Norway - A road trip to remember!
Updated: Dec 12, 2022
hat's up y’all. Summer is gone, back to work etc. etc. I’m gonna try though, to take you on a journey to Norway, through my words and photos.
I do not consider myself an ‘’experienced traveler’’ but I've been to some places, seen a few things. From my experience and my opinion, I say that Norway has some of the most beautifully extraordinary landscapes in the world. Only a selected few countries, can compete the raw beauty of Norway's unstoppable waterfalls, the otherworldly sight of the fjords, the countless picturesque lakes and the combinations of those with forests, huge rocky mountains where you could bet on, that Odin and Thor live, seashores at the end of the world and of course the kind and warm Norwegians. To put it simply.. WOW.
This journey was one of those experiences that change your life just a little bit and make you appreciate how lucky are we, to live on this planet. Taking into consideration the time we had and the season we chose to travel in Norway and after a lot of searching and reading travel blogs, we came up with a schedule that included a couple of days in Oslo and 8 days on the road. And when i say ‘’we’’, i mean me with 7 friends that share my enthusiasm on this type of traveling. Dena, Costas, Varvara, Mario, Maria, Veronika, George, thank you all for being a part of this trip. This group of eight people was gathered sometime in February of 2022, and along the way after a couple of telephone calls, a few meetings and a respectable amount of beer consumption, it was decided. ‘’We are going to Norway! Yeyy!’’
Before I get into the details about our road trip, I must mention that Norway has an enormous number of points of interest and an itinerary of 10-15 days can cover just a small part of it. What we did and what I suggest that you should do with your time, is to pick one or two regions of Norway and focus on them according to what type of traveler you are. We focused on parts of the East and Northern region, ignoring Trondelag (middle Norway) and western Norway region. And even by doing so, eight days on the road weren't enough for those two regions. I cannot imagine how much time one needs to explore one region enough and furthermore, the whole country. And what is ‘’enough’’ anyway. So you gotta pick. Anyhow, in this article I will be focusing only on our 8 day road trip. I will get into Oslo and maybe some more detailed descriptions of some of the destinations you will see below, in future articles. Enough prologue, let's get right into it.
Road Trip Itinerary
Day 1 - Oslo - Horda
Day 2 - Himakana
Day 3 - Latefossen & Voringfossen waterfall
Day 4 - Horda - Gudvangen (viking Valley) - Stryn
Day 5 - Geirangerfjord
Day 6 - Lovatnet Lake - Kjenndal Glacier
Day 7 - Oppstryn lake - Glomnesfossen waterfall
Day 8 - Stryr - Oslo
Day 1: Oslo - Horda
Our first day on the road was expected to feel fresh and beautiful, but it was more than that even without any major sightseeing scheduled, because our goal was to reach our homestay in Horda village. We chose not to drive the fastest route via E134 street, and instead drove through Fv37. Which is basically 15-30 min slower, but is more remote, has less traffic (there is not much traffic anywhere in Norway anyhow), passes next to some beautiful lakes like Lake Tinn and overall is a very scenic route. The whole route without any stops, takes 5 hours according to google maps, but it took us 7 hours. Not because of google miscalculations of course , but due to our hunger to experience every bit of Norway, and thus we had some extra stops, even though we strictly decided, in a very serious manner, that ‘’we shall only stop once for a snack and w.c needs, and we shall not break this agreement, except on the occasion of a life or death situation’’. Well , that went well, from the first day :)
- Max Camping (click) along Jondalselva river. Near the camping side , the river floats wide and really makes you feel that you are standing in front of a lake.
- Tinnsjå (Lake Tinn)
- Rjukan town, which was our only scheduled stop, but due to the rainy weather, we only stayed for a moment.
- Horda finally
Tip: Roldal Village is a 5 minute drive from Odda and it has gas stations and grocery stores, which was very convenient for us.
