 free daily English language tours.
Late in the afternoon, take the Fløibanen funicular up Mount Fløyen and breathe in the beautiful views and bright colours Bergen of below.
For dinner and an excellent end to day 4 of our 10-day Norway itinerary, try Colonialen, a high-end gastro-slick experience with a trout dish I’m still raving about.
If you have more time, here’s how to spend 3 days in Bergen.
Stay / Steens Hotel, Bergen
Travel / 2 hours, 30 minutes: 30 minutes ferry, 2 hours driving
DAY 5 – EIDFJORD
Situated at the end of Hardangerfjord, Norway’s second largest, Eidfjord is a small local community, spoilt by utterly stunning scenery. The 2-hour 15-minute drive from Bergen offers great views interspersed with long (time-saving) tunnels.
As a popular choice on a cruise of the fjords of Norway, there is plenty to explore around Eidfjord. First head up to Kjeåsen Mountain Farm. Kjeåsen sits 600 metres above the fjord and consists of two farmhouses offering quintessential Norwegian holiday snaps over the magnificent fjord. They operate a one-way system to get up to the farm; traffic goes up on the hour and down on the half-hour – so you may need to wait up to 30 minutes.
Next head across to Voringfossen Falls to see a spectacular waterfall with a freefall of 145 metres. Then drive onto the Hardangervidda Plateau, the largest plateau of its kind in Europe, and explore the area.
Unfortunately, we were confronted with driving rain with no visibility so, after all too short a visit, we headed back to Eidfjord and checked into the excellent Eidfjord Fjell and Fjord Hotel, which has a lovely Nordic-inspired lounge and a restaurant that will just have to do, given there’s not much else around!
Travel / 3 hours, 45 minutes: Bergen – Eidfjord – Kjeåsen – Voringfossen – Hardangervidda – Eidfjord
DAY 6 – NÆRØYFJORD
This morning, the drive to Gudvangen, on the western edge of Nærøyfjord, was one of our favourites in Norway. We opted for the scenic twisting route through Ulvik and up over the mountains, instead of through the tunnel. It was a beautifully atmospheric drive as the early morning fog came and went, offering glimpses of the dramatic mountains surrounding us.
As you approach Gudvangen, exit at Stalheim for a brief stop, and sneak into the hotel to get your first glimpse of Nærøyfjord from above. The views of Eidfjord will almost look dull and boring in contrast to Nærøyfjord, a sleek 18km long branch of the world’s second longest, and Iceland’s largest, fjord – Sognefjord. The sides of this UNESCO-listed fjord are a mere 250m wide in some places and on a rainy day, waterfalls cascade over the almost vertical 1400-metre cliffs. But by far the best way to see Nærøyfjord is from its waters.
We booked a half-day kayaking tour with Nordic Adventures which started at 1 pm from the kayaking base at Gudvangen and was a highlight of our 10-Day Norway Itinerary. The tour was well run by experienced guides providing interesting facts about the fjord and there’s a stop for lunch on a bank by the fjord.
The tour takes 4 hours, and even with tired arms by the end of it, you’ll fall in love with this country and its amazing setting. After drying off, head to Flåm, around 20 minutes away, for the night.
Stay / Flåmsbrygga Hotel, Flam
Travel / 2 hours, 30 minutes: Eidfjord – Gudvangen – Flåm
DAY 7 – FLÅM & THE SNOW ROAD
Wake up this morning in beautiful Flam and take teh Flam Railway. This train journey, considered one of the steepest in the world with a gradient of 5.5%, is regularly cited as one of the best train journeys in the world.
After the train journey, take the stunning Aurlandsvegen (Snow Road) to Laerdalsoyri via the Stegastein Observation Deck. This modern construction is a sight in itself, but stepping onto its glass platform will be the true test of your nerve. Next, head up to Øvre Ardal and finally across the high mountain pass to Turtagrø – a summer-only activity as the road is closed in winter – and feel the remoteness of this landscape creep up on you as you wind your way over this hair-raising road.
We stayed at the Turtagrø Hotel, a fantastic modern hiking hotel with great views of the mountains right from your bedroom. You might have time for a quick late afternoon hike from the hotel to experience the rugged, remote, refreshing qualities of this place – vastly different from where you were last night.
Stay / Turtagrø Hotel, Turtagrø
Travel / 2 hours, 45 minutes
DAY 8 – JOTUNHEIMEN NATIONAL PARK
Hotel Turtagrø is in a fantastic location and extremely well set up for hiking. They have maps and descriptions of all the walks in the area and the staff are very helpful. For a small fee, they will let you raid the breakfast bar to create a make-your-own lunch to take out on your hike.