We arrived at Horda town early in the evening , where we had enough time to settle, get comfortable in our new home for the next three days and still had some free time. We stayed at a chalet hosted by Lars Erik, which I definitely recommend. (click to check it out)
chalet by Lars Erik
Day 2: Himakana Hiking Trail
From Horda to Hindaravag village from where you can find the starting point of the Himakana hiking trail , is a two hour drive. Himakana is a 5.5km hike with a hiking time of 3-4 hours. So having in mind the stops for pictures , a big break at the Himakana cliffside and a couple of small breaks from driving back and forth, this was a full day expedition. The hiking part seems too easy, but it is not. Bear in mind that there is a big elevation increase from the starting point to the end. Himakana was chosen as an alternative to Trolltunga because of the similar cliffside experience of both of them, with the difference that Himakana trail is 20 km smaller.
The characterization of Himakana as ‘’Trolltunga’s little sister’’ or even ‘’mini Trolltunga’’, comes from its extreme rock edge formation from where you can easily stand on and enjoy the views like Trolltunga. There are two significant differences though. Himakana is less crowded, actually it is not crowded at all, unlike Trolltunga which is one of the most visited places in Norway. Imagine how much time you need to wait in line to get on the famous Trolltunga rock edge for a photo. Secondly, the round-trip hike on Trolltunga is 28 km, and the hiking time is 8-12 hours. Himakana is a 5.5km hike with a hiking time of 3-4 hours.
she said yes!
I don't know how it would have been in Trolltunga, but I do not regret our choice to change our initial planning and visit Himakana instead of Trolltunga. It gave us enough time for grocery store shopping, barbecue dinner in our beautiful chalet and preparation of snacks for our following road trip.
views from Himakana hilltop
Day 3 - Waterfall experience - Odda Town
On our 3rd day on the road, we drove on two major Norwegian waterfalls. Latefossen & Voringfossen. The main goal was to explore and spend some time in Voringfossen, whilst Latefossen was on schedule because it was on our way. And I am so glad it was. From our home in Horda to Voringfossen and back was an approximate 4 hours drive. So having in mind the stops to the waterfalls and a last minute stop for some grocery to Odda, where we took the opportunity to get a glimpse of this scenic town, it was a full day road trip (appr. 8 hours).
Latefossen is a twin waterfall with a height of 165 meters and it is right next to the main road 13 and flows under a bridge where you drive on. It is such a great experience just by driving by, but a short stop will elevate your experience for sure.
Voringfossen is a huge waterfall where you can visit and watch / observe from above. There is a parking lot nearby where you can walk to a complex of pathways, various observation decks and points of view. There is a metal suspension bridge, which crosses the waterfall and the river on a 47 meter span and that might be the coolest bridge that someone can cross. It was the coolest bridge i ever crossed. By the way there is a hiking trail from the bottom of the Mabodalen Valley, where you can see the waterfall from below and also a couple of stops on the side of the road where you can stop to see the waterfall while driving there.
Odda is considered one of the most scenic small towns in Norway, it is very well sustained, surrounded by towering mountains and lies at the southern end of Hardanger fjord.
Day 4 - Horda - Gudvangen (Viking valley) - Stryn
This was the day that we moved to our second and last home base. A beautiful cabin in Stryn town. We made a couple of stops for short breaks on the way and a big scheduled stop to spend some time at Gudvangen village, built at the end of the amazing Naeroy fjord and has a themed Viking valley. On our way to Stryn we also had to enter a ferry with our minivan, in order to cross Lustra fjord. That was an interesting experience on its own , which gave us some time to rest.
We arrived at our cabin in Stryn hosted by Silje, which was cozy and spacious enough, with a super view of Roldal lake and Roldal village at the lakes end. Check the cabin out in airbnb if you like (click here).
Evening View from our cabin in Stryn
The fastest route from Horda to Stryn , which is the one we used, is a 7 hour drive and with the stops i mentioned above and a grocery store stop of course, we finished it in 12 hours. We arrived around 20:00, with little time to settle and rest, but you know a late night cold beer, near a lake, with beautiful friends, moved away the exhaustion and brought back the magic.
If by any chance you use this route, make sure to make a short break, on the small Berge picnic site (click here), from where you can rest, while enjoying one of the most incredible views I've seen in Norway, away from the crowds.