Their showcase walk is the hike up to Fannaråki Hut; at 2068m it’s the highest mountain hut in Norway offering spectacular views across the West-Jotunheimen Range. Alternatively, for something less vertical, take the circular walk to Styggebreen Glacier to witness this brooding icy vista. Or maybe head up to Nedre Dyrhaug, a nice easy walk where you can leave your mark by signing the book at the top.
Because all the walks leave from the front of the hotel, you’ll have time to come back and warm up with a late afternoon coffee before setting off again on another path.
Dinner at the hotel is a dorm-style festival with sharing plates scattered across large tables. There are no decisions to be made as it’s “chef’s choice.”
Stay / Turtagrø Hotel, Turtagrø
DAY 9 – GEIRANGERFJORD
Continue your 10-day Norway itinerary with a drive across the roof of Europe on the Sognefjellet National Route. Some discipline will be required on this drive otherwise you’ll be stopping every 5 minutes to take photos. Your destination today is Geiranger, yet another UNESCO-protected fjord with sheer cliffs, impressive waterfalls and staggeringly good views.
On your way, stop off at Lom Stave Church, one of the largest of its kind in Norway. Built in the middle of the 12th century, it’s still got a golden glow and is worth a quick stop.
As you approach Geiranger, take the turn up to Dalsnibba Viewpoint and after a sequence of hairpin turns you arrive at the Geiranger Skywalk. This magnificent glass viewing platform sits 1500 metres above the stunning fjord below, and peering through the clouds provides amazing photo opportunities.
Once in Geiranger, head for the boat terminal and take the Geiranger Fjordservice sightseeing boat out on the fjord to do the Skageflå Farm hike.
In the evening, have a stroll around cute Geiranger and find a local restaurant for dinner.
Stay / Hotel Union, Stranda
Travel / 3 hours: Turtagrø to Geiranger
DAY 10 – ÅLESUND
For your last day on your 10-day Norway road trip itinerary, drive from Geiranger to picturesque Ålesund (2 hours, 15 minutes) before your flight home. After a stroll around town, take the 418 steps up to the Aksla Viewpoint. Apparently, the midway point, Byrampen, is the official spot for a selfie.
After collecting your best shots of the famous colourful houses, grab lunch by choosing from the great selection of fresh salads and sandwiches at Invit Espressobar before washing it down with their fine coffee.
The drive to Ålesund airport is 20 minutes from the city.
GETTING AROUND NORWAY
A place like Norway is best experienced on your own wheels. So, for this 10-day Norway itinerary, you will need to hire a car. The road network in Norway is excellent and the view from the window stunning. Hiring a car, like everything else in Norway, is not cheap. Fortunately hiking and exploring much of Norway’s majestic scenery is completely free.
For this itinerary, you will need to pick up the car in Stavanger airport and drop it off at Alesund airport.
MAP / NORWAY ITINERARY
The below map contains all the stops on our 10-day Norway road trip to help you map your own trip.
BEST TIME TO GO TO NORWAY
Norway can be a cold and very wet destination. Any trip here risks bad weather. We went on our 10-day Norway itinerary in August, had a couple of days of almost solid rain and many days with cloud. If you enjoy hiking and outdoor activities then the best time to come for long days and warmer weather is May to September.
But September is peak rainfall in Fjordland, so early summer is better. The crowds are lower in May/June than July/August, although some tourist attractions will only just be opening in May.
All in all, June or early July is probably best.
TIPS FOR THIS NORWAY ITINERARY
01 – Fly into Stavanger and out of Ålesund, coughing up the extra hire car fees for the different location. Stavanger & Ålesund both have international airports connecting to a number of countries, as well as car rental facilities.
02 – The ferries in Norway are easy and frequent. There is no need to book tickets in advance, however, you do need to check timetables as some only depart every 40 minutes.
04 – In some of the locations, there was no choice other than eating in the hotel. Generally, the food is very good but vegetarians and vegans should let the hotel know in advance.
05 – Norway is green and lush for a reason, it rains a lot, so it’s a good idea to allow some flexibility to do things in either the morning or the afternoon.
06 – This itinerary may seem to include a lot of driving, but the roads are very good and the view are always great. Driving times listed in the itinerary exclude time for food and photo breaks, so these need to be factored in.
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