The gang at Fjaerlands Fjord - View from Berge picnic site
Day 5 - Geirangerfjord
Geirangerfjord is an iconic fjord which ends at the village of Geiranger. It is considered by many people, tourists and Norwegians as the most beautiful fjord of Norway and it is for sure the most popular. There are many ways to experience this idyllic natural wonder, of spectacular waterfalls, extreme mountains up to 1700 m and the abandoned old fjord farms. You can drive in and around Geiranger and stop at certain viewpoints or you can hike on several hiking routes in the area, or by boating within the fjord. We chose to do a round trip by ferry , starting from the village of Hellesylt. Driving from Stryn to Hellesylt takes a bit less than an hour and the ferry of Hellesylt - Geiranger fjord around 45 minutes. We booked a two way ferry ticket with a two hour break in Geiranger, in order to explore the village of Geiranger and rest a bit. Although the weather was wet and humid most of the time, I wouldn't change a thing about the ferry boat experience and I would have done it again if I could.
Click here to book ferry tickets. Costs appr. €50 for a round trip.
This day was an amazing experience for me. I cannot easily describe how beautiful this place is and I understand why it is so popular. The experience of the countless waterfalls falling all around you, whilst you are on a boat in the water is unparalleled. Our choice to enjoy the fjord and its wonders by ferry was very good, because we lived the experience whilst chilled. And we needed some relaxing after being on the road for many hours on the previous days. We also headed back home early, which gave us time to cook something nice. We bought fresh salmon (strongly suggest it) from the grocery store, Mario cooked it splendidly and we enjoyed it with wine and beers. Do not underestimate and ignore how you spent your free time on your trips, while it infects your spirit and mood. And good mood is the number one thing you need my friends.
P.s it was Veronikas birthday also. So yeyyy.
Day 6 - Lovatnet Lake - Kjenndal Glacier
THIS WAS a day to remember. Lovatnet lake is just a 20 minute drive from our house at Stryn and next to the lake you can see the Kjenndal Glacier on the top of the mountain. Lovatnet lake is an 11 km long lake with an area of 11 km². You can drive next to it all the way to its end as we did, or you can hike around it. Lovatnet lake is a unique natural wonder, with pearly green waters and multiple streams flowing all year long. The melted water from the glaciers on the mountain peaks around, flows into the lake causing this pearly green color, which makes this lake so special.
There are various activities one can do in Lovatnet, including kayaking, sup, swimming etc. Even though we were there in mid August, during a relatively sunny day, when we dived in (yes we dived) the water was damn freezing. I guess that's the effect of water streams from melted glaciers constantly flowing in the lake. But nevertheless , diving in Lovatnet lake is a breathtaking (and literally) , once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget or stop talking about. Three out of eight of us didn’t jump in. Shame, shame, shame!!! :) But i will not name them!
Lovatnet lake - moments before the dive
You can drive pass the lake, paying a small fee (you can pay in Kjenndalstova restaurant - click here) and drive another 5 km, closer to Kjenndal Glacier up to the parking lot. From there you have to walk as far as you want , to get a better look of the Glacier. Bear in mind that you cannot actually reach the glacier, it is too far and too dangerous to go without a guide.
P.s we ended up spending 7 hours at Lovatnet Lake & Kjenndal Glacier. Who would have thought!
Day 7 - Oppstryn lake - Glomnesfossen waterfall
On our last day before heading back to Oslo, we had a free relaxing day. Taking advantage of the time we had, we decided to have a long and rich breakfast, before we left our home. And oh man, did it boost your energy levels! After our delicious breakfast, we decided to drive to places nearby Stryn to keep the day easy yet interesting. We ended up making stops along Oppstryn lake, which it was, as you can guess, beautiful. Would I have chosen Oppstryn lake as a main destination on a road trip in Norway?
Hmmm if Oppstryn lake was in another country most probably, but for Norway standards, no I wouldn't. But , you know, not all days on a journey must be rushed and busy. Not everything has to be about visiting popular destinations. Stop and take a moment to breathe and appreciate where you are and who you are with. That's what we did. Apart from Oppstryn lake, we also visited Jostedalsbreen National Park Center for a while and then Glomnesfossen waterfall which is near the lakeside. In order to see the waterfall, you have to walk a very short hiking trail for about 20 minutes and you will come across the short but noisy and violent waterfall. You will definitely get wet and muddy to get close :) . I know I did. You should see Denas shoes.
Day 8 - Stryn - Oslo
Last day on the road with no plan whatsoever, apart from arriving in Oslo and settling for our last 2 days in Norway. The road from Stryn to Oslo takes about 6 hours , but including our stops we did it in 8.5. As I said, we planned nothing but yet, we saw some very interesting things along the way. We stopped for a stretch up at Donfoss camping site (check out their amazing wooden cabins) and we were surprised from the view of Donfossen waterfall and Otta river.
Otta river near Donfoss camping
Our second big stop was at Fossbergom village, because we saw cafes, easily accessible parking lots and other facilities. Little did we know that we were gonna have a lunch break in a beautiful village, above the mouth of river Bovra. (Check out this bakery we ate).
While the other guys were eating and the procedure was too long for me, I took the chance to take a short walk. I came across Lom Stave medieval church (click here), a magnificent work of architecture built in the middle of the 12th century. Less eating, more walking, worked out well for me I guess :). For the rest of the road we only stopped twice (you get it, it is difficult to sit in a mini bus nonstop for 3-4 hours), a couple of minutes each time, along Losna lake and a random gas station. We arrived at Oslo late afternoon with mixed feelings and you can understand why. That was it. No more driving. Welcome to Oslo.
In order to make your journey easier and avoid wasting your precious time I have some tips for you, from my experience or from other bloggers' experiences which I followed.
Rent your car in advance and according to your road trip needs. There are A LOT of travelers driving rented cars in Norway, so plan ahead.
Plan your itinerary beforehand. As much fun and as much great experience it will be, being spontaneous all the time, you will have practical problems if you just drive around randomly. Organize at least your major visiting locations and your home bases to save time.
Don't be too strict and make tight schedules. If google maps say 4 hours driving, you will probably make 5-6 hours. Apart from the necessary, stretch your legs and w.c breaks, you will definitely make stops out of schedule, at beautiful points of interest.
Overall trust google maps locations and routes. It was very helpful for us.
Driving in rural Norway is pretty easy-going. Keep it simple and stay within the speed limit because there are traffic cameras everywhere and because of your safety of course.
Don't worry if you have to enter a ferry with your car. Most ferries go back and forth every 30-60 minutes. Ask locals if you want to be more precise on the time schedules of ferries.
Fees of ferries and road tolls are automatically charged on the office you rented your car from and will be reduced from your deposit. (yeah there is deposit amount upon rent)
Each night or early morning before you start your road trip, find on google maps, gas stops and grocery stores on your way to your destination. FYI almost all gas stations have tasty fast food choices.
Avoid eating out. Food isn’t that special and it is very expensive. Grocery stores have everything you need, to cook almost any meal. Beers are also expensive at bars and cafes.
Rent a whole place (cabin, chalet) for you and your company, instead of a room in a hotel. Either for two persons or a group, there are various choices on airbnb. Make sure there is a small kitchen with the basics for you to cook.
Summer in Norway is not like summer in Greece, so be prepared. It might rain, you might miss the sky for some days, it might get foggy and might be a bit chilly in the night.
Visa and other similar cards are acceptable everywhere.
Firstly, if you wanna truly experience rural Norway, rent a car. There is no other way. That’s my opinion and I am sticking with it, unless you just want to visit Oslo and Bergen. Just driving in Norway is an experience by itself. Very few places on earth can offer such an abundance of natural beauties. I mean the surprises are everywhere. You might think that my article is too long but really, I just squeezed the basics. Every river we crossed, a street we turned, every mountain we drove near and inside its tunnels, waterfalls we bumped to, travelers we met, every inch of the forests and hills we walked, every turn of our head was a unique sight we experienced. And not each experience has to be written here. Go out there on your own.
This is it guys. I hope you enjoy this article and actually find it useful in case of visiting Norway. Let me know what you think about it. Make sure to subscribe, if you haven’t. Until the next time, cheers!